TEoD: Chapter 38: Wrecking the Evening
Murphy remembers as he enters Paul’s room that this is the second time that Paul has been hospitalized due to Talon’s actions. Predictably, this fills him with sympathy for Shari, not Paul:
And now that he was in critical condition as a result of trying to save her life, there was no way that she would leave his side. Shari was one of the most loyal people Murphy had ever met.
Let’s unpack this a bit:
First, Paul did not try to save Shari’s life—he did save her life.
And yes, this is the second time Paul has ended up at the hospital and Shari has kept watch over him. Now this time, and not to be insensitive, but Shari’s apartment is an active crime scene, so she couldn’t really leave even if she wanted to. And more importantly, both times Paul has been hospitalized, he was doing things for her—first attending her church, then bringing her dinner so she wouldn’t have to be alone.
Now of course it is not someone’s fault when something bad happens on their time, but Shari’s “loyalty” extends exactly as far as she thinks her chances of converting Paul go. This isn’t a case of a devoted couple, and something bad happens to one of them at an event the other planned, or something like that. Last time, Shari took Paul to her church to convert him, and this time, not an hour before Talon showed up, Shari was once again pushing Paul to Make the Transaction, because his kind and generous gesture was not enough for her to respect him.
Entering Paul’s room in the ICU, Murphy spares barely a thought for the guy, and doesn’t go near him. He thinks Shari is asleep, so he turns to leave, but his shoe squeaks and Shari opens her eyes.
Has Phillips never been in a room in the ER or ICU before? I mean, lucky him, but there are way too many noises for one little shoe squeak to register with someone.
Anyway, Shari claims she was not asleep, but praying. Sure, Shari, whatever you say.
So Murphy stays to give her a hug (again, not a word or a touch for Paul), and spares two thoughts for Shari’s “pain from her injuries” and “black-and-blue marks,” but again, no sympathy for Paul’s injuries. As a reminder, Shari was knocked over a couch, and Paul was beaten nearly to death, just got out of surgery, and still hasn’t regained consciousness.
“I don’t know why the man tried to kill me and Paul.”
Murphy tried not to wince. He knew.
Yeah, Murph, and thanks for telling everyone. Not like Talon hasn’t made attempts before on the lives of those close to you.
He actually reveals to Shari that “I think the same man that killed Laura tried to kill you.” (Too little, too late, Murph.) Then Murphy hilariously, implausibly, and very dangerously states that because “things didn’t work out for him the way he planned,” that “I think he’ll leave you alone. He made his point.”
So wait, because he didn’t complete the job, he’ll give up? But he’s also made his point? I know you haven’t slept enough, Murphy, but then maybe try not dispensing life-and-death advice when you have no idea what you’re talking about.
Before Shari can react to such idiocy, Summer Van Doren enters, because it’s been awhile since we’ve seen her, and the readers should not be reminded of her existence.
“I had dropped by the church to get some study notes when they told me about Mr. Wallach. The whole church is praying for his recovery.”
Sorry that intercessory prayer doesn’t work, Summer.
Also, methinks Summer exaggerates a wee bit. Phillips has not yet established how much time has passed between the last chapter and this one, but presumably it’s at least the next morning if Summer just wandered over to the church to grab a few Chick tracts for perusal. But the whole church is actively praying for a guy who has been inside their church all of once, and that time he nearly died (again)?
Murphy introduces Summer to Shari, and creepily hovers over the women as they chat.
Summer seemed so warm and sincerely caring. It was a nice gesture.
I can only imagine that Isis would also be warm and sincerely caring in such a situation (even if Murphy probably can’t imagine that because Isis is not RTC), but Isis doesn’t know about this event because Murphy never talks to her.
(And actually, under the circumstances, Murphy has an extra-important reason to contact Isis ASAP—Isis has been a target of Talon in the past, and Murphy knows this, and since he now knows that Talon is again gunning for people he cares about, Isis should be on her guard even more than she usually is.)
I’m also going to make another point, and forgive my churlishness: I kinda wonder if Summer doesn’t have ulterior motives for her little hospital visit. After all, she knows neither Shari nor Paul, and nobody else from the church has shown up—they’re just praying from afar. So why is she there? Well, because of Murphy, obviously. It’s another chance to talk to him, and it’s even extra-difficult to escape when you’re at the hospital. But more than that, this gives Summer the opportunity to meet Shari. And again, I’m just kinda wondering something: has Summer been hearing things about Murphy and Shari at school? Like, say, that Murphy’s assistant’s life revolves around him, to the point that she answers his 2:00 a.m. emails and adopts dogs for him and has no friends her own age and one on-again-off-again boyfriend with whom, even when they’re “on,” she seems perpetually annoyed?
