White Noise Part 1, Chapter 13 Summary

Don DeLillo

Part 1, Chapter 13 Summary

There is not much for college students to do in the town of Blacksmith. The town does not have any natural attraction or hangout, so everything the students do tends to be centered on campus. Blacksmith is an old town, full of “looming Victorian homes” that are only growing older, and it regularly arrays all of its “failed possessions” in driveways during tag sales and yard sales.

Babette calls her husband at his office in Centenary Hall to tell him that Heinrich had been down at the river with his camera, watching the authorities drag the river looking for bodies, when the police received word that the Treadwells had been found. They were discovered “alive but shaken” in an abandoned cookie kiosk in the mall located along the interstate.

Treadwell and his older sister had wandered the giant shopping center for the past two days, “lost, confused and frightened.” Finally they sought refuge in the rather unclean kiosk. Treadwell’s sister, growing weaker, had emerged from their place of safety and scavenged food out of the colorful mall trash cans.

The old people were fortunate that the weather was unusually mild for the duration of their ordeal, and no one yet knows exactly why they did not ask anyone for help. Perhaps the Treadwells, both quite old, simply felt “helpless and adrift” among the intimidating people and structures of the overwhelming shopping center.

Because they did not often leave their home, no one knows how the pair even got to the mall. A grandniece may have dropped them off and then forgotten about them, but no one has been able to reach the grandniece for any comment.

The day before the Treadwells were happily discovered, the police consulted with a local psychic who prefers to be called Adele T. She lives in a trailer on the outskirts of town near the woods; the police chief brought her photos of the Treadwells, which she looked at, and articles of their clothing, which she smelled.

She spent the next hour alone, doing exercises, eating rice, and putting herself in a trance. When the police chief returned, Adele T. told him to stop working at the river and to search for them near a crescent-shaped area somewhere within a fifteen-mile radius of the Treadwells’ home.

The police searched a gypsum processing center located ten miles down the river, where they found an airline bag containing two uncut kilos of heroin and a handgun. This is not the first time Adele T. has helped the police find something they were not looking for, including a Syrian in a refrigerator, two beaten bodies, and six hundred thousand dollars in unmarked bills.