Monthly Archives: April 2015

Shadowed: Chapter 20, Part 2: This Is It

So it’s come to this: me, sitting here, enjoying my usual post-Easter 75% off chocolate cross.

I suppose, if I wanted to attempt some sort of depth, I could muse about the similarities: I don’t understand why anyone who holds a cross sacred would eat it when rendered in chocolate, and I don’t understand why the chacaters in these books are heroes of the faith.

Especially this particluar character: the Operating Room Man.

I mentioned that this was the one bit that stuck out to me.  In a series of books full of horrific, sociopathic assholes that might, once in awhile, make even Rayford Steele blush, this guy.

This Guy…

My mouth dropped open when I first heard what this guy was doing.  It was the audio version, and I was in my car, and I had parked and was listening for a good stopping place before I got out.  Surely, I thought, surely this character was meant to be wrong.  Surely Straight would be appalled, would set him straight (har) that this was not the way of a Real True Christian.

But it is.  It is.

And they just jump right into it!  (Well, they jump into after their stupid game of skullphone tag, and after they’re sitting down in the hospital cafeteria.)

“We need to trust each other,” [Dr. Gregory Graybill, The Operating Room Man] said.
“Do we?” Straight said.  “Why is that?”
“Because I know you are a believer.”
“You know nothing of the sort,” Straight said.  “You risk your freedom and your life by even talking like this, so I urge you to tread carefully.”

Is it just me, or is this a real departure from Straight’s usual speaking patterns?  Hell, he suddenly sounds like he’s got a bit part on Game of Thrones.

“The time is long past for that,” Dr. Graybill said.  “If it makes you feel more secure, I’ll declare myself first.  I am a believer.  I work with like-minded physicians to determine who’s with us and who isn’t.  When the enemy is under our care, we slow them a bit.”

At this point, one might think, he’s not saying what I think he’s saying, is he?

He is.

“You slow them?”
“We do not violate the Hippocratic oath, but let’s say it takes these people longer to get back to work than some others.”

This doctor, this DOCTOR makes sure his patients are atheists, and then doesn’t treat them properly so that they are slow to get back to their lives.  And he’s a friggin’ SURGEON.  Can you even imagine how much people must think he sucks, with the vast, vast majority of his patients being “slowed.”

This just freaks me out to no end.  We all have our horrors that are truly, personally horrifying, and for me, it’s malicious doctors.  I’m sure a psychologist could have a field day with that, but I’m betting it might have something to do with the fact that I’ve had one or two significant encounters with life-threatening injuries in my life, and had nothing but excellent doctors.  But the idea of my orthopedic surgeon “slowing” me for the crime of being an atheist, making my mobility maybe 10% or 20% less than it is…

I was also under the care of an “operating room man” as a week-old infant…and the only daughter of an atheist.

I’m sure, under the tender ministrations of Dr. Gregory Graybill, such a baby would be fine, though.  Just fine.

Straight shuddered.

And at that moment, when I was listening to this for the first time, I was sure I knew what was coming: Straight was realizing that this Graybill asshole was No True Christian, because a True Christian would never withhold medical care for the crime of being an atheist in a world where religion has been outlawed.

Is this what The Incident had accomplished?  It made the underground reckless?

That is what concerns Straight.  Not that a whole group of doctors has been denying proper medical care to 99% of their patients, but that now one of these doctors was actually fessing up to being a believer.

And to top it all off, not only does Dr. Murderous Graybill want to continue his campaign of “slowing” the helpless men, women, and children on his operating table, he wants to let Straight in on the fun!

“You know before we do whom we’re dealing with.”

As a former hospital volunteer myself, I highly doubt that, but whatever.

“I’m guessing you have a better handle on who’s who, whom we should target for, shall we say, more deliberate care.”

Target for more deliberate care.  He is a monster.

I mean, I really hate to Godwin up a post, but Dr. Gregory Graybill’s “deliberate care” would fit in just fine here.

And lest we think Straight is some kind of paragon of humanity…he jumps right in.  With the caveat that he is still quite interested in saving his own skin, and doesn’t quite yet entirely trust The Operating Room Man:

“If you get news about an incoming patient or two, you can breathe easier and act accordingly.  If, instead, you are arrested, you’ll know how grievously you have misread me.”

Won’t it be wonderful when the Christians win this war? Then they can show the atheists what true love and compassion are.

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Chapter 20, Part 1: Terribly Sorry

Back at Felicia’s house, she and Cletus head to bed.  And despite waking every hour to make sure Cletus hasn’t committed suicide or something else inconvenient like that, Felicia feels “rested” the next morning.  As you do when you’re a Christian and your kid is roasting in Hell forever:

“My heart aches.  I’m scared.  And yet I have a deep peace.  I can’t explain it.”

