With Susan seemingly dead, we return to Bernice.
Bernice knew it would be difficult, even dangerous, to drive without her glasses, but
apparently she has no regard for other drivers on the road, so away she goes! She drives up Highway 27 to go meet Kevin Weed. Rafar wants Weed dead and Hogan and Busche deposed, but hasn’t said a word about Bernice, so it’s up to her.
the daylight was sufficient to make out the center line and the oncoming blobs
Kevin’s in a bar, hanging out with loggers. He meets a man named Mark Hansen, who dumps a vial into his beer. Poisoned, Kevin drives toward the bridge to meet Bernice, but pulls over to use a fast food restroom first. Apparently the assassins, Mark and his buddy Steve, don’t bother with things like dosages or concentrations:
“He’s fighting it, trying to stay awake,” Steve observed.
“It’s probably watered down with too much beer.”
Kevin crashes his truck, driving off a ravine just like Susan did.
“Score one more for Kaseph.”
Chapter 30 finally drags us back to Marshall, who is doing some deep thinking. Last time we saw him, at the end of chapter 27, Kate had just left him and he’d pretty much been out-chessmastered.
Maybe it was the longest time he had ever spent in just one spot in his whole life, but maybe this right here and no was the end of the life he had always known.
He mopes, feeling sorry for himself, until… Sandy comes home! Marshall lets her know her mother left him.
“I felt it coming. I knew what Mom was thinking, and I think she was right. You get along so well all by yourself, we might as well let you have it that way for keeps.”
“Where will you go?”
Sandy looked up at him for the first time, and Marshall was chilled and even sickened by the look in her eyes, a strange, glassy maniacal expression he had never seen before.
“I’ll never tell you!” she said, and Marshall couldn’t believe the way she said it. It was not Sandy at all.
Okay, can we stop and talk for a minute here about this? Because this passage, this one right here, is the passage that makes me sick. His wife left him. His daughter, who has been having a number of problems caused by his mistreatment of her, is finally standing up to him as she leaves home for good. He doesn’t want to think of his daughter as being disobedient or cruel, and he doesn’t recognize the tone she’s using. She’s got new friends for a support system and has been seeing someone about her self-esteem issues, and now she’s leaving.
Clearly she’s possessed of a demon.
That’s the kind of passage that does real harm: the idea that if you don’t like your kid’s actions, if they act like abused children, clearly the solution is to drag them to a priest, break down any sign of resistance until they’re meek, obedient little things again, and then claim you’ve exorcised the demons and returned your loving daughter to you.
(A brief interruption: Carmen visits Hank. Why is this book so very keen on interleaving scenes that have nothing to do with each other?)
[Sandy] stood there rigidly, breathing heavily through her nose, her lips shut tightly, her body crouched a little. It was simply unreal!
It’s not unreal. It’s a fear response.
“I really do love you. Do you — do you believe that at all?”
“You — you don’t know the meaning of the word!”
Marshall tried to speak slowly, carefully. “Sandy . . . I don’t know if I can explain it to you very clearly, but remember what you said yourself about the town that one Saturday, how you thought — what was it? Aliens were taking over the town? Remember that? […] You don’t know how right you were, how true that theory really was. There are people in this town, Sandy, right now, that want to take the whole town over, and they also want to destroy anyone who gets in their way. Sandy, I’m someone who got in their way. […] Listen to me, Sandy, just listen! Now . . . I run the paper, see, and I know what they’re up to, and they know that I know, so they’re just doing what they can to destroy me, take away my house, the newspaper, undermine my family! […] All that’s happening to use . . . it’s what they want! They want this family to fall apart!”
I concur. There is no reason to believe a speech like that has any merit to it. This sounds utterly delusional, with a heap of denial as well. Honestly, it just–
She actually broke down and tears came to her eyes as she said, “You raped me! You raped me!”
WTF. There was no reason to go there, book. There was just no reason whatsoever to bring a false rape charge into the mix. There’s enough reason for Sandy to leave home without it, and it just… I guess this is to stop me blaming Marshall for his own actions because he’s now being blamed for things he didn’t do? Apparently Langstrat has been using hypnosis “memory recovery” on Sandy, making her “remember” the rape, which is a real thing, but I just feel like… it’s not necessary to go there.
Sandy hits Marshall with a lamp and flees.
Backtracking a few pages, while all this was going on, Carmen claims to have some difficult truths to admit to Hank and Mary. Sure enough, she’s claiming they’ve been having an affair.
I’m beginning to get a bit of a misogynistic bent here. It’s always women, always rape or sex, always false allegations, always believed, always men who are put on the ropes and destroyed by the allegations.
Hank orders the demons out of Carmen. There are fifteen, and apparently this poses a danger to him, trying to dispel fifteen at once? But apparently the angels can guard their lives, but not “keep the demons from doing whatever they might do . . . “? So… are they physical enough to rape, torture, et cetera? Or are we just thinking he’s going to be possesed? This would be more suspenseful if the danger was a little more exlicit, I think.
Hank uses Jesus’ name, and is thrown backward; Carmen uses the opportunity to attack, but ends up fleeing.
As Hank and Mary watched her go, all they could do was hope the neighbors wouldn’t see.
To finish off the chapter, Bernice and Marshall are beginning to plan again. So much for him being out of the picture like he was brooding about at the beginning of the chapter.
“Want to toy with a theory?”
Win. She states it anyway: Susan might have gotten away and might be going to meet Kevin someplace, and if so, someone somewhere has a recording of the phone call setting this up, because his phone was probably bugged, and that someone is probably Brummel because he fired his secretary Sara, and he had his filing cabinets moved to make room for equipment so that must be the monitoring system, so they just have to break in and get the records and they have him for illegal wiretapping and probably murder!
Batman: Pretty fishy what happened to me on that ladder.
Gordon: You mean, where there’s a fish, there could be a Penguin.
Robin: But wait! It happened at sea! See? “C” for Catwoman!
Batman: Yet — that exploding shark was pulling my leg!
Gordon: The Joker!
O’Hara: It all adds up to a sinister riddle… Riddle-er. Riddler?
Riight. You can tell I’m getting close to the end of the book, can’t you?