The Overton Window: Chapter Forty-Four

You know what's awesome about Molly and Noah's relationship? All the arguing they do. Ah, young love! Yes, Noah's complaint "You people got me again" puts Molly on the defensive.

"We got you?" Molly shouted. "We got you? Are you really selfcentered enough to believe that any of this is about you?"

Well, yeah. Noah's one character trait is that he's self-centered. We established that long ago. Besides, Molly and the teabaggers unending manipulation of him might make him just the teensiest bit skeptical of their intentions. Noah is upset they tried to kill him. Molly says they didn't really. "Hollis stayed with you every minute until they came for you." Oh, okay.

"That's just great to hear. You know, you people are really incredible. My father told me this morning that something is going to happen that's going to change everything, and I'm thinking, okay, a big stock market correction, or another war going hot in South Asia or the Middle East, or a couple of planes crashing into buildings like the last time everything changed forever. And your mother asked me to help you get away to somewhere safe"—he held up the paper in his hand—"and idiot that I am, I let you lead me right to the last place on earth we should go."

So, the last place they should go is to ... where? It's not like Noah knows what's going on in Nevada with the bombs and Elmer and all that. He doesn't know there will be a nuclear explosion, a major fucking terrorist attack. Bailey's note simply says "Big mtg today, Monday PM, southern Nevada." I thought Noah was good at big meetings! He's a PR whiz, ain't he? Jebus, this book is stupid.

"I'm here to stop this thing if I can."

"Well, you can't!" he shouted over her. "Open your eyes, for God's sake. They've got everything, and you've got nothing. All you're going to do is get us both arrested or killed or put into an unmarked hole in the middle of the desert."

"I have to try."

Jebus, this book is stupid. And who says "unmarked hole" anyway? No one, that's who! Noah and Molly argue about the fantasy cabin and how Noah can take care of Molly and blah blah blah.

"Before we got off the plane you told me that you got it; you said you finally understood what I was about."

"I do."

"No, you don't, Noah. You have no idea. You think knowing the truth is enough? A lot of people know the truth, and nothing changes. So today, after twenty-eight years of drifting through life and taking everything from this country and never giving anything back, today you tell me you've finally seen the light and that's supposed to mean something to me?"

Whut? Noah's been "taking everything from this country and never giving anything back"? I thought he had a really good job, was a devout capitalist, paid his taxes and spent money like we're all supposed to. That's a bad thing now? That's taking from the country? I don't get this book's philosophy. At all. Sure, I understand that being a patriot is good, and everyone should defend freedom and be white. I understand that part. But the rest? It's just an ill-thought mishmash of bumper stickers and sloganeering with no cohesion and no uniformity.

Maybe this will help:

"Once you know the truth," Molly said, "then you've got to live it. That's all I'm trying to do."

Nope, that doesn't help. You have to live the truth? Not even Truth with a capital T? Yeah, like I said, bumper sticker.

He saw her look up at the rearview mirror, and something froze in her.

Noah turned to look through the back window. The visibility must have stretched for miles and miles, and way back at the edge of what the eye could see, a tiny line of strobing police lights had appeared.

She was driving as hard and fast as she had before, but there was something in her face, in her eyes, that he hadn't seen before. Molly was afraid. And he knew then that she wasn't afraid of the police, or of going to prison; she wasn't afraid of getting killed in her cause; she wasn't even afraid of Arthur Gardner. She was afraid only that her fight was over.

Awww. Sad face. Also: whatever! Have I mentioned lately how stupid this book is? Dreck. Total dreck.

There'd been turning points in his life that he'd seen coming months away, but this one appeared in an instant. He was safely on one side of it a second before, just being who he'd always thought he was, and then he blinked and he was on the other, waking up to realize who he was going to be.


Up ahead he could see that the road narrowed onto a short bridge over a shallow chasm, which ran across the terrain for several hundred yards.

You see the truth, and then you have to live it, she'd said. It was too late, maybe, and too little, but he knew what he needed to do.

"Slow down," Noah said. "I'm getting out."


He took a last look at Molly. There were tears in her eyes but she kept them firmly fixed on the way ahead.

"Good-bye," Noah said.

She answered, but so quietly and privately that the words clearly weren't intended to reach him. If they were never to see each other again, it seemed, this was just something that she must have wanted read into the record. Wishful thinking, maybe, but he felt he knew in his heart exactly what she'd said.

I love you, too.

Huh? I don't even know. She loves him. Even though every moment they've spent together, even now, even up until this very moment, he's proved to be kind of a putz as far as she is concerned. But she loves him. Which maybe she does and maybe she doesn't because Noah didn't actually even hear her. Yeah, it could all be wishful thinking. You know what I wish? I wish this book was over.

So Noah jumps out of the car and flops around in the road. Some time later, the cops arrive. It's unclear who they are. The FBI? Military? Blackwater? Who cares! It doesn't matter! Noah stands in the middle of the road, at the bridge, and brings them all to a halt, allowing Molly to escape. I guess.

By the time the lead car had skidded to a stop he could feel the heat on his face from its headlights. Some of the vehicles behind were backing up and their drivers were trying to find a way around the bottleneck, but off the road the sand was too soft for traction and those who'd gone into the gully were stuck, their tires spinning uselessly.

He looked up and saw five uniformed men approaching, their guns drawn. They were all shouting orders he couldn't really understand.

And then:

I guess that's the end of Molly's story arc. Right? Noah helped her escape. And she drove right into the mushroom cloud. Oh, that can't be good.

And then they disappeared, as did the rest of the world, in a silent split-second flash of bright white light from behind him. It was so bright that it crossed the senses. He could feel it on his back, he could hear the light and smell it. When his vision returned Noah saw the officers standing in the road where they'd been, some covering their eyes, but most looking past him, blank-faced, their hands hanging down at their sides.

He turned to look back over his shoulder, in the direction Molly had gone, and miles away he saw the rising mushroom cloud, a massive, roiling ball of fire ascending slowly into the evening sky. The expanding circle of a shock wave was tearing across the desert toward them, toward everything in all directions, and a few seconds later it arrived with a crack of thunder and the sudden gust of a hot summer wind.

Blammo. Eyes melt, skin explodes, everybody dead. Except Noah. Noah lives. To carry on the teabagging torch left by Molly and Bailey and Beverly and Hollis? Swell. Just swell. Also: he could hear the light and smell it? Okay!

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