Nor can I, other than to simply conclude that Felicia is a monster who doesn’t give a fig about her own kid.

Cletus is still alive the next morning, which is apparently all she expects.  Oh, and he thinks she’s crazy for feeling peaceful at a time like this, so we can see that Cletus is definitely the rational person in this marriage.  For the time being, at least, since I can only assume Cletus will turn, too.  (I honestly don’t remember and haven’t peeked ahead to see.)

Bizarrely, Felicia heads right back into work in the morning.  Even more bizarrely…

She had talked Cletus into calling in sick, trying to get some rest, and planning to get back to his teaching and coaching within a week.  Felicia had sensed in him a flicker of life.  All she wanted was that he somehow distract himself from his loss.

Huh?  Okay, logistics out of the way first: we are told that it is Thursday morning now, and that the slaughter took place Tuesday evening.  So either Jenkins counted one too many nights, or I counted one too many, because I was convinced that it was Friday at least.

Also, why haven’t all the schools been closed, at least for the remainder of the week?  You’d think with so many students, parents, teachers, and staff dead, and almost everyone else in mourning for probably multiple people, it would only make sense to close.

But if the schools are open, why would Felicia think the most productive thing would be for Cletus to stay home?  Cletus teaches middle school students.  Vulnerable, sensitive, right-on-the-cusp-of-puberty students who are in the throes of massive grief.  If anything could help “distract him from his loss,” you’d think it would be helping out kids.

When Felicia gets to work, she finds that Harriet Johns has been appointed to replace the murdered Bob Koontz.  Harriet left L.A. and went to San Francisco after the dessication, and just now got posted to Chicago.

Harriet came off alright back in Soon, notwithstanding that she’s a hellbound atheist.  Here, though, Jenkins just can’t help himself: the female of the species in a position of power is inevitably a heartless shrew.

“I might have thought you would be on time every day,” Ms. Johns began, “this soon after The Incident.”

Felicia had just hung up her coat and was fewer than twenty minutes behind schedule.

“Forgive me,” she said.  “My husband and I lost a son.”

“You have my sympathies, but of course you know that we in positions of trust must separate our personal and professional lives, and that you are hardly alone in your grief.”

Well, what else can you expect from a professional atheist lady, amirite?

(Although it’s kinda funny that Jenkins wants us to dislike Harriet for wanting people to be at work, when Felicia has been voluntarily working late the past two days since her son died.)

Anyway, Harriet goes on to question Felicia about how much she knows about Paul and his whereabouts.  Good little insta-RTC that she is, Felicia is now an expert in the Jenkinsian art of fudging answers to direct questions:

“You remain loyal to Agent Stepola?” [Harriet asked]

“I remain an employee of the National Peace Organization.” [Felicia “answered”]

“And if you hear from Agent Stepola?”

“I will do the right thing.”

“Very good.  And have you heard from him?”

“If I had, I would have done the right thing.”

“Excellent.”

Of course, with decades of service in the NPO, Harriet isn’t suspicious of such evasive answers at all.

***

Meanwhile, in another stupid conversation not far away, Ball Dangler has contacted Ranold.  Ranold assumes he is in line for a promotion, and I have to say, it’s not an unnatural assumption, given the thinning of the atheist ranks around the world, but Dangler, of course, is only interested in the most important person in the entire whole world: Paul Stepola.

Ranold offers to just give Dangler Paul’s skull phone number, but far be it from a Jenkins character to take the simple and efficient route to anything:

“General, please.  I think we both know he is not likely to accept a call originating from Bern.”

Well, maybe.  Except for Jenkins forgetting that in previous scenes, he established skull phones don’t have any kind of caller ID…

Ranold tells Dangler this, and though I’m sure Jenkins means it to be a lie, it has enough of the truth in it for me to think it simply how Ranold is rationalizing things in his own mind:

“You know he brainwashed my daughter into murdering my wife.”

“Terribly sorry to hear that.”

That just sounds like the lamest response ever, I’m sorry.  Especially since Ranold jumps right in with condolences for Dangler’s own son.

Changing the subject back from dead family members to much more important matters (Paul), Dangler has the balls (or the idiocy, whichever) to say that Paul tried to warn him about the coming slaughter.

Speaking of balls, it takes a lot of them to retcon your own story like that, since Paul did the crappiest “warning” job in the history of mankind.

Needless to say, Ranold is pissed.  And who can blame him?  He is still trying to fight against this horrific mass murderer, and everyone around him is throwing in the towel.  Has to be upsetting.

