Heller, "being Jettero Heller," brushes his teeth and dresses for the cold snowy weather, so presumably Gris being Soltan Gris would ignore his oral hygiene and put on shorts. Venturing out into the blizzard, Heller takes his semi (sans trailer, and presumably rented to transport the Caddy) to a diner and orders a bag full of hamburgers and a gallon of coffee. There is humor of a sort when the cashier asks his opinion on whether the Whiz Kid will win, making Heller reply "I sure hope so." There is weirdness when Gris compares the chromed, upholstered interior of the semi to that of a Fleet spaceship. Is it a simple observation about the similarities between two ostentatious cultures, or a suggestion that humanity's love of chrome detailing might reflect an extraterrestrial heritage, much like how incidences of space opera in popular culture are signs of our past lives in alien civilizations?
Our hero drives towards the garage containing the modified Cadillac, and then we get five pages of an extended Hubbard Action Sequence. Someone jumps out of hiding and thrusts a gun in Heller's face! Heller counterattacks with whatever he has on hand! Lots of short sentences ending in exclamation points!
Heller threw up his left hand and hit the gun wrist! The gun flew out of the mitten.
The ball peen in Heller's right hand came straight across and buried itself in the assailant's skull!
The other door was opening. Heller let up the
You get the idea.
The first guy is "very dead," as Heller has managed to cave in his skull with a blow from a hammer. The second guy is disarmed but manages to escape thanks to Heller's gun (taken from the dead man) jamming due to the cold. Heller notices a garage door without a snowbank in front of it, takes a hat off the dead guy, puts it on a stick, and pushes it up towards a high window, making the guy inside waste a shot.
Since at least one guy is holed up in a garage, the door pinned close by the semi's trailer, Heller does the obvious: he gets some tools and redirectis the still-running semi's exhaust into the structure, filling it with carbon monoxide. You know, instead of fleeing or alerting the authorities or trying to negotiate or anything. They're trapped in there by Heller's trailer, and he's going to gas 'em. Like a true hero.
Next Heller exchanges his red anorak for the dead man's khaki one, then dumps the redecorated corpse in the snow. Conveniently a van filled with more baddies chooses that moment to drive up and investigate the scene, the disembarking thugs expressing outrage that someone was dumb enough to shoot their quarry. When they flip over the corpse and discover that it isn't Heller, the Fleet officer strikes, bursting from hiding to hurl a wrench with deadly accuracy right into a shotgun-toting thug's face. And the rest of them? They stand there, not returning fire or taking cover, but trying to deflect an incoming barrage of garage tools, as Heller flings wrench after wrench at them.
These guys are armed, they have shotguns. They were smart enough to use cover when they disembarked and moved to check the corpse. But once Heller attacks, they stand there trying to dodge the incoming wrenches, at least until they lose half their number and break. One poor bastard gets half his head chopped off by a spinning wrench as he tries to flee. The other slips while trying to get back into the van, but Heller breaks his arm with one wrench, then closes and, dodging the man's feeble counter-attack, bursts his head "like a melon!" with another blow from a common household tool.
No mercy, no attempt at nonlethal blows, no desire to take prisoners for questioning. Just a bunch of heads smashed open with blows from wrenches. A true hero.
So that's six dead guys outside, including the first guy Heller killed, and then he checks the garage to find four blue-faced corpses inside the garage now filled with diesel fumes. Ten kills in just the first chapter of the book. Heller notes the ropes and some sort of dartgun his attackers were carrying, then checks his watch to find it's only 5:20 in the morning. Most guys don't kill that many people in a single day, let alone before sunrise.
Back to the book's intro
Back further to Part Twenty-Eight, Chapter Nine