Previous: 12, 13, 14
Next: 18, 19, 20
Chapter Fifteen 13: Concordance (Tóng Rén)
Joel’s research leads to a likely candidate for Geneva’s grandfather–former NYS state senator Derek Baker, who lives in Rochester. Joel also wants to discuss practical things about the relationship, like wills. Gabriel is uneasy but goes along. Herrmann calls to tell Gabriel he has some information. Gabriel doesn’t explain the call to Joel, who is consternated.
Gabriel then visits Herrmann. Herrmann says Devanović was involved in organized crime in Yugoslavia in the past, including Russian criminals. Apparently Devanović crossed them and is on their hit list. This can be something to use as leverage with Devanović. Gabriel also tells Herrmann a plan he has to report on the Tertullians, using an anonymous identity on YouTube. However, Herrmann notices someone outside spying on the building. It turns out to be Joel, and Herrmann yells down at him to come inside. Joel then meets Herrmann and the animal coterie and catches up with what Gabriel and Herrmann have been doing.
Later, Joel has arranged a holiday party with their friends, in essence to celebrate their being a couple.
Chapter Sixteen 11: Progressing (Tài)
Gabriel has a distressing dream about his mother and his uncle, telling him to look for the ‘trigger.’ Later, Chiang tells Gabriel that he’s mentally visiting hells to find answers, and that he should listen to the dreams in order to protect others.
Gabriel feels something bad has happened. He tries to contact Giselle, and misses her return call. Her voicemail alarms him, but he can’t reach her. In the midst of his panic, he and Joel consider if her boyfriend Tom Smith has any knowledge. Then Mikki calls and asks Gabriel to come to her office and bring Joel. Mikki tells him that Giselle has been found brutally murdered. Gabriel realizes from certain clues that ‘Tom Smith’ is actually Don Mathers, and Don Mathers is also Frank Carlson. Gabriel is anguished and angry with himself for not seeing it sooner, raging to hurt himself. Mikki and Joel stop him, get him focused. Gabriel decides to continue an idea he had, to have Bob describe Don to Joel, who can make a sketch.
Bob works with Joel on the sketch right away. They feel strongly that it indicates Don is Frank. Seth Monroe tells Gabriel that Frank happens to be out of town at the moment in a conference. Gabriel is able to get some personal info about Frank’s family from Monroe. The info turns out to be false, further evidence Frank is a fraud.
Gabriel then meets with Devanović at a prison update. Devanović is cordial but not discussing anything regarding Don Mathers. Gabriel launches into a narrative about what he theorizes Devanović’s role has been. He tells Devanović that the Russians will be waiting for him when he’s released on parole and deported (happening soon). Devanović agrees to give Gabriel an affidavit of his role.
Later, Gabriel helps Giselle’s brother arrange a funeral and to attend a gig Jason has which dedicates a song to her.
Gabriel plans to have Bob hear Frank’s voice when Frank returns, to positively ID him. Although Mikki is not going to be paid anymore since Giselle is killed, Gabriel is still determined to work on the case.
Chapter Seventeen 12: Obstruction (Pĭ)
Gabriel has another dream about Palden Lhamo, a female Buddhist spirit and defender. Devanović provides the affidavit implicating Don Mathers in several deaths.
Gabriel and Joel have an intimate discussion, and work on the paper they found on the man who shot at them in New Jersey. The paper has Albanian words that lead Joel, who is from New Jersey, to believe he knows what location it’s referring to–a notorious creepy road and forest.
They set out for the road and the landmarks Joel knows, old abandoned stone furnaces. Investigating the furnaces, Gabriel and Joel discover more bodies in containers–more of Don’s victims.
However, upon reporting this, Gabriel is detained as a material witness. Mikki begins working to get him released. Talking about the situation with Mikki, Joel understands that DNA would be even better than a voice identification regarding Don Mathers.
Joel visits Sophie, and through her, Edward. Edward tells Joel that Don Mathers has one unchangeable attribute–an acid scar on his right hand. The hand Frank Carlson keeps covered.
