GW Recaps–The Book of Joel: Angela, Chapter Eleven, Ty & Dean
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Angela, Chapter Eleven, Ty & Dean
Samuel Taylor Coleridge said, And in today already walks tomorrow.
What Happens in Angela:
It is 1996. Joel is 18. He’s strolling Times Square when he’s approached by an older woman. She pushes hard to recruit him into her stable. Joel listens skeptically as Angela describes how she runs her escort agency. She’s impressed by him but realistic and pragmatic. Joel is smart enough to discern that she is offering something better than what he has on the street. He decides to be part of her operation.
The nice thing about Angela’s help is it gets Joel legitimate on paper–to have a driver’s license and voter’s reg and register for selective service. Angela and Harry both help Joel do more than live in the moment.
Agathon said, This only is denied to God: the power to undo the past.
What happens in Chapter Eleven:
Joel and Geneva are spying on Stephen Cody. They watch his domestic activities for a few days, and follow Cody upstate to where he appears to own a house in a secluded area. Joel notes the alarm company connected to the house and confirms Cody’s ownership.
Meanwhile, Gabriel is working with Chris on tracking Ken McFadden’s and Cody’s paper trails. Geneva and Joel return to update Gabriel on what they’ve found. Gabriel attempts to stay calm as he absorbs the information and deal with Joel’s insistence to investigate Cody close up. Joel wants to break into Cody’s upstate house and Gabriel is resolutely against it. The argument causes Gabriel to have one of his massive headaches and pass out.
Later on, Joel is back in New York City shopping and contemplating how he might help Gabriel. While he’s on the subway, Joel speaks to Jan about his need for professional help in the case. Suddenly a man approaches him to talk. It’s Mr. Zest (from The Hanged Man).
Ty & Dean
The Tao Te Ching says, Being and Nothing come from each other; Difficult and easy depend on each other; Long and short demonstrate each other; High and low incline to each other; Sound and voice harmonize each other; Front and back follow each other.
The need for help reminds Joel of the situations with Ty and Dean. It’s 1998. Joel and Chris are hanging out at a bar when a man accosts Joel, insisting upon hiring his services. Joel determines the man is “Crazytown, population one,” and extracts himself. He and Chris return to Chris’s apartment.
And Ty has followed them, and busts in the place. He’s angry at Joel for rejecting him, and he has a gun. Joel placates him, including sexually. When Ty is temporarily off guard, Joel hits him over the head with a lamp and prepares to drag him outside where he might be found with some drugs.
Chris asks if it wouldn’t just be better to call Angela. Although very angry himself from the incident, Joel gives in and calls Angela and Harry. They come over and begin to take care of the situation. Ty starts to stir and Joel kicks the hell out of him. Then Harry takes Ty outside. Angela briefly comforts Joel before leaving.
Some months later, Joel has a new client–Dean. Dean appears to be a good client who is interested in a romantic-style scene. However, after sex, Dean turns cold and scornful, and Joel has a difficult time shaking that off. Angela advises him to consider this just business and ignore Dean’s attitude. Joel tries. But Dean just gets more contemptuous, and Joel is afraid he will become so hardened to it that he will lose himself. He talks back to Dean, and Dean complains to Angela. Angela drops him as a client and says she has a better one for Joel–a Dutch man named Jan.
Someone reviewing TBOJ said that Joel’s past was neither romanticized nor exploited. That was the aim. I didn’t want Joel’s work to be romanticized. By this chapter, the reader has seen the dangers Joel has faced on the street or otherwise. True to the dangers a sex worker can face over and over. At the same time, I didn’t pile on these dangers just to have an endless succession of terrible things happening. I save that for Gabriel. Describing what happens to Joel with Ty (and with Meese) was not easy. It’s sexual assault. Like the beating Joel receives from the anonymous man in the cheap hotel in “Jennah,” sexual assault is a constant danger.
Approaching authorities wouldn’t help. So Joel, ever the TCOB type, prepares to handle it himself. This has worked for him in the past with his inner maturity. But sometimes things need some help. Even though he does not want to involve Angela, involving her takes care of the situation. Harry will handle Ty.
Of course, Joel’s sudden rage at Ty is very much correlated with his rage at Sean in Chapter Two. For the most part, Joel does not let what happens in life defeat him. But he has not given himself a chance to grow, which is why he never promoted his art. And he has anger issues, understandably. He doesn’t care for therapists, so he buries what he feels. Sometimes it comes out.
Angela understands. Angela is the pragmatist of pragmatists. But she’s had the same experiences as Joel. And so in her accounting book of a heart, she empathizes with him and the anger and loneliness of being victimized with no recourse.
Playlist: Berlin, “Take My Breath Away.” After all, Joel had to hear it enough times on his excursions with Dean. The lyrics don’t matter here; Dean wanted the song for the fantasy in his head.
Copyright 2016 Alex Fiano
Page updated 3/23/2016