You can't help but be impressed that in just a few weeks Gris has managed to run the base into the ground despite spending days at a time in his room watching TV, simply through negligence and his "mob hospital" scheme. If he goes on to inadvertently bring about the end of the Voltarian Confederacy and the extinction of his race, Terl might have some competition.
It's ten at night when Taxi Driver takes Gris to the hospital. The Apparatus agent pushes his way into Dr. Prahd's bedroom, where the physician and Nurse Bildirjin evidently "had been halfway through something. They seemed to be under a bit of a strain." I can't tell if Gris is being wry here or suddenly naive. He watches while they get out of bed and dressed, noting that the nurse "didn't have much in the way of breasts, being maybe fifteen."
I... guess this is better than Gris leering at her, right? Sure, he's not averting his eyes or anything, much less noting that doctor-nurse affairs are even less appropriate when one of the parties is underage. But at least he's keeping his mind on business.
But Hubbard, why? Why couldn't the nurse be eighteen? Why can't we have a character who isn't a murderer, sex offender, or crook? What does this bring to the story besides ickiness? Did you think we needed more? Or was this supposed to titillate? (editor's note from the future: just wait a few books until Teenie shows up, good grief...)
Gris shows Prahd the note he whipped up last page, ordering him to be "bugged" and signed by "The Powers Above." Gris wants that proximity sensor that'll shut off the hypno-helmets to be implanted in the top of his skull. Not slipped beneath the skin. Not hidden under some make-up. He wants the top of his head taken off.
So late-night surgery it is. A still-angry and still-three-years-from-legal Nurse Bildirjin helps prep the operating room, then with fearsome teenage strength she flings Gris down and straps him to the table. And instead of being startled or frightened, Gris suddenly decides that he doesn't want to risk being unconscious during the procedure and asks for just a local anesthetic. Unfortunately for him, the nurse insists that the only bottle of Novocaine around is empty, and there aren't any pharmacies open this late. She is nice enough to jam a roll of bandages in his mouth as a gag, though.
And it's all downhill from here.
Nurse Bildirjin climbs up onto Gris' chest, pinning him down with her bony knees and holding his head steady with sharp fingernails. She also hikes up her skirt to expose her thighs, bringing this "big humorous tale of interstellar intrigue" (Roger Zelazny) uncomfortably close to torture-porn. The nurse lectures Gris that "young girls have tender feelings" and "it's not a good idea to go interrupting things right in the middle" as Prahd goes to work.
If you ever wondered what unanesthetized surgery feels like, Gris can clue you in:
- Getting your scalp sliced open: "It stung like mad!"
- Having a chunk of your skull dug out: "FLASH! Pain went through me like a javelin! Worse!"
- A drill being stuck into your head: "YEEOW! The noise of it going into my skull was almost as bad as the living agony! The room spun!"
- A tiny bug being roughly inserted into a freshly-excavated cranial cavity: "YEEOW! YEEOW! YEEOW!"
He actually passes out while getting drilled, but wakes up for Prahd to verify what he wants put in his head. Once it's in, Prahd spreads some freshly-cultured bone cells from a test tube into the wound like putty, tugs Gris' scalp down to cover it, and uses a Space Flashlight to burn the wound closed, all while the nurse reminds him "You don't stop young girls halfway. You go right on and let them finish! Young girls have tender feelings, and don't you forget it!"
So remember folks, if you catch a med school graduate boinking a girl who isn't old enough to drive, just give them a friendly wave and let them carry on. Thanks, Hubbard!
Gris is released but is less than receptive when Dr. Prahd asks if his pay starts yet. As he staggers out he hears the nurse walking with Prahd back to their bedroom, unbuttoning her uniform. "Oh, I just love practicing medicine, don't you, doctor? It's SO stimulating!" So she's not only precociously prematurely promiscuous, but also a sadist who enjoys the screams of men being operated on with power tools. At least she fits in with the rest of the cast now.
And now, the punchline:
I didn't know if I'd been (bleeped) or operated on!
Now I'm neither a sexologist nor a surgeon, but I've studied this problem as best I can, and have come up with these helpful guidelines:
- If you're feeling relaxed, satisfied, and pleasantly tired, you've probably been (bleeped).
- If you're in agonizing pain and have a freshly-sealed wound in your skull, you've probably been operated on.
Hope that assists anyone having trouble telling the difference between getting laid and invasive surgery.
Back to Chapter Two