Soon: Chapter 6: Lies, Damn Lies

“Caroline is incapable of wilfully deceiving anyone; and all I can hope in this case is that she has deceived herself.”

-Jane Bennet, Pride and Prejudice

Paul,  the only survivor of God’s Wrath by Earthquake, is bloody but unbowed.

The Christians are calling the Frisco quake a miracle.  And, on one hand, you can hardly blame them, what with God enacting his rumbly vengeance at the exact moment that the evil atheists stormed the innocent Christian prayer meeting.

On the other hand…it may be a bit crass to keep score, but God did kill about 16 Christians and 12 atheists.  (And I’m not even counting the four shot by Paul.)  So it kinda seems like the atheists came out ahead on this one.

Then again, I hear that God works in mysterious ways.

Paul still doesn’t have Jesus on his heart, despite being witness to this Miracle Directly from God.  He’s just pissed that Coker and the others were killed.  This being the second time in the entire book that Paul has spared a thought for any human being besides himself.  Still, the empathy is somewhat lessened in my eyes by Paul’s whining over his injuries, which are nothing more than cuts and bruises from tumbling down the hill.  Also:

His eardrums had ruptured, but with modern technology that required only a simple repair, done in the emergency room.  He would need to be shielded from noise for about a week.  That was a relief, because he was too banged up to endure more questions.

Oh Atheistopia!  You’re my hero!

So his debriefing doesn’t happen until two weeks after the event.  Um, again, I am no cop or soldier, but that just doesn’t seem right. 

Anyway, Paul has to “remind himself” that he’s lucky, even though he is the only survivor of an event that killed 30-odd people, while he received only minor, superficial damage from which he will completely recover.

Nice guy.

So, Paul stays home for two weeks with the despised Jae.  She’s understandably dismayed that he was hurt on the job, but Daddy Ranold convinces her that this whole job-change thing is good for Paul–that it Makes Him a Man.  So Jae practices for her upcoming role as a good RTC wife by bottling up her true feelings and not saying a word.

In all fairness about the timing of the debriefing, it’s not like Paul has anything important to tell Bob anyway.  After all, Paul never even got to the porch of the house and saw nothing that went down after Coker and the SWAT guys and gals went in.  Then Paul actually admits that he doesn’t know who started the shooting.  (There’s no way he could have known for certain–I’m just surprised that he admits it.)

Then Bob starts going on about how the NPO “had our suspicions” that the Christians were armed and that the old lady’s house was a secret bomb factory.  This just sounds like more of the same lying, much as Bob lied to Paul about The Dork Too Stupid–we readers, after all, know that the innocent Christians were not armed, and that the “bomb” was a miracle from God, so there could not possibly have been any evidence that there was a bomb factory.  So once again, we have to ask ourselves: why is Bob lying to Paul?  I mean, I get that this is supposed to be a thriller, full of thrills and doubts about who’s on whose side, but the lies Bob tells Paul are so blatantly obvious, so open to dispelling from a cursory glance at any official reports (to which Paul would have complete access) that the quote from Jane seems apropos.  Is this a case of Bob stringing Paul along (for whatever reason), or is Bob actually that uninformed?

Damn, but this debriefing is pointless and boring.  We know nothing that we didn’t know already.


Posted on March 1, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. So his debriefing doesn’t happen until two weeks after the event. Um, again, I am no cop or soldier, but that just doesn’t seem right.

    Well, after all, it’s not like he has any way of communicating that doesn’t involve hearing, right? Wait a moment! How am I not speaking these thoughts out loud to you, right this very minute??

    Anyway, Paul has to “remind himself” that he’s lucky, even though he is the only survivor of an event that killed 30-odd people….

    Come on, rubytea, be fair! They weren’t all odd! Well, not all that odd, anyway.

  2. One thing not mentioned: the reason the earthquake killed so few was because the only real effect was to create a sinkhole below the raided house. In terms of structures, only it and a few nearby abandoned houses were felled. Martyrs and condemned, on the other hand…

  3. Wait, they can fix ruptured eardrums in the ER, but he gets two weeks off from work to recover from bruises? WTF? I mean, if that’s how sick leave works in Atheistopia, awesome! But somehow it seems wrong… Why does it seem wrong? Oh, I’ve got it, it’s because the book wants us to think that Paul is the action hero type. Book, I’ve got news for you, action heroes don’t spend two weeks at home recovering from bruises. Also, you’d kind of expect them to have stuff that speeds healing if they can patch up eardrums that easily.

    But this book seems rather committed to not actually making sense.

  4. Ah, Jenkins, what would we do without you to show us how not to write?

    If your tactical team thinks that there might be armed bomb-makers in a place, the usual thing to do is to get lots of surveillance on them – microphones on the windows, fibre optics through the walls, all that good stuff. (Actually they tend to do that anyway! There are very few old bold SWAT officers.) Did any of that go on here? Not that I noticed. (I usually try to get hold of the book so that I can follow along, but the only version at my usual second-hand book place was an audiobook and I’m not that desperate.)

    • I was vastly amused by the audiobook. The narrator manages to make Paul sound like the cruel, whiny ass that he is. Whether by accident or design, or whether it was just impossible NOT to do so with the dialogue, I don’t know. 😀

  5. You know, Fred Clark has commented at length on the “sinners can repent and be saved, uh, as long as none of their sins were sexual” implications of virginal Buck and Chloe and emotionally-but-not-physically-adulterous Rayford.

    Jenkins alone is much more willing to make his hero actually have things to repent of. Or rather, that’s what I would say if Paul was actually going to repent of either cheating on Jay, being a general solipsistic asshat, or gunning people down.

  6. …Jae. Not Jay. Gah.

  7. Someone might have covered this previously, but who in the blue blazing bodacious hells would consider an earthquake in San Francisco a ‘miracle from god’? I mean, if god’s going to have a hissy fit and take his toys and go home just to show all the kids he’s angry and they hurt his feelings, doing it somewhere other than a city perched on the eastern half of the tectonically active zone called the Ring of Fire would be a good idea. I just checked the USGS, and there’s been seven earthquakes within 200 miles of San Fran within the past week. And today is Monday!

    I mean, hell. Do it in Texas, or Minnesota. That would be impressive and cause people to get creeped out. Frisco? What the hell, man?

    • One slight clarification, which I blame on lack of sleep and wtfery- The USGS map automatically clears quakes older than one week, and updates constantly. The more you know!

  8. But this book seems rather committed to not actually making sense.
    A style that keeps working, somehow, for L&J; I guess they figure, no need to fix it if no one cares that it’s broke.

    I used to think they’d cornered the market on “wtf.” And then I read something by Dan Brown.

    who in the blue blazing bodacious hells would consider an earthquake in San Francisco a ‘miracle from god’?
    Did you read the coverage of the earthquakes in Japan or Haiti? The same kind of people who consider any natural occurrence to be a sign from God, and who witter on about divine Providence or divine punishment as suits their convenience. But as Ruby says, results in this case are rather mixed. Then again, if we are to believe L&J and various other fundagelicals crowing about “God did it,” God doesn’t seem to care how many of the faithful he wipes out while making a point to the heathen.

    I blame on lack of sleep and wtfery-”
    I first read that as wifery. And I was wondering how many wives you keep in your wifery, and what kind of trouble they’re giving you…I blame it on lack of sleep.

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