Heller's headed home, happy to be back in his "chemical-engined Cadillac Brougham Coupe d'Elegance." Bang-Bang, however, is less sanguine: "While in this moment of glory I don't want to spoil things, I got to point out you are driving on stolen plates and that's illegal!"
These are the most law-abiding mobsters I've ever seen. They won't give a kid beer, they won't carry guns on parole... though they will blow up a warehouse to kill a rival... alright, mostly law-abiding mobsters. Makes me wonder why they don't just go straight, open a hotel chain or something.
Well, Bang-Bang owes Heller for... I guess being willing to let him use that trap to blow up that guy? Whatever, Bang-Bang wants to get Heller a new, less illegal car to drive. Heller refuses - he loves his Cadillac. So instead Bang-Bang directs him to a guy he knows in Newark, who can provide him with a new license and motor numbers.
When they reach the Jiffy-Spiffy Garage, Gris, with his amazing talent at identifying nationality, is able to deduce that the greasy foreman is Italian. This Mike is dismissive of the chemical-engined Cadillac Brougham Coupe d'Elegance, since it's a gas guzzling hunk of crap that only gets ten miles to the gallon. But that's what Heller likes about it, you see. Bang-Bang waves off this brand of willing stupidity by pointing out that Heller's a college kid, and then he and Mike get distracted by the hooch in the backseat.
His opinion swayed by imported Scottish liquor, Mike apologizes that he won't be able to change the car's engine number since it's been filed off and replaced too many times, but he might be able to get a replacement Caddy engine if Heller's willing to pay for it. He is, and is told that it'll take a while for the parts to come in, but Heller assures Mike the Greasy Italian that this fits in with his plans just fine.
And Gris, along with the reader, spends a paragraph or so wondering what the hell Heller is up to, what his cunning plan to save the planet is, and why it's essential that he have a car that gets terrible mileage.
Then there's about a page of car upgrades, as Mike plans to boost the Caddy's speed while slashing its fuel efficiency.
"All right. I could put some special carburetors on it," said Mike.
"Good," said Heller.
"But if she is going to go faster, she better have a new radiator core and maybe an oil radiator for cooling."
"Good," said Heller.
"There may be some worn parts like axle spindles and such that would have to be replaced."
"Good," said Heller.
Sunday Today called this a "relentless page turner."
Other upgrades include a new coat of genuine Cadillac paint, "Flameglow Scarlet," which will make the car practically glow in the dark, as well as "Snow Leopard" upholstery for the interior. And again, this is all according to Heller's undoubtedly cunning but as of yet unexplained plans.
Heller has a few modifications in mind, as well - he wants locks on the car's front hood, and a sheet of metal on the undercarriage, so that it'll be more difficult for people to stick bombs in his baby. Now if Mr. Bury wants him assassinated, he'll have to send a sniper to stake out this extremely gaudy vehicle and plug Heller when he opens the door. Or find his address and send a mail bomb. Or deliver a poisoned pizza. Or have a hired driver force him off the road and into a river. Or have him arrested for being an accessory to murder. Or hit him with a drive-by shooting that can be pinned on mob violence. Or break into his house at night and cut his throat. Or put scorpions in his shoes. Or...
Heller forks over half of the twenty grand price tag for all these upgrades, and Mike is gracious enough to throw in a new license for free (especially once Bang-Bang gives him a case of booze). Heller's partner in crime drops him off at a train station and asks if his name is really Jerome Terrance Wister, and Heller replies that no, he's really Pretty Boy Floyd. Bang-Bang laughs and drives home in a Corleone truck Mike just finished work on while Heller prepares for the adventure of mass transit.
Aaaaand that's the chapter. Another pimped-out vehicle and Gris boggling at what Heller is up to, as well as fretting about how he can't be allowed to succeed but can't die until that "platen" is found. Doesn't feel like the situation has changed much, that things are being accomplished, that the plot is going somewhere.
On the upside, there's only 149 pages left in the book, so one way or another the end... well, an end, is near.
Back to Part Sixteen, Chapter Eight