Silenced: Chapter 1, Part 2: The Decenti Heirs
Quick note: I am still trying to figure out Jenkins’ anagram for Ranold B. Decenti. I am so sick of anagrams!
Jae ponders all the changes that have taken place in Paul over the past few months. And Jenkins takes the opportunity to muse on how wives should treat their
worldly masters husbands.
Jae still didn’t know what to make of the new Paul. She was grateful, no question. They had not raised their voices to each other in weeks.
But this trip, he was truly deferential, helpful, kind, as he had been since their return from California.
That’s a strange way to phrase their narrow escape from death by dehydration. The death that thousands of other human beings suffered. And we all know why Paul was in such a good mood at that time—he was celebrating.
Even so, this passage hardly seems a description of a happy and healthy marriage. Paul may not be yelling at Jae anymore, but their relationship seems to have died down into that of two people politely tolerating each other. Again, the question arises: why didn’t Jae divorce Paul years ago? She has a supportive family, an advanced degree that could make it very easy for her to earn a comfortable living, and this is a world of secular humanists, and we know how little they value marriage, right?
But no, they’re still together. And here are the money quotes:
It wasn’t that any weakness revealed itself. He wasn’t throwing aside his maleness. He was being a different kind of man, not too big to keep an eye on the kids, help with the luggage, take charge by serving her, doing for her.
Here that, husbands? Don’t just charge ahead in the airport, keeping fifty paces ahead of your family while the little woman hauls the suitcases off the belt and nurses a baby at the same time. TAKE CHARGE by serving her. Because…wait, isn’t some of that luggage his, too? Has Paul really lived his whole marriage making Jae do everything?
She recalled many times having stood waiting, giving him an expectant stare as if silently demanding to know whether he was going to shoulder his part of the load or let her do everything. It was no wonder he seemed to do it begrudgingly. But now she didn’t have to wait or wonder, and thus there was no need for the look.
See, husbands??? Just treat your little lady like a human being, and she won’t be a nagging harpy! At least not openly or out loud!
There was a request for more on Berlitz Decenti, and as it happens, he and Jae have a conversation. Of course, the conversation is about Paul, the most important human on the planet:
“Hey, Berl,” [Jae] said. “You guys solve all the problems of the world already?”
“Ah,” [Berlitz] said. “You know Dad. I am one of the problems of the world. Always comparin’ me to Paul. Paul this and Paul that.”
Jae knitted her brow. “He did that with Paul there?”
“Not in so many words. C’mon. You know how he is. Oozing disgust for the no-account son.”
“That must’ve made Paul terribly uncomfortable.”
“Paul? What about me? I was the target. Paul is the model.”
That’s a damn fine point, Berlitz. I get that Jae feels she needs to be loyal and sympathetic to Paul, but Paul’s not even there. It’s just the two of you—show some sympathy for your brother who loves you.
The conversation continues, with Berl expressing his liking for Paul (he clearly doesn’t know him well), and Jae expressing liking for Aryana.
And then this odd little aside, after Berl stumbles drunkenly off to bed:
…[Jae] had to chuckle at her own brother’s name. It was her father’s mother’s maiden name, but still…to lay that on an unsuspecting son and expect him to deal with it his whole life. Well, it spoke volumes about her father.
It’s probably just my heathenishness coming out, but I think Berlitz is a kinda cool name. Beats the hell outta “Ranold,” anyway.
Both Paul and Jae have (separately) mused on the stupidity of Berlitz’s name, which is weird for a few reasons:
“Jae” isn’t exactly the most common name in the world, either. I imagine that Jae has spent a lot of time explaining to people that she is not “Jane.”
Paul has the opposite problem: a very common name. Paul was probably “Paul S.” in school.
Of course, if Jerry Jenkins was serious about having timely names for his characters, we’d be reading about Jayden S., the underground zealot.
Berlitz was born around 2007, Paul and Jae around 2010. Ranold and his wife, Margaret, are presumably of my generation: born between the Gen-Xers and the Millenials, around 1980. (Note: I have never met a Margaret my own age. There were, however, always many Pauls in my classes.)
All this to say that Paul and Jae need to frack off: most have a problem with their name.
After Jae pities Berlitz (in her head) for his name, Paul comes to bed and pities Berlitz (out loud) for not being able to measure up to Ranold’s expectations.
“Couldn’t you encourage him, Paul?” [Jae asked]
Why didn’t you encourage him, Jae? HE WAS RIGHT THERE TEN MINUTES AGO.
“I could try. I don’t want to offend him though. He’s older than I am, you know.”
Who was this sensitive, new man? Jae loved him.
Oh Jae, you poor sap.
Also, Berlitz is, like, three years older than Paul. With both men in their late thirties to early forties, does a few years really make so much difference? It’s not like they’re 12 and 15 years old. RTCs are so weird when it comes to age.
We cut forward to the day poor, chubby Charlotte met her end, this time from Paul’s perspective, watching it in his Chicago National Peace Organization office, after New Year’s. Paul has just finished verbally sparring with his “tall, black, and direct” secretary, Felicia, last seen debating “King Day” with Paul in Soon.
Anyway, a Norwegian guy names Styr Magnor has taken credit for the bombing, on behalf of “the millions of underground believers throughout Europe, brothers and sisters to the oppressed in the USSA, and followers of the one true God who had judged the wicked of Los Angeles.”
Paul has to act like he is as outraged as everyone else in the room, even though he doubts Magnor is really Christian underground. Because since when have Christians ever harmed anyone? (Los Angeles, of course, doesn’t count. God did that, not the Christians, so even though they prayed for it, they are totally blameless. Totally. Just keep celebrating, Paul.)
So, now we know that Paul’s globetrotting adventures will take him to London! It’s so sad that the NPO, wanting only to stop this terrorist, thinks having Paul out there will help at all.