Trigger warning: Discussions of domestic abuse
At one am (or is it…?), Bernie is calling Marshall. If I were Kate I’d be a little concerned about this level of familiarity, but to be fair, she’s still concerned about her daughter
Bernie, you see, has developed the film in her camera! Out of twenty-four exposures, only the twelve taken at the carnival have been mysteriously completely exposed, printing as sheer black. So, what, the demons want to conceal any proof that the Carnival of Debauchery happened? I hate to break it to them, but the whole town was there. This cover-up will be a bit more involved than they’d like to think.
Marshall asks a few cursory questions about the other woman who was at this mysterious meeting, probably trying to lead us into suspecting the professor. He hangs up the phone, concentrating deeply on this new, all-important mystery and not at all on the mystery of his missing daughter. So focused, in fact, that when Kate tries to engage him in conversation, he asks:
“What were we talking about, anyway?”
Gee, I don’t know, your missing daughter?
Kate reminds him that he was considering asking the pastor about some of his religious misgivings; the mention of the pastor makes Marshall irrationally angry, something Kate describes thusly:
She had never really missed that fire in his eyes; perhaps she’d never known it was gone until this moment when, for the first time since they left New York, she saw it again. Some old, unpleasant feelings rose up within her, feelings she had no desire to cope with late at night with her daughter mysteriously missing.
Can we talk about this passage for a minute? Because it’s making me highly uncomfortable.
The narration goes on to imply this is the sort of “on fire for God” that evangelicals speak of, his fighting spirit coming back. But Kate doesn’t react that way. She finds this unpleasant, and has no desire to cope.
We know Marshall is verbally abusive to his daughter, Sandy, as well as being emotionally distant from her. These things don’t happen in isolation; often, such abuse can leak over into other people in his life over whom he feels powerful. The fact that Kate seems afraid here, and that what she describes as “fire” the narration describes as “almost angry”, well… just look at Kate’s initial reaction:
“Young”, [Marshall] said, and almost sounded angry.
“But if you don’t want to….”
Immediately she retracts the suggestion that made him upset in the first place, aware she’s treading on thin ice.
Marshall stared at the table while his warm milk got cold. Kate waited, then roused him with, “Would you rather talk about this in the morning?”
Marshall controls the flow of the conversation with his demanding, angry silence, letting the uncomfortable quiet drag on for quite some time if his milk has gone cold. Kate finally musters the courage to speak, though when she does, it’s gentle and appeasing.
“I’ll talk to him,” Marshall said flatly. “I… I want to talk to him. You bet I’ll talk to him!”
Marshall’s anger has only grown during the long silence, showing he’s not trying to calm himself but instead stewing, encouraging the rage to grow.
“It couldn’t hurt.” [Kate replied]
“No, it sure couldn’t.”
Kate agrees with her husband, hoping to soothe some of his wrath.
“I don’t know when he’d be able to see you, but–”
“One o’clock would be nice.” He scowled a bit. “One o’clock would be perfect.”
Marshall’s need to control people extends even to his pastor’s schedule, which he demands to suit his own needs. Possibly he’s here demanding the impossible of Kate, insisting that she make some other man’s schedule bend to Marshall’s will.
The angels, of course, find this passage amusing and heartening, insisting that Rafar “has helped awaken” him. I find that apt: the devil has awoken the monster within Marshall.
I only hope Kate manages to make it out alright.