Soon: Chapter 11: Straight
Before moving on to Paul’s First Friend, I wanted to thank hapax for telling us all we ever wanted to know about Paul’s baldness. Like hapax, I doubt that Jenkins gave it more thought than, “Hey! The Biblical Paul is bald! So I’ll have my Paul be bald for no discernable reason!”
(I suppose he could have just had Paul be bald because, well…he’s bald. But male pattern baldness was probably considered Insufficiently Manly for our soon-to-be Christian Hero.)
Let’s get something out in the open…
LaJenkins heroes have no friends. Certainly no friends that could not better be described by other terms: coworker, in-law, etc.
Let’s count the ways, shall we?
- Rayford Steele (Left Behind series): No friends before Rapture, no friends after. We can’t even count his pseudo-mistress, Hattie, since he doesn’t care about her or even want to talk to her.
- Buck Williams (Left Behind series): No friends before Rapture, no friends after. At all.
- Michael Murphy (Babylon Rising series): No friends except for Levi Abrams, and as I describe here, it is a rather strange definition of “friend.”
- Joshua Jordan (The End series): No friends except for maybe Fortis Rice. But as my fellow reviewer describes here, Fortis is more of a co-conspirator than a friend.
And now we have Paul Apostle. No friends. Heck, I’d count a spouse if said spouse wasn’t just Paul’s emotional punching bag.
Well, no friends until now! Paul is about to make a friend!
Welcome to the second appearance of If You’re Nice, You’re a Christian.
As I pointed out back then, Jenkins’ view of “nice” and mine are two very different things. Because although this guy is about to become Paul’s BFF, I would not want him coming anywhere near me.
Paul gets a bit of sympathy from me right off the bat: his hearing is operating on overdrive and he can’t even cover his own ears to drown out voices.
One voice drew distinct from the rest: a deep, rich baritone singing, humming, musing, and greeting staff…
Okay, it strikes me as extremely rude to burst into song in a hospital wing where people are trying to recover and may be in pain. Hell, it’s hard enough to get any sleep in a hospital without some asshat belting out unrequested solos whenever the mood strikes him.
Then, even worse, there’s this:
“Are you awake, sir?” asked the baritone voice. “Might I trouble you for a moment?”
“Well, I don’t have much choice now, do I?”
The man approached. “Where might I touch you in greeting, sir, if I have your permission?”
“You don’t. What do you want?”
Paul felt a light squeeze on his shoulder from an extremely large hand and wrenched away, but that didn’t seem to deter the man.
WHY ARE YOU TOUCHING HIM WHEN HE JUST ASKED YOU NOT TO, YOU HORRIBLE, SELF-ABSORBED MAN?? HE IS IN A HOSPITAL AND MAY BE IN PAIN AND EVEN IF HE WASN’T, YOU ARE DISRESPECTING HIS WISHES AND HE HAS NO MEANS OF STOPPING YOU!!!
The asshat control freak is Stuart Rathe (Urethra Tats? Treat As Hurt?) and like Cameron “Buck” Williams, he has a nickname that he makes people use whether they like it or not: Straight.
“They tell me you should be sleeping at night and up most of the day. Paul, is it? May I sit?”
“Stop asking if you’re just going to ignore the answer.”
Straight dragged a chair next to the bed.
Wow, for once I find myself in sympathy with Paul. This is just the most incredibly rude and disrespectful behavior–to ask a question then ignore the answer (which Straight has now done three times), and do it all in a sweet tone of voice with a smile on your face.
The kicker: We’re supposed to like this guy.
Also, what is up with the staff disclosing details about Paul’s care to volunteers? And again, regardless of what Paul is “supposed” to do, a hospital is not the best place to get a restful night’s sleep.
And here are times four and five of Straight asking Paul what he wants, then ignoring the answer. Remember, this is a nice guy:
“Anytime you’ve had enough of me, simply say so and I will be on my way without the slightest offense.”
“I’m saying so.”
“The nurses sent me. I am here to help in your recovery, not to tire you out. May I continue?”
“I, sir, am fifty-nine years old and an African-American. I am six-foot-four and weigh 225 pounds.”
Holy crap, no wonder Paul and this asshat become bestest friends ever! They share a common obsession with height and weight!
“Now, Paul, you’re sitting in that bed, but I’m guessing you are six-foot-three and 200 pounds. Am I right?”
“Wow, Straight, it’s like you know me already!”
Straight gives Paul his history: he killed his own family by driving drunk, and in the process, lost a foot, too. He adds…
“My life has never been the same.”
…which I can only presume means that he Found The Lord after that. Now, he has retired as a history professor so he can
harass patients volunteer every day.
He sometimes plays the sax for them. Because he’s black. But he also plays chess, which sparks Paul’s interest, because we all know what a tactical genius Paul is.
As Tom Servo would say:
“And thus, a solid friendship is born.”