ItSo…C: Chapter 10 and Chapter 11

After the Christmas play, Jesse, Lindsey, and Jade go out on what is essentially a date: dinner at the local “Dairy Cup,” complete with romantic music from the jukebox (Jade’s pick).  Lindsey feels sparks, and Jesse talks about Christmas Town Winding Stair:

 “The place grows on you, that’s for sure.” [said Jesse]

“Sure would be a great place to raise a kid—in your house—DAMMIT, SHUT UP!  STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!”

She wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but at least he hadn’t criticized her beloved town.  Small, provincial and backwoods it might be, but Winding Stair took care of its own.

A fact Jesse might want to keep right in the front of his mind.  Small, insular, and backwards it might be, but they take care of their own church members when they’re not gossiping about them behind their backs.

***

The very next day, Jesse combines a delivery trip with another piece of his plot: he tracks down the crooked (and, of course, drunk) lawyer.  This should be interesting.  Finally, an explanation for all this!

Jesse handed over the form his stepfather had signed, making the sale of Jesse’s farm valid.

“Eighteen years ago my mother died, leaving her parents’ farm to me.  My stepfather, Les Finch, somehow managed to sell the place, claiming ownership.”

“What’s that got to do with me?” [asked Drunken Lawyer]

“Someone smarter about legal and business affairs than Les had to do the paperwork.”

“I want you to tell the truth.  Confess that you helped Les Finch figure out a way to forge my mother’s name to forms that gave him ownership.”

“Whoa now, boy.  You’re accusing me of a crime.”

The old hypocrite.  He had committed a crime, probably more than one.

Um, okay.  I guess.  I’m sorry, I’m still having a hard time with this.  I know we’re supposed to trust Jesse that he’s telling the truth, and hate the evil lawyer, who is obviously lying because he’s an alcoholic, but–

Where were the damn cops?  Where was child services?  This happened in 1987, not 1887.

For that matter, where was Jesse?  I get that as a teenager, he was relatively powerless, but why not try to get back his farm two years ago or six years ago?  Did he not want his home for Erin?  For Jade when she was a baby?  Why not fight for his “right” before now?

Indeed, Drunken Lawyer seems to legit not remember the transaction.

Jesse just barely manages to avoid hitting the guy:

“Listen, old man, Les Finch stole everything I owned, moved me off to an unfamiliar city, and then tossed me out like a stray dog when I was barely fifteen.  Scared, alone, heartbroken, hungry.  Do you know what that’s like?” He slammed his fists together.  “That’s never going to happen to my little girl.  Never.”

The more Jesse talks, the less sense he makes.  I don’t see how moving to another city had anything to do with anything about selling the farm.  Was it really worth so much that Les could afford to go to a whole other town, then illegally sell the farm (and I still don’t see any evidence that the sale was illegal), then toss the kid out?

If Jesse knew the house was his, why didn’t he tell someone?  I know he was just a kid, but he was apparently savvy enough to know the house was his.  Did his mother tell him it was, accurately or not?  How did his mother die, anyway?  Did she have a will?  If not, why would her signature have to be forged, as Jesse alleges?  Was the signature forged?  I’m sorry, but I just don’t have enough evidence to even be on Jesse’s side yet.

SO MANY QUESTIONS

It all ends with Drunken Lawyer promising to contact Jesse if he remembers any details of the transaction.  (After all, it has been eighteen years, which again raises the point: why did Jesse wait so long to settle this?)

And Jesse heads off to actually do his job and deliver the Christmas trees, and he convinces the guy to think about getting all the trees for his lot from Lindsey.  Jesse is just pleased as punch about this, until he gets back into his truck and remembers that by next year, he’ll have thrown Lindsey out on her ass.

Memory of a goldfish, this one.

***

A few days later, Jesse suggests that the three of them take nighttime wagon ride, for no reason at all, which is terribly romantic and sweet and everything, and they have a little kissy after Jade falls asleep.  Then, things take a turn for a different type of seriousness, as they talk about Jade.  Turns out Jade has been asking lots of questions about her own mother and death.  Although Lindsey kindly keeps from Jade the secret of the Christmas Curse under which she was born, she puts the child’s mind at ease regarding death (because Erin is now living in God’s house, natch).

They’re also making a memory book together, which is quite sweet, but when does Lindsey get all this free time with Jade but without Jesse?  Aren’t they running a tree farm together?

Jesse has yet more guilt pangs…

He cared about her.

…but not enough to stop his plans.

He cared a lot and didn’t want ever to see her hurt.  And hurting her would be the ultimate end of their relationship.

OH GEE, DO YOU FRAKKING THINK SO, GENIUS???

