Novel 3: Act II, Chapter 1, Scene 1b

TOC page here.

Second part of the first scene of the new act: now we reënter the A plot with a link back to the murders.

Two weeks into the year, Diana was in front of a downscale strip club in southwest Atlanta in the glow of dawn, where a man’s body lay cooling on the cold ground. The witness talking to him would have been largely incoherent even when sober, so Diana’s mind wandered. She saw the tiniest fingernail paring of a waning crescent moon just above the eastern horizon: the oldest of old moons, it was no real crescent but a black circle cut out of the pink dawn, with just its lower edge aglow. This seemed important rather than merely beautiful, but she couldn’t think why.

The witness reached out and touched her arm. “We tried to tell him, you know? But he ain’t listen. Bitches don’t care about nothing but money.”

Five days later, she was home unexpectedly early, with no open cases but Alex Dawson’s. The house was empty but for Frey the cat, the fridge was empty but for a heel of fruitcake even she wouldn’t touch, the lights were out, the curtains drawn against the darkened winter sky. The perfect evening.

She sat in the bathtub with House of Leaves for an hour. She lay on the couch to cool off and read until she decided she needed a blanket, then crawled into bed. Frey reappeared and crawled between her knees to give himself a bath, then fell asleep. She kept reading. At some point, her phone rang. Later, when she got up to pee, she checked the screen, saw Andrew’s name, snorted out loud.

So we see the moon, which of course Islam is a lunar religion. But Diana is too caught up in the moment to link the moon to anything else. She’s there at the scene of a banal murder, the sort of thing that will be solved in half an hour, so she’s half asleep while she’s investigating. Look at that throwaway line, right there at the end of the second paragraph. Do you really think that’s unimportant in the larger scheme of things?

Then we get to see the real Diana, the introvert who just wants to nap with the cat and read her book. This is the person she would be if it weren’t for police work and Grace. This is the person she can be because of money. This is the person she was before Andrew and Grace. She’s something of a wish-fulfillment for the typical reader of genre fiction: what if I could just nap and read all day? Dreamy. But this is still just a pause.

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