16 November 2005

Annotated Outline 4-6

Chapter Four: Aftermath (6127)

  1. Dazed and Confused (1698) (11/6): Aaron's awakening in the wrecked car. Establishes that he's out of contact when there is no cell service. Establishes his disorientation. Creates the question of whether he is lucid or hallucinating when he stumbles on the meeting, and also casts doubt on his hearing, affected by the crash. I think that Aaron's call after the accident will be completed to Jack, who is at the game. Aaron doesn't realize he's deaf, just that the call didn't go through. Looking in the church. Establishes that there is a window that is in viewing distance of the rendezvous place even though it is not used at this time. Establishes that the church is empty and still. Establishes that the church is unlocked. Aaron's awakening in the foyer unable to hear again. Creates doubt over whether he ever saw or heard what he thought he did. Introduces Pol as a human character who is caring and helpful. Casts into question whether or not there is cellular service because she calls 911. Distracts Aaron from his quest when EMTs arrive and take him to the hospital.
    jason said... "It was lighter in the sanctuary. [...] but there had to be chairs up on the chancel someplace."

    Being a secular humanist, born-and-bred, I have to admit I'm not all that familiar with church architecture. Not that I really need to be, but I'm finding myself more curious about the church itself than about Aaron's situation. It might help, just to give me a frame of reference for the church so I can stop thinking about it, if you could have Aaron absent mindedly notice some detail or other and identify to himself whether the church was catholic, lutheran, methodist, or baptist. Given that you've referenced several christian sects already, then at least giving the church's affiliation would help identify it.
    Nathan Everett said... I think that I'll actually make that more ambivalent. He can't identify the denomination. He might be able to identify some architectural features, like gothic arches around the stained glass windows, but he's going back to do some research on the church and can't even find a property tax record in the auditor's office. There's no mention of what kind of church it is until much later. But I'll emphasize that in this chapter and just say it must be some independent non-denominational church.

  2. Hospital (995) (11/6): Establishes Jack at the hospital and Aaron’s continued disorientation. Introduces drugs to the mix and his broken ribs.

  3. A Visitor (1276) (11/6): Pol visits Aaron at home. Establishes a lingering concern for Aaron on Pol's part. Gives them a chance to talk. Establishes that she is unwilling to talk about what he saw the night before.

  4. Dinner with the Congresswoman (2161) (11/6): Establishes that Pol intends to keep an eye on Aaron in one way or another. She takes charge of getting him settled, making dinner, talking about his life. Leaves us with a spoken and an unspoken invitation as Pol invites Aaron to come to join her staff.
    jason said... "Aaron Case, come to work for me and I will show you how we can change the world. Think about it and give me a call."
    I think she needs to make a stronger argument than this. One that addresses some of the specific horrors that Aaron has lived through. Something like:
    "Come work for me and I will show you how we can change the world. Without getting shot at. Without losing people we care about. Think about it and give me a call."
    I mean, changing the world is great and all, but Aaron already knows that if he really wanted to, he could get back into his old activist role once again. He doesn't, because he perceives the risks (both physical and emotional) to be too great, to be more than he can withstand. So Pol needs to make an offer that appeals to those perceptions. Offering him the opportunity to be influential without the risks and suffering.
    Nathan Everett said... I like that, and you hit just at the moment where Aaron is sitting in his chair thinking about what she said. It probably won't show up in this chapter, but in the next the quote will come more to the heart of the matter.

Chapter Five: Checking it out. (5427)

  1. Sunday, Sunday (2257) (11/7): Aaron is through sleeping all the time. Settles in with laptop to do some research. Decides to look up Pol and her politics. Discovers that she is liberal and matches a lot of his own concerns. He’s impressed and interested. Jack and Theresa come to visit. Theresa exclaims about how much food he went through. Jack and Aaron discuss Pol’s offer and Jack encourages Aaron to consider it.
    jason said... "So delivering a speech in Franklin was squarely within her district if at its very frontiers."
    Squarely, but also at its frontiers? I'd suggest deleting "squarely".
    "She was gone in a whirlwind, content to be mistress of her domain in the kitchen."
    I think we get by now that her domain is the kitchen. Sort of feels redundant to say it again here.
    "...Everybody in Washington is twenty-something years old. I tell you they’re looking for seasoned talent again."
    "Yeah, well, I’m pretty well seasoned, all right..."
    It's funny. I mean, I know in my head that Aaron has to be in his 50s by now, but I have trouble really picturing him that way. I'm not sure why. Maybe this is because readers have a tendancy to project themselves onto un-defined aspects of characters. Maybe other people read him differently. But every time his age comes up, I have to remind myself that he's not just in his late 20s or early 30s. Perhaps some of the earlier chapters could use to define Aaron more specifically so that our initial impression of him is more accurate.

