I am going to open this post with an important question: Why do bodies disappear during the rapture? I thought it was more of a spirit/soul thing than a physical one? But during this chapter there’s mention that corpses are disappearing too, which made me wonder why all bodies, living or dead, disappear. Google provided me with some links that did not look appealing so I thought I’d ask you lovely people.
An inordinate amount of time is spent explaining how people have to slide down a chute to get out of the plane. Buck makes an ass out of himself doing it, but then we immediately shift our attention to Hattie and Rayford, so I’m not really sure how that scene moved the story forward at all. I guess it’s important to note that Buck isn’t good at non-journalistic things.
Rayford, Christopher, and Hattie were the last three off the 747. Before disembarking, they had made sure all able bodied people got down the chutes and that the elderly and infirm were transported by bus. The bus driver insisted that the crew ride with him and the last passengers, but Rayford refused. “I can’t see passing my own passengers as they walk to the terminal,” he said. “How would that look?”
Wow. I really had the wrong idea about Rayford. The world is lucky to still have a man like him left behind who is down for cheating on his wife, but damn it, he draws the line at complex moral issues like hitching a ride to the terminal while his passengers walk.
Christopher (Rayford’s co-pilot), is very much on board for this ride, and Rayford reams him out:
Rayford glared at him. “You’re serious?”
“I don’t get paid enough for this.”
“Like this was the airline’s fault. Chris, you don’t mean it.”
“The heck I don’t. By the time you get up there, you’ll wish you’d ridden, too.”
“I should write you up for this.”
“Millions of people disappear into thin air and I should worry about getting written up for riding instead of walking? Later, Steele.”
This interaction is flawless. THE RAPTURE IS NOT THE AIRLINE’S FAULT, GUYS. Let’s just make that clear. Later, Steele.
Hattie offers to walk with Rayford, and his whole tune changes.
“He’s first officer. We ought to be last off the ship and first to volunteer for emergency duty.”
Wait. Wouldn’t you need to get to the terminal quickly to volunteer for emergency duty?
“Well, do me a favor and consider me part of your crew, too. Just because I can’t fly the thing doesn’t mean I don’t feel some ownership. And don’t treat me like a little woman.”
“I would never do that. Got your stuff?”
…We’re sure this takes place in the 90s?
Hattie, firmly establishing she is not a little woman, walks with Ray to the terminal. O’Hare is packed with people trying to use the phone lines and find out what’s going on with their families. Snack supplies are running low. Times are scary, and the rapture especially sucks dick without cellphones. Man, can you imagine if it happened now? People’s Snapchat stories would take an interesting turn.
While waiting for a phone, Ray watches the news and sees weird shit like a pregnant woman’s stomach deflating as her baby is raptured from her womb. He also sees people (and bodies) disappearing from funerals, which is what provoked my question at the beginning of this post.
Ray calls home, but there’s no answer. He manages to check his voicemails, though, and his daughter Chloe is still in play. Ray can convey his joy better than I can, though:
Well, at least he knew Chloe was still around.
Stay cool, Rayford Steele.
Ray manages to get himself and Hattie on a helicopter to Des Plaines where they live. Of course, he can’t finagle a situation without sexism.
“What do you weigh, doll?” the pilot said.
Two things happen simultaneously. Ray finds out that since accepting a ride to the terminal, Christopher is probably dead, and Ray explains to us that even though Hattie is sitting on his lap, he’s not excited (aka he doesn’t have a boner at present.)
Rayford shook his head. What next? “Did he get hit or something? Did that bus crash?” Wouldn’t that be ironic!
I understand that this is a book where the characters are all people that Jesus wanted fuck all to do with, but oh my god, can we please also leave Rayford behind? I want that choice.
“Don’t know how reliable this is, but the rumor is he found out his boys had disappeared and his wife was killed in a wreck!”
For the first time the enormity of the situation became personal for Rayford.
Wait. What the fuck? Didn’t the enormity of the situation become personal WHEN HE REALIZED HIS WIFE HAD PROBABLY BEEN RAPTURED?!??!!??!
Somehow this leads to thoughts about how he’s not interested in fucking Hattie at the moment. No seriously. I have proof.
He vaguely remembered Chris had two sons. Seemed they were young teenagers, very close in age. He had never met the wife. But suicide! Was that an option for Rayford? No, not with Chloe still there. But what if he had discovered that Irene and young Ray were gone and Chloe had been killed? What would he have to live for?
