Novel 3: Act I, Chapter 2, Scene 4

Chapter 2 Scenes 1, 2, 3.

The last scene was the Greek chorus of homeless men; now, we’re going to have a single witness. General to specific, is the idea here: the contrast between the chorus, that represents conventional wisdom, and the individual, who flaunts it or conflicts with it in some other way.

Two hours later, Mustapha watched Diana through the one-way glass as Diana walked into the interview room. Mario sat at the table across from her; if sitting was what someone this jittery could do. Mario might have been half Hispanic, or he might have been all Hispanic: Mario looked like the kind of guy who might not know himself. His hair stuck out in all directions, and the outer half was dyed the color of cheap red wine. He had the kind of mustache only a teenage boy could be proud of, as well as some of the worst acne scarring Mustapha had ever seen.

“Hi, Mario,” said Diana. “Sorry to wake you up.”

“Ain’t no thing,” said Mario, managing not to enunciate a single word. “Do you, like, have a beer or something for me?”

“I’m afraid not,” said Diana. “Just a couple of questions.”

“Maybe a cigarette?”

“I don’t smoke. Mario, we talked to some of your friends in the park–“

“Hey man, I didn’t bother that lady none. She just had no respect for a man needs something to eat.”

“We’re not going to worry about her. What we want to know is what happened to your friend Alex.”

“He got in the car, with his lady.”

“You saw this happen with your own eyes?”

“You calling me a liar? Because I ain’t no liar.”

“Of course not. I’m just trying to make sure I have the story straight.”

“That’s cool. Yeah, he got in. I was walking up to meet them other boys, and the car pulled up and she asked was Alex there.”

“Who asked, Mario?”

“His lady. Rosa, right? She work at the hospital.”

“Do you know Rosa, Mario? I mean, know her personally?”

He shrugged. “I done heard all about her. From Alex.”

“Have you ever met her, before?”

“No, but I seen her.” He shook his head. “She ain’t a very pretty lady.” He reached up to pat his own hair. “She got hair this color, but she got a big round fro, like she a colored lady. But she white.”

“So you recognized her, when she talked to you?”

“Hard to miss that hair, you know what I’m saying? But she asked for Alex. She was real polite and all: she even gave me five dollars.”

“Why did she do that?”

He smirked. “Cause I got the touch, man.”

“You asked her for money?”

“No. She handed me the bills, and asked me real polite and everything.” His voice took on a higher pitch and a singsong tone. “Would you be willing to go up there and tell Alex that Rosa wants to see him?”

“And that’s what you did?” Mario nodded. “And Alex went?”

Mario nodded again. “He said she got a new car. But he got in it, y’know?”

“What kind of car was it, Mario?”

“Wasn’t no car. It was a van. A white one. Hey, are you sure you don’t have any cigarettes?”

So, the plot advances once you know to ask Mario the right questions. Looks like Alex went off with his girlfriend Rosa after all. But watch how he undercuts that narrative without being aware of it: it’s a different car, the woman gives Mario money, he recognizes her by her distinctive hair. In other words, while Mario doesn’t know it, and even the detectives might not have quite caught on yet, we already know this wasn’t Rosa.


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  1. Novel 3: Act I, Chapter 2, Scene 5 | Julian Cage
  2. Novel 3: Act I, Chapter 2, Scene 3 | Julian Cage

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