Lindsey wakes Colin up on Thursday morning, telling him they are going to Memphis to spy on Hollis. Colin pretends to be sleepy, but he is alert as soon as Lindsey jumps on his bed. Downstairs, Colin helps Hassan find the address of the warehouse. Hassan insists on taking credit because he has had a rough week. Colin, he notes, is the least recent Dumpee in the house. Colin realizes that he wants Katherine XIX to call, but he no longer wants her back.
Colin’s final realization that he only wants to work through the past with Katherine XIX, rather than dream about a future with her, suggests that Colin has finally learned to adapt his romantic plans to account for unexpected change. The ease with which Lindsey gets Colin’s attention shows that his sights are finally turning toward Lindsey.
Colin reads J.D. Salinger’s Seymour: An Introduction in the backseat of the Hearse on the way to Memphis. He finds the sight of skyscrapers comforting as they pull into the city.
Colin is reading a story about a literary child prodigy, Seymour Glass. The premise of the story is that Seymour recently died by suicide. The tragic end of Seymour’s life contrasts with the way Colin is riding in the Hearse toward new adventures.
The address they found leads them to an empty parking lot. There is no receptionist in the small office of the warehouse, so Colin, Lindsey, and Hassan make their way out back to a dirt field, where there are two guys driving a bulldozer and a forklift containing three large cardboard boxes. At Lindsey’s urging, Colin walks up to the hole the bulldozer seems to be digging for the boxes and asks the guy operating the forklift if he works for Gutshot Textiles. The forklift operator confirms that he does but declines to tell Colin what he is throwing in the hole. However, the next box to fall in the hole bursts open, and thousands of strings are suddenly flying through the air. He grabs at the air and realizes that the boxes must be full of tampons. The sight of them flying through the air, he thinks, is pretty.
Whereas earlier in the novel, Colin expressed fear of the mystery surrounding tampons “in the wild,” he is now seeing them very much “in the wild,” out of their wrappers, and thinks they are pretty. His appreciation of the sight symbolizes his increased appreciation of Gutshot and the people involved in running its textile factory. Because tampons are typically associated with women, Colin’s appreciation of their beauty also shows increased maturity in how he thinks of women. However, the fact that the tampons are being disposed of in this manner signals that something is not right in factory operations.
The forklift operator, who introduces himself as the director of operations for Gutshot Textiles, recognizes Lindsey because she looks like Hollis. He says that Hollis will be there soon and walks the three teenagers back to the hot warehouse. Lindsey is aghast and thinks Hollis must have lost her mind if she is having her director of operations bury the factory’s product, thereby running Gutshot into the ground. Colin is protesting that he doesn’t think Hollis wants to run the company into the ground when Hollis herself appears.
Colin tries to help Lindsey see that Hollis likely has an alternative viewpoint from Lindsey, which is prompting her to have the tampons buried. By suggesting that the same event might represent something different when seen from someone else’s persepctive, Colin fulfills the same role for Lindsey that she has fulfilled for him in the past by suggesting that he account for multiple perspectives in his stories.
Hollis is surprised to see Lindsey there. Lindsey begins angrily demanding if she is trying to kill the town so that Lindsey will have to leave. Hollis is surprised that Lindsey would think this. She explains that actually, the factory is doing poorly because there is no one to buy the product. Almost all the factory’s business has been lost to overseas companies. Not wanting to fire anyone in order to produce less, Hollis has been secretly burying the extra tampons that have been stacking up in the factory.
Hollis confirms that indeed, there is an alternate side to the story Lindsey has been telling herself about what Hollis has been up to secretly. While Lindsey has been convinced that Hollis is trying to destroy Gutshot so that she will be forced to leave, Hollis has actually been doing everything she can to make sure that life in Gutshot does not change more than it must.
Lindsey demands why, if the company is so broke, Hollis hired Colin and Hassan to do a made-up job. Hollis explains that the job is not made up. “A generation from now there might not be a factory,” she says, “and I want your kids and their kids to know what it was like, what we were like […] The world ain’t gonna stay like you imagine it sweetheart.” She swears Lindsey and the others to secrecy. Her plan is to continue like this for five years while she tries to come up with new ways of making money. Colin decides that unlike TOC’s cheating, he should keep this secret because “People don’t like to know […] that their paychecks have less to do with their company’s profitability than its owner’s compassion.”
What Hollis reveals forces Lindsey to reckon with the fact that no matter how much she tries to reconnect with the “oldsters” or lay down roots in Gutshot, things are going to change, and Lindsey will have to change with them. Just as Colin cannot rely on others to define him, Lindsey cannot rely on external factors to define herself because those factors will not always be in place.
Lindsey rides with Hollis on the way back to Gutshot, leaving Colin and Hassan alone together in the Hearse. Hassan takes the opportunity to tell Colin that he has reflected on the question of why he always makes jokes. He says it is a way of “not-doing.” If he makes fun of other people for the things they do, he can deflect attention from the fact that he sits around and does nothing. He resolves to start doing things, starting with taking his trash out of the car. He jokes that he deserves a Congressional Medal of Honor for this feat, and Colin reassures him that he is still funny and has been doing things—for example, he registered for college. Hassan concedes to this fact but says, in a “faux morose” tone, that he probably ought to register for three classes, not just two.
Lindsey’s decision to ride back to Gutshot with her mother shows that, to an extent, she has accepted the changes on the horizon. Hassan also accepts and welcomes change. Although he is sarcastic about the effort involved in his resolution to “do things” and go to college, he nevertheless pushes himself to use the potential Colin has always told him he has. Meanwhile, Colin demonstrates that he has changed by congratulating Hassan for what he has already done instead of nagging him to do more.