“Competing for a Man None of Us Loved” – Escape Chapter 15: Honeymoon

Do you think it’s impossible to despise Merril Jessop more? After all he’s done, you’re pretty sure your opinion of him can’t sink any lower? Well, my darlings, as we continue this ill-conceived Hawaiian vacation with Merril and three of his wives, I do believe you’ll find your opinion grabbing a drilling rig and heading for the Earth’s core. (By the end of the book, you’ll be wishing you could drop him down the hole, trust me.)

On the flight, Tammy and Carolyn shag the seats beside Merril, leaving Cathleen the odd woman out. She sits on Tammy’s other side, upset and not hiding it. Merril could have done the decent thing and assured her he loved her and promised her a seat beside him on the flight home. Alas, Merril doesn’t have a decent bone in his body. So instead, he says something shitty that causes Cathleen to head for the back of the plane, where she sobs loudly enough for them to all hear.

Tammy, wanting Merril to herself for reasons probably having much more to do with power plays than affection, starts berating Carolyn for not going to take care of Cathleen. She keeps it up until Carolyn, pregnant and ill, loses her temper and snaps at her. Pretty hard to keep sweet in these conditions.

And what does Merril do? Laughs because his wives are miserable and fighting over him. What a shit.

Fortunately for Carolyn, these are the days before the Jeffs cracked down on all forms of worldly entertainment, so she’s able to drown out her spouses with the in-flight movie. It doesn’t help much, but it’s something.

After a very long flight across the Pacific, they land and get the standard lei-and-a-photo, which Tammy turns into a dramatic scene by insisting it get redone with all three wives. And then she pesters Merril all the way to the hotel about who he’s going to fuck that night. Yes, in front of every tourist on the shuttle. And Carolyn’s father. Yay, FLDS vacation…

The three wives end up sharing a room after Merril kicks Tammy out of his room, unfucked, because he has a headache. I can’t imagine where that came from. You know, as much as I loathe that man, I sometimes feel slight twinges of sympathy, and wonder if part of his miserable personality comes from the circumstances he was raised in. He’s a power-hungry megalomaniac, but if his religion wasn’t dictating advancement by multiple marriage, I wonder if he’d have married someone like Barbara and at least been somewhat less of a domestic tyrant. I’m pretty certain his wives would have had much happier lives without being forced to marry a shitstain who enjoys playing them against each other, and that Tammy would have been a much happier human if she wasn’t trapped in a loveless marriage and reduced to begging the asshole to impregnate her in order to have a sliver of meaning in her life.

Breakfast the next morning includes more drama over who gets to sit next to Merril. You might wonder why they all fight over a man they despise rather than buggering off to enjoy the views at another table. I’m pretty sure it’s because of power. If you’re not constantly jockeying for a place at Merril’s side, he may decide to shuffle you into the background. In this culture, losing your husband’s favor means losing the only power you have. So you try to curry favor with a man you hate.

Merril decides to rent a van rather than a convertible like the other FLDS sightseers. The man’s not happy unless he’s shitting on his wives. They spend the day driving around the Big Island in the stuffy van. Carolyn’s wretchedly ill, having to vomit several times, and Merril finally does one decent thing by noticing she’s not feeling well and stopping to get her some food to settle her stomach. Of course, the other wives can’t stand the fact he’s being kind to a wife who isn’t them and kick up a fuss about it.

Keep in mind: these folks think God arranges the marriages. Well, if that’s the case, he’s a shit matchmaker.

Merril takes Carolyn to bed with him that night, causing Tammy to explode. Merril loves every minute of it, especially when she calls his room phone to complain. He enjoys having his wives fight over him, Carolyn says, and I don’t doubt her a bit.

Tammy accuses him of sinning, since in the FLDS, you’re only supposed to have procreative sex, and Carolyn can’t get any more pregnant than she already is.

But there’s a loophole. A man who has attained the priesthood is believed to have the spirit of God within him. His “inspirations” are seen as being transmitted from God. If he’s “inspired” to have sex with his pregnant wife, it’s within his rights since it comes from God.

Image shows Dana Carvey dressed as the Church Lady, sitting with his hands folded and looking up toward the top right of the photo. Caption says "How conveeenient."
So they have sex. For once, Merril doesn’t make Carolyn feel used – he even takes off both their holy underwear and touches her. She can’t let herself get too happy about it, though. It’s just a fluke. And she still can’t stand him, even though she has to keep his interest in order to have any power at all. The only way she can protect herself and her children from the other wives is by maintaining relations with him.

Don’t stop drilling to the core just because Merril showed a few slivers of human decency in between treating his wives like utter shit. He’s about to make you want to launch his smug narcissistic ass straight into the hottest portion of the earth’s interior. And you’ll be ready to throw the FLDS faith down after him.

Image is the cover of Escape, which is photo of Carolyn Jessop on a black background. She cradles a framed picture of herself as an FLDS teenager in her hands. She is a woman in her thirties with chestnut hair and blue eyes.

I’m reviewing Escape chapter-by-chapter. Pick yourself up a copy if you’d like to follow along. The full list of reviews to date can be found here. Need a chaser? Pick up a copy of Really Terrible Bible Stories Volume 1: Genesis or Volume 2: Exodus today!

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“Competing for a Man None of Us Loved” – Escape Chapter 15: Honeymoon
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