Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pg. 153
Bad news, I’m afraid, for Steve Plank.
You remember Steve? He used to be Buck Williams’ best friend. For years, in fact, Steve was Buck’s only friend. Buck lived alone in New York City, thousands of miles from his family. He had no friends from school, and most of his other colleagues at work viewed him with jealousy and resentment, so Steve was all he had.
If Buck needed a ride to or from the airport, he called Steve. If Buck needed to talk to someone about story ideas, he talked to Steve. Steve was also the boss who helped guide Buck’s career and his rise as a professional magazine writer. So Buck owes him.
And yet here we are in Book 3 of our series and it seems that Buck, and the authors, have grown weary of Steve Plank. Poor Steve’s days are numbered.
The authors telegraph Steve’s fate here in the middle of Nicolae, where Jerry Jenkins has decided to devote a couple of chapters to catching up with peripheral characters. Buck sees Chaim Rosenzweig and that leads to several pages of reminding readers who Chaim is, what’s happened to him so far, and how fond Buck Williams is of his old friend. Rayford Steele gets a phone call from Hattie Durham and off we go on a multi-page review of Hattie’s history in the story and a reminder of Rayford’s guilty sense of obligation to his former co-worker.
Those review sections emphasize that the authors are still invested in Chaim and Hattie (and also in Tsion Ben-Judah, a.k.a. Bruce Barnes 2.0).
But when we get to Steve Plank, he only gets two dismissive paragraphs. Uh-oh.
Those two paragraphs, of course, involve Buck making a phone call:
Buck settled into his room on the third floor of the King David Hotel. On a hunch he called the offices of the Global Community East Coast Daily Times in Boston and asked for his old friend, Steve Plank. Plank had been his boss at Global Weekly what seemed eons ago. He had abruptly left there to become Carpathia’s press secretary when Nicolae became secretary-general of the United Nations. It wasn’t long before Steve was tabbed for the lucrative position he now held.
It was no surprise to Buck to find that Plank was not in the office. He was in New Babylon at the behest of Nicolae Carpathia and no doubt feeling very special about it.
Buck showered and took a nap.
I’m not sure what to make of Buck calling Steve “on a hunch,” and then not being surprised that Steve wasn’t in. I suppose that means Buck is no longer surprised when his hunches turn out to be wrong.
In any case, Buck’s dismissive sneering makes it clear that Steve Plank’s fate is sealed. He has cast his lot with Nicolae and will therefore die and be damned to Hell for eternity. And the authors are no doubt feeling very special about it.
What has Steve done, exactly, to earn this sarcastic derision from his old friend Buck?
Well, first he took a job as an assistant to the Antichrist, signing on as Nicolae Carpathia’s press-secretary. For Buck and for the authors, this is unforgivable — even though, at the time that Steve took that job, Buck himself was busy giving Nicolae a standing ovation, then arranging for a private audience so that he could beg Nicolae for protection.
Buck stuck a deal with Nicolae in which he agreed to bury a story in exchange for his personal safety. As a consequence of that deal, three people were murdered — one pushed off a ferry and two shot. And despite knowing all this, Buck kept his end of the deal and never reported on any of it. But apparently none of that is as bad as taking a job as a press secretary.
We’ve just learned, though, that Steve is no longer serving as press secretary. He left that job for a lucrative post working directly for the Antichrist as his hand-picked puppet-journalist in charge of a daily newspaper. For doing that, he clearly deserves damnation.
Buck Williams took a lucrative post working directly for the Antichrist as his hand-picked puppet-journalist in charge of a weekly newsmagazine. And that, of course, is completely different.