Still, it is terribly important to remember that Ranold is the bad guy.  Because he’s an atheist who doesn’t like Paul and stuff.

Next time, back to Straight and “the operating room man.”

Shadowed: Chapter 19: Ranold Sucks

Okay, I don’t think Ranold sucks, obviously.  I think Ranold is basically the hero of the story, being the only person so far who has a rational reaction to finding out there is a vicious, mass-murdering god up there: resolve to fight him no matter what.  But Jerry Jenkins for sure thinks Ranold sucks, and his entire purpose in Chapter 19 is to tell us that.  He especially feels the need to remind us of Ranold’s suckitude, since we haven’t even seen him since Chapter 5, when he was dealing with the few moments right after both his son and wife died.

Oh, and for those who are keeping an eye out for references to Ranold’s shocking weight (which honestly sounds to me like he’s just a strapping guy with a big build), we have this:

…he shaved and showered and dressed in a suit tailored for his massive frame.

I’m pretty sure that Ranold’s weight and/or eating habits are referenced every single time he makes an appearance.  But we’ll see as we go along.

And references to Ranold’s weight always make me spare a thought for poor Charlotte, currently having her chubby ass roasted for all eternity in Hell for the crime of being raised in Atheistopia.

But the real point of this chapter isn’t Ranold’s humongous girth, but his heartless attitude towards his loved ones.  He takes care of Berlitz and Margaret’s bodies, and considers it not a tragedy if they don’t get buried in the near future, seeing as how millions upon millions have died in the past three days.

And he looks back on Margaret and Berlitz with realism: he thinks Margaret was “boring.”

This is, of course, completely in contrast to Our Hero, Paul, who…okay, he also thought Margaret was boring.

So you can see how much more awful Ranold is than Paul.

And Ranold considers Berlitz a “loser,” what with his multiple marriages and non-military career, while Paul…okay, he didn’t specifically use the word “loser,” but he certainly seemed to think little enough of the brother-in-law…little enough that it didn’t even occur to him to warn said BIL about the coming slaughter.

Jenkins also drops in, rather out of nowhere, that Ranold had repeatedly cheated on Margaret.

Just like Paul, except for how Paul had a change of heart and abjectly apologized and begged Jae to take him back—

Oh wait.  Paul never did apologize to Jae for his decade of affairs.

I know I keep asking this question, but why do people like this even get married in Atheistopia?  Jenkins could have had so much fun showing the evil atheists and their evil ways, like the lives of never-married, serially-monogamous.  In fact, wouldn’t it have reinforced the point that evil atheists don’t give a crap about “traditional” marriage, and are just in pursuit of our own ever-changing desires?

Hell, Ranold himself admits that he “could pay for the services [Margaret] rendered, in the home and in the bedroom.”  So why would such a man as this even bother to get married?  (I’m sure Jenkins would never watch the work of such a nonbeliever, but Joss Whedon of course explored the idea of a world in which someone wealthy and powerful like Ranold could, legally and without shame, hire the services of a respected prostitute.)

All that to say, as usual: I don’t get Jenkins worldbuilding.

And the hits just keep on coming: after several days of basically humoring Aryana in her grief, he blows her off entirely, even telling her to her face (well, over the phone, skull or otherwise) that he never bothered caring about her, since she was Berlitz’s third wife and he figured she’d go the way of the other two.

This actually is in contrast to Jae, who liked Aryana and thought her Berl’s best choice for a wife.  Though Jae made that assessment and built that relationship back when she was an atheist, and hasn’t spared a single sympathetic thought for her grieving sister-in-law since coming to Jesus all the way.

It’s funny to consider that Berlitz and Aryana, people whom everyone else saw as silly at best, had the happiest and healthiest marriage of just about anyone we’ve seen in this entire series.  (With the possible exception of Enzo and Maura Fabrizio in the last book, though I have to deduct points because he is a murderer, and she badgered him into faith.)  But Berlitz and Aryana, unlike Ranold and Margaret or Paul and Jae, seemed genuinely love each other and (gasp! choke!) enjoy each other’s company.

Talk about you “traditional” marriages.

Anyway, Ranold continues his reign of awfulness by being rude to his driver, insisting that the man carry his bag from house to car and not just sit in the car and honk for Ranold to come.  Which, honestly, I rather prefer, it being a more direct approach, to Christian Paul’s smug condescension and lecturing to those he perceives as “under” him.

And…that’s it.  A chapter to remind us that Jenkins doesn’t care for his designated bad guy.

Oh well.  I guess it’s only fair, since we’ve spent three books cataloguing how much his designated good guys sucks.