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HG: The Hanging Tree, Chapter Three - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
HG: The Hanging Tree, Chapter Three
Haymitch has just left a very tense District Eleven, and is now back on the train.


Chapter Three
I don't sleep very well on the train. I'm too tired not to sleep at all, but it's mostly drifting from place to place in my mind, visiting the things I've seen. I'm living in the woods by the lake I saw this morning, dancing with Calico, facing the huge screens with the faces of dead kids on them. At one point, I'm dancing with Calico under the screens at the edge of the lake, then the screens disappear and the dream takes a somewhat more pleasant direction, but the train turns and I wake up enough to disrupt it.

It's not quite dawn when I finally give up trying. My preps take something to wake themselves up; I'll ask if I can have some if I need to do anything today. No one seems to be running in to wake me up, so I put on a robe and leave my car. I don't know where I mean to go, but I guess the last car is good enough. Maybe watching the world slip by will put me to sleep.

When I get there, I find Gia awake, too, looking avidly out the window at a large body of water to our west.

"What's that?" I ask.

"River Bay," she says. Her voice has a kind of dreamy tone to it. "The Mississippi flooded almost four hundred miles up its course, more than a hundred miles wide, but it's still the Mississippi and --"

"The Mississippi?"

She smiles. "We need to get you some better old books. It's the greatest river in the country. It used to be the eastern border of Panem, before we so graciously allowed Districts Eleven to Thirteen to join us. There's only one bridge. We'll get to it this afternoon. After that, we're on the Rotation."

"The what?"

"The old Panem train system. All roads lead to the Capitol -- via District Six. On that side of the river, the districts aren't connected to each other directly. The trains go through a central switch point. The tracks go out like spokes of a wheel. Which is inconvenient for anything other than the Victory Tour. But it helps the government keep track of inter-district shipping."

In other words, it's a checkpoint, and another way to make sure we don't talk to each other. "So… we're just going to keep looping through the middle?"

"Most of the crossings are scheduled at night, except when we get to Six and it's time to show it off. And we'll have the high track, so we won't have to wait for anything. I doubt you'll notice."

"So it's in Six? They're not worried about it getting… damaged?"

"It's just outside Six. The workers are trucked in every day, like they are into your mines."

The entrance to the mines is in Twelve, but Gia's right -- the miners are trucked underground further than most of them can keep track of. It definitely goes way under the fence. There are stories about miners who've tried to escape through the side tunnels, only for miners generations later to find their bones… or hear their maddened ghosts wailing in the complete darkness. Daddy used to tell us those when he'd been drinking a lot. Mom would make him hush up.

I look out at the water. "So, what's so special about the Mississippi?"

"Rafts."

"Rafts?"

She nods, then softly says, "Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft."

"What?"

"It's a book, Haymitch. Not an easy to find one. Why don't you keep yourself busy for a while trying to figure that out? You could use a puzzle."

"What's it about?"

"Escaping." She grins. "And since the track to District Ten is pretty long, you have a day to escape preps and banquets and most of the cameras. Maybe a quick shot at lunch to keep the audience happy. For myself, I intend to spend my downtime daydreaming about rafts."

"Sounds good," I say, and just watch the River Bay go by.

"Did you need me to do something else?"

"No. You've been doing everything."

"Haymitch… I'm here to help you. It's my job. Oddly enough, it's also what I want to do."

Birds flock over the bay, twirling around each other, diving for food. "Could I get the kill list?"

"The kill list? From the Games?"

"I need to remember who I killed. Yesterday, I couldn't remember if I killed the tributes from Eleven. I feel like I can't remember their names. I don't want to say the wrong thing. Especially if people are holding guns on you."

Gia is quiet for a long time, then says, "Haymitch, you got through the Games with three kills, all of them arguably in self-defense. You mostly ignored the other tributes. The three boys who jumped you -- Maysilee killed one of them -- and that crazy girl from One. They were Districts One, Two, and Four, if you want a warning."

"I remember more than that."

"But there weren't more, not on your head. I'll get you the list, if it will help."

I nod.

