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.
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.