Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Part Nineteen, Chapter Four - The Man with the Golden Llama

Gris only "lightly" watches Heller go through his Saturday night, since he's more interested in his upcoming Nature Appreciation class with the sinister Miss Simmons the following Sunday afternoon.  Seriously, you can be forced to go to class on Sunday?  Surely someone would've challenged that for religious reasons.  Or maybe this is satire about the godlessness and moral degeneration of modern America.

While Heller's working his shift in the whorehouse lobby that night, two South American chaps, upon hearing that he's an engineer - a student, nuclear engineer - consult him for a bridge they're planning.  Heller reminds them to "float" the endpoints to weather earthquakes, while Gris snidely notes that Heller's sketch showed that the bridge should end at the shore, not in the water.  After that he's visited by the two diplomats that were feuding over Harlotta until Heller threatened to kill her, who have a gift for him - a golden Llama .45 pistol, engraved with the the diplomats' homelands' coats of arms, while the holster has a white dove of peace (irony!) and "Prince X" on it.  Gris is bitterly jealous but admits that it's a proper gangster gun.

Hmm.  If Hubbard had grown up a decade or two later, this book could've been obsessed with cowboys and Indians... wait a minute, Battlefield Earth had a lot of buckskin in it... but then where did the Scots come from?

Sunday rolls around, and Gris tunes in expecting to see his enemy take another class.  But instead a breakthrough occurs - the waves of interference emanating from Heller's groin cut out, giving Gris and us a titillating glimpse at what goes on when one of those beautiful hookers drags Heller into his bedroom.

Heller's on his bed, massaging the neck of a half-dressed girl named Myrtle, who groans that "Seventeen times is too many!" and "I feel like I've been raped by an elephant!"  Once he's done, Myrtle staggers out, complaining that she doesn't want "another night like that" but asking if she can come back later.  A horrified Gris concludes that Heller's "effected a transference on this poor girl!  Enslaved her into chronic masochism!"

See, when Gris purchases a living sex toy, he's not mean enough to mold her into enjoying his kinks.  That's just gross.

Heller calls to check on his cars, and gives the mechanic servicing the old cab instructions to mix a special, unidentified substance into the paint for an unexplained reason.  Gris, of course, is not suspicious of this in the least, nor does he rewind his Heller footage to try to find what he's talking about.  Then the time for talk is over as Heller's breakfast sundae shows up.  I am not joking, the first part of his breakfast is chocolate-covered ice cream.

With sugar covered, spice soon arrives in the form of a leggy blonde named Semantha... dammit Hubbard.  There are puns, and then there are bad porn names.

Anyway, the girl warns Heller of that tricksie Myrtle, and asks if she sat seductively like so, or stepped out of her robe like this, or sauntered into the bedroom like this... you get the picture.  It ends with the hooker naked on Heller's bed, legs splayed and her hand roaming over her body, hips waggling in her attempts to get Heller to join her.

"Semantha," said Heller, "Get out of that bed and come in here."

"Oh, pretty boy," she pouted.  "You're going to make me stand up and hold that position while you . . ."

And cue the interference.  But yeah, the line was probably "paint me" or something, part of Heller's study of ethnology and body structure of the Manco-descended races.  And the other stuff was probably massage sessions.  Platonic, with Gris drooling over a hilarious misunderstanding.

So the chapter ends with Gris outraged at Heller's behavior the morning of his Nature Appreciation class, and frustrated that Utanc hasn't been delivered yet, but looking forward to Miss Simmons' wrath that afternoon.

Meanwhile I ask - what happened this chapter?  Heller got a shiny gun and made a phone call foreshadowing his modifications to a car.  But did the plot move forward any?  It's hard to say when we have no clue what's going on.

Gris is right in the sense that a lot of things keep happening to Heller, namely gifts and praise being showered upon him, and he is making ridiculously rapid progress through the mob and university hierarchies.  But there's no sense of purpose to any of it, no feeling that it's actually leading anywhere.  According to the author Heller has some sort of plan he's working toward, but since we're not told what this plan is, and the character carrying it out is totally closed to us, Mission Earth feels less like a story and more like a bunch of events taking place one after the other.

It's like a bad Dungeons & Dragons campaign, really - too much treasure, lousy and incompetent villains who die before we know why they should be defeated, random encounters inexplicably leading to wealth and power, and a plot in only the loosest sense.

Back to Chapter Three

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