After going another night without word from Utanc, Gris decides he should talk to her and find out how he's wronged her. He does this not by slipping her a note, but by slipping into her room, and even he notes in retrospect how dumb a move it was.
He camps outside her apartment, listening to the sound of someone splashing in a bathtub, and when one of her little servants emerges to fetch towels... why is he naked? Why is Utanc bathing with prepubescent boys?
Let's assume it's a cultural difference. (editor's note from the future: I (bleep)ing WISH) Anyway, the Littlest Streaker leaves the door to Utanc's room wide open, so in goes Gris. He finds Utanc reclining in the tub under a layer of bubbles, just like she would've enjoyed in the Kara Kum desert. But when she sees Gris she freaks out and screams "Don't kill me!" And then the little boy, his nakedness reaffirmed, returns and shouts "Don't you dare kill Utanc!" He throws a bunch of powder puffs at Gris.
And hilariously enough, this ridiculous little scene is narrated like a Hubbard Action Sequence.
He found another powder puff on the dresser. He pitched it as hard as he could throw!
The powder trailed through the air!
The puff hit my pants in a white explosion!
"Don't kill Utanc!" he screamed at the top of his lungs!
A bemused Gris walks out, but is followed by the protective little nudist, who has upgraded his arsenal to a bath brush. He hits Gris with it with all of his might, causing Gris to lose his temper, decide it's all the kid's fault, and retaliate.
I cocked my right fist.
With everything behind it, I hit him in the face!
He flew backwards about fifteen feet!
He landed with a crumpled thud!
Is it even worth voicing my disgust anymore? Mostly I'm impressed at the yardage he got out of the poor dope. Fifteen feet? Most folks feel manly if they can knock their opponent to the ground in one swing, much less across the room.
Well, this extreme! bit of child abuse gets the whole household to turn out, though they of course know better than to go try and help the kid (save for his frantic mother, who has to be physically restrained). Helpless, the staff drop to their hands and knees, moaning and pounding on the ground. Gris glares at them.
Hubbard, just to let you know, I already hated Gris before reading this chapter. I hated him within the first fifty pages of book one. This isn't necessary.
Utanc emerges, veiled and robed and still slightly wet. She goes to the stricken boy, murmurs that he was only trying to protect her, and takes him to her room. Gris is in a "spinning confusion. I could not add it all up."
Eventually a doctor arrives and goes to see the patient. When he finally emerges, Gris eagerly asks for a status update.
I was instantly in front of him. I said, "How is Utanc?"
He looked at me. "Is that the boy's name? Odd name for a boy."
"No, no," I said. "Not the boy. The woman! How is she?"
Seriously, I've been at peak hatred for Gris for a good while now, Hubbard. There's nothing you could make him do to make me hate him mo... you're going to prove me wrong, aren't you?
The doctor explains that Utanc is upset about the fact that her little friend's nose is broken and his cheekbone "pushed in," leaving his once-pretty face damaged beyond repair. Gris is utterly crushed, certain that Utanc will never like him again. "I couldn't live with that." So he goes to his room, picks up his gun, and shoots himself. The end.
It's nice to dream.
Instead he continues to mope until the next day, when Faht Bey comes up from the Apparatus base urging him not to kill that new girl of his, since they have enough trouble "without more corpses to explain away..." seriously? These guys are in with the mob and the Turkish government and they're worried about explaining a corpse? These alien intelligence masterminds can't make it look like an "accident" has befallen Utanc? They can't figure out how to make her disappear? They can't dig around in their couch for a bribe to make some questions go away? And what trouble? As far as we've seen the Apparatus owns the place.
Faht Bey goes on to say how according to the other servants, Utanc is terrified for her life now, which at least indicates that she's smarter than 60% of the cast. He also conversationally mentions how undefended and exposed they are here, since they lack decent alarm systems... exposed to who? Why doesn't your super-secret headquarters have a good security system?
The end result is that Gris decides that Utanc needs to feel safe, and so he designs an improved security system and plans for his staff to drill on defensive maneuvers. Having done all he can think to do, he goes back to his miserable funk... and decides that since he's got nothing better to do with his time, he might as well watch HellerVision.
I am ecstatic that we are going back to watching Gris watch Heller. A full Part of Heller wandering around New York, effortlessly solving problems and just impressing us with how inhumanly awesome he is. A full Part of Gris sitting on a sofa, not brutalizing little boys or having dubiously-consensual sexual relations with a woman he purchased.
Back to Part Twenty, Chapter Eight