Shadowed: Chapter 32: Taking Care of the Ladies
Before we begin: I was thinking about Cletus’s suicide, and if memory serves*, Cletus makes the third Jenkins character to commit suicide. The first was Rayford Steele’s co-pilot, Chris Smith, in Left Behind. The second was Jim Hickman in The Mark.
*I haven’t read the entire Jenkins oeuvre, so it’s perfectly possible there are others.
All three men, obviously, were non-Christians. And all three committed suicide after the deaths of people they cared about. Chris’s little boys were Raptured and his wife killed in an accident immediately thereafter; Jim inadvertently got a friend and coworker killed by Nicolae Carpathia.
Perhaps Jenkins is growing as a writer. This is, after all, the first time we have seen any kind of emotional reaction to a suicide, beyond a “meh, sucks to be him.” I mean, Cletus is still roasting forever in Hell, of course, but at least Felicia is a bit put out by the whole situation.
Anyway, speaking of an emotional reaction to a death, Paul is having one. Or at least, it’s as emotional as he is capable of being. He talks to Jae for the first time in five chapters:
“I was thrilled with what God did in Los Angeles.”
Wait a sec. I know you were celebrating that, but isn’t it now supposed to be a bad thing that is all Bia’s fault?
“He proved Himself, made me feel proud to be on the winning side.”
Being on the winning side is a HUGE deal for RTCs, make no mistake. I hear Christian radio preachers talk about it not infrequently, and Tsion ben-JewishGuy brings it up in his internet messages to the world:
“I would not want to be [in the Tribulation world] without knowing God was with me, that I was on the side of good rather than evil, and that in the end, we win.”
“I can’t say I felt the same about the slaying of all the firstborns. I reacted the way most of the surviving victims did. Rocked. Devastated.”
And of course, it all comes down to Paul’s precious feelings:
“Look what’s happening to my friends, my colleagues, even to new believers. Can I in good conscience point them to God when this is the kind of result they can expect?”
Jae, bless her heart, reminds him that, oh yeah, she is a new believer, and has suffered her share of difficulties, what with the dead brother and dead mother and children in hiding and all. Paul doesn’t so much blow her off as simply ignore her silly, womany whining, instead choosing to focus on Bia.
Jae tries again:
“I’m getting cabin fever,” she said. “I know that sounds minor, compared with everything else, but—”
“Yeah, it does.”
Oh, screw you, Paul. Get over your obsession with other people’s fountains before you criticize others for minor things.
And hey, it’s not like I’m any great fan of Jae’s right now, but it isn’t such a petty thing that she has cabin fever. She’s lost her brother and mother and is on the run, so it actually makes perfect sense to be driven closer to the edge by the fact that…there is nowhere to run.
But Jae actually tries to get involved in doing something for others, suggesting that both Bia and Felicia simply come underground with them. Of course, since the Zealoteers have inexplicably decided to keep the news of the Most Anticipated Raid in History a secret, Jae doesn’t know that they’ll have to change lodgings soon.
And Paul immediately spills the beans. Jae, shockingly enough, takes the news in stride, simply assuming they’ll go the
Michigan Heartland salt mines.
But again, what it all really comes down to is Paul’s feelings:
…for the first time in his life, Paul let his guard down and allowed himself to be vulnerable in front of his wife. He told Jae how worried he was that he—always lauded for his ability to maintain high-level confidentiality—had now told her two things he shouldn’t have. [The first thing was that Ranold was going to Bern as interim NPO chief, though why that was a secret is beyond me.]
So Paul’s big confession of vulnerability is all because he’s not living up to his own standards of manliness. It’s not, for example, that he’s terrified for the safety of his wife and children. Such thoughts as those seem not even to have crossed his mind. Nope, it’s all about his self-image.
Also, is keeping high-level information a secret really something that people are lauded for? I always kinda assumed that it was something that was just expected of people like FBI agents and undercover cops and military intelligence personnel. Hell, I’ve had jobs in the past where I wasn’t allowed to talk about certain things. Nobody ever “lauded” me for keeping the information under wraps…it was just assumed that if something is part of your job, you do it. Weird.
And Jae actually says in so many words “Get your mind off yourself and onto these women.”
Wow. Seriously, wow.
She kinda leaves the whole Bia issue for Paul to deal with, and as for Felicia, Jae simply suggests that they get her in touch with Straight. I wonder if Straight will respect Felicia’s personal space as much as he did Paul’s.
As for Bia…
Paul himself met Bia Balaam at one of the secret entrances to the underground but didn’t even let her put her bag down. “We have no one else inside NPO USSA,” he said.
Well, except for Felicia and Hector and Trudy and apparently the not-insignificant number of others who have been hiding out right in the heart of the NPO for years while Paul played his little spy games.
Anyway, Bia immediately agrees to head back into the enemy camp, and persuade Ranold that she is on his side as the assassin of Ball Dangler.
Btw, so she showed up at the underground with a bag, fully intending to disappear forever. Looks like Jenkins really did forget that he created Bia a grown daughter who is probably as grief-stricken and scared all the other atheists right now. Because nobody has so much as mentioned Leya in this book.
And, over a cell phone conversation, Bia does indeed manage to put Ranold’s mind at ease. After all, he wants to make her his Dark Mistress.