Soon: Chapter 18: Paul and Rich People

That little scene with the homeless guy took one paragraph plus one sentence. 

Now, Jenkins takes two and a half pages to describe the wonderment of the Demetrius brothers’ offices. 

The gorgeous building!

The busy worker bees!

Gold!

Silver!

Marble!

The reception area!

[Paul] was asked to wait in the reception area, where his attention was drawn to pristine first editions of rare books displayed in elegantly carved wooden bookcases.  As Koontz had suggested, a number of titles had to do with divination–finance-oriented interpretations of the I Ching and the tarot, as well as Western, Asian, and Indian astrology, among other systems.

Hobbies are evil!  Collecting things is of Teh Debbil!

More offices!

Conference rooms!

Windows!

And then, the main event: Arthur’s office…

Paul tried to keep from gawking.  This office alone was as big as the first floor of his house.  It was not only professionally decorated, but it was also landscaped.  Trees.  Bushes.  Flowers.  Tables, chairs, a sofa, two fireplaces, bookcases, credenzas, pillars.

Estate sale this weekend, Financial District.  Owner’s brother has disappeared, and EVERYTHING MUST GO!  Trees.  Bushes.  Flowers.  Sod.  Tables, chairs, a sofa, rugs, bookcases, pillars, ottomans, Murphy beds, TOO MUCH TO LIST!

Numbers given out at 8:30.

Paul sat, briefcase in his lap.  Then he put the case next to his feet and crossed his legs.  That seemed too casual too, and he knew he should stand when Demetrius entered.  But where would he come from?  Behind?  From the side, which Paul guessed led to private quarters?

Paul sure spends a lot of time imagining Arthus Demetrius sneaking up on him, and how to respond, doesn’t he?

Tim:  We were wondering if a military man like you–a soldier–could you give a man a lethal blow?

Gareth:  If I was forced to, I could. If it was absolutely necessary, if he was attacking me.

Tim:  What if he was coming, really hard?

Gareth:  Yeah, if my life was in danger, yeah.

Dawn:  And do you always imagine doing it face to face with a bloke, or could you take a man from behind?

Gareth:  Either way is easy.

Dawn:  So you could take a man from behind?

Gareth:  Yeah.

Dawn:  Lovely.

Tim:  So, you’ve dug your foxhole, and you’ve pitched your tent, they’ve discovered your camp, and you’re lying there–they’ve caught you with your trousers down, and they’ve all entered your hole without you knowing.

Gareth: No, because I’d be ready for them.

Tim:  Then you’d just be lying there waiting for it?

Gareth:  Well, no,  It’s more likely that I wouldn’t be there, if I knew they knew where I was.  I’d be hiding, watching the hole, using it as a trap.

Tim:  So, you’d be using your hole as bait?

Gareth:  Yeah.

Dawn:  And you’re 30 years old, and getting off on pretending Gareth’s gay.

Gareth:  What?

Tim:  What?!

Gareth:  I think she’s been on the waccy baccy!

-“The Quiz,” The Office (UK)

Here is a cool picture of Martin Freeman, who played Tim.  If you haven’t seen the new Sherlock Holmes series, where he plays Dr. Watson, OMG WATCH IT!!!  It’s awesome.

(I also have a role in mind for him, for later in the Underground Zealot series.  Well, maybe more of a meta-role, with much use of Freeman’s patented “WTF is wrong with these people?” look from The Office.)

Anyway, Paul is achingly jealous of all the shininess around him, and properly intimidated by the rich man before he even meets him. 

Wasn’t Paul a globe-trotting consultant?  Shouldn’t he have seen plenty of wealth in his life by now?  Hell, the NPO puts him up in a luxury hotel whenever he travels, so what’s the big deal?

Yet there is even more to be jealous of when Arthur finally enters the room.  (From the private quarters, so Paul can see him coming.  Whew!  That was a close one!)

