Christmas Town: Chapter Eight

The hits just keep on coming for Jordan.  The one day he decides not to have a frozen dinner for breakfast, and eat at the diner instead, the waitress brings him cold coffee and stale biscuits, in retaliation for Grinching the Christmas decorations.

That is so frakking professional of her, I can’t even tell you.  BOY YOU SURE SHOWED HIM, LADY.

Guess it’s back to the microwave…

Rat Kabob

Would it be awesome if this was real, OR WHAT?  (Pic from WoW Insider.)

Also, the post office refuses to serve Jordan.

SO FRIGGING PROFESSIONAL.

And the mechanic tells him he won’t be able to work on his car for two weeks.

Okay, dude, then I guess Jordan won’t be able to pay you for two weeks.  Or maybe he’ll decide to take his car out of town to be fixed.

WOW, THAT SURE SHOWED JORDAN.  AGAIN.

OR NOT.

And wow, what a bunch of kind-hearted Christians inhabit this little burg, eh?  You can really tell that Jesus is in their hearts.

Even Venita gives him shit when he gets to the office.  Though to be fair to Venita, she gives him shit not for selling the decorations, but for not telling Joella he was selling the decorations.

And to be fair to Jordan, he didn’t think the movers were coming for another week.

They actually have a nice little conversation, and Venita is the only person so far who shows one iota of sympathy for the mess Jordan has to clean up—a mess not at all of his own making.

But of course, nothing nice can ever last for Jordan, and the brat soon shows up to make things worse:

“You’re a rat.”

Jordan replies, “At least I’m not a hideous fucker.”

Okay, maybe he didn’t say that.  Instead, Jordan falls prey to the argumentum ad populum: since the whole town thinks he’s a rat, he must be a rat.

Poor Jordan.  I wish he could take some comfort in the fact that this will all be over in a week or two, and he’ll be able to move back to Atlanta and never have to see any of these people again, but I’m sure that won’t happen.

Jordan decides to humor the brat, and sits down with him for some advice.  Naturally, Nathan’s main wonderful idea is just to give the resort back the money and take back the decorations, so I guess he forgot that Jordan explained to him that it was something that had to be done for the good of the mill.

By the way, isn’t it funny how NOBODY in town seems to put two and two together: Hmmm, the mill is on bad shape, and all the Christmas decorations were just sold.

But no, I guess Jordan just decided to come to town and be an asshole.  Just because.  That’s surely the most logical explanation.

For a few days, Jordan manages to avoid Joella, which is actually okay because Joella is busy doing…absolutely nothing.  Her best friend, Claire, The Only Other Single Mother, already has a retail job lined up, and thinks the two women and their kids should be roommates and share childcare duties.  Sounds awesome, but…

She couldn’t imagine a little apartment complex where you lived elbow-to-elbow with strangers instead of people you’d known all your life.

LISTEN LADY…

/lived in apartment complexes for ten years

She was being silly and ungrateful.

Yeah.

She’d talked to God about her attitude every night for weeks, but so far she hadn’t had a change of heart.

Hmmm…

“I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”

– Susan B. Anthony

Joella goes to pick up the brat from his “job” for Jordan:

Joella supposed she should be concerned about the time her son was spending with the man who had betrayed them all so heartlessly.  But she wasn’t.

Because she knew Jordan wasn’t heartless, no matter what his actions implied.

Poor Jordan.  I wish he could catch a break with somebody, for something more than instincts and feelings that he might not be so bad.

Jordan is once again humoring the brat by giving him the kid’s version of his business conundrum:

“So some guy with a lot of money who used to be a big-shot quarterback is throwing his weight around at the NFL,” Nathan was saying.

WHAT SEVEN-YEAR-OLD CHILD TALKS LIKE THAT??? I WANT TO KNOW.

Nathan also has some sage advice for the grown man…

“…ask God to make the deal go through for you.  I’ll bet that rich old quarterback isn’t praying.”

Ha!  You don’t watch much football, do you, kid?

football

(Picture from Huffington Post.)

