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Does King of the Bullies' Writing Style Compare with Anna Karenina's?
Here's part 3/chapter 1 of King of the Bullies
When a Hilton clerk contacted Roger Stark to tip him off that Jonas Palmer had scheduled a second conference on March 6, he groaned and cursed Jonas barbarously for so long that he hardly knew what he was saying after a while, as if a division between intellect and emotions parted one from the other, and as it was occurring more and more with time and age.
Once more his head was in a whirl as he ran over in his mind what course of action he ought to take to overcome the impending threat.
“A sniper?” he proposed. “No!” he objected immediately and painfully, flaring up with an angry frown at Jake Friedman’s utter disaster, at all the hours he had spent prompting Jake Friedman that wasteful night returned to him with a feeling of loathing. “Burn down his house? Cause a horrific earthquake in his city? No, he might survive! Pay a gang to ambush him? A hit-and-run?” He could not pause anywhere, the satisfying answer he sought evading him.
In all the thirty-six years of service in the FBI Roger Stark had never resembled a real gangster as these last few months, as though he were demonstrating his true colors as he transformed into a cold-hearted and blood-thirsty monster who would stop at nothing to attain his objective. One week prior to the bidding war he called all the automotive representatives at the oddest times, threatening the Honda representative: “Do you want to die in a freak car accident or see your house burn down to the ground? If you don’t, do not attend Jonas Palmer’s bidding war!” He resumed calling others, and as exhaustion and mental weariness exacerbated his fragile state of mind, he was screaming more and more his threats.
Jonas Palmer who never paid attention to details, who never wondered why one day was cloudier than yesterday, or the day before yesterday, lately had been noticing specific car models often parking around him; everyday-looking people assuming the firm stance of guards before the entrance of locations he frequented; certain customers in grocery stores passing him frequently and staring warily at him; his neighbors’ unexplainable obstinate persistence in parking their cars needlessly and brazenly in front of his house not only one day but all the days of the week; a black or white limousine driving by nine or ten times daily and parking close by for hours; fire trucks and ambulances beginning to shriek whenever he broached the bidding war, his prototype, or his excitement in casual conversations; the ceaseless hum of small planes and a dark-gray helicopter hovering annoyingly too close with its sonorous rotors drowning the television; his minor street continuing strangely to become busier and busier in the evenings; the same set of neighbors walking their dogs and hardly failing to smile to him; his Smartphone misfunctioning increasingly more and more: starting with texting that ceased to work one day; then, he could not receive calls from acquaintances and friends; then, he could not hear the phone ringing when someone was calling him; then and finally, he could not call anyone. His laptop’s inexplicable connecting issues, the screen turning black suddenly, and then, unable to check his emails and something strange interfering constantly with his ability to order anything at websites; his cable acting up, whether not in service, the volume not increasing nor decreasing, the menu displaying the wrong channels for several listed movie titles, or the television screen blurring often for seconds during movies; all the rates from Verizon, AT&T, to cable rising weirdly at the same time. Anyone else not in Jonas Palmer’s shoes may have dismissed these happenings as coincidental, but for him there were far too many “coincidences” occurring regularly to be considered as such, and what was more significant, he had begun feeling the unmistakable expanding presence of something strange and irrational, something opposing him fiercely, and something bent on his unconditional surrender to defeat. In fact, this soaring pressure manifesting from many channels were clamoring, as it were, with one unified voice for him to give up his ambitious plans, dominated the air so thoroughly that for five consecutive days he waked bathed in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, from dreaming of dying from a gunshot, in a fire the second night, and for the last three nights dying as his convertible explodes in the freeway.
Despite communicating the cruelest threats with absolute earnestness to all the automotive representatives in one night, Roger Stark was still unusually tense, agitated, and fearful, and only growing worse as the bidding war drew ever nearer.
