Part 3, Chapters 34 Summary
Gladney and Siskind walk downtown, and Siskind is enamored of the orderliness of diagonal parking, something quite peaceful compared to the aggressive front-to-back parking rampant in the cities. Blacksmith’s main street buildings are old and quiet, two-story and ordinary like most pre-war buildings. They make Gladney think of Albert Speer’s Law of Ruins. Speer wanted every structure he built to “decay gloriously, impressively, like Roman ruins.” In this way, the ruin is built into the creation. Siskind is unimpressed with everyone’s nostalgia but his own.
The weather has turned humid, and Gladney finds himself in the house alone one day. He looks into the trash compactor, certain that the bag must have been emptied sometime in the ten days since Denise dumped the bottle of Dylar inside, but he is still compelled to search. While he finds many disgusting and atypical things, he does not find the bottle of pills he thinks he needs. Gladney decides that Denise, Babette, and Richards are all correct when they tell him he will find no relief in the pills; he will face whatever he must “without chemical assistance.”
Gladney decides to have another physical exam; the doctor is happy to see that Gladney is taking his job as a patient seriously. People forget that they are “all permanent patients” and should act as such, especially since they all expect their doctors to be professionals at all times. Today Doctor Chakravarty is not happy with Gladney’s computer printout, as it shows that Gladney has a high level of potassium. His number was quite average the last time he was here, but there are false elevations and true elevations; it is much too complicated for Gladney to comprehend.
Gladney is worried at what the doctor tells him is a “sky-high” elevation, as indicated by a “bracketed number with computerized stars.” The high number might mean nothing or it might mean something quite serious. Gladney asks if this spike in potassium could possibly be the initial signs of some condition which might be caused by involuntary exposure to some kind of spillage or cloud. The doctor asks if Gladney was exposed and Gladney denies it; so the doctor says it is just a hypothetical question. The doctor sends him to an advanced medical facility in Glassboro to have more extensive tests done. When those results are returned, Doctor Chakravarty will minutely examine the results.
At home later, Gladney furiously throws away as many old, tired, and useless things as he can find anywhere in the house and attic. He does not ”want help or company or human understanding.” All he wants is to get rid of things. Finally he sits on the porch and waits for a feeling of peace and well being to settle over him.