Soon: Chapter 35: My Own Private Fountain

Phew.

That was a close one.

To recap: Ranold knows all about Paul’s contact with the Stinky Fish Christians, but believes (or, in my fantasy, doesn’t believe but just said) that Paul must have been trying to make some sort of heroic lone-wolf sekrit-squirrel spy raid.

And how does Paul react to Ranold’s almost-revelation?

He spends half a page thinking about how Jae could be spying on him, or how she could be spying on him with Ranold.

That would almost seem the natural reaction of a man driven to paranoia by the atheistopian evil all around him…had Paul not had these same suspicions before his discussion with Ranold.

He’s just looking for excuses to hate on Jae and make her beg some more, isn’t he?

Paul decides he needs to call Straight to warn the Stinky Fishers, because I guess Karl and Lois and Barton never gave Paul their direct-dial skull phone numbers.  This makes communication cumbersome and complicated and nonsensical, since it’s Paul who has access to the insiders, not Straight.

Whatevs.

Now, it strikes me as fairly dumb that Atheistopia hasn’t bugged Paul’s skull phone yet.  Hell, I would be satisfied if they came up with some technobabble handwave explanation as to why skull phones can’t be bugged, but they don’t even do that.

So Paul is faced with the following strange conundrum:

He might be under surveillance, but he had to call Straight.

How are you under surveillance, Paul?  Obviously your skull phone isn’t bugged, so…?

But no matter how he might be bugged, Paul has a cunning plan.  A plan so cunning you could scrub your floors with it.  I hope you were all paying attention when we talked about Tiny’s Big Giant Fountain, because Paul is about to use it to his advantage.

Sorta.

Paul positioned himself as close to [the huge gold fountain] as possible.  He’d get soaked by the spray [remember, the fountain sprays one hundred feet into the air], but the burbling and splashing would cover the sound of the call.

Look, Paul, if they can’t hear Straight because of the fountain, probably you can’t hear Straight because of the fountain.

This is kinda like when babies think that when they cover eyes, they can’t be seen, isn’t it?

Then things get a little weird.

To avoid rousing suspicion by going back indoors dripping wet, he slipped off his shirt and pants and tossed them to safety where they’d stay dry.

It’s going on four in the morning, and in order NOT to look suspicious, Paul is stripping down to his tighty whities and hopping into the huge gold fountain.

The fact that this made perfect sense to Paul inside his own head is what really gets me.

The only, I repeat…ONLY way this scene would work, would be if it was presented as a consequence of Paul being exhausted, both physically and emotionally.  Maybe a couple of Tiny’s army of servants would see Paul, and write it off as the uptight jerkwad agent finally cutting loose, getting drunk or high.

And the cherry on the sundae of stupidity is that Straight doesn’t have direct connections to the L.A. underground, either.

Even Jesus is disappointed in the idiocy of the Christian Underground.

“The big problem is how to reach any of these people,” Paul said.

“If only we all had phones attached directly to our skulls so we could call each other in case of an emergency…WAIT A MINUTE!!!”

“And here I am, totally out of commission—certainly being watched by Ranold and possibly by Jae.”

Paul, if Ranold is “certainly” watching you, I’m not sure that standing in a fountain in your skivvies, FIVE MINUTES AFTER YOU SPOKE TO HIM, is the best idea you’ve ever had.

“She didn’t plant a bug on you, did she?” [Straight asked]

“I didn’t even think of that with all this madness.”

What?  Paul, you JUST SAID that you hopped into the fountain to muffle the sound of your call, AFTER obsessing about Jae’s loyalty.  What do you mean you didn’t think of…

GAH

“Luckily—” Paul burst out laughing— “even if she did, I’m standing here in my shorts, sopping wet, with my head stuck in a fountain.”

“I wondered what that sound was,” Straight said.

I realize that sometimes people laugh to cover the pain, but it’s only been five minutes since Paul learned of the torture and murder of Grace.

Also, this may be the first and only time Paul has laughed so far in this book (I will go and check), which would make this even more inappropriate.

HA!  Torture and murder of some “stocky” single woman.

Good times.

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Posted on March 17, 2012, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. I just… wow.

    Jenkins really does fancy himself another Ian Fleming, doesn’t he? These derring-do plots of his he likes to write are so childishly sophomoric that the only reason they work is because everyone is carrying the Idiot Ball.

    This is as painfully stupid as the extract-Chang-Wong-from-HQ plot in LB wherein Rayford childishly trolls Nicolae, or when Mac McCullum uses the downwash from his jet engine to knock over Nicolae and laughs about it.

    If the Christian audience of Jenkins’s ever read proper spy novels they’d laugh uproariously at this ridiculously silly imitation thereof.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Jenkins really does fancy himself another Ian Fleming, doesn’t he?

      So I’m not the only one who noticed that.

      Though not “another Ian Fleming”, but a fanboy wanna-be Ian Fleming. In Christianese, without the kinky hot scenes with the hotties with the silly names. (Though Jenkins is no slouch at coining silly names.)

