Total Drek

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Left Behind: Chapter 10, Part 2

Welcome back one and all to our regular feature on Left Behind, the book that uses an airline pilot as a main character, but somehow still never manages to go anywhere. Last time Rayford and Chloe left the house to visit Irene's church, and Buck got to London so he could investigate the death of Dirk Burton. What happens this week? Buck finishes a conversation and... well... someone dies. I can sense your anticipation already!

As always we have a comment of the week. This week that "honor" goes to scripto, less because his comment was hysterical, and more because the notion of Buck displaying some sort of personality is, frankly, really funny:

Buck pranks Alan:

"Alan sounded suddenly serious. "How can I help you, sir? What does that have to do with Scotland Yard?"

"I'm having trouble locating my interview subject, and I suspect foul play."

"And your subject?"

"His name is Hurtin. Dick Hurtin. He works at the exchange."

"Let me do some checking and call you back."

hee hee

And the truly sad thing is it's not even a dirty joke, really. Well, unless you're a crazy Left Behind writer, in which case even an oblique reference to underpants is foul and perverted. Congratulations, scripto, and hang in there everyone! Only 15 more chapters to go! Oh... fuck.

And with that, let's begin! As always, page/line numbers are in bold, quotes from the book are in block quotes, my commentary is in regular print, and you can navigate the whole series with the provided tag.


Dramatis Personae

In terms of their nearness to hellfire...

Rayford Steele: Airline captain. Husband of Irene Steele. Possible former gay porn star. Ditherer. No longer attracted to Hattie. Bad father. Cries a lot. Lying hypocrite.

Irene Steele: Wife of Rayford Steele. Born-again Christian. Not perfect, just forgiven. Reader of marriage books. Cleans obsessively. Likes egg in her coffee. Bakes really silly cookies. Likes butter churns.

Cameron "Buck" Williams: Reporter. Known for "bucking tradition and authority." Terrible Excellent writer. Spiritually attuned. Electronics wiz. Fast typist. Clumsy on slides. Travels a lot. Graduated from Princeton. Human alarm clock. Expert in Romanian politics.

Hattie Durham: Flight attendant. Toucher. Hottie. Hysterical female type. Girl power devotee. Unhealthily thin. Twenty-seven years old. Blonde. Claims no moral or religious code.

Chris Smith: Airline co-pilot. Worked with Rayford Steele. Father of two. Husband. Killed himself.

Chloe Steele: Daughter of Rayford Steele. Student at Stanford. Religiously unaffiliated. Kinda stupid.

Chaim Rosenzweig: Israeli chemist. Kinda freaky. Friend of Buck's.

Steve Plank: Buck's boss at Global Weekly. Not the sharpest tool in the shed.

Nicolae Carpathia: Businessman. Romanian Senator. Romanian President. Antichrist. Favors arms reductions.

Raymie Steele: Son of Rayford Steele. Taken in the rapture.

Dirk Burton: English guy Buck knows. Graduated from Princeton. Kinda gullible. Killed himself Murdered. Left handed.

Joshua Todd-Cothran: English finance guy.

Jonathon Stonagal: American ultra-rich dude. Involved in international monetary cabal. Has ties to duck lips.

Marge Potter: Steve Planck's secretary. Matronly.

Lucinda Washington: Fiftyish black woman. Raptured.

Ken Ritz: Pilot. Profiteering on the rapture. Actually quite polite. Fired for being too careful. Believes in aliens.

Juan Ortiz: Global Weekly international events editor.

Jimmy Borland: Global Weekly religion editor.

Barbara Donahue: Global Weekly financial editor.

Nigel Leonard: Employee of the London exchange.

Alan Tompkins: Investigator at Scotland Yard. Friend of Buck. Kind of a chickenshit.

Bruce Barnes: Visitation Pastor at New Hope Village Church. Likes to be mysterious.


Page 179- Line Macarena:

No quote but, to refresh your memories, Alan and Buck are talking about the alleged conspiracy that killed their buddy, Dirk. Buck is amazed that Alan isn't more gung-ho about finding Dirk's killer. However, it turns out that he has his reasons, and they all stem from a visitation by a thug telling him to back off and a subsequent meeting with Joshua Todd-Cothran. If you don't recall who Joshua Todd-Cothran is, then check the dramatis personae. That's what it's for, you know?

Page 179- Line 19-20:
"His [Todd-Cothran's] very office is intimidating. All mahogany and dark green draperies."

