GW Recaps–Two-Faced Woman: Chapters Six, Seven, Eight
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Next: Chapters 9, 10, 11
Chapter Six: 6 Conflict (Sòng)
Gabriel has a very symbolic dream about himself and Joel. The dream does nothing to calm his feelings. So it’s back to work. Gabriel goes to the Women’s Freedom Network. He speaks with the deputy director, Frank Carlson. They talk about the murder of Charlotte Merical. Frank is interested and willing to let Gabriel look at some records of persons of whom the organization helped. Later Gabriel speaks to the legal director, Seth Monroe. Seth remembers that Charlotte had a source she was dealing with right before she was murdered. The source was connected to private college in the area, Prentice-Cane.
Gabriel is lost in thought back at his apartment. Alex attempts to comfort him, but he ends up making Gabriel more angry by suggesting they move away together, or that Gabriel get better schooling. Still, Gabriel allows himself to be intimate although he’s highly agitated still due to his encounter with Joel.
The next day, Gabriel drives himself and Joel to Long Island to see Geneva and catch her up on the information Gabriel found, and his speculation that Geneva was the natural child of someone influential. Geneva and friendly and inviting to them, but there’s some tension between Gabriel and Joel even as she makes plans to see them socially.
Actually, a lot of tension. And after they leave her, Gabriel pulls into an empty lot to contemplate the ocean, and Joel confronts him over what isn’t happening. They have it out about how they feel. And though Gabriel is honest about still loving Joel, he’s also very afraid that if he gets involved, Joel will distance himself. Gabriel is on the verge of collapse, and Joel stops the argument to take him home. And then he walks away.
Chapter Seven: 23 Stripping Away (Bō)
Gabriel dreams about being on death row and being executed. He’s taking on the sins of others to save them.Gabriel’s dreams cause him to scream aloud, scaring his neighbor.
Gabriel visits Sophie, and through her, Edward. Edward says Leonard loved women and wouldn’t hurt them–but his brother would. Don Mathers. Don was supposed to have hanged himself in a nearby state park. Gabriel arranges to speak to Bob about Don Mathers. He also tries to contact Joel, who is not responding.
Bob tells Gabriel about Don Mathers, who was a real piece of work. A terrible man who tortured his brother psychologically, but appeared like a good person to others who didn’t know him like Bob and Edward. Bob remembers that Don worked with a professor at Prentice-Cane.
Gabriel picks up some info about Don from some interviews that confirms what Bob says. He updates Mikki, who is worried about him. He also gets back in touch with Bettina Carver, his former supervisor when he was an intern in Rochester back in college. He asks her to see if she can obtain police reports about Bernadette McCabe.
The next person Gabriel consults is Bertrand Herrmann. Herrmann and Gabriel briefly discuss Gabriel’s continuing studies of the Tertullian Society from Kent Varney’s notes. They also talk about Gabriel’s current case. Gabriel has figured out that a former psychology professor at Prentice-Cane, Nikola Devanović, is involved. He was jailed for running a fraudulent self-improvement operation. But, as they discover, Devanović was the one who had Don declared dead, and is his heir.
Chapter Eight: 36 Brilliance Injured (Míng Yí)
We see a story about ongoing arsons in Rochester.
Then Geneva is meeting with Gabriel to run on the CUNY Midtown campus. Joel did not join them, and Geneva sees through the situation. Although Gabriel doesn’t want to break down, she comforts him.
Gabriel sees Chiang again. Chiang gives Gabriel some philosophical advice on knowing himself and who he feels has betrayed him, like his father. Giving others a chance, Chiang says, is giving himself a chance as well.
Gabriel gets himself together in order to look through the McCabe file Bettina sent him. He calls Arthur Knox’s mother. She is hostile to him, but from what she says, Gabriel feels she’s in contact. He also calls Arthur’s sister. The sister wants nothing to do with Arthur and bitterly resents him, but agrees to find a photo of him and send it to Gabriel.
Gabriel is outside Joel’s apartment building, and keeps buzzing for him, annoying a neighbor. The next day, Gabriel is too distraught to move. But Giselle calls him and invites him to visit. They talk for some time, and Gabriel tells her his plans to visit the area where Don Mathers attempted suicide.
We now have a scene from Joel’s perspective. He’s in his loft, working on a sculpture. His friend Isabella is watching him, and planning Joel’s upcoming show. She notices Joel is in a bad sulky mood, and ignoring his phone. She answers at the fourth time the person calls–Gabriel. Gabriel convinces her to convince Joel to take the call.
