Oskar tells us about his production of Hamlet in which he plays Yorick. (Yes, the skull.)
A lot of the Blacks he's met attend the show, and Grandma goes every time, crying and laughing at all the wrong parts.
Oskar has a fantasy about telling off Jimmy Snyder, the jerk who plays Hamletand makes fun of Grandma, but instead he plays a good silent skull.
Now it's time to go back to when Oskar met Abe Black.
He rides a taxi to Coney Island, even though he can't afford it. He promises to send the driver the rest of the fare once he gets the money. (Kid, this ain't Cash Cab.)
Abe convinces Oskar to ride the Cyclone with him, even though Oskar's scared, then he drives Oskar to Ada Black's apartment.
Ada is "the 467th-richest person in the world" (7.49) but who's keeping score?
Oskar tells Gail, the maid, that she looks very pretty, and Ada chastises him for making her feel uncomfortable. (The Help is another book altogether, Oskar.)
She hasn't seen the key, so Oskar goes home.
He gets a letter from the Diabetes Foundation thanking him for his fifty-cent donation. (Ha!)
Surprisingly, the next Black lives in Oskar's building, in 6A.
Mr. Black says he was born on January 1, 1900! And he ends every sentence with an exclamation point!
He shows Oskar his biographical index, in which he has a card for everyone he thought he might need to know about, along with a one-word biography. "Tom Cruise: money! Elie Wiesel: war! Arnold Schwarzenegger: war! Martha Stewart: money!" (7.79-7.83).
Oskar's disappointed to learn that Mr. Black doesn't have a card for his Dad, Thomas Schell.
Mr. Black also has a really cool bed made out of tree parts.
This tree used to trip up his wife, so Mr. Black cut it down and made a bed out of it.
He's hammered a nail into the bed every morning since his wife died—eight thousand six hundred twenty-nine nails—and now it's insanely heavy, which explains the column in the middle of the floor downstairs. It's holding up the bed.
Mr. Black shows Oskar that the bed's kind of magnetic at this point. A paper clip sticks to the bed, and the key around Oskar's neck floats a little bit off his chest.
When Oskar finds out that Mr. Black hasn't left the house in twenty-four years, he asks him to assist with his search.
The old man is full of secrets. He tells Oskar that his hearing aid is off and he's been reading his lips the whole time! More exclamation points!
Oskar turns the hearing aids on, and just as he does, a flock of birds flies by the window extremely fast and incredibly close. That phrase almost sounds familiar…
The hearing aid works, and being able to hear brings tears to Mr. Black's eyes.
That night, Oskar and his Mom get into an argument before bed, and it ends with Oskar telling his Mom he wishes it was her who died instead of his Dad.
Mom's hurt, needless to say, and Oskar falls asleep on the floor.
He wakes up as his Mom is dressing him in his PJs, and he wonders why she doesn't say anything about all the bruises on his body…