  2. Dreaming (3173) (11/8): The insurance agent calls on him. Hands him a check for more than what Aaron thinks his car is worth and says that he’ll take care of it from there on out. Lucky he wasn’t killed in the accident and tells him to bill any additional medical care. Aaron is overwhelmed at the agent’s speed and generosity. Agent lets slip that he was tipped off to move fast by a powerful person. Aaron asleep in a restless dream in which he recalls other portions of the conversation, but he is overlapping Pol into the picture. Believes the drugs are acting again. Gets up and paces. Gets his phone. Re-enacts the events. Flips the phone to camera mode and sees a picture of the window in the phone. Calls Jack and asks if he’d pick him up to go to Franklin in the morning.
    jason said... "Aaron looked at the pictures sadly. He bought that car used in San Francisco in ’76 when he was dating Angela. He’d babied it along for nearly thirty years and here it was a mangled bit of scrap metal. The car was thirty-five years old, not quite enough to qualify it as a classic."
    He drove into a telephone pole in an 1970s sports car, totalled the car, and walked away? Let's see, he bought it used in '76, so figure it's probably a 1973 model at the youngest: lap belts were mandatory, but he wouldn't have had shoulder belt, safety glass, crumple zones, or airbags.
    Hell, he didn't even have a catalytic converter, and he'd probably had to have some work done on it to retrofit it for unleaded gas when they stopped selling that!
    I have a little trouble with Aaron getting off with only some broken ribs in that major of an accident in a car with essentially no safety features. On the other hand, the lack of a shoulder belt certainly made it easier for him to throw himself down onto the seat in a hurry before the telephone pole tore the top off the car. Perhaps in an ironic twist, the lack of such modernities as that saved his life.
    If so, that probably deserves an explicit mention. Or maybe it was the aliens--maybe they had their eye on him all along, maybe they caused the crash, and used their advanced technology to either reduce the severity of the crash, or instantly heal _most_ of Aaron's letal injuries mere moments after the crash. But not all of them. That would be too obvious.
    Whatever the case, the fact of the car's age and Aaron's relative lack of injury (particularly considering his age) raises questions.
    "There was even a yellow rubber duck with a number on the bottom that he’d once caught at a carnival."

    Cute. :)

    "Okay, she did absolutely nothing illegal. She simply called his insurance company for him. Said he needed to see how good they were to clients."
    I think you're missing an 's' in there...
    "Aaron was exhausted again. It might be time for more sleep. A little more Vicodin."
    Admittedly I've never had a broken rib, so I don't know how much it hurts, but it seems like Aaron's taking an awful lot of Vicodin. And that's the stuff that doctors on TV dramas are always getting hooked on. Are you setting Aaron up for a painkiller habit?
    "God through Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden didn’t he?"
    Threw. Spell-check won't tell you about it, so I thought I would...
    Nathan Everett said... Interestingly enough, this accident is one of those things I pulled from life. I survived it in '74 in a '72 Fiat. The wife du jour did too. I didn't even have the broken ribs that time. However, I have had broken ribs in the recent past, and Vicodin was a miracle drug. They hurt with literally every breath you take and if I have a problem with what I've written here, it's that I'm moving him into action too soon. I remember, since I'm reminded on a daily basis, that it was while I was on Vicodin that I agreed to adopt a retired Greyhound. It really plays with your mind if you are taking enough of it.

Chapter Six: The platform (6264)

  1. Strategy (807) (11/9): Pol and Alex discussing the situation in the inner office. Allusion to old way of doing things makes it sound like they might be in a criminal activity. Establishes that there is conflict between Pol and her “superiors”.
    jason said... I have trouble believing the dialogue when Pol gets Alex to back off about Aaron. Partly because the emotions seem to slam back and forth at lightning speed from one end of the spectrum to the other, and partly because as soon as Alex gives in, Pol basically says "Well, I was bluffing anyway." Maybe something more like this:
    “We don’t do things that way anymore, Alex. And don’t you dare suggest it,” Pol turned on him. “If anything happens to him I’ll torpedo the whole operation and you can explain the scars to the architect.” Pol glared at Alex as if daring him to challenge her.
    “Pol,” Alex said, a nervous edge creeping into his voice. He raised a hand slightly, to forestall her saying anything more before he could respond. “He means that much to you?”
    “He does.”
    Alex regarded her carefully for a long moment. “All right. I'll back off.” Really, what choice did he have? If Pol’s threat was at all serious...it was too horrid a prospect.
    “Thank you. You just have to give me a little leeway now. I know now who I am and I have to feel my way into my responsibilities. You’ve trained me well, now let me do my job.”
    “Okay, Pol,” Alex sighed. “Just be careful. These things have a way of backfiring. I’ll be near enough to help if you call.”

  2. Investigation (1442) (11/9): Aaron and Jack decide to revisit the scene on the way to Franklin, recording every detail he can to refresh his memories. More suspicions aroused when Aaron can’t find a trace of where his car went off the road. The church door is locked, further rousing Aaron’s doubts of what he thinks he remembers. He and Jack head for Franklin.

  3. Leadership (1691) (11/10): Pol’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech. Description and effect.
    jason said... "Oh, understand, I know the difference between a self-sacrificer and a murderer."
    I think that "a martyr and a murderer" would be stronger. Not only alliteratively, but it draws a clearer distinction between the fact that kennedy, kennedy, and king were murdered, while atta and al shehhi explicitly chose to die. I think it's an important distinction to make clear, because Pol treads on very thin ice, with respect to not losing the crowd, when she makes any sort of comparison between American political icons and terrorists.
    "As long as the world is divided into haves and have nots, the have nots there will be people dying for what they believe and killing for it as well."
    Only, the Kennedy's were definitely haves. Not quite sure, rhetorically, how to make this stronger without changing your intent. Maybe something like "As long as the world is divided into haves and have nots, there will be people willing to die--and to kill--for what they believe."

  4. Employed (2329) (11/10): As Pol and Alex leave the Aaron and Jack meet them. Pol introduces Alex and talks in private with Aaron for a few minutes. Aaron pulls out resume and says that he’s interested in applying for the writing job. Aaron & Pol talk asking Jack to follow them to the airport. Pol tells Aaron that the job is on her campaign staff. Aaron tells her that its for Governor. Pol says she sees they understand each other very well.