Upon realizing that Gabriel was truly concerned if Joel was okay, as he’s been freaked out about what happened last summer in the Booth case, Joel is contrite. Gabriel happens to be outside a restaurant he had gone to with Alex (and he’s miserable because Alex’s friends are all jackasses) and Joel urges him to come to Joel’s loft. Alex suddenly demands to know what’s going on, and Gabriel walks away, taking a cab to Chinatown and Joel’s loft.
He meets Isabella and sees some of what Joel’s been creating. Then Isabella leaves and Gabriel talks to Joel, seriously. He tells Joel he loves him and wants to be with him again. He has to do it right and end things with Alex, and that he and Joel need to work on being together–to do that right as well. Joel is ready to try.
While they are settling into that feeling, Gabriel gets an emergency call from Veronica; her apartment building is being evacuated due to a meth lab. Gabriel and Joel need to rescue her and her cat, Bella.
Between the Pages:
- Gabriel is supposed to be quitting smoking, but goes out with Frank Carlson for the ‘social smoking.’
- Seth Monroe finds all Gabriel’s good/bad press. A way of life for Gabriel.
- I’ve always been a Murray Head fan. One Night in Bangkok and Jesus Christ Superstar forever.
- E.T.A. Hoffmann–the great, bizarre author. I had the pleasure of meeting Hoffmann’s work in a NYU course (attended Alex’s favorite university for two semesters, as a film major) on doubles in literature. The focus with Hoffmann was on The Sandman and Freud’s concept of the Uncanny.
Beyond the Pages:
- Alex mentions Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley books. Starting with The Talented Mr. Ripley, the series follows probable psychopath Tom Ripley as he lives a carefully constructed rich life in France, only occasionally needing to murder someone.
- Persons who were wrongly executed. Cameron Todd Willingham. David Spence. Larry Griffin. Ruben Cantu. People incarcerated for crimes they likely did not commit is immensely disturbing, and a crime itself if executed. Cameron Todd Willingham’s case stuck out to me years ago for the bad arson forensics, which as part of forensic science problems over all was the subject of a Senate Judiciary hearing in 2009 (I wrote about it when I worked freelance for a magazine). Willingham’s case has since popped up again as documentary.
- Gabriel and Geneva have some fun at Long Island’s expense. Having lived there, I’m sorry/not sorry. Their conversation only scratched the surface of the weird everyday things in that area. Just for fun: http://www.lioddities.com/
- Gabriel truncates wu-wei. It’s not just unnecessary action, it’s acting in harmony with the flow of the cosmos–the Dao. Joel could just as easily argue that his being with Gabriel is the harmony of the cosmos, but under the circumstances he’s in no mood for complex theological discussions.
Questions for Readers:
This section has a turning point for Gabriel. While it’s not explicitly stated, he has to choose which path of life he wants. I believe he knew from the beginning of the book–really, from the end of the last one, but held off to allow his heart to be confident in the decision. But even if we know, we may choose differently because taking that risk is too difficult. Did you ever have a moment in which you had to choose that path, and were mired in how difficult it was? How dis you resolve it?
David Gray: Life in Slow Motion.
Life in Slow Motion is a very wistful song. It really strikes me as being close to poetry, and evoking mood through the haunting part of the music balanced against repetition in words:
Life in slow motion somehow it don’t feel real
Life in slow motion somehow it don’t feel real
Life in slow motion somehow it don’t feel real
Snowflakes are falling I’ll catch them in my hands
Snowflakes are falling I’ll catch them in my hands
Snowflakes are falling now you’re my long lost friend
Rihanna: Love the Way You Lie. When Riri’s at her best, she touches everything that you can feel in a contentious relationship.
Even angels have their wicked schemes
And you take that to new extremes
But you’ll always be my hero
Even though you’ve lost your mind
Leona Lewis: Bleeding Love, and George Michael: Kissing a Fool. These have similar sentiments, but in very different styles. Lewis is very dramatic and angsty, Michael, cool and wistful.
But I don’t care what they say
I’m in love with you
They try to pull me away
But they don’t know the truth
Kissing a Fool:
When you need the hand of another man
One you really can surrender with
I will wait for you
Like I always do
There’s something there
That can’t compare with any other
Erasure: I Could Fall in Love with You. A more upbeat song that has the dance/emotionality Erasure balances so well:
I was dreaming
We were sleeping
And you held me tight to keep believing
Don’t upset me
I won’t let you
Fall into a space that’s empty
Extras: Deleted Scenes
The scene with Herrmann was originally longer, with Herrmann telling Gabriel a story from his working days.
