Jimmy graduated from Martha Graham with a degree in Problematics. He tried for weeks to get a job and was unsuccessful. Luckily, he was able to get a job at the Martha Graham library for the summer following his graduation. His job was to sort through the library’s collection and decide which books should be destroyed. He lost his job halfway through the summer because he could not stand the thought of throwing something away.
He then moved in with his girlfriend, Amanda Payne. Her real name was Barb Jones but she used Amanda Payne as her artistic name. She came from a troubled, low-class background that appealed to Jimmy. He wanted to try to heal her, make her anew. Amanda lived in an old condominium in a Module with two other artists. The roommates tolerated Jimmy more than anything else did. The trio would often get into debates on moral and political issues.
Amanda was a relatively quiet person, thinking more in images than in words. Her current art projects were attracting a lot of publicity, even from Jimmy’s old roommate, Bernice. She had been awarded a grant to continue her artwork, which was considered cutting edge by many.
Jimmy was finally hired and able to move out of the artistic stronghold of Amanda’s apartment. His new job was at AnooYoo, a small Compound that practically looked like the pleeblands. Jimmy’s job was to work on the promotional for the company’s products. His dissertation on self-help volumes attracted his employer to him because of his ability to understand what motivated individuals to want to improve.
He told Amanda about his new job but she was not impressed. One of her friends had recently been through an AnooYoo program that had promised much, but delivered little. A few days later, she told Jimmy that she had thought of a new word to center her next project on—love.
Jimmy moved into a small apartment provided by his company. It was slightly nicer than his place at Martha Graham. He wrote ads for a variety of products – creams, exercise machines, pills. Although he did his job well, he sound found that it was empty work. His sex life had stalled.
Occasionally, he would receive correspondence from his father. Jimmy’s father and Ramona still had not had a child. If the natural way did not work, they were considering trying a fertility treatment. Ramona asked him to come home for the holidays, but Jimmy had no interest in doing so.
Eventually, Jimmy was granted a promotion. He bought himself new things to fill his empty space. He also found that his promotion led to an improvement in his sex life. He went through streams of women—so many that he no longer considered them girlfriends. Most were married or commitment to someone else. Others sought comfort. None of them wanted anything serious.
Jimmy was dissatisfied with his life. Somehow, he expected more. He now had to work out to maintain his body in shape. He saw other signs of aging—his hair was becoming sparser.
Crake was now working RejoovenEsense, one of the top companies. He was quickly climbing the ranks of the corporate ladder. Crake told Jimmy that he had been given complete freedom to work on any project he desired. After a bit of silence, Crake emailed Jimmy to tell him that Uncle Pete had died of infection with a violent virus. Jimmy asked if anyone else had become infect, Crake said no. Their communication slowly trickled to a stop. Jimmy began to think of Crake as a person from his past.
Jimmy was increasingly unhappy with his situation. His string of lovers stopped satisfying his needs, although he continued with the trysts. He would watch the depressing newscasts when there were no women with which to spend the night. The reporting was particularly filled with sex scandals. One day he catches a report about a girl that was found in a locked garage in San Francisco. She claimed she had been rescued from a faraway place; the man had paid a considerable amount of money to save her. She refused to say anything bad about her captor—claiming that she was treated well and that she would always remain thankful for his actions. During a close-up shot of her face, Jimmy realized that it was the same girl from the web porn long ago. He freezes the frame, pulls out the picture of the eight-year-old girl, and compares their faces. He felt light-headed looking at her face, realizing it was the same person.
Throughout the years, the CorpSeCorps had kept track of Jimmy. In college, they had dragged him in for questioning four times a year. They always wanted to know if he had information about his mother. He did not. They began showing him pictures of people to see if he recognized anyone. He waited for a still shot from the Happicuppa rally at which he had seen his mother on TV years ago, but it never appeared. He had not received any postcards in a long time either.
