TSoA: Chapter 21, Part 2: Squaring the Circle

First of all, my readers rock.  You guys came up with fantastic theories about circles and squares and Morehead City.

Needless to say, your ideas were all far more excellent than the actual “clue.”

To be fair, I now realize that maybe I wasn’t entirely and completely accurate in the last post when I said that Murphy’s internal Wikipedia entry had nothing to do with anything:

Then Murphy remembered that Morehead City had a section known as the Promised Land.  It was settled by refugees from the whaling communities on Shackleford Banks.

The Promised Land!  [Methuselah’s] clue must have something to do with the Old Testament.

Oh gee, DO YOU FRACKING THINK SO, MURPHY???  That’s one hell of an insight, given that you are currently obsessed with finding Noah’s ark, which is in the Old Testament, and Meth just told you that he was going to give you some help with THAT VERY SCHEME.

I mean, Jesus, Murphy, did you think the clue would have something to do with The Great Gatsby?

Having burned out both his brain cells with this astonishing idea, Murphy arrives at yet another abandoned warehouse.  A round abandoned warehouse.

In the middle of the empty warehouse is a boxing ring, which Murphy assumes (correctly, no doubt, because he’s the hero) was used for illegal fights.

There’s an envelope in the middle of the ring, and Murphy finds that the envelope contains a picture of an angel.

Murphy needs to “ponder its meaning” while I, a lifelong atheist, knew what was coming.

I thought RTCs were into reading the whole Bible and taking it seriously, no?  And Murphy doesn’t get it yet?

Well, he should get it pretty quick, because some huge dude enters the ring and begins wrestling (or rasslin’, if you will) with Murphy, while Meth cackles from an undisclosed location.





The huge guy gorilla press slams Murphy…

…thus marking the only point in the series that I wish I was there and had a camera.  I’d watch the scene again and again and again…

So, Murph is a martial-arts “expert” (heh), up against this dude he estimates as weighing 350 pounds (ZOMG, YOU GUYS!  More LaJenkinsian obsession with weight!), so he reaches into his bag ‘o tricks and pulls out…

Drunken boxing.

Turns out Murphy was taught drunken boxing by an actual Chinese guy while on a dig outside Shanghai, because China is where all the best Biblical archaeologists go to find artifacts.

“When you go out, get very drunk, you don’t know how you get home.  You keep falling down, bump into lampposts, walls, everything.  But when you wake up next day, everything fine!  No broken bones!  Maybe just a bad headache.  This is the secret of the drunken man,” Li had told him.

“Then you throw up, sit for hours in dark room clutching head, then have to call all friends on phone and apologize for night before.  This how all Chinese people talk!”

“I’m afraid I don’t drink anything stronger than root beer,” Murphy had responded.  “So I’ll just have to take your word for it.”

My Gawd, but Murphy is a smug bastard.

So, Murph goes all loosey-goosey.  I know just how it would look because I’ve played a lot of Jade Empire:

The big guy tries to run Murphy down like a fucking freight train, and Murph responds by ducking and kicking the guy in the back of the head, just like a man would who had been drinking.

Not that Murphy would ever, EVER drink the Demon Liquor.

The kick sends the huge guy flying out of the ring, knocking him out, and Murphy beats cheeks.  He who ducks and runs away, lives to rassle another day.

Good thing he only got slammed once, because Murphy needs all his brainpower to figure out Methuselah’s clue, which is of almost Agatha Christie-ish perplexity.

He started to go over every detail in him mind.  The Promised Land.  So they were talking Old Testament.


Then what?  Of course—the sketch.  An angel with outspread wings.  Okay, an old testament angel.  That didn’t narrow it down much.

So what else did he know?

Not much, by the looks of it.

He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel in frustration.

Yanno, I’d ask Murphy if he’d like me to draw him a picture at this point, but METHUSELAH ALREADY DREW HIM ONE!!!

That was it!  Of course!  The wrestling match.  Who’d wrestled with an angel in the Old Testament?