Okay, so the sinister finance guy decorates his office like a Steak & Ale. Woooo, scary.

Page 179- Line 21-25:
"I [Alan] tell him, 'Sir, I believe you've had an employee murdered.' And just as calm as you like, he says, 'Tell you what, governor'- which is a term cockneys use on each other, not something people of his station usually call people of mine."

So, what? We're in Upstairs, Downstairs now? This book is like some sort of horrible pastiche of every stereotype about... well... everyone that you could possibly imagine. Crappy western talk? Check. Shitty Dickens-esque writting? Check. Knock-off BBC drama? Check. Believe it or not, however, we haven't gotten to the real threat yet.

Page 180-181- Line 180: 20-30, 181: 1-5:
"But that's not the half of it. As if he [Todd-Cothran] needs to drive the point home, he called my [Alan's] captain on his speakerphone. He said to him, 'Sullivan, if one of your men was to come to my office and harass me about anything, what should I do?' And Sullivan, one of my idols, sounded like a little baby. He said, 'Mr. Todd-Cothran, sir, you do whatever you need to do.' And Todd-Cothran said, 'What if I was to kill him where he sits?' And Sullivan said, 'Sir, I'm sure it would be justifiable homicide.' Now get this. Todd-Cothran said, right over the phone to Scotland Yard, where you know they tape every incoming call, and Todd-Cothran knows it just as well, 'What if his name happened to be Alan Tompkins?' Just like that, plain as day. And Sullivan said, 'I'd come over there and dispose of the body myself.' Well, I got the picture."

Honestly, I do not know what I find most troubling about the preceding: that the authors think it's good writing, or that they think it's a plausible account. I mean, seriously, this is how they think a vast secret conspiracy would actually operate? For crying out loud, it's like a criminal syndicate run by a retarded Bond villain. I'm just waiting for the sharks with frickin lasers on their heads. And on an unrelated note, am I the only one who interprets "sounded like a little baby" as meaning, "communicates only with incoherent babble and occasional screaming"? Because that doesn't seem to be what the authors are describing. Regardless, Alan explains to Buck that he (Buck) has to go home without investigating Dirk's death or he (Buck) will probably be harmed. Buck says he's not the sort to run. Alan replies that Buck can't fight these guys because they have anyone who can hurt them on their payroll. Then it gets really fun when the dynamic duo talk about a classic film...

Page 181- Line 28-30:
"No one could touch them [i.e. mobsters]." [Alan said]

Buck nodded. "No one could touch them except the ones who couldn't be bought."

Ah, yes, indeed, what a subtle message from the authors. Indeed, as an atheist my price is so low it's absurd. I'll just roll over for anyone who waves a couple of bucks in my face- not like those religious folk. In any case, Buck concedes that he doesn't know what he'd do in Alan's position and a "barmaid" comes around asking after anyone who arrived in a green sedan. She wants to know because the light inside is apparently on. Alan heads out to switch off the dome light and then returns to the bar- and ironically Alan turning off a light is described more fully than Rayford reuniting with Chloe, but I digress. My notes in the margin, however, do actually read: "A riveting description of turning out a light." After that, Buck says he's going to get a flight to Frankfurt that night and then return to the U.S. in the morning, deciding it would seem that getting the hell out is the better part of valor. Alan goes out to get the car ready while Buck makes airline reservations under the name "George Oreskovich", which is apparently the name used on Buck's fake credentials. And then, it happens...

Page 184- Line 22-30:
As Buck hung up, the door of the pub was blown into the room and a blinding flash and deafening crash sent patrons screaming to the floor. As people crept to the door to see what happened, Buck stared in horror at the frame and melted tires of what had been Alan's Scotland Yard-issue sedan. Windows had been blown out all up and down the street and a siren was already sounding. A leg and part of a torso lay on the sidewalk- the remains of Alan Tompkins.

So, first off, the authors actually manage to make a car bombing sound boring. Second, it is becoming painfully obvious that just being Buck's friend is rather dangerous. I mean, seriously, one of his two best friends was shot in the head and the other was just blown up. What's going to happen to his third best friend? Torn apart by two bears? Oh, wait, sorry, that's what happens when children make fun of god's prophet. Never mind. Finally, my margin notes here read, "This is just dumb- why bomb the car, rather than do something quieter?" Indeed, seems to me that if they wanted Buck dead, they should have left Alan alone, let Buck appear, and then sent a nice man with a silenced 9mm to introduce Buck to the inferno all nice and quiet like. Instead we have a fucking car bombing of a fucking Scotland Yard employee in broad daylight outside a crowded pub. Worst. Conspiracy. Ever.