He was tall and lithe, bronzed, and wearing an exquisite black pin-striped suit, white shirt, and gleaming white tie with a silver stickpin.  His watch and a ring on each hand were also silver.  His hair was black, short, and curly; his eyes dark; and his teeth perfect.

All good to know, I guess.  Sure, we now know more about this minor character’s looks than we do about Paul’s, but at least we’ll have a picture of him in our minds once Paul begins his Really Boring Interrogation!

 

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Posted on August 20, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. Hey. Slacktivist on Patheos got borked by the server so I can’t announce it there yet — but EoA critiquing is back! 😛

  2. Paul tried to keep from gawking. This office alone was as big as the first floor of his house. It was not only professionally decorated, but it was also landscaped. Trees. Bushes. Flowers. Tables, chairs, a sofa, two fireplaces, bookcases, credenzas, pillars.

    There’s a lot of stuff in that paragraph. A lot of really weird stuff that would need to be really elegantly presented to work as part of a single area. Does Jenkins really just throw all that out there, without trying to describe how it’s all arranged? Y’know, the part that tells you what the place actually looks like?

    • Not much about the arrangement. Certainly not about pillars and such. The most we get is that there is a “grouping” of chairs ten feet in front of the desk, and that the floor around the desk is made of Plexiglass so Arthur can see the workers on the floor below him.

      To which I have two reactions:

      1. No playing freecell while Arthur is at work!
      2. Lucky that Arthur is a guy, because working in that office if you were a woman (and were partial to skirts) would be really awkward.

      Oh, and there’s a telescope in there, too.

      • Lucky that Arthur is a guy, because working in that office if you were a woman (and were partial to skirts) would be really awkward.

        Wear skirts with shorts underneath? That’s what I do, although more with dresses than skirts. I suppose then you don’t get the feel of skirts, though. (I find that a plus, personally. All the prettiness of a dress, with no open-air feeling and being able to use the front as a basket without exposing underwear.)

      • Also that Arthur does not have acrophobia, because I can imagine little creepier than having to work at a desk where I could see to the floor below. *shudder*

      • Women? In positions of power? Hey, he can stand writing about cancer cures and nuclear war but let’s not get carried away here.

        Though that also makes me wonder what Athestopia’s views towards male crossdressing are. Too scandalous for a LaJenkins novel, but I like to think it’s more accepting towards those of non-traditional gender presentations.

        • Yes, one can only assume a big reason why Atheistopia seems to rock so much is that he’s not comfortable writing about the rapes and orgies that much certainly be taking place there. On the flip side, it also means we don’t get detailed descriptions on how gay relationships and what-not are now totally accepted and encouraged, so I suppose the two kinda cancel out.

          And frankly, given how much carnages among unbelievers Jenkins is willing to write about, he really has no right being squeemish.

  3. Choir of Shades

    I think someone else may have pointed it out in a previous post, but th astrology and other divination stuff is actually a realistic touch*. Whether Jenkins realizes this is another matter entirely…
    _______________________________________
    *A great number of market analysts have some very out there theories for how to predict the market, and just about any form of divination you can think of is employed in that pursuit.

    • It does seem unusual that Arthur would keep those books in the reception area, where visitors can paw and spill Snapple on them, rather than inside his office where he presumably does his reading.

      • Well, in fairness, they are in a fancy bookcase, so they are probably for display only. Maybe Arthur has his own non-first-edition copies for everyday use.

        OTOH (but also in fairness) this pretty much negates the comment from the guy back in Texas…er, Gulfland, that he hadn’t seen a book in years, and that anyone under thirty wouldn’t even remember books. Apparently, they’re all over the damn place.

    • Does the I Ching count as religious or superstitious? In Atheistopia, shouldn’t astrology be banned as well? Or is only organized religion banned?

