Christmas Town: Chapter Thirteen

The search for the brat: It’s on like Red Dawn.

The whole town and the squatters have turned out to help:

“He’s a fine boy and we’re not about to let anything happen to him.”

Hmmm…are you sure we’re thinking of the same Nathan?

Even Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Truman came out to make sure that the sheriff understood the importance of this small boy.

Um, what?  Oh yeah, if it was any other seven-year-old kid, it would be no big thing, but if it’s The Brat we’re talking about, the utterly useless (and in fact, criminally negligent) Uncle Billys are out there, throwing their weight around, making it harder for the sheriff to do his job.

Joella is sitting around in the middle of town, when I would have thought the most productive place for her to be would be her house, in case Nathan came home or anyone else brought him, but I guess no.

Venita and Jordan have been among the impromptu searchers.  Then Jordan gets back to Joella and she can’t doesn’t want to pray because…

“…it’s like I’m afraid to even say the words out loud, even to God.”

So Jordan, because HE IS THE BIGGEST SWEETIE ON THE PLANET, offers to pray for her.

I’m pretty sure that this qualifies as this story’s altar call, because immediately following the prayer (and I do mean IMMEDIATELY), Nathan is driven up in a nice car.

Well, that was…slightly anticlimactic.

***

What a chump.  That’s what everybod had to be thinking, Nathan told himself as he walked home, his mom on one side and Jordan on the other.  What a major league dope ol’ Nathan must be.

Wow.  For once, Nathan and I are united in opinion.

As all of you must have figured out, Nathan went to Charlotte to see his father.  He took a bus and all went well until he got to the city.

Guys that didn’t smell so hot gave him funny looks.  One followed him for a block, mumbling stuff Nathan couldn’t understand.

Well, I’m not a heartless atheist.

Okay, I’m not a completely heartless atheist.

Let it be written: Nathan is just a seven-year-old kid, and I feel really bad and scared for him here.

The kid finds the building where his father works, and (longish story short) his father chews him out.  It is actually unclear from context whether the dad is chewing Nathan out for showing up uninvited, interrupting his business meeting, running off without telling his mother, or a combination of all three.  In any event, the guy is a jerk for not calling Joella to tell her where the kid was.

(Yes, I know Joella wasn’t even at home to receive such a call.  I AM TRYING TO BE NICE.)

The worst of it, though, was that his own father had tickets for something called The Nutcracker and he refused to have his life disrupted by a youngster who needed more supervision than he was getting.

Well, you won’t see an argument from me that Nathan needs less supervision.

Also, this whole Nutcracker deal is strange and yet appears to go nowhere.  Why would a single man go to see The Nutcracker?  It makes it sound like Nathan’s dad is taking someone on a date, and I actually expected Nathan’s heart to be broken when he learned that his dad was taking Some Lady Not His Mom and Her Kids to the ballet for Christmas.

But no, we hear nothing more about The Nutcracker.  That was a weird detail.

Jordan is SUCH A DOLL and sticks around for awhile to make sure Joella is okay.  Thus he overhears the following as Joella puts Nathan to bed:

“He’s a real creep,” Nathan was mumbling.  “And he’s fat, too.  He wasn’t fat before, was he, Mom?”

Oh yeah, it’s one thing to abandon your kid for years on end and then, when he finally shows up, bawl him out and ship him off like an unwanted stray.  But then you had to go and gain weight.

Now we know he’s a bad guy!

Jordan smiled.  Maybe there was some justice in the world.

Yep, because there’s no greater punishment in the world than being fat.  Yanno, Jordan, with your plethora of food issues, I wouldn’t be so smug…

By the way, what is it with Christmas novels and fat characters being sneered at because of their weight?

Joella advises Nathan not to hate his father, because it will just make him “cold and sad inside“:

Jordan felt the weight of that insight.  That’s exactly what he’d been like, cold and sad inside because he’d allowed himself to hate the town.

Not to go all schoolyard or anything, but the town hated Jordan first.  I still have to call More Sinned Against Than Sinning on Jordan’s behalf.

He wondered if the way he felt now meant he was no longer that cold, sad person.  If it was true, if he’d changed, he owed it all to Joella and Nathan.

And to God, came a quiet voice in his head.

Jordan:  Hey, do you mind, God?  I’m trying to think, here!

Jordan gives Joella hugs and kissies and compliments her on how well she handles Nathan.  Like the best of Christian martyrs, she credits God with the parenting of Nathan: she just asks God for the “right words.”  (Note: RTCs in the Left Behind series are always asking for the Right Words!)

Jordan ponders this as he wanders home.  (Of course he didn’t spend the night, not even to just hold Joella and help her feel safe, not even sleeping on the couch.  Don’t be ridiculous.)

Maybe, if there was a God to help him, he could save this town.

Maybe, with that kind of help, he could even save himself from ending up like Nathan’s father.

FAT.

Jordan:  Dear God, with your help, I promise to eat only three frozen doughnuts for breakfast tomorrow morning, not six.

