PREVIOUSLY: Socialism is on the rise in America thanks to Jim Taggart and Orren Boyle. It’s on the rise in Mexico too but that isn’t working out as well for them. Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden have joined capitalist forces, by which I mean they are DTF. Alas, Hank is married.
Eddie Willers is reading the news. Turns out since nationalizing the D’Anconia copper mines, the Mexican government has discovered they are completely empty. Always were, in fact. The whole undertaking was either a huge blunder or a scam. Mexico is pissed.
When Eddie informs Dagny of this curious development she storms right over to Francisco D’Anconia’s hotel room to demand an explanation. But on the way she reminisces about her childhood again. For 25 pages. Fuck’s sake. Ladies and gentlemen, the bittersweet love story of Dagny and Fransisco:
The D’Anconia clan had been loaded for hundreds of years, ever since Sebastian D’Anconia (or Sebby Danks as the Pope called him) abandoned an earlier, even older fortune in the Old World to build one from scratch in the New World, thereby fulfilling the requisite ‘self-made man’ portion of his legend.
The family tree was forever after an unbroken chain of first-born sons, each more successful and charismatic than the last. All the women fertilized by D’Anconia seed developed temporary psychic powers like John Travolta in Phenomenon until their superhuman progeny kickboxed their way out of the womb. Francisco, current heir to the line and best human ever, didn’t just learn pre-natal kickboxing; he knew Krav Maga.
Every summer growing up, “Frisco” and his family spent a month on the Taggart Estate with L’il Dagny and L’il Eddie. He would opine about how awesome it was they were rich and perform amazing feats of stamina and intellect while Dagny and Eddie fawned over him. They all ignored L’il Jimmy for being a dweeb. Jim would try to ruin their fun out of jealousy from time to time, but spent most of his days pouring gasoline on stray cats or whatever. Nothing’s changed.
The next year Dagny started work at the railroad. Frisco surprised her at the station one night to walk her home. As soon as they were alone on the wooded path he pulled her in for a kiss and took her virginity right there on the grass. For a first time it was pretty hot. Dagny’s internal monologue was literally ‘Don’t ask me for it — oh don’t ask me — do it!’ And he did.
Then they fucked all summer, obviously. It was, like, a LOT of fun. Quoth the narrator, ‘they were both incapable of the conception that joy is sin.’ And for several years, even after Frisco graduated and began taking over parts of the family business, they stayed true across the distance, making passionate gymnastic love all night with the lights on whenever their paths should cross.
But present-day Dagny, who I promise is almost at the hotel, remembers the last time she visited him at this same location…
It was ten years ago, after Frankie’s father had passed, and Frisco was clearly keeping something from her but wouldn’t say what. He asked if she would abandon the railroad if he asked her to, which pissed her off. Then after dinner and what would turn out to be their last hook-up, she woke in the middle of the night to find him having a totally out-of-character nervous breakdown.
Dagny cradled him between her breasts as he babbled about how he had to ‘give it all up,’ how ‘it’s so hard to do’ but he ‘can’t refuse,’ how he couldn’t explain it to her because she was ‘not ready to hear it.’ He finally calmed down and in the morning he was in control again, relieved but still not talking.
He warned Dagny that he was going to change soon and she wouldn’t like it. It would hurt her, so he wanted her to know that he had his reasons. But after that night, she didn’t hear from him again.
For a decade there were only the stories in the papers about the insanely decadent parties he would throw all over the world. He left actual business to other people, even though his acumen remained — occasionally he would take over some sector or other just to amuse himself. Dagny was crushed. The worst part wasn’t the sense of betrayal; it was that there was clearly more to the story but he wouldn’t just level with her and say “Dagny, I’m Batman.”
Yet here she is, ten years later, at the same hotel (finally!), the scene of the crime, and as soon as she walks into the suite the old dynamic kicks in. He’s obviously missed her terribly and she’s calling him “Frisco” despite herself. Nonetheless she accuses him of intentionally creating the mining bubble.
He teasingly says maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. Maybe he just made a mistake. Dagny doesn’t believe it for a second. “Was it really worth losing millions just to see my brother shit a brick?” she asks. “Well that was pretty funny,” Frisco deflects.
Dagny is at a loss and wistfully reminds him of the times when they used to lie together listening to Richard Halley songs. That throws him off his game so he cracks more jokes about how he ruined the GDP of most of North America.
“Your brother and Orren Boyle’s investments? The Mexican government, plotting to take the mines over? They all wanted to get rich by relying on my work, doing nothing themselves. They were counting on one thing — that I wasn’t like them. But now their plans are ruined, because it turns out I’m just like them: a useless exec who doesn’t want to work! Come on, Dags. Why so serious?”
“Because you aren’t like them! Why do you act like you are? You did this on purpose.”
“It wouldn’t matter if I did, the end result is the same. Associated Steel, Taggart Transcontinental, and South America’s centralized economies are out millions, billions of dollars. The money that your brother and his kind craved so badly but didn’t want to earn turns out never to have existed at all. Oops! At least some of us can laugh about it.”
Dagny feels sick. Saying his purpose didn’t matter? Playing dumb to fit in? Reveling in failure? This isn’t the Francisco she knew! One last try: “Francisco,
are you Batman why??”
Just like ten years before, he tells her she isn’t ready to hear it. So with nothing left to do but briefly acknowledge their mutual longing and frustration, Dagny departs. To her receding form Frisco calls, “You will be ready, Dagny. Some day. Some day hundreds of pages from now.” Jesus Ayn, get a goddamn editor.
NEXT: Chapter 6, The Non-Commercial, “Everybody Loves a Party”