Chapter 13: Surmounting the Obstacle
This chapter picks up immediately where 12 left off, with a bit of “No, he didn’t!”, “Yes, he did!” back and forth to get through. Craig wanders off and Becker wanders in. Convenient. I guess Becker felt the need to show up after having just talked on the phone with Presley a few minutes prior. Sure.
Becker immediately starts in on yelling at Brody for seeing Hayden, but Brody changes the subject and bluntly asks why Becker let Presley bribe him. There’s some token denial before Becker breaks and admits he did it for his wife.
“I did it for Mary, okay?” Becker burst out, looking so anguished that Brody almost felt sorry for him. “You don’t know what it’s like living with a woman like her. Money, power, that’s all she talks about. She’s always needling me to be better, richer, more ambitious. And now that I’m retiring, she’s going nuts. She married me because of my career, because I was at the top of my game, a two-time cup winner, a goddamn champion” (151).
So essentially Becker’s excuse is that his wife is Lady Macbeth. I guess we should be glad he just took a bribe and didn’t start a war.
We never met Mary in this novel. Back when Becker and Brody go to the gentlemen’s club (I will never tire of calling it that) for the birthday party, Brody asked Becker what he saw in Mary (since he’d just been saying, multiple times, “she’s not a nice person” (95).) I suppose in retrospect all of Becker’s complaining about her in chapter 8 ought to have been foreshadowing. And yet Becker’s answer to Brody’s question was that he did see something in her, his “soulmate” (95). That’s the only positive thing that Becker says about Mary. Yet Brody’s vision of her is as a “tiny, delicate woman who’d been married to Sam for fifteen years” (94). And he’s spent significant time with the couple. That whole scene in chapter 8 was played for laughs, it seemed to me—oh haha, big tough hockey player Sam Becker is henpecked. But, evidently, she really is a terrible person and also she’s Becker’s soulmate, so he had no choice in his actions.
Except of course he did.
Speaking of actions, he not only took the bribe but he was also the source who told the journalist about Brody seeing Hayden, and who accused Brody of being one of the players who took bribes. Brody reacts incredibly poorly to this, blood boiling, stomach churning, “a red haze of fury swept over him” (152).
This scene mirrors Hayden’s with her father. When talking with her father, she realized that Brody was offering her the stability she wanted even if it’s clothed in the instability she fears. In this scene, Brody realizes that Mary’s desire for power and money is similar to his own, and that he’d been putting too high a value on those and not a high enough one on Hayden. I get this, I guess, in that I think there ought to be a way to compromise, but he’s known Hayden for two weeks. His career has been his life. Brody continues on in his thoughts, thinking how he’d wanted a woman who could see past his athlete-status and not care about his money and that obviously that’s true of Hayden. So while he won’t lie for her father, he’ll stand by her.
In other words, they’ve each just realized that the other is exactly what they’ve been looking for.
Which is awfully convenient as they’ve also just found each other in front of the conference doors in the arena. Brody makes a grand gesture of telling Hayden that he’ll stay by her side through the investigation and beyond. Hayden starts laughing and has to explain that that’s only because she’d come to tell him that she was okay with taking a break for the sake of his career but that she didn’t want it to be permanent.
The Insurmountable Obstacle has been Surmounted! And there was much rejoicing.
There is kissing and more kissing.
Flushed, she broke the kiss and stepped back before she gave in to the urge to pull him into the restroom and fulfill yet another kinky fantasy (155).
She has a bathroom fantasy? Really?