Soon: Chapter 29: Four-Eyes
Paul goes to Spec’s place–an office “located [in] a row of single-story brick buildings housing movie postproduction facilities.”
Paul gets himself in by playing his NPO card, but why he bothered, I don’t know, since Specs is just enormously up-front about the billboard hacking. Seriously, is this the way an innocent man talks?
“You’re suspected of being the projectionist who’s vandalized billboards and the Hollywood sign.” [Paul said]
“Holywood, you mean?” Specs said, smiling.
Paul nodded. “How do you do it?”
“Whoever’s doing it, it would all be a matter of hacking. I love the term projectionist, though it is, of course, archaic and inaccurate. These high-tech visuals are all run off computers, so if a person did want to mess with them, he would have to understand the inner workings of the machines…”
And on and on he rambles, incriminating himself to anyone with half a brain. Fortunately, Paul doesn’t need half a brain–he’s an Underground Zealot!
Paul intertwined his fingers behind his head. “So with you unwilling to admit it’s you, and with us unable to find evidence on your equipment, it’s a stalemate?”
“Given those variables.”
I gotta say that it’s quite cruel of Paul to make Specs think he has actually been found out. He did the same thing with St. Stephen, but he meant to both be cruel and make him reveal himself. In this case, no one is watching, Paul already knows it’s Specs, and…well, I guess Paul just liked to drag things out to make it as painful as possible for everyone.
Finally, Paul gets down to things:
“How about another variable? What if I were to tell you that I am your brother in Christ and that the only reason I don’t have my penny to prove it is that I have not made contact with the local underground leadership?”
Specs cocked his head and folded his arms. “Now there is a conundrum.”
“If I were who you think I am, I would want this to be true so badly that I would declare myself. But if you are not who you say you are, my words could convict me.”
Yeah, because your words have been so innocent so far.
Paul leaned forward, elbows on his knees.
Gotta love these posture changes–from casually negligent to aggressive in a heartbeat. But yeah, he has all kinds of sympathy for poor Specs, his “brother.”
[Paul said] “I am who I say I am, and you can believe it because I say it in the name of the risen Christ, who said, ‘My purpose is to give life–‘”
“‘–in all its fullness,'” Specs shook his head.
(This is the Christian code phrase for the L.A. Underground.)
“So you’re that guy? You’re really that guy?”
Specs has been successfully hacking the Hollywood signs and billboards for weeks, staying out of sight the whole time, but what’s really impressive is some dude in the NPO who’s getting all his information from some other dude in Chicago who has been a Christian for years.
Specs (who, of course, looks the part of the stereotypical hacker: short, balding, pale) starts crying at this revelation, and I can’t help but think that it is also because Paul has been toying with him for ten minutes, too.
And here it is, THE LINE that I mentioned last time:
“It’s an honor to meet you, sir,” Paul said. Then, imitating John Malkovich in Con Air, “Love your work.”
That made Specs laugh.
WHAT THE FRAKKING FRAK IS GOING ON???
Con Air was made in 1997. I remember it as being a fun film, but does Jerry Jenkins really think that of all the films in all the world, the ones that will survive World War III and remain well-known, such that random lines are quaotable and recognizable even to people born decades after the films were made, are Casablanca, True Grit, and CON AIR???
Hell, I liked Con Air. And I mentioned this Soon scene to Angus, and he immediately recognized the line. This is not terribly surprising, since Angus was a teenage guy when it came out.
Honestly, if Jenkins wanted to use this movie in his Atheistopian novel, why not have Ranold reference it? He is the one who would remember it firsthand.
Angus also reminded me of something wonderful about this line. He remembered that it was spoken by John Malkovich’s character (a criminal), complimenting Steve Buscemi’s character, another criminal. Although “criminal” is a rather mild term, since the “work” that is so “loved” happens to be SERIAL KILLING.
So Paul’s admiration of Specs’ billboard vandalism is compared to an admiration of SERIAL KILLING.
Did Jenkins think about this at all? AT ALL???
I guess not, because now that the ice is broken with a Con Air reference, Paul starts telling Specs all about the NPO’s mission to track down him and the L.A. underground in general. He is doing this when he gets a Skull Phone call from Ranold, telling him to get to South Central L.A.
Turns out Ranold and Bia have made good on their promise to Quash ‘n Dismantle the underground.
More on that next time. 😀