And what did Jacob have to do with Noah’s ark?  Murphy’s mind was in high gear now.


I’m sorry, Murphy, but it doesn’t help to be in high gear when your car is out of gas.

But Jacob and Noah’s ark can only mean one thing, right?

The Monastery of St. Jacob!

And needing to do some actual work means only one thing for Murphy, right?

Time to call Isis!

So, Isis takes her traumatized and endangered ass back to D.C. and the National Archives and Library of Congress, and has an answer for Murphy LATER THAT DAY.

Isis, you deserve so much better!  RUN!!!  Run while you still can!

But the big piece of info she finds is that some explorer from the 1830s claims that he was taken to a SUPER SEKRIT SQUIRREL ROOM of Noah’s ark artifacts, some of which were sent to Erzurum.

So, that was Meth’s plan all along!  Send Murphy a FedEx card directing him to a town where he would get his ass kicked and get a card with an angel on it, so that he would call his sorta-girlfriend to do research for him, to lead him to a different town in Turkey where some Noah’s ark shit may or may not be, depending on how much you believe the second-hand tale of a nineteenth-century traveler.

Makes sense to me!


Posted on November 3, 2012, in Books, The Secret on Ararat, Twas the Night Before. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. A round warehouse? Really? Sounds very stupid. And very false. According to the actual wiki entry, Promise Land is the are between 10th and 15th street, on the mainland. A quick look at the googlemaps satelite image shows no round warehouses, and nothing round except an octogonal building that, by it’s size, looks nothing like a warehouse. If there is a ‘boxing ring’ in the building, why not pick a square warehouse and call it a circle since it’s called a boxing ring?

    And about that Erzurum information: Didn’t Murphy hold a lecture with a list of all the totally real Ark sightings a few chapters ago? If Isis dug up the info about Erzurum in a secular institution, shouldn’t Murphy have known it already?

    But I guess actually studying and looking things up gets into the way of manly things like learning martial arts from racial stereotypes.

  2. I must say, I would never have guessed this riddle on my own, coming from such a non-Christian background. America must really be saturated with Christian imagery for a story like that to be familiar with a life-long atheist. I even read this novel before, and the Biblical parts made no sense to me and are the first moments I forgot about.

    I can actually think of reasons for Biblical archeologists to be in China; Michael might subscribe to the belief that the lost tribes of Israel wandered to the Far East, settling as far as China and Japan. Very few scholars take this ideas seriously though, although there is a small Jewish community in China and it’s debated when they arrived there.

  3. Methuselah’s thoughts: “what? He turned my random nonsense into an actual CLUE? Guys, this isn’t funny any more. He’s taking it seriously. Also hallucinating angelic wrestlers.”

  4. Here’s a cooler thing near Morehead City – a type VIIC German U-boat, sunk in 1942, in 100 feet of water about twenty miles off the coast. Now wouldn’t that be a neat thing for an adventurous fellow to explore?

    But no, it’s just a warehouse that could be anywhere.

  5. …A square boxing ring in a round warehouse? That’s the answer? That’s…

    No, sorry, no. That doesn’t work. I could see some sort of play on how boxing “rings” are square, or something, but the round warehouse makes it clear that that’s not the idea. So did he just look through every round thing in the city? Carefully picking up and discarding everything vaguely square-ish? This is so ridiculous.

    • Also probably because “squared circle” can mean a wrestling ring.

      Which raises the question of what the point was of having the action take place in a circular building…

  6. Is it ever explained why Methuselah has to make a trail of clues for Murphy to follow, instead of just giving him the exact location of that book’s MacGuffin?
    This reminds me of the scavenger hunts I used to make up for my little sister, but more expensive and with even stupider clues.

    • No, it’s not explained. Neither is it expained why Methuselah doesn’t just keep all these artifacts himself and thus gain credit for their discoveries himself. Or, frankly, how Methuselah obtains these artifacts in the first place. . . . perhaps Methuselah likes making Murphy dance like the monkey he is?