We ride in silence, watching the birds on the bay, until I fall asleep. I dream that I'm back in District Twelve. I haven't been reaped, and I am spending the day with Digger, down at the lake (which is now as large as River Bay). She tells me that she has a raft, and we can sail it on the Mississippi. She can hunt, and I will build us a shelter. As soon as we have everything set up, we can send for Mom and Lacklen. She goes on spinning pretty dreams, and I try to tell her that she's dead and so are Mom and Lacklen, but she won't listen. I finally give up and let her spin.

I wake up much later -- the sun is strong -- with a blanket draped over me. Gia's gone, but she's left a book on the seat where she was sitting, with one of her hair pins as a marker. This one is topped with a shiny little ladybug decoration. It would barely show up in her red hair, and it probably cost more than all of Digger's wardrobe put together.

I can't seem to summon up any anger at this. All I can think is that it would have looked nice with the red dress Digger was buried in. I should have gotten her a hair pin, too. I don't know what I'd have put it in, since a lot of her hair fell out when the dress went onto her, but I still should have gotten it.

I look at Gia's book. It's a perfectly acceptable book for a Capitol girl to be reading -- a murder mystery, where the detective is a lady who works in the Museum of the In-gathering (I recognize it from the picture on the cover). If she's leaving me a message with it, it goes over my head entirely.

I go to the dining car.

Gia is there with my preps, and they're watching television. I'm on it. She looks up sheepishly as Plutarch Heavensbee comes on and says, "Well, it looks like our victor was welcomed very warmly in District Eleven!" I'm shown exiting with Calico. Plutarch continues to voice it over. "The young lady is Calico Rays, a cousin of Haymitch's fellow victor, Seeder, apparently well-known in District Eleven for making everyone -- well, every man -- feel welcome."

"He can't say that!"

"Let Seeder handle it," Gia advises me.

"But -- "

"But nothing. It's her family. Let it go."

I sit down and fume, and the attendants bring in lunch. Gia keeps looking out the window. We're no longer traveling along the bay. The water to the west is now clearly a river.

Around two, the train starts to curve around toward the river, and I see a tall, white bridge against the sky. Gia calls me over to the window.

"Look," she says. She points out across the river, where I see an island pointing downriver at us. At the tip of it is a tipped over statue. "I passed that coming out here the first time, and I looked it up. When the Catastrophes were happening, that island turned into a major fort for… one of the sides. The books aren't really clear about who was fighting. Before the last fall, they thought they had control. They built a huge statue out of brass to warn people off."

"Didn't work, huh?"

"Apparently not." She points up to the northwest. "That's where your Shipping River comes in. You could follow it all the way up to District Twelve."

I look at the huge river that's meeting the Mississippi here, just past the bridge. I can't imagine that it flows anywhere near home. It's just not coming together for me. The land we're in now is flat and muddy, going to a line of dark, even forest as it leaves the river banks. I can't even see the mountains in the distance.

"Beetee showed me maps in the library," I tell her. "But I didn't have long to look. My dad's dictionary had maps, too. But… I guess I didn't know how big it was."

"It's hard to know when you're stuck inside a fence."

We actually manage to have a decent day on the train. No one complains about my lack of a reasonable talent, and Gia lets me spend the afternoon reading the Odyssey and pretending that I know something about the ancient Greek it's translated from. I learn the alphabet. We have a nice dinner, and over a huge dessert, Lepidus promises that he's looked into the predicted weather in the districts we'll be visiting, and promises that he won't put me in anything inappropriate again.

"As long as I don't have to wear the parade costume, I’m fine," I say.

He laughs. "Yes, well, there will be no more of that. That was Drake's idea, to get you sponsors."

"Where is he, anyway? I didn't think he'd want to miss the cameras."

Gia and Lepidus look at each other warily, and I realize that they've been waiting for me to ask this.

I sigh. "What is it? Did something happen to him?"

"No," Gia says. "He was… well, traditionally, the district mentor goes."

"Yeah?"

"And, well, you're the District Twelve mentor now. Drake's been re-assigned to Six, since they don't have any victors. He was invited for form's sake, since he mentored you, but he…"

"Wasn't in a rush to see me again?" I finish.

