Why, Left Behind, why?
Left Behind Chapter 7
So Buck has found someone to fly him around, yay. We can all rest easy. That someone is another boring human being who was left behind on this planet because Jesus basically wanted as few snoozefests in heaven as possible.
Ken Ritz, picks Buck up and they discuss the logistics of flying him to New York. It is definitely as interesting as you’d expect bland dialogue about logistics to be.
Buck and Ritz shared stories of lost relatives, where they were when it happened, and exactly who they were.
“Exactly who they were” makes it sound like they’re both confessing to something interesting when in reality Buck is re-revealed to be a journalist, and Ritz discusses why he became a private pilot.
“Better money on your own”
“Yeah, but I didn’t know that when I switched. It wasn’t my choice.”
They were climbing into the Lear. Buck shot him a double take. “You were grounded?”
“Don’t worry, partner,” the pilot said. “I’ll get you there.”
“You owe it to me to tell me if you were grounded.”
“I was fired. There’s a difference.”
“Depends on what you were fired for, doesn’t it?”
“True enough. This ought to make you feel real good. I was fired for bein’ too careful. Beat that.”
“Talk to me,” Buck said.
And talk Ritz does. Turns out he refused to fly a type of plane he knew to be dangerous, and it turned out he was right to do so.
Buck’s reactions/dialogue continue to be terrible:
“You know how many of those same model puddle jumpers are in the air today? Not a one. When you’re right, you’re right. But was I reinstated? No. Once a troublemaker, always a troublemaker. Lots of my colleagues were grateful though. And some pilots’ widows were pretty angry that I got ignored and then canned, too late for their husbands.”
Ritz then asks Buck his take on what’s going on, which somehow turns into Buck interviewing Ritz about his opinions on the matter. In summary: aliens.
“Fine,” Ritz said. “Dangedest thing I’ve ever seen. ‘Course, that doesn’t make me unique. I have to say, though, I’ve always believed in UFOs.”
“You’re kidding! A levelheaded, safety-conscious pilot?”
Ritz nodded. “I’m not talking about little green men or space aliens who kidnap people. I’m talking about some of the more documentable stuff, like some astronauts have seen, and some pilots,”
Ritz concludes that everyone he knows that disappeared had one thing in common, and that one thing was not a love for Jesus, it was the power to be mind-crushed.
“I’ve always laughed about people assuming these beings could read our thoughts or get into our heads and stuff,” Ritz continued. “But look who’s missing. Everybody I’ve read about or heard about or knew who’s now gone was either under twelve years old or was an unusual personality.”
I can’t even paraphrase his theory:
“So we’re still here because we were strong enough to resist, or maybe we weren’t worth the trouble.” Ritz nodded. “Something like that. It’s almost like some force or power was able to read the level of resistance or weakness, and once that force got sunk in, it was able to rip those people right off the earth. They disappeared in an instant, so they had to be dematerialized. The question is whether they were destroyed in the process or could be reassembled.”
WHAT POPPYCOCK IS THIS???? Dude, it’s the fucking Rapture!
Also, I hope no one reads this book and thinks, “But woah, that actually could make such a great story” because no. It couldn’t. Aliens somehow determined arbitrarily if someone was weak or strong (mentally? Physically?) and then had some sort of force sink into them and cause their bodies to be…ripped from the planet/dematerialized, and then potentially reassembled somewhere else or completely destroyed.
Buck points out that people he knew who disappeared were actually pretty strong. In his defence, Ritz admits it’s not a perfect theory but that Buck asked.
Ray is still at home, being angsty and giving us the play by play of his family’s religious history. He used to go to church and was pretty happy until Irene decided she wanted a churchier church, and switched to her more hardcore one. He also recalls the day he gave her a bible for their first year wedding anniversary, which seems like not the best gift ever?
Before you go thinking I’m too judgemental, even Rayford can’t really explain why he got Irene a bible for their anniversary:
He had given this Bible to Irene on their first wedding anniversary. How could he have forgotten, and what had he been thinking? She was no more devout than he back then, but she talked about wanting to get serious about church attendance before the children came along. He had been angling for something or trying to impress her. Maybe he thought she would think him spiritual if he gave her a gift like that. Maybe he was hoping she would let him off the hook and go to church by herself if he proved his spiritual sensitivity with this gift.
Every wife dreams of the day her husband buys her a gift to get him off the hook for doing something with her. “Here honey, I got you this bible. Now I don’t have to go to church with you!” Checks out.
Ray underlines some passages in the bible, but doesn’t make any headway in his quest to…accept Christ and getting Raptured? Guys, I know I keep asking you questions but I have another one. At this point, if you’re Ray and you’re basically 100% sure it’s the Rapture, wouldn’t you just be like, “Yes, I accept Jesus, because it’s really obvious that’s the right call.” What more does it take? Do more people get Raptured? Details, please. I don’t want to go down the Google rabbit hole.
Meanwhile, Buck is Bucking around with Ritz still. It costs Buck even more money, but he does manage to get to New York even though it’s apparently not the best idea to go there right now.
“Haven’t you been watching the news? Some of the worst disasters in the city were the result of disappearing motormen and dispatchers. Six trains were involved in head-ons with lots of deaths. Several trains ran up the back of other ones. It’ll be days before they clear all, the tracks and replace cars. You sure your man wants to get into midtown?”
“Roger. Seems like the type who can handle it.”
It’s a tough journey to get to his office, but along the way Buck finds a bike that a kind soul has left for someone else to use (there’s a sign saying so). Buck considers thanking God but then is like nah, and he ungratefully rides off on the bike to his office.
Buck is thrilled to be reunited with everyone from his office, and apparently they are too.
They cheered when they saw Buck. These people, the ones he had worked with, fought with, feuded with, irritated, and scooped, now seemed genuinely glad to see him. They could have no idea how he felt. “Boy, it’s good to be back here,” he said, then sat and buried his head in his hands. His body began to shake, and he could fight the tears no longer. He began to sob, right there in front of his colleagues and competitors.
I actually completely buy this. I may not be able to put aside my dislike for Buck, but I can see why at a crazy time like this everyone he works with would be willing to set that aside. I mean, cheering? Really? Blech. But fine fine.
Back to Rayford. He calls into work and finds out that he needs to be ready to fly again on Friday potentially. He manages to find out that his daughter is slowly but surely managing to make her way home through a series of inconvenient flights.