Soon: Chapter 21: Totally Unjust

Answers to the mysteries, people!  Were you up nights wondering about the car tailing Paul and Straight to the Army of God Recruitment chess tournament?  And how about those guys sitting in the lobby?

“Oh, Paul!  Where were you last night?” [Jae asked when Paul got back home]

“What do you mean?”

“Where were you until you came back to the hotel alone just before dawn?”

“You had me followed?”

“And I called your room.  Till well past midnight.  And I had people pounding on your door till all hours.”

“I don’t believe this.”

Oh, believe it, folks.  Paul is just as outraged as Jae.  He’s been serially cheating on her for eight years, has been lying to her for months about his newfound faith, and he’s upset that she’s upset that he’s hiding things.

“Were you with another woman?”

“What?”

What?  What are you talking about, Jae?  I can’t believe it would cross your mind that I would be with another woman, given my long history of faithfulness to you!

“Just admit it, Paul.  Don’t you think I know by now?  I read her letter.”

“Her letter?”

Gotta love the innocent act.  What letter?  I mean, I get so many letters from women, it’s hard to keep track of who’s who.

“Paul, you met her in Washington.  And now Toledo, too–how can you flat-out lie to me?”

That’s a damn good question, though Jae doesn’t yet know the half of what Paul is lying about…

“Angela Barger?  You went through my things?  I can’t tell you how offended I am, Jae–“

He’s offended.  Paul is offended.  Paul is an absentee dad, a faithless husband a hundred times over, lies about the most important issues in his life, is cruel, condescending, and emotionally abusive, and he is offended.

Please remember: at this point, Paul is a Real True Christian.

Oh, and one other thing: Jae found Angela’s letter when she was cleaning up after Paul’s stank ass because he was camping in the den for a week and refusing to sleep in their bed.

But I’ll let Jae speak for herself:

“Oh, are you?  Well, here’s how offended I am.  School’s out next week, and I’m taking the kids to Washington for the summer.  That’ll give us both time to think.”

YOU GO, GIRL!

I also have my doubts that Paul knows what grades his kids are in.

“If you’d stop yelling and listen for a minute–”

“Listen to what?”

“Jae, this is totally unjust–“

That’s what he wants her to hear: that she is being unjust.  Not that there is a long explanation for his actions that involves religious faith, and they desperately need to talk about what this means for their lives and their childrens’ lives.  No, it’s most important that Jae is unjust.  That is top priority.

“Truth hurts, Paul?”

I’m sure it does, and that’s why newly-minted RTC Paul is incapable of telling it to his wife.

“We can work this out.”

“We’re going, Paul.  It’s set.  The kids are excited.”

Jae asked Paul to call only on Saturdays and only to talk to the kids.  “When I want to talk to you,” she said, “I’ll be in touch.”

And she was gone.

OH YOU GO GIRL JAE YOU ARE DA AWESOMEZ!!!

Enjoy this, folks.  Take a deep breath and revel in a woman standing up for herself, because you better believe the book doesn’t give a crap.  After all, Jae is wrong, isn’t she?  She is falsely accusing Her Man of unfaithfulness when he has been TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY FAITHFUL FOR VERY NEARLY THREE MONTHS.

Really, Jae is just unlucky.  (One could argue that her married life has been one long string of bad luck, but I digress.)  She is unlucky because out of the (no doubt) HUNDREDS of times Paul has cheated on her, she chose to have him tailed THE ONE TIME he wasn’t cheating.  (Not that he had the opportunity, what with the Christian Kidnapping and all.)

I frankly don’t even know why this whole marriage thing is an issue.  Aren’t we in eeeevil Atheistopia?  Why does the institution of marriage even exist?  Why does Jae, a lifelong atheist who was raised by atheists, have any care for faithfulness in relationships?  Why does Paul need Turbo Jesus in order to realize that he shouldn’t cheat on his wife if she doesn’t want him to, but she doesn’t need Turbo Jesus to know the same thing?  Why aren’t all relationships in Atheistopia open?  It’s very strange.  After all, I am often informed by RTCs that marriage is a Christian institution and that any morality Others have, they owe to Christian Tradition.

