Silenced: Chapter 9: Rome Believers
At exactly the moment that Straight is avoiding Jae’s very straightforward (HA!) questions about the Bible, Paul is also trying to reach Straight to talk about meeting up with the Rome underground.
…he reached only Straight’s answering device.
What, his answering device embedded in his skull, like the phone itself? Whatever, man.
Straight whines at Paul when they finally talk:
“Paul, between babysitting you and Jae, I’m getting precious little of my own work done. Good thing I’m not on salary. I’d have been fired today.”
“Yeah, Paul, that three-minute conversation with Jae left me with almost no time to harass patients!”
And because Straight has no respect for personal boundaries, and because he’s posing as Jae’s friend while spying on her for Paul, he reveals that Jae has been reading Acts.
“I should have left the Gospels there for her. That’s where she should start.”
That is just hilarious. At this point, I will recommend one of the first “anti-apologetics” books I ever read, Ken’s Guide to the Bible. One point he makes is that the Gospels, which basically are the Bible to many American Christians, comprise only a small fraction of the Bible. (In my New International Verson, the Gospels are just under 10% of the pages.)
Yeah, the book doesn’t really get good until page 550 or so.
To give Straight just a bit of credit, he calls Paul on this silliness, though nobody called Tsion ben-JewishGuy on it when he created his “guide” to reading the Bible in the Left Behind series, and poor Hannah Palemoon did it “wrong.”
“Yeah, you’re right, Paul. I think Jae is too much for God to deal with. Probably hopeless.”
“All right, Straight.”
Heh, I see Paul’s patience with Straight is wearing thin, too. I’d feel bad for him, having to interact with this jerk all the time, but they sooo deserve each other.
It seems that the Rome underground doesn’t trust Paul, since Death has a habit of following him around. They’re also arguing amongst themselves over Magnor, and whether he’s “one of them” or not. Paul and Straight both think “not.”
“You want a guy on our side who kills innocents? I don’t. That’s not of God. Even in L.A., God struck down the opposition. His own were spared. We lost brothers and sisters in the Bio Park there [sic], and also in Paris and London.”
So, there you have it. The children and the poor and the hospital patients in L.A., they weren’t innocent. They weren’t God’s “own,” so it’s absolutely okay, good in fact, that they died horribly. Their deaths should be celebrated as the miracle they were. It’s only when Christians die (and go right to Heaven), that there’s a problem.
It really is shocking, sometimes, how the RTC mind works. These little passages, spoken by our heroes, characters we are supposed to take at their word, really shed a lot of light on things.
They kvetch about Rome some more, then hang up (so to speak). Paul stands around and feels sorry for himself. He feels “fatigue,” since he’s had a long day of sifting through the horrific remains of a terrorist attack…
Oh, wait. That wasn’t him at all. Never mind.
Then Straight calls him back, and it’s worth noting that the skullphones have no caller ID. That is, Paul doesn’t know who’s calling until he answers the phone. So really, the skullphones are less useful than our current cellphones. Especially for Paul, living his super-secret “double life.”
Anyway, Straight has heard from a friend of a friend of a friend the very specific instructions for Paul to go meet with the Rome underground. Because you always want to get your important spy information fourth-hand through skullphones with no called ID.
Paul is supposed to go sit at the gorgeous Trevi Fountain. In the middle of the night. In the rain and cold (it’s still January, remember). And two guys from the Rome underground (of course they’re both men; don’t be silly) will meet him.
“They’re giving us only first names. A big, bald guy named Baldassare and a small, thin man with a limp. Calls himself Calvino. You much of a linguist, Paul?”
“What do I look like, Straight, some kind of international secret agent or something?”
“Baldassare’s the bald guy, making his name easy to remember, but Calvino means ‘bald,’ and he’s not.”
“Just like my nickname is Straight, and I’m–uh, never mind.”
So Paul sneaks out of the hotel like a sneaksy Hobbit, wearing…
…a plastic coverall that would protect him, including his head.
Because he might melt, otherwise.
He didn’t like the smell or the confining nature of it…
…because now it was harder to do cartwheels. Also, Paul, I thought you liked your clothes stinky.
Paul steps in a few puddles and is pissed off about it, because secret agents are noted for their low frustration tolerance when in deep cover.
He was going to be in a mood when he met Baldy and Limpy.
He was going to be in a mood when he met Baldy and Limpy.
WHAT WHAT WHAT???
This is a sentence that actually exists. From OUR HERO.
And, indeed, Paul is in a mood. (Though one could argue that everyone is in a mood all the time, good or bad.) He is in such a mood that five pages are spent on the encounter between Paul and Baldy and Limpy. As these two men, untrained in espionage, just secret believers trying to keep themselves and their compatriots alive, fumble their way through signals and friskings, Paul sighs and rolls his eyes and inwardly sneers and outwardly condescends and just generally makes himself the biggest ass on the planet.
All this from a secret agent who doesn’t even speak a second language.
FINALLY, the three are picked up in a car by the head of the Rome underground, Enzo Fabrizio. Paul is immediately impressed because the windows are tinted and the lights don’t go on when the door opens.
Also, presumably, because Enzo has a driver. So we know he’s not some lowly peon who has to drive his own car.
Enzo is all smiles and handshakes and apologies. This all, of course, was Not His Fault, but the fault of the “faithless, untrusting, and rude” underground believers who didn’t immediately trust Paul with their lives, sight unseen. The bastards.
So, we know Enzo is to be trusted, because he trusts Paul. He doesn’t even say anything about the smell of Paul’s coverall, because he’s that kind of guy.