Buck and Chloe Sitting in a Tree: Left Behind Chapter 20

Posted on March 8, 2016 by

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T-A-L-K-I-N-G. What? Did you think I was suggesting they hook up in this chapter? In this book? Goodness. Leave room for Jesus.

Left Behind: Chapter 20

Rayford and Chloe arrive at the hotel that Buck and Hattie are at, hopefully finally tying these two increasingly disparate stories into a sensible whole. Although “sensible” doesn’t really seem to be in Left Behind‘s wheelhouse.

Hattie nodded, smiling. “And Mr. Carpathia gave me his card. Did you know he’s going to be named People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive?”

As someone who knows nothing about the biblical endtimes aside from “the antichrist arrives and lots of specific things happen as the world ends”, I’m a little concerned that the only point that’s been asserted multiple times is that the antichrist is quite a hunk.

zoolander ridiculously good looking

Hattie tells Buck that it’s obvious they don’t have chemistry and tells him to chill. Buck immediately asks for a favor without really reacting. LaHaye and Jenkins think this is how normal people talk.

“You’re a nice guy, but it’s obvious we’re not kindred spirits. Thanks for seeing me and especially for introducing me to Mr. Carpathia.”
“Hattie, I could use a favor. Would it be possible to introduce me to this captain? I’d like to interview him.”

In case you’re wondering why Buck would want to interview Rayford of all people for an international publication on the biggest story happening in the entire world, not even the book is particularly sure.

“Really? Me?” [Rayford said.] “About what?” […]
“Your take on the disappearances. [It] would be good to get your perspective as a professional and as someone who was right in the middle of the turmoil when it happened.”

I mean, we all knew this was gonna be super contrived, but somehow I was still expecting something a little more than “because you were right in the middle of the turmoil”, which applies to literally everyone. As in literally everyone.

parks and rec literally

LITERALLY FUCKING EVERYONE ON THE PLANET

Also as a professional of what?

What an opportunity! Rayford thought.

The book having assured us this reason totally makes sense, it then tells us that Buck has totally, love-at-first-sight fallen for Chloe, because sure.

Buck was stunned. He loved Chloe’s name, her eyes, her smile. She looked directly at him and gave a firm handshake, something he liked in a woman. So many women felt it was feminine to offer a limp hand. What a beautiful girl! he thought.

Chris-Bosh-Hands-on-Head-and-Screams-GM7-NBA-Finals

Attracted by her name and manly handshake, apparently, Buck is all too eager to talk with Chloe while Rayford and Hattie go off to have a private talk. They have a heartfelt conversation full of chemistry hinting that they’re truly meant for each other. Just kidding, this is Left Behind: it summarizes the conversation so it doesn’t bother having to write any of that. Writing is hard!

He asked her about herself and where she went to college, what she was interested in. She told him about her mother and her brother, and he sympathized. Buck was impressed at how smart and articulate and mature she seemed. This was a girl he could be interested in […] She wanted to know about his life and career.

We’ve made this criticism about Left Behind before, but it’s impressively bad that this book reads like a Wikipedia article about said book.

Naturally, he said nothing about the Stonagal or Todd-Cothran connections.

I don’t know why the book assumes we’d think he’d talk about this while chatting up a girl, but this book is little more than a bullet point list of the things its characters said anyway, so I guess it might as well be a bullet point list of the things he doesn’t talk about anyway. It should be obvious why this is shit writing, but just for fun…

STOP TALKING BUTTON, THOU CRUEL TEMPTRESS

“You’re a wizard, Harry.” Hagrid said.
Hagrid told him about wizards and magic and the entire secret society of wizards all over the world. Harry expressed surprise. Hagrid told him that his parents were actually wizards and that a wizard school has accepted to enroll him for wizard training. Naturally, he said nothing about the most evil wizard of all time who killed Harry’s parents and his legion of wizard nazi followers who remain in hiding all over the world.
“Cool, let’s go!” Harry said.

Admittedly, once the book does bother writing some actual dialogue for these two lovebirds, the first one I actually found kind of subtly cute.

“Ever been married?” she asked. […]
He was happy to tell her no, that he had never really been serious enough with anyone to be engaged. “How about you?” he asked, feeling the discussion was now fair game. “How many times have you been married?”

I mean, even that example of a thing I like is mostly classic Left Behind “tell, don’t show”. I’ve never seen a book struggle to take a compliment before. And, of course, this is Left Behind, so even when it does finally bother writing the parts where we get to see people do people things (i.e. fucking dialogue), most of it makes no sense.

She laughed. “Only had one steady. […] I thought it was love, but when he graduated, I never heard from him again.” […]
“What was he, blind?” She didn’t respond. Buck mentally kicked himself […]
She stopped in front of a gourmet bakery shop. “You feel like a cookie?” she asked.
“Why? Do I look like one?”
“How did I know that was coming?” she said.
“Buy me a cookie and I’ll let that groaner die a natural death.”
“Of old age, you mean,” he said.
“Now that was funny.”

Wait, when did something funny happen?

If Buck and Chloe’s dialogue (or whatever) was too painful for you to read, I have bad news about Rayford and Hattie’s conversation about the affair they never had and also The Bible.

“Hattie,” he said, “I’m not here to argue with you or even to have a conversation. There are things I must tell you, and I want you just to listen.”
“I don’t get to say anything?” […]
“Of course [but] this first part, my part, I don’t want to be a dialogue. […]”
She shrugged. “I don’t see how I have a choice.”
“You had a choice, Hattie. You didn’t have to come.”
“I didn’t really want to come. I told you that and you left that guilt-trip message, begging me to meet you here.”
Rayford was frustrated. “You see what I didn’t want to get into?” he said. “How can I apologize when all you want to do is argue about why you’re here?”

scott pilgrim thonk

So… I’m not really gonna bother summarizing this whole conversation. Because 1) the bulk of it is not all that different from the excerpt above and you can just extrapolate a circular conversation from that, 2) I think you already get this entire dialogue is going to be “the woman was mad, and the man was frustrated”, because this is so obviously a book written by two men, and 3) seriously, how much more of this do you need to actually read:

Hattie buried her face in her hands and cried. “I wasn’t going to do this,” she said. “I wasn’t going to give you the satisfaction.
Rayford spoke as tenderly as he could. “Now you’re going to offend me

So here’s what you need to know:

  • Rayford admits that he was interested “in a relationship” with her and that he never pursued it, but it was only a matter of time until he would have found an excuse to do so.
  • He admits that he’s “not your judge and jury”, but points out that it would have been wrong for Hattie to do too (honestly, I kind of like how this was handled)
  • He admits that his only interest in her was physical, which… seems to be a surprise to her?
  • Hattie is upset that he didn’t just lie to her about why nothing ever happened. He says the dishonesty would have been worse.
  • Rayford… sort of quotes Les Miserables.

“You must know that your tears give me no satisfaction. Every one of them is a dagger to me.”

asdf

Oof! That’s pretty rough! Let’s take a break and check in on Chloe and Buck’s pseudo date!

He noticed a dab of chocolate at the corner of her mouth. He said, “May I?” extending his hand. She raised her chin and he transferred the chocolate to his thumb. Now what should he do?

Okay, let’s never check in on Chloe and Buck again.

Having gone over the whole “hey, sorry I led you on” bit, Rayford decides the time is perfect to convert Hattie to Christianity, which is a sentence I just wrote on this blog. Surprisingly, Hattie responds well to it, explaining that “I never knew this stuff was in the Bible”, which is sort of not actually that weird because, seriously, how has everyone in this book not figured out this is the rapture yet?

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Posted in: Left Behind