Left Behind Chapter 9:
Unsurprisingly, Buck continues to rub people the wrong way:
He felt the resentment from veteran department editors. Juan Ortiz, chief of the international politics section, was incensed that Buck should have anything to do with the summit conference Juan planned to cover in two weeks.
I really don’t get what is so great about Buck that he gets to just swoop in and take over everyone else’s stories. It sounds like that’s the only kind of article he ever writes!
“The Jewish Nationalists are discussing an issue I have been following for years. Who would have believed they would consider warming to one world government? That they would even entertain the discussion is monumental. They’re meeting here, rather than in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, because their idea is so revolutionary. Most Israeli Nationalists think the Holy Land has gone too far with its bounty already. This is historic.”
“Then what’s your problem,” Plank said, “with my adding our top guy to the coverage?”
“Because I am your top guy on this.”
“I’m trying to make sense of all these meetings,” Plank said
Juan just said he was the top guy on this, so Plank’s response seems completely random given his top guy should be able to give him some clarity on what all these meetings are about. Maybe it’s because some of the meetings going on seem more political on the surface while others seem more religious, and Plank is trying to figure out how they all connect. Again, though, couldn’t the people in charge of covering all these different types of events discuss this with one another? Why is Buck the only one who could possibly synthesise information?
Buck explains that he’s not interested in covering the individual meetings, and that he’s not “trying to horn in on [their] expert territory”, he’s just trying to find the common denominators! Which apparently the experts can’t do without Buck’s help…
All the relevant departments agree that they’ll cover the individual events with their own slants, and then have some input on whatever Buck writes that links all these different meetings together. One world religion! One world currency! Rebuilding the temple! Things. Are. Getting. CRAAAAAY.
By now, you guys know the drill. When we’re not reading about Buck’s latest scoop, we’re reading about Rayford being sad. He’s waiting for Chloe to show up, and in the meantime he calls his wife’s church. He hears the saddest answering machine recording ever.
“You have reached New Hope Village Church. We are planning a weekly Bible study, but for the time being we will meet just once each Sunday at 10 A.M. While our entire staff, except me, and most of our congregation are gone, the few of us left are maintaining the building and distributing a videotape our senior pastor prepared for a time such as this. You may come by the church office anytime to pick up a free copy, and we look forward to seeing you Sunday morning.”
This one lone staffer must feel so left
behind out. All he and a few other member’s of the church have left is an I-told-you-so video from their pastor. I hope the pastor’s video is just a clip of Erik Cartman laughing.
Ray is really pumped about to this video that is most likely of a beloved TV icon! He decides that he and his daughter definitely need to get their hands on a copy. Speaking of Chloe, hey, here she is! Now he has someone to be sad with. I’m so glad.
Back to the Bucksics.
Buck tries to call his friend from college/source of hot scoopage, Dirk. He manages to get ahold of the most exaggeratedly British man in existence.
He reached the supervisor in Dirk’s area of the London Exchange. “You must tell me precisely who you are and your specific relationship to Mr. Burton before I am allowed to inform you as to his disposition,” Nigel Leonard said. “I am also constrained to inform you that this conversation shall be taped, beginning immediately.”
Like every conversation with a Brit, there’s a wacky and witty misunderstanding!
“I’m taping our conversation, sir. If that is a problem for you, you may disconnect.”
“I don’t follow.”
“What’s to follow? You understand what a tape is, do you?”
“Of course, and I’m turning mine on now as well, if you don’t mind.”
“Well, I do mind, Mr. Williams. Why on earth would you be taping?”
“Why would you?”
“We are the ones with a most unfortunate situation, and we need to investigate all leads.”
“What situation? Was Dirk among those who disappeared?”
“Nothing so tidy as that, I’m afraid.”
“You’re taping me? No no. I do say, it is I who am taping you, good sir! Oh bollocks, I suppose we’ll both record this conversation.”
After sussing out the situation a bit more, Nigel informs Buck that Dirk has died, and his death has been ruled a suicide. Buck calls bullshit, and Nigel is Britishly evasive.
“Mr. Williams,” Nigel said carefully, “allow me to state categorically, on both our tapes apparently, that what I am about to say is strictly off the record. Do you understand?
“Because I am aware that both in your country and in the British Commonwealth, anything said following an assertion that we are off the record is protected.”
