Two-Faced Woman: Recaps Chapters 3, 4, 5

Chapter Three–31 Influence and Feelings (Xián)

Joel comes over to Gabriel’s apartment, having been overseas taking care of his friend Jan’s estate. Joel is concerned about Gabriel’s state of mind. They spar a bit about Gabriel’s not working (at Alex’s request). Joel then tells Gabriel about a friend of his, Geneva Lennon, who has a problem with her birth certificate. He also mentions that he’s going to have a public exhibition of his art.

Gabriel has Joel help him figure out some of the symbols in Leonard’s notebook. Alex calls and Gabriel ignores it. They go to meet Geneva. Geneva is a bookbinder and restores posters. She qualifies to have her birth certificate changed, but the DOH does not acknowledge the certificate she has as hers. Doing some impromptu research, Gabriel discovers the birth certificate is fake. Geneva’s parents are deceased, so she can’t find out anymore information. She hires Gabriel to look into what happened.

Later on, Joel is in his apartment with his best friend Chris. Chris is asking Joel about his feelings regarding Gabriel and questioning Joel’s contention that the feelings are reciprocated. Chris is sympathetic about Joel’s feelings regarding Gabriel, but also thinks Joel should be more proactive and rectify some of the bad habits that drove a wedge between Joel and Gabriel in the first place.

Chapter Four–53 Developing (Jiàn)

Gabriel starts the day waking up from another nightmare. Then he begins investigating Geneva’s parents.

He finds out from a former neighbor that Geneva’s parents, Alouette and Christopher Southworth, left their Rochester neighborhood in a hurry in the earlier Seventies, with a mysterious baby that wasn’t theirs. In addition, a suspicious young man was hanging around the house afterwards.

Gabriel then visits Giselle Greenspan. Giselle is paying Sophie’s legal bills, and is her friend. Gabriel and Giselle have spend some time discussing the case and her brother, who is also a person with multiple selves. Giselle likes Gabriel and cultivates him as a friend.

The next person Gabriel sees is Chiang. He updates Chiang on what’s going on inside his mind and his fear of becoming violent. Chiang gives him some advice on finding spiritual protection within himself in order to help others.

When Gabriel returns he falls asleep, and then wakes to find Joel and Chris in the apartment. Joel has decoded some of Leonard’s writing and symbols. He’s uncovered a list of names of women of Eastern European origin. Chris notes how close Gabriel and Joel seem to be. Then Alex arrives. He and Joel immediately engage in some verbal sparring, both trying to establish a place of prominence in Gabriel’s life. After leaving, Joel is satisfied that Gabriel still has feelings for him, and he’s determined to keep on trying to win him back.

Chapter Five–28 Great Action (Dà Guò)

Gabriel has a haunting dream in which Toni Booth approaches him, and then her spirit is taken away.

Gabriel is having a hard time getting himself going, but he has work to do on Geneva’s case. He calls a Rochester criminal defense attorney whom Gabriel’s former mentor recommended. This man tells Gabriel about the baby-brokering scandal that happened in Rochester in the Seventies. A woman named Bernadette McCabe had stolen babies or coerced women to give them up to her, and arranged illegal adoptions. The attorney then gives Gabriel a contact–a retired police detective. This man has more information on the suspicious man hanging around the Southworth’s home–Arthur Knox. Knox is a firebug and all-around nogoodnik. He had worked for McCabe. So had another attorney, Walt Corey, who had ‘mentored’ Knox and probably arranged all kinds of shady deals for McCabe–and himself. Corey is dead and McCabe is suspected to be after a fire burned down her house. Knox’s whereabouts are unknown.

Gabriel has work to do on Sophie’s case today as well. He leaves and picks up Joel and they go to photograph Sophie’s house. They then use Leonard’s notes to find two real places, large houses in Elizabeth. A neighbor lady talks to Gabriel about some of the people who lived in one of the houses. Gabriel deduces that a human trafficking operation was involved. Leonard may have stumbled upon the operation and been killed for his trouble.

Joel does some impromptu research and discovers that the former director of a human trafficking nonprofit in Elizabeth had been horribly murdered ten years ago. While they are considering the connection to Leonard’s murder, Gabriel sees they are being followed. He begins trying to lose the tail, a man clearly trying to kill them. This leads to a chase outside Elizabeth on some highways and wooded areas, until Gabriel pulls some maneuvers to slip past the other driver.

In an out-of-the-way location, Gabriel is feeling rejuvenated and Joel is a little shaken. But also impulsive–he uses the opportunity to kiss Gabriel. Gabriel finds himself responding to this passionate embrace with more feeling and intensity until he’s almost made it a sexual encounter. At least, until a state parks department employee happens upon them.

Gabriel and Joel are both amused as they head to Newark to talk to Michaela. Gabriel’s mood darkens some when he stops to call Alex, as he’s been deliberately ignoring Alex’s calls all day. Gabriel realizes that the situation right now is impossible for him to continue, yet taking action feels impossible as well. Still, he’s enraptured by Joel’s reaction even though Gabriel has no idea how to follow up on what just happened between them.

