Thursday, February 16, 2012

Part Eighteen, Chapter Four - Remorse But Not Responsibility

Let's start the chapter off with some comedy, shall we?

A pair of cops wandered up.  "What are you doing?"

"Fishing," said Heller.

"You sure you're not swimming?" said one cop.

"Just fishing," said Heller.

"Well, see that you don't swim," said the cop and he and his partner wandered away, idly swinging their nightsticks.

And so Heller gets back to wiping all the oil and slime off Epstein while stripping the economist of his sodden and grimy clothes.  There's no indication that Heller's put any of his own clothes back on yet.

As more sludge comes off Epstein, he's revealed to be "quite small, [with] a narrow face, a beaked nose, weak eyes and was shivering" from all the stress he's been through.  While Heller cleans him up with motherly care, Epstein explains how he discovered that one IRS agent was just making up regulations, prompting him to go to a legal library and make copies of the actual handbooks for the agency.  With this information, Epstein did his fellow students' tax returns and cost the local IRS two million dollars, particularly from the bonuses of agents McGuire, O'Brien and Malone.  Who are they, you ask?  The blokes Heller blew up two chapters ago.

Speaking of two chapters ago, Heller pulls out that subpoena and asks Epstein what it is.  The dropout explains that it lands you in court, where you plead the Fifth Amendment, go back to jail for a bit, and pop back in to plead it again.

"Then they really don't examine you and make you tell all you know?"

"No, it's just a method for keeping innocent people in jail."

So yes, Heller blew up a building and killed at least ten people to defend himself from a threat he didn't understand.

Heller was looking at the water.  "Oh, those poor fellows," he said.

"What poor fellows?" said Epstein.

"McGuire, Malone and O'Brien and seven other agents.  They're all dead.  I thought I was facing a Code break, you see."


"Yes, your apartment blew up.  Killed them all."

No, Heller.  You blew up the apartment.  You killed them all.  Because it never occurred to you to run for it when their backs were turned, or even to just skip the hearing, which was issued to a false identity in the first place. 

Well, Heller's remorse is short-lived - Epstein gushes that with those three agents dead (the other seven were probably jerks anyway), the case against him will fall apart since they never had any evidence to convict him.

"It means I am not being hunted! The thing is all over!"

"Good," said Heller. "Then you're free and clear!"

Yay!  Murder solved all our problems!  The government will never investigate a bombing that took out ten of its agents, everything's solved now!

Epstein bursts into tears at his sudden good fortune, convinced that something awful is about to happen to him to compensate.  Sure enough, Heller says he has a job for him.  Epstein asks his name... holy crap.  Someone wants to know a Hubbard hero's name before agreeing to do stuff for him!

Well, Heller says his name's Jet, and Gris is all like "code break!," but Heller explains that Jet is short for Jerome Terrance Wister, or J. T. Wister.  Jet, see?  He explains that all he needs Epstein to do is open an account at Short, Skidder and Long Associates so Heller can buy and sell stock.  Epstein asks if Heller's got the cash for it (he does) and if he has any enemies he should be worried about.  When Heller explains that Mr. Bury, personal attorney of the unstoppable Mr. Rockecenter, keeps starting crap with him, Epstein gets all quiet.  Though he agrees to help Heller, he explains that managing an account might take some time... and gets a little sidetracked talking about his rejected thesis.

"It was all about corporate feudalism--industrial anarchy, you know--how the corporations could and should run everything.  Its title was 'Is Government Necessary?'  But I think I could get them to accept my new title.  It's 'Anarchy Is Vital If We Ever Are Going to Establish Industrial Feudalism.' [...] About eighty percent of a corporation's resources are absorbed in trying to file government reports and escort inspectors around.  If they would listen, I could get the Gross National Product up eighty percent, just like that!"  He brooded a bit.  "Maybe I ought to change my thesis title to 'Corporations Would Find Revolution Cheaper Than Paying Taxes.'"

This may be the first time I've heard someone push feudalism as a positive thing.  I'm also wondering if Hubbard is using Epstein as a mouthpiece here, but can't be certain.  If he is, it's interesting that his focus is on corporations instead of, say, legitimate religious movements.

Finishing up, finishing up... Heller keeps trying to discuss Epstein's salary, but the guy stubbornly insists that he's not worth it, and is used to starving, and even though he's certain "Jet" is a wonderful guy his "efforts of philanthropy are being directed at a lost cause."  So Heller invokes the same bullcrap Indian law that Vantagio did a few chapters ago, claiming that since Heller saved Epstein's life, Epstein is now responsible for him, and therefore has to manage Heller's stock portfolio.

Epstein bursts into tears.  He eventually takes Heller's money and agrees to work for him, but trudges away with the doleful comment of "I am sure that, with my awful fate, you will live to regret the kind things you have done.  I am sorry."

Presumably he got dressed before he left.

So there you have it.  Heller has browbeaten a whiny, mournful, suicidal, moronic, capitalist-anarchist into working for him so he can buy stocks.  Oh, and he killed ten people for no good reason.  All of this, of course, is vital to his plans to save the planet from a hostile alien invasion, as well as from its own stupid, polluting inhabitants.

Back to Chapter Three

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