Jende drives Clark to the Chelsea Hotel at least a dozen times in the five weeks after Lehman Brothers falls. On the way, Clark confirms the rendezvous and verifies with the person on the phone that “the girl [will] do the acts she promised to do on the website.” Jende always sits in the driver’s seat, pretending not to hear anything. Before every appointment, he pulls up in front of the hotel, drops Clark off, searches for a spot on the street, and waits there until he gets a call from Clark to pick him up in five minutes. When Clark reenters the car, he seems more relaxed, showing no sign of guilt.
Jende knows that Clark is seeing a prostitute at the hotel but feigns ignorance, which is reflected in a narrative that never communicates Jende’s thoughts about what Clark might be doing and how it could impact his family. Dutifully, Jende drives Clark to and from the hotel, abiding by the terms of his strict confidentiality agreement, so that he can keep his job.
The bond between Jende and Clark is “firmly established” by this secret. This is why Jende says no more than what is necessary on the night when Clark returns to the car without his tie on. Normally, Jende wouldn’t notice such a thing. He opens his mouth to say something about it; then, he thinks better of it. Instead, he offers to take Clark back to his office. Clark tells Jende to take him home. Jende foresees how this will play out: Clark will walk into the house; Cindy will ask him where the tie is; Clark will tell a lie that Cindy won’t believe; Cindy will start a fight and, the following day, Jende will be subjected to more “cringe-inducing details about their marriage.” It’ll become yet another battle that Clark will have to fight. Then again, maybe Cindy won’t notice.
The secret between Jende and Clark parallels with the secret between Cindy and Neni about Cindy’s drug and alcohol abuse. Though the Edwardses have power over the Jongas’ economic stability, the Jongas hold the secrets that, if revealed, can ruin the stability of the Edwardses’ lives, which are already on tenuous ground. Jende knows that Clark will likely be confronted about the tie, which will become symbol of both his infidelity and his neglect, but he tries to convince himself, for the sake of his own peace of mind, that she won’t suspect anything.