***

Oh, and lest you think that Joella is at all appreciative of Jordan’s help and comfort during the most frightening evening of her life…she’s not.

Like, at all.

She opens up to Claire:

“I’ve let myself fall in love with Jordan Scoville.”

“He’s rich.  He’s heartless.”

“You’ve seen what he’s done since he’s been here.”

“He’s going to bleed this town dry, then hotfoot it back to Atlanta and I’ll never see him again and Nathan’s going to be hurt all over again and…And it’s all my fault.”

That is all Joella, up there.  After all Jordan’s done, after how sweet he’s been, how supportive of her and generous with Nathan, she still distrusts him.

Isn’t love supposed to trust, Joella?  WTF?

Claire vaguely tries to talk Joella down (“you don’t know for sure what God has in mind, now, do you?“), but nothing doing.

***

Oh, and at the same time, Jordan’s amazing deal with the NFL is going through.  He now owns HUGE TRACTS OF LAND that will soon be filled with a stadium and all kinds of other shit that will make him so, so rich.

BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE

All I can say to Jordan is: run.  Run like the wind, Jordan.  Leave this hateful town in the dust, let the Uncle Billys face the music.  Go to Atlanta, enjoy your new business venture and your wealth, and hire a personal chef so you can enjoy all the fresh, delicious food you want, and never again have to live off Hungry Man and Lean Cuisine.

FLEEEEE!!!!!11!!1!!!

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Posted on December 23, 2012, in Books, Christmas, Christmas Town. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I like Jordan. I’m feeling sad now that he’s going to become an RTC, marry passive-aggressive Joella, and have to parent The Brat. This character does not deserve such a fate.

    In my mind he escapes being Stepfordized and runs off to fall in love with Meta-Chloe. Yeah, we’re going to cross universes here.

    • That’s no problem: after all, I’ve already matched up Isis Proserpina McDonald and Tom Douten in my head. 😀

      • Aww, can’t Isis have Jordan? He’s so sweet, and she’s so awesome!

        Tom’s an ok guy and all, but he is a little bit of a jerk. (Nothing compared to Noella, don’t get me wrong, but between his prejudices concerning academics and the petty office politics, I don’t see him as worthy enough for Dr. Isis.)

        • Oh, ooooookay. Jordan can have Isis (or Isis can have Jordan). 😉

          So, who does Chloe get?

          • There was a decent mini-fic – on Right Behind, I think – in which meta-Chloe and meta-Hattie got together.

        • I still vote for Jordan and Jae. Yes, Isis is more awesome, but she may be a bit too much of an awesome cool adventurer for our serious silent martyr Jordan. I can’t presume to speak for their mutual tastes, perhaps they would get along well (Isis will be pleasantly surprised with a man who tries to steal the blame instead of the credit), but that’s my estimate. Plus, Jae needs a replacement hubby way more than Isis.

          And for Isis? Eh… I don’t think we’ve treated any characters awesome enough to deserve her. The problem with RTC fiction is that any character allowed to do awesome enough things will be the author self-insert protagonist, and they are always douchebags.

          So I’ll let the evidence speak for itself and say that she got pissed at the end of book one. For her invaluable help in finding the tresure, Murphy only credited her for making it easy for him to acquire the resources from her employers. So when she heard there’d be a sequel by an even more patriachal author she found some weakwilled lookalike to assume her identity and went to look for a better work of fiction to live in.

  2. re: RTCs and fat. Going strictly off of Fred Clark’s site on patheos, my guess is that being overweight means you have no control over your fleshy desires (which is sinful so hey maybe those heathen Catholics got something halfway right with their list of the Deadly Seven), and it disrepects the temple that is your body, and in the case of women, you’ve let yourself go and that’s offensive to your man to whom you are to be subservient. But if you’re a preacher, it’s practically mandatory that you are obese. Because double-standards, what’s that?

    Ya know, Ruby, your summation of Nathan’s pov while looking for his dad did actually make me feel a little bad for him. Granted, it’s that exasperated, impatient sort of pity you feel when someone is miserable and it’s their own damn fault, but a little bad nonetheless. And it makes sense to me that Nathan isn’t going to harp about The Nutcracker because the tickets aren’t what’s important. What’s important is that his dad doesn’t want him around, and that his dad is fat now.

    A subtle altar-call. Interesting, and a pleasant change. Now to see if Jordan remains the most Christ-like person in this town or if taking on “beliefs” makes him the same kind of selfish, childish, judgmental person who inhabits this town.

    Forgive the author, Jordan. They know not what they do.

  3. Oh, I’m sure Nathan’s a perfectly fine boy. Relatively intact biology, standard-issue chromosomes for a young cis male, the usual. But he’s definitely a horrible person. Though I will agree, yes, that it’s a good thing nothing actually happened to him – if only because he’s already enough of a cancer trying to steal life away from the plot (such as it is).

    came a quiet voice in his head.