Anyway.  The plot:

Alone in the house, Paul hated himself for letting the argument get out of hand.  He was ashamed at how things had deteriorated.

That’s what he hates himself for–letting the argument get out of hand.  Not breaking his wife’s heart for eight years.  Not for getting women drunk and horizontal across the USSA and the world.  Nope, the only thing he’s upset about is letting the argument get out of hand.

Paul, you stupid ass, that wasn’t an argument.  That was your wife taking the kids and leaving you.

But never mind all that: time for a new mystery to replace the lame private detectives!

That weekend, with time on his hands, Paul decided to finish the task he’d neglected so long: clearing out his mother’s house.

I love how the book is pretending that Paul has all this time because his family moved out.  As though Paul would have been spending his time with them if they were there.  Don’t forget, he blew off ice skating with his kids the first time he wanted to clean the house.  Their presence or absence have no effect on his daily activities–what Paul wants to do, he does.

And the upshot of the mystifying mystery is this: the Come-to-Jesus letter from Paul’s father has disappeared from his mother’s house.

Whoop-de-crap.

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Posted on October 31, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 41 Comments.

  1. You have to admire the sheer chutzpah Paul Stepola has in being all ~offended~ when he knows and his wife damn well knows that 99% of the time he’s been conveniently unavailable, it’s because he’s either a totally self-absorbed butthead or he’s in bed with another woman.

    I wonder if this isn’t just Jenkins’s horribly hamfisted way of trying to go “HA HA SEE ATHEIST MORALITY MEANS YOU CHEAT ALL THE TIME!”

    In a different light, Paul and Jae could be in a healthy, open relationship and, due to mismatches in sex drives, she’s okay with him picking up women as long as he uses a condom and they go and get their testing done every X months.

    I’m not sure Jenkins intended for the readership to see that Paul is a grade A douchebag and that Jae is legitimately fed up and is putting him on notice.

    Jenkins, like in Left Behind, has a tendency to just say the main characters are good people because they’re Christian, and not because they legtiimately do good things for other people.

    Paul would be in great company in Rayford’s Fully-Loaded 747. Unless he picked up Hattie for the Mile-High Club before Rayford could get to her. *imagines Rayford’s FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU rageface*

  2. While I’m always a bit iffy about private detectives, I gotta hand it to Jae; she handled this pretty well. She got suspicious, but decided to get more than a hunch to go on, and then went out and did that.

    The fact that she got the wrong conclusion is hard to hold against her since, y’know, Paul has neglected to give her information she’d need to realize what might actually be going on.

    Also, I like the “If you’d just stop yelling” line, since Jae doesn’t sound like she’s yelling. Her sentences all end with periods, she’s not using gibberish or short, sharp, words; There’s not even a “…She yelled” in the text. It sounds, in fact, like she’s going more for the “icy cold” route.

    Which means that either Paul is doing the age-old “Your argument is invalid because you’re yelling!” thing or the writing here is even worse than I’d thought.

    • “Which means that either Paul is doing the age-old ‘Your argument is invalid because you’re yelling!’ thing or the writing here is even worse than I’d thought.”

      Why not both? 😀

      In fact, I’d go for the hat trick: Jae is also wrong because she disagrees with Paul. As with any Gary Stu character, the rightness or wrongness of any person at any time is gauged by whether or not they listen to the “hero.”

  3. And this is the point where Paul leaves the story for good, and we follow the adventures of a free, newly unattached Jae in futuristic Washington for the next five books. Right?

    … Please?

