Forbid Them Not: Part Spy Novel, Part Sunday School Literature

Forbid Them Not: Part Spy Novel, Part Sunday School Literature December 21, 2018

Forbid Them Not, pp. 410-421

I want to start this post by apologizing.

After my post last week, a number of readers were worried about Angelic. After all, there was a chat room conversation with no mention of Canada! Was Angelic okay? On seeing the level of concern about Angelic, I went back to the chat transcript. Had I missed something? Yes. Yes, I had.

Here’s what I missed:

Angelic: Can we do anything from Canada in addition to praying?
Sancty-fried: Yeah, throw snowballs at the Senate.

The other chatters encourage Angelic to call her American friends and ask them to pray too. Why not also ask her Canadian friends? Apparently American prayers count more than Canadian prayers.

Anyway, Angelic is okay! You can stop worrying!

Moving on! The chapter opens with Cooper and Laura having dinner at a fancy restaurant. Nancy, Cooper’s secretary, managed to get a last-minute reservation for them at the Lighthouse Cafe (I’m sure it’s a real restaurant but I’m too lazy to look it up). What’s the occasion? It’s October 16th, and Cooper just finished the fast turnaround on the brief, which means he just spent five days doing nothing but brief writing. Hence the fancy restaurant. He’s celebrating. (Exhaustedly.)

Cooper is just telling Laura that the speed may have been pointless—the Judiciary Committee hearings on Senator Rose are scheduled for “the day after tomorrow” after all—when he gets a phone call.

Flipping the phone open, he said hello into the wrong end of the phone, realized his error, and turned the phone over. “Hello,” he said again.

“Cooper? This is Jody Easler. Is everything OK there?”

“Jody! Hi! Everything is fine. I just answered the phone upside down.”

Laura winced when she heard the name “Jody.”

So fun.

“I was wondering if you could help me,” she said. “I am coming to Washington tomorrow. I am supposed to testify on the Rose nomination.”

“You are? Why?”

“I don’t want to say too much about it over your cell phone. Let’s just say for now that Senator Marshall asked me to testify.”

“Man, I guess that means—”

She cut him off. “Don’t. Not over the phone. All I will say is that Marshall has to inform the Senate chairman who is on his witness list in about half an hour. When my name is on the list, Kadar will know it within minutes. She will stop at nothing to keep me from testifying.”

“What do you want me to do?” he asked.

“I am afraid to make transportation plans or a hotel reservation in my own name or over my own phone. And I don’t want anyone from the Senate committee making my plans either. It just can’t be kept confidential. Can you get me a place to stay and have someone trustworthy pick me up at the airport?”

What.

First, Jody needs to go to the police. Or the FBI. Or someone. This is really ridiculous. If Kadar is still after her, she needs to actually do something about this.

Second, if Jody doesn’t think she can make plans in her own name, why did she think contacting Cooper made sense? Does she think Kadar has suddenly stopped spying on her contact with Cooper?

And it gets worse:

Cooper looked at Laura, trying to figure out how to respond. “I have an idea,” he replied. “Do you remember Laura Frasier?”

“Your fiancee?”

“Yeah, how did you know?”

“I read the tabloids about … well, you know … you and me and this whole bizarre case.”

“In any event, Laura will be at your gate to meet you. We’ll have everything planned without your name appearing anywhere.”

“That sounds good,” Jody replied.

Cooper took down her flight number and arrival time and quickly ended the call.

“I suppose you are going to tell me what that was all about,” Laura said.

You see what I’m saying?

If Jody is worried about someone listening in on their phone call—and she said she is—Cooper has surely just called down a hit on Laura. It’s not like no one knows who Laura is—Jody has been reading about her in the tabloids for god’s sake. Why would he assume no one will be watching for Laura?

Also, WTF Cooper, you do not volunteer Laura for this without checking with her first, especially when you know she does not like Jody and wants nothing to do with her. Who does that! He didn’t even pause and ask her, he volunteered her, set the details, and hung up the phone. Signed, sealed, delivered.

Cooper is a horrible person.

Laura, of course, is upset.

“So why am I meeting her at the gate?”

“Two reasons. First, Kadar’s people aren’t as likely to know you as me. And second, you won’t have any reasons to be suspicious of me if you are actually the one picking her up.”

“Hmm,” Laura said, pushpin the remains of her salad around on her plate. “I thought we were through with that ambas—with Ambassador Easler.”

Why not have someone else entirely pick Jody up? Why does Jody need to be picked up? Can’t she just call a cab and go to a random hotel without pre-booking it, and use an assumed name? And—not to be repetitive—Laura has been all over the tabloids. Cooper is literally risking her life (given what Jody said in a previous chapter about Kadar being willing to kill) on an assumption that “Kadar’s people” won’t recognize her, despite everything. This is batshit.

Also, what is with this “you won’t have any reasons to be suspicious of me if you are actually the one picking her up” line? It’s so evangelical. It really is. I’ve heard worse said. It’s also completely batshit and unhealthy. If you can’t trust your fiancé to be alone with a former fling, you may want to rethink your life choices. We’re not even talking a social occasion! This is business! Are evangelical men actually this untrustworthy? Does sex just spontaneously happen while they run from Eastern European hitmen? Evangelical men make me nervous.

Laura finally assents and agrees to pick up Jody—it’s not like she has much of a choice—but she makes Cooper sweet-talk her for a while first. This is also very evangelical. And annoying.

Scene change! It’s October 17th now, and Laura is at the airport.

Laura spotted at least twenty men who looked suspicious to her and decided to simply give up any amateurish effort at counter-surveillance.

Finally, she spots Jody coming out. Apparently, she’s actually in the airport, old-school style, waiting for her at the gate. This is after 9/11, so she shouldn’t be there. Anyway, Laura sees Jody coming up the ramp from the plane.

