Christmas Town: Chapter Twelve

Jordan and Joella go to the Christmas pageant.  The brat is playing a shepherd (and more on that), but Jordan is wracked with both physical and mental anguish—despite the daily praying, he has gone and lied and done some “creative bookkeeping” to show that losing the pension fund was his fault.  This, he believes, will keep the Uncle Billys out of jail…and himself in it.

Hmmm…leaving aside the lying, I have a few questions:

1.  How in the HELL does he expect anyone to believe this?  He’s been running his own business deals in Atlanta for years, with precisely no access to or interest in the pension fund.  I get that plenty of the townsfolk would probably like to think he’s guilty, because he’s the Big Bad Who’s Ruining Christmas Forever Just Because He Hates Jesus, but how is he going to convince lawyers and a judge, who presumably do not share the town’s prejudices?

2.  Has he prepared the Uncle Billys to lie for him?  Because his uncle, at least, can’t seem to remember anything of import from one moment to the next.  How does Jordan expect them to be able to collude on this?

3.  What about Venita?  We haven’t gotten into her head much, but we know she knows the truth—hell, she’s the one who broke the news to Jordan in the first place.  So does Jordan also expect her to help put him in jail, too?  I’m going to guess that’s not too likely—Venita seems like a pretty honest and forthright person, and she’s had a soft spot for Jordan since he was a kid.

The truth will out, Jordan.

But try telling that to his poor tummy and his food issues:

The fuzzy edges of his nightmares were coming into focus and he could barely stomach what he was seeing.  In the abstract, doing the right thing had a noble ring to it.  But in living, breathing color…

Jordan’s stomach took a nasty turn.

He had no choice.  He breathed deeply against the churning inside him.

Joella senses that he doesn’t feel well (OH, YA THINK, LADY???), and tries to talk him down.

“Be patient,” Joella said as they slipped into their seats near the front of the stage.

Yeah, right, you sanctimonious jerk.  I don’t think that the starchy prison fare will agree with Jordan’s constitution.

But despite Joella’s insistence that he pray, Jordan still doesn’t exactly share her vision of God.  In fact, he assumes that God is laughing at him and his upcoming “comeuppance.”

How can it be a comeuppance if the whole situation is not of his doing?  More like Jordan’s coming-self-frame-job.

Anyway, the Christmas pageant goes off without a hitch, except that Nathan is pissed at the entire planet because he had to play a shepherd instead of a Wise Man.

“You know they got Samantha Fletcher to carry the frankincense. A girl.”  He had clearly never been so outraged in his life.  “The Bible didn’t call them the Three Wise People, you know.”

Nathan groused all the way home…

OH MY GAWD, SHUT UP, YOU LITTLE BRAT.

If he whines to his mother and Jordan for that long, can you imagine how miserable he tried to make Samantha’s life in the weeks leading up to the pageant?  I can just imagine him, sticking his Bible under her nose and stabbing at the word “Men” again and again…

Kid’s got a bright future telling women that God wants them to submit to the headship of their husbands.  After all, IT SAYS SO IN TEH BIBLE.

…and Jordan marveled at the gentle way his mother both soothed him and reminded him that he wasn’t the center of everyone’s life.  “Maybe God wanted you to learn a little humility,” she suggested.

I’m calling too little, too late, Joella.  The kid is seven, and already thinks he is the smartest, bestest, most accomplished human on the planet.  AND that’s leaving aside the fact that he appears to have little to no empathy for anyone else—Jordan, his Sunday school teacher, any other kids.  Nathan, it seems, has NO friends.  The only kids he ever seems to hang with, Claire’s sons, he just “humors.”  Little punk.

After Nathan is in bed, Joella whines to Jordan about the kid.  Not that the boy is a spawn of Satan, but that he needs “plenty of books to read” (Hey, lady, ever hear of a PUBLIC LIBRARY???).  Jordan doesn’t tell Joella that he bought Nathan a bitchin’ computer for his very own, and is just trying to think of a way to give it to him that won’t seem (to Joella) like charity.

Meanwhile, Jordan has the sweetest-heartedest idea ever for the whole NFL thing.  He wants Venita to run the operation while he’s in prison, which will give her a fantastic job and help provide for the Uncle Billys.

Jordan rocks, and deserves so much better than Joella and especially NATHAN.  I just want to tell him that it is not his responsibility and he can’t save his stupid relatives by throwing himself on a sword.  And I want to give him some peppermint pills for his erstwhile digestion.

***

Later, Joella is wrapping presents while Claire takes the boys to a movie.  Venita solved the computer problem by telling Joella (I really did start to write Noella there!) that there’s a spare computer in the office that she wants Nathan to have.

But the box it was in looked so new.

Joella’s really not all that bright, is she?  Hmmm…the scatterbrained Uncle Billys can’t possibly be responsible for the retirement fund, and jeepers this computer that is supposed to be a leftover and comes from the secretary of the guy who expressed a desire to buy my kid a computer…looks new!!!

Things appear to be looking up for Joella in other ways besides a computer, too.  She found a job as a receptionist at a real estate firm in Spartanburg, and the owner of the company has already suggested to her that she could get her real estate license down the line.