      I mean, I’ve had fanboy masturbations inflicted on me at cons under the cover of “My Latest Masterpiece”. I recognize the pattern. And everything about this has “fanboy masturbation — Am I Not Clever?” written all over it.

      If the Christian audience of Jenkins’s ever read proper spy novels they’d laugh uproariously at this ridiculously silly imitation thereof.

      Ah, but ApocalypseReview, that’s the point. They are not allowed to read what the Heathen read (might fail God’s litmus test and get Left Behind), so they have nothing to compare Jenkins’ masterpieces to.

      • With the distinction that, in some ways, Ian Fleming loathed James Bond, and while writing to entertain, did not try to hide he fact that Bond was a womanizing sadistic sociopath. It was only in the movies that Hollywood tried to make Bond sympathetic (In Her Majesty’s Secret Service.) They’ve actually gotten to how Fleming really portrayed Bond in the two new movies.

        I have a feeling that Fleming would have approved of the Alan Moore interpretation of the Bond character in Black Dossier

        I agree with the fanwank analysis. Especially if you consider the Apocalypse of John of Patmos as a form of deuterocanonical or derivative work, Jenkins is essentially writing a fanfic of a fanfic–

        Oh my gods… he’s writing a Christian version of Undocumented Features!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          I have a feeling that Fleming would have approved of the Alan Moore interpretation of the Bond character in Black Dossier.

          I recommend League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier and its “Jimmy Bond” as an example of the original Bond. Compared and contrasted with the movie pulp-hero superspy.

        • Hey, now, at least Undocumented Features was enjoyable. (At least the initial series. It did rather spiral out of control later as the original group of friends all took things in their own directions at once.)

          Drat, now I need to go look the Eyrie up again and go on a nostalgia binge…

  2. The “Jesus facepalms” picture (facePslam?) was a brilliant touch.

    I suspect Jenkins would congratulate himself for this scene because he made use of “Chekhov’s Gun”, first introducing and describing the big gold fountain, and then making use of in the plot later on. Of course, he appears to take the advice about writing dialogue (“Imagine they’re talking on the phone) a bit literally as well, so while he might congratulate himself, the rest of us will certainly not.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I suspect Jenkins would congratulate himself for this scene because he made use of “Chekhov’s Gun”, first introducing and describing the big gold fountain, and then making use of in the plot later on.

      Dude, right now I’m proofing & editing a friend’s My Little Pony fanfic (pulling off a Manly Wade Wellman/My Little Pony crossover), and he’s getting to the climax where he’s pulling the triggers on all the Chekov’s Guns he’s previously salted through the story. And he’s succeeding at it where Jenkins fell flat on his face.

      Of course, he appears to take the advice about writing dialogue (“Imagine they’re talking on the phone) a bit literally as well…

      Remember, this is the GCAAT who in of Left Behind first made a BAD strategic decision (telling a tale of not just global but cosmic-scale only from the POVs of the two Author Self-Inserts) and handwaved his way through it with 16 volumes of over-the-phone dialogue. Not just over-the-phone, but “As-you-know” idiot conversations over the phone.

      …so while he might congratulate himself, the rest of us will certainly not.

      As I said to ApocalypseReview, this is 100% characteristic of a drooling fanboy masturbating himself in the mirror with self-flattery about My Great Masterpiece.

  3. Paul doesn’t seem to realize that stripping down would attract attention, so I have to assume that he took off a pair of pants and a shirt and he ordinarily goes around dressed like this.

  4. Headless Unicorn Guy

    It’s going on four in the morning, and in order NOT to look suspicious, Paul is stripping down to his tighty whities and hopping into the huge gold fountain.

    He’s channeling Wilbur Mills! All he needs is a stripper in the fountain with him!

  5. Headless Unicorn Guy

    HA! Torture and murder of some “stocky” single woman.

    “Stocky” as in FAT? (Obviously not a 90-lb Stepford Supermodel with basketball boobies…)

  6. I don’t even…what? Just, whut.

    The only way this scene works is in a comedy.

    Actually, so far we’ve had several scenes that would only work in a comedy. Are we sure Jenkins didn’t employ a ghost writer to help him out? One who decided to have a little too much fun with zir boss?

  7. “Hi Straight! I know it’s four in the morning, but I was standing in the fountain in my underwear and I thought of you…”

  8. Could someone who has read the next book conclusively confirm or deny that Jae has some plan to spy on Paul in the next book, whether or not that plan comes to fruition before or after she becomes an RTC drone and sees how right Paul was all along? I just want to properly calibrate the amount of hatred I feel for these books.