      Oh, Isis. You are too good for this author’s universe. And you will be missed.

      • Speaking of Isis, her Stepfordization is behind schedule. We’re halfway through the book and she’s still the most levelheaded and competent character in the book, including here where she does the actual intelectual work while Murphy practices drunken style without being drunk then running the hell away.

        • I’m placing a side bet now that, even after she’s been cored and her central nervous system replaced by a WorshipBot, she will still be the most levelheaded and competent character in the book.

        • No bet. The bar for that accomplishment is set so low our lazy ass Murphy wouldn’t have the patience required to dig it up.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Is it ever explained why Methuselah has to make a trail of clues for Murphy to follow, instead of just giving him the exact location of that book’s MacGuffin?

      Besides an author jacking off with “See How Clever I Am?”

  7. “It doesn’t make sense unless God set it all up! That proves God exists!”
    “But it doesn’t make sense even if God did set it up.”
    “Well, you need faith in God’s plan…”

  8. Did LeHaye really have the drunken boxing instructor speak in horrible broken English like that? *sigh*

    And drunken boxing? Really? Where did this come from? Or did they suddenly discover that it would be cool? This is like in my grade-school SF writing where I had the protagonist suddenly somehow become master of an alien martial art merely because it was convenient to the plot. –Oh, right.

    Also… I’m shocked (SHOCKED!) that LeHaye would of course remember Jacob-who-wreslted-with-the-Angel == Israel (Wrestles-With-God) and yet think it perfectly fine to use that name as a clue to a church named after a Christian saint. Tim LeHaye: Appropriating cultures inappropriately for twenty years..

    Though to be honest, seeing Chyna — or, really, anyone — gorilla-slam Murphy would be a pay-per-view that would make me actually consider getting a cable subscription for.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      This is like in my grade-school SF writing where I had the protagonist suddenly somehow become master of an alien martial art merely because it was convenient to the plot. –Oh, right.

      This whole thing just reads like bad fanfic.
      Really bad fanfic.
      What’s next, “I Clop Twilight Sparkle by Wesley Crusher”?

      (Though the squared circle with the big goon could have been something. However, the Author Self Insert can NEVER have his/her/its ass kicked.)

      • Murphy’s story isn’t too interesting so far, but I really want to learn more about this nameless goon. Where did he come from, how he met Methuselah, why he works for him and what sort of briefing he received about this assignment. Or was he too lured here by vague riddles, not knowing what to expect? Is he a local hire or did Methuselah pay for his plane ticket?

        What does Goon get from all this? What is his situation at home that he feels the need to take on such bizarre side jobs? Maybe he has a sick kid and can’t afford to ask questions. Does he ever reflect on the strange roads his career has brought him down since leaving Goon School?

        • I love it. Indeed, this is an interesting question to ask of many Goons who fight for evil groups… But Methuselah doesn’t want him to take over the earth or make lots of money. He wants him to, what, wrestle with some schmuck in a warehouse for a bit, because Murphy is so stupid he literally needed to be hit on the head with the ‘wresteling’-clue. So, what were this guy’s orders and motivation?

          Far more interesting stuff than advice on how to handle your rebelious daughter.

        • Who says it has to be a paid goon? Maybe it’s a drinking buddy of Methuselah who’s heard enough stories about this Joshua Jordan guy that he’s willing to try and kick his ass for the sheer pleasure of it. Yeah, he ended up getting his head kicked, but since Jordan used drunken boxing, Methuselah-free-association-logic means Gorilla Press won’t have to buy his own beer for a while.

  9. Methuselah used to write adventure games for Sierra, didn’t he?

    • Hah, not even he could be so cruel. I’m fairly certain that the Greek pantheon contracts Nora Roberts to devise the punishments of Hades. 😛

  10. ummmmm wow, just just no. both to the fractured logic of the “clue” and to the usage of drunken boxing. Its not to make so you don’t feel the blows, its so your more unpredictable and thus harder to block and hit. of and a circular warehouse, really? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised with this answer considering the author

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