Geovanni the elevator operator turns out to be a limo driver as well, and ushers Heller to the residence of Bang-Bang Rimbombo (what?!). Although a serious mafia hoodlum, all along the way he gushes about how Heller took down those thugs in the Gracious Palms, one of which was Faustino's nephew. "Blowie! Blowie! Blowie! Just like that! Wow!" And yes, he's making shooting motions with one hand while driving.
Against all odds Heller arrives at a crummy apartment without ending up in a fiery car crash. One girl answers the door, and Bang-Bang's in bed with another, but he hurriedly gets dressed when he hears that Babe has a job for him. He and Heller rustle up a cab - the mob never uses a limo for "wet jobs," but has the cab companies in their pocket. Geovani departs the chapter still making "Blowie!" noises and shooting his fingers.
A page after he's introduced, Bang-Bang finally gets a description - he's a "narrow-faced little Sicilian" (of course) who "looked pretty smart." He and Heller arrive at the garage and find both the front and back doors are padlocked. After sizing up the place, Heller picks the front lock in a heartbeat, carefully checks for tripwires and walks to avoid any landmines once he's past the threshold, and opens a window from the inside. Then he goes back out, locks the padlock, and helps Bang-Bang scramble through the window, shutting it behind them. And no pedestrians or motorists are around to witness this bit of breaking and entering, conveniently enough.
Gris, meanwhile is impressed - Heller's acting like a trained combat engineer, and his method of entry was quite discrete. "I would have to remember how to do that," he thinks, reminding us how mind-boggling it is that such an incompetent bunch of "trained" intelligence agents could hope to topple an empire.
The garage has been jam-packed with crate after crate of illegal goods, with only a little avenue remaining to drive a car through. There's a million dollars' worth of both Jonnie Walker Gold Label booze and Taiwanese wrist-mounted recorders, all smuggled into the country to avoid those pesky customs fees. Bang-bang angrily concludes that Narcotici's outfit is trying to cut in on the Corleones' smuggling operation, and blames "that crook Oozopopolis!"
Aaaand that was the moment in this chapter that makes me want to put the book down and walk away. Is this going to become a regular thing, Hubbard?
Heller's more concerned about his car, of course, and urges Bang-Bang along to de-bomb it. They find it in a dimly-lit section of the garage. Bang-Bang gets out a torch - I'm guessing a flashlight, and that Hubbard's come down with a touch of Britishness - and crawls under the Caddy to get to work. He tsks at the craftsmanship of his rival car bombers, as this one's set up so that sticks of dynamite are attached to each wheel, spinning until centrifugal force gets all the nitroglycerine to ooze to one end, until a big enough bump in the road sets it off. "Cut-rate. They saved the expense of detonators! Cheapo!"
And now I'm kinda wondering where Hubbard learned this stuff about making car bombs.
Even though Bang-Bang is a demolitions expert, it's up to Heller to suggest that the dynamite is just a decoy, and that there may be another bomb. Sure enough, in the back of the front hood there's ten pounds of gelignite, hooked up to the odometer so that it'd blow after five miles. Bang-Bang's impressed that someone's this mad at Heller, but then they hear the sound of an approaching car!
They hide between two stacks of crates as the car parks and a trio of mooks enter the scene, the guy who saw Heller earlier and two new folks named Dumb-Dumb and Chumpy. There's a lot of complaining about how long it took them to get here, and how they have to hurry up and move the car outside before he comes back. The thugs take up separate positions in the shadows to wait and shoot him when he comes for the car.
Hey, that's a pretty smart idea that doesn't involve a car bomb being stored in a garage full of flammable substances. Why not do that the first time, then? Skip the hugely-conspicuous bomb and make with the silenced bullets? Heller could have been dead four chapters ago!
Heller's having none of this. Neither he nor Bang-Bang have a gun - "It's illegal to carry a gun on parole" - so it's time to improvise. Heller slips out of his clackety-clack cleats, and... oh, this is gonna be stupid.
He unwinds a length of fishing line and attaches a bass plug to one end. Then he throws it at the front door, firmly attaching the line to it. With a firm yank he pulls open the apparently unlocked portal, and before the crash is done echoing he throws a baseball - yes, a baseball - with enough force to take down poor Chumpy without so much as a whimper.
From there it proceeds like any number of stealth-based video games. The other mooks neither see nor hear their comrade fall, but move forward to inspect the loud noise and decide that it's just the wind. Heller hurls another baseball and drops the one in sight, then when the other quite appropriately wonders "What the hell?", Heller attempts a bank shot off a wall at the sound. Astonishingly, he misses. The hapless survivor bolts for the back door, only to find it locked. Before he can blow the lock with his gun, Heller takes him down with another baseball.
And yes, they're all dead, their skulls smashed in. Boom, headshots. From baseballs. Heller just killed three people with baseballs, with an assist from a fishing line.
There's eight more books of this.
Bang-Bang loots himself a highly illegal firearm from a thug's corpse and boggles along with the reader that Heller just killed people with baseballs. Heller is all business, though, and tells him to finish up on the Cadillac. "We've got to get to work now."
Back to Chapter Six