The picture of the House, I’m not sure it was specifically done with The Gray House in mind. I found it here, but I liked it.
I am realizing I never included a picture of Tabaqui. I found this one by Angel T. This artist is amazing. So sad we can’t know more about him/her. His/her drawings capture the souls of the people we meet at the House.
It’s been 10 weeks already. Reading the book has ended, but our experience at the House will live forever. I hope to keep discussing different aspects of the book as I can, or as others maybe make it to the older posts, who knows, I hope we stay in touch with each other, with Yuri, and that we hear news on Mariam and the House from time to time.
I also have one more post after this week 10 one. I couldn’t help but ask Yuri some questions about his translation and about the book. He generously agreed to answer them. I’ll be publishing them in a blog post soon, stay tuned!
Week 10 (pp. 671-721)
WEEK 10 AUDIO: cuts 51 – 63
Noble’s Tale: Remember Noble asking Tabaqui to send him to another loop, at the risk of forgetting everything? In his tale, Noble is somewhere strange. He is dressed all in black, with notes in a journal he cannot decipher. He gets a lift to the crossroads, and there a bus that takes him to a café. There a woman calls him “you poor forgetful little Jumper.”
The place he wants to go, Blackwood, is useless. Noble describes the place as mysterious, as existing outside of reality. He takes a bed there and spends six months there, waiting.
The residents of the place are described as temporary and permanent, the first are also called tumbleweeds, the second transients.
He’s working odd jobs. He says he helped a photographer with the bulky cardboard backdrops by the beach. Until he’s called to the repair shop. Cars and pieces are very expensive and they never trust anyone with them, but he is called to wash a car. He knows from the very first moment that he is in danger. There’s a car wash by the corner. The car is a black car (but this car has nothing to do with Godmother’s). As Noble washes the blood in the car, he tosses a severed finger he finds in the water bucket.
Noble has to leave. He gives away all of his belongings to Mockturtle (I believe she’s the daughter of the owners of the guesthouse, called Roach Motel.) He knows that if he survives this cold, that’ll be a great adventure. He’s calling the Forest, but a voice says, “That’s not the way to call it,” scared, he looks for his journal inside his backpack, and this time, in the dark, he can read it clearly. Blind shows up and welcomes him home. Blind is wearing a Yellowstone Park t-shirt, and he’s smiling, or maybe scowling, Mariam writes. This is the last paragraph of the chapter:
“Hello, Blind,” Noble said, recalling everything he had not been able to remember for the past six months. “How did you find me?”
“I didn’t. It was you who found me, you forgetful Jumper.”
Ginger’s Tale: Ginger’s tale is connected to Noble’s tale. Ginger lived in Blackwood too, not at the Roach Motel, but at a eatery. She was looking for a guide, but she did not know what he was supposed to look like. But before she finds her guide to the Forest, the Grayfaces snatch her and she lives at the basement of their house. The Grayfaces are dangerous drug addicts and dealers (I assume), to me, they sounded like the people in A Clockwork Orange (but I’ve only seen the movie ages ago). Living with these abusive Grayfaces annulled her ability to scoff at them, (I read that as to rebel and try to escape.) But one day there’s a fire, and taking advantage of that, she manages to escape (even though her face got burned too. She disguises herself and changes her appearance, and in her search for money and a new life, she sees Noble. She thinks he is the guide. But she realizes he’s forgotten who he is.
She visits him one time while he sleeps. Ginger wants to kill him, but she fights those feelings, and she wakes up in the Forest. He helped her go without even realizing it, just because the Forest is always close to him. Ginger hates him for that. She only spent 10 minutes in the Forest, but she says she knows she’ll spend her whole life thinking about it. She’ll always be a Jumper, an unstable one, but she was very lucky to have found a guide. Last 2 sentences:
But there was still one thing she was proud of: she never asked him for anything. Not then, and not since. And she never would.
Smoker (Continued): This is Smoker talking, saying what’s around him. He is in the room, there’s the people, their stories, the sandwiches, their reactions. He narrates Vulture story to us, about a disgusting witch, dancing on the graves of all her relatives. (It sounds like Godmather’s story, and she was told to be his grandmother.) Ralph interrupts Vulture asking him how the old hag looked like. At this point, when Vulture mentions a dwarf, and the former principal giggles and inquires if there were any dwarves in the audience. Who is this man?