  4. Hmm, I bet in Atheistopia, if you can prove your husband is in fact religious you can get a killer divorce settlement. Perhaps just “all his possesions, since he won’t be needing them where HE is going”. We didn’t get to know much about Dork To Stupid so I can’t talk about him, but at this point I wouldn’t mind seeing Paul get dumped in a vat of napalm. His fictional form at any rate. If he were a real human… 10 years, 8 with good behavior, will do.

    • Hmm, I bet in Atheistopia, if you can prove your husband is in fact religious you can get a killer divorce settlement.

      Literallly! I mean, literally, literally, if Dork Too Stupid is any indicator….

  5. With a half-decent writer,this scene could have turned out quite differently. Paul, the serial adulterer-turned-Christian would have been faced with a true moral dilemma. Either to throw himself on Jae’s mercy and admit the truth about both his past infidelities and his conversion, risking divorce, imprisonment and possible execution. Or to pretend that he was still an adulterous lying b*stard, in order to carry on with saving souls for TurboJesus. That would have been a really interesting development – If he told the truth would Jae forgive him or turn him in? If the latter, would his new-found faith be enough to sustain him – would he crack and experience that “dark night of the soul”? And if he instead lied to her, how would he justify it to himself and his God? And so on. It could have turned into a damm good story.
    But no, he’s a Gary Stu and Jenkins doesn’t do dark nights of the soul.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      And the target audience is Church Ladies who Must Not Be Offended In Any Way, only Reassured that They, Dear Readers, Are Right.

  6. Yet again we see that lying is the ultimate sin. Cheat on your wife, sure, but when she picks the one wrong weekend to make her accusation you can tell the truth and therefore you win!

    Vermic: With the degree to which Atheistopian technology has advanced, Jae can probably send a wifebot and childbots back to Paul and keep living her life in Washington. (They will conveniently nark on him to the Feds, too.)

    • Firedrake: I need for this to be true.

      Hey, did I miss something, or are we 21 chapters in and there’s no plot yet? Paul got saved, some other Christians have contacted him, there have been some random weird miracles, and many chess games have been played. But there’s no story, no chain of events or momentum. I know plotlessness is a Jerry Jenkins hallmark, but it still bothers me when I see it, doggone it.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        You didn’t miss anything, Vermic. Remember the volume of LB that Slacktivist’s presently snarking? Pissing around with “as-you-know” idiot conversations about the End Time Prophecy checklist for around 300 pages, then suddenly remembers he has to tell a story and puts ALL the plot advancement into the last chapter.

        Jerry Jenkins, Greatest Christian Author of All Time (GCAAT)…

  7. Headless Unicorn Guy

    How much longer, Ruby?

    This just gets more painful with each and every chapter!

    • We are just over 60% of the way through the book! 😀

      Actually, I am looking forward to the next section, because that is when Paul goes to VEGAS, BABY! (Evil atheist that I am, I love Vegas.)

      Also, I will be taking a Wintermas break to do a month-long review of ‘Twas the Night Before.

      Then, after Soon is done, I plan to take another poll. (I do love my polls.) I want to see what people want next:

      1. Silenced, the sequel to Soon, in which Paul goes to Europe and meets the ruler of Atheistopia, Baldwin Dengler?

      2. The Secret on Ararat, the sequel to Babylon Rising, in which Michael Murphy and Dr. Isis Proserpina McDonald quest for Noah’s Ark.

      3. A period of movie reviews, possibly of the entire Love Comes Softly series.

  8. Pre-Stepfordized Jae needs to be rescued by pre-marriage Isis MacDonald and Meta-Hattie. A cross-literary COSIRs team sent out into the fictionversal Bleed in order to rescue potentially awesome characters from their authors. Tried for a crime they didn’t commit, they were sentenced to horrible fiction. Three chapters later, they escaped. If you need a character rescued from a horrible book, if no-one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire… the Meta Team.

