An Evil Guest -- Green Goddess

Bill Reis acts against Cassie very quickly at the beginning of the book, before she has given her first stellar performance. This page is for theories about what he knew when, and what he did in advance. One clue is the statement on p. 119: "...I think of you like that. A green goddess. You were wearing green the first time I saw you."

Cassie quickly catches him up on this: "In the play? I wasn't. That was brown." and Reis is forced into an elaborate explanation that he didn't see the play, and why he lied about it. We know, in fact, that he did see the play but he was invisible most of the time (p. 53). Why the lie?

  1. Perhaps he thought she would check with the ushers about the seat assigned by his ticket, and find it was empty.
  2. Perhaps he was afraid of being associated with the death of Jimmy.
  3. Perhaps it simply made his compliments more aesthetically pleasing to talk about a green goddess in a green dress.

None of the above reasons seem good enough to contradict himself. He could just have easily have said that he remembered her in the beautiful green dress she wore to the party, rather than talk about the color of the dress he saw her in first. More likely, he made a genuine slip and was trying to cover for it. He really could have seen her first in a green dress, if he got a video of her on the night she met Chase. She wore a loden wool dress that night (p. 43). Loden wool fabric is normally a dark moss-green.

Lars Aaberg gave Cassie a ride to meet Chase that night, and we learn later he was a double agent for Reis. There was a computer screen on the dashboard of his car (p. 28). In BotSS, computer screens that are apparently off can still be used to spy on people. It would be reasonable for this book to have a similar level of technology to make that possible.

One possible objection is that if Reis saw her at this point she was not yet enhanced and would not be attractive to him. If Reis had come to see Cassie full of love from the beginning I would have to agree that he only saw her in glamorized form. He didn't: he came with murderous intent because he wanted to prove his power to Chase.

Cassie's change was of personal magnetism and presence. Her face wasn't changed; her friends still recognized her. Chase admitted to himself that he loved her before the change and would continue to if she lost it (p. 81). Chase also there was a chance Reis would kill Cassie just for talking to him. He thought the odds were equal whether she transformed or not (pp. 31-32).

I think it's far more likely that Reis saw Cassie in the loden wool dress that night by means of Aaberg (whether by his computer monitor or some other hidden camera) than that Chase forwarded videos to him of Cassie after she was transformed. Chase and Reis were not on good terms at that point.

In summary, Reis made a slip and truthfully admitted he had seen Cassie first in a green dress. Caught in that story, he elaborated a lie to get himself out of the admission of how early he had been spying on her.

The contradictory versions of the gold bracelet origin show that Reis was lying, IMHO. This is not additional evidence that there were two of him. During the stroll on the beach he finally admitted it was radioactive gold:

Reis: "The gold made you think of that first bracelet...",
Casssie: "...We've already talked a little about the gold. Radioactive gold."
Reis: "We have."

Giving her the bracelet was a criminal assault; it was natural for him to lie during the presentation. He changed his story at Rusterman's (121) because he wanted to explain why he took the bracelet back without giving the real reason. He thought she might be flattered and mollified if he told her he made it especially for her.

Temporal Clones

There are a couple of incongruities in the plot that make it look like Reis has a time-travel ability. As already mentioned, his speed in reacting to Chase's recruitment of Cassie is uncanny. People also act clueless about Rosenquist as a secret identity for Reis. Gideon Chase does this (p. 75): "'Wally Rosenquist?' Gideon raised an eyebrow." and Sharon Bench does also (p. 237) "Is Rosenquist tied in with [William Ries]? To the best of your knowledge?"

Here is some additional evidence: there is a huge palace on Takanga Ha'i, "terrace after terrace... accented with palms" (247). How long would it take to build such a place with native labor? How long to sell enough gold to afford it, making only small quantities at a time? Fast-growing palm trees take ten years to reach a height of 25 feet (although large palm trees can be transplanted fairly easily). I suggest this palace is the work of a decade or more, longer than the president who appointed Reis' replacement has been in office.

Suppose by Woldercan time-warping Reis returned "early," while his counterpart was still in Woldercan. This would give him time to get his island kingdom and financial empire set up under aliases. At the scheduled time he could jump in a hopper and "return" from space as Ambassador Reis. Sharon may have attempted to trace all this and gotten puzzled. Hence her apparently silly question to Cassie about the Reis/Rosenquist connection.

If Reis did this once, he could do it again any time he wanted, to go back in time during his relationship with Cassie. This might be another solution to the green dress issue, if a time-traveling Reis saw the play "later" than he saw Cassie at the post-play party. After becoming attracted to her, he might wish to see the performance he missed. The man who bribed Jimmy the doorman after the play could be an earlier Reis, who was still trying to destroy Cassie. At the end of the book, Cassie may be hoping to go back in time herself and save Bill. It may be significant that she uses two different names: "Bill" for the one who died, and "Wally" for the one who she may get back. Bill may be the temporal clone for dangerous work, the one who killed the doorman before Wally fell for Cassie.

