“My first manly task was to get to the Hermitage” He and one of the Shed Men, Allen, gather up all the chains there. Quinn and he bury the chains with Rebecca's remains. I guess Allen finds this funny, since when Quinn tells him that's what they're gonna do “he went into a state of sustained hilarity.” Not cool, Allen. And this from a guy Quinn says plays Santa Claus at the Christmas parties!
Quinn says he doesn't feel any “shimmer of Rebecca” so he says a long prayer for her to “go into the Light” and “so my first manly task had been completed.”
Way to ruin the moment with that, Quinn.
“On the second: of course Allen knew where Terry Sue lived”
Aw damn we gotta start with the slut-shaming already?
There are two rusted cars in the yard (curiously, one is a limousine) and a pair of toddlers “roaming” with “filthy faces and diapers”. Quinn knocks, then goes inside without being let in. Rude, Quinn. Rude, and a good way to get shot. This is the boonies, after all, from what I can tell.
“Tucked in the very end of the trailer there was a voluptuous woman in the bed, a woman with the face of a big china doll, nursing a baby, and a little girl, perhaps ten years old and barefoot” who is stirring a pot of grits and has bruises on her arm. The place feels crowded and damp to Quinn, overwhelmingly so, and smells of urine, vomit, and mildew, as well as rotten fruit and shit.
Without introducing himself or saying what the hell he's doing in her home, Quinn congratulates her on the new baby. The woman likewise doesn't even seem confused by a stranger barging in, and asks if he's brought any money. Though she has the face of a “Renaissance Madonna” her voice is “full of meanness, perhaps it was just practicality.” And she's got reason to be practical (as well as irate) since she then says she's broke, her boyfriend Charlie has walked out, her stitches are torn, and she's got a fever. Quinn gives her a thousand dollars from his pocket that he tells us he took from the “kitchen petty cash box.”
….petty cash. In the kitchen. They have a goddamn cash jar in the kitchen with apparently at least a thousand dollars in it. Holy smokes. That's so rich it's kind of disgusting. Also maybe a little weird? I may be wrong, but at some point I got it in my head that the mega-rich seldom actually touch cash? But everyone is different and, well, the Blackwoods are more than a little weird.
Terry Sue is "appropriately flabbergasted" by this, so I guess Quinn does know how insane it is for someone to just get handed a thousand dollars at random, even if it's apparently just "petty cash" to him.
Quinn's “heart went out” to the baby, which he finds “miraculous” in terms of how tiny and nearly-newborn it is. Terry Sue (I assume this must be her) tells the little girl, Brittany, to hurry up with the grits and put on the bacon and “go get those kids”, and that she'll need to go to town for groceries later. Poor kid. She offers grits to Quinn, which I think is quite kind of her, given the circumstances. Quinn says he'll take Brittany into town for the groceries (Quinn, a strange man offering to a little girl's mom to take that little girl in his car alone isn't a great idea) and asks where Tommy is.
Terry Sue, still with no idea who the fuck Quinn is, tells him that Tommy is out in the woods reading a book, which she says he stole and is sure that the woman at the store is “as crazy as he is” and “going to come get him”. Quinn asks if he has any other books, Terry Sue replies “Who's got money for books?” and tells him to look around the place, pointing out things like the broken window, a washing machine that doesn't work and another little girl who she says doesn't talk. She adds that she thanks God every day that he sent her Brittany, and he sent her first. Poor Brittany. She adds that “Pops never gave me money for books.” Again, Quinn hasn't introduced himself, so I wonder how she knows to mention Pops...maybe he was Pops to everyone? He seems to have been a community figure, given his funeral attendance.
Quinn goes out and finds a little boy reading on a log. It's a book of art, with picture by paintings of people like Van Gogh and Seurat. The kid has bruises and a burn, so the first damn thing out of Quinn's mouth is to ask if Charlie (the mom's boyfriend) hit him and pushed his hand up against the heater. Tommy does not answer.
Yeah, Quinn, be a total stranger, walk right up to an abused child, and openly ask them about the abuse. Goddamn what a dumbass. But I also can't say that this idiocy, same as saying Brittany can come to town with him, seems out of character or unlikely for such a tremendously sheltered and privileged and pampered guy. Why should he know to do otherwise? I just wish other people reacted to him with equal realism. Which I guess Tommy is here by not responding.
Quinn tells him with equal bluntness that he is Pops' grandson, and that Tommy is Pops' son, and everything is going to change. Tommy still doesn't say anything. Quinn tells him one day he' ll get to go to Amsterdam and see Van Gogh's work in person. Tommy says “I would settle for New York so I could see all the Impressionists and the Expressionists at the Met.”
Quinn is stunned and replies “You're some kind of genius.” Tommy says that no he's not, he just reads a lot. I'm with Tommy; being a kid who likes art isn't the same as being a genius. That's not what being a genius means. This reminds me of when I was twelve, and I would try to establish my child characters as being geniuses by having them like adult writers like Michael Crichton and Stephen King, the same adult writers that I was reading at the time. It also seems to me to be more of Anne Rice's idea of liking “fancy” things making you a better, more important person than the rest of the crowd.