"You won by ignoring every word he said," Lepidus tells me. "And everyone knows it."

"I'm sorry," Gia says.

I laugh. "Oh, right. I just couldn't wait to see Drake again."

"We thought it might hurt your feelings. That's why we didn't bring it up."

Somehow, after losing my family and my girl and watching my district get stepped on by a sadistic Head Peacekeeper, the idea that I'd have any feelings about being ignored by a man I never liked in the first place is funny. I try not to laugh, because they both seem so sincere about protecting me from this slight, but it doesn’t work. After a minute, Gia joins me. Lepidus still seems confused, but I'm apparently his boss now, so he timidly smiles.

"If you're taking direction from the mentor," I say, "no more of those things. Dress 'em up like miners if you have to, but… you know."

"You'll lose sponsors," he says. "I hate to say it, but it's true."

"Did people really sponsor me because I was in tight pants?"

Gia shakes her head. "No. It wasn't until you teamed up with Maysilee that you started getting sponsors at all. But she had a few lined up from her costume, to be fair."

I would rather not understand the implications of that, so I ignore it. "So they sponsored me once it looked like I had the brains to team up with a good shot? Or did I get someone else's sponsors?"

"No." Gia thinks about this for what seems a very long time, then says, "It was when you started talking to her. I started getting calls from people who aren't normally sponsors. They were under the impression that you were a nice boy. They liked the way you and Maysilee were working together."

"According to Drake, it was pocket change," Lepidus says.

"A lot of pocket change put together turns into a pretty nice sum."

"They thought I was nice?" I shake my head. "And what did they think they were going to do? Save both of us?"

Gia smiles. "They don't think that far ahead," she says. "You're going to have to get used to that idea. Let them think they can make the whole difference, even if it doesn’t make any sense. Then, you'll get money for your tributes."

I look down at the large dish of ice cream in front of me, and realize that if I eat another bite, I'm going to throw up. I may anyway. I didn't mean to start talking about sponsors and mentoring. Faces from home flash through my head. I'm talking about kids I know -- people I'll be taking to die next year.

I excuse myself and go to my car. Try to sleep. I'm still awake when the train passes through a brightly lit area, and I feel it turn gently. Sometime after we pass this, I finally drift off. I dream that Danny and Digger have been reaped, and I am meeting with faceless sponsors (all of them sitting high above me, in jeweled thrones), telling them that whichever of them is their favorite is the one I'm going to try and save. One of them complains that Danny's costume isn't attractive enough, and another asks a lot of very personal questions about Digger's skills, all veiled as Games-related. Digger tries to tell me that she's dead anyway, and I don't need to save her, but in dream logic, that doesn't work. The whip marks on Danny's back open up and start bleeding.

I am not sorry when Plutarch comes in to wake me up and get me to prep.

We pass through the District Ten fence while Medusa is doing my hair. It's nothing like the fence in Eleven -- more like the one in Twelve, though it doesn't come anywhere near a town. The gate is a guard post, but not a fortress. There are only about a dozen Peacekeepers flanking the train. I can see the shock rails on either side of the tracks here, and beyond them, fenced in pastures. Cows lean their heads out to look at the train on one side. On the other, I see dirty things that it takes me a minute to recognize as sheep. I have heard of them and know what they are, but they don't look exactly like I thought they would. They're more yellowish than white. In the far distance, I see someone on a horse, but that's the only human I spot until we reach the main town almost four hours later. It rises up abruptly from the plains, with no suburban detritus around it, even though it isn't fenced in.

"They don't want to waste field space," Gia explains. The town is actually pretty densely populated. Mostly high rise apartments for people who work in the slaughterhouses and meat-packing plants. And the office workers and liaisons. Other people live out on the spreads."

She doesn't have to tell me that this is yet another of the district-level social conflicts. I'd guess the people crammed into town want space, and the people out on what she calls "the spreads" have to deal with interruptions in power and supply shipping, plus whatever annoyances the Capitol adds to their job of raising animals to kill, and figure the town people get a break.