It was eight in the morning and it was Jonas’ turn to fetch donuts to accompany everyone’s cup of coffee. Hideous vandalism spray-painted over the house’s gray walls stopped him dead in his tracks, after shutting the front door and proceeding eight paces. The messages promising rape, disfigurement, death, and destruction were yet more appalling that one would have fancied that no human but demons possessed enough evil to have written them. Overcome by the thought of how the vandalism would affect Sara, worried the vandalism would hurt her deeply, he ran five red traffic lights, purchased a gallon of paint and brushes, and barely remembered to buy two dozen donuts at Purple Donuts, before racing home and almost running over two dog-walkers crossing his street.
Nearly crashing into the garage’s rear wall and upsetting a medium-sized aluminum ladder, he entered the house feigning high spirits and a cheerful smile, and, hurrying unnaturally around the table with the pink box’s lid hanging open and bouncing in the air, he did not just offer but urged Sara and the body guards to partake.
“What’s come over him?” Sara thought as she sat at the table with a white-powdered donut in one hand, noting his unaccountable strange excitement, bright ringing voice, and undying exaggerated gleeful smiles.
“David, Greg, help me move the trash cans,” he called, affecting a carefree tone.
On luring the two body guards to the front yard through the garage, Jonas pointed solemnly to the ugly vandalism.
“Christ! They killed Mike and now this!” David blurted out angrily, lowering his heated voice at Jonas’ whispered entreaty and hasty hand gestures.
“I know how you feel…Why are you always parking your damn jeep here?” Jonas broke off in an outburst of angry incomprehension at a neighbor’s stubborn refusal to quit parking in front of his house.
“He thinks he lives here!” jested Greg Barnes with a huge, goofy smile.
Greg was thirty-five, built like an ox, and a former marine, who had replaced Mike Garfield.
“Nuts! Don’t read this garbage. Help me paint over this trash before Sara comes out,” said Jonas.
He was quickly ripping open thin carton packaging, distributing paint brushes, opening a can of paint, and dipping in his paint brush.
Left alone by herself it was not long till Sara grew bored. Stealing a peek out of the window and not seeing her husband nor the body guards, she came out and paused in the driveway.
“Sara…” Jonas uttered suddenly and unguardedly, turning around partly with a wet paint brush that started to drip with drops of grey paint landing on the concrete.
“What’s going on? Painting the house?” she asked smilingly, but upon reading curiously the awful messages spray-painted in black and red on the grey wall, her pretty face froze with traces of bewilderment, pain, and horror.
“Don’t read…” Jonas faltered, moving impulsively toward her.
She stared at him with an odd expression as though about to begin crying, but turning away rashly she started at a breakneck, unstoppable pace back to the house.
“You better calm her down,” advised David, who painted with long sweeping strokes of his paint brush over the hideous and offensive markings. “Woman do all kinds of crazy things when their homes get vandalized,” he added, still painting.
“I remember my uncle Larry’s wife,” Greg began, turning around to address Jonas, “discovering her house vandalized and loading a shotgun and shooting a dozen times up into the air!”
“Women!” said Jonas, laying the paint brush on the open paint can.
He entered the house and quickened his steps.
“Sara, where are you?” he called her, looking round the dining-room. “I want to talk to you.”
She halted suddenly before the staircase and turned around sharply with a determined, cross expression.
“Look at you!” Sara lashed at him with particularly cold eyes, as Jonas had never seen in all his days of marriage.
“What?” he replied impotently and confusedly with a dumbfounded look.
“You are so perfectly calm!” she went on sorely with a note of anger in her voice.
“Does my calmness offend you?” asked Jonas, speaking unwillingly but irresistibly in an ironical tone.
“Yes, it does!” Sara retorted in a rush of vexation. “Our lovely home got vandalized and you just pretend as if nothing happened! As if someone vandalizing our home is normal! Five attempts on your life is not normal!” she shouted, emphasizing shrilly the words “not normal” with repugnance.
“Darling, try to calm yourself. I know it’s not normal,” said Jonas, sighing and feeling the cruel, irrational force that was demanding his surrender, was now straining his relations with his wife and laughing wickedly at him in celebration in the background. “What would you have me do?”
