Thursday, August 2, 2012

Part Thirty-One, Chapter Seven - "YIPPEE!" Shouted the Mob Boss

Gris finds Heller in a swanky leather trench coat, taking a cab to Babe Corleone's penthouse.  Geovani the doorman warns that she's still in a bad mood, and sure enough once Heller is admitted he gets quite a talking to.  Babe complains that despite her orders Heller - or rather, the "Whiz Kid" with buck teeth and glasses who looks absolutely nothing like Heller - is still "carousing around with criminal reporters" (as opposed to criminal mobsters).  She also says "don't interrupt" three times during her page-long rant while Heller remains silent.  Babe is particularly irked about the court battle the papers are shouting about.

"Jerome, this is very wearing and tiring on me. I know I have been neglectful. But Jerome, you don't sue people you don't like. You get a proper heater and you rub them out. Only weaklings and fools and idiots go rushing off to courts. You want justice, the only way you get justice is to buy yourself a proper rifle, learn how to shoot it and, with a proper telescopic sight..."

It's at this point that Heller finally interrupts, handing over a wrapped package.  Babe tears it open with a wrist-holstered stiletto, because she is an Italian mobster lady and all Italian mobsters use stilettos when they want to stab or slash something.  When she finds the passport of "GUNSALMO SILVA!" and realizes that Heller killed him ("'Not exactly,' said Heller, kind of smothered, 'He sort of blew himself up!'"), Babe actually shouts "YIPPEE!" and dances around the room before collapsing into a chair and sobbing that "Holy Joe" is finally avenged.  Then she summons all her staff so they can cheer at the defeat of their hated foe.

And then she orders someone to bring Heller some milk and cookies.

Remember?  Heller's like 30 in Voltarian years, but he looks like a teenager on Earth?  So nobody lets him drink beer and everybody coddles him with food? 

Even though Babe's celebrating because Heller just killed a guy...

Look, Hubbard obviously thought this was important, so deal with it.

So while Heller enjoys his milk and cookies followed by three plates of spaghetti, Babe spends two hours planning Silva's funeral, which of course she will be putting on a festive air for.  Telegrams - in the year 2000-something, remember - come in from the Corleone criminal empire's international interests, all celebrating the death of Silva.  And Gris just sits there and watches it all happen because he is in Narrator Mode.

Heller eventually asks what Babe can make of one of the ID cards he took from the hitmen at the airport.  Babe has someone run it through the Corleone computer system - wonder if it's telegraph-compatable? - and finds that this Inganno John Scroccone was Faustino Narcotici's chief account.  Babe once again scolds Heller for associating with The Wrong Crowd, but Heller stays strangely silent.

With a shock, I became certain he knew he was being watched.  He was afraid of being caught in a Code break!  The grenade!  That was why he couldn't and wouldn't tell even Bang-Bang how Silva had died.  No grenades of such power and type existed on Earth.  That would have to be it.  Any normal man would have bragged and bragged about it.  And he was being so closed-mouthed it was even slopping over into not mentioning the other three hits!

Seriously?  Heller can't say that Bang-Bang blew himself off the building with a more conventional grenade and let others explain where the shrapnel went?  He's concerned that somebody will poke at such a mystery in this city, where corpses turn up with knives in their backs and are written off as a suicide pact?  He can't just lie and say that he judo'd Silva off the building?  And this alien grenade of unmatched power can be avoided by ducking behind a suitcase?

But nice job conveying Gris' character with the whole "any normal man would have bragged" line, Hubbard.  Even if you immediately lost any points with the phrase "slopping over."

Babe decides that she should focus more on being a good mother to Heller, because apparently she adopted him while I wasn't looking, or else has convinced herself he's her own flesh-and-blood.  This will involve buying Heller some polo ponies so he can learn how to be a gentlemen and hit other boys on the head with mallets.  I am not making this up, she actually wants to buy him some ponies, and she says the line about hitting other boys with mallets.

And Heller's gonna need some ice skates.  And a baseball bat.  And a new wardrobe for Silva's funeral.  And she'll definitely be raising Heller's allowance.  Gris turns off the HellerVision at this point, and I can't blame him

Feeling bad about how Heller's being showered with praise and gifts, Gris decides to get a fresh look at the situation and searches a newspaper for information about Silva's demise.  All he can find is a brief article pondering whether the black dress Silva was found in is a sign of a new fashion trend.

The put things in their proper perspective.  The newspapers never lie.  They always tell the exact truth in things of this kind, and things of all kinds, for that matter.  The Rockecenters and Madisons of the world take care of that!

I guess what the author is trying to say here is that because so many people believe what they read in the papers, which are of course full of lies and controlled by shadowy energy magnates and psychologists, the majority of the world thinks like Soltan Gris, and is therefore made up of idiots.

So is the reader supposed to be included in the demographic?  Is Hubbard sneakily expressing his disdain for us?  Or is he on our side?  After all, only a smart person could properly appreciate the sly satire and subtle humor of Mission Earth.

The chapter ends with Gris melodramatically declaring that "trembling, abandoned and alone" he must somehow "struggle further along the sadistic road of thorns some people laughingly call life."  But he warns that as bad as his day has been, there are still some shocks to come.  And holy crap he isn't kidding.

Back to Part Thirty-One, Chapter Six

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