The day after Oskar digs up his dad’s grave, he returns to Mr. Black’s apartment. Inside, he finds a realtor preparing to sell it. She doesn’t know where Mr. Black is. Oskar tells her he left something in the apartment he needs to get and shoves past her. He walks to the index of biographies and takes out Mr. Black’s card. When he looks through the S’s, he finds an entry for Schell and thinks he’s succeeded in making his dad into a great man. Upon closer examination, the card reads “Oskar Schell: Son.”
Oskar wishes he’d known the last time he saw Mr. Black was going to be the last time, just as he wishes that he’d known the last time his dad tucked him in was the last. He hopes Mr. Black is on the observation deck of the Empire State Building but never checks for sure.
Oskar keeps looking for the lock half-heartedly. The last person named Black he meets is Peter Black, who lets him hold his baby. Oskar exclaims how fragile the baby seems, and Peter agrees but says that his family protects him.
When Oskar gets home, he notices the kitchen phone has an old message on it and decides to listen. It’s from Abby Black calling to say she might know something about the key after all. Oskar leaves to go to Abby’s place.
Abby appears to have been waiting for him even though she’d left the message eight months ago. She explains that she didn’t tell Oskar about the key at first because it involved her now ex-husband, William, and she had been mad at him at the time. Oskar tells her that she hurt him. She apologizes. Oskar accuses her of ruining his life. She offers to kiss Oskar, but Oskar asks for a hug instead. He asks why Abby’s message cut off half way through, and she explains that his mom answered the phone at that point.
Oskar realizes that his mom has known about his quest for the key and the reason why people started to expect him was that she had called ahead of time. His mom had never asked where he was going because she knew.