“I am afraid for you and for myself,” she continued in a constrained, mirthless voice, fear marking her pale face with an expression of pain and distress. “We can’t go on living like this. Each time I leave the house and go anywhere, I feel someone is always following me.”
“Following you?” Jonas queried with a stunned face.
“Yes!” added Sara. “A black Hummer was following me everywhere I went last Tuesday! Yes, everywhere! Don’t laugh!”
“Sweetie, you are imagining someone is following you.”
“I’m not imagining! Just yesterday a yellow Mini Cooper parked beside me in Gelsons’ parking lot, and when I came home, there it was, across our house! It took off when the driver saw me.”
“Sweetie, I am afraid you are exaggerating,” Jonas opined without conviction, his somber eyes were saying something wholly different, as though concealing the consciousness of an unspeakable awful truth, which he would not even acknowledge to himself.
“I am not exaggerating!” Sara cried. “Are you listening to me?” she added loudly and irritably, running a swift, searching glance over his face.
“Of course,” he answered, suppressing an inappropriate smile.
He wanted to smile because of the irony of the reverse roles, of him now accusing her of exaggerating.
“Complete strangers everywhere I go, at the mall, at restaurants, at Purple Donuts, at the post office, stare at me as if I were a freak show!” Sara disclosed warmly and crossly.
“They stare because I married the loveliest woman on earth,” Jonas responded affectionately with a smile.
Although his compliment was sincere, that is, straight from the heart, Sara scarcely smiled, for his sweet words cannot extinguish all the accumulated anguish festering in her soul.
“How can we live normal lives with some lunatic out there spray-painting threats on our home? Tell me!” Sara demanded piercingly in anger, feeling what had been bothering her for weeks was spilling out from her involuntarily, as though the floodgates of her soul had been released.
“Sara, try to control yourself…don’t get hysterical!” Jonas implored.
“I am not hysterical!” Sara uttered hotly in a tone of one being insulted grievously. “Jonas, do I have a valid reason to be completely calm? I am a nervous wreck. Feel my hands…feel them!” she screamed, laying stress on the words “feel them” and extending her trembling hands to Jonas. “See how they tremble? I can’t help it!” she cried, her lip twitching and her voice cracking, all from fear which seized her violently.
Like Jonas she was feeling the unspoken extraordinary pressure from all sides, resulting in elevated nervousness and irritableness.
“Darling, sweetie, I am very sorry; it’s my fault. I brought home something unholy,” Jonas went on sadly, endeavoring to console her with a strain on his gloomy face.
The strained, gloomy expression denoted the fierce and unflagging opposition he was contending against on a daily basis, for everything from his cellular phone misfunctioning grossly to the brand-new boombox dying mysteriously and unexpectedly, were constant biting reminders of that monstrous, irrational force that wanted see him utterly defeated.
“It’s my fault,” he repeated remorsefully. “I vow to do my best to spare you any more suffering.”
As a pause ensued, as Sara glanced mournfully at Jonas, with her eyes gleaming with a disturbed light, a plane could be heard humming over their house, a car racing by eccentrically, and sirens going off.
“Jonas, I can’t help thinking you are living in a fantasy,” she pursued with a touch of exasperation. “You don’t really appreciate how lucky you are to be alive!”
“I know I am very fortunate and—” said Jonas.
“I don’t know why I am still here,” Sara interrupted him with a drastically new expression of malignancy in her eyes. “What for? To protect the fort? I must be crazy! Yes, crazy waiting to get shot at! And all for what? Tell me, what for?”
“Sara, don’t say that! We have Greg and David to protect us,” Jonas broke in gloomily with a terrible look on his face. “You hurt me horribly when you talk like that.”
“Let’s be honest: we are sitting in the middle of a battlefield!” she exclaimed hatefully. “What can I expect tomorrow, the next day, and a week from now? How many more guns will be pointed to you? There’s a lunatic out there”—turning with a frown to face the window—“who’s anxious—no—desperate to blow your head off!”