Mikki fights for Gabriel’s release at the material witness hearing.
Between the Pages:
- Inside New Jersey law…which I’ve researched countless times since I like setting things in New Jersey. In this case, I have my insider significant other, who used to practice and teach NJ civil and criminal law. Oh the fun discussions, which only another lawyer could love. Anyway, the research here was on emergent judges and material witness warrants, which Gabriel is subjected to. The suspicion is not unreasonable–Gabriel has discovered a lot of bodies in addition to having reported attempts to kill him twice. However, the prosecutor has an animus against him and is making it personal (which happens) and Mikki rightly demands that the arguments stick to law.
- I liked Giselle and her good heart in supporting her friend Sophie, her caretaking of her brother, and her trust and affection for Gabriel. It devastated me to have her be Don’s victim, and it devastates Gabriel that such a thing happened. As an author in the thriller/suspense/crime/mystery genre, you can choose how you feel about violence and death. I know my stories contain a great deal and more to come in this book alone–but I take it seriously and try to understand the after-effects and repercussions. It’s world building. At the moment, we’re binging American Gods, which I haven’t seen or read but it is pretty good and based upon a Tibetan concept of Tulpa, and thoughtforms. I wonder about fictional creations and art–what generates from them in our atmosphere. Does great art, like Van Gogh’s work (which inspired me to include the concept of Rasa in the book) balance in the positive against bottom-feeding exploitative work? I’m developing a quasi fantasy set of stories with the GW characters on this theme and similar themes, so the question is compelling to me.
Beyond the Pages:
- Joel knows the history of Caraway Road well, from his childhood and adolescence in NJ. Caraway Road is based on a real place, Clinton Road. It is notorious in Jersey. It was the location of long-abandoned ironworks, and the furnaces described in the chapter are really there. We drove there to check it out in an icy November. The road is as creepy as described. Something about it has the feel of a Stephen King short story, and just off-vibes. We passed what looked like an abandoned house, and something briefly moved by a window that freaked us out. We had difficulty finding a place to pull over to look around, and even some car trouble in starting the car and making the right turns in and out. Check out this Buzzfeed article too.
Here are some pictures from that trip:
Questions for Readers
I’ll put this out here as mentioned above. Imagine that great art, mediocre art, and bad art creations (books, movies, shows, paintings, etc.) had an effect on our overall vibes, auras, qi–whatever you might call it. How do you define great/mediocre/bad? Does a great work negate a terrible one?
In honor of Giselle, who I really hated to have be killed, I have her favorite Billy Joel song, The Night is Still Young These lyrics also pertain to Gabriel and Joel’s relationship….
I know we got to work real hard, maybe even for the rest of our lives
But right now I just want to take what I can get tonight…
Extras: Deleted Scenes
This was an alternate take on Gabriel and Joel’s talk in the apartment.
Joel is on the floor in Gabriel’s living room, studying with the book of symbols and the Umberto Eco novel. Gabriel is engaged in something he calls embryonic breathing and version of ‘holding the ones,’ imagining the universe in the stars. He’s told Joel that the Mao Shan sacred text, which he has again now in translation thanks to Joel, says: a person can transform one’s body into anything and everything. A person can go through water and fire, tame tigers and leopards, control demons and spirits.
Joel likes the idea, although he’s not getting into the Taoism exercises regardless of the hints. That’s Gabriel’s thing. He’s just content to be doing his own thing while Gabriel gets down with ancient Chinese culture.
Eventually, Gabriel lies on his back on the living room rug next to Joel, consulting Connextions magazine on his Ipad about various LGBT-friendly vacation spots. They’ve never done that, gone away anywhere. Gabriel doesn’t take many vacations due to work responsibilities, but they’ve earned the right.
It’s very quiet otherwise. Veronica has gone out with Michaela somewhere. They’ve gotten the impression that she isn’t coming back tonight. Archie and Bella are curled nearby, happy to have a family, and also wanting to play with Joel’s stuff on the floor, particularly pencils.
