Where are we in the book, now?
IT WAS FRIDAY.
Right. We're about to rip off Stan Lee.
Which is a little like stealing candy from an infant, but it's obvious Anne Rice doesn't care.
Ruben is now aware that a whole bussload of students has been kidnapped. Because, you know, just one kid being abducted is too common for our Sunshine Boy to in vestigate. Oh, No. The agony of the kidnapped child must be multiplied across many families for this to be worthy of Ruben's time.
He had the news blaring from the radio all the way. All that was known was that the entire student body of forty-two students, aged five years old through eleven, and three teachers had vanished without a trace. A sack containing the teacher’s cell phones and a couple of phones that had belonged to the students had been found at a call box on Highway One, with a printed note: “Wait For Our Call.”
Did they add a pink bow? They really should have added a pink bow. I mean, this is obviously "Generic kidnappers R us," so they ought to have a Douglas Adams special here...
Oh, and the kidnappers were careful. No public school scum for them. No. This was a private school. So we can all sympathize with the kidnapping victims. Because we all went to private school
(...FYI I did go to private school for one year. It was the most miserable year of my life)
(My sympathies are with the kidnappers, is what I'm saying. I'm sure after the fifth hour of Veggie Tales Silly Songs with Larry, they're willing to give the kids back.)
(Welcome to my child. AKA The Ransom of Red Cheif)
Oh, and we are assured that the teachers are, and I quote "Earth mothers" and the children are the best kids in the universe (I was on the basketball team for my private school. Because I was tall, and because there were a grand total of three girls in the seventh and eighth grades, and I was the difference between having a full girl's team, and having to stick with the co-ed division, which sadly existed in the North Texas Rabidly Christian Private School universe. One of my teammates spent the entire drive between Stephenville TX and Abilene singing Silly Songs with Larry. MY SYMPATHIES ARE WITH THE KIDNAPPERS.
(imagine. Three straight hours of THAT. Verbatum. Also: WHO GAVE CGI TO CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES IN THE 90s? AND CAN WE TRY THEM FOR CRUEL AND UNUSUAL WHATSIS?)
Also: We are assured that the private school of 42 students had their own very special bus made special. Just for them.
My private school went on a feild trip once, from Stephenville to Austin. Those of you unfamiliar with TX might assume this is simple. This is a five hour drive that began at five AM, comprising the entire seventh and eighth-grade classes. About ten students in all. We drove in the teacher's little volvo and my father's much more spacious suburban. This was back in 98. I remember the boys got stir crazy first, and began issuing chinese fire drills at every single fucking stoplight once we hit Austin city limits. The girls mantained their sanity until about two PM, when we were on our way back (having toured the governors mansion back when Dubbaua was the TX state governor, and the capitol building) and they purchased a set of wax bottles of sugar, which they somehow managed to spill on every concievable surface during the process of consumption. I also remember my dad having to beg the girls not to hang pieces of paper towel and/or t-shirts out the window, becuase this signaled to police that we had a medical emergancy onboard, and we didn't have a medical emergency onboard, just teenaged girls with WAY TOO MUCH SUGAR.
I SYMPATHIZE WITH THE KIDNAPPERS, IS WHAT I AM SAYING.
Oh, but we are assured that Rubans Thumbs are on the case. They are on the case with his iPhone.
Reuben’s thumbs were going as he typed on his iPhone, describing the picturesque three-story building, surrounded by venerable oaks, and masses of wildflowers, including poppies, and marguerites and azaleas blooming on the shady grounds.Our grounds had tulips. Dying tulips, because whoever got assigned the landscaping didn't understand that Texas, even North Texas, doesn't have a winter. We also had poppies, but those grew along the railroad tracks we weren't supposed to walk beside.
Ruben goes to the school. A random photographer asks him for advice. NOTE TO WOULD BE PHOTOGRAPHERS: DO NOT ASK OTHER PEOPLE FOR ADVICE, BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT YOU GET:
“Get the whole scene,” said Reuben a little impatiently. “Get the sheriff up there on the porch; get the feel of the school itself."NO, REALLY? AND WHAT DOES THIS ACCOMPLISH?
And then Ruben is struck with AINGST, my loyal blog-readers. AINGST. BECAUSE MAYBE HIS INHERITING A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR MANSION IS GOING TO DRAW HIM AWAY FROM HIS JOB AS A WONDERFUL REPORTER AT THE RIPE OLD AGE OF TWENTY THREE.
HAVE I MENTIONED YET THAT THE AUTHOR IS SEVENTY?
And then we get a blow-by-blow account of Ruben's life after he goes home. Because, you know, that crime scene full of weeping parents, that's totally boring.
An extraordinary restlessness came over him. He got up, paced, went back to bed. He was lonely, hideously lonely. He hadn’t really been with Celeste since before the massacre. He didn’t want to be with Celeste now. He kept thinking that if he was with Celeste, he’d hurt her, bruise her somehow, run roughshod over her feelings. Wasn’t he doing that these days without their putting it to the bedroom test?
It goes on to a fantasy about Marchant. Because a kidnapping involving innocent children is all about you and your infidelity.
