Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Part Thirty, Chapter Nine - Fabulous Outfits and Customized Jewelry

Later that morning, Heller is visited by Bang-Bang, who has orders to bring him to Babe Corleone.  Heller dons a white sheepskin coat and white leather cap with earmuffs. Somewhere out there is a reader who gets annoyed when the author doesn't adequately describe the main character's outfit, and Hubbard is making sure that reader is satisfied.

Babe's down at an old passenger ship terminal, overseeing her recent buyout of a shipping line, which leaves her with total control of all water-based commerce in America.  Even the mafia's greatest rivals, the federal government, will have to step lightly around her now.  We find her behind a desk and a bank of TV screens displaying the application data of the "swarms of seafaring-type people" looking for jobs in the new merged company.  A camera sends images of her hand down to the interviewers' desks, so she can give a thumbs up or down as needed.  Pink slips are labelled "no dice." 

Oh, and Babe's in a "full-length, silver fox coat and a cylindrical, silver fox cap.  She wore white silk boots and white silk gloves."  Just so you know.

A hiccup in the process comes when one of the applicants is revealed to be, as Gris puts it, "J. P. FLAGRANT!"  Besides this overreaction, Gris is nice enough to remind the reader that this guy was a PR executive fired in the process of Madison's recruitment.  Flagrant claims that he always hated Rockecenter and would be happy to help the Corleone outfit get payback.  Babe's thumb goes sideways, and two thugs grab Flagrant and chuck him in the freezing river.

Just how dumb does this book think you are?

"Traditore!" spat Babe. "I hate a traitor!" When she had said "traditore," which is Italian for "traitor," it sounded like a bullet!

You, the reader of Mission Earth, are unable to draw obvious conclusions and deduce what a foreign word means, even after the speaker translates it herself.

Also, "hate a traitor?"  Only when they're defecting from your group.  You ought to welcome enemy traitors that can provide you with juicy intelligence and other opportunities.  "Welcome" is not the same as "trust," of course, but they're too valuable an opportunity to, say, chuck in a river.

Babe's demonstration isn't over: she has a man make a speech stressing the new management's commitment to loyalty, offering that anyone unable to meet those standards should take their leave.  The three who try to do so are grabbed and thrown into the river.  One guy jumps on his own.

Don't worry, a nearby fishing boat pulls them all out, so they won't drown.  They might still die of hypothermia, but at least it'll be on dry land.

The hiring continues, with Babe giving thumbs up or down until her arm gets tired.  Then she addresses Heller and harangues him for losing the race and consorting with newspaper reporters.  It culminates in her throwing her wineglass and shouting "THIS IS THE LAST TIME I WILL WARN YOU!  KNOCK OFF THIS GOD (BLEEPED) BAD PUBLICITY!"  What is a man?  Nothing but a miserable little pile of scandals.

So for the record, Babe Corleone is a savvy businesswoman able to control shipping from coast to coast and hold out against an energy conglomerate allied with the US government, but she can't tell Heller from the bucktoothed, bespectacled "lookalike" and believes what she reads in the paper about him (despite disliking reporters).

Bang-Bang escorts Heller out before Babe gets "upset," and Heller wonders what he can do to cheer her up, since he can't do a darn thing about those danged reporters.  The answer, of course, is to go to Tiffany's and design an eye-wateringly gaudy piece of personalized jewelry.

Hubbard thought this was important, so...

What in Hells?  He was drawing the Sovereign Shield of his Voltarian home, the Province of Atalanta, Manco!  Two crossed blastguns, firing green against a blue sky, circled in red flame.  Incidentally, I had seen him draw it before under the words Prince Caucalsia on the tug he flew to Earth.  More sentimentality?  Crossed blastguns?  What was he up to?

In response to his questions, the designer said, "Yes, we can make it into a tiara.  The shield will be up on the front of the head, of course, gripped in place by the semi-coronet.  We can make the field in diamonds, the guns in onyx, the blasts, as you call them, in emeralds, and flame circle in rubies.  And set it all in white gold, of course, so it does not clash.

"How much?" said Heller.

They called in some others and after calculation, they could do it for $65,000.

Yes, Heller's company owes a million odd in back taxes to the IRS, so it's the perfect time to blow sixty grand on jewelry to make his mob boss mother figure like him again.  The chapter ends with Gris ecstatic at his enemy's poor budgeting.

Now, Heller ends up at Tiffany's.  Utanc was last seen allegedly heading to Tiffany's the day before.  So I'm wondering if her absence is meaningful and indicative that she's been doing something else instead of shopping, or if the author just forgot about her.  It's not like she's been mentioned for the past twenty pages, and she won't reappear for... well, I can't find her in the next Part.  So let's go with "forgotten about."

Back to Part Thirty, Chapter Eight

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