Edge of Apocalypse: pages 277-282 (Chapter Forty-Eight)
And now we revisit Josh and Abby Jordan. 🙂
Joshua Jordan was locked in a tight embrace with Abby. He was kissing her passionately in the foyer of his Palace Hotel suite.
After the preliminary schmooping at each other, we get something interesting. Now, Parshall isn’t as bad as Jenkins with the obtusely unintentional self-centeredness his characters exhibit, but still…
Then she stopped and moved her head back slightly to tell him something. “Oh, I’ve had such bad dreams,” she said.
[Josh replied,] “Being there with Rocky and Peg in that house. Helping them with their grief. I’m not surprised.”
“Not about them. About us.”
Now, we have already seen that Abigail tends to like things to be focussed on her (consider her conversation with Darlene in Aspen, for example), so even though the book presents her as the helpful woman appendage to Josh, the flashes of self-centeredness do show through. It’s kind of a bit surprising that Josh is the one to assume Abby was naturally reacting to Rocky Bridger’s recent loss, rather than assuming her dreams are all about him. Consider the contradiction between the above set of phrases and this just a little further down (bold is mine).
He asked her how things were going with Peg as she dealt with her loss, and how Rocky Bridger was doing. Abigail gave him the rundown in detail.
But Joshua saw the exhaustion in her face. “The way you give yourself to other people, Abby…you’ve got to look out for yourself too.”
Her dream, though?
“Bad dreams. For a while now. This sense of disaster. Like something bad, impending doom or something. I can’t shake it. Last night I dreamed there was this shadowy figure in our condo. Looking through our things. Wanting to hurt us, I think.”
Possible foreshadowing, considering that Atta Zimler is busy following Josh’s trail and has been tasked by Demas with getting the RTS-RGS.
We move into the catching-each-other-up segment of the chapter, with good news and bad news:
“We’ve got a conference call with several of the Roundtable folks thirty minutes from now. Hopefully to tell me that AmeriNews will go live later today. I’d like you to sit in on it with me. I need you on this.”
“So what’s the bad news?”
“The reason I want you on the call is that I received an email from Fort Rice. He now says he has had to bow out as head of our legal section. He says he has a conflict of interest.”
What’s this ‘conflict of interest’, you ask?
It seems Judge Strong Rice is rather troubled and embarrassed over his wife having to check herself into a rehab clinic. As Josh notes, Judge Rice is an “old-school kind of guy”, and that a man like that would believe his wife’s addiction to be less worse than it really is. Also, as it turns out, Judge Rice also isn’t too enamored of Darlene’s religious conversion while in the clinic.
“Well, it’s more complicated than that. Darley’s become a born-again Christian at that Center.”
Abby’s eyes widened; then they filled with tears. “Dear Darley. My precious friend. I couldn’t be happier for her. That’s so incredible…”
“Fort is really blowing a gasket over this. He’s not real keen on the Christian thing. He holds you partly to blame.”
“I’ll take that kind of blame, Josh. I really will. Darley is going to get better. From the pills, sure. But she’s also going to be spiritually healed, from the inside out. That’s what happens when Christ comes into your life. He changes you.”
“Look, Josh, you called him ‘old school.’ Remember he’s a former state supreme court judge. He takes conflicts of interest very seriously. Judges are trained to think like that. If he has a grudge against me, thinking I influenced his wife, and really thinks that will impact his effectiveness on the Roundtable because you’re the chairman, then Fort Rice is the kind of guy who would recuse himself. I know it sounds nitpicky, but strangely, I can understand where he might be coming from. Then there’s the personal problems he’s having with Darley’s situation too…”
All the above having been said, frankly, I think it’s a pretty thin excuse for Judge Rice to insist he can’t participate. Even though Abby tries to shore up that line of reasoning, the real reason Judge Rice wants out for now is because he’s miffed with the Jordans and needs an “official” reason everybody can pretend is the truth. We’ve all seen it a million times before: someone bails with a “it’s not you, it’s me” or whatever, and it’s transparently insulting to your intelligence yet you can’t call the person out on trying a face-saving socially acceptable way to disengage from a situation.
Anyway, Josh’s “signal-cloaking Allfone” rings, and they’re ready to roll. Along the way we get more blabber about Strong Rice’s no-show on the conference call, and we get the stereotypical damn-the-nitpickers attitude from the General:
“Wait a minute,” Alvin Leander called out. “Maybe it’s my old days from serving on the Senate ethics committee coming out, but speaking of conflicts of interest, don’t we have a problem with Abby advising the whole Roundtable while her husband is the chairman?”
“Screw the ethics lecture.” The voice on the phone was Rocky Bridger’s.
Truer words were never spoken, General. 😛 Your group’s engaged in a rather unethical set of activities itself, using the popular media to suborn a Congressional investigation, and cast a good light on a group of people who are manifestly opposed to the prevailing Democratic leadership of the United States of America, and willing to throw a lot of money into the pot to influence political affairs into a regime more of their liking.
Considering the magnitude of what the Roundtable is getting up to, I’d say ethics are the least of their worries at the moment.
The general’s words remind me of the way another general was once written, General Bogan in Fail-Safe:
“That’s a lot of hogwash. Don’t kid yourself, there’ll be Russian generals who will react just as I would – the best defense is a good offense. They see trouble coming up, take my word for it, they’ll attack, and they won’t give a damn what Marx said.”
(However, General Bogan wasn’t in on a secret plot to politically undermine the elected President of the United States :p )
The group segues into discussing how dead they are in the water and in which direction they might be able to move.
“Assuming [World Teleco cancelling the contract is] a clear breach,” Abby said, “we can go into court for injunctive relief. But that’s a tough call. No guarantees. Besides, the telecom company can tie us up in litigation for years.”
“We don’t have that kind of time,” Rankowitz said. “Josh, didn’t the judge order you to produce your RTS documents by tomorrow?”
“That’s the deadline,” Joshua replied. “Harry’s appealed the order. But he says the chances are nil.”
Josh and Abby decide they need an hour to come up with something. Josh goes off and reads some technical documents and Abby, apparently tireder than she thought, zonks out on the hotel bed. He wakes her up after the hour’s out, and they get back on the conference call. Abby asks Phil Rankowitz if he can get a few lawyers quickly, ones who are specialists in telecommunications law. But she’s not going to try and launch a lawsuit:
“I thought you said litigation would tie us up for years?” Alvin Leander said.
“It would,” Abby replied, “but I’m not talking about a lawsuit.”
Beverly Rose Cortez spoke up. “Abby. You can work some magic by tomorrow on this? You really think so?”
“I’ve got an idea. But it requires one vital piece of evidence.”
“What’s that?” Joshua asked his wife.
“We need to know something definite about World Teleco’s motives. Some hard evidence that Phil’s suspicions are right. That they shut us down to keep our message from getting out.”
“Digging up that kind of proof,” Leander said. “takes too much time.”
But Joshua intervened. “Not necessarily. Folks, let me work on that one.”
And that’s the end of the chapter! Dun-dun-DUN. Looks like we’ll see more of “The Patriot” soon, given Josh’s last words.
Next chapter we’ll be in the dry cleaners with John Gallagher.