Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Against the Blog: 2-5

Lew Basnight, in Denver, is on the trail of a mysterious desperado known only as the Kieselguhr Kid, "kieselguhr" being a kind of fine clay used in the production of dynamite. The Kid doesn't use guns; he carries dynamite, and he's quick with it, too.

Lew is becoming more and more ambivalent about his work; more and more sympathetic to the anarchists. He fantasizes about committing minor acts of terrorism.

Nate Privett shows up for his annual inspection of the Denver branch; he reveals--not that Lew is particularly surprised--that, basically, the agent doesn't really care if Lew ever catches the Kid; as long as he's there keeping up appearances, the clients keep paying, and that's what matters. Lew gets indignant and more or less quits on the spot. He starts hanging around with the anarchists.

After accidentally ingesting an explosive compound with hallucinogenic properties, Lew starts making a habit of it. He starts to be able to sense even far-off dynamite blasts.

One day, he gets caught in an explosive blast set by unknown persons. It sort of knocks him out of his body, but then, with a will, he reenters. He has been found by a pair of British dandies named Nigel and Neville who are touring the American West. He starts traveling with them 'cause why not. They are taking a ship back to England from Galveston, and they want him to come along too, as a souvenir of authentic Americanness. He goes along with this because, again, why not? The day after the ship departs, there is an enormous storm that kills six thousand people.

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