Sunday, April 29, 2007

You had to put 'Be Stupid' first on your list of 'Things to do Today!'

L.B.: LMA, Left Behind, pp. 268-274, posted 28th April 2007

Sherrinford Potter didn't much like Buck Williams. It was nothing personal: he just didn't get along with lazy blowhards. But even if Williams had been his favorite person "It's after ten p.m. at night, and he wants to come on over and watch TV? What's wrong with his own TV?"

"I tried everything," Marge said. "I even told him you'd be watching M*A*S*H. I'm sorry, Ford. But Mr Plank seemed to think this was really urgent."

"If he knows anything about TV, he'd know M*A*S*H would be over before Nightline starts," Potter said. "You couldn't just have told him we'd be going to bed?" Marge was looking at him in that kind of way. She had really thrown herself into her work in the week since the Event. God knows he felt bad about their grandchildren, Ted and Jo-Anne and little Sherry, but he'd been worried sick about Marge. He sighed. "Okay. Okay. He can come over. Now sit down with me and watch. It's the episode where Hawkeye's supposed to be dead, and he gets into a fight with that blowhard Frank Burns."

"Oh, Ford, I ought to pick up the sitting room, it's such a mess - "

"We're doing them a favor, they can take us as we are. Sit down. I love this episode."

Steve Plank was a nice enough guy, Potter supposed: Marge always spoke well of him. Unlike Williams, he thought to apologize for turning up so late at night, but couldn't say why it was so important. They all settled down in front of the TV: it was an interview with the new President of Romania, who'd given a speech at the UN earlier that day.

Potter wasn't impressed. Plank and Williams kept leaning eagerly forward, hanging on every word, making Potter think of a pair of schoolgirls watching their favorite pop star. "Interesting kind of guy," Potter said, to be polite, when they looked at him, but he didn't think so.

Wallace Theodore seemed all shook up himself. Potter didn't watch Nightline all that often, but Theodore was never this flaky. He kept jumping from point to point. And the guy Carpathia kept staring at the camera, like a novice who'd never been on TV before. He didn't have anything to say about the Event, and Theodore didn't ask him anything.

But then, right out of the blue, there came a pretty sharp question: "So you deny having a business rival murdered seven years ago and using intimidation and powerful friends in America to usurp the president's authority in Romania?"

Carpathia smiled. Potter didn't like the look of that smile. "The so-called murdered rival was one of my dearest friends, and I mourn him bitterly to this day."

But that don't answer the question. Potter glanced at Williams, expecting to see him react, but the man just had a wide-eyed look, like a deer in the headlights, waiting to get clobbered. Wasn't this supposed to be homework for Williams' interview with Carpathia later tonight? Why wasn't he taking notes?

He glanced at Marge, and realized that under that polite look, his wife was equally puzzled, and even a bit embarrassed - for her boss and Williams, he realized: she'd always been plenty impressed by Williams.

"This Roman kid is light on his feet," Potter said.

He saw Marge relax a bit. "Romanian," she corrected him. She slid her hand over to his and gave him a grateful squeeze.

"I heard him say he's a full-blood Italian," Potter said. He gave the word full emphasis. He'd thought that bit was even more nonsense: sure, the guy could be Italian, he'd met blond Italians, but he'd never heard that Romanians were mostly Italian: most of them were Slavic, and the country didn't even border on Italy. Marge winked at him.

The interview went on. It got more boring after that: Carpathia was some kind of UN geek, Potter hadn't heard so much UN trivia since Mrs Dunnett's grandson had been memorizing answers for the tri-state high school quiz championship, and Potter - like everyone else in the apartment building who'd hold still for it - had tested him on all the subjects Joey had thought he might be asked about. That was what this guy Carpathia sounded like - a high school geek with a passion for UN trivia. But Plank and Williams watched, absorbed, nodding, fascinated.

"We must disarm, we must empower the United Nations, we must move to one currency, and we must become a global village."

That was it. End of show.

"He's really quite a guy, isn't he?" Williams said to Potter, as they were getting up. It was the first time he'd spoken to Potter, but he didn't seem aware of that. "Really impressive. I was at the UN this afternoon and heard him speak. At the press conference afterwards, he recognized me."

"Oh," Potter said. He couldn't think of anything to say. "That must have been quite a treat for you."


Anonymous said...

That's brilliant. These features breathe more life into the characters than the original works. It's refreshing to get the events from a different perspective, and I can't think of anyone that would beat Col. Potter in showing how absurd this particular selection is. Great job.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever tried to


Jessica R. said...

I like how in these excerpts it's the throwaway characters who are revealed to have the most depth and insight. It's like Rayford and Buck are such obvious horrible Mary Sues for the authors no one feels much energy for redeeming them.

X said...

My goodness! Our mission must be to displace this book in the google rankings! Start your linking everybody!

J said...

Thanks so much for redeeming Marge's husband. That bit of "comdedy" always bothered me to a strange degree, and you've reinterpreted the scene masterfully.