Memory of a goldfish, brain of one, too.

randers regnskov fishy grunge gif

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Posted on December 18, 2013, in Books, Christmas, In the Spirit of...Christmas. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. “Small, provincial and backwoods it might be, but Winding Stair took care of its own”

    Except for Jesse when he was fourteen. (Or fifteen. It was fourteen in chapter one, but I suppose consistency is too much to ask for.)

    And no part of this is making any sense whatsoever. You’ve found the Fern Michaels of Christian romance. Congratulations! 😀

    • “Small, provincial and backwoods it might be, but Winding Stair took care of its own”

      I’ve been reading too much Lovecraftian stuff lately. This sounds like a set-up for an Innsmouth-style reveal about the dark secret of the small town and the unsettling look the denizens start to develop as they grow older. Too bad Oklahoma doesn’t have the coast for a good Deep One interbreeding colony… maybe something to do with the Mi-Go instead, since it’s in some mountains?

    • Well, apparently Evil Stepdad took him to some city before throwing him out? So he had to rely on city homeless shelters rather than small-town Christian Charity, which would obviously have been far superior.

      Also, I’m now really rooting for the farm sale to have been totally legal, and for the lawyer’s involvement to have been completely above-board. The image of a romantic hero storming into a baffled lawyer’s office and throwing around accusations of a crime the lawyer’s never heard of before just amuses me.

  2. I was thinking more the supposed dirty dealing with the farm – no one seems to have been around to make sure things went at they should have, which you might expect if it’s really the sort of place that looks after it’s own. Then again, the dirty dealing may be all in Jesse’s head.

  3. And there’s still not a single main character I like. In most Christian fiction, I can at least root for the “villain” when the “heroes” are utter assholes. In this book, Lindsey and Jesse are both so stupid that I’m not sure which one is supposed to be the good guy, let alone which one to root for.

  4. At the start of the story, it made some sense that Jesse’s plan was to kick whomever was living on the farm out, and that he didn’t consider peaceful coexisting with the new owner. Sure, we know that this is a romance novel and that that’s how things would work out in the end, but Jesse shouldn’t know that.

    But why hasn’t it crossed his mind by now? Jesse Goldfish doesn’t seem to be kissing and wooing Lindsey as part of his plan. He really does love her. He belatedly laments that stealing her house (back?) will probably put a damper on their relationship. (You know how women are, steal their property in revenge for a crime that someone else committed (maybe) without her knowledge, and they get all angry at you.) So dump this convoluted and ridiculous plan already, and get your kid a home at the farm by shacking up with Lindsey.

    There have been many stories where the main character was forced to choose between realizing his ambition or friendship/love. And it’s far from rare for the characters to unexpectedly get the former anyway after correctly choosing the latter. But in this case, it’s blindingly obvious that Jesse can get both by choosing the latter.

  5. I don’t see how moving to another city had anything to do with anything about selling the farm. Was it really worth so much that Les could afford to go to a whole other town, then illegally sell the farm (and I still don’t see any evidence that the sale was illegal), then toss the kid out?

    Didn’t Jesse’s stepfather move out after he’d sold the farm? Which presumably would have been after his mother died. She could have left a will that gave everything to Jesse, the stepfather found it, destroyed or hid it, then used the drunk lawyer to help him claim ownership (though how the lawyer committed a crime by accepting the stepfather’s claim in the absence of a will isn’t clear),
    Maybe Jesse somehow found a copy years later, which would explain why he didn’t come back to claim ‘his’ farm for so long – although that raises the question of why he didn’t make his way back as soon as he could, anyway. After all, it was the place where he was raised and supposedly a town that “looks after its own”!

    • Yeah, why hasn’t anyone in the town said “Slater… hmmm…. hey, aren’t you that Jesse Slater who used to live here?”

      • Exactly. 18 years is not so very long. Now, it’s set up so that Jesse and Lindsey were never in town at the same time, but surely some of her friends at the I’d Enjoy Going to the Wienie Roast Very Much would remember him. Heck, I went to a pretty big school, but I’m pretty sure I’d remember many names of classmates, especially if they were the right age and The New Person in Town.

        • In some communities, people only tend to hang out with their own age group, so it would approach being understandable. But churches don’t seem to be like that at all! (At least not in my experience of them, but I’ve never been in an RTC church…)

    • That’s pretty much how I interpreted event. I think Ruby is being too hard on the author here. Given the utter implausibility of everything that comes from Jenkins & LaHaye, this particular scheme isn’t that bad. If Jesse moves in with Lindsay its still her land. I can kind of see why that wouldn’t be enough to satisfy him, but I don’t see how everyone is going to get what they want without somebody being disappointed.

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

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