Left Behind, pp. 50-53
Here we learn the sad fate of co-pilot Chris Smith. Ten pages earlier, Smith established himself as a villain by violating Rayford Steele’s odd notion of chivalry and accepting the airline’s offer of a bus ride back to the terminal.
I noted earlier (see “Scream morality“) that:
Left Behind has its own moral rules that function like the rules for slasher flicks that Jamie Kennedy’s character outlines in Scream. By violating those rules, Smith dooms himself as surely as that teenager who says, “Don’t believe those crazy stories. Let’s sneak off into the woods and have sex.”
Rayford’s indignant response at the time makes it clear that LaHaye and Jenkins want readers to regard Smith’s accepting of a ride as an unpardonable sin. “Rayford glared at him … ‘I should write you up for this.’”
But it’s difficult to puzzle out exactly what Smith did that was so wrong. The airline sent a bus to pick up its flight crew and Smith was willing to accept this privilege. Steele later accepts special privileges afforded to pilots (a special phone line, a helicopter ride home). And Buck Williams, the book’s other protagonist, regularly cuts in line and takes advantage of his status as a privileged customer and club member. The lesson, I suppose, is that our heroes are allowed to be selfish because they are our heroes. Other people, like Smith, are not.
So just like the peripheral characters who die for their “sins” in a slasher movie, we know that Chris Smith is doomed. The next time we see him we can expect he’ll be dead, another bloodied corpse in the woods of Camp Crystal Lake.
[Hattie] turned and spoke into his ear. “They wheeled him past us while I was going into the lounge. Blood all over! … I think he was dead!”
Rayford shook his head. What next? “Did he get hit or something? Did that bus crash?” Wouldn’t that be ironic!
Here again is the major theme of the book. “Bad people” break the rules and die horribly. “Good people” see this as poetic justice and enjoy a chuckle.
The helicopter pilot fills Steele in on all the amusing details: Smith arrived at the terminal and learned that “his boys had disappeared and his wife was killed in a wreck.” In grief, loneliness and anguished despair, Smith slashed his wrists and died.
Isn’t that ironic?!?