ItSo…C: Chapter 8

Jesse has taken yet another afternoon off (in the middle of a very busy day at the tree farm, but oh well).

Then he’d spent hours in the courthouse and on the telephone, leaking out bits of himself to strangers in exchange for information about his stepfather.

Dude.  PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR.  Get you one.

One conversation had given him the name of a backwoods lawyer who’d been around eighteen years ago.  A lawyer with a drinking problem who’d been known to do “buddy deals.”

Damn.  As depizan notes, this story is rife with drunks.  Drunk stepfather and drunk lawyer engage in drunken deal, after which drunk driver kills the hero’s wife.

Preacher Cliff whatever-his-name-was” (this is how Jesse thinks of him!) arrives at Jesse’s home, seeking help with the church’s Christmas display.  (Jesse has a background in electricity.)  No, I don’t think Cliff is planning on compensating non-church-member Jesse for his assistance in any way.

But Jesse keeps his eyes on the prize.  Two guys who are also trying (unsuccessfully) to work the lights are there.  One of them might have known Drunk Lawyer.  The other guy, Mick…

…wasn’t one of those preachy kind of Christians who didn’t know how to get his hands dirty.  And their common interest in horses might someday lead to friendship.  He’d need a friend when he regained the land that Lindsey now called home.

Yeah, as I’ve mentioned before, I think Jesse is kidding himself if he thinks having one or two pals in town will get him any appreciative amount of goodwill when he righteously kicks a church member out of her home.  Especially a single young woman who lives there all alone.

So, Jesse heads over to hang some tinsel and further his nefarious scheme:

He was surprised to find himself here, at a church.  Not that he didn’t believe in God, but part of him wondered if God believed in him.

At least Linda Goodnight isn’t giving herself the near-impossible task of convincing us that an actual atheist, an true nonbeliever, could be turned simply by experiencing the Magic of the Season (TM).

The older man indeed turns out to be a chatterbox and font of information:

“Lindsey thought a lot of her Grandma and Grandpa Mitchell.” [Jesse flipped the main breaker to the off position.

“Mitchell?”  Clarence stared up at him, puzzled for a moment.  “You mean Baker, not Mitchell.  Mitchell was the other side of the family.  I never knew them.”

Wait a sec…

No wonder [Jesse had] had such a hard time finding data.  He’d been looking under the wrong name.

WAIT.  So Jesse has been playing amateur detective all this time, and it never occurred to him that people have two sets of grandparents???

Jesse, honey?  This task is quite clearly well beyond your limitations.  This is the point when you really, really need to get professionals involved.  Professionals who realize that members of the same family do not all have the same name.

Jesse also thinks about how his stepfather “had never owned the farm,” but I still don’t see why not.

Old Chatterbox keeps right on going, talking about Lindsey and how awesome she is.  (Danger, danger, Jesse Slater!  Do not screw over someone so beloved by this tiny insular town!  You are no Mitch Bright!  You do not have the skills necessary for such a task!)

Old Chatterbox engages in some old-fashioned Christian gossip, helpfully filling in Jesse on matters that are the business of neither of them, regarding Lindsey’s broken heart.

Turns out Lindsey’s former fiancé knocked up another girl while Lindsey was “away making money for the wedding.”

Thanks for sharing, Old Dude.  I’m sure Lindsey will be fine with you gossiping about this very sensitive matter with her own employee.

But it’s okay, since Lindsey “has the Lord.”  Old guy muses:

“I don’t know how folks that don’t know the Lord get by when hard times come.”

Meh, I’m fine, thanks for asking.  Actually, when hard times come to me, it helps to know that no god is standing idly by, doing nothing while I struggle.  But that’s just me.

In the dim recesses of his mind, the thought occurs to Jesse that Lindsey is once again going to be hurt by a man she trusts.

Oh well.

***

Two days later, and turns out Jesse fixed the lights for the church.

Oh, it’s true.  It’s damn true.  (That Pastor Kurt Angle didn’t pay Jesse for the work.)

And Lindsey has a very realistic moment: she thinks that between Jesse’s thoughts about his dead wife and about God, there’s too much between them for there to be romance.  Thus, the closer she feels to him, the sadder she gets.

