Vantagio is annoyed at how this sideshow distracts clients entering the hotel, but Heller explains the benefits of having an artist (and a nude woman) right there in the lobby every day, every week, painting a portrait of a hooker chosen to represent a country. "What the Gracious Palms needs is more penetration. Consumer desire will be aroused in every country on the planet and you will have a better market projection into your resources!"
And it just goes on and on for two pages. Heller assures his boss that this new positioning will put his group back "on top." Vanatagio exclaims that he's done with taking things "lying down" and enduring this "seasonal interuptus" instead of spreading "this climax into a more bilateral approach, even multilateral." He just knows consumers will "lap it up."
Izzy proposes adding a whole gallery to the Gracious Palms lobby, along with beauty contests to see which lucky girl will become Miss Country Name Here, winning free training and employment at the brothel. Oh, and in a minute that no one was looking, he incorporated True Allure Fine Arts International. Heller is happy that his friend is so "pregnant with ideas," and Vantagio celebrates the end of the "slack season," those doldrums when "Things go limp nine months of the year! This will stiffen up foreign trade!"
Heller calls his new program Whore of the Week. So... all of those entendres were accidental? Or did the subtlety just completely tank out as the barrage continued?
As they leave, Izzy declares that Heller has passed his Marketing project. Well actually, Izzy just says "Oy," which is pretty much what I was thinking, just with a different inflection. Also, the whole thing was just "for fun," which I guess is better than a self-administered project graded by a buddy being accepted by a university. Izzy's excited that Neorealism will be spreading all over the world, revolutionizing the art industry by letting painters depict things as they are. Suck on that, Abstraction! Another thing that Hubbard hates has been dealt a crushing blow by his superpowered hero!
This is really a meaningless chapter save for the very last half-page, in which Heller declares that he considers "Phase One of the Master Plan complete." And boy does Gris freak out. But wouldn't you know it, all those days he spent obsessing over his slave girl, he forgot to reload the "recording strip reservoir" for his spy equipment. On the one hand, this would at least suggest that he was competent enough to set the machine to automatically record everything without his supervision. On the other hand, it's kinda sad that these star-spanning aliens are using tape-based data storage. They could at least have been given a technological edge with floppy discs.
A sort of savage feeling began to grip me. Heller and all this success with women. Wasn't it his fault that I had gotten into this mess in the first place? And if he hadn't been distracting me, I wouldn't be in any trouble with Utanc?
A burning, bitter hatred of Heller began to sear through me.
Just now?! Three books and countless setbacks and humiliations into the series, and you just now are starting to hate Heller?
Back to Chapter Two