Soon: Chapter 18: Call Me Phyllis

Paul moseyed around the trading floor a few minutes…

Meh, it’s just a government investigation of two missing persons and possible financial crimes.  No need to rush.

Then, Paul’s keen bloodhound senses pick up the unmistakable odor of peanut butter.

Sadly, it turns out that one of the traders is having a sammich at her desk, so Paul continues to mosey.

Not really.

A woman is raising a small ailanthus tree in her tiny cubicle, which seems like a decision that would be both short-lived and very annoying to her coworkers, if you can smell peanut butter all day from yards away.  Hey, I like peanut butter, but that would get really old really fast.

Paul stalks the woman out of the building, but loses sight of her in the street.

Someone plucked his sleeve.  He tried to jerk away, but the tug was insistent.  He turned and found the same street person he had given money to clutching his coat, pointing past him with a filthy hand.  There she is!  “Thanks,” Paul said, darting after his quarry.  How did he know?


Guess that’ll teach us all to shove dollar bills into the hands of homeless people so they’ll go away, right?  Because you never know when ONE OF THEM WILL BE JESUS.

Paul chases down the woman and bonds with her over the displays in front of the New York Stock Exchange: “a mammoth mobile of the spinning planets.  Behind it, a zodiacal chart loomed.” 

Apart from calling them “silly,” these two religious folks have no other thoughts on “real religion” versus astrology. 

Paul shakes the woman’s hand and passes her an ailanthus leaf as he does so.  So they go to a deli (because they’re in New York City), and they introduce themselves, no doubt while having pastrami on rye.

“Call me Phyllis,” the woman said.

Oh, and turns out that the cursing-and-disappearing employee was named Dolores.  Because these ladies are Noo York dames, don’tcha know?

Paul quotes two sentences out of the Bible at Phyllis, which is enough for this savvy New Yorker to respond, “You seem to know what you’re talking about,” and spill her guts about being a Christian.

Whereupon Paul, who easily memorized two verses, just as anyone could, arrests Phyllis for being a Christian, pins the entire scandal on her, and goes to have a drink with Arthur Demetrius to celebrate.

Not really.

Instead, Paul gets Phyllis’s views on the happenings at the firm, even though Phyllis really has no insider knowledge at all.  She has her vague theories, of course:

“Tell me, Phyllis,” Paul said finally, “what do you think is going on at your firm?”

“I think it’s God.”

“What do you think [the guards] saw in the vault.”

Phyllis shrugged.  “God.  Some evidence of God.”

Thanks, Phyllis.  You’re a font of useful information.

Actually, Phyllis does drop two interesting tidbits: 1) that there are over 30 believers at Demetrius and Demetrius, who are pretty open about their faith because 2) “things are a little more open here than in the rest of the country.”

So, New York is open about astrology and open about “real religion”?  I wonder if Jenkins pondered the significance of this idea?

Phyllis knows nothing about the wereabouts of Dolores, and has no idea if Ephesus Demetrius had anything to do with it.  So again, good that Paul has found such a great inside source.

“What about Arthur?” [Paul asked]

“Arthur idolizes his older brother.  But he was never as ruthless.  We pray for him.”

“You what?  For Demetrius?”

“Of course.  We’re supposed to love our enemies.”

Your enemy?  Damn, Dolores, what did Arthur ever do to you besides give you a job at an incredibly prestigious and successful company?

“That can’t be easy though, can it, Phyllis?”

She hesitated.  “No, but when you think about it, it’s a privilege.”

“I think I’d be tempted to pray he would come to a bad end,” Paul said.

“Oh no, sir.  We pray for his salvation.”

And damn, Paul, what did Arthur ever do to you?  Gee, I can see that your conversion has really changed you, made you into a better and kinder man.

What Would Jesus Do?

Pray for a nonbeliever to come to a bad end.

Posted on August 27, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. so . . . Paul has the Bible memorized, but praying for nonbelievers is a new idea to him? wut?

    meanwhile, in LB World, Buck had never read the Bible once, but had this down pat within 15 seconds of conversion.

  2. Yeah, you should always be nice because you’ll get rewarded for it. Rather than, say, because it’s the right thing to do.

    Paul passes her an ailanthus leaf. “Here, it’ll leave an unpleasant smell on your hands and may cause contact dermatitis.”

