A source tells Alex that the Singer was possibly involved in the horse-racing scam a few months ago. Alex is not sure if he believes this, but knows that there is something fishy going on at the Singer’s house. Aisha left Alex’s room four hours ago, and Alex is left feeling listless. Mark Lansing calls him, acting strangely friendly, and says that yesterday the Singer had a press conference at his house about the Smile Jamaica concert. Mark claims a writer from Rolling Stone was there, although he doesn’t remember the man’s name. Alex is furious.
Throughout much of the novel, Alex is shown as being comically inept. His desperation to figure out what is going on and situate himself at the heart of the action makes this ineptitude even more amusing. At the same time, Alex’s position as an outsider is similar to that of the reader, whose (likely) lack of familiarity with Jamaican history of this era leaves them in a similar place of confusion.
Immediately after the call with Mark, Alex’s boss calls and fires him from Rolling Stone. Alex tries to explain that he’s working on another story about the current situation in Jamaica, but his boss isn’t interested. Half an hour later, Alex is sitting by a hotel pool when Mark arrives, wearing red, green and gold with a Rasta tam on his head. Mark is rude to the Jamaican waiter, who calls him “Mr. Brando.” He tells Alex that the other writer from Rolling Stone asked the Singer about gangs in Kingston.
Because his father is the former director of the CIA, Mark’s embrace of Jamaican culture appears to be a way of rebelling against “respectable,” elite, white American culture. On the other hand, Mark’s rude behavior to the Jamaican waiter suggests that he has not truly let go of the racist norms with which he grew up.
Mark offers to give Alex a role in his crew, thereby giving him access to the Singer. All he asks in return is that Alex takes a bag of “film stuff” back to New York with him. Alex is suspicious, but Mark insists that he simply doesn’t trust a stranger to take the documentary footage back to the United States for him. He asks if Alex wants to come to the Singer’s house that night, and promises to pick him up at 7 pm.
Due to his desperation to get access to the Singer, Alex is forced into the humiliating position of accepting help from Mark. This is yet another example of an unlikely allegiance born out of a character’s own self-interest.