After starting his job at AnooYoo, he stopped hearing from the Corpsmen. Five years after starting his job, however, they showed up at his door once again. They showed him a series of pictures in movie form, one of which contained a line of dead bodies. Jimmy was sure that one of the bodies belonged to his old roommate, Bernice. More images were shown. Jimmy did not recognize anyone. A scene of an execution flashed on the screen—a blindfolded woman wearing the outfit of a prisoner.
As they removed the blindfold, Jimmy realized he was staring into his mother’s eyes. Speaking defiantly into the camera, she said “Goodbye. Remember Killer. I love you. Don’t let me down.” They shot her, almost removing her head with their bad aim.
Jimmy pretended not to know who the woman in the video was when the Corpsmen asked him. They had sensed his tension during the scene, and they knew the truth. After they asked Jimmy about Killer, he broke out laughing. He had to explain to the Corpsmen that Killer was his pet rakunk.
Later, Jimmy wondered when the execution had taken place. Was it even real? If she was alive, what information had he unwillingly given the CorpSeCorps?
Jimmy spent the following days riding an emotional rollercoaster that oscillated between anger and sadness. He tried to ease his pain with alcohol and sex, but nothing worked. On his worst nights, he would summon the image of Alex the parrot on the internet. The bird brought Jimmy to tears.
Jimmy tried to find comfort in words, but there was none. The image of Oryx as a child would come to haunt him in his dreams, threatening him somehow.
Jimmy’s dissatisfaction with his life is heavily reflected in his romantic relationships. In the case of Jimmy’s post-college relationship with Amanda Payne, he finds himself attracted to her primarily due to her troubled background. His desire to save her from her problems could be a reflection of his own inability to solve his personal and familial problems. The departure of Jimmy’s mother left him wounded a way that did not allow for resolution. The constant questioning of the CorpSeCorps about his mother’s unknown whereabouts only served to reopen a festering emotional wound. Despite wanting to help Amanda, he does not love her and is slightly off put by her declaration of love for him. Jimmy does not seem capable of love at this point in his life.
Jimmy’s first months at his new job with AnooYoo are marked by a period of stagnancy. His romantic life is at a standstill and his father is still unable to have a second child with Ramona. This holding pattern makes Jimmy introspective. He finds that he does not really love his job. The creation of ads for subpar products leaves him feeling empty. Nevertheless, he succeeds as this work. Once he is given a promotion, things begin to change. As he did before, Jimmy begins to search for women looking for a shoulder to cry on. He becomes intimate with a long list of married and committed women. The women searched for comfort and found it in Jimmy. Jimmy, on the other hand, found the fleeting intimacy that he had with these women reassuring because it required little to no emotional investment on his part.
Jimmy’s unhappiness continues to grow, eventually resulting in an acknowledgement on his part of the emptiness of his sexual relationships. In the midst of this period of discontent, Oryx enters his life once again. While watching a television broadcast about a girl that was trapped in a man’s garage, Jimmy sees Oryx. She was the girl that was trapped. Oryx comes to represent pivotal moments in Jimmy’s life. The first time he sees her, he realizes the level of disgust and disdain he has for his indirect participation in the support of child pornography. This time, Oryx has once again appeared at a time of personal revelation. Oryx serves as a bookmark in between the chapters of Jimmy’s life.
When the CorpSeCorps show Jimmy a video of his mother’s execution, Jimmy’s world comes to a crashing halt. His first reaction, laughter, is spurred by his mother’s inclusion of his old pet rakunk, Killer, in her final message. In that moment, Jimmy realizes that perhaps he would never be able to understand his mother’s mind. Denial floods Jimmy’s mind, he has no proof that the video he was shown was real. Finally, Jimmy sinks into a depression so deep that not even alcohol and sex can comfort him.
Jimmy associates this trauma with the emotions he felt upon seeing Oryx on the internet years ago. His connection between profound sadness and Oryx is not the first that he will make. She remains a beacon of light, a symbol of hope, throughout the text.