    (Though she does the rhumba for yas And she calls herself Dolores She was in a Broadway chorus Known as Suzy Donahue.)

  3. Surprised Jenkins chose to make the epicenter of Mammon the epicenter of relatively open practice of Christianity in the Soon-verse. I guess he can’t quit associating wealth with being favored by God.

  4. Wait, so 30 people practice Christianity openly at that company? Then the ‘cursing’ excuse from before doesn’t hold water right? If the brothers have that many openly Christians (who, if we know our RTCs, will never shut the fuck up about it), Arthur would’ve been able to guess, if not know, that this woman was preaching Christian verses at him. And could have thus easily sicked the Atheistapo on her.

    And why is God showing up now? I mean, okay, the murder of a house full of RTCs was not all that spectacular in the grand scheme of history, but at least it was an attack on ‘God’s people’. But now God decides to manifest actual proof that’s so great it renders unbelievers who witnessed it cataconic, in response to some (admittedly large scale) white collar crime? Even if the woman was killed by her boss, it would have been to keep her silent, not because of her religion. So… why in the name of Cthulhu is God being so trigger happy all of the sudden, if this isn’t the Rapture yet?

    • Well, as far as practicing openly, Phyllis assures us that they are “careful.” However, she also says that they tell their coworkers that the oil well fires and other “miracles” (pics or they didn’t happen) “signal the beginning of the end.”

      And then there’s the whole “Dolores threatened the CEO with Hell” thing, but no, they’re all “careful.”

      • There’s the potential – wasted, of course – for something quite interesting there: the careful Christian who tries to live a good life and doesn’t get into trouble, but still manages to be part of a Christian community, vs the rabid preacher who annoys everyone and gets arrested and martyred.

  5. Holy cow, Homeless Guy totally ratted out a harmless Christian to an NPO agent! I hate to think what he’d do for two dollars.

    • I think that one deserves a lol Vermic.

      But yeah, we’re presumably supposed to assume Hobo-Jesus knew about Paul being a Christian. It’s really depressing how Jenkins feels compelled to show Paul getting a Divine reward for giving some pocket change to a beggar. I’m afraid Jenkins did that because he (rightly) feels that after all the demonizing he does in his novels, the thing his readers might rebel against is this bit of charity to a lazy welfare parasite unless he shows it’s all part of the Divine plan somehow.

      • As I see it (and I would love to hear about alternative explanations) there are four possibilities:

        1. Nothing supernatural: The homeless guy was Christian, and knew Paul was, too, because obviously in a world where cancer and poverty have been all but completely cured, only a fellow Christian would shove a whole dollar into his hand. Homeless guy also knew Phyllis was a Christian, so when he saw Paul rush out of the building, obviously chasing someone, he correctly assumed it was Phyllis.

        2. Supernatural: The homeless guy was actually Jesus. I was mostly kidding about this option, but I think there’s a small chance.

        3. Supernatural: The homeless guy was an angel. In the LB series, the main characters are visited by For-Real angels with some frequency. I’m sure Paul is important enough to merit a similar visit.

        4. Supernatural: The homeless guy had no idea that Paul was after Phyllis, but was Led By God to direct Paul.

        • 5. The Homeless Guy guessed that Paul was chasing after Phyllis; having noted earlier which pocket Paul kept his wallet in, he stole it whilePaul was kept distracted by his grabbing and pointing.

        • 6. Nothing supernatural: The homeless guy doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Christianity, but saw someone who that Atheistapo (thanks Ivan!) guy might have been after, and was hoping there might be some sweet Atheistapo reward money coming if he points her out.

        • I’m pleased to have started my own micro-meme with Atheistapo 🙂

          I’m guessing we’re supposed to think it’s 4, maybe 3. But I really like 6. Is Paul actually wearing any kind of uniform, (or an FBI-like suit which is practically a uniform) or is he really plain-clothes?

  6. I’mI have a new fantasy: a whole bunch of Jenkins Book fans decide that, because of the Ongoing Persecution of RTCs Right Here in a-Murrica, right now even, (the “War on Christmas,” a Socialistmuslimkenyancommiefascist Black Man in the White House, etc), they want to take up the Trendy New Secret Code of passing around ailanthus leaves.

    And finding out that “peanut butter” isn’t really what they smell like….