Gia gives me the kill list from this district along with my speech cards. The two girls, Jilly Chubb and Clara Knox, died at the Cornucopia. Clovis Wilbore, who Maysilee said kept sheep, was killed by Filigree Simms. Wyland Belcher… well, he tried to kill Maysilee before she met up with me, and she shot him with one of her darts. I'll have to be careful there.

I give the assigned speech. There are no Peacekeepers with guns to my team's heads, but I suspect that's because I've been allowed to see them once. They will always be there inside my mind.

The mayor of District Ten -- a whip-thin man wearing a string tie -- tells me that they don't hold with such high-falutin' things as banquets here, but we're going to have the best barbecue I've ever seen.

Since I've never seen a barbecue, I am perfectly honest when I tell him I'm sure it will be. They give me another plaque. I really have no idea what to do with these things. They're heavy. They might make good blunt weapons if I need them. Beyond that, I'm stumped.

The barbecue ends up being a big, outdoor party at the edge of town, under a pavilion tent painted with scenes of cows and sheep and horses out in the fields. Sides of beef and mutton roast over open fires, and someone pulls out a fiddle and plays it well enough that I think old Hickory Mayne from home would be jealous. If it weren't for Wyland Belcher's family sitting in a corner and glaring at me, I'd probably actually like it here.

Earl Bates, the victor from the thirty-first Games, introduces himself and gives me a bread recipe. There are no feathers or birds on it. Another victor -- with the unlikely name of Toffy Taggart -- isn't able to make the party because one of his cows is in labor. "Maybe you'll meet him up at the Games," Bates says. "He's a good enough fella."

I get to meet Earl's wife Hilda, and their twin eleven-year-old boys, Donald and Ralph. All of this seems very nice, and I'm enjoying myself, until Donald tells me solemnly that he and Ralphie will be in the reaping next year, just like everyone else, and he hopes he'll be as brave as his dad was -- and as I was, of course -- if he goes to the Games. Earl forces a smile and tells him not to invite a jinx. I think again about people I care about being sent in. I can't even imagine worrying about sending one of my own kids.

Gia, who has been hovering but not interfering, decides that it's time for me to meet some of the other dignitaries. As I leave, I see Earl put his head in his hands.

The party ends at ten-thirty. Livestock have to be fed early, no matter who's visiting town, and people have to go home. I am loaded back onto the train, and we head off into the darkness. I have an early morning tomorrow, too.

District Nine is colder than District Ten, and the town is right at the fence line (Gia tells me that they have an internal rail system to ship the grain). I am presented with a sunflower here, from the family of Kitty Norton, a little girl Maysilee and I tried to help by leaving her a backpack with some food in it. This didn't make the highlight reel, but apparently it went out on the live show. Her parents assure me that it's not my fault that she and her ally, Arav Caper, were promptly attacked by the Careers trying to get the food. It's the first I've heard of this, and I try not to be horrified, since they're not blaming me. I ask Plutarch to put the sunflower in my car, and keep it as long as it can be kept. The other three tributes died at the volcano and the Cornucopia.

The bread recipe comes from one of the two victors in the neighborhood, Darla Grimes. She sneers at my sunflower, and I decide I don't like her much. She is also in the company of a boy about half her age, who does everything she tells him. There are no flowers or birds here, either.

I get a little tour of the district on their internal train, since the banquet is at a gathering hall in the center of the district -- the center of Victors' Village, in fact. Once, the train breaks down -- there is much gnashing of teeth about this, but I don't care -- and I go out into the field alone (though it's possible to see for miles here, so I'm sure I am being watched). I stand in the middle of a fallow winter field and look up at the sky. There's no break in the horizon, no rise of the land. I can see a gray shape far in the distance, and I realize that it's an entire rain shower that's nowhere near me. Looking around, I see two more. Further north in the district, I'm told there's snow. It all seems impossibly big, and it makes me feel very small.

The banquet is plain and unadorned. It seems to mainly be attended by Capitol officials, and, of course, the victors. The servers seem surly. I don't blame them. Both victors treat them like dirt on their shoes.