Anyway, Jordan proves himself completely snowed by the town’s extremely Christian hatred of him, and apologizes to Joella for SOMETHING THAT ISN’T EVEN HIS FAULT.

“I’m trying to figure out a way to make it up to…everybody.”

But it all works out because Jordan once again goes to sit in on choir practice than night, and THEY SHARE A LITTLE KISSY AFTERWARDS.

Bawwww…

Poor Jordan.

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Posted on December 18, 2012, in Books, Christmas, Christmas Town. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. This story needs fix-it fics. For every chapter. (Preferably written by someone who’s not me, sorry.)

  2. While it sucks to be Jordan again, and would be justified after this probably illegal treatment by the town’s small buisnesses to keep the money from the sales and take his family on a vacation to a tropical island with a poor extradition treaty to the US….

    I have to quote Yathzee’s review of Fable 3 on this one:
    “And what really gets to me is that your character never explains their decisions. ‘Horrors from beyond the veil of time and space are comming to eat us so shut up’ seems like a pretty good drawcard for a leader to have.”

    Yeah, Jordan wants to keep the vanished retirement fund secret so he can’t say that. But the lights are supposed to pay for the worker’s salaries, which is a different pot of money I’m pretty sure Joella wouldn’t suggest to pay the wages this month from the reteriment funds, even if that was legal.

    But still, Jordan’s having a rough week already, so here’s the next quote to support his position (or his position up to this chapter at any rate):
    “At one point you can either drain a lake to mine the valuable resources within to pay for everyone to not die. That’s the evil option. Or you can leave it because ‘it wooks pwetty’. Lady, unless the natural beauty is outstanding enough to flumox dimensional shamblers, we’re going with the option where we don’t get worn as hats by cosmic monstrosities.”

    • At this point, I’d help him pack.

      The townspeople are acting like he’s motivated out of greed, as if this is the typical plot where the mean and miserly Scrooge learns there’s more to life than money. Except that’s not what’s going on at all. And it’s not at all clear that the author realizes that’s not what she’s written.

      I’m beginning to think that lack of writing comprehension has struck yet again.

  3. This is all because he got rid of their Christmas decorations? Are these people five years old?
    Also, maybe there’s something I’m not getting here, but who exactly owned the Christmas decorations? Jordan had the authority to sell them, and the money is going to the mill workers’ salaries, which suggests that the mill owned the decorations, but weren’t they all over town, not just on the mill? I’ve never heard of a business plastering an entire town with expensive decorations with apparently nothing to gain from it. (On the other hand, maybe that’s why the mill is in such bad shape.) And the way people talked about the decorations, it kind of sounded to me like they were owned by the town.
    Make more sense, book!

    • From Ruby’s review of Chapter 1:
      Jordan also hates the whole Christmas Town thing, because he feels it’s too extravagent and…

      …it was bought and paid for by his parents, [not] a product of anybody’s real Christmas spirit.

      So yes, apparently the same family that doesn’t pay its workers minimum wage did pay for very expensive Christmas decorations to be spread all over town. I’d comment on it, but providing that the Scoville’s made it extremely public that it was their gift and gave a yearly interview of how the seculars are trying to ban their wonderful displays, the behavior pretty much what you’d expect from GOP supporters these days: Screw your employees, but spend big wads of cash to show how Christian you are.

  4. “That’s OK, kid. My god’s tougher than his god. All he’s got is what a man in a bad suit tells him on Sundays. I built mine myself, out of angle-iron and spite.”

    (Joella! The shameless hussy! No wonder she’s a single mother. Next they’ll be holding hands.)

    Ivan at 7.58, I agree – normally in poorly-written romances the “why don’t they just talk to each other” is just between the protagonists, but here it’s between Jordan and the whole town.

