Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lionel: Multiple Contender for the Darwin Award

So Lionel heads home to confront the looters at his house. In the real world, this would qualify him for a Darwin Award because crazed looters plus unarmed thirteen-year-old boy...I don't think you need to do the math, here.

But it turns out that his Uncle Andre owes powerful people money and said people have decided to crash at Lionel's house as part of the payment. Lionel naturally decides the best thing to do at a time like this is smart off at these people. The only reason he doesn't end up dead because of it is because of divine writ of Ellanjay's protection.

What follows is Jenkins's painful attempts at tough-sounding dialogue, most of it done in the style of what Turkey City Lexicon calls Brenda Starr dialogue. We get no indications of what any of the thugs look like; they might as well be talking cardboard cutouts for all we know. But we do get this bit of brilliance, after Lionel threatens to call the police.

"You think the police have time to worry about you right now? We could kill you and bury you and leave a pile of your clothes on a chair, and they'd believe you were one of those people who disappeared. Trust me boy, you're better off with a place to stay. We'll even let you eat, maybe teach you the business."

Unlike the adult books, at least we get some indication that the police are hamstrung and too busy to investigate every single disappearance, so basically, if you ever wanted to permanently settle a grudge with someone, the aftermath of the rapture is the time to do it. Kill someone, stack their clothes, and hide their body. The police will be too busy to bother checking into every disappearance because they're preoccupied with the suspicious disappearances of every child on earth. So I have to give Ellanjay kudos for remembering this for the children's book, but boo them for forgetting it in the adult books. Remember how they went for the old faked suicide canard with Dirk Burton?

After that conversation, Lionel finally shows some sense and hightails it out of there. Meanwhile, Vicki is standing in front of the burned remains of her house and we get a good bit of writing here. Well, maybe good is too strong of a word. Adequete would work better.

But now, as she stood in the cool of the morning, staring at the slowly rising smoke and smelling the acrid fumes, she was overcome with a longing for that little trailer house. She remembered how it looked, how it smelled, how it creaked when she walked through it. She had even learned where to step to keep from making noise when she tried to sneak in after curfew.

I have to give Ellanjay kudos here, especially for the last line. It would have been nice to go further, maybe talk about the little tacky knicknacks her mom collected or her sister's Barbies, or her favourite strapless bra, now forever lost, but I'll take what I can get. I think I'm developing Stockholm's Syndrome thanks to this book.

So Judd offers to take her in and in the conversation, all I can think about is that guy Luanne Platter on King of the Hill dated in the episode she revirginized, who was so desperately horny that she agreed to marry him just so they could have sex. You can't honestly expect me to believe that Judd is being nice to her out of the kindness of his heart. Especially with dialogue like this:

"I'm what God will use to take care of you. You're a Christian now, and he's going to watch over you and make sure you're taken care of. He's going to use me to do that."
"So you're God's guy now, his right hand man?"
"You could say that."
"So, where are we going?"
"To my house."
"Just let me do this, Vicki. I really think God wants me to, and I'll feel like I'm letting him down if I don't."

That's not all he'll be letting down if he doesn't :eyebrow waggle: But seriously, read that dialogue and tell me it doesn't reek of a teenage boy desperate to get laid.

There's a short section about Ryan but not much happens on his end. He sees Lionel running away and decides to run away too. I'm serious, that's all that happens.

And I'll leave you till next week.


Firedrake said...

Oh, yeah, he's wanting to get laid all right. And this is where all that sexism comes back to bite when real people are involved: in the structure that LaHaye would impose, there's nothing Vicki can do except go along with it.

With all the other empty houses around, why pick one with a kid making trouble? Easiest just to go somewhere else.

I suppose this might be LaHaye and Jenkins responding to criticism of the whole fake suicide thing, but I think they're probably immune to criticism.

Mink said...

Wow. That's... that's an industrial case of hubris right there on his part.

Ruby said...

Judd's comments remind me vividly of the way the former Quiverful wives describe how their husbands convinced them to stick around: God talked to me and told me you are to stay with me, God wants us to be together and for me to have dominion over you, How can you argue with God's will for our lives?

Mink said...

Oh, dear. Quiverful is one of the more disgusting aspects of modern Christianism. So Lionel is getting started early on that philosophy, it seems.


Mrs Grimble said...

Doesn't Vicki have any other firends? Surely she isn't the only alienated, Gothy kid with vanished RTC parents in town? There must be others - they could all band up together, look after each other, investigate what happened...
Ooops, sorry, that's an entirely different book.

Anonymous said...

It's sad that I actually had a minor "this is awesome!" moment over the thugs at the house actually making sense. They literally seem to be some of the most rational thinkers in existence, as far as LB canon goes.