The Overton Window: Chapter Thirty-Three

Part three, of course, means new characters. We get two this chapter. One is Ellen Davenport ("of the East Hampton Davenports"), the other "an older woman, frail and thin as dry reeds." The second woman has no name. Yet! Or maybe she won't get one. Who knows? Who cares? No, seriously, who cares? Anyone?

The chapter opens with Noah in a cab (of course), heading to the hospital. On the way he calls his childhood "friend who was a girl," Ellen, and asks her to meet him at Lenox Hill Hospital.

As he walked down the hallway of the ward Noah saw three things: the crowd of people overflowing from the double doorway of the floor's small chapel, a smaller knot of visitors waiting outside a single room down near the end, and Dr. Ellen Davenport, still in her wrinkled scrubs, waving to him from an alcove near the elevators.

So, who thinks Beverly Emerson will be cured by The Power of Prayer? Or do you think she'll die holding Noah's hand, maybe after revealing some profound Truth to him? Or, back to my early question: Who cares?

Ellen gave him a hug when he reached her, and then held him away at arm’s length and frowned. "You look like hell, Gardner."

Oh, those old friends! What cut-ups! Ha ha ha. Bleh. Here, have some backstory:

Noah and Ellen both also seemed to realize that dating each other was the last thing they should ever do. They'd actually tried it once just to be sure, and the discomfort of that terrible evening was matched only by its comic potential when the story was retold by the two of them in later years.

Wow. That's just like When Harry Met Sally. But in two sentences instead of 90 minutes. Wow, this book isn't even trying anymore. Just pretend that was a charming moment between two old friends. If it's helpful, go ahead and imagine Meg Ryan as Ellen. (Link!)

So, blah blah blah, except not blah blah blah because this whole chapter is a page and a half long and there isn't exactly a superfluity of words spilling out of the pages here. But short story even shorter, Ellen tells Noah the pills he is taking is methadone (whatever) and Noah asks Ellen to get a good doctor for Beverly.

And somewhere in all that is this:

Noah was preoccupied, looking over the people milling through the hall, every bit as afraid that he might see Molly as that he might never see her again.

Noah was interrupted by the approach of a stranger. It was an older woman, frail and thin as dry reeds, and from the corner of his eye he'd seen her come from the direction of that room near the end of the hall. The woman nodded her respect to Ellen, turned to him, and then spoke with a gentle gravity in her voice that said more than the words (Link!) themselves would convey.

"She's awake now. Somebody told her you were here, and she says she wants to talk to you."


The chapter, of course, ends on that dramatic note. I think the author went to the Soap Opera School of Dramatic Writing. Ominous dialogue + Moody close up of smoldering eyes + music sting = Tension. Okay then. Cut to commercial. (Link!)

And for the record, chapter thirty-four picks up right where thirty-three leaves off, so the break serves no purpose outside of some misguided attempt to create suspense with page breaks.


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