TPD pp 16-19: Jailhouse Blues **SCARY CLOWN WARNING**

We begin chapter two with Marshall rushing off to the police station to rescue Bernice, who has been arrested during orgy night. The streets are quiet, primarily because the po-po have arrested half the townspeople for drunken debauchery. Specifically, they’re all “dopers, vandals, rowdies, drunks, and no-goods [...] in what amounted to an overcrowded zoo”. Faced with arrest and pending incarceration, packed into cages – there usually aren’t many holding cells in the station, after all – the criminals get a jump on gambling for cigarettes and try “to outdo each other’s tales of illicit exploits”, with “young bucks” making “obscene comments to a cageful of prostitutes” (in smalltown middle America, no less).

While this may seem silly and cartoonish to you, good readers, that’s because you make the mistake of assuming the people depicted in a Christian novel are complex characters with motivations and emotions. They’re not. There are two types of person in this particular mindset: the Good and the Unsaved. The Good don’t swear, drink, or smoke; the Unsaved would rape their grandmothers before settling down to a meal of fresh sauteed baby if only nobody was looking. In a world as stark as that, of course a town of 12,000 has enough prostitutes to make up a cageful. After all, anyone who isn’t purely chaste until marriage, whose first kiss comes before “I do”, is bound to end up as one anyway. The smart ones are the ones that know to charge instead of giving it away to any man who asks for free.

Contrasting this excessive immorality is the Good, here presented in the form of Jimmy Dunlop, the new deputy. He gives Marshall a little trouble, claiming he hasn’t got permission from upstairs to release anyone, until Marshall points out his phone is off the hook. Jimmy misdials twice trying to call upstairs, which makes Marshall cynically point out he matches the town: “Cute, maybe a little dumb, kind of like a bumbling kid who always got himself into jams”, and apparently, who once a year throws a giant orgy in his basement bad enough to make a big-city man like Marshall cringe.

Bernice is, to Marshall’s horror, locked in with the prostitutes. She got picked up for soliciting, it seems; trying to get a “scandalous lead”. “What else was there to write about?” she asks. Given that their next biggest story was a¬†barbecue¬†thrown by a bunch of women, I’d suspect anything would be good enough, but apparently, giant festering orgies are so common she has to look for an angle to cover them.

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One Response to TPD pp 16-19: Jailhouse Blues **SCARY CLOWN WARNING**

  1. Angelika says:

    Some nine years ago, a friend gave me the book, pointing out she liked it because it drove home the importance of prayer. I started reading quite eagerly, considering the good appraisal. I think it was this point where the author lost me. – Or it might have been already earlier during the orgie. I just couldn’t get over the idea that a Christian would look at people engaging in drug abuse and see anything else but people in trouble and in need of help. The way the rest of the people in jail were treated by the author pretty much convinced me, that this book wasn’t of any worth for spiritual growth. I read on a bit longer, just so not to judge too quickly, but I never made it through. It wasn’t particularly entertaining either.
    Oddly enough I still have the book on my shelf, the friend who gave it to me had brought it from a public library in Malawi. And while I don’t really think this particular waste of paper and ink will be much missed, it seems somehow wrong to throw somebody else’s property into the recycling bin. Which reminds me, I need to write my friend and ask what to do with it.
    Anyways, good to see, that the book meets a good deconstruction.

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