Shadowed: Chapter 33: Restaurants…OF THE FUTURE
The Stepolas have determined that Straight should get in touch with Felicia to help her out (since they bizarrely have decided that she shouldn’t come with them to the
Michigan Heartland salt mines), and so Straight gives Felicia a call:
In yet another bizarre decision, Paul tells Straight to call Felicia, but doesn’t tell Felicia to expect a call from a fellow believer. So she’s understandably taken aback when a strange man calls her with the usual RTC “He is risen” conversation-starter. She has to call Paul for confirmation that Straight is legit. You’d think Paul might want to avoid confusing and scaring the shit out this (very) recently-bereaved and vulnerable woman, but no.
Straight asks Felicia to meet him at Ray Radigan’s, a supper club in Kenosha, WI. (‘Scuse me, still Heartland.) Although Felicia characterizes the place as “just up the road,” it’s a 90-minute drive (probably 45 minutes in Atheistopian travel times), so either way, it seems a long way to make someone go when they both live in the same city in the first place.
(It also exemplifies the danger of using specific places in stories that are set in the future—they might not be there in the real future. Shadowed was published in 2005. Radigan’s closed this year.)
Straight inserts the following clunky line into their conversation:
“Let’s just say both of us will be easy to recognize.”
And yes, dear readers…that is Jenkins’ way of saying that both Straight and Felicia are black!
As he had hinted, they were the only African-Americans in the place.
That strikes me as a tad bizarre. I’m not as familiar with Chicago as Jenkins, but I do know a bit about Wisconsin. And Kenosha is actually more diverse than the state as a whole. I’m just surprised that Straight can so absolutely assume that they would be the only black people in the entire restaurant, in the liberal paradise that is Atheistopia.
Anyway, not much of great notes actually happens at this super-secret meeting of black believers—Straight basically just tells Felicia to get back to work at the NPO and stay in contact with the other believers there. Not sure why he dragged her out to Kenosha to tell her that when they could have gone to the friggin’ awesome Frontera Grill instead, but whatevs.
Back to Bia and Ranold, and it’s kinda adorable how Jenkins takes the broadest brush available to paint Ranold as the bad guy, utterly oblivious to the fact that everything said about Ranold could far better be applied to Paul:
His ego knew no bounds…
…he had enough self-love to go around.
[thinking of Jae as] apparently a dim bulb under all that pretty hair.
Could he really arrange [an attack] that would annihilate this place and all these people?
Life and death were the price of war.
Yep, Ranold is actually having some qualms, before the fact, about raiding the underground. And, like Paul in the previous two books, Ranold justifies the carnage (which will be many orders of magnitude less than the dessication of L.A. and slaughter of the firstborn men, boys, and babies) because This Is War.
In fact, Ranold finally admits to himself that there is a god, and that he is at war with him. And I’m sure Jenkins means that to be the height of hubris and idiocy for mere man to fight against his benevolent, murderous God, but I just can’t help but admire Ranold’s moxie. Hell, he’s got more guts than Paul could hope to have in ten lifetimes. Ranold is going up against the all-powerful creator of the universe, armed with little more than his wits, to protect a world that has demolished homelessness and cancer. Paul contracted an omnipotent bully to murder children where they stood.
So, Designated Hero or not, I know which man is really the courageous underdog.