L.B.: 10 pages in the men’s room

L.B.: 10 pages in the men’s room April 15, 2005

Left Behind, pg. 77

Here's how Chapter 5 begins:

Buck Williams ducked into a stall in the Pan-Con Club men's room to double-check his inventory. Tucked in a special pouch inside his jeans …

As a general rule, it's probably best not to begin a chapter by having the protagonist enter the stall of a men's room. Nor to have him untuck anything from his jeans.

It turns out that Buck is just checking on the thousands of dollars of traveler's checks he carries in his pants. But since Buck and Jenkins are enjoying the ambience of the bathroom stall setting, they take the opportunity to examine all the contents of his luggage and explain his strategy for packing for trips overseas:

His practice … was to do his own laundry in the sink and let it dry a whole day while wearing one outfit and having one more in reserve. That way he was never burdened with lots of luggage."

This is the kind of detail that, somehow, Ian Fleming never provided about James Bond. Bond tended to avoid the youth hostels that Buck apparently frequents, opting instead for hotels that offer laundry service. It seems that Buck's expense account with "Global Weekly" allows him to fly first class, to charter planes, and to carry and spend wads of cash, but it doesn't allow him to get his clothes laundered by the hotel.

Here in the airport men's room stall, Buck is in a reflective mood, and so begins a series of flashbacks explaining why he was headed to London and why he had stopped off in Chicago first. As a result of these trips down memory lane, Buck won't leave the stall for another 10 pages.

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