“Sir, I can appreciate your sentiments, but I don’t know any more than you did what was in Mr. Burton’s mind. I was partial to him, but I would not be in a position to question the conclusion of the medical examiner.”
Furious, Buck hangs up the phone. He decides to book a flight to London so he can talk to one of his contacts in the police force. I still can’t get over the fact that things are going back to normal so quickly? There’s a brief mention that JFK might be closed, but no one seems at all concerned Buck might not be able to get a flight to London right away.
Back at The House of Sadness and Plots That Do Not Move Forward, Ray and Chloe continue to be sad. We are told in exceedingly long paragraphs just how sad they are. They also decide to talk about what might have happened. Chloe proves to be a very wise and articulate person, just like her father.
“Daddy, in California they’re actually buying into the space invasion theory.”
“No. Maybe it’s because you were always so practical and skeptical about all that tabloid newspaper stuff, but I just can’t get into it. I mean, it has to be something supernatural or otherworldly, but—”
“It just seems that if some alien life force was capable of doing this, they would also be capable of communicating to us. Wouldn’t they want to take over now or demand ransom or get us to do something for them?”
“Daddy! I’m not saying I believe it. I’m saying I don’t. But doesn’t my reasoning make sense?”
Practicality tells me that the aliens I know nothing about would definitely want a ransom, so that rules that out. Also it’s been like five minutes since people started disappearing. If this alien theory was actually correct, they could be biding their time or conducting a crazy experiment.
Also, yes, Chloe frequently addresses Ray as “Daddy”, and it is really irritating.
Ray wants to tell Chloe his Rapture theory, but he doesn’t know how to broach the subject with her. He then goes off on a tangent about what Chloe was like as a teenager, and how she was a good kid, but then she was distant, and she probably didn’t do drugs, but she did drink, and Ray had to tell her off one time. That time he told her off he cried, and it broke through to her, and then they cried together. This scene is so crucial in really establishing my lack of a connecting to these characters.
He had dissolved into tears, and so had she. They had bonded as never before. He didn’t recall ever having to discipline her again, and though she had not come back to church, he had started to drift by then himself. They had become buddies, and she was growing up to be just like him. Irene had kidded him that their children each had their own favorite parent.
Readers love when you blandly state facts about your characters to demonstrate who they are. “They bonded as never before. Their relationship improved in quality. Now, the Rapture has happened. Their relationship will be tested again. Their relationship is strong, so it could pass the test. Also, there’s an important Russian guy lurking around the background of this conversation, probably.”
Later, Chloe asks Rayford for his opinion on what’s happened. She thinks his belief that it was the Rapture is ridiculous. This is a really good time for some word play.
“I’m afraid so. Didn’t your mother tell you she believed that Jesus could come back some day and take his people directly to heaven before they died?”
“Sure, but she was always more religious than the rest of us. I thought she was just getting a little carried away.”
“Good choice of words.”
“She got carried away, Chloe. Raymie too.”
Good one, Ray.
Chloe says she has no idea what happened and that she thinks Ray is grasping at straws to comfort himself. THIS ANGERS RAYFORD STEELE.
Now Rayford was angry. “What’s more far-fetched than people disappearing right out of their clothes? Who else could have done that? Years ago we’d have blamed it on the Soviets, said they had developed some super new technology, some death ray that affected only human flesh and bone. But there’s no Soviet threat anymore, and the Russians lost people, too. And how did this … this whatever it was—how did it choose who to take and who to leave?”
It’s not the Russians. It’s not aliens. Shit. It has to be the Rapture!
Obligatory Carpathia mention for the chapter:
Rayford dropped the subject and went to watch television. Limited regular programming had resumed, but he was still able to find continuing news coverage. He was’ struck by the unusual name of the new Romanian president he had recently read about. Carpathia. He was scheduled to arrive at La Guardia in New York on Saturday and hold a press conference Monday morning before addressing the United Nations.
Ray also calls into work about when he’s next going to fly and if Chloe can come with him. Unsurprisingly Chloe is not very exciting to get on an airplane again. And in other news, Hattie keeps requesting to be on Ray’s flights and he’s not into it. Is Hattie meant to be a main character? I really can’t tell what’s going to happen with her character at this point.
The chapter ends with Chloe reluctantly agreeing to go with Ray to pick up the videotape the pastor left behind. You remember the one. The one that is definitely a laughing Erik Cartman.