Cozy Christmas: Chapter 16 and Chapter 17
Damn, dudes, I just cannot get over how NOT cozy Cozy Christmas is.
And it’s about to get even less cozy, because it’s time for that grand Wintermas tradition ’round these parts: the disappearance of a child!
Well, okay, it’s the disappearance of Whitney, but since women are treated like children in this book, it’s really all the same.
As you might recall from past Christmas works, the disappearance of a child is a mainstay of these stories: The Brat Nathan ran away to visit his dad in Christmas Town, cute little Jade ran off into the woods to catch her dad a Christmas star in In The Spirit of…Christmas, and baby Timmy was stolen from his family in A Ranger Christmas.
(And, although they don’t disappear, Erin and little Max are threatened (and Max threatened specifically with kidnapping) in The Prodigal’s Christmas Reunion. So there’s that, too. And it almost counts double because Max had been a kidnapping victim before the book even began.)
So, on to this year’s Wintermas disappearance!
Whitney drives Coraline home, and Coraline invites Whitney in to visit with her and her single son, Michael.
Whitney gritted her teeth to keep from saying something she might regret. Why was life so complicated? And why did everybody seem to think she couldn’t be happy if she was unmarried? Probably because I don’t exactly look overjoyed at the moment, Whitney answered silently.
Well, she doesn’t look overjoyed because she’s just learned that the man she cared about has been lying to her since the day they met. Also two people have been trying to Christian-guilt-trip her into immediate forgiveness. Also also, Whitney is TWENTY-FIVE, which means she has to get married immediately or be forever on the shelf.
(And hey, don’t get me wrong: my marriage has brought me more joy and contentment than I ever thought possible. But it happens when it happens, Coraline! (And really, she of all people should know that!))
So Whitney begs off and heads out. Then she decides to take the long way home.
There was nothing like a weeping daughter to bring out a mother’s protective instincts.
Huh, really? Because the last time Whitney was weeping, her mother laughed in her face.
Whitney uses the longer drive to reproach herself for being a bad Christian…
What kind of Christian would refuse to heed a heartfelt story of repentance?
And all seems well except sensible country girl Whitney has chosen to take a long drive in a very wet snowstorm. There’s icy slush and bad roads and she can barely see. In a moment that she can’t see the road, Whitney takes her foot off the gas, then thinks she’s applying her foot to the brake, but just hits the accelerator again.
Okay, I’m torn between feeling sympathy because I think this could happen to anybody, but this whole thing is such an exercise in bad judgment… Also, again, practical country girl?
Oh, and then, out of “instinct,” she hits the accelerator harder. She slides, the car flips (???), and she ends up in a snowbank, kinda half on her side, I think.
Oh, and remember that Whitney drives a vintage convertible. So when she flipped, she “ducked,” and wasn’t crushed when the top collapsed all around her.
Hmmm…suffice it to say I have a bit of experience in this area, and I do not find it plausible that she would be able to “duck” sufficiently, or on command, like that.
Meanwhile, Josh, in true stalker fashion, has decided to follow Whitney home, just to see that she gets there safely and all, since she’s an emotional female and “there was no telling how well she’d cope. Or how competently she’d handle the car.”
Huh. Sure is funny how our hero is always proven right when he treats the heroine like a child.
But even Manly Man Josh is in trouble from the “mere storm” (his words), and misses the turn to Whitney’s house. (He also doesn’t know that she took the long way.) He pulls over to check his phone, but has no reception, and by the time he’s ready to pull out again, he’s stuck.
Ha! Mister Women Can’t Competently Handle Cars!
Of course, his phone magically works now (it’s a Christmas miracle!) so he calls for a tow. Elwood Dill, the self-proclaimed hippie, shows up, and mentions another wreck he saw on the way, which he assumed was abandoned. Josh, in turn, immediately assumes it’s Whitney’s car (it is, but he really has no way of knowing this), and then things get weird.
Elwood refuses to go to the other wreck until he has helped Josh. (As usual for this book, he blames this on a woman: his wife took the call, and she’ll be pissed if he takes another job before he finishes this one, even if the first jobs requests that he do so.)
“Then see me your truck,” Josh demanded, reaching for his wallet. “How much?”
“Whoa. Hold on, son. You can’t afford to buy my wrecker, even if it is old. Now calm down and let’s get you pulled out of that ditch.”
Josh had always relied upon his wits to get what he wanted.
Wait, what? So Josh’s method of problem-solving and personal interactions is just throwing massive amounts of cash at a problem? That’s fair, I guess, but I wouldn’t exactly call it relying upon one’s wits. And he had always relied on his wits to get what he wanted? Really? When exactly did you have to do that, Josh, given your massive family wealth?
Hilariously, having pondered on how he’s lived by his wits so far, Josh just does the same thing again: he throws money at the problem. He calls Velma himself and offers to pay for both tows, then this immediately happens:
“Come on. Let’s go.” [Josh said]
“I can’t just leave my chain in the street. It’ll only take a minute to gather it up.”
“A hundred-dollar bonus if you come now!” Josh shouted.
But wait, won’t he need the chain at the other job?
“Five hundred. Cash!”
“Since you put it that way,” Elwood began to saunter back toward the wrecker.
Josh leaned out the half-open passenger door and yelled, “A thousand if you run.”
The incredulous driver was still grinning and shaking his head as he climbed behind the wheel and started the enormous truck.
His smile faded and his jaw dropped when Josh shoved a handful of crisp, hundred dollar bills into his nearest hand and roared, “Drive!”
Yanno, I seem to recall Josh complaining that when people know he has money, he is treated differently. Mayyyybbbeeee that wouldn’t happen so much if he didn’t literally fling cash at people for obeying his screaming orders.
So they get there and of course they call the police and ambulance and they rescue her. And again, we see why Josh has such a differently-treated person when he was rich: he orders Elwood around, yells and punches things when he can’t single-handedly extricate Whitney from the car, and is intensely impatient with the freaking paramedics who are trying to do their jobs, gorramit, and actually rescue Whitney without harming her further.
In the ambulance, Whitney regains consciousness and immediately apologizes to Josh. For what, I’m not certain, except maybe being a bad Christian.
The big story was no longer dependent upon the identity of Mr. Moneybags. The truly important information was warming her heart and making her soul sing praises to the Lord.
Yup, the disappearance of a child (or woman who is like a child), of course brought out declarations of love and praises to the Lord.
Also lots of cash.