Monday, May 7, 2012

False Memory: Chapters 12-18, ppl 66-85 (with intervals)

When we last left Dusty, he had taken his drug addicted half-brother Skeet to rehab following a suicide attempt. I did not dwell at length on Dusty's adventures up to this point because they contain very few clues of things to come and nothing to suggest anything below the surface. 

That changes about page 66 when Dusty returns home to change into dry clothes.  Valet the dog is happy to see him, but seems strangely disturbed about something and wants Dusty to look at the downstairs bathroom.  When he does, he finds that someone used the waste basket to break the mirror.  So now we know, back on page 15 when Martie didn't like what she saw in the mirror, but she knew what to do about it, that what she did was break it.  We later learn that she has no memory of breaking it.  What we never learn is why Ahriman would tell her to break the mirror and then not remember that she did it.  Dusty at first suspects burglars, but there is no sign of a break-in, no other damage, and nothing stolen.  So he concludes that it must have been some sort of accident by Martie.  He cleans up the broken glass.

Dusty changes clothes and decides to take Valet with him to the clinic.  The phone rings, and he answers.  When he hangs up, he says that someone was trying to sell him a subscription to the L.A. Times.  Valet is napping "as if Dusty had been on  the phone ten minutes rather than thirty seconds."  Dusty gets the dog into the car and going, grumbling all the time about his dislike of newspapers, except in toilet training dogs, and sales people.  It occurs to him that despite having a perfect photographic memory (this was mentioned earlier), he does not remember whether it was a man or woman selling the paper, or what he said. 

Okay, so once again, Koontz has done a good job of suggesting something creepy happening over the phone, but disguising it well enough that the audience could easily miss it.  In fact, the only reason to notice it this time around is that something similar happened to Martie about 50 pages ago.  But once again, while Koontz does a good job of disguising his clue, he utterly neglects to explain it later on.  This time there is quite a plausible explanation.  Most likely Ahriman is calling to ask how the suicide went and finding out that it failed.  This may be so.  But if it is, we are never told.

Dusty then goes on to Skeet's apartment.  The perishable food in the fridge is minimal (a loaf of bread, a pack of bologna, and a carton of milk) and well past its expiration date.  But the apartment is impeccably neat, to Dusty's surprise.  Dusty is right to be surprised.  I don't know how much Dean Koontz knows about real life addicts and losers, but I have more experience with them than I care to admit, and it has been my experience that people whose lives are a shambles do, indeed, usually have apartments that are also a shambles.  (For that matter, in my own life, I can chart when my morale is down by when I start letting my housekeeping go).

Skeet's neatness is decidedly odd, but it is essential to the story line because it allows Dusty to spot the one thing in his apartment that is not neat -- a messy scattering of loose pages from a notepad.  Written over and over on the pages is the name, "Dr. Yen Lo."  At first the writing is neat, but the handwriting deteriorates over time, written unsteadily and with great emotion, the pen bearing down so hard it starts to tear the paper.  Finally, after 39 iterations, Skeet presses the pen so hard that it breaks.  Dusty looks through the phone book under physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists, but does not find any Dr. Yen Lo. 

This turns out to be perhaps the most important clue yet, one that leads straight into the real story of what is going one, one that is definitely not left hanging.  But it is also the worst anomaly of the whole novel.  The other dangling clues that go nowhere don't quite fit the premise of the book but can be explained with some imagination.  This one (as we shall see) goes directly against it.

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