Christmas Town: Chapter Seven, Part 2
Now that the Christmas decorations have been sold by
the evil Grinch Jordan, who just wants people to get paid, Joella has to deal with her little brat, who, needless to say, is not taking this well.
She puts up with his pouting all evening, but when she urges him to “talk to God” about his upsettedness (since he won’t talk to her), his response cuts her to the quick.
“God doesn’t care,” he said, so faintly she almost missed it.
Well. We can’t have that.
She couldn’t let skepticism take root in the heart of a seven-year-old child. She just couldn’t.
Um, why not? Nathan’s informed attribute is his intelligence and precociousness. Seems like skepticism would be right at home in the heart of such a seven-year-old.
Joella urges Nathan to go with the whole “love your enemies” thingie, and is thrown when Nathan turns it around on her (I know, shocker, right?) and asks her if she loves Jordan. Which, of course, she kinda does, even though she hates what he’s done and manipulates him and tried to keep from him the fact that half the town wanted to rip his lungs out even before the whole decorations debacle.
Jordan, meanwhile, is driving around the countryside, seriously considering just packing it up and dealing with the mess from his office in Atlanta.
But Dad!Uncle Billy is waiting for him back at the house, and seems to want a heart-to-heart.
“We really have put you in a pickle, haven’t we, son?”
OH GEEZ, DAD, DO YOU FUCKING THINK SO??? JUST COMING TO THIS CONCLUSION NOW, ARE WE?
Now, now, Ruby, don’t be so harsh. This could be a breakthrough. Maybe at least one of the Uncle Billys isn’t quite as criminally negligent as you thought…
“It’ll work out.” [Jordan said]
Hope brightened Mitchell’s face. “It will, won’t it?”
Well, scratch that. Actually, it will almost certainly work out better now, since the mill workers weren’t going to be paid for December before, but now that Jordan has (as Vermic so aptly put it) “tak[en] upon himself the blame, scorn, and punishment for the sins of others,” at least one crisis has been averted.
And hey, all it cost Jordan was his good name and the love and respect of a woman!
Jordan and Dad!Uncle Billy converse for several pages about Jordan’s mom, and how she loved running the mill and giving people a place to work, and I’m finding that hard to square against the fact that the whole place is failing and the workers have never had a decent wage and live in shitty little houses. Are we meant to assume that this is just The Way Things Are, or that the Uncle Billys ran the place into the ground and the low quality of life has only been a phenomenon of the last ten years?
I would have guessed the latter, but Jordan’s takeaway is Door #3: it is all his fault for not taking up the running of the mill himself.
Because I guess it is a huge sin not to want to take over the family business.
CURSE YOU, JORDAN, FOR WANTING TO LIVE YOUR OWN LIFE AND HAVE YOUR OWN CAREER! CURSE YOUUUUUUU!!!
And all this simply cements in Jordan’s mind that he has to finish this, and protect the Uncle Billys from the whole consequences-of-pissing-away-the-retirement-account thingie.