Monday, June 18, 2012

Part Twenty-Eight, Chapter Three - Nobody Knows What's Going On

Gris spends the next two days watching Heller tinker with his modified carburetor, worrying about his enemy's "progress" but not sparing a thought for the dancing girl he dragged along with him to America and who has spent much of the subsequent time on long, unexplained errands.

On the third day, Gris sees Madison drop by to visit Heller, bringing a copy of Chemistry Today to show off the "article" about "Wister," a two-inch square photo (of Heller in glasses and buck teeth) next to a single sentence summation on the bottom of the second to last page.  Madison offers his number if Heller wants any future assistance and leaves.  Gris goes to a newstand to try and get his own copy, but nobody seems to have heard of this Chemistry Today.  How very mysterious!

Gris is a trained intelligence agent but hasn't figured out that maybe Madison might have been less than honest when discussing his reasons for being at the race track the other day.  Maybe that magazine was simply an excuse to have a candid talk with Heller.

The next day, while searching for a Bugs Bunny cartoon in the Daily Fits... trained intelligence agent, remember?  Gris stumbles upon a page two article about a "Whiz Kid" with a revolutionary, even magical, new fuel type.  The freakout continues when he finds similar articles in other major papers, and Heller on the front page of Slime News Weekly.  The next day even out-of-town papers are carrying the story.

The obvious thing to do is grab his Colt Python .357 Magnum-.38 Special and make sure it's fully loaded, then go have a meeting with Madison.  Madison's mom passes on the address of the meeting place, somewhere in New York's west side, and off Gris goes.  The Apparatus agent finds the place guarded by the "reporter" who tried to attack Heller a few days ago, now holding a sawn-off shotgun, which the author continues to call a "leopard."  Before Gris can draw his Colt Python .357 Magnum-.38 Special, Madison spots him and lets him inside

The PR agent's base is a loft "JAMMED" with people, typewriters, and marijuana smoke (the reporters are all getting baked but not Heller's classmates at the university?).  "Birds" are everywhere typing or bustling about with bags of mail.  In a word, "BUSY!"  Gris starts complaining that Madison's making Heller famous, and Madison agrees - he's in public relations, of course he's trying to make Heller famous.

"You know what you were really hired for," I grated.

Um, no, Gris, he doesn't.  In fact, Bury make it quite clear that Madison doesn't and shouldn't realize just how bad a job he does.  That's the whole point of getting him to "help" someone, his well-intentioned but disastrous attempts at promotion are more destructive than any smear campaign.  You were told this a few chapters ago.

He frowned.  He sat down in a rickety chair.  Then he said, "I understand, Mr. Smith.  I will mend my ways.  You'll see tomorrow!"

I went off.  I was glad he'd gotten the point.

Gris departs, satisfied he's averted disaster, his Colt Python .357 Magnum-.38 Special still in its holster.  "A famous Heller was something we DID NOT NEED!"  Why use ITALICS for EMPHASIS when you can CAPITALIZE words?

In summation, Madison has been intentionally left in the dark about what his role is in this whole plan to destroy Heller, but Gris evidently doesn't understand it either.  Not that Bury spent a lot of time planning this scheme beyond "get Heller to hire Madison" or trying to explain it to Gris.

So Madison doesn't know what's going on, Gris doesn't know what's going on, and Bury knows but isn't telling.  And Gris has just tried to switch Madison from Bury's plan (which he doesn't know about) to Gris' plan (which he doesn't know about) without bothering to explain what he's expecting Madison to actually do.  And Madison didn't elaborate on how he will "change his ways" to meet Gris' expectations, which again weren't described to begin with, but Gris is still satisfied that Madison knows what he means and will comply.

Also, this is the second time in five chapters that the author has made a big deal about a character's gun without it being used or even needed.  Come to think of it, I'm not sure it's ever been fired.  I remember Gris using a shotgun to blow away that caged canary, but other than that...

Back to Chapter Two

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