TSoA: Chapter 4: Back with Bob
In Chapter 4, readers who skipped Babylon Rising can become acquainted with Pastor Bob Wagoner and Murphy’s backstory.
Murphy heads over to the newly-rebuilt church for a lunch and whine session with his pastor. There, he can reflect on the events of the last book: the bombing of the church, the role played by Shari’s stupid brother, and the murder of Murphy’s wife, Laura.
And we can reflect on the paranoia and stupidity of Murphy’s pastor. You may remember that when his own church was bombed, Wagoner was flabbergasted to learn that the building would be considered a crime scene. But he wasn’t so shocked that he couldn’t go on and on about the suspicious activities of the United Nations: the most nefarious and powerful organization IN THE WORLD!
Murphy also reflects on how much Bob loves golf:
…Wagoner was often heard to say that you could learn as much about the frailty of human nature and the need to put your trust in a higher power while standing on the first tee with a driver in your hand as you could listening to preachers in church. He’d often tried to persuade Murphy to take up the game, but Murphy doubted he had the spiritual strength to survive a round without bending the driver round a tree.
I find myself drawing a comparison between Murphy and the newest Tim LaHaye hero, Joshua Jordan, when it comes to the game of golf. Joshy approaches the game with a level of ultra-competitiveness rarely seen outside the Olympics. His bloated ego and need to WIN AT FRACKING EVERYTHING mean that he is constitutionally incapable of simply hanging and enjoying a game on a beautiful day.
Michael Murphy, on the other hand, acknowledges that his anger issues are SO BAD and his frustration tolerance SO LOW that he literally would not be able to learn how to play the game, let alone complete a round.
So Murphy isn’t there to play golf with Bob.
“Good to see you, Bob. Thanks for agreeing to meet up. Are you hungry?”
Wagoner grinned. “Is the Pope Catholic?”
WHEW. Oh, man, excuse me while I wipe away a few tears of helpless laughter.
Wagoner’s appetite and resulting paunch were also referenced in Babylon Rising. The Evil Dean Fallworth also has a paunch, but his is worthy of ridicule, because Fallworth is a pale-faced, pansy-ass, ivory-tower intellectual type who dislikes Michael Murphy.
Wagoner, OTOH, can be forgiven for wolfing down a chili cheeseburger and fries before even talking to Michael at all, because once he does talk, the only subject he is interested in is…Michael Murphy.
First, Wagoner brings up the superficial injuries Murphy sustained in the cave. And, just as he did with Shari, Murphy…um…Tells Not Quite The Whole Entire Truth. (But doesn’t LIE, mind you, because lying is wrong.)
“A few bumps and bruises are par for the course when you’re digging for artifacts. You know that.”
I wonder if Wagoner would take exception to Murphy receiving clues about treasures from an EVIL ATHEIST. Especially because Murphy always ends up using the artifacts to make himself famous, even though he has no way to verify that they really came from where Methuselah says.
Anyway, what Murphy really wants to talk about is Laura: how Talon murdered her, and how angry he is, and how the pain never really goes away…
All of which would be just fine if Wagoner didn’t respond to the mention of Talon’s name like this:
“The man who killed Laura. And all those others.”
All those others.
ALL THOSE OTHERS???
Dude, those were YOUR PARISHIONERS. Five people who died in the church bombing, who had come on a weeknight to listen to you talk (about Michael Murphy), and six months later, these people are ALL THOSE OTHERS.
Yeah, I really feel that I’m missing something by not going to church.
Not that we should be surprised by this statement. This is how the Laura’s death has been treated since the moment it happened: as more important, and a much worse thing, than the deaths of ALL THOSE OTHERS. (Not to mention the destruction of the church, the numerous injuries sustained by other parishioners, and those sustained by Paul Wallach, who was in a coma for several days. AND Shari, who I normally feel little sympathy for but who does have to deal with the fact that her own brother was part of the bombing conspiracy.)
Wagoner gives Murphy the standard “let God take care of things” spiel, and Murphy responds that he has a feeling he’ll meet Talon again, what with going to search for another mind-blowing treasure and all.
Suprisingly, Wagoner basically shrugs off this revelation, because it’s time for the next plot point: Hank Baines, the Nice FBI agent from Babylon Rising. Seems Hank’s wife and daughter have been coming to church, but not Hank, and his daughter has been in trouble with the law, and Wagoner wants Shari to “spend some time with her,” AND Wagoner wants to know what Michael Murphy thinks about all this, because Wagoner is apparently utterly incapable of making any decisions about his own parishioners without Murphy’s say-so.
And Murphy is all for it, because it’s not like Shari has her education or her job or two puppies to occupy her time. OR a “boyfriend” who has been talking to atheists.
As for Hank Baines, he gave his business card to Wagoner to give to Murphy.
Even though Hank doesn’t attend Wagoner’s church.
Because this is by far the most efficient means of contacting a professor at the local university, who no doubt has a page at that university’s website, complete with contact information.
I don’t know, and neither does Wagoner. All Baines told him was that he “was quite impressed with how you conducted yourself during the investigation.”
But we’ll have to wait to see what Baines wants, because next time, we’re going to catch up with Shane Barrington and The Seven.
They’ll stop at nothing!