This frees Gris to deal with the real threat - Miss Pinch the sadistic, man-hating lesbian. And by "deal with" I of course mean "flee from."
Gris finally stops singing paeans to public relations and notices that not only is Utanc gone, but so is all her luggage! And he doesn't know which flight they're leaving on! And he has less than a hundred bucks to get out of New York with! The obvious course of action is to not panic, decide that Utanc has simply left to pick up the tickets and will call when it's time to leave, and sit on his ass and read newspapers.
Unfortunately for Gris, this attempt to loaf around and hope things turn out for the best is soon sabotaged when he reads a headline about a Mr. Pauper being admitted to the Walnut Lodge Nut House to be lobotomized, electroshocked, and tortured for life - all as punishment for failing to file his income tax return. Also, his wife and kids have been ground into meatballs to help cover other penalties.
Now, Gris knows that this instance of Evil Psychology is actually false - it's another bit of PR done to scare Americans into paying taxes. It still scares him "spitless," but it's not true. Yet it's no less ridiculous than Miss Pinch's talk about "Psychiatric Birth Control," which totally is true, as is the great psychology conspiracy that controls every aspect of society. Psychologists are trying to turn the world gay and have their talons in our schools, our government, and our businesses - but they don't lobotomize people for being behind on their taxes?
The phone rings, a gruff voice asks for Inkswitch, and Gris forgets what happened last time and responds in the affirmative. It's another IRS courtesy call, making sure he's here. With the threat of three years in a federal prison "with homos even worse than Miss Pinch," Gris finally finds the energy to get off the couch and get out of town.
But then... well, his energy levels are fluctuating a bit. Gris forgot to dress this morning, but he's too tired to unpack his clothes, so he digs his spicy clothes from Miss Pinch's little fiesta out of the trash and puts them on, and immediately starts sneezing. He does have enough energy to get his luggage loaded up with a bellboy and sent down to the lobby, and when he spies two burly men knocking on his recently-vacated room he finds the strength to bolt down thirty flights of stairs to the waiting cab.
Off to JFK Airport, but Gris looks behind him and spies a pursing car carrying "THE TWO TOUGH MEN!" He offers the cabbie a bonus if they can shake the pursuers, which they do. They reach the airport and Gris has no idea what flight he's after, but a black porter helps him narrow it down.
He was loading my baggage on his small truck. "Well, you c'n take yo' choice then. They's Pan Am. They's TWA. But if'n it's TWA, we bettah git anothah cab 'cause this is Pan Am. Now, me, f'um mah study of the crashes..."
I thought fast. Four o'clock. Maybe only one plane left at four. "What goes to Rome or London or someplace at four?"
"Well, ah thinks they is one fo' Rome at fo'. But if you ain't too partickler, me, I'd go to Trinydad wheh it is mo' wahm."
This has been another episode of What the Hell is That Accent? with L. Ron Hubbard.
Gris makes it to a desk before panicking as the Two Tough Men walk in after him, so he flees and bounces off numerous other travelers in a humorous and droll fashion, then hides in a bathroom by using the old "sit on the john and lift your legs" trick when they try to check under the stall doors. When the danger has passed, Gris suddenly remembers that damned 831 Relayer, and how he needs to remind Raht to turn it on so he can watch HellerVision in Turkey.
So he calls the local Apparatus base and learns that Raht is having complications from pneumonia and isn't responding to penicillin, leaving him in critical condition. I guess nobody thought to bring along some Voltarian medicine to keep the agents assigned to this critically important planet alive. Gris is of course unsympathetic of Raht's attempts to grab more vacation time and orders him to turn on the relayer, whatever the cost.
Then he calls Madison to congratulate him on a job well done. Madison explains that the whole "Kansas farmers" angle was his attempt to make the Whiz Kid into a Jesse James figure, who of course robbed the railroad companies and gave his loot to the farmers of Kansas... allegedly. Not historically, there's no evidence to suggest that ever happened. The important thing is that we have now regressed past gangsters to cowboys.
Gris says his good-byes, and then the Two Tough Men catch up with him! But they turn out to be workers for the Bolshoi Travel Agency with his plane ticket. They help him onto the plane, and there in the seat next to him is Utanc! Who complains how all the peppers and spices coating her "owner"'s (her exact words) suit are making her sneeze, so Gris gets stuck in the back of first class and wrapped in plastic.
So that's it. We're done with New York, at least for the rest of this book. What's in store for us in Turkey?
With its usual evil grin, fiendish Fate had been busy, just ahead, sorting out available disasters. The one it chose to first serve up for me was horrible. The very memory of it makes me wince.
And if you think the twist he's talking about is bad, wait until we get to Gris' surgery.
Back to Part Thirty-Three, Chapter Eight