    *scene of Meta-Hattie driving a GMC van through Atheistopia, with Isis in the back trying to pull Jae in through the back door while the Authorial Agents In Black pursue with Allphones while driving fully loaded Range Rovers*

    Excuse me, can I have a little more awesomesauce on this?

    *montage of Isis slapping what’s-his-name, Jae slapping Paul, Meta-Chloe slapping Buck… again and again and again… and finally Meta-Hattie, Meta-Amanda, and Meta-Irene tag-teaming Rayford a la the final scene in Deathproof*

    Ahh, excellent, thank you. That hits the spot.

    Sorry if that was a little more violent than desired. After reading CoaFC’s blogg today I had to vent a bit. ^_^;;

  9. Also, it’s nice to see the difference between Buck “My Global Community Credit Card for a Fully loaded phallic symbo- Land Rover” and Jae. I mean, she gets some private detectives to follow him. She’s the daughter of the head of the Atheistapo, and from what we saw Paul gets along as well with her father as he does with her. One phonecall to daddy and he could be tailed by a crack commando squad. Or followed using his skull-phone, but Jenkins seems to have forgotten that.

    Y’know, Paul should worry about that. Jae can probably have her father get his hands on Paul’s exact location at all times. And he’ll be very interested to learn the guy he already suspected being a closet-Christian (the only hint we get in this entire book about the paranoia that should pervade an atheist theocratic dictature. Yeah, I know it sounds like an oxymoron, but you know what I mean) went to a strange salt mine.

    Come to think of it, Paul could probably get his hands on his own skull-phone location too. Or his normal phone in a pinch. Yeah, that blindfold and twirl you around routine was completely useless.

    • Thinking about it, if Jae’s dad ever twigged to Paul’s infidelity, and how miserable he was making Jae, I have a feeling that would be pretty terminal….

      “I’m sorry to have to shove you in the napalm barrel, Paul, but — no, actually, I’m not. You hurt my daughter.”
      “But… butbutbut I thought you were killing me because I was a Christian!”
      “You’re a Christian? Bonus! Now I can expense this!”

      Mind you, I’m… uncomfortable with the napalm barrel thing since I see it very much as projection and wish-fulfilment.

    • “Or followed using his skull-phone, but Jenkins seems to have forgotten that.”

      OMG I ALMOST FORGOT…

      When Paul gets back to the hotel, he goes to the front desk and checks for messages.

      Because it’s suddenly 1960.

      You’re right, Jenkins completely forgot that he ever invented skullphones that make it possible to get in touch with ANYONE AT ANY TIME.

      • That smack you just heard was me facepalming so very hard.

      • Wow. Jenkins appears to desperately want to live in a 60’s James Bond movie.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          SOMEONE ELSE NOTICED!

          I came to a similar conclusion some time ago, but you said it better!

          (The thing is, why doesn’t he just write a Bond pastiche? I’ve done it in an SF space-opera setting, with subversions of most of the Bond tropes. Might actually do him some good getting it out of his system — wait a minute, He’s a CHRISTIAN (TM) Author…)

  10. Ruby, I hope it’s not a complete offtopic to mention it here, but I just found out that *Babylon Rizing is translated in Russian wtf*.
    Just needed to get it off my chest.

  11. You know why Paul is upset about letting the argument get out of hand, right? He’s the headship of his wife. Her behavior is his responsibility, his to control. The fact that they fought when he didn’t want to is a reflection of him not being sufficiently manly (and her not being sufficiently submissive. same issue.). If he were sufficiently manly, she couldn’t have baited him into an argument.

    The misogyny in these stories is pervasive and repellent- and really hard to see if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

  12. You know, Jae’s reactions are so … realistic. Its hard to believe Jenkins actually wrote this part himself. I wouldn’t be surprised if he tossed this off on someone else. Like is wife or something. He is married, right? I know LaHaye’s wife drank the kool-aid but what about Jenkins wife?

  13. How DARE Jae actually think her husband is doing something HE HAS A LONG HISTORY OF DOING!

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