Between the Pages

  • For Gabriel, he’s in an immersion of feelings. For one, he’s dissembling himself from how he feels about Joel. He’s also ecstatic Joel is pursuing his art in a meaningful way. Taking Geneva’s case and working on Leonard’s musings brings them closer. You might sense their conversation has a different levels and meanings. At the same time, Joel is more painfully aware than ever over how he feels and his being flummoxed over what to do about it. As he tells Chris, he did not expect Gabriel to continue his relationship with Alex and he’s not sure what he could do to draw Gabriel out.
  • Gabriel is not a person prone to using drugs, so the Xanax is a measure of desperation. He’s suffering from PTSD. The Booth case was successful, but Raymond and Toni and Kent are dead. Joel was kidnapped and came within seconds of being killed. Gabriel feels the guilt. And the grief. And the tension. Gabriel feels he can’t make anyone happy. Not Alex, who is pressuring him to work less, and not Joel, who still wants to revive their past relationship.
  • The Eight-Fold Path in Buddhism is about doing right. Right action, thought, profession, speech, view, intention, mindfulness, and concentration.
  • Some of the areas described in the chase are based upon real parts of the Elizabeth area, including the industrial district, and the dangerous two-lane highway.
  • The love scene is long scene in terms of the encounter between Joel and Gabriel, but it creates a new path. Something set off, a chain reaction, that makes everything completely different. And in Gabriel’s mind, suffering from his guilt and grief, yet confident in his own abilities, the world turns upside down.

Beyond the Pages

  • In The Hanged Man, Gabriel mentioned he wrote occasionally for an online alt magazine called NYCultcha. The beginning of the chapter has one of Gabriel’s article. The problem described within of the New York State Department of Health’s policy with regards to trans people changing the gender on their certificates is real. This has only recently been addressed.
  • The book I used for the decoding scene is A Dictionary of Symbols, by J.E. Cirlot.
  • The Rockford Files and Kolchak: The Night Stalker; two of my favorites as a kid. Both have a likeable protagonist just trying to make a buck, but tending to get in over his head. And in Rockford’s case, getting beat up a lot.
  •  Real persons like Bernadette McCabe: Georgia Tann
  • Foucault’s Pendulum. My favorite book from Umberto Eco. Most people know/prefer The Name of the Rose, but Foucault  is one I’ve enjoyed reading dozens of times. Conspiracies that are/aren’t real, semiotics, history, Templars, Rosicrucians, hermeticism, books and a sly sense of humor that sets the tempo for the story.

Questions for Readers

In Joel’s conversation with Chris, Chris points out Joel’s most difficult challenge–to share some of himself. Joel has problems in trust, and sharing of one’s self is often tied to trust. Do you find sharing parts of yourself difficult? What does that tell you about trust issues?


The Beatles, Blackbird

All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

The song is is wistful and reflective. Gabriel used it when he and Joel were in a relationship from a sense that Joel has been trying to find a way to free himself from his past. Gabriel focused on art as a means of release for Joel to be his true self.

The Beatles’ Vevo channel doesn’t have Blackbird, although it has Free as a Bird. That makes no friggin’ sense. So I’m posting Don’t Let Me Down, because I like that one, and the feelings are definitely appropriate. The video is them on with their famous rooftop concert.

Barcarole (also Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour) by Jacques Offenbach.  This is from the opera “The Tales of Hoffmann.” The opera is based upon stories by E.T.A. Hoffmann and Hoffmann himself. Barcarole is known for its deceptive consonance, a harmony that belies a bit of the sinister. Writer Carl Dalhaus called it two-faced. Since Hoffmann’s genre was the fantastic/horror, it fits. The piece appears in the prologue as Hoffmann’s muse takes on the appearance of Hoffmann’s close friend Nicklausse in order to enrapture him to her only.

Lisa Stansfield, of course. But she’s going to find him. Just as Joel has found Gabriel again.

The right music makes or breaks a love scene. To fit the slightly surreal nature of Gabriel falling into this kiss, I like Dido’s Here with me.


Oh, sweet day for those who like love scenes! Originally, I had this set in Gabriel’s building’s hallway. The scene in the wilds of New Jersey is much better, but here is a deleted alternate scene. It was to take place just after the scene where Alex came over to Gabriel’s apartment and found Joel there.


“Walk me outside? I don’t want to hold you up but for a minute.” His voice is light. I’m about to refuse. Alex nudges me and indicates I should go ahead. He’s won; he’s staying and Joel is leaving. As if to emphasize that, he holds the door open as Joel leaves. I shove my hands in my pockets and follow.

            Joel doesn’t go for the elevator but the stairs. Frowning, I go along. He’s still smoking, but a couple floors down he drops the butt on the stairs and grinds it out. “I imagine he can’t see from here.”

            “Hmm? What are you talking about?”

            He drops his backpack as well, and steps up to where I’m standing. “He can’t see this.” Suddenly he’s got his arms around me, backing me up against the wall. His mouth is urgent on mine, aggressive. His hands grip me almost painfully. Push him away, I tell myself. You can’t do this. But then, let him get it out of his system and he doesn’t drag out his little confrontation. That’s why I let him kiss me. The way he used to when he would suddenly show up at my place like it was a refuge. With a pointed urgency and controlled eroticism that could make me drop anything I was doing to give in.

            Of course, he’s not getting it out of his system. He’s showing he’s won, in his mind. That he can take me away when he wants. As if to emphasize that he presses himself against me. I feel him hard, and I’m responding without even trying to stop.

            When he pulls his mouth away from me, we’re both breathing hard; he leans his head against mine. “I’m leaving, but I’m not leaving you. You’ll think of me tonight.” He kisses my neck once more before grabbing his backpack and running down the stairs.

            I’m left sweating and in an uncomfortable physical state. I can’t go right back upstairs. Damn him, that was the intention. Fuck. Playing dirty.

            I open a window on the fourth floor hallway and suck in the cold air. Count to thirty. Think of horrible things like zombie movies, innocent things like puppies and kittens, anything but anything physical…