It’s Black’s turn. His tale is just the story of the Outsides and the escape plan in the bus. The way he justifies his story being a fairy tale, is by calling those two who gave him fake driver licences, fairies of sort. R One is furious, he asks Black if he thinks that the slammer is a nice place for getting acquainted with the Outsides. Black’s plan can end up wrong. Tabaqui calls everyone to attention. Smoker is missing the beginning of Noble’s tale, and, as usual, he doesn’t seem to be paying lots of attention to anything, or he is just reading things in a superficial way.
Then Shuffle tells his tale about performing for gigs, and Tabaqui declares a break. Mermaid loves Noble’s tale, and Black, but Smoker argues with her about what he doesn’t like about Black’s bus plan.
The lady that came with the dwarfish man starts talking about Angel (Alexander), and the Holy Elder that was taking care of him until the commune fell apart. They have found their Angel once more. Smoker thinks of Alexander. This couple are sitting on his bed. Smoker remembers what happened that strange day, and he says he would have believed him an angel too if he had known this information the couple is sharing. He thinks Alexander is very patient, for he, Smoker, may have hanged himself if he had those around him like Alexander has, wanting miracles from him.
Smoker loses his place, and bumps into everyone and everything trying to find another place where to sit.Lary and Needle are there, she is looking beautiful with her wedding gown. Noble is squeezed between Smoker and Vulture, and both Noble and Vulture are having an emotional moment, crying over something Smoker has no idea what it is.
Red’s Tale: Mysterious chapter about Death coming to people as a man, or a young woman with black hair (Rat?) They are the basilisks, able to bring death with their eyes. Which can also be seen as drug dealers, right? It’s a poetic description of those ’emu’ people we talked about.
Tabaqui’s Tale: A tale about a man that seems to me to be Tabaqui’s alter ego? Many would like to meet him, but only those who seek tirelessly can. He keeps music inside conchs, and dreams in empty gourds. The old man can also be a mummy for however long he wants.
The lucky visitors receive gears from broken watches. He gives presents, but not easily, until a boy asks for something different, a dream, and years later, he asked for an egg. That was unusual. The boy did not bore the man, and boredom is something he hates. Sometimes he gives presents to himself, as to surprise himself and to break the monotony of his life.
Smoker (Continued): This continuation is also full with important pieces of information, as all of them are telling their stories and saying goodbye. Blind doesn’t tell a tale, he wished all of them luck whether they were leaving or staying, leaving thinking they were staying, or staying thinking they were leaving. He also asked for two volunteers, one experienced guide for the inexperienced guide, and a caretaker. (Is he asking for Noble and Ginger?)
Those who leave in the bus, leave now. Smoker was given presents by everybody. There’s another very strange exchange between Blind and Ralph. And Blind gives Ralph a grubby brown envelope telling him, if you change your mind, open this. Blind took the guitar left by Shuffle and played.
Smoker fell asleep, and Sphinx woke him up. Sphinx looked like he did not sleep at all. Smoker realizes there’s nobody, only Sphinx and himself, and there’s something wrong about that. Smoker learns that there’s another big group that left and stayed back. Neither dead nor alive. They’d be called Sleepers.
There was no graduation day. There’s a search going on, and interrogations to those they found (Smoker and Sphinx, and also Lizard, Guppy, Dearest, and Dodo.) Smoker says that the third had the most loses, with the Sleepers being moved to the hospital side. Smoker’s and Guppy’s father start visiting them, and also Ralph. The memory of Tabaqui seems to have evaporated. Smoker is having troubles remembering him too. Only whatever Tabaqui left as a present (whatever he gave Smoker, or wrote in Smoker’s journal as a present, remains.)
Smoker got closer to those who remained in the House, but not Sphinx. Sphinx seems to have troubles coping with life. But Sphinx hit it off with Smoker’s father, who brings him back to normality. Finally they are all picked by his parents. Smoker is not clear about who picked Sphinx, except that it wasn’t his parents. Sphinx tried to get Mermaid’s information, addresses, etc. And they went.
