Pages 199 – 214
Bora finishes telling Hanck the tale of Toby’s death. There’s a lot of history and side stories to explain the inner workings of The Clan and their feuds, especially Loki’s part in all of it.
The next morning, Hanck departs for home, hoping to come to terms with how Toby died.
Hanck has been told that Loki frequents a bar called The Colonial Club, so Hanck goes there in the hopes of confronting Loki. An older whore joins Hanck at his table and lures him into talking about his sorrows.
She writes a note for Hanck to use to skip the line of supplicants at the Old Man’s residence, and get direct and immediate access. Hanck, understandably, is hesitant about using this letter. Who is this woman to have connections with the highest level of The Clan?
Dubious though he is, Hanck decides to give it a try. To his surprise, he is ushered into the Old Man’s, Odin’s, presence. After reading the letter, he reveals to Hanck that the whore at The Colonial Club was Loki himself. Furthermore, Odin reveals that he knows what happened to Toby, both the time he was delivered to the hospital and the time he died while serving at the banquet.
Hanck tells Odin he wants to see his son, so Odin makes a deal. Having enjoyed Hanck’s reports from the time when he was an insurance adjuster, Odin wants Hanck to write the same type of report about love. Not the drivel that poets and storytellers write, but a sharp report in which love can be codified. Hanck is dubious about his ability to do this task, but agrees if only he is allowed to see his son one more time.
Can you turn love into something sensible, rational and even logical? If you can, then you would also be capable of forgiving.” (p. 280)
Hanck is then taken to the City of the Dead where he has one last conversation with Toby, in which it is revealed that he has met his mother and knows his father lied to him about her. Then, Hanck visits the display of Loki’s torment, tied up under a snake whose venom will kill him should any touch him. Loki’s wife sits next to him, holding a bowl above his head, catching the venom as it drips down. Eventually, the bowl gets full and she must step outside to empty it. Then Loki’s torture can be seen by all.
When he arrives home, Hanck sits at his typewriter and thinks that Odin has handed him an impossible task. How can love be codified?
Then an invitation to the meeting of the Affect Commission to participate in a forum about love and how to codify it. Hanck sits uncomfortably warm in the turtleneck he bought Toby years ago and listens to experts speak about love and its fluidity.
At the interval he leaves because he’s realized that these experts have it all wrong. “Love is unfathomable!” (p. 311) He returns home and sits at his typewriter and finds he knows how to write about love, by writing about his love for Toby and their life together.