While we're eating, I ask Darla about this, though I try not to make it sound rude. She shrugs and says, "I went through hell to stop spending my life pulling rocks out of the ground and filling prairie dog holes, and they sit here judging me for not doing it voluntarily anymore. They think it's uppity of me to take correspondence classes from the Capitol University." She makes a face. "Screw 'em. And screw anyone from your district who tells you how you can spend your own money, too."

This bit of economic philosophy is about all I get out of District Nine, other than the plaque and a vague sense of discomfort. I notice one girl at the banquet who has her hair cut messily, but I don't comment on it. It seems like a rude thing to notice.

When we get to Eight the next day, I see several more girls with their hair cut the same way. A couple of them in the crowd seem to be poor girls from the textile factories, but there are several painted-up Capitol girls at the banquet who actually seem to be wearing wigs that are deliberately cut that way.

"What's that about?" I ask Medusa.

She looks surprised that I'm talking to her at her table at the back, even though she talks to me plenty while she's working on me. "Um… it's the rage since the Games," she says. "It's called the rough-cut, or the saw-bob." She frowns, apparently expecting me to understand it immediately. "Because of what Maysilee did with her hair?"

I have no idea what to say to this. "That was… her hair was wrecked… she wouldn't have…"

Medusa shrugs. "Well, it's quite the thing. I can get a good bit of money for hacking some girl's hair off with a special knife."

"A… special knife?"

"Well, they pay more if it's really one of the arena knives. I have three of them back at my salon."

"Do they pay even more if it was used to kill someone first?"

Even Medusa seems to realize that I'm being sarcastic, as she excuses herself and goes back to her chicken soup.

There's only one victor in District Eight, from the eighteenth Games, named Woof. I assume at first that this is a nickname, like Blight, but he says it isn't. He's in his late forties now, and, though he has a wife, he has no children. "I imagine you know why," he says quietly.

"Yeah," I say. "I guess I do."

He hands me a recipe with one very large feather drawn across the top. There are also three symbols I don't recognize -- a box with a little flag on it, half an arrow, and something that looks like the top of a three-pronged fork. He doesn't offer an explanation, and I have no guesses.

There's not a lot to see in District Eight. Woof takes me up to an observation deck in the justice building, where I can see the lights of the city through a gently falling snow. The city is right on the western bank of the northern Mississippi. It's no bigger than District Twelve in terms of space, but has ten times the people, living on top of each other in anthill like apartment houses, which Woof implies strongly are falling apart, badly heated, and filled with failing plumbing. "But not to worry," he says bitterly. "The cockroaches eat most of the dirt." I can see Victors' Village on the riverbank, a tiny little park-like area that only Woof has access to. I can sympathize.

"Lonely out there for you, too?" he asks.

"Little bit."

He nods wisely. "You should find some company other than the bottles they're showing you with on television. That's not going to help."

I don't point out that any company I have keeps dying in violent ways. That's been on television, too.

We go back down to the banquet and the dance, and I learn one of their traditional dances, which whirls around in a circle, getting faster with each repetition of the melody. Outside, the weather takes a bad turn, and the gentle snowfall becomes harsh and windblown. My team is taken back to the train, but there's no way to move out when we're supposed to.

We're still stalled in the morning, and no one comes to wake me up. I am dreaming about cockroaches and blizzards and having children whose names come out of the reaping balls, but I am exhausted, and I can't seem to make myself get out of bed until the sun is on my face too brightly too ignore. The wind is still whistling around the train, but it's perfectly warm inside.

I get up and go to the dining car, where I have brunch by myself, since it's eleven-fifteen and no one else is at meal time. In the back car, the windows aren't pulled back, but I can still see out of them. District Eight is pretty well buried in snow, but workers have been called to the tracks to clear them. Many of them seem to be children. A little girl pulling snow out from around the train looks up and smiles at me, giving me a friendly wave. A Peacekeeper pulls her away before I can return it. I decide to see if they'll let me help. Maybe it could be a good camera moment or something.