Anyway, Phillips finally reveals that it is 6:30 p.m. the next day, so almost 24 hours have passed since the attack. Murphy suggests they all go out to eat:
“Miss Van Doren, we would love to have you join us.”
Um, would Shari love for her to join them? Murphy sure doesn’t know, because he didn’t ask her. And I really have to wonder if Shari would love to have Summer along—she just met this woman, and sure, they attend the same church and all, but in the last 48 hours, she’s had a bike accident, then had to wake up early to deliver Murphy’s papers, then was punched in the face by Talon, and Paul has been beaten nearly to death, so she’s been in the hospital for almost a whole day, presumably with little to no food or sleep. She might not be feeling very sociable right now, is all I’m saying.
And, indeed, Shari immediately declines. This makes Murphy feel “a little strange,” since Summer immediately accepted, so he can’t very well back out. To make it feel less like a date date, he suggests they grab Mexican at a restaurant right across the street. This inexplicably makes them both feel it is less a date. Oh, and this whole fraught discussion takes place at the foot of Paul’s bed. Sensitive.
Oh, and it is totally a date: Murphy pays, and they chat about hobbies and hometowns and their jobs.
[Summer] was especially enthralled with the stories of [Murphy’s] adventures in foreign countries and meeting strange and exotic people.
Damn, could that sound any more like it was written before 1955? It’s like LaPhillips’ impressions of the world outside Main Street, U.S.A., haven’t evolved at all in a lifetime. It’s like the world is still one in which if you want some really EXOTIC food, you add one-and-one-half teaspoons of curry powder (if desired!) to the dipping sauce for your fried chicken, and say it’s Far East style.
(And yes, I know they’re eating at a Mexican restaurant right now. But I have a feeling that Murphy is the kind of guy to go to Don Pablo’s and order a cheeseburger.)
(Also also, presumably because they’re in a Mexican restaurant and margaritas and Dos Equis might be available, Phillips goes out of his way to show Summer drinking water.)
And speaking of time not being Phillips’ strong suit, a big deal is made out of the fact that Summer has less than an hour and a half to get to the restaurant, order, eat, and get to her Bible study at 8:00. But then Phillips says this:
As the evening progressed they became more relaxed and free in sharing their thoughts and dreams.
“The evening progressed” makes it sound like multiple hours passed, instead of less than 1.5. Also, “relaxed and free in sharing their thoughts and dreams.” It’s totally a date.
They shake hands as Summer leaves, but share A Moment.
As Summer walked out of the restaurant, Murphy noticed a number of men looking at her as she walked by.
Of course! Nothing but the best for our hero. Now he has TWO looked-like-a-models to choose from!
(Also, I have never been in a restaurant where a person was so good-looking that numerous people openly stared. That just strikes me as bizarre and improbable.)
(Also also, Murphy and LaPhillips sure put a lot of stock in physical beauty, don’t they? So much for judging people based on who they are.)
Murphy heads right to his car to drive home, sparing not a thought for going back into the hospital to check on Shari, let alone Paul. Nope, off he goes. Because he is far too busy musing on how many lovely ladies want to bang him. No time to think about (or hey, how about pray about) his student who was just beaten to within an inch of his life.
Nope, Murphy just listens to “an old love song,” and thinks more about Summer’s physical attributes, including her blonde hair, which subject Phillips brings up A LOT.
I figure blonde trumps redhead in the RTC little black book.
Indeed, Murphy once again compares the two women in his mind, and once again Phillips backtracks Murphy’s professed love for Isis.
Murphy had begun to develop feelings for Isis…
…and kissed her and told her he loved her and thought to himself several times before this book that he loved her…
…and now he had mixed emotions.
But his emotions don’t exactly matter, because the real deciding factor is
the blonde hair the religion thing:
He knew that the Bible said not to have a mixed marriage with someone who didn’t share the same faith.
He then hears a line in the “old love song“:
How can you just let go of someone you genuinely care for?
Yeah, that is totally not a line in a song, Google says. It may also be one of the most unromantic lines that I’ve ever heard. I know that my heart was won the day Hank told me he genuinely cared for me. A line to make any girl’s heart go aflutter with passionate sincerity.
He snapped off the radio. That stupid song had wrecked his evening.
Right? And the evening was going so amazingly well before this song, what with your date ending with a firm handshake.
Oh, and the near-death beating of your student and the revelation that your arch-nemesis is in town and gunning for your research assistant.