Dresden Files Fool Moon Ch22

Last time, Harry finally got injured in a way that was actual suffering. Also, in fine noir tradition, he was then rewarded with information – though because he’s a sue he got the whole thing handed to him. Today, he decides to follow that by passing out.

He wakes up sitting tied to a beam, but he did get a blanket, so they’re not that bad! Or they wanted to make sure he didn’t get hypothermia before they got to torture him more. Because Harry is dumb, he’s confused why he’s still alive despite how much effort Parker put into keeping him alive.

He then whines that he could still get killed, despite the fact his nap really should’ve recharged him a little.

it would be a real pity to die when I’d finally put tabs on who had gotten me into this mess-as well as who was responsible for the recent killings that couldn’t be attributed to MacFinn, and probably who had set him up as well.

This doesn’t make very much sense in the narration, but this is supposed to be a detective story so telling the reader they now have all the info before giving the answer is a good idea.

SO:

Harry gave the FBI guy the file, then the FBI guy told his FBI flunky to tell him to poke the streetwolves and get his stupid ass killed, therefore they’re the real werewolves trying to fuck up Harry’s life because he could out them.

I’m not convinced there’s actually enough proof. What we actually see is one FBI guy tailing a group he told Harry earlier they were suspicious of, then not helping Harry when horribly outnumbered and they’re suspicious Harry is working with the werewolf/werewolves. The only way this works is with conservation of characters and anti-conservation of werewolves meaning that one of the existing groups must be the last werewolf type.

Harry takes stock again.

I was in the enemy’s stronghold, the Full Moon Garage. It was dim inside, and from what I could hear, it was still raining without. There was a dirty, but warm blanket over me, which came as something of a surprise.

Okay so admittedly, if he’s been shocked by the fact there’s a blanket two times in about thirty seconds, maybe he is out of it enough that his nap hasn’t recharged his magic. Sometimes enough bad writing starts filling in its own plot holes.

Also he’s had a blood transfusion (and bandages)because they’re that into keeping him alive but not enough to not put him on cold floor against a cold beam. Hm. So on the one hand that’s fucking stupid because if he goes into shock a blanket isn’t going to have any body heat to hold onto, but on the other hand they might have no idea of that. Also, given they apparently have super healing and pain tolerance, maybe they can’t go into shock and don’t realize any of this can be a problem. It’s like if hyperintelligent cats saw you needed surgery, they wouldn’t triple sterilize everything or put you on a pile of antibiotics right then because their immune systems don’t suck. They might not even sew you up because their difficulties are often with wounds closing too early.

I coughed and found my throat dry, but functional. My hands were bound, and I didn’t have any way of making a circle. Without a circle, I couldn’t use any delicate magic to free myself-all I had access to was the kaboom sort of power, which, while great against nasty loup-garou and other monsters, isn’t much good for getting rid of several layers of duct tape resting within half an inch of my own tender skin. Magic was out.

BULL FUCKING SHIT

Harry then recaps early life: Mom died of childbirth, dad was a magician and then died early too. Point is he’s gonna Houdini this.

The duct tape was strong, and it was fastened tightly-but it was also cheap, easy to transport, and simple to apply. Even though it was wound about me in multiple layers, it wasn’t the best thing for holding people, or else the cops would use duct tape and not handcuffs and manacles.

Or because it’s easier to just unlock a handcuff rather than wrestle duct tape off someone. Also I think the cops generally aren’t actually tying people down and often are willing to let people keep their hands in front of them, plus often they’re transporting people in groups, and obviously if you can grab the edge of it with your teeth you can start unraveling it regardless of how hard it is to just pull loose.

Look, I’m willing to believe you can wriggle out of duct tape but this comparison just isn’t very good. There’s a lot of things it lacks over handcuffs that have nothing to do with wriggle escapability.

He gets his hands loose but someone comes by before he can finish with his legs so he lies back and pretends to still be unconscious.

One of the Streetwolves is complaining about how they should just kill him, but Parker explains that turns out, Mobster Daddy said not to kill Harry. Also, he’s still stuck on the idea of killing Harry in front of everybody in the gang. Fuck’s sake, Parker, his head on a pike would get the message across fine. His flunky’s all burble doh, who cares about Marcone.

“Always thinking with your balls,” Parker said, his voice calm. “Marcone isn’t just a mobster. Running Chicago is just his sideline, see. He’s got business all over the country, and he owns people from here to the governor’s mansion to Washington and back, and he’s got more money than God. He can set us up, take us out, have the police on our ass anytime he wants. You don’t screw with someone like that lightly.”

This is not, of course, what you should say if you’re ruling a bunch of stupid psychopaths with fear. Name privileges revoked, stupidwolf.