I don't see Gia in any of the places I usually expect to find her, so I go to her private car to ask about going out to help. I hear her moving around before I get there, muttering under her breath, and when I reach her door, I see her pulling clothes out of her wardrobe, staring at them, discarding them. Of course. We're headed back to District Seven next, and I guess that means their sole victor will be there -- the man she loved enough to risk being shunned and sent away for.

I let her be, and go to Lepidus instead. He has some winter clothes for me, and I put them on and go out without asking permission. I spend the early afternoon helping people shovel snow off the tracks. I have a snowball fight with a local boy, and when a Peacekeeper tries to interrupt it, I pull down my scarf and more less dare him to interfere with a victor. I feel better than I have for a long time.

It doesn't end up on the air.
13 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
mirandabeth From: mirandabeth Date: January 6th, 2014 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)
So rich in detail! Katniss really wasn't in any state to pick up much about the country on her victory tour, apart from as it directly related to the growing unrest, but of course Haymitch is pretty cluey. It's no wonder Snow controls the victors so tightly, they're really almost the only ones who actually know anything about the world outside their own district.

Couple of missing words:

Since I have seen a barbecue...

Once, the breaks down...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 6th, 2014 03:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Got 'em, thanks.

And yeah, Katniss was completely overwhelmed by Snow's threats during the tour (I wonder if Peeta saw any more... or if, in the intervening years, Snow cracked down on how much they could see), so she had total tunnel vision. But Haymitch can't curb his curiosity.
mirandabeth From: mirandabeth Date: January 6th, 2014 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I know something pretty major's got to happen in the interim for the rebellion to take 25 years from where it is in this story to where it actually takes off! Although I think it would be impossible to control the basic district information the victors get, simply by being in the same room as each other, visiting other districts as mentors of victors, etc (as opposed to the information the general citizens get - e.g. Katniss realising that her conversation with Rue about life in Eleven is most likely not being aired despite it being totally innocuous, since she's never heard anything about other districts before) and so I guess Snow deals with that by controlling the victors themselves, instead.
redrikki From: redrikki Date: January 6th, 2014 02:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I liked the look at the districts. We really didn't get much of a sense of the country in the books but, once again, you've created depth and history where it was originally relatively flat and empty. I like that you've explained a bit about why District 9 was so angry in your other works. I did wonder about that at when I first read those.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 6th, 2014 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I really just begged the question down at least a generation. ;p Mostly, I needed a district be recalcitrant and Nine was handy. I think there are just some places where there's always some kind of nasty social tension, and, given a valve, it turns violent.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 6th, 2014 11:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dystopian road story for the win! I love exploring Panem and seeing the different ways victors deal with their situation. Glad Haymitch got to try barbecue. (I was about to make a joke about how, as an NC girl, I suspect that Eleven does it even better, but then I remembered Rue and her shock at having a whole drumstick. Hunger Games: the anti-fluff!)

- emkay
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 7th, 2014 02:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I doubt anyone in D10 gets to have a whole side of beef, either. They might barbecue an occasional bird southern style in D11, but probably for the whole family to share.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: January 7th, 2014 04:12 am (UTC) (Link)
The only typo I caught was right at the end: more less dare him.

I'm getting worried about Gia (more than the constant worry that certain events are inevitable) While you've implied that Huck Finn's standard university fair, I don't think the themes expressed therein are ones Snow would want being shared with Haymitch. And I can't decide whether getting to Seven will be interesting in a good way or a Chinese one; interaction with Blight and Gia would be awesome, but I can just as easily see Snow punishing Gia, by not letting him come, to punish Haymitch for the end of this. Because driving a wedge between them and making her want to transfer would be far too reminiscent of the President, and nothing good is going to come after Snow sees him mingling with District Folk; I'm not sure whether to beg you to finish the next chapter, or wait and hold off whatever inevitable thing's going to happen; on a purely writerly level, just perfect reuse of Haymitch's thought about feeling better than he had for a long time from just before the collapse in EOTW.

Seeing the other Districts from the perspective of someone who can take in the tour is fascinating, as are all the brushstrokes you add, about District life and inter-District travel. And I'm starving after that party in Ten!

