I have been putting this off, not because it wasn’t a good chapter, but because a lot of good stuff happened, and I want to do it justice. It still won’t be thorough, but I am going to try to hit the high points. For one thing, it was a bad chapter to be a chicken.
These guys are awesome. Two Jacksons, one black, one white. I love how much they hate each other. Others are betting on how soon they will kill each other and who is going to kill the other first. Maybe I’m getting jaded by the abject violence, but I find this funny.
We know the Judge is a judge (duh!), but this is the first “trial” we see. It’s not quite what you would expect. The Judge is so smoothe, so suave, he has this way of putting his arms around people’s shoulder and soothingly talking in their ear (in whatever language they speak); he can calm anyone down, and probably talk anyone into anything.
He has some truly powerful monologues in this chapter. For example:
It is not necessary…that the principals here be in possession of the facts concerning their case, for their acts will ultimately accommodate history with or without their understanding.
Words are things. The words he is in possession of he cannot be deprived of. Their authority transcends his ignorance of their meaning.
That is money.
Finds a soulmate named Bathcat, fugitive birds of a feather.
They pick up some performers looking for safe passage. The performers are like circus freak magician fortune tellers. The woman reads their fortunes one night, and there is a creepy scene where members of the company are drawing cards and the blindfolded woman is telling them their destiny. When it gets to “el jefe” Glanton, his card disappears mysteriously into the night. The feeling is ominous. It sure pisses off Glanton. The woman starts talking about a curse, and Glanton is ready for blood. The Judge steps through the fire “and the flames delivered him up as if he were some way native to their element.” He manages to calm Glanton down.
I joke that it was a bad day to be a chicken, but it was really a bad day to be a crippled old woman. The group gets their first scalp, and it is not pretty. Other horrors are waiting, I am quite certain.
At the very end of the chapter, Black Jackson leaps from a tent and strides about with strange posturings under the lapsing fires of the torches. I can’t tell if he is becoming part of the performance, or something else, but it is a powerful image.
I am going to continue the march. I am still loving it. Onward!