Part 3, Chapters 24 Summary

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The next night Gladney inadvertently discovers the Dylar; it is in a plastic bottle taped to the underside of the bathroom radiator cover. He immediately gets Denise and they carefully examine the evidence. They leave the bottle intact and go to Denise’s room to talk privately.

Denise says that if confronted by the evidence, Babette will simply claim forgetfulness; Gladney wants to find out what Dylar is. At Christmastime, Denise went to three drugstores and tried to do that. None of them had ever heard of Dylar and found nothing about it when they looked it up in their lists.

Gladney will call Babette’s doctor at home, where he cannot hide behind answering services, receptionists, or nurses; Denise approves and hopes Gladney will be able to trick the doctor into telling them what they want to know.

Babette is in her bedroom, so Gladney sneaks quietly to the kitchen (and the only telephone) and dials the doctor’s number. Doctor Hookstratten is old and experienced enough not to be tricked by anything other than the truth, so Gladney introduces himself and explains he wants to discuss the medication he prescribed for Babette’s memory lapses.

Hookstratten is annoyed at being bothered about mere memory lapses and derisively remembers Babette coming to him with a crying child. Gladney insists that his wife’s prolonged memory lapses must be due to the medication he prescribed her, but the doctor has never heard of Dylar and certainly never prescribed it to Babette or anyone else.

Gladney then calls his own doctor, who thinks Dylar is one of the islands in the Persian Gulf. Upstairs, Gladney tells Denise not to worry; tomorrow he will take a tablet to the chemistry department and have it analyzed.

Heinrich is in his closet doorway doing chin-ups on a bar he got from Mercator, a nineteen-year-old senior in high school. Heinrich is trying to compensate for other flaws (such as a receding hairline) by building up his body. Mercator is training to break the world’s record for sitting amid a cage of poisonous snakes. For practice, he goes to a pet store three times a week and feeds the exotic (and venomous) snakes.

Gladney and Heinrich both confess that when they see people pursuing such danger, they hope something will happen to them. Those thrill seekers deserve whatever they get while the rest of the world does its best to avoid danger. It is a rare moment of father-son agreement.

Mercator is also training his bladder for long periods of sitting and eats only two meals a day. He sleeps for two hours at a time, sitting up, and practices making every movement as slow as possible. Heinrich knows achieving this goal will not make Mercator happy.

Gladney wakes in the night and watches his children sleep. When he returns, he is surprised that Babette is standing pensively at the window; she does not react either to his absence or his presence as he returns to bed.

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Part 3, Chapters 25 Summary