Monday, July 16, 2012

Part Thirty, Chapter Three - Feeding Time at the Zoo

Gris is so shaken, so terrified of the thought that Heller might recover from his latest setback and run a second race, that he can't dial the phone himself and makes the operator do it.  I guess he doesn't want a repeat of that race scene either.

First he tries to contact Madison, only to be told that the publicist is unavailable after being prescribed some bed rest by his doctors.  Then he tries to reach Mr. Bury, but his number is unlisted and nobody at the Octopus Oil offices will give it to him.  But Gris remembers riding home with him in a police car... I guess after they captured Madison?  Well, he knows Bury's address and hops in his van to make an unexpected Sunday afternoon social call.

He's admitted with a surprising lack of fuss, for Mr. Bury is quite relieved to be called away by an urgent work-related emergency in order to escape a dinner with the mayor, and more importantly the mayor's thoroughly unpleasant wife... hmm.  Is anybody in these books happily married?  Bury's exit is accompanied by a hail of thrown objects from his own spouse.  There's those two Turkish servants, but I wouldn't call them "happy."  Babe Corleone obviously loved her Holy Joe, but he's dead now.  The only truly happy couple is Heller and Krak, but everyone else seems to be single or promiscuous or miserable.

Gris and Bury drive off and chat on the road.  Bury thanks Gris for his "kindness" in saving him from that dinner, though he warns that it's a potentially "fatal flaw."  Gris explains what Madison's plan was, the whole "kidnap Heller and start World War III" scheme.  And Bury is completely unconcerned.

"Well," he said, "I told you, Inkswitch.  A little bit of Madison always goes too far.  Many think his mother should be arraigned for attempted humanocide.  But frankly, Inkswitch, he's really no more skilled than any other public relations man or reporter.

Then why go through the extraordinary trouble to get him?  You requisitioned an armored regiment and an aircraft carrier!

Also, "humanocide" isn't a wordTry "genocide."

He's just a little faster, that's all."

"You aren't worried?"

"Oh, PRs, catarrhs, Inkswitch.  One of them, sooner or later, will get us into World War III, anyway.  What do you expect?  At least we got him into action."

Total disinterest in a war between two nuclear superpowers, a conflict that everyone feared would bring about the end of humanity during the dark times of the Cold War.  Normally when you're dealing with a corrupt member of a money-grubbing, manipulative mega-corporation, there are two responses when faced with nuclear war.  The first is that the executive is disdainful of the human cost and chortles about all the money he'll make from arms sales and whatnot, giving the protagonist a chance to attempt to convince him that he won't be around to spend it, only for the bad guy to reject this viewpoint and thereby establish himself as irredeemably evil and delusional.  The other outcome is for the executive to work to prevent such a cataclysmic conflict, if not out of altruism then out of pragmatism - it's hard to make money when everyone's dying in atomic fire.

Mr. Bury is, if anything, fatalistic.  He's part of the most powerful organization on the planet, but he seems to think that World War III is inevitable.  Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, he doesn't say.

Gris goes on to say how Madison is currently taking an enforced sick leave, and mentions how there was nothing in the day's papers about yesterday's race.  Bury explains that of course there wasn't, Sunday's papers were printed on Saturday and were being delivered before Heller's race had even started.  This is of course a load of crap.  And even ignoring early-morning printings, and even ignoring multiple editions being printed over the course of the day, this still doesn't explain the lack of coverage in non-print media.  But obviously in this "satirical" presentation of planet Earth journalism works a little differently.  There's a lot more drugs involved, for starters.

Bury does concede that it'll be hard for Madison to pull a stunt to get Heller back on the front page, but he's sure the publicist will try anyway.  He invites Gris to come with him to the zoo to feed live mice to all the charming reptiles, but Gris declines.

I watched him go down the steps with his attaché cast full of live mice.

I have seldom felt so uncertain of the future.

Just a reminder, we're supposed to be feeling suspense over whether Madison can come up with some bizarre headline and if it will stop Heller from running another race, rather than wondering why either of these things matter.

Back to Chapters One and Two

No comments:

Post a Comment