Epilogue (Tales from the Other Side): Three tales, The Man with the Crow, The Waitress, The Three -Fingered Man in Black. The first is a weird story about a couple dropping children The woman seems to be Rat. The man doesn’t drive, and he tells others who ask about the children, that some half are his sister’s. When they part with the last child, the man is sad, but Rat says he’ll have his own some day.
The Waitress is a strange story of a woman who works and who is criticized by her peers for taking a bit of a break, and not going straight back home to her baby. Her baby is a wonderful baby who seems older for his age, weird, called Tubby. The father is described by her as the Beautiful Prince from the Not-Here.
The Three-Fingered Man in Black is someone who takes residence in an abandoned three-story house. He was hired by the owner of the house. One day, a surly young woman in leather came to visit this man and
brought a small fair-haired girl, offloaded her, and roared away immediately This event turned the people completely against the man.
This picture and other images of the House, from here.
Between the Worlds: Spnix is at college, and he doesn’t seem able to find Mermaid. He lives like a hermit. Until one day he visits the House.
“I’m sorry,” he’d say. “You seemed to me a monster that devoured all of my friends. I was sure that you’d never let me go. That you needed me for something known only to you. That I would never be free until I left you, even though I lied to Smoker about the freedom being inside a person wherever he happens to be. I was afraid that you changed me, made me into your toy. I needed to prove to myself that I could live without you. I blamed you for Elk, and for Wolf. Elk was killed by accident and Wolf was killed by Alexander, but it was easier to think that it was your fault than to admit that the fault was with Wolf. That he was neither kind nor wise, the way I imagined him to be. That he wasn’t perfect. That Elk wasn’t perfect. Easier to blame you than admit that. Easier to say that you killed thirty-odd people than to see that they were cowardly fools or little children who had lost their way. Easier to think that it was you demanding Pompey’s death than to imagine that it gave Blind pleasure to kill him. Easier to be sure that you forced me to remake Noble than to know that I liked doing it…Easier to hope that Blind lied about Mermaid than to concede that she really does not exist in this world,…
But back to his dorm, Mermaid is waiting for him, hurrah!
Voices from the Outsides: All these people appear in this chapter: Smoker, Horse, Black, Red, Needle, Hybrid, , Smoker’s Father.
We have different snippets of these people and their lives in the Outsides. It happened that those in the bus left the House for a commune. Lary and Needle left the commune. Needle is ready to move on, but Lary still has ties. Smoker is a painter, he is still in the lives of others, Black left the commune, Red is the commune’s leader. We get some information about the Sleepers. Smoker doesn’t want to visit them, some of them do, some don’t. There’s a taboo about them. (Do you think they are ‘crazies’? and nobody wants to be associated to them now?) Sphinx visits the Sleepers, he is a child’s psychologist now. He has a German shepherd dog, a guide dog that trains other guide dogs. He gets along, Sphinx, with Smoker’s father. Smoker’s father likes Sphinx because he lets him take care of him, unlike Eric, his son. There’s a child, the spitting image of Blind, I believe Sphinx is taking care of him, and Black is upset about it, accusing Sphinx of maybe stealing the boy, as he also stole someone else’s father too.
The last paragraph is enigmatic. Smoker says he has lots of questions and wants to go to Black for answers, but Black won’t, he is vulnerable, he’s worked hard at building this protective shell. He could go to Sphinx, and it’s frightening, because he may then receive answers. But he won’t go to him. He says that Sphinx
has been given a choice, a choice he has been denied. And he says that his world will always be different. Not the same as Black’s and mine. We can never forgive him for that.
The Happy Boy: I do have no clue about this chapter.
In the room they call Stuffage, a seven-year-old boy woke up one early morning.
His twin brother is by his side. He is different. He looks much older. “More corrupt.” Black Ralph would say. But that doesn’t offend the boy.
The Encounter: A young Stinker is having fun in his room, with his gadgets, his games. The Seniors don’t pick on him, he has listening devices. The nurses scold him and punish him, though. There’s a freshly painted sign that says Welcome!
A boy and a woman dressed in white approach the place. The boy sees colorful confetti on the ground (Stinker detonated that confetti in his play.) The boy imagines someone inside the House shouting “Hooray!” (That’s what Stinker had shouted from the room, with his spyglass.)
And now the floor is yours!