In the morning, while Paul is drinking his third cup of coffee in the kitchen, Hal Moores calls him on the phone. His voice sounds aged and exhausted. He tells Paul someone warned him there was trouble last night involving Percy Wetmore, and he also tells him that he has made sure Percy’s application for Briar Ridge will be processed rapidly, probably in less than a month. While Moores expects Paul to be delighted, Paul feels distressed at the idea of having to deal with Percy for another month. This news also leads Paul to decide to expedite his secret plan tonight.
While the news of Percy’s application to Briar Ridge might appear as the victory of justice over evil (since Percy is punished for what he has done), Paul realizes that justice, when expressed in the form of punishment, does not necessarily repair the evil that has been done. Instead, Paul knows that, to feel better about what happened to Delacroix, he needs to achieve a greater goal.
When Paul asks Hal how Melinda is, he says her state is rapidly deteriorating and that she has started swearing horribly, shifting from normalcy to utter vulgarity and insults from one moment to the next. When Paul asks Hal if he is going to be home tonight, he replies with an ironic, vulgar answer—imitating his wife’s swearing—that almost makes Paul laugh, but confirms that he will indeed be home.
After the horrors of Delacroix’s execution, death invades Paul’s life even in the private realm, proving that it is impossible to ever escape the universal reach of death. Moores’s ironic answer to Paul’s question also demonstrates the human capacity to mock even the most dreadful events in an effort to cope with them.
Paul tells Janice, who has been listening to the conversation, that Melinda Moores is getting worse. Janice tells Paul that she can tell he is planning something. She asks him if it could get him in trouble and if it is a good thing, and Paul replies “maybe” to both questions. She offers Paul to give him some privacy if he wants to use the phone and asks him if they are going to have people over for lunch, to which Paul replies that he hopes so.
Janice seems capable of sensing, without Paul having to tell her, that he has a secret idea in the back of his head. Like Elaine who knows Paul at the nursing home, Janice does not press her husband for details, trusting him to do what is good. In her restraint, she demonstrates her commitment to him, which does not require any explanations.