Page 185- Line 1-7:
As the patrons surged out to get a look at the burning wreckage, Buck elbowed his way through them, pulling his real passport and identification from his wallet. In the confusion he flipped the documents near what was left of the car and hoped they wouldn't get burned beyond readability. Whoever wanted him dead could assume him dead.

Of course, the lack of a second body will make it pretty f-ing obvious you're not dead, Buck. So, basically, you just gave them evidence to use to tie you to a dead cop for no benefit. Brilliant. Buck then proceeds to get a cab and try to return to his hotel, which, as it happens, is playing host to a bunch of squad cars. Not, as you might think, discretely dressed nefarious men from the conspiracy, but squad cars with sirens and such. Given that Buck has at least a meager amount of intelligence, he decides to forget the hotel, as well as his luggage and precious laptop, and get the cabbie to take him directly to the airport. But how to get past the patrols that he sees inside? Fortunately, Cameron "Buck" Williams, secret agent/journalist has a cunning plan!

Page 185- Line 27-30:
"You wouldn't know where a fellow could get a hat like yours, would you?" Buck asked the cabbie as he paid.

"This old thing? I might be persuaded to part with it. I've got more than one other just like it. A souvenir, eh?" [the cabbie answered]

Ah, yes, the old "put on a hat and walk right past security" ploy! Why can't police or airline security find some way to get around the total appearance-change that comes with a hat. On another note: is this a common practice of which I am unaware? Do tourists usually buy hats off of random strangers for that extra-special memento of a trip to a foreign land? Because it sounds a bit skeezy to me. Regardless, Buck gives the cabbie money, the cabbie retrieves his "official London cabbie pin" (Page 186- Line 4) and then Buck is ready to face the enemy. No doubt we're about to see pages and pages describing Buck's harrowing efforts to escape from the jaws of an evil conspiracy!

Page 186- Line 6-11:
Buck pressed the too-large fisherman's style hat down over his ears and hurried into the terminal. He paid cash for his tickets in the name of George Oreskovich, a naturalized Englishman from Poland on his way to a holiday in the States, via Frankfurt. He was in the air before the authorities knew he was gone.

Then again, maybe the authors will decide to skip over the exciting cat-and-mouse game in a major airport in favor of a single paragraph and an end to the chapter. Never mind. Also, pay no attention to the fact that a hurried, anxious guy in a too-big hat paying cash for a flight to Frankfurt THAT DAY is more than a little bit suspicious. Also pay no attention to the fact that Buck is traveling as a British citizen who is originally from Poland. Think that one through: who here thinks that Buck can successfully impersonate a person speaking British English with a Polish accent? Now who thinks he could do it given that he's originally from TEXAS? I don't think Lawrence-friggin-Olivier could have pulled that one off. So, just to sum up: weird anxious dude in a transparently horrendous disguise manages to escape the authorities at Heathrow. I say it again for everyone here. Worst. Conspiracy. EVER!

But not, I think, worst chapter ever, if only because this chapter is at an end. So what's up next? Well, I don't want to give it away but in the next chapter we get to experience our very first "testimony," which is sort of like a scared straight program for delinquents, except much more boring. I know I can't wait!



Blogger Ken Houghton said...

Let us see: The door of the Pub (secured, reasonable weight) "was blown into the room" but "A leg and part of a torso [weight between 30 and 50 pounds; 5 stone at most] lay on the sidewalk- the remains of Alan Tompkins."

An explosion that blows a door off its hinges from X feet leaves body parts from Y feet, where Y>X??

Either Alan drank in cheaply-constructed "pubs" (think Elephant and Castle) or the author's are thinking with his head. Which, by the physics displayed here, is presumably on the other side of the street, hanging from a lamppost like a crucified thief.

Thursday, December 17, 2009 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger scripto said...

"...and hoped they wouldn't get burned beyond readability."

Or, worse yet, the photo singed beyond all recognitionality.

Oh God. My mother-in-law has started reading the Left Behind series. Somebody do me like Dirk Burton. Please.

Thursday, December 17, 2009 12:53:00 PM  

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