“Darling, I know. That’s why—” Jonas put in weakly.
“What do you know? What? Tell me, damn it!” she cut in, crying in a high-pitched, stern voice, her eyes shining venomously.
“Sara…” Jonas added vainly.
“What can you possibly know when you are always, always away from home slaving in that stupid garage! Always working and perfecting that miserable dream car! The car that’s going to save us all from our pollution!” Sara said sarcastically, smiling a cold, mocking smile. “Hurrah, the car that’s going to revolutionize transportation!”
“Sweetie…” began Jonas gently.
But Sara would not allow him to interrupt her in her heated gust, as though she had to free herself thoroughly of the toxicity poisoning her.
“I swear you care more about that car than you do about me!” she continued angrily.
The silly idea that his wife was simply jealous of his car occurred to Jonas and he repressed a smile at the thought.
“I can never, never become pregnant since you are always too fucking tired!” she shouted her deepest disappointment which by now had amounted to intense frustration, which was further increased markedly and based largely on her instinctive consciousness that her biological clock for child-bearing was expiring, that she was drying up inside.
“That’s not fair,” Jonas countered feebly, feeling contradictory emotions chipping away at his composure.
“Not fair?” she laughed coldly. “I’ll tell you what’s not fair: to risk my life and gamble everything dear to you for the sake of that damn, stupid dream car!” she cried in steaming exasperation.
Such mingled dark emotions were boiling inside him, wished to shout them out, shout out all the insane events that were happening and burning him alive with their many, never-ceasing flames, but he restrained himself.
“Darling, you are exhausted,” he murmured instead. “You haven’t slept well for three nights; that’s why you are not looking at the situation in the proper light.”
Sara sighed and shook her head and would have spoken but he forestalled her.
“Listen, sweetie,” he went on in a voice softening with a trace of tenderness. “The nightmare will end very soon. I need you to be strong a little longer.”
“Jonas, do you know what I have been dreaming the last few nights?” Sara asked calmly with the awareness of something dreadful distorting her face suddenly with the combined expression of horror and vulnerability.
“What?” said Jonas softly, his heart aching with sorrow for her evident pain.
“I have been dreaming that…that lunatic murders you with a time bomb!” she described her dream with a shaky voice, and breaking down sobbing, all the muscles of her beautiful face twitched nervously and uncontrollably.
Jonas embraced her warmly and stroked her shoulder gently to soothe her.
“I always dream the same nightmare,” Sara resumed, her subdued voice quivering with fear. “I feel I am about to snap from all the nervous tension.”
“Darling, baby, believe me, I understand. I only ask you for one more week.”
Not a single person had yet begun to suspect that every room in Jonas Palmer’s house was so thoroughly bugged, a pin could almost be heard dropping anywhere, and Roger Stark, eavesdropping twenty-four hours of each day with a competent support of a team of subordinates filling in in periodic cycles of four, six, and eight-hour shifts, learned exactly how to push Sara over the edge with the goal to derail Jonas from his ambitions.
The declining sun was giving a picturesque display of the crimson sky bordered with a dark shade, when Sara, noticing something rotating out in the porch, on her passage to the kitchen as she rolled up her pink sleeves to prepare pizza from scratch, advanced to the window and saw a sort of a figure hanging and in constant motion, spinning in the breeze clockwise for a few seconds and then counterclockwise. Switching on the porch light and stepping onto the porch with a face expressive of abundant curiosity, she stopped the figure’s spinning movement with her lovely hands, the big white diamond of her gold wedding ring sparkling in the porch light. Overwhelmed at the sight of the human-sized doll in a black business suit bearing the picture of her husband’s face, and with her recent nightmare coming back to her mind with irrepressible violent force, she shrieked and fainted on the floor.
On account of the steady progression from tense to tenser, Roger Stark laughed not happily, not victoriously, as anyone would expect, but strangely nervously at Sara’s misfortune.
So, does the writing style compare with Anna Karenina's?
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