Silenced: Chapter 4, Part 3: Need a Man in the House
As Paul and Ball Dangler discuss important, manly issues like sandwiches and how they are SO not bothered by rudeness, Jae is continuing her crisis of confidence back in Chicago. It is getting into the evening, and she is feeling like the long days when the kids are at school are never going to end, because she apparently has no friends, no hobbies, and no books she has been waiting to read or shows she would like to watch. Good damn, Jae, this is a gift. Your horrible, emotionally abusive husband is in freaking Europe and your kids are in school all day. I can think of approximately 7,612 things just off the top of my head that I could do with that kind of time on my hands.
To her credit, Jae considers both her father’s offer to work at the NPO in Washington, and the possibility of working locally. But all that is pushed aside in the face of her childrens’ request: they miss their father (why is a mystery) but also hope they can continue to see Straight while Paul is gone.
Jae thinks it’s a good idea–she wants Straight to get to know her better, and thinks that she either intimidates him (a likely scenario, given Jae’s education and Straight’s RTC-ianity) and/or that he thinks little of her, given that he saw how she and Paul fought when he was blinded.
But Jae likes and respects Straight:
He was wise; there was no question of that. And a servant. In Jae’s book, anyone who turned his own tragedy and handicap into something positive was worthy of a pedestal.
Yeah, apart from his obnoxious and controlling need to touch people who don’t want to be touched, he’s a peach!
“Jae’s book,” let’s remember, is the book of an atheist. I can only imagine that Jae is already thinking of Straight in rather Biblical terms (“a servant“) because she is already a proto-RTC in Jenkins’ mind.
Also, it’s no wonder that Jae so admires Straight for doing something positive with his life (as far as she knows) after losing his family and his foot. After all, Paul lost his sight and his hair and his career (or so it seemed at the time), and all he did was become even more of an abusive asshole than he already was.
As Jae mulls this over, the phone rings. It is one of this book’s true heroes, Berlitz, calling to beg her to come to Washington. Berlitz is a salesman, on the road Monday through Thursday, and wants Jae around so she can bond with Aryana. And he wants to spend more time with Brie and Connor, and Ranold and Margaret (their mom) are all excited about it, too. He’s actually kinda funny and adorable about the whole thing, as he paints the worst case scenario if Jae says no:
“I might start drinking more, being a worse husband—if that’s possible—neglect my ma, who is also your ma, you remember. I might not even keep trying to be the son Dad wants me to be. I’ll be a drunk, old orphan, divorced three times, and it’ll be all your fault. You could save me with this one little decision.”
At least he had made Jae laugh.
And I have a feeling that laughter is a rare thing in Jae’s life. Gorammit, why isn’t this book about the awesome adventures of Berlitz, the awesome atheist travelling salesman? He makes a hella better protagonist than Paul.