What you're doing here with all the victors is really cool; Darla, much as I dislike her, reminds me of Plutarch's comment in NP that victors were meant to break the Districts as much with wins as losses; initially, I thought of people like Haymitch or Finnick, but it occurs to me that, living as they do in Nine, a victor who put their money in to the Capitol instead of the local economy, would be infuriating. Meeting Earl and Woof here makes what happened to them in GM have so much more impact, retrospectively. I feel so bad for Woof's wife right now, and, horrible as Earl's death was, there's a sort of bleak comfort in the fact that his kids were safe, and he got to see grandchildren. I also really liked how you subverted Kattniss's comments about Haymitch and Twelve's chances with Earl; seeing as he's the victor for the 31st, and we've yet to see Kate, Twelve's not the only one with long losing streaks, which opens up the possibility that it's more than Haymitch's "bad mentoring" that caused Twelve to not have victors.

Speaking of mentoring, all the advice he gets here is going to be very useful later; I'm morbidly looking forward to him mentoring, and can't help but think that the first time he has a girl both pretty and smart, it's going to be quite interesting to see him balance the irrefutable fact Lepidus brings up about girls in racy costumes getting better sponsors with the girl's own comfort level/dignity and just basic decency.

Haymitch's portrayal here was just masterful; I loved how he'd be fine one minute, and then on the edge the next. His sarcasm to Medusa over that awful hair fad felt terribly plausible; there was just too much happening in too short a time, and something was eventually going to make him snap. Somehow, seeing him lash out like that, when he's usually so careful around women really brought it home how close to the edge he is, especially on the heels of realizing how skewed his perceptions of the arena are in his conversation with Gia about the kill list. And I love how living with constant paranoia/secrecy's taking its toll, so well illustrated by him thinking the forgotten book and ladybug pin was a message. With the way he just keeps spiraling back, through associative thinking, to everyone who died, it doesn't surprise me that by GM he minimized them, simply to survive.

Much as I loved all the bits in this chapter, I'd have to say my favorite was when they were passing river bay. Just such a warm friendship moment between Haymitch and Gia in the midst of so much that's awful, with a lit puzzle to boot, which is pretty much garunteed to put any moment at the top of the list for me. The references to Huck Finn and the rafts reminded me of the moment in iether GM or NP when he was reading Huck, and how stupid/pointless he thought the plot was; clearly, he never solved that puzzle!:)

And the moment where they're all so careful about Drake, and then Haymitch and Gia begin laughing was just priceless!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 7th, 2014 04:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, if the three career districts "usually" win, then there are a lot of districts with a dearth of victors. If everyone had an even number of victors by the time Katniss is reaped, every district would only have six victors (well, one would have to have seven). We know it's not even, so most would have a good number fewer if some districts had quite a lot of them. I'd guess every district finds some way to "justify" their losses.

Even if the Careers only won half, rather than most, it would mean that thirty-six or thirty-seven victors were split among the other nine districts. We know one of them was a D12 victor before Haymitch who was dead before the story started, meaning that D12 was only slightly below what would be expected by chance in that field. And I had the sense that the careers won more than half.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 7th, 2014 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Very Nice

Great stuff from all the districts and the different Victors. Can you explicate what the Hebrew-esque symbols that Woof used means? And what was Woof's "Jewish" name? I'm going to have to try to remember to request something about him mentoring Cecelia the next time you do an open call.

Sara Libby
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2014 06:52 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Very Nice

It's just "shalom" (שלום), though "he" forgot the vav. Or, yeah, Haymitch just didn't notice the line there. Yeah.

Hebrew name? Hmm. Zev. (Means "wolf," sounds like "woof" -- they're actually cognates in the local accent out here.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 8th, 2014 11:42 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Very Nice

Ha! That's what I thought his name would be! Awesome.

Sara Libby
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 9th, 2014 12:03 am (UTC) (Link)
One of the historical strategies for dealing with troublemakers is allow them to move out and start a town on their own. It makes me wonder why Snow so aggressively pursues the "everybody MUST stay in Panem" policy when the alternative might make his life a whole lot easier, and might even lead to some slow settling of the wild areas. Similarly, why does banishment not seem to be an actual policy choice?
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