Babylon Rising, Chapter 68
Well, this is it for Michael Murphy.
Don’t get your hopes up–it’s just that even though there are three chapters left in Babylon Rising, this is the last one in which Murphy speaks.
But we open with something arguably just as distasteful as Murphy being smug and illegal…his research assistant, Shari, being “cute.”
Shari tugged at Paul’s hand. It was still weak from his long hospital stay.
“Hey,” he protested, “the plaster came off only yesterday. You’re going to pull it out of its socket.”
“Stop fussing,” she said. “Dr. Keller said too much sympathy wouldn’t be good for you. It would impede the healing process.”
Yeah, Paul, WTF is your problem, you whiny baby, expecting people not to yank on your post-cast limbs only a day after you got out of the hospital after being knocked into a coma by a bomb?
I want to smack Shari so much. She must have been taking classes in friendship from Levi Abrams.
And here is the really sad part, at least for Paul–Shari not only delights in putting him in pain, but it is in the pursuit of seeing Michael Murphy. She has dragged Paul, one day out of the hospital, from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., so they can meet Murphy when he arrives with the Golden Head.
Paul! Buddy! She is Just Not That Into You. You are convenient, and just her current conversion prospect. She thinks it’s cute to hurt you! Get out now!
I’m going to skip around a bit in the chapter, so we can get the full Shari-Murphy-Paul story, and come back to the Golden Head in a minute.
…Murphy and Shari hugged. Paul could feel the wordless communication passing between them.
A few minutes later, the scholarship for Paul is brought up. Paul says that Shari has been “a great help” (in helping him pick a course of study).
He blushed, and Shari poked him hard in the ribs.
WHY DOES SHE KEEP HURTING HIM WHAT IS HER PROBLEM WHAT AN EVIL, NASTY GIRL!!!
“Go easy on him, Shari,” Murphy said. He’s still a young man. It will take him a while before he realizes he’s got to turn most of his life decisions over to God and a good woman, in that order.”
She wagged a finger. “Professor Murphy!”
Aww, isn’t she just the most adorable little sprite? *gag*
Murphy’s statement reminds me of nothing so much as the guy who once told me that he loved God more than his wife or children.
And, that’s it for Shari and Paul for the book.
But what of Isis, you may ask? Well, Murphy gives the petite redhead with elfin features credit…credit, that is, for “putting the weight of the Parchments of Freedom Foundation…behind [the expedition]. You know me, I’m not very good at playing nice with bureaucrats.”
Wow, it’s hard to unpack all of the arrogance and self-congratulation and complete lack of respect for everyone that is in that sentence, but I’ll try:
1. All of Isis’s research and time and effort and skill as one of the greatest living philologists in the world just pales beside her…employment at the PFF. It’s not what you do, but who you know, right, Murph?
2. Yeah, good thing that Isis was able to throw the weight of the PFF behind you, since your expedition was illegal.
3. Why is it a mark of pride with Murphy that he doesn’t play nice with bureaucrats? I mean, I know it would be so much nicer and easier for Murph if he could just travel to any country he wanted and plunder their ancient treasures, but the world doesn’t…oh, wait, the world actually does work that way for Murphy.
Oh, Isis, we hardly knew ye.
So, everyone there is just tickled pink that the Golden Head is in the States. And I am shocked. And I wonder if Dinallo is shocked too, since we have just jumped from finding the Head, to watching the Head land in Washington. The only explanation we get as to how and why the Iraqis allowed such a priceless artifact to leave their country is…
Murphy grinned. “It wasn’t easy. We had to persuade a lot of people it was the right thing to do.”
Oh, do I even need to say it?
It’s Just That Simple!
Oh, and you know what else is Just That Simple? Converting Muslims to RTC-ism!
Murphy calls this conversion “an even greater reason for celebration” than the Golden Head arriving in the States.
Next on the hit parade (and wow, are LaHaye and Dinallo trying to wrap up a bunch of threads in one little chapter!), is Dean Archer Fallworth of button-article fame. Yanno, the guy who tried to get Murphy kicked off the faculty for being involved with a church bombing. (I would have tried to get him kicked off for never being at the university, but that’s just me.)
Fallworth gives a little not-pology for “our little misunderstanding,” and Murphy ponders that “he would settle his account with Fallworth when the time came.”
Yeah, revenge is such a Christian thought, Murph.
So Murphy directs the unloading of the Golden Head, and makes a speech in front of a microphone. (I amused myself by imagining that his audience consisted solely of Shari and Paul, Isis and Jassim, and Dean Archer “Buttons” Fallworth):
“Ladies and gentlemen of the world, there is much to tell about this great find (like how we went into Iraq illegally and got a bunch of Marines to dig it up for us), how we came to discover it (by falling into a hole), to reclaim it (illegally), and understand its significance (Murphy was Right All Along). … I want to thank God for His strength and guidance throughout the entire process.”
Murphy spares a thought for his dead wife and the guards at the PFF (though not, unsuprisingly, for the victims of the church bombing). Then he muses that Talon is “still at large,” though he does not seem at all concerned about the fact that he had a clear shot at Talon, and let him go.
And finally, in a plug for the next book(s) in the series, Murphy imagines that as eventful as the last few weeks had been, the days ahead would present even greater challenges.
It certainly is eventful when your wife is murdered, but there are greater challenges to face. Stay classy, Murph.
Whew. Lots in this chapter. Thus we bid farewell to Professor Michael Murphy. Two chapters remain, in which we will have our final visits with King Neb and The Seven.