On the forum, Orangutan and Chutes&Ladders are talking as Chutes&Ladders works up the nerve to call his son. He calls, but hangs up too quickly. Orangutan pushes him to call again. A man answers the phone on the second try, but as soon as he hears “hello,” Chutes&Ladders hangs up and tells Orangutan that there was no answer. He logs off. Orangutan is annoyed that he jumped off the forum so quickly and asks if Haikumom is online yet.
Chutes&Ladders’ fear of human connection is not only apparent in his relationship with Orangutan and the forum members, but also in his relationship with his son, once again demonstrating both his dependence on the anonymity of internet relationships. It also shows that the anonymity and safety of the forum has hindered his real-world interactions.
In Odessa’s living room, Elliot and Yaz look at Odessa’s “stone age” computer. Yaz remarks that the computer is the most valuable thing Odessa has, and they’ll still only get fifteen dollars for it, seeming hesitant to take it. However, Elliot mercilessly insists, saying that it’s a symbol of Odessa doing the “bare minimum” to help with Mami Ginny’s funeral and act like a human being. Before they unplug the wires, though, they notice the chat room and log in as Odessa—Yaz correctly guessing that her password is “Elliot.”
Elliot’s insistence that they pawn Odessa’s computer seems more than symbolic—it seems vindictive. He is purposely taking away Odessa’s connection to her support network, which has become her life’s purpose. This need to punish and hurt his own biological mother—assumedly because she hurt him so long ago—demonstrates the destructive impact of addiction not only on the user, but also the people around them.
Despite Yaz’s hesitation, Elliot begins talking to Orangutan, posing as Haikumom, though Orangutan quickly realizes it’s not her. When she realizes that she’s talking to Haikumom’s son, she tells him that there is a good forum for pain-medication addicts, tipping Yaz off to the fact that Elliot got hooked on pain pills while he was in the military hospital and even overdosed three times. Yaz is furious at Elliot for never telling her about it, since she would’ve helped him, but Elliot insists that the only thing left from those days are night terrors and the Ghost, and that he’s not pathetic like the forum members. Yaz tries to press him, but he shuts down, begs her to stop asking, and rips the cords out of the computer to take it to the pawn shop.
Elliot’s insistence that he is somehow better or morally superior to the members of the forum and to Odessa, despite the fact that he himself was an addict, characterizes him as a hypocrite with a mountain of buried pain. However, the pain he experienced as the child of a drug addict and as a haunted war veteran makes him seem more tragic than despicable—a man trapped by years of guilt, shame, and anger. Elliot’s own struggle with drugs suggests that the destructive impact of drug addiction can be passed down generationally.