That evening, Gris once again calls on Madame Pizzazz, who is again disappointed that the young suitor at the front door turns into an uninterested roof inspector by the time he reaches her floor. And thanks to the magical X-ray telescope with built-in microphones, the meat of this chapter is spent spying on Heller, who it turns out isn't writing that report at all.
Now, Hubbard likes innuendo. Too much. We saw that in the whole "joint occupation" decision between two diplomats chasing the same prostitute, where the double entendres just got tedious. This chapter's no different.
Heller's sitting on his bed, drinking a Seven-Up (did Hubbard want to get compensated for product placement, because there's a lot of Seven-Up in this novel) while Bang-Bang watches TV, but then Vantagio brings in a new girl, Margie, for the two lads to "break in." Heller asks if she's sure about this, since "it's kind of rough the first time," but Margie is enthusiastic because she's heard that Heller has "something big going on!"
Bang-Bang doesn't want to get involved because he can only do this so often without getting sore, but Vantagio protests that it's good for the workers' morale, and that all the girls "feel pretty cocky when you're through with them." Margie is asked if she wants to be lying down or standing up, stripped or not, but Heller tries to stop him from leaving - "you'd better watch it or I'll use you!" But the Sicilian bows out, claiming to be too old for this sort of thing, and leaves Heller and Bang-Bang to their work. Heller asks Margie what experience she's had, and she mentions "A few boys in Duluth. Just high school stuff, mainly. In a car, back of the gym. One or two professors. And my brother, of course. Nothing important."
Now at what point over the past two paragraphs did you realize that Heller couldn't possibly be about to have sex with Margie? I'm guessing it was well before she mentioned her brother on her list of "experiences." There's an upper limit to this sort of thing, a point at which double entendres go from clever and funny to gratuitous and tiresome and it's obvious the author it trying to mislead you.
What Heller is actually talking about is experience roughhousing. He's got a self-defense course going for the girls at the Gracious Palms in case the patrons get a little too rough, to say nothing of creeps in back alleys on the way home.
Heller said, "Ever get battered around?"
The girl thought it over. "Oh, yeah. Once. A drunk raped me."
Aaand the chapter comes to a halt while I stare slack-jawed at a line of dialogue. So casual about what for most women is one of the most horrifying experiences imaginable. And it takes her a bit of thought to remember it.
Yes, Margie got knocked out and raped by some drunk, but she certainly seems to have gotten over the experience enough to let Bang-Bang help her avoid a repeat incident. She doesn't resist when Heller has Bang-Bang "rape" her, stripping her of her underclothes to titillate the readers, so Heller has her try to "rape" Bang-Bang, only to be thrown across the room when the demolitions expert "simply threw his wrists up." Yep, it's that simple, girls. Up with your wrists and away the attacker goes. You've only yourself to blame if you get raped now.
Heller wraps up the introductory lesson and explains how with further instruction Margie - well I call her Margie because that's what she's introduced as, but afterward the book still calls her "the girl" - will be able to escape any hold, and even learn how to pretend to be under control but able to escape at any moment. While Margie leaves she has a quiet talk with Bang-Bang, asking if the rumors are true about Heller being a virgin. Gris is disgusted.
I was in total, utter disgust.
How Heller was conning them! Pretending these were things he had dreamed up!
Isn't that the point of this exercise, to pretend to invent superior fuel sources to help us poor, stupid humans?
He was teaching them Voltarian unarmed combat techniques. And he was a dithering fool, too! A whole household of beautiful women and he had been wasting his time teaching them how to protect themselves! A traitor to all men everywhere! How about all those who only got their kicks beating up whores? How about them? Thoughtless (bleepard).
A man must be masterful!
I'll let Gris' cuckolded relationship with Utanc speak for itself here.
And then we get four pages of a Hubbard Action Sequence. Madame Pizzazz, looking like "a sixty-year-old demon from Hells!", has followed Gris up to the roof and is enraged that this man who has toyed with her emotions is a peeping tom. She has a BB pistol in hand and informs him she's called the cops to warn of a sniper on the roof. So Gris must escape before getting arrested, having completely forgotten about his special Senate Investigator status that lets him boss around federal authorities, which he went through so much trouble to get a hold of at the start of this Part. One stray shot damages the delicate circuitry of the Magical Telescope, so Gris dives into cover behind some air conditioners.
My head was in view for an instant.
The deadly pffft! of the air pistol coupled with the clang of the pellet striking sheet metal right beside my head!
She was a deadly marksman! A killer! Maybe a hit woman in her youth!
I skittered further! I took another peek. Bathrobe flaring like the cloak of an avenging horseman, she was following me up!
Another lethal pffft! and deadly clang!
Oh, this called for top Class A strategy! And a SWAT team on its way? This called for Joint Chiefs of Staff Maximum National Emergency Plan Triple X! Maybe atomic bombs!
I think the fact that this is written exactly like every other action sequence in Mission Earth is supposed to enhance the humor. It's not doing much for me, but then again I'm pretty cynical and jaded. Maybe it's hilarious and I just can't see it.
Long story short, Gris scampers past her, taking a stinging but non-mortal hit in the buttocks, and flees down the apartment building's stairs. There's a lot of police cars on the street outside, and he realizes that he left the Magic Telescope's case on the roof, so he tosses the peeping device, leaving a highly-valuable if slightly-damaged piece of alien technology sitting in a garbage can. Miss Pizzazz is still on the roof yelling, BB-gun in hand, so Gris goes to the police surrounding the building (led by Bulldog Grafferty) and screams about "Mad Maggie, the Times Square Sniper!" The cops open fire and a bullet-riddled old lady splats on the pavement.
The chapter ends with Gris walking home, noting that "It was a bit hard to saunter with that BB in my butt." See, it's funny because he just killed a woman by proxy.
Back to Chapter Four