Soon: Chapter 35: My Own Private Fountain
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.
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.
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…
“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.