Volcano God

There is a strong connection between Reis and the Volcano God. The VG choses to appear to Cassie looking like Vince Palma, costumed for his part in the play. What is going on with that? Is Vince himself a magical being, perhaps uplifted like Cassie? He's an established actor, having done TV or movie work (westerns, p. 65), voiceovers (Memorare), and the stage. His voice makes everything he says sound important (285). I think that Vince was just an actor. But symbolically he was a representative of Reis in the play. Here are some things I deduce about the play:

  1. The Volcano God was a dangerous villain in the play -- "I only hope I never meet Vince" (249).
  2. "Remember the show? The banquet you made for me? The way you danced with Gil and me?" (285). It seems he was wooing Mariah in a love triangle with Mr. Sharpy. He offered her a banquet. This is a very close match to the Cassie/Gideon/Wally triangle, including dining out. The dance might have been a dream sequence, like the Laurey/Curly/Judd dance in "Oklahoma."
  3. Vince had a speech about coconuts (107). This may relate to the banquet, but I suspect it was a double-entendre about Mariah's breasts.
  4. Aunt Jane loved the Volcano God: "And how I love his boiling lava..." (138), suggesting she will betray Mariah in the play, and foreshadowing Norma's possible betrayal of Cassie. She has an unhappy role. since she is only supposed to smile once (131).
  5. Like the gold bracelet, the play was designed for Cassie's destruction. I suggest there was a scene where she was thrown down a stage volcano; that would be a fine way to arrange an "accidental" death.
  6. Cassie on Zelda trying to get her to sign up for the play: "She's sold me down the volcano..." (83).
  7. As a musical, the play would normally have a happy ending of some sort. But there could be a twist. One would expect Mariah to end up with the sailor, but Reis named him "Mr. Sharpy" (a sharper, a confidence trickster). He was the parallel to Chase. Since the play was intended to send a message to Chase, Mariah probably ended up with the Volcano God.

The island of Takanga Ha'i seems to have two mountains, one for the palace and one an active volcano. Probably the King's mountain was also a volcano, now inactive. That gaves Reis a strong association with the Volcano God. Perhaps he joined with the Volcano God's spirit after death. His appearance as Vince Palma rather than Wally suggests the being Cassie saw was not simply the ghost of Reis.

A few more points about the Reis/Volcano god connection:

  1. The squared coral blocks leading to the seated image of the Volcano God on his island (275) and the dark stone block before the black basalt throne on Takanga Ha'i seem related. The blocks could be sacrificial altars, just as the execution stone was. (We know the Volcano God image was seatedbecause it was replaced by the seated "Vince," p. 285).
  2. They may be "head stones" in a literal sense (bad pun).
  3. Reis left his shoes near them (271). Cassie went barefoot after findingthe stones (285). This is like Moses and the burning bush: "Take off your shoes. You are standing on holy ground."
  4. Kanoa said they were sacrificing to the Sky Gods, and that the only god in the sky was the Storm King (282). Unseen in the storm, the volcano wouldstill have been releasing its smoke (249).
  5. Reis said he would continue to love Cassie in death (283).
  6. Cassie felt a sense of the presence of Reis on the beach in sight of the stones (285).
  7. She returned there every three days (285), like the women returning to the tomb on the third day to find Jesus resurrected.
  8. The Death's Visitors told Cassie she might be happy there (284). This must mean more than mere survival. They knew the spirit of her lover was there.
  9. The request for flowers (286) exactly parallels the request by Pat Gomez (280). Pat was dead, a zombie, and she wanted someone to lay flowers on her grave, even though her body was not there. Likewise, Bill's body was not on the Volcano God's island, but the coral image was a gravestone of sorts, associated with the place they first made love. Cassie honored both requests for flowers.
  10. The line "uninhabited...Except for the volcano" (268) must be from the play. The Volcano God island in the play was probably close to the inhabited one where the missionaries worked, but not the same.
  11. Reis was probably inspired in writing his play by the Volcano God on this island. He must have visited the island before, since he chose it for Cassie's stroll.
  12. The Vince figure indicated he knew what it was to be lonely (285).

Connecting all this, suppose the Volcano God accepted the sacrifice of Bill's life and took his spirit to the other island to be join him. That is why Cassie could sense Bill there, and why he was able to influence the Volcano God to help her. The image of the Volcano God as played by Vince was the most vivid one in her mind, so it was how the being appeared to her.

The Volcano God said Cassie might see him again. How might Cassie see Wally again? If Cassie goes back in time as Margaret (see Mysterious Margaret, she will see him again, not very happily. Or he could mean in the life to come.

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