In the third chapter of John Dies at the End, I still don’t understand this, but I’M REALLY OKAY WITH IT. FINALLY. If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to read John Dies at the End.
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Chapter Three: Grilling with Morgan Freeman
Okay. Okay! I am starting to get a grasp of this world, and while it’s a very tiny understanding, it’s there. I have something to hold on to! (And the rest is pure chaos, holy shit.)
This chapter has one particular thing in it that completely and utterly grabbed me, though, and it’s a choice on the part of David Wong that grounds me in the narrative. I was surprised when he pulled us out of Dave’s narration and back to the diner with Arnie, both because I didn’t expect the sudden cliffhanger, and because I was so engrossed in the story that I forgot this was an interview. (ALSO, I WAS REALLY UPSET BECAUSE JOHN DIES AT THE END, NOT ON PAGE SEVENTY-FOUR. DON’T TEASE ME, BOOK. DON’T DO IT.) In that one instance, the author is able to take us out of a bewildering and confusing story and remind us that not everyone knows what’s going on. While I sense that Arnie will have some role aside from being the journalist, here he acts as the voice of the audience. It reminded me of The Princess Bride, you know? The story is interrupted so that someone in the book itself can go, “Hey, what the fuck are you talking about?”
Prior to that happening, though, I spent a great deal of time thinking, “What the fuck is this book talking about?” It was confusing enough that David was dragged into a precinct, but the dread that builds as the main cop slowly reveals what’s happened overnight is horrible. First, let me confirm as someone who has been arrested/interrogated that there is pretty much no sensation in the world like how time passes when you’re all by yourself in a cell. Five minutes feels like a year! When you add this to David’s ever-growing abilities, you’ve got one hell of a frightening experience. The guilt, the dread, and the confusion all combine to freak him the fuck out. Which is understandable! And I liked that David’s new powers didn’t cause him to feel joy. Perhaps in another context, they would have. But here, it’s just awful timing. Or good timing? I meanâ€¦ the soy sauce does help David stay one second or two ahead of Morgan.
Well, I suppose that’s not exactly correct. This chapter helps flesh out more of the experience, and it’s more like your perception is enhanced. David is able to see things he normally couldn’t. He can read body language better. He knows what someone is about to say just before they say it. He’s able to.. gods, how do you describe that whole thing where he just distills a person or an action down to its true meaning? That’s incredible! And I’m sure if David wasn’t in this horrible situation, he might actually find the skill to be pretty damn awesome.
Except that nearly everyone at the party the night before is now dead, all from various sorts of mayhem that don’t seem to be connected, aside from them all being at the same party hours before. WHAT IS HAPPENING.
Then, the narrative switches back to the interview, and it gets even creepier. I am not sorry to say I nearly lost it during this section:
“Do you ever go in the bathroom at night, Arnie, and for a second, just a split second, you glimpse something in the mirror other than your reflection? Then you turn the light on and, of course, everything’s fine again. But for just a half a second, maybe while you’re leaving the room, you see out the corner of your eye that it isn’t you in the mirror. Or maybe it is you, only changed? And what’s looking back at you is something completely different? Something not very human?”
I LOVE THAT ARNIE’S RESPONSE IS:
“Let’s go back inside, okay? Your story was more interesting.”
BLESS. Of course, the story isn’t as interesting as whatever it is that Arnie sees inside the box out of the corner of his eyes. I still don’t know what it is that John and David see yet, but I’m getting hints towards it. First of all, when David has that horrifying fight with G. Gordon Liddy look-a-like in the interrogation cell, it’s important to note that no one seems to see anything when David escapes. Not just that, but the detached arm (EWWWW OH MY GOD THIS SECTION IS SO GROSS) disappears. Then I went back earlier in the chapter and realized that the white cop never spoke. Hell, Morgan Freeman never even acknowledges his partner. So does that mean he wasn’t ever “there” to begin with??? That’s what John implies when he calls David, whichâ€¦ THAT IN AND OF ITSELF IS MIND-BLOWING. How? How??? How can John interact with David this way???
Which makes me think this is less about perception than I’m led to believe. I think the soy sauce gives people access. It allows humans to see things and experience things that weren’t normally there. How else would John be able to transcend time and send messages from an undetermined future? Orâ€¦ shit, he doesn’t necessarily have to be in the future, right? What if he exists outside time? But that still doesn’t explain the bratwurst phone. (It’s at this point that I am starting to realize how bizarre this experience must be for anyone who is reading the reviews but not the book itself. I know you exist! And I cherish you.) How is John able to manipulate physical space? Well, wait, he can only sort of do that, since he couldn’t make a hundred dollar bill appear for David. Soâ€¦ what?
Color me intrigued, y’all. I need to know more about what’s going on!
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