    And oh good heavens yes, run, Jordan! This plot is already giving you a schizophrenic break! Flee while you still can, to something better-written and less stressful, where people recognize you for the good person you are and don’t contribute to your food issues!

  4. Jordan deserves so much better than Joella and her brat and this pathetic town full of ungrateful jerks.

  5. We’re not going to let anything happen to him… because one more vanished kid round here and even the local cops are going to have to take an interest.

    Why do the Uncle Billys even know who Nathan is?

    Tickets, plural, also suggests a date.

    RTC preachers are perhaps stuck in the nineteenth-century and earlier version of body image (in the West), where being fat meant you had enough to eat and were therefore successful. Or maybe they’re just completely unable to control their fleshly desires (for which there’s a certain amount of evidence in other areas).

    I wonder if Isis does emergency psychiatric counselling for people who find themselves hearing voices at Christmas?

  6. I think we should pair up Jordan with Jae. They share their pre-christian martyr complex* but are otherwise good people. And Jae really needs the step up.

    *Which seems to be different from the post-christian martyrcomplex. The former manifests as over-eagerness to take up unreasonable burdens such as going to jail instead of the uncle you don’t like or putting up with Paul for years, finally leaving and then comming back before Paul even made a half-hearted apology or reconciliation attempt. The latter manifests as an over-eagerness to look for burdens, whether unreasonable, reasonable or wholy imagined, which you already suffer from and loudly decry how much they are making you suffer.

    “He’s a fine boy and we’re not about to let anything happen to him.”
    Look, those freeloading visitors don’t know the kid, you have to give them an accurate description.

    Even Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Truman came out to make sure that the sheriff understood the importance of this small boy.
    If a single seven year old white boy in a small town goes missing, I don’t think you need to impress the sheriff, unless he’s exceptionally lazy.

    That’s exactly what he’d been like, cold and sad inside because he’d allowed himself to hate the town.
    One, I never seen him express hatred for the town, he’s been trying to help the people in it even if he didn’t care much for the ornaments.
    Two, how was he cold and sad inside? He’s been spending his time trying to get the workers payed and his family out of prison.
    Three, how is that something “he’d been like”? That implies that he’s all warmed up, and I don’t see any of that. Yes, he’s been helping Nathan and Joella in recent days, but that’s not exactly out of character of his behavior early in the book, as stated in point 2. The only thing is that he’s inexplicably fallen in love with the manipulative woman who’s doing her best to despise him and can’t slip over a banana peel without wondering if Jordan deliberatly planted it there. Dude, I’m sure there’s someone nicer in Atlanta if you really wanted a date to become less cold and sad.
    It has been said before, but while this book isn’t nearly as spiteful as most of the works reviewed, the writer really seems to have no clue. For Jordan’s character development in the second half of the book he seems to have copied liberally from A Christmass Carol, while forgetting that it doesn’t make much sense if your protagonist wasn’t a cold-hearted bastard in the first half. Even Jenkins got that part right with Paul, although he completely botched his attempt to make Paul seem any better in the second half.

    • The authors really do have problems understanding the way stories work, don’t they? It’s like someone trying to complete an English term paper when zie has only read the Cliff’s Notes for the text. While drunk.

  7. Only the Clauses are allowed to be fat on Christmas, it’s like a copyright or something.

    I’m straight and even I kinda want Jordan as a boyfriend.

  8. Oh yeah, small note: I find the idea of god directly telling Jordan that his supposed improvements are due to him via a voice in his head rather narcistic of god, but I’ll gladly take that over Joella professing that everything good is thanks to god. I prefer the system where god gets credit for things if and only if he claims responsibility in person rather than via a nearby believer who claims you should thank his god for whatever good thing just happened.

  9. D: What the ever living fuck? Allow me to respond to Joella the awful.

    “He’s rich. He’s heartless.”

    Okay, I’ll grant you rich, but heartless? He’s trying to protect his uncles, he bought the town a Christmas tree, he’s been nothing but nice to you and your horrible brat of a son, and the problems the town is having are NOT HIS FAULT. A heartless person wouldn’t have so much as talked to you!

    “You’ve seen what he’s done since he’s been here.”

    Like let you guilt trip him, buy the town a Christmas tree, and generally seem genuinely unhappy that there’s nothing he can do to save the town?

    “He’s going to bleed this town dry, then hotfoot it back to Atlanta and I’ll never see him again and Nathan’s going to be hurt all over again and…And it’s all my fault.”

    Bleed the town dry? DUDE, the town is already beyond dry. There is nothing he can get out of the town. He’s madly trying to figure out how to fix things. WTF lady? Where are you getting bleed the town dry? The mill went bankrupt because of the incompetent people who were running it, why are you not mad at them. If Jordan is anything, he’s the fricking scapegoat. What is wrong with you!?

  10. Seems like going to prison would ruin his chances for an NFL deal.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, December 28th, 2012 « The Slacktiverse

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