Tommy does seem to be a gifted reader though. He says he's read everything he wanted at the library and now he's working through the Books-a-Million store, that art books are his favorite and Pops bought him a few books on art. I do have to note, as a reviewer on Goodreads pointed out, that isn't it coincidental how the only kid like this in Terry Sue's family is the one related to Quinn and all the others are just silent dirty background noise? I like Tommy though, I get reading to get away, and I like that he doesn't jump on the “genius” compliment.
I certainly like him a lot more than Quinn, and he's sure as heck probably smarter than Quinn, who thinks the following:
“That was an astounding revelation. Pops and books on art. Where would Pops get books on art? What did Pops know of books on art? Yet he had done it for this bastard son whom he allowed to live in the squalor of this place.”
Quinn, getting books on art is not a goddamn feat. You got a book store, you ask for books on art, problem solved. It's not difficult. What is with this wonder? One of my friends thinks this book was originally written to take place a few centuries ago, and then at some point Rice decided to rewrite it in modern times and added stuff like the computer, but failed to take out shit like Mona saying “quadroon” so casually. That would make this passage make a bit more sense. Only a bit though, since I don't think obtaining art books would be difficult then either for someone with Pops' wealth.
Seriously, what a fucking dumbass.
Quinn gives him fifty dollars for books and says not to steal anymore. Tommy says he didn't steal it “That's my mother talking. You listen to my mother, and you'd think Charlie pushed my hand up against the heater.”
So I guess that means Tommy is either trying to deny, as many victims do, that Charlie is hurting him, or he means it's someone else, probably Terry Sue herself, who did it.
They talk a bit more about art, like Quinn asking him what painting he would save if he could only save one, then Quinn asks him if he'd like to get out of here and go to a good boarding school. Tommy considers but says he can't leave Brittany, it wouldn't be fair. He sighs and says that his mother really doesn't want them, that it was okay when it was just him and Brittany but now with the others, she hits them a lot, and sometimes he has to get between her and the others.
Quinn is understandably “revolted” but “I had no solution”. He reflects how he's always heard that there are problems with both the welfare system and foster care system and so he doesn't know what to do. I'm kind of curious who he heard this from; it doesn't seem like anyone in his household would have experience with it, and he doesn't get out like...at all. Maybe from television and books? This isn't saying it's wrong for him to know this, just in my own experience, most people who aren't on welfare are usually saying the only problem with it is that it exists.
Quinn agrees with Tommy that he can't leave them behind, and Tommy says he's going to a better school than Brittany as it is, but that Brittany is still smart and does her homework and is getting a good education anyway. Well, good for her.
Quinn says he'll be back with more money, and maybe he can make things better so she won't hit them. Tommy asks how, Quinn says to let him think on it. Tommy then randomly asks him about the lost city of Atlantis. Tommy says he believes in it and want to find the ruins one day.
...okay, given Rice's most recent book being about Atlantis and aliens and the spirit Amel, which created vampires via Akasha, being from Atlantis, was this like...deliberate foreshadowing? Did she already have this idea in mind? Or at this point did she just think Atlantis was neat but didn't yet have any plans to work it into her mythos, she just had Tommy mention it because hey it's cool and a kid would like it, right?
Quinn says he has to go to work now, Tommy says he thought Quinn was so rich he didn't have to work, which is completely correct. Quinn says he means work on his problems, because I'm so sure a kid wants to hear about that. Especially a kid in Tommy's position.
He asks if he can give Tommy a hug, which Tommy allows, and Quinn concludes “he was a solid, loving little creature. I really adored him.”
Quinn calls Aunt Queen on the car phone to ask about purchasing a house for Terry Sue, fully insured and fully furnished, as he hopes that she might not hit the kids if conditions are improved. He calls Grady, the family lawyer, about the same thing, how they're gonna take care of the taxes, cable, utilities, everything else, get her a nanny and a cleaning woman, give her an allowance, so she'll have no cause to hit her kids.
I think this is just, like, a fix-everything fantasy? Like Terry Sue's situation is a genuinely shitty and sad and complicated one for which there's no easy answer. Except, there is, apparently. Just throw an insane amount of money at it.
I can't get mad at Quinn for this of course, it's great he's using his money to do this, it's just...why even set it up if it's all going to be resolved with a neat little bow within the chapter? Assuming Quinn is right and this does make her stop hitting them, which it admittedly might not. But if it does...what's the point of this? Just to make Quinn look good, I guess.
Oh yeah and it gets dropped in that Charlie isn't the new baby's father because I guess we had to know that. Quinn suspect it belongs to Pops too. He also "judged Pops, though I tried not to do it, for leaving his son, Tommy, in this mess, and how loveless he had been to this woman, Terry Sue. But then, maybe there was more to it than I in my youth could understand."
He has hopes that Tommy will come one day to live at Blackwood Manor, and travel the world with him and Mona and Aunt Queen and Nash and maybe he'll even find Atlantis. He then tells Allen to go back with the pickup take Brittany to the store and buy her groceries. I kinda wonder why he specifies to use the pickup to transport Brittany when they went there in the Mercedes.
He goes home, puts on an Armani shirt and Versace tie, goes to a florist to get a bouquet, and is off to see Mona.