The restroom at the Stars 'n Stripes reeks of weed, and Noah speculates that maybe the "single-issue hemp-heads ... were here to attach their cause to the larger group's ambitions." Noah knows what the group's ambitions are? Because I sure as hell don't. Not in this novel, not in real life.
Noah returns to the pub and engages in behaviour he knows is "a little creepy": He spies on Molly and her new table-mate from across the crowded pub. (Nevermind that earlier the pub was described as being so crowded "it was impossible to keep to a straight line as he walked," now it's clear enough to ogle his date from across the room.) Hollis (the Winnie the Pooh guy) has gone and a new man is sitting at the table with Molly.
They were sitting close together, hand on hand, talking and whispering, intent on one another, each finishing thoughts for the other, laughing easily. It was an intimate relaxation between them, a togetherness without any pretense, the kind of closeness you see only rarely between siblings, and sometimes among old friends, but often between two people in love.
Uh oh. Noah's getting jealous.
Hollis appears next to Noah, busting his creepy spy routine. There's a short conversation. Noah zeroes in on Hollis' accent (Appalachian) as the man offers up some exposition. The guy at the table is Danny Bailey. Noah pretends he doesn't care about Molly. The author repeatedly mentions Hollis' hulking frame. (Will that be important later?) Lastly, Hollis says "To be honest I don't know that much about him. But he scares me some."
Noah returns to the table and meets Danny.
If the twinkle in his deep voice was any indication, Bailey found himself pretty damned amusing. He had the air of someone who was accustomed to being seen from a stage or on camera and had put his look together accordingly. He was handsome enough, but up close you could see all the things the footlights would obscure.
In my mind, Danny is played by Stephen Baldwin. (Again courtesy of Joe Mande.) That doesn't mean you have to imagine him as Stephen Baldwin. But in all honesty, it's something I often do: casting famous people as characters in books. When I read Harry Potter, Neville Longbottom looked just like Sal Mineo in my head.
There is a silly conversation between Noah and Danny, the highlights of which I will share now:
"So, you must be Noah. Molly's told me almost nothing about you."
"I'm not surprised. We hardly know each other, and what she knows so far, I doubt she likes too much."
"Here's to new friends, and maybe a new fan."
"I'm sorry, you said a new fan?"
"Don't tell me you haven't seen the video."
Noah blinked, and shook his head.
"Overthrow, man, the video. It's gonna bring on the total downfall of the whole frickin' evil empire, thirty-five million views on YouTube. That's me. I'm shocked, you really haven't seen it? There's e-mails about me flying around all over the Internet."
"Well, I guess I've got a really good spam filter."
For a long moment the legendary Danny Bailey looked like he'd just been double-smacked across his face with the ceremonial dueling gloves.
"Down, boys," Molly said.
If you remember, back in chapter one, I joked about the inevitable Youtube reference that would pop up. Here it is. Not only that, but we have a veritable Youtube star in our novel. God damn if this book isn't timely and relevant!
Danny downs a couple shots and runs to the stage. Molly explains that "Danny's a good guy, he's just living in the past of this movement." Again with the nebulous "movement." Maybe I was supposed to ready Dick Armey's Teabagger Manifesto before picking up The Overton Window. Molly continues:
"You'll see what I mean when he speaks tonight. He doesn't have much of a BS-filter, and he gets people fired up about the wrong things, when there are plenty of real things to fight against. But, there's no denying he gets a lot of attention."
Then Molly and Noah get their eHarmony moment and tell each other something the other doesn't know about them.
"I have an almost supernatural ability to tell when a person is hiding something."
"No, you don't."
"I do. While the other kids went to Cub Scouts I was sitting behind one-way glass eating M&Ms and watching about a million focus groups. I know people." He thumped his temple with an index finger. "Human lie detector."
M&Ms! For authenticity! Right? I don't know. What an odd little fact to drop into the text. It fits, I guess, since everything about the writing is strange.
Noah identifies someone in the crowd, "an infiltrator," who doesn't belong. Oh, yeah, it gets better. Or worse, depending:
Molly nodded, took a deep breath, and then climbed up to stand on the seat of her stool and shouted across the bar. "Hey, you!" She pointed to the man in question, who had turned to face her along with most of those nearby. "Enjoying the show, are you? Look, everybody! We've got a Benedict Arnold in the house!"
Oh, that Molly Ross! What a firebrand! What a scamp! "I can sometimes be a little impulsive," she tells Noah.
Oh yes, he is definitely going to fall for her now, isn't he? He already did in chapter one, but now he's really, really in love.