Chapter 21 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 521

Chapter 21 concerns the aftermath of Mack and the boys' disastrous party for Doc at Western Biological Laboratories. 

The lab is now quiet. Rats and snakes are in their cages. Sea life still sits in aquariums that managed to survive the carnage of the party. Machines make whirring and humming...

(The entire section contains 521 words.)

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Chapter 21 concerns the aftermath of Mack and the boys' disastrous party for Doc at Western Biological Laboratories. 

The lab is now quiet. Rats and snakes are in their cages. Sea life still sits in aquariums that managed to survive the carnage of the party. Machines make whirring and humming noises. It is the very early in the morning, "the hour of the pearl," where magic sometimes happens. It is the hour before the world must brace itself for the day. 

Lee Chong emerges in this predawn hour, lugging out his trash for collection. The bouncer at the Bear Flag surveys the street and scratches his large belly. The steady and plaintive barks of sea lions penetrate the relative stillness. And in this hour, Doc is returning. He parks his car in front of his lab. 

With great fatigue, Doc pushes open his broken door and is met with the wake of the party's destruction. He takes in the full measure of the horror, from the broken windows to the busted record player to the burned and greasy kitchen floor. 

Doc has reached the limit of his tolerance and is filled with rage. He tries to play a record and hears only an unsteady hiss and becomes even more angry. At that moment, Mack knocks on the sagging door. 

Mack tries to explain but only manages to get out, "Well, I and the boys—". These are the only words Mack can say, for in the next instant, Doc's fist connects with his mouth. 

Mack does not try to defend himself. He sits down on the floor. He believes he deserves everything Doc has to dish out. But Doc wants him to resist. He commands that Mack get up, that he fight back. Mack refuses. Doc hits him again, hard, and breaks Mack's teeth. Still, Mack will not fight. "I got it coming," he says, and braces for another blow. 

Seeing that Mack will never fight back and having expelled most of his rage, Doc can only moan and call him a "dirty son of a bitch," a blow that is likely more painful to Mack than any physical beating Doc might deliver. 

The two men sit there in silence for a little while. Doc hears, in his head, music from one of the broken albums that lie smashed on the floor. Eventually, he tells Mack to go wash his face. Mack complies. 

Quietly, Doc pours two beers while Mack cleans up his face. When he is finished, Mack gratefully gulps down the offered glass. Finally, Doc asks him what happened. Mack explains the best he can, trying to trace how and when the party "got out of hand." 

Mack offers to pay for the broken and lost items but Doc stops him. He knows that repayment will never happen. He tells Mack that promising something he could not and will not deliver will just make him permanently uneasy. Doc says that hitting Mack got rid of his anger and suggests that they both forget it. 

Mack leaves. Doc cleans up the mess alone. It takes him a full day to do so. 

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