Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chapter Forty

Chapter forty! The home stretch! Yes, we're on our way, something is bound to happen soon! No, it won't be in this chapter, but we're getting there. We are! I promise. No, I don't promise. I never promise. Because I am shit at keeping promises.

To sum up what happens in this chapter: Bailey and Kearns get out of the van.

That's it.

Scratch chapter forty off your bucket list, because it's done!

There's not even anything very snark-worthy in the text. I mean, it's all snark-worthy. But no more than usual. In a book full of phoned-in chapters, even this one seems phoned-in.

As they got close the scene became clearer. Danny saw the rear ends of two vehicles, a car and a midsize, unmarked yellow cargo truck, both of which were parked behind a square, gray, one-story building.

"Building" was an overstatement, actually; the simple ten-foot-high enclosure appeared to be made of nothing but cinder blocks and dark mortar. There was an open arched doorway but no roof overhead. About a stone's throw away from the main structure, in a perfectly spaced circle surrounding the building on all sides, were a number of bizarre, freestanding walls and angled edifices jutting up out of the sand. Some looked like backstops from a playground handball court, one like the black alien monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The layout reminded him a little of Stonehenge, but only if Stonehenge had been built over one hurried weekend by an amateur bricklayer on acid.

"What the hell is this place?" Danny asked.

Maybe an old part of a nuclear test site suggests Kearns. Who knows? Who cares? Kearns tells Bailey to pull himself together, and after they do their deal, he'll buy him a beer and take him to the airport. Oh, okay, that seems a perfectly normal thing for an undercover agent to do.

He'd stopped talking because something had caught his attention out the front windshield. One of the men they were meeting had appeared by the corner of the main cinder-block building, and with a broad gesture he beckoned them to come on over. Another of the men was behind the first, standing there with an assault rifle slung over his shoulder.

"Okay, then," Danny sighed, "let's rock."

Yes, Danny, let's rock. He takes one of Kearns' guns and shoves it in his waist. "The pistol went snugly into Danny's belt in back, not in the middle but closer to the right side." Oh, okay. I guess that means something? Then he tells Kearns to take his pistol out of his ankle holster and put it someplace more accessible. Bailey also pockets the sat phone as he steps out of the van. I guess that means something too.

"I thought you said you didn't know much about guns," Kearns said.

"That's not what I said. I said I wasn't an expert."

Expert wasn't a term to be bandied about among Danny's gun-savvy friends. An expert might be someone who could call their shot from ten yards and then, from a cold start, draw their pistol from concealment and put a bullet right where they said it would go, all in seven-tenths of a second or less. Molly Ross was one of those, and a few years back over one hot and memorable Tennessee summer, she'd taught him everything he knew. He'd been getting even more death threats than usual that year, and she'd wanted him to be safe. So, while he wasn't an expert, his draw was pretty fast—it was the part about hitting what he shot at that still left a lot to be desired.

Aaaand: Scene.

Yeah, that's it. Told you. Nothing happens. Seven more chapters to go. Something's got to happen soon, right? Right.


  1. The sad thing is, I rather like this line: The layout reminded him a little of Stonehenge, but only if Stonehenge had been built over one hurried weekend by an amateur bricklayer on acid. It's rather ruined by the crap that comes before it, but by itself, it's not bad. Which, of course, immediately makes me wonder if he "borrowed" it from somewhere else.

  2. there are, on occasion, good lines here and there. somewhere, back in the first ten or twenty chapters i recall saying something similar. i don't remember what it was now.

    i thumbed through the ghostwriter's own novel a while back and it wasn't as awful as this. it seemed, at least at first glance, competently written.