Look, this isn’t hard. You frame things in why your decision to work with Marcone is all about how YOU made the great decision to use Marcone to get stuff, not how Marcone is objectively better than you and everybody else and all we can do is beg his mercy. Even if the rest of the gang is even bright enough to understand that you shouldn’t fuck with Marcone, his explanation is offering nothing about why his leadership is helping with this problem, he’s just doing what he’s told. In that case they should cut the middleman and work direct from Marcone.

“Because Marcone will give us shit that’s worth more than him, who even fucking cares about killing this loser, I made the great decision to trade this worthless thing for great shit!” is a perfectly valid answer. Perfectly valid lie, even, part of being a leader of psychopaths is lying through your teeth any time you fuck up in the hopes you’ll live to do so again.

So of course the guy’s all, “Yeah Lana’s right about you sucking.”

Marcone isn’t one of us. He doesn’t give us orders.

Why is “one of us” important to you?

I know it’s really human to be all I WANNA BE WITH PEOPLE LIKE ME!!!!!!!! but these guys aren’t human. That’s like the point. They’re violent psychopaths following alien behavior patterns that are just barely understandable to us due to being incredibly simplistic. Stupidwolf here rules because he can beat down everyone else in the gang – and the fact he has to do it just reinforces we’re not looking at social animals here. Social animals don’t do that, they develop patterns to avoid unnecessary fighting. They have no loyalty to him, they don’t even obey through fear given he’s got to actually break bones to get them under control. And he was smacking around his guys just in the talk with Harry earlier.

So:

They get nothing out of each other’s companionship as far as I can see.
They’re constantly fighting each other to get on top.
They aren’t bright/self-controlled/capable of understanding past events enough to notice he’s (presumably)been doing a good job as leader.

Now we add to the recent discovery that they actually are very mildly superhuman, enough that they should be able to rocket to the top of any normal gang. Why the fuck do they hang out?

The only thing I can see them getting out of this is if they struggle to understand regular human behavior so it’s easy being around others who think the same, but when you’re superpowered, it’s easier to actually fight with people below your weight class than try to win king of the hill among your peers, plus once you’ve effortlessly kicked your way to the top of a human gang you don’t have to give a shit about understanding them, they have to worry about understanding you.

And yet, not only are they in a group where other people can and do beat the shit out of them all the time, but they appear to have gone to ridiculous lengths to accomplish this given there can’t be that many people around. They must’ve lived out their childhoods more or less surrounded by regular people, and yet “not one of us” is something that requires a strong loyalty to the ingroup and hate of the rest.

The only thing we have to counter this is that stupidwolf supposedly does care about keeping his group under control and under the radar, but at this point that seems to be just because he likes the ego boost of being able to boss even them around. There’s no sign of what anyone else is getting out of it and so no sign of why the rest of them stick around to be bossed around or why they demand their boss be a member of the same pseudospecies.

Anyway, we continue:

The Parker I knew ten years ago wouldn’t have thought twice of telling Marcone to fuck off.”
Parker’s voice became resigned. “Don’t do this, man. You were never good enough, even when we were young. The Parker you knew ten years ago would have gotten all of us killed by now. I’ve kept you in cash, in dope, women, whatever you wanted.

“Resigned” could mean a lot of things, but given everything else is that they show no loyalty, it really just seems like he’s sick of the argument and not sad his friend is acting like this.

The other guy reiterates that no, Lana 2000! She has his vote!

The two promptly get into a fight, where fight means stupidwolf is beating the shit out of stupiderwolf.

Parker snarled over Flatnose’s whimpers, “I told you. You were never good enough. Challenge me again, in public or alone, it doesn’t matter-and I will rip your heart out.” The way he spoke the threat was eerie; not with the hissing, villainous emphasis one would expect, but in a calm, measured, almost bored tone

So like every other time he’s appeared. Also this isn’t even weird by now. Look, what’s creepy about people being chill about violence is we think of people doing violence out of emotion since it’s generally not a good idea to do, but it’s now amply established that this is totally necessary so yeah. This isn’t villainry, this is a guy knowing that he can say this and maybe not have another fight or not say it and definitely have another fight, and that he’s been in this situation a few thousand times already, of course he’d sound bored.

There was a rippling sort of sound, and Flatnose let out a howl of pain that dissolved into a string of doglike whimpers.

Except they actually have nothing to do with dogs, remember? So what’s really happening here is Harry is thinking of them as animalistic and generally being pretty anti-empathy so he’s hearing a human throat making human whimpering sounds of human pain and being all hm what makes whimpering sounds, hm, dogs, yeah that’s what it sounds like.

Harry then explains to the reader that a guy who can easily beat up another guy will obviously be able to kick Harry’s ass clear across the city at this point, so he needs a way to get him to leave long enough to finish getting free.