Ralph V day

Jesse notices how sad Lindsey is and tries to cheer her up with thoughts of expansion and gift shops and stuff.  He mentions “a Website for the farm and using the Internet for free marketing.”  Aww, the early aughts.

Of course, these ideas take on quite the level of cruelty when you consider that Jesse anticipates having the farm in his own hands by next year.  He sortakinda admits this, though he doesn’t think the word “cruel”:

That’s the way it had to be.  Justice would be served.  He’d have his home…and his revenge.

“Yeah!  That’ll show my evil, drunken stepfather…who has apparently disappeared off the face of the earth or is dead—SHUT UP!”

Oh, and it turns out that in the two days since he learned that people have more than two grandparents, Jesse…

…had easily found the information he needed…the crooked lawyer had done the deal.

Now that a clerk knew he was searching for Lindsey’s farm records, it was only a matter of time before word leaked out and Lindsey knew his intent.

Ha!  I love that Jesse assumes that the entire town will be gossiping about this before the week is out.  Considering his conversation with Old Chatterbox, this is hardly an unreasonable thought.

Jesse, man, you are just not up to this task.  Sorry.

I’m also sorry because I look forward to Wintermas as a time when we see likeable heroes (even if the authors did not intend them that way).  Mitch Bright, Jordan Scoville, even pre-conversion Tim Douten.  But…Jesse is kinda dumb and a jerk.  Sigh.  I guess they can’t all be winners.

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Posted on December 15, 2013, in Books, Christmas, In the Spirit of...Christmas. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. But all he needed was the address to find to record of the sale! Surely he had that from the beginning And I still want to know how people are managing to sell property that isn’t theirs. Is Jesse just going to flat out turn out to be wrong? Because right now, that makes the most sense. Especially now that we’ve got this whole incoherent revenge business.

    Honestly, Jesse is beginning to seem…off. The mistake about the grandparents, not grasping that Lindsey’s friends and fellow church members might be upset by his plans, this idea that he’s getting revenge by reclaiming the supposedly stolen farm… these seem like ways a child would think, not ways an adult would think.

    And we’ve completely passed plausibility on the number of drunks in this story. I guess a side message is supposed to be that alcohol is responsible for all bad things.

    • True that. There was absolutely no reason for Jesse to have to work on Lindsey’s farm to find out about any of this. Even if he somehow needed to know the names of the owners who bought it, he could’ve just asked around. If anyone asked him why he wanted to know, all he’d have to say is that he used to live here and is wonders who lived in his old home, which is all true.

      Like Jesse’s increasingly unrealistic character, him working at the farm for a bit is an artificial construct to make this story play out like the author wanted it too. He needs some time to fall in love with Lindsey to get to our eventual happy ending.

  2. Eh, if this is town is as small as I think it is, I think it’s highly likely that Lindsey will hear about this. What I find strange it that no one seems to have recognized Jesse. He’s been gone for what, two decades? There ought to be plenty of people who remember him as a kid. Even if he looks different, he’s not using a false name as far as I can tell, that ought to be enough.

    But yeah, by the same token he should’ve realized by now that the rest of the town won’t let him get away with this no matter how much he kisses their asses in these few months. Maybe if Lindsey was disliked by everyone they wouldn’t care if he kicks her out or not. But as it stands, helping with one barbeque and one set of Chirstmas lights won’t be enough to stop the entire church from breaking out the torches and pitchforks once he takes over the farm.

    • If the town really is small then stepdad would have to have offered some explanation for what happened to Jesse after his mom died. Really, unless his mom and stepdad and he interacted with no one (including the school district), there should’ve been questions about his disappearance. Unless stepdad sold the farm, moved elsewhere, and then kicked Jesse out.

      But even then, yeah, shouldn’t there be people who’d recognize his name? Eighteen years in a city is one thing, and, no, not everyone in small town America remembers people from eighteen years ago, but… I know people in/from small town America who talk about people from a hell of a lot longer ago than that.

  3. Strikes me as the sort of town where The Stranger will be the only topic of conversation for about six months, because he’s the only new thing that’s happened in those months.

  4. >>>Actually, when hard times come to me, it helps to know that no god is standing idly by, doing nothing while I struggle. But that’s just me.

    No, not just you. Me too.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, December 21st, 2013 | The Slacktiverse

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