When Dr. Kearns arrives at 425 Harrington Lane he is accompanied by some intriguing luggage, the most interesting of which is difficult to carry inside:
The aforementioned wooden box proved to be the most cumbersome item. Though not as heavy as the large crates we carted to the carriage house, the box was at least six feet long and wrapped in a slick silky material that made a good grip difficult. Negotiating the turn of the stairs presented a particular problem, in the end accomplished by easing the box on its end and pivoting it around the corner. The driver cursed and swore and sweated profusely, complaining during the entire enterprise of his back, his hands, his legs, and the fact that he was no beast of burden—he was a driver of them. We both felt cutouts in the wood beneath the silky wrapping that would have made excellent handholds, and he wondered aloud why anyone would bother to wrap a wooden box in bed sheets. (10.61)
We all know now that the mysterious box actually holds a sedated woman of the streets whom Kearns brings to use as bait for his Maori Protocol strategy of slaughtering the Anthropophagi. But does anything about the description of how he wraps the parcel sound a little familiar?
Dr. Kearns himself is a lot like the package: Both have silky smooth exteriors, pleasant façades designed to conceal a nasty bit of work underneath. If we could just lift the mask of well-groomed blitheness for a moment (like lifting the silky sheets), we could perhaps get a better grip on Kearns's true personality—but that's the last thing he wants. That layer of glossy smoothness is the only thing allowing him to continue living in the world of shadows in which he thrives.