Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Part Nineteen, Chapter Three - She May Not Look Like Much, But She's Got It Where It Counts

Another day goes by of Heller sitting on the campus lawn speed-reading his way through multiple courses, while Bang-Bang ogles women between fetching tape recorders.  And Gris watches all of it.  Saturday, at least, has Heller going to a counselor to see what kind of tutoring he needs.  He takes some exams... huh.  After three days of college, covering self-administered courses, and taken right before the interview.  Maybe Hubbard meant "tests," not full exams.

Anyway, Heller of course aces everything, and his adviser boggles at the extreme improvement of a former D student.  Heller coyly mentions that "Sometimes students have been known to date the wrong somebody's daughter," and when the wide-eyed counselor asks if he got someone knocked up, replies "Well I'm here for my senior year, aren't I?"  And a good laugh is had by all as Heller's waived of any need for tutoring.  Gris is so despondent he actually gets off his ass, yells at some kids picking grapes until they burst into tears, and kicks them until he feels better.

Is there a third character we could be following around, Hubbard?  A student teacher who loves her job but worries that she can't handle the stress, a garbage collector who composes poetry while hauling trash around, a clerk having a mid-life crisis and contemplating an affair with an attractive young intern?  Someone human, someone relatable, someone likeable?

Invigorated by this child abuse, Gris calls his taxi driver and is assured that Utanc the mail-order belly dancer is due to arrive on schedule, which further boosts his spirits.  "Watching that (bleeper) Heller being whistled into his room every night by gorgeous women had been getting to me more than I had admitted.  And that I never actually saw him doing anything with them made it even worse!  One's imagination runs riot sometimes!"

Gris isn't gay, by the way, he just wants to watch his hated enemy have sex.

Gris watches Heller jog, takes a break to check on his mafia hospital, and then it's back to the HellerVision.  And then there's five pages about Heller's new car.  The short version: Mortie the War Criminal-Turned-Cabbie is selling his company's Really Red Cab, the battered antique he took Heller driving in oh so many chapters ago.  The whole thing is a gift ordered by Babe Corleone to repay Heller after he "spaghettied" Grafferty, and Vantagio at first refuses to buy such a piece of junk, insisting that Heller deserves an Italian import.  But Heller argues that the car is for Bang-Bang as part of his non-mob job, and if it gets cleaned up, with guys in Prohibition-era clothing...

This was Hubbard's last book, right?  Well, I think this is sorta like his dying dream, his fading of consciousness before death claimed him, all preserved on paper.  And as part of the process he reverted to his childhood, or more specifically his teenage years, when cops and mobsters chased each other with Tommy guns and bootleggers threw wild parties at speakeasies.  So gangsters, gangsters everywhere, even in the 80's.  Especially in the 80's.  The world he was living in was strange and hostile to him, so he went to one he was more comfortable with. 

Mortie says that the refurbished cab could win big money in car shows, Heller suggests fixing it up as the "Corleone Cab Company" with faux mobsters and cops hanging around in period clothing for the parade, and of course Babe would be delighted with this so the purchase goes ahead.  Vantagio briefly considers taking the credit, but tells Heller to tell Babe that it was his idea after all.  And Gris, like the reader, is baffled why Heller wants two cars

For once, some sixth sense--which you can't do without in the Apparatus--told me

Wait wait wait, if it's required to survive in the Apparatus, why is it only going off "for once?"

that this went beyond the Fleet toy fetish. I writhed. (Bleep) him, he was going too fast!  Too fast!  

Gris actually thinks this book is racing along too fast. 

He could finish up and accomplish something and ruin me!  

So what are you going to do about it?  Write another memo?  Kick a Turkish street urchin?  Buy another prostitute?

Back to Chapter Two

1 comment:

  1. Your title made me think this was going to be about Gris's sex slave (which might be INTERESTING and NEW), but instead it's about Heller getting another dumb car. Yay.