      • In-world, my guess is that superstition is looked down on a bit but regarded as an acceptable eccentricity. Outside the world, of course, it’s a thing that RTCs don’t like so Atheistopia must regard it as Good. (I’m surprised they don’t have street-corner abortion booths, really…)

  4. So now to comment on the chapter, forrealz.

    It’s extremely indicative that Jenkins spends way more time on the wealthy and powerful than the poor and powerless. Even in Atheistopia the wealthy folks probably still have the ear of government a bit more than the mere middle classes (though with all the social programs going on and the virtual elimination of poverty, I suspect that the extremes of rich and poor are drastically cut down by today’s standards, or even those of the 1960s USA).

    Reminds me of how LaHaye and Parshall lovingly and with great care describe the rarefied world of Joshua Jordan (private jet! private helicopter! his own mansion!) and give short shrift to anyone not so fortunate.

    Actually I’m surprised there’s even still much of a stock market in Atheistopia given that taxes have to be higher in this world and higher taxes, particularly on capital gains, would tend to reduce speculative excess.

    Worldbuilding: Learn you some, Jenkins!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      It’s extremely indicative that Jenkins spends way more time on the wealthy and powerful than the poor and powerless.

      Reminds me of how LaHaye and Parshall lovingly and with great care describe the rarefied world of Joshua Jordan (private jet! private helicopter! his own mansion!) and give short shrift to anyone not so fortunate.

      It gives Jenkins (and his Author Self-Inserts) every indicator of a court parasite sucking up to the Rich and Powerful.

      How Christian…

  5. Whatever else we might say about how much Atheistopia rocks, sadly, it seems they still have a glass ceiling.

    • And, ironically enough, a glass floor: There’s no way Arthur Demitrious is going to ever have significantly less wealth than he has now.

      So I guess we can count this against Atheistopia: It still has rich douchenozzles who lord their wealth over everyone else.

      • Meh, perhaps they just let him pretend to work in that office because it’s what he needs to be happy – just as they pretend to persecute RTCs because it’s what they need to be happy.

  6. I suspect it’s mostly “superstition and divination are evil”, to be fair; it’s just evil with more money.

    If prosperity is a sign of divine favour – and newly-RTC-Paul has presumably osmosed this along with the tendency to slut-shaming and persecution of the Different – then he will, just like Bucky, be suitably deferential to anyone with the trappings of prosperity just in case.

    Arthur’s appearance seems to be a dogwhistle, like “European” elsewhere – presumably by contrast with True American Christians, who are pasty from all their time on the firing range and hunting in woods, and with waist sizes larger than their IQs even when they’re measured in Godless Centimetres.

    Stock markets don’t need to be speculative to work – in fact if everyone had perfect future information about share prices they’d work rather better. Speculation (while it makes lots of money for individuals) is a flaw in the system.

    Well, down in Gulfland you have to apply for a Book Licence to your local police chief in person and there’s a waiting period, but up here in Atlantica you can just go into any store and buy one.

    Thanks, inquisitiveraven – I’ve always known them as “Globe Wernicke bookcases” since that’s what my girlfriend has…

  7. I don’t know exactly how LaHaye hooked Jenkins up as his co-hack, but I thought Jenkins was a cartoonist before Left Behind, which can’t be all that high paying. I imagine LaHaye plucked him out of the middle class and gave him the worlds easiest job and now Jenkins is rolling in dough. And still can’t quite believe its real. That might explain why his stand-in is always so starry-eyed when it comes to the rich and powerful.

    I also imagine Jenkins telling stories to LaHaye’s kids: “And in the future (pause for effect) government councils include business interests AND (pause some more) labor unions (cue screaming) plus advocacy organizations (more, louder screaming).”

    • Jerry Jenkins was already a reasonably successful author when Tim LaHaye picked him to write Left Behind. He’s written over 150 books, after all – in fact it sounds like a typical ghostwriter deal, where the Big Name comes up with the idea and the Experienced Author does all the work. The only real difference here is that the Experienced Author actually got some credit – usually his name isn’t even mentioned on the cover.

      (And the Gil Thorp thing came out in a similar way – Jenkins had been in negotiations to turn Jack Berrill’s stories into a prose series, and when Berrill died in 1996 the publisher asked him to step in as writer. That was after the first Left Behind book had come out.)

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