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Chapter Five

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Madam Life's a piece in bloom
Death goes dogging everywhere:
She's the tenant of the room,
He's the ruffian on the stair.

–W.E. Henley, Madam Life's a Piece in Bloom

In Chapter Five, Shadow and Wednesday rob a bank before leaving Chicago and heading to the House on the Rock in Wisconsin where they meet up with Czernobog and Mr. Nancy.

Plot Edit

The next morning, Shadow and Mr. Wednesday leave Czernobog's brownstone, saying goodbye to Zorya Utrennyaya. Shadow starts to do coin tricks with the coin Zorya Polunochnaya gave to him and drops it. Wednesday picks it up and gives it back to him, telling him to not be so "careless with people's gifts."

Mr. Wednesday drives them to First Illinois Bank on Market and Second and tells Shadow this is the bank he'll be robbing. Wednesday grabs several deposit slips from the bank before going outside to inspect the ATM and night safe. He takes Shadow across the street to a supermarket where he writes down the number of the payphone in the entry way. Wednesday then tells Shadow to make it snow by thinking and concentrating on the clouds as he drives them to Kinko's.

In Kinko's, Wednesday makes photocopies of the deposit slips and has business cards made up for him along with a letter and several signs. All the while, Shadow is thinking about snow until Wednesday tells him it's enough snow. Wednesday hands him a business card for "A. Haddock, A1 Security Services" and tells him that's his current identity. Shadow wants to know what the A. stands for and Wednesday tells him it's up to him.

Wednesday takes Shadow to lunch at an All-U-Can-Eat buffet in a shed with a liquidation sale. They eat lunch and Wednesday changes clothes into a security guard's outfit before driving them back to the supermarket across from the bank. Once the bank closes, he tells Shadow to hang out by the payphone while he handcuffs a briefcase to his wrist and puts the deposit slips on a clipboard. He heads over to the ATM and puts up Out-of-Order signs on the ATM and night deposit slot.

As customers approach the "broken" ATM, Wednesday offers to take their deposits and they give him their money. Cops pull up and Wednesday greets them. The phone in the supermarket rings and Shadow answers it, pretending to be "Andy Haddock" and Wednesday's boss. He confirms for the police that "Jimmy O'Gorman" is supposed to be there and they leave Wednesday to continue. Eventually, Wednesday takes down the signs and returns to the car. Shadow joins him and Wednesday has him drive to the First Illinois Bank on State Street where Wednesday deposits the now mostly empty bank envelopes into the night slot and the empty deposit bags in the night safe to "confuse everything." They then continue on I-90 toward Madison.

They drive through Madison and continue on another hour down country roads before arriving at the House on the Rock. Wednesday explains to Shadow that people feel pulled to places of power and in other countries, they build temples and monuments while in America, they build roadside attractions, which gives this particular location its power. They buy tickets and enter the attraction, which takes at least two hours to go through according to the clerk.

Wednesday leads them through the attraction, pausing in the Infinity Room to discuss the powers of Disneyland vs. Disney World, before taking Shadow along the "Streets of Yesterday." Wednesday tells Shadow about Alex Jordan[1], the man who built the place. At the end of the Streets of Yesterday, they arrive at a fortune-telling mannequin, whom Wednesday dubs their Urd. They both insert tokens to recieve their fortunes from the Norns before proceeding on to The Mikado room, where they encounter Czernobog seated on a bench.

They proceed with Czernobog down several corridors and through various rooms and attractions before arriving at a pizzaria-cafeteria where Mr. Nancy is seated. Wednesday leaves for the restroom while Shadow is introduced to Mr. Nancy. Once Wednesday returns, they set off again through the House on the Rock, finally reaching the Carousel Room.

The carousel goes round and round without stopping because it is meant to be admired, not ridden. Wednesday then asks Shadow to help them onto the platform where he, Czernobog, and Mr. Nancy jump on board the carousel. Shadow joins them, feeling more uneasy breaking the rules at the carousel than he did robbing the bank that morning.

Once on the carousel, each of the men select a mount with Wednesday picking a golden wolf, Czernobog choosing an armored centaur, and Nancy climbing on a roaring lion. Shadow eventually selects a tiger with an eagle's head to ride. The four men laugh and enjoy their ride on the carousel as the Blue Danube waltz plays and the lights glisten. Then, the lights go out and Shadow sees the gods.

Myths Edit

Mr. Wednesday relates the story of Lady Liberty, a French woman. He quotes a French person: "Liberty is a bitch who must be bedded on a mattress of corpses."

At the House on the Rock, Shadow and Mr. Wednesday "consult the Norns" before the start of their enterprise via a mannequin fortune teller, dubbing her their Urd.

Dreams Edit

The Drunkard's Dream is an attraction at the House on the Rock that Czernobog drags Shadow over to view. Shadow inserts one of the tokens Wednesday gave him and a scene plays out before him of a drunk in a graveyard drinking from a bottle. The headstones flip up with ghosts and corpses appearing around the graveyard and church scene before the church door opens and a priest comes out, scaring them away and leaving the priest and drunkard alone. The priest looks disdainfully at the drunk before returning inside the church. It leaves Shadow feeling unsettled and Czernobog says that's the real world.

Coin Tricks Edit

Shadow uses the silver coin Zorya Polunochnaya gave to him the night before to perform a classic-palm, letting the coin slip down to a front-palm, held between his forefinger and little finger, impressing Mr. Wednesday. He tries to push it into a back-palm but messes up, dropping the coin and causing it to bounce down half a flight of stairs. Mr. Wednesday criticizes him and tells him to take better care of people's gifts.

Wednesday gives Shadow a metal coin at the House on the Rock and Shadow sees a little boy watching him so he holds the token in his forefinger and thumb and then vanishes it.

Places Edit

  • Chicago
    • Czernobog's brownstone
    • First Illinois Bank on Market and Second
    • Kinko's
    • All-U-Can-Eat buffet
    • First Illinois Bank on State Street
  • Wisconsin

People Edit

Notes and Trivia Edit

  • Mr. Wednesday and Shadow impersonate security guards from "A1 Security Services" to rob the bank
    • Mr. Wednesday pretends to be James "Jimmy" O'Gorman
    • Shadow pretends to be "A. Haddock, Director of Security," choosing "Andy" as his first name
  • Musical References from the House on the Rock
    • Bolero - Maurice Ravel (plays when they first enter)
    • Danse Macabre - Camille Saint-Saëns (plays in the broken instrument room)
    • Octopus's Garden - The Beatles (plays in the room with the ship and a whale)
    • The Blue Danube - Johann Strauss II (plays at the carousel)
  • Shadow's fortune from the Norns at the House on the Rock reads: "Every ending is a new beginning. Your lucky number is none. Your lucky color is dead. Motto: Like father, like son."

References Edit

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Jordan,_Jr.

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