The horrible sight of my hundred thousand dollars U.S. in Heller's hand did something even more horrible to my psyche. A psyche is, as all psychologists know, located just above the id and, when overreacted upon, bruises the ego. When these three things are already swollen from past abuses, there ensures what is called the "I'm-going-nuts syndrome." A case of multiple frustrations is likely to ensue, surcharging the blood vessels and precipitating an epileptic fit.
Yes, it's more of Gris' half-baked and inaccurate amateur psychology. To stave off his imminent epileptic seizure he decides looking at some money will make him feel better. Luckily he stashed thirty thousand dollars under his mattress, and surely the sight and feel of all those greenbacks will do him some good - "life might once more begin to flow through my higher nervous centers and make them less nervous."
Gris flunked biology too.
He ends up having that epileptic fit after all when he fails to recover his money from the mattress, even after tearing it apart. When his seizure doesn't make him feel better, he smashes his head against the wall until he passes out. By the time he comes to it's daylight, so he orders coffee, takes a shower while forgetting to take his clothes off first (he's still new to bathing, remember), and gets his breakfast and the day's newspaper delivered.
And Gris gets his third shock, because the front page story is of the Whiz Kid's ten billion dollar lawsuit against Octopus Oil. And I'm a little thrown by the amount, because it's obscenely high, while the price on Heller's head once he earned a reputation as an unkillable bane of hitmen everywhere was a paltry million dollars, which I didn't think was a huge amount even back in 1980-whatever when this assault on literature was committed. Of course, we'll later learn that the money doesn't actually matter, but we'll all be mentally scarred by then.
So Gris is stunned by the news, and convinced that Madison is going to ruin everything by turning the Whiz Kid into a symbol of defiance against Big Oil. He collapses in front of the HellerVision to see how his foe is taking advantage of this streak of good fortune.
You might be wondering what's the point of all this, since there's no character development or anything going on and Gris' financial status isn't particularly entertaining. The answer, as far as I've been able to ascertain, is to move the plot in a specific direction. Gris had money, now he does not, so he'll have to get more money. And that will take the story places it has no business of going, unexpected and terrible places. Just thirty pages now. Enjoy the relative sanity while it lasts.
Back to Chapter Five