Joel lays his head on Gabriel’s chest, feeling his head move up and down with Gabriel’s breathing.
“You’re going to let me handle this Tertullian stuff, right? You’re not going to go ahead without me?”
“No, I promise. Herrmann also wants to do something more conventional, write a book about his work in hunting Nazis… that reminds me, if something happens to the notes, he has a copy. I have it set up with him. ‘Jonah’ is the password.”
“Okay. If you’re going to get all Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Porn Star on me.”
Joel lifts his head to stare into Gabriel’s eyes for a long time. The sun goes down outside and the light in the room softens. Shadows change the contours of their faces.
Joel reaches over to light a large candle on the coffee table, then turns back.
“Tell me you love me.”
He never asked that before. He sees
“I want to hear you say it.”
His eyes are wide and concentrated on me.
I put my hands on his face, cupping him gently. “I love you, Joel McFadden.” He doesn’t like his last name, but I use it to show I accept him for all who he is.
He rarely cries, almost never in front of anyone else. But this is too much for him. A tear falls on me. Hearing me tell him I love him is building him whole. His head trembles a bit, he starts to pull away, but I keep hold of him; let his tears fall on me.
He breathes heavy; I wipe his face clear.
“I love you too.”
He sits back up; we watch each other. Our closeness gets warmer, more physical. Lying on the floor, we feel it spontaneously. It’s never that far away. Without speaking, he takes off his clothes and mine, staying on top of me. Luckily, Veronica is out doing something with Michaela, a date I hope will keep her busy for hours.
He’s staring down at me with an expression reminding me of a beautiful jaguar
fiercely contemplating prey. “Does Taoism say anything about this?”
I put my hands on his thighs straddling mine. “I told you the story of the cut
sleeve. You would be the fair young man Lung Yang Chün, who fell asleep on the Han Emperor’s arm, and for whom the Emperor cut off his sleeve rather than disturb him.”
“Very cute, but not the most erotic story in the world.”
“All right, if you’re going to be a pain in the ass about it, I’ll get technical. Taoism in sex is about prolonging the yang essence as long as possible. Various techniques can be involved to delay orgasm.”
“At least that’s something for Taoism…” He’s listening to me with his imperious look, which from him makes my mouth dry. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed his different looks and personas, in intimacy.
“You think Buddhism has no sexuality?”
“I try, baby. I listen as much as I can when you start your Pop-Up Video trivia…but the erotic part comes from watching your mouth when you say it, rather that what you say.”
“Then you haven’t heard enough about Tantric.”
He very gently rocks back and forth on top of me. We haven’t done anything yet. It’s all anticipation now. The gentle motion affects both of us.
“Tell me. But I’m still going to watch your mouth.”
I’m starting to have difficulty speaking under his gaze.
“Tantra…is the cultivation of the pleasures that other Buddhist schools often rejected, including sexual–a divine embrace, becoming united with the World Soul, becoming one with a lover. Usually…with magic spells and diagrams.”
We’re breathing hard now, still not moving much. Feeling each other.
“I’m going to draw those diagrams for you. What else goes on with this Tantra?” He draws slow patterns on me with his fingers.
I feel myself break out in sweat, even in the cool air coming in the windows. “Mantras, visions, yogic postures, conjoining with the partner who is now the vessel of divine energy. Tantra is also called the thunderbolt vehicle.”
“Thunderbolt, is it? So unreal…you’re unreal, but here you are, under me. I wanted this so long, baby. I came so my times by myself, thinking about you…”
We’ve both become enraptured with the intensity of what’s between us.
“Show me,” I tell him. “Show me what you did when you were thinking of me.”
He does. Slowly. I watch him, feeling wonderfully tense.
“Now show me what you were thinking…make it come true…”
His hand comes down to me. “I want that, and I want this too. Conjoining with the vessel of divine energy.”
“Do it,” I whisper.
This page updated 7/31/2017
Copyright 2012-2017 Alex Fiano