I could make him mad, maybe. Antagonize him into going to get a baseball bat, or another roll of duct tape for my mouth.

“This guy is extremely good at hurting people with his bare hands and either by nature or practice does so mid-conversation if necessary. I should anger him because clearly he will leave to go get a tool in response. Yes. Definitely a big tool user, this one.”

Harry tries being all chill about it and then is flabbergasted this just amuses him.

“No problem. Good thing your people can’t hit. They might have made me uncomfortable.”
Parker laughed a rough laugh. “You got balls, kid. I’ll give you that. At least, until Lana gets her teeth into them, later.”

I mean, really. It’s not just that you said you were sobbing on the ground, so it’s not like you could pretend you weren’t that impressed, but you’re not even trying for something he’d care about! This guy’s thing is that he’s better than everyone else, why would saying the others suck upset him? He knows they suck, he has personally beaten them in fights, like most recently a few hours when he was trying to get them off your twitching carcass.

Harry then tries to needle him about the fact his knee got shot, which is one fucking shitty taunt, and we learn that lycanthropes heal while the moon is out, because remember, nothing at all like movie werewolves which is why these guys, who aren’t even werewolves, are still somehow governed by a trope that’s just from movies. Really, the healing seems like it’s movie too given that the injuries staying the same across forms is a huge part of so many stories.

“I should have aimed higher,” I said.

While this is true, I really don’t see how pointing out your own ineptitude is supposed to enrage this guy either. But because nice socks, this sort of works due to ?????????????????????????????? Like, Harry doesn’t even focus on how if he’d aimed elsewhere he’d have won, where Harry would still be admitting a fuckup but trying to convince the other guy that he could’ve lost too and therefore sucks, that really it was Harry’s battle to lose. That’s a pathetic taunt but it’s still at least in the general ballpark.

Harry then follows up by saying stupidwolf’s next on the chopping block.

Do you think Lana will be the one to tear your balls off when they put you down?”

Ah, representation. Is it progressive that everyone seems to think a woman will be next leader or is it only happening to be that much more humiliating to the guy in charge? Is it part of how this is a bad group of bad people, because those are the sort of deviants who’d let a woman get in charge by force of merit?

The fact they keep coming back to her literally emasculating people really suggests we’re supposed to find something inherently negative about all this, though it’s not entirely clear if this is just being used to show how crappy Parker’s life is (and perhaps it has to be a woman because getting your balls chewed off by a guy would be gay omg)or if it’s a general commentary on how evil woman want to remove balls because feminazi menace.

As was kind of obvious stupidwolf kicks him in the head because no fucking shit why were you expecting otherwise? The gang appears to use the bare minimum technology. Do they even have a bat?

Harry continues to very crappily needle the guy who might well have just walked away after checking on Harry in the hopes that’ll make him walk away.

his eyes taking on an eerie, greenish cast in the darkness, a trick of the light

Only that’s not how light works. Also, can’t you wizardvision this to see what’s going on?

The plan was working beautifully. Now all that I needed was for him to stalk out of the room to calm down

What’s worse here is that you can see at the last second the author thought of another, better plan and then he and everyone else who saw this didn’t get edit the whole mess above.

Parker has a huge temper he tries to control and Harry just eavesdropped a conversation where he explained the absolute last thing he could do is murder Harry now. He needs to keep Marcone happy and he needs to kill Harry in front of everyone, so he definitely can’t kill Harry right now while no one’s there at all. And that’d explain why with every kick Harry was thinking YES FLAWLESS VICTORY and not FUCK HE CAN JUST KICK ME TO DEATH FUCK BAD PLAN BAD PLAN.

Instead, Parker just spun on his heel, picked up a tire iron, and turned back to me, lifting it high. “Fuck Marcone,” he snarled. “And fuck you, wizard.”

That’d also have made this a surprise rather than wait, if there’s a tire iron in plain sight and Harry was expecting the plan to piss him off enough he went to pick up something to kill Harry with, why did he expect him to leave to get a different thing? How fucking stupid can Harry possibly be?

19 Comments

  1. Roarke says:
    I vote Parker gets his name privileges back just because he’s still doing God’s work: physical violence towards Harry Dresden.

    It’s like if hyperintelligent cats saw you needed surgery, they wouldn’t triple sterilize everything or put you on a pile of antibiotics right then because their immune systems don’t suck. They might not even sew you up because their difficulties are often with wounds closing too early.

    Your blog is like Feline Anatomy & Behavior 101, it’s great. It also reminds me of when Celia gave Roy that amulet in OOTS. I thought it was a really nice touch that a sylph, even a fairly educated one, wouldn’t automatically know that humans can’t naturally create an electric charge.