Herrmann lights a cigarette. “Are you okay with the gang? I’ll make tea.”
He’s being facetious. I’m covered with dogs and cats at the moment. “Sure.”
We rest in Herrmann’s quiet, dark, book-filled study. The animals settle down and sleep, comforted by our atmosphere and talking.
“Are you going to look further into that?”
“Yeah, not right away. I’m having some difficulty with the cases I have now, because of personal issues. But I will, I’m not giving up.”
When he comes back with the tea, he lights a pipe and considers me. “I’m impressed by your interest in this. You could be my son. I don’t have a son.”
“I could use a new father.”
He smiles. “Well. I have someone to leave the menagerie to, then. Tell me about yourself, Gabriel. We never really talked about why you came to be so interested in this, other than your case.”
So I tell him about my mom and how she wanted to have been a Nazi hunter. How I came to be an investigator. About Manny, who taught me to develop my skills. My uncle Dominic, who taught me to defend my life. My friends. Even about Alex and Joel, since he’s listening and I need to pour this out like I used to do with my mom so long ago. I get no judgment from him. But empathy. “This has affected you deeply. You’re not the same person who first visited me. You shouldn’t be as haunted.”
“I am kind of haunted, by the persons who died. I feel like their deaths shouldn’t be meaningless, but I don’t know what to do.”
Herrmann settles in his chair, stroking his beard. “They weren’t meaningless. You remember them, but don’t fall into the trap of guilt. A significant difference between guilt and justice. Justice makes you act, guilt makes you react.”
“I’m working on that. It’s almost gotten me in trouble.”
“What are you going to do with this information, Gabriel? You risked your life more than once to find out about Scheleiden. It did some good. But what are you planning to do about the Tertullians that you could do safely?”
Richard Scheleiden was an old Nazi I had traced to Bolivia with Kent’s help. He stole artwork from Germany after the war. Scheleiden is dead, probably due to Zest’s intervention. The art is in the process of being litigated over and hopefully repatriated to the heirs of the owners. Scheleiden’s former friendship with a board member of an exclusive arts organization led to my eventual involvement in the case and finding out about the Tertullians.
“I was told to stay away from anything to do with them. That man named Zest made it clear I would be watched.”
Bertrand picks up one of the cats. Jonah stretches in my lap and luxuriates in my scratching his chin. “To an extent, but they are not a large group. Just well-placed. They have too much to do to be following you. But if you were obviously investigating them, then you’d have them on your back.”
“I don’t like being warned off. I’m not foolish about it–I’m not going to publish anything; I doubt any newspaper would believe it in any case. I can’t let it go, though. People have died over this–for decades. If they were exposed enough, maybe they could be broken up and disappear.”
“I think that could be true. But, to take this on…even if they aren’t watching you, you need to be very, very careful.”
“I know. I can’t put anyone in danger but myself.”
We fall silent. I think about my clients with their dual identities. “Maybe…I develop a separate persona. Someone not connected with me, who begins exposing this online.”
Bertrand looks very grave. “A secret identity. You would be a superhero, yes? But not with the money of Bruce Wayne to protect you. You’d have to handle it yourself. But online–can’t they trace you?”
I tell him about a software program Joel uses a great deal, the Tor project. It was developed for persons in other countries to use the Internet and report on their countries’ repression without being exposed. The software bounces the source of the Internet upload across the globe through all the users’ IP addresses. The origin of a particular user can’t be traced–supposedly. The hacktivists Anonymous, whom Joel and I admire tremendously, are known for using versions of it to pursue hate groups, cults, dictators and pedophiles. I have the software–who could resist downloading such a thing–but I had no occasion to take advantage of it.
“Okay. Assume you can’t be traced. What will you do? Write about it on a blog?”
“Probably. Videos would be better. I’d have to disguise myself, get a voice modifier.” I laugh for a moment at the thought of it.
“Think through each thing you do so you don’t leave a footprint.” He smiles. “I will tell you a story. Not just related to what you’re planning, but also what you went through. I think you’ll understand. I was born in 1940. I was twenty-three when I started working with ZS. I had an uncle too, who was taken away. I spent my youth tracking these people down and trying to prepare legal cases. I was frustrated by family members, indifferent governments, lack of funds, disappearing evidence. But I stayed with it until I couldn’t deal with regular people anymore. An ordinary life was no longer appealing to me. I had to right the world. It became what Nietzsche warned about—the abyss. My family even could no longer understand. Now you understand what I mean, I’m sure.”
