Friday, May 11, 2012

False Memory, pp. 91-150 (with intervals)

At this point, chapters become less useful as designations.  In fact, I ended my last post on Martie just before the end of Chapter 9 because the subject markedly changed at the end of the chapter.  Martie had just left her friend's house and was heading home.  As she puts her key in the ignition and turns it, she has a vision of herself  driving the key into Dusty's eye and turning it. She is violently sick, then gets back in the car and drives home.  Caught in a traffic jam on the way home, she calls her doctor, Closterman, and says she has an emergency but can't discuss what it is about.  She gets an appointment at 8:30 the next morning.  (When is the last time you got a doctor's appointment that fast?)

Arriving home, she finds the mirror broken and assumes Dusty did it by accident.  Apparently, she has no memory of breaking it.  This is the third mention of that damn mirror.  What gives?  It plays no further role in the story whatever.  I can only assume its purpose is to show that she has memory lapses.  But couldn't Koontz show that in some way that is better integrated into the story line?

Anyhow, she has a deep, irrational fear that she will do something terribly violent and sets out to Martie-proof the house by throwing away anything dangerous.  She throws out knives, forks, scissors, wine bottles, rolling pins, matches, cleaning chemicals, a mortar and pestle (Koontz, by the way, confuses which is the mortar and which is the pestle).

All this goes on for a total of about 16 pages.  Koontz, by the way, shows an extraordinary talent here for creating an atmosphere showing the morbid thoughts going through Martie's head as evening falls:
Already, fat night crawlers squirmed out of the lawn, onto the walkway,  Snails had come forth, too, oozing silvery trails behind them. 
A fecund odor arose from the wet grass, from the mulch and the rotting leaves in the flower beds, from the darkly glistening shrubbery, and from the dripping trees.
In the gloaming, Martie was uneasily aware of the fertile life to which the sun was forbidding but to which the night offered hospitality.  She was aware, too, that an awful centipedal part of herself shared an enthusiasm for the night with all the wriggling-creeping-crawling-slithering life that came out of hiding between dusk and dawn. . . . Outside, the shrill singing of toads in the wet twilight.
In the midst of Martie's panic attack, Susan calls to reveal the terrible secret she couldn't tell before.  Her estranged husband, Eric, isn't just sneaking in at night while she is asleep.  He is drugging and raping her.  She goes to sleep in a T-shirt and panties and wakes up sore and bruised, dirty and degraded, with his semen in her underwear.  She has changed locks several times, each time with a new locksmith.*  But no matter how often she changes locks, he keeps getting in.  She wedges a chair against the door and puts powder on the window sills to catch him if he comes in by one of the windows.  But it does no good, somehow he keeps getting in, leaving the door locked and the chair wedged when he leaves.  Convinced she is being drugged because she never wakes while being raped, she has changed where she orders her food (she gets it from groceries that deliver because she can't go out).  But it keeps happening.  And she can't flee because of her agoraphobia.  She could almost believe her phantom rapist is a demon and not a flesh-and-blood man.

Martie is herself in the grips of a panic attack when she answers the call and desperately wants to get off the phone to resume emptying the house of weapons.  She asks if Eric denies this.  Susan admits that she has not confronted him because it is "forbidden."  Naturally, Martie asks who has forbidden it.  This is a perfect opportunity to return to what we saw before when someone starts Getting Too Close -- for Susan to go catatonic and be unable to answer further.  It has the distinct disadvantage in this case that the conversation is happening by phone, so Martie can't see Susan go catatonic the way she did before (this was before Skype), so it is understandable that Koontz decides not to use it.  Instead, when Martie presses Susan on who has forbidden her to confront Eric, Susan just changes the subject and the conversation continues.  Desperate to get away, Martie ends the conversation, promising to call back.

Her panic continues.  The house has a gas fireplace with fake logs.  Now she begins to fear she is having memory lapses and may have turned on the gas during a blackout.  She has, so far as she knows, no reason to suspect that she has memory lapses, but she does vaguely remember that odd sequence at the doctor's office where she can't quite tell whether she was looking out Dr. Ahriman's window, or it was a scene in the novel she was reading.  (The broken mirror, on the other hand, does not come up).

Finally, she sets to work on the tools in the garage.  First, she smashes them with a sledge hammer.  Then she realizes she is being violent and enjoying it way too much.  So she cuts off the heads of the tools with a power saw.  Then she realizes how deadly the power saw is, so she smashes it with a crow bar.  And then, of course, she realizes the crow bar is as deadly as any other tool, and a lot harder to disable.  It is at this point that Dusty pulls up in his car.

I will stop here, even though it is not the end of a chapter, because it is at this point that the Dusty and Martie stories come together.  Next post will be about what Dusty has been doing while all this was going on, because he is starting to unearth some real clues.

*This puts a small crimp in the story.  It has already been made clear that Martie has a key to the apartment.  If Susan changed the lock, she would have to give Martie a new key, and Martie would naturally wonder why.  But we can pass over that). 

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