And now we get Ruben's first transformation. And instead of it being a malstrom of pain IE An American Werewolf in London, it is, of course, a transcendant experiance of which ONLY RUBEN COULD BE WORTHY.
Every particle of his body was defined in these waves, the skin covering his face, his head, his hands, the muscles of his arms and legs. With every particle of himself he was breathing, breathing as he’d never breathed in his life, his whole being expanding, hardening, growing stronger and stronger by the second.I'm not kidding. Please. Gag me with a spork.
We also get random, unattributed dialogue!
“Oh, but you knew, didn’t you? Didn’t you know this was inside of you, bursting to come out? You knew!”
RUBEN. WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?!?
AND OF COURSE, his transformation has something to do with Marchant. Because OF COURSE IT DOES.
And then he is fully transformed in a truely orgasmic way, and...you know, I was kidding about the Spiderman references. Really. Rice didn't have to actually employ them:
From one house to another he sped, going lower and lower as he made his way down towards the traffic and noise of North Beach, flying so fast now that he scarce touched down on the smaller slopes, his clawed hands flying out to grasp whatever he needed to hoist his easy weight and send him flying over the next street or alleyway.
Tell me you do not see Toby McGuire swinging between the rooftops here.
He sees a random rape victim and rescues her. No big. To him, anyway. I mean, she's going to be scarred for life, but Ruben gets to rescue her so it is all okay.
I mean, he only rips the rapist's throat out.
A hideous scent rose from the man, if indeed it was a scent. It was as if the man’s intent was a scent, and it maddened Reuben.
RUBEN CAN NOW SCENT EVIL JUST BY SMELLING IT.
Now. How do we treat the rape victim after all this?
The woman stood stark still, her arms crossed over her breasts, staring at him. Feeble, choking sounds came out of her. How utterly miserable and pitiable she was. How unspeakable that anyone would do such evil to her. She was shaking so violently that she could scarce stand, one naked shoulder visible above the torn red silk of her dress.
There are a lot of buzzwords I could use for this, but I'm going to stick with the simpliest and most effective pairing; FUCK YOU RUBEN.
ALSO: PITIABLE. NO. JUST FUCKING NO. GO BACK TO GIRL SCHOOL AND REMEMBER HOW TO GIRL, ANNE. RAPE VICTIMS SHOULD NOT BE PITIABLE. THEY SHOULD BE SOMETHING THAT INSPIRES WROTHFUL VENGENCE. NOT PITY.
And of course the rape victim rejects Ruben's attempt at comfort, mostly because it involved him ripping her rapist's throat out. Of course Ruben, in all his perfection, will be misunderstood. Of course he will.
I am now invisioning a werewolf in Roschach's clothing, rambling about how the Comedian is dead. Which is probably the wrong reference but if you want to invoke comic book orgin stories, Watchmen is one of the better ones. Aside from the whole "Rape saved the entire world" theme.
Ruben then teleports back to his bedroom.
I am not making that up.
And then he sees himself in the mirror. And he reacts with perfectly natural horror and--yeah, I'm not fooling any of you, am I?
“So this was the manner of beast that saved me in Marchent’s house, was it?” He laughed again that low, irresistible rolling laughter. Of course. “And you bit me, you devil. And I didn’t die from the bite and now it’s happened to me.” He wanted to laugh out loud. He wanted to roar with laughter.
There isn't enough "Fuck you" In the world.
Seriously. This is his first transformation. It really shouldn't make me want to dip the bastard in acid.
And just when you think it can't get any better, this happens:
He wanted to cover his face with his hands. But he didn’t have hands. Instead, he held up the iPhone and clicked a picture of himself. And again and again.
Yes. My beloved Blog-Readers. Ruben's first impulse when he discovers he is a werewolf is to use his iPhone to take a selfie.
There is only one comment worthy of this beautific moment:
Ruben considers using his powers to go conquer evil...but he decides he's better off getting a drink of water first.
And then he passes out, changes back, and checks his iPhone for his selfies, which naturally reveal the manwolf looking back at him. Because I guess Stephenie Meyer ruined werewolf for Ms. Rice, and we have to use a word paring less passe.
And then we get the natural freak out of "OH MY GOD I AM A WEREWOLF."
Only those words are never used.
And of course he justifies the fact that his first act as a werewolf was killing a man by the fact that the man was a rapist.
Okay, you got a point, but you still killed a dude in less than twelve hours of being a full blown wolf. Please. Spare me the attempt at morality.
And then we get Marchant transcendant, because of course the life of a backally rape victim cannot compare to the glories of a rich white woman who happened to leave our protagonist her house.
Can this chapter end now? Please?
And then this happens:
No one must know because not a single person in this world could be trusted not to incarcerate the thing he’d become, and he had to know infinitely more about what had happened and whether it would happen again and when and how. This was his journey! His darkness.
It's a little premature to say "trees died for this" but folks? TREES DIED FOR THIS. LOTS. AND LOTS. OF TREES.
FINALLY Ruben's dad makes him stop admiring himself in the mirror because his job is calling him and SOMEBODY in this book needs to act like a frickin' adult.
Yeah. Trees died for this shit.