He hadn’t been living for them anyway, certainly not the last several months. He had been playing around on the edges of his mind with the girl in his lap, though he had never gone so far as touching her, even when she often touched him. Would he want to live if Hattie Durham were the only person he cared about? And why did he care about her? She was beautiful and sexy and smart, but only for her age. They had little in common. Was it only because he was convinced Irene was gone that he now longed to hold his own wife?
I’m not sure what about this mystifies me the most. Is it that if he didn’t have his wife, son and daughter the only person he would maybe be living for his a woman who he considered trying to have an affair with on the basis that she gently touched his shoulder sometimes? Or is the part where he talks about how amazing Hattie is “but only for her age”? You could maybe say something similar when you eat at McDonalds. “This burger is so delicious, but only for McDonalds. Compared to every other piece of food on the planet it’s like D+ at best.” But to think that about someone you’re attracted to seems pretty strange.
After thinking some more about how now he doesn’t care about sleeping with Hattie, the helicopter lands, and he and Hattie agree to check in on each other later. Hattie. Girl. DO NOT CALL THIS MAN EVER AGAIN.
We end this chapter back with Buck who receives the most confusing email from his editor. I will provide it to you in its entirety because I am so confused I can’t even properly paraphrase it to you.
Buck, ignore general staff memo. Get to New York as soon as you can at any expense. Take care of family matters, of course, and file any personal experience or reflections, just like everyone else. But you’re going to head up this effort to get at what’s behind the phenomenon. Ideas are like egos—everybody’s got one.
Why exactly is this responsibility falling to Buck? Like he is definitely not the man for the job.
Whether we’ll come to any conclusions, I don’t know, but at the very least we’ll catalog the reasonable possibilities. You may wonder why we need you here to do this; I do have an ulterior motive. Sometimes I think because of the position I’m in, I’m the only one who knows these things; but three different department editors have turned in story ideas on various international groups meeting in New York this month. Political editor wants to cover a Jewish Nationalist conference in Manhattan that has something to do with a new world order government. What they care about that, I don’t know and the political editor doesn’t either. Religion editor has something in my in box about a conference of Orthodox Jews also coming for a meeting. These are not just from Israel but apparently all over, and they are no longer haggling over the Dead Sea Scrolls. They’re still giddy over the destruction of Russia and her allies—which I know, you still think was supernatural, but hey, I love you anyway. Religion editor thinks they’re looking for help in rebuilding the temple. That may be no big deal or have anything to do with anything other than the religion department, but I was struck by the timing—with the other Jewish group meeting at pretty much the same time and at the same place about something entirely political. The other religious conference in town is among leaders of all the major religions, from the standard ones to the New Agers, also talking about a one world religious order. They ought to get together with the Jewish Nationalists, huh? Need your brain on this. Don’t know what to make of it, if anything.
So what the fuck is the ulterior motive he mentioned? Buck, you may be wondering why I need you to do this. Well, I have an ulterior motive. But first let me explain the political climate and then not explain any of the above. Is the ulterior motive that Buck can somehow analyse the political and religious side of these things? Surely the religion and political editor would have some knowledge in this area.
Also, I basically don’t understand any of the above. How many Jewish conferences are going on exactly? I feel like I’m playing that Mario Party game where you have to count characters while they move around and hide.
Why are people trying to create a new religious order when clearly Jesus won in this scenario? Guys, go home.
I know all anybody cares about is the disappearances. But we need to keep an eye on the rest of the world. You know the United Nations has that international monetarist confab coming up, trying to gauge how we’re all doing with the three currency thing. Personally I like it, but I’m a little skittish about going to one currency unless it’s dollars. Can you imagine trading in yen or marks here? Guess I’m still provincial.
People died, but damn it, what currency are we going to be using? Fuck yen!
Everybody’s pretty enamored with this Carpathia guy from Romania who so impressed your friend Rosenzweig. He’s got everybody in a bind in the upper house in his own country because he’s been invited to speak at the U.N. in a couple of weeks. Nobody knows how he wangled an invitation, but his international popularity reminds me a lot of Walesa or even Gorbachev. Remember them? Ha!
This Carpathia guy is the devil, right? The U.N simply must have him speak.
Hey, friend, get word to me you didn’t disappear As far as I know right now, I lost a niece and two nephews, a sister-in law I didn’t like, and possibly a couple of other distant relatives. You think they’ll be back? Well, save that till we get rolling on what’s behind this. If I had to guess, I’m anticipating some God-awful ransom demand. I mean, it’s not like these people who disappeared are dead. What in the world is going to happen to the life insurance industry? I’m not ready to start believing the tabloids. You just know they’re going to be saying the space aliens finally got us. Get in here, Buck.
I am not sure what happened in this man’s life to make him such an idiot.