    Is is stated if he’s using the skullphone? Because I think there’s several scenes where they suggest he’s using a regular one. I suppose if the receiver is build into his ears, he’ll be able to hear what Straight says, but Straight won’t be able to hear him. Both a bug and the speaker of a phone are, after all, electronic audio recording devices. Come to think of it, where IS the speaker in the skullphone? Hookup up straight to his vocal cords or outside recording the sound comming out of his mouth? In the latter case, it’s gonna be garbled as hell because without the assistance of the tongue, I doubt you pronounciation is any good. If it’s the latter, the fountain will drown it out.

    I suppose it is appropriate that he worries about bugs at all. But I fear it won’t be because he, and Jenkins, acknowledge how spectacularly lucky it would be for Ranold not to have realized Paul is a traitor. And if he did, there’d be no reason to tip Paul of for now. He’d have been better off either arresting him outright or not saying anything and quietly following him to get more evidence, in case Ranold suddenly started caring about that.

    • Jae is not currently spying on Paul, and has no plans to do so in the future.

      She did in fact read the letter from his father, but it has only caused her to pity him, not suspect him of anything.

      She does get roped into spying on Paul, at the behest of Ranold (who turns out to be no fool) in the second book. This she does reluctantly and for a very short period of time.

    • Oh, wow, that’s even worse than I thought. So it IS clumsy forshadowing that Jae might be spying on him, but it isn’t even possible for Paul to pick that up from Jae’s behavior because Jae isn’t even planning to yet. So he IS an humongous ass for suspecting a wife that isn’t even planning to betray him (like he did to her so many times and is still doing now by not letting her know of his newfound faith, how staying with him will drive a wedge between her and her father, and put her and the kids at risk. Oh, and not telling her to get the hell out of LA before the terrorism starts), but Jenkins also includes plotholes and bad writing by letting Paul guess something that he can’t possibly know yet because no one is planning it yet.

      Impressive, I thought I’d properly braced myself for the worst (Paul being an humogeous ass without justification), but Jenkins manages to drill through my rock-bottom expectations.

      • but it isn’t even possible for Paul to pick that up from Jae’s behavior because Jae isn’t even planning to yet. So he IS an humongous ass for suspecting a wife that isn’t even planning to betray him

        Except, of course, in Jenkins’Land, it’s not about Jae – she’s just a wife, after all. Paul isn’t an ass for thinking his innocent wife is betraying him – he’s a SpyGenius for realizing that Ranold will see Jae as a useful tool. It’s not like any real man would stop to consider his daughter’s *feelings* in a matter like this – of *course* he’s going to try to exert his prior ownership rights and use Jae against Paul.

        The fact that Ranold may not have even realized this yet (after all, Jae surprised both men by coming to LA and reconciling with Paul, and Ranold may take some time to realize the possibilities), just means that Paul thinks on his feet faster than Ranold.

        [Excuse me, but I think I need to go barf now…]

    • RedwoodRhiadra

      Answering this sort of late, but…

      Come to think of it, where IS the speaker in the skullphone?

      It’s probably implanted in the mastoid, picking up vibrations via bone induction. It would pick up the voice without interference from external sounds. Skullphones or implanted communicators have been a sci-fi staple since the 80s – the primary reason we can’t actually build one is power (changing or recharging batteries would be a little awkward, and running off body heat wouldn’t provide enough juice).

  9. Now I’m imagining Jason Russell, the Kony 2012/Invisible Children guy, as Paul. In case you missed it:
    Jason Russell Video: ‘Kony 2012’ Honcho Has Naked Meltdown | TMZ.com (probably NSFW)
    Invisible Children Co-Founder Detained: SDPD | NBC San Diego (SFW)

    • *trying vainly not to die laughing*

    • Oh, and to top it off, what RubyTea wrote about Paul:

      The only… way this scene would work, would be if it was presented as a consequence of Paul being exhausted, both physically and emotionally. Maybe a couple of Tiny’s army of servants would see Paul, and write it off as the uptight jerkwad agent finally cutting loose, getting drunk or high.

      Notice that’s almost exactly what happened with Mr. Russell.

      Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey: “Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition. He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better.”

      It’s pretty much a perfect match.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        I’ve been in states of Extreme Exhaustion myself, and when you’re that wiped out you are definitely NOT thinking straight. (Hay, there’s even a My Little Pony episode about it — “Apple Bucking Season”.) One friend of mine in his teen years went without sleep for three-four days on a bet, and he could confirm that after 72 hours without sleep you are certifiably psychotic.

        That said, Jason Russell was still pretty X-treme. (Just saw the videos; all I could think was “naked crazy man”.) One morning drive-time radio wag snarked “Exhaustion, they said… Doesn’t Lindsay Lohan get “exhausted” enough to check into rehab every couple weeks…”

  10. Huh.

    The way cell phones are tapped now, the cops just take a recording of the call as it passes through the phone network. No need to plant actual physical bugs any more. And unlike present-day drug dealers, a skullphone user probably can’t replace the hardware (thus changing the various ID numbers) every few days.

    Of course, we don’t know how expensive or common skullphones are. Maybe you still can get burner phones for cash. Maybe not. Great worldbuilding!

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