But Joella is still all upset about Jordan.  Not, mind you, that she’s put it all together and is heartbroken that an innocent man might go to prison, but…

Wasn’t she making the same mistake all over again, trusting a man with a bankbook where his heart should have been?

We’re on chapter 12 out of 15.  I feel like at this point, Joella should either know all the facts, or have complete trust in the man she professes to love.

She takes a walk to clear her head, and it turns out that the townsfolk go all Whoville around the Christmas tree that Jordan bought every night, singing carols and handing out coffee.  (That’s right, make sure that no money changes hands around Christmas in this failing town!)

Jordan is inexplicably hanging out there, and Joella drags him into the carolling.  But the happy mood is dispelled after the singing is over, when Joella meets up with Claire and discovers that she thought that Nathan wasn’t going to the movies with them.

So the brat has been missing for hours.

A missing child?  In a Christmas story?

It cannot be!!!

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Posted on December 23, 2012, in Books, Christmas, Christmas Town. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. The little proto-patriach has gone missing on a cold winter evening? Hey, looks like god is already providing Jordan with a little Christmas miracle. Or providing the readers at any rate.

    I would like to add another point: Why is Jordan doing this? Near as I can tell he doesn’t particularly like his uncle. I could understand making an effort to keep him out of prison before, because he’s still family and for old time’s sake and all that. But going to prison yourself? Committing fraud just to make sure you’re the one who’s going to prison? That’s a bit much for a family member who’s only help thus far was a ‘Golly, we sure put you in a pickle here, huh? Well, sucks to be you nephew’. Seeing some actual self-sacrifice from a protagonist would be a nice change of pace on the reviewed works on this site (interestingly, our protagonist isn’t an RTC) but Jordan is seriously going overboard.

    By the way, if the mill is closing, office and all, couldn’t Jordan have given the brat an actual old computer? When you’re reduced to selling the Christmas ornaments to pay for wages, I don’t think a new computer for a not-spoiled-but-expects-to-be child is a bit frivolous.

  2. So the kid who, a few chapters back, wanted to go see his dad has disappeared shortly before Christmas. Gee. I wonder wherever he might have gone. It sure is a mystery. Yup, sure is.

    Joella senses that he doesn’t feel well (OH, YA THINK, LADY???), and tries to talk him down.

    “Be patient,” Joella said as they slipped into their seats near the front of the stage.

    Joella, you are the mother a child under the age of ten. If you don’t know by now that digestive upsets can demand full attention and immediate action, you are a bigger idiot than any of us have credited you thus far.

  3. I can readily believe that sufficiently lazy investigators would look at the situation, see the guy willing to take the fall, and not bother to look further. With a confession, there’s no need for it even to come to trial.

    But I agree with Ivan, we’ve seen nothing to suggest Jordan would have the motivation to do this. (Especially since he’s prepared to lie! Good thing he’s not an RTC yet, huh?)

    • I can readily believe that sufficiently lazy investigators would look at the situation, see the guy willing to take the fall, and not bother to look further.

      What I think would happen is that after the pension fund thing, whatever it is exactly, comes to light, an independent financial audit would be ordered (this would be needed in order to assess the damage done), whereupon both Jordan’s and the Billys’ skullduggery would be discovered, and they’d all go to prison.

      Jordan may wish to take the fall for his elders, but I see no legally plausible way he can really accomplish this — not unless he can somehow make it appear that the Billys have zero authority or oversight in the running of the company, and that’s something he can’t do by cooking the books further.

  4. Good gravy. So Jordan, who is *gasp!* unsaved, has through this whole book been doing his damnedest to keep these people solvent through Christmas, bought a giant tree for the town that hates him, bought a new computer with his own money for the most ungrateful child in fiction, is willing to sacrifice his future out of filial piety… What sinful ways does he need to be saved from?! He’s more Christ-like than any Christian in any work yet reviewed on this blog!

    Are we sure this isn’t some stealth satire parody that the publishers didn’t catch, and ended up letting through? Because the atheist is the only one in this who’s apparently a good person and not an idiot (though the pool of either of those two is very small to pick from here).

    • Yeah if this was set 2000 years earlier, Jordan would have hijacked the cross ment for his uncle and would be racing Jesus to the hilltop to see who can martyr himself the soonest.

    • Nerrin, I wonder if the point here is meant to be faith-not-works? Jordan is doing good stuff, but it’s the people with faith in God who get rewarded.

      • Yeah, I’m sure it really is that, but even so. It’s just… geez. Jordan manages to be a genuinely good person, more charitable and giving and loving than any of the Christians, and since we get him as a viewpoint character we can even see that it’s not a cynical ploy or anything, he just really is that good a person. When it’s this blatant then it almost seems like it’s set up to make people question the necessity of faith to be a truly godly person, especially since most of those who benefit are the very Christians who reject him. At least, it seems written to make people question it if they aren’t as dead inside as the proponents of faith-not-works seem to want everyone to be.

        • Just as “beware of false peacemakers” leads to “praise the warmongers” in Left Behind, faith-not-works leads to “anyone who actually tries to do something worthwhile is Not One Of Us”.

          And of course no RTC enterprise ever takes effort. That’s why you can work unpaid volunteers for twenty-hour shifts without feeling bad about it.

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

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