Laura stood up and waited. Jody, wearing a knee length dark skirt and a brightly colored silk top, paused at the doorway. Spotting Laura, she nodded and headed with bold strides in her direction. “Hello, Laura. Thank you for doing this,” she said.

Even the simple task of saying “You’re welcome” seemed incredibly difficult. “I’m happy to try to help,” Laura forced herself to say.

Cooper, you ass. 

“Did you see anyone who might be watching for me at the gate?”

“There were too many to tell,” Laura replied softly. “At least a couple of different men seemed to be watching me closely”

“That could just be the normal crop of creeps and slugs who belong under a rock someplace,” Jody replied.

Jody’s description made Laura laugh.

Wow. That was remarkably well done, for Farris. The laughter results in a loosening of tension between the two women. But they’re not out of trouble yet, because this is when they realize they’re being followed. By a man. Jody says to check if he has ugly shoes, because Eastern European men all have ugly shoes.

Cooper, you ass. 

I genuinely cannot believe Cooper put Laura in this situation. This is surreal. This is the man we’re supposed to think is the good guy? This could have been handled so many ways. They could have gone to the police. Or, Cooper could have sent someone else in to get Jody, someone who actually volunteered. Or he could have gone with Rick and Deanna and a bunch of other families from the church—one man wouldn’t have attacked a crowd.

But no. It’s all send Laura in. And it’s not like Cooper didn’t think this would happen. He did.

“Cooper told me to try something if we thought we might be followed, so bear with me, OK?” Laura whispered.

They pretend they’re going to take the elevator down to the baggage level, and wait until the man heads down the escalator. They get in the elevator, wait a few seconds, and then hit the button for the same floor, get out, and dash out to the parking lot where Cooper is waiting in his car (just so no one is worried about the Jody’s missing bags, Jody had already told Laura that she didn’t have any checked bags). So, they all hop in the car with Cooper.

Jody, for one, is impressed.

“It’s too bad I’m not in the State Department anymore, Cooper. I could recommend you for a position in intelligence, with good moves like that.”

Oh for god’s sake. They couldn’t have just called security?!? Think about it—if they thought they were being followed they could have talked to an airport staff person and asked them to call security. They could have asked for a security escort out, or they could have asked security to question the man who was following them. I know Jody isn’t an ambassador anymore, but her status as a former ambassador ought to have given her clout.

Unless Kadar also owns airport security?

For the millionth time, none of this makes sense.

Oh, but guess what. Cooper isn’t done!

Cooper laughed. “My next trick is for you to spend the night with Laura. We figured that no one would look for you there.”

Why the hell would they not look for her there? Especially after they were followed? It’s not like she hasn’t been all over the tabloids. It’s not like finding her address would be hard.

Cooper drops Laura and Jody off at Laura’s place without going in—he says he doesn’t want his car out front, in case Kadar’s people try tracking him after losing Jody at the airport, but I think he doesn’t want to be in a house with Jody, even with Laura there, because Laura might get all suspicious, or, you know, he and Jody might accidentally have sex if Laura leaves the room for a moment.

Laura, by the way, is not happy with this situation. “The moment she had truly dreaded had now arrived.” Laura does not want to be alone with Jody. She does not want to get to know Jody, as a flesh and blood person. She does not want this at all. Why the heck couldn’t they have dropped Jody off at a random hotel? She could have used an assumed name. It would probably have been safer than stashing her at Laura’s house, when Laura is a known person and was just seen with her. I mean, I’m pretty sure you could find Laura’s address in a phone book.

So, it’s awkward. It’s all awkward. Laura asks about Jody’s taking time off from being on Politics & Hollywood, and this exchange happens:

“I’ll be back in a couple days, assuming I’m alive.”

The matter-of-fact way she spoke of the question of her own survival momentarily unnerved Laura. “Do you think they would actually … actually harm you?” Laura asked plaintively.

Jody nodded. “Ohly if they felt they had no other choice. But Kadar wouldn’t hesitate to order me killed if lesser means failed her.”

“What do you have to say that is so dangerous to them?”

“I think it is safer for you not to know. Just in case.”

My god. Remind me why Jody is at Laura’s house, endangering her? I mean good grief—Jody says it’s safer for Laura not to know what she’s testifying on. Why? In case someone breaks in and takes them hostage? Is the idea that they’d let Laura live, because she doesn’t know what Jody was going to say—but if she knew, they’d have to kill her too?

Has Laura been told the level of risk here?

Anyway, all this talk about dying is the perfect segue for Laura to turn the conversation to religion, and she proceeds to lead Jody to Christ. Before 10:00 pm, she leads Jody through the sinner’s prayer. No, really.

We get cool exchanges like this:

“Why would God do all that? Why would he have his Son die for … strangers?”

“For the same reason that most mothers are so willing to sacrifice their own lives for those of their children.”

That makes literally no sense.

Jody asked questions for nearly two more hours, but Laura’s patent manner and effective use of Scripture began to be used by the Holy Spirit to penetrate a life and heart that had little thought of God until recently.

I really want to know more of Jody’s backstory. We’re told nothing, except that she had known lots of feminists, including pagan ones who believed in a mother goddess, and that she remembered a Bible verse from her childhood. We get nothing else.

We do, however, get this:

Laura wrapped her arms around Jody’s shoulder, and the women the tabloids portrayed as rivals in romance became sisters in Christ, bound together by the love of God.

The end.

This book is less realistic than Anonymous Tip was, and that’s saying something. On the plus side, it looks like Jody is avoiding Gordon’s fate. Unlike Gordon, she doesn’t have to die for the virtuous couple to make it to the altar.

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