    Ah, representation. Is it progressive that everyone seems to think a woman will be next leader or is it only happening to be that much more humiliating to the guy in charge? Is it part of how this is a bad group of bad people, because those are the sort of deviants who’d let a woman get in charge by force of merit?

    Has Lana been called a bitch yet? Oh, yeah, she got bitch-slapped last chapter. Is there a single named woman werewolf who does not get called a bitch?

    1. SpoonyViking says:
      The blonde one in Tera’s little group.
      Oh, but she doesn’t have a name, does she?
      1. Roarke says:
        Her name is Georgia, and Billy called her a bitch. They will eventually get married. Good effort, but I’m going to say it doesn’t count.
        1. SpoonyViking says:
          He did, huh? I had forgotten that.
          1. Roarke says:
            Yeah. Farla was lenient towards him, because he was being portrayed as obviously pathetic. Still, I’m not judging a fictional character’s intent; I’m judging Butcher’s.
    2. Farla says:
      Oh yeah, Celia was fun – particularly since at the same time, her other cultural quirks are that she’s a lot like the modern world where killing people who look slightly different isn’t usually the right answer and people can’t just get raised from the dead.
      1. Roarke says:
        Yeah. She had some good lines and was generally a great foil to Haley. 10/10, would read for divided-party-deuteragonist again.
      2. SpoonyViking says:
        I liked her snark, but I think it’s good she left when she did. The Order characters are already pretty good at deconstructing the usual fantasy and D&D tropes on their own, I don’t think she really added much.
  2. SpoonyViking says:
    Social animals don’t do that, they develop patterns to avoid unnecessary fighting.

    Really? I mean, I know little about animals other than some of them are delicious, but I thought gorillas and various other apes were both social and violent?

    How fucking stupid can Harry Buthcer possibly be?

    Fixed that for you. :-) Because really, the narrative doesn’t present it as Harry being stupid or anything, on the contrary, so this is all on Butcher’s (lack of) skills as a writer.

    1. Roarke says:
      Really? I mean, I know little about animals other than some of them are delicious, but I thought gorillas and various other apes were both social and violent?

      I think she meant violence within the social group, as opposed to violence against members of other social groups or species. I think she meant that, if (normally) debilitating violence is required to maintain the social group’s basic cohesion, then the group isn’t social. Our ape brethren mostly just posture until someone gives in. Real fights between social group members with debilitating injury on the line are uncommon in the animal world, because they don’t get health insurance.

      1. Farla says:
        Really, real fights in the wild are generally are. It’s a huge risk and you’re not going to take it if you don’t have to – or put another way, animals won’t get into a life or death fight until their life is already on the line in some way.

        Social animals compound this by being in close proximity so conflict will happen a lot more, so you need ways of handling it fast. Plus social animals are working together to some degree, which means even if you kill the other guy and suffer no wounds at all, you’ve still disadvantaged yourself because now you’re out a guy.

        1. SpoonyViking says:
          So, like Roarke says, social animals will mainly attempt to intimidate their rivals instead of just attacking. Ok, that makes sense. That’s basically how wolves act, right?
          1. Farla says:
            Yeah, plus they have all sorts of ways to say “j/k ok?” or “no scary stop!” or “i can has foods?”

            There’s the play bow to say they want to fight or chase but just in a friendly way, dropping their heads to mean sorry, rolling over to mean they’re really sorry please stop… We actually still don’t totally know what’s going on with some of it. People noticed wolves bite the muzzles of other wolves…but the “subordinate” wolves seem to solicit this, so it may be some sort of mouth-hug and not a dominance thing. Also it seems like it’s some sort of communicative thing because it shuts dogs up if you do it to them.

            Imagine how much different the book would be if every time the guy wanted to tell his gang to stfu already he kissed them.

      2. SpoonyViking says:
        Ah, I think I understand. Sort of like how most lions break off from the pride to form their own instead of attempting to take over the one in which they’re born?
        1. Roarke says:
          Yes, or they contract a herd of wildebeests (that’s actually the correct spelling, wtf?) to trample the dominant one.
          1. Farla says:
            Or they just don’t defend them when something attacks, etc.

            But even more than that, the very roar of the lion is about saying to other guys that hey, I’m here, I’m still reasonably healthy, don’t challenge me dudes we’ll both get hurt. In pride vs pride conflicts, or with hyenas or wild dogs, both sides will use cries at first – if they’re both evenly matched, neither group engages.

            1. Roarke says:
              inb4 Batman lion looks down upon Ra’s al Ghul lion as he gets attacked by an elephant, growling “… but I don’t have to save you.”
              Reply
          2. SpoonyViking says:
            (laughs) And don’t forget the hyenas surprisingly good at the Nazi march!
  3. illhousen says:
    “How fucking stupid can Harry possibly be?”

    …Is it a tricky question?

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