He lights his pipe again, stroking a matron cat, Sheba. “I rather missed out on the revolutions at the time. But that was my choice. In 1967, I was after a fairly high-up Nazi who had been a liaison with Pavelić and the Ustaše in Croatia. He was aware of the war crimes against Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, and anti-Fascist Croats in the country. He advised Ustaše units and traveled with them, ‘observing.’
“I found out this man, Obersturmbannführer Otmar Ahlwardt, was in Paraguay. He had contacts with Draganović in Italy, and Draganović probably helped Ahlwart get to Argentina and then Paraguay.
“I discovered through talking with dozens of persons and hundreds of documents retrieved from the Italians where he had gone. I went to South America and spent months immersing myself, tracking him to Paraguay. I then had the ZS approach the local government in the town he lived and demanded he be extradited. The government officials were polite but did nothing. They weren’t going to extradite him—he was then a citizen and with a different name. I decided I had to change tactics. I pretended to be a German national interested in doing business with him. He believed me, and we talked about investments.
“He was a highly suspicious man, but he let his guard down from greed. I was able to lure him out to a house that I found out was not being used. I told him I was buying it to set up shop there for investments in uranium. I had a couple of people there, colleagues you might say.” He closes his eyes and then opens them slowly, looking at me. “You can guess what happened next.”
“He was killed.”
“Yes. I did not do it, but I led him to his death. I could have killed him. The memory of what he did was very much cogent. But killing after wartime is a different ethical situation. I was lucky in a sense. My colleagues had connections…perhaps to the Mossad. I wasn’t sure. Many loyalties abound. But justice was what we were thinking of. That he should know that the past can catch up with him.”
Herrmann lights a cigarette. He holds the lighter for me. “I fought with him. He came in the house, we were talking money. A dog barked outside–it startled one of the men hiding in the house. His foot scraped the floor. Ahlwart jumped and tried to push past me. I held on, wrestling with him. He was smaller but strong. The other two men ran out to help me. It was like fighting with the devil. They couldn’t shoot–people in the neighborhood would have heard. Ahlwart pulled a knife, slashed my arm.” He rolls up his sleeve to show me a faded scar much like mine. “I ignored it and held on to his throat. He got weaker finally, and the other two men dragged him into the kitchen to finish him.”
He stops to smoke for a bit. I watch him intensely.
His eyes flicker over mine. “We left him in a freezer. It wasn’t on. Eventually the smell got him discovered. It was a minor scandal for awhile but no one could prove anything. I was working for a government organization, but I was on my own. The men I approached to help me, they were Jews but did not know my name. I’m not James Bond with a license to kill. They didn’t know me, and couldn’t identify me.”
We regard each other.
“You understand justice, Gabriel.”
“You try very hard. No one but you and your friend knows what you went through in that warehouse and the choice you made. It was the right choice. I am not in favor of the death penalty, but I don’t feel bad when evil people are gone. They cannot hurt anymore. Nelson hurt people. He can’t do that any longer. I’m not going to go so far as to speculate he’s in Hell, or that his death rectifies other persons’ death. I won’t do that for Ahlwart either. Some comfort themselves that way. I can’t because I don’t know. I’m not a vigilante who feels I have the right to decide who lives and who dies. Killing someone is not heroic. Taking a life directly or indirectly is a terrible thing. What’s heroic is taking on the burden of the act–the sin, if you will. I’m not saying you should feel better because you had something to do with the death of an evil man, but because you took on the sin in order to save someone. More than one, because of what Nelson would have done had he went on.”
I have a hard time swallowing my tea. The entire world feels heavy on me. “What do I have to do to repair my own karma?”
“Appreciate life. You take it seriously, that’s good enough. You don’t treat harm in a cost/benefit manner. What you do often will not be appreciated, it may even be scorned. But it does something somewhere for someone. Most people, although good, do not make the effort. It’s people who make the effort who make life livable for others.”
I fall silent, and he stays silent with me for some time. Even the animals become subdued in this tiny universe of secrets and karma.
After a while, he gets up and touches his bookcases, heavy with volumes and file boxes. “I haven’t heard of anyone interested in the Nazis in a meaningful manner in years. I don’t mean for a dissertation, or a Hollywood movie, or some sort of lurid enjoyment, but really interested in what they meant and what them escaping meant. You’re in a small group. Your mother would be proud.”
Copyright 2012-2017 Alex Fiano
Page updated 7/31/2017