    • And also finding out that breathing in the pollen and handling the leaves can trigger serious allergic reactions in sensitive people. Jenkins really hasn’t done the research, has he?

    • This is a bit off-topic but I’ve been wondering about that “War on Christmass”/”Taking the Christ out of Christmass” thing. It’s not really a public issue in the Netherlands so pardon me if I misrepresent the American situation. The point is, those two terms seem to be used as two descriptions for the same process.

      But I see them as not only different, but counterproductive to each other.
      The former seems to be a protest against people openly celebrating anything other than Christmass during the winter (and people acknowledging that via Happy Holidays), but the latter is about making Christmass about Santa, presents, family reunions and food. So the latter is about keeping the celibration of Christmass to themselves, while the former is demanding that everyone joins in. They’re trying to have their cake and eat it, or rather demand that everyone agrees to eat cake but forbidding people from having their own cake. Is this an accurate reflection of their point, or am I missing something?

      • So the latter is about keeping the celibration of Christmass to themselves, while the former is demanding that everyone joins in.

        That sounds about right to me. They don’t just want people to refrain from saying Happy Holidays, but they want to force everyone to say Merry Christmas instead. It bugs me that non-Christians get blamed for ruining Christmas when its the majority Christians going consumerist-wild that really secularized the holiday.

  7. I’ve completely lost the thread of this plot. Paul is a theologian who works for some kind of CIA like agency that investigates/persecutes religious people. Some Christian woman curses Demetrius the Elder and the two of them disappear. Maybe that explains why Arthur is willing to talk to Paul without lawyers. In atheistopia if an openly religious woman disappears at the same time as a powerful business man, she would be suspected of foul play. But then why wouldn’t Arthur hand Paul a list of “openly Christian” employees to interrogate?

    What’s the point of this novel again? I mean besides making Jenkins more money.

    • What’s the point of this novel again? I mean besides making Jenkins more money.

      Honestly? I think you’ve pretty much hit the point. I can’t follow where Jenkins is even going with all this and heaven knows I’ve been reading these blog posts for a while now. >_>

      The “Jesus Dude” movie even made more sense than this – maybe.

    • Yeah, Jenkins once again takes an outlandish and offensive premise and doesn’t even have the decency to use it to tell something interesting. There’s so much more you can do with this world where anyone religious is prosecuted. So far, every single prosecution we’ve seen was entirely correct for instance. The Atheistapo may employ idiots like Paul who are too dumb to run a proper infiltration for more than 5 minutes, but when they do arrest or attack someone, they apparently make sure they get the right man.

      I read some time ago about a woman who had been put in the Soviet Gulags under Stalin. For a long time she was of course horryfied, but mostly because she thought they’d made a mistake with her and locked her up with the capitalist traitors. It took her apparently quite some time to accept that her beloved communist leaders hadn’t just made an honest mistake and that most of her fellow prisoners hadn’t done anything wrong either, just like her.

      This story builds up to something like that with Paul’s father in law, but doesn’t deliver. His father in law could’ve acted on his suspicion, preferably copied with anger that Paul isn’t making his daughter happy, cheats on her and then tries to guilt-trip her. We could see how the people in power in the Atheistapo abuse it while simultaniously giving the bastard some come-upance for his antics. They could use the hidden letter of his father as proof. Then an unsaved Paul would be stuck in some prison with the religious people he loathes, but when he realizes he has no one left to turn to anymore, he grudingly interacts with his fellow inmates. Some of them could also be falsely accused atheists, but some might be genuine RTCs who slowly win Paul over with their love and kindness that Jenkins assures us they have so much more. It’s corny, but so much better than the non-change we get in this book.

      • Oooh, that would be an awesome book to read. I assume since Bible Paul went to jail, this Paul is going to jail at some point as well. But he’ll still be a jerk to everyone.

  8. Yet another instance of LaJenkins managing to screw up even the stuff they get right. Like I said a couple of posts ago, the bit about financiers being superstitious is actually true and verified by research, and I could sort of vaguely allow one of them having a display of astrology books in his lobby if, I don’t know, collecting them’s his hobby or whatever, but having a big astrological display in front of the NYSE… yeah. Another professional group known to be superstitious is airline pilots, and considering the LaJenkins fetish for those, it would be really funny if they found *that* out.

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