Gris wisely spends the evening indoors, but after making contact with Senator Twaddle he receives a telephone call and a message: "Mmmmmfffff."
I hung up in disgust. But I was puzzled too. I did not know a soul in New York named "Mmmmmfffff." Hungarian?
Second inexplicable Hungarian reference in six chapters. What could it mean?
It goes without saying that Utanc is missing and Gris isn't remotely interested. But later that evening Mr. Mmmmmfffff calls back, only this time after some juggling of the phone another voice can be heard. Yes, it's Raht and Terb, the former with a jaw wired shut, the latter with arms still in casts. Terb reports that Raht managed to climb up and disable the 831 Relayer as per Gris' orders, but in the process both sustained injuries that will put them out of action for another two weeks. Gris is unimpressed by their attempts to loaf and hangs up angrily.
Moments later, he realizes that the 831 Relayer has been shut off! HellerVision, ho!
The screen shows a private room in some restaurant decorated like an old English inn, complete with mounted boar heads on the wall and waiters in red jackets. Heller and his dinner companions are all dressed in black gowns and graduation caps to celebrate Izzy Epstein earning his doctorate. They sing an original song to the tune of "Happy Birthday," thereby dodging copyright infringement, and in deference to the guest of honor's outlook have a cake shaped like a coffin. Izzy gives a short speech thanking everyone for ensuring that no disasters befell him during the graduation ceremony, and warning that he is therefore due some terrible misfortune. This gets cheerful applause.
But something relevant eventually happens this chapter - Heller mentions to Izzy that he plans to put his converted Cadillac through its paces, specifically at the track at Spreeport, Long Island, to ensure that Gris gets the proper address. Gris immediately rushes off to phone Madison where to go the next day to bump into Heller. During the conversation, Madison describes the three-step process he'll use to make Heller famous - first he'll build Confidence in his abilities, then make use of media saturation to guarantee Coverage, and finally build Controversy to keep everyone interested.
Gris is confused, and a little worried - why, Madison's plan doesn't involve any shooting at all! And it sounds so simple and straightforward that he worries how it could hinder Heller in any way. "Maybe Heller really was going to win! Awful thought."
And again, I'm torn, because nothing about this story has instilled any drama or uncertainty about Heller's inevitable victory, but because Gris is guessing that Heller will win, the universe has to prove him wrong and thus deal Heller a setback. It's a logical paradox that could threaten a mind unshielded by apathy or boredom.
Oh, and Gris has forgotten about that platen he needs to steal and that Heller might be using to encode his scheduled mission report. He doesn't bother to keep spying on Heller in hopes of catching a glimpse of where the platen's hidden. It'll be another four chapters before that synapse fires.
Back to Part Twenty-Seven, Chapter Eight