  5. This town can’t close down soon enough for me.

  6. I imagine the whole reason WHY the workers put up with the below-par housing and pay is precisely BECAUSE of the Christmas Town conceit. (And maybe the schooling is singularly high-quality despite the harrowing conditions?) That’s something they, and they alone, have. And it is GLORIOUS. The Way Things Have Been is just an acceptable price for the Christmas Town prestige. It’s THE lifeline…and Jordan, not recognizing this, is about to abolish it.

    It would make sense in a sufficiently hyper-Christian mindset. Don’t bother going for worldly riches and glory (e.g. noticeably on-par living conditions) when you already have heavenly riches. In this case, the Christmas decorations, being at least ostensibly in honor of the Christ, are the stand-ins for heavenly riches. And (allegedly) spiritually benighted Jordan is about to swap the heavenly riches for ephemeral physical riches.

    I’m calling it now. We’re going to find that it was Jordan’s mother who instituted the whole Christmas Town element, precisely to galvanize the denizens’ morale, with barely anything of trumpeting the Scovilles’ glory in her particular mind.

    • That element raises an additional point. If this is really Christmas Town ™, then Bethlehem ought to have a thriving tourist season this time every year, right? The economy needn’t rely only on the mill. In fact, keeping the decorations running ought to bring in more tourism dollars than selling them would.

      That is, assuming the townsfolk are 1) competently governed and 2) at all interested in sharing their Christmas-ness with the outside world. Maybe they feel their pretty lights are just for residents, and out-of-towners can go hang.

      • If the decorations are as dramatic and impressive as we’ve been led to believe, I’d almost think they’d have to go out of their way not to have a tourist trade because of them. Unless this little town has no neighbors and is not on the way to anywhere, preventing any word of it getting out.

        • I can see the whole tourist thing helping, but probably not being the entire solution. I know several towns near me that do beautiful light displays, but I can’t imagine they’re enough to sustain a town without other sources…and one of the displays is just spectacular. (Especially since “seeing the Christmas displays” tends to mean “let’s drive down Main Street, then maybe stop for a hot chocolate.”)

          I know of plenty of tourist towns that make their living in the summers–but a town where four months of tourism makes up for the other eight makes more sense to me than one month of tourism making up for the other eleven.

          • True, it wouldn’t be enough to make up for the mill (though I wouldn’t be surprised if that didn’t prove to be the magical god-given solution), but it seems odd that there’s no mention of it bringing in tourism. And it seems like a community _could_ build on an impressive Christmas display for more tourism and shopping and such – even potentially having a Christmas all year ’round type thing.

            But this is a very strange book, so who knows.

          • I wouldn’t expect the Christmas display to float the town’s economy year-round. But if it’s a revenue source to any degree, especially at this time of year, then it seems counterproductive to make it the first thing on the auction block. Perhaps instead, the mill could sell off some of its industrial machine assets? That would make better financial sense, at least.

            I realize it’s not heartrending for Cindy Lou Who to squeak, “Santa, why are you stealing our 80″ precision metal lathe with digital readout system, why?” But forced drama predicated on the characters acting like dopes, as seems to be the case in the book, isn’t an effective way to stir emotion either, so choose your poison.

            At any rate … even if the Christmas decorations aren’t a usual source of income, maybe somebody in town could have the idea to use them that way. In fiction, problems like this, where some beloved local hangout in danger, are frequently solved by having some character say “Let’s put on a show and earn enough money to save the orphanage/rec center/breakdancing academy!”

            The obvious resolution to Christmas Town is for Bethlehem to hang the decorations back up, put on the greatest Christmas festival ever, so that it gets on the news and people come from miles around with hearts filled with joy and wallets full of juicy tourist dollars. Then Jordan and Joella kiss under the tree, and congratulations, you’ve just written a good-feeling if moderately predictable holiday yarn, which is exactly what people want out of their Christmas literature. Books like these are a piece of cake, provided the author doesn’t get in the way.

          • I’m still betting on my two-step plan of 1: Lure in Christmas tourists and. 2: Show how poor the villagers are with their closing mill and isn’t the spirit of Christmas to help each other and give to the needy, i.e. to us.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, December 21st, 2012 « The Slacktiverse

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