Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Part Thirty-Three, Chapter Three - A Mob Boss Who Thinks "The Most Honest Man of the Year" is a Real Award

After a thoroughly painful taxi ride ("every pebble or white line a tire hit communicated to one or another of my bruises"), Gris makes it to Madison's office to try and share this great idea of his.  Unfortunately, Madison seems to think that Gris is talking about Mount St. Helens erupting.  I guess he got confused by Gris repeatedly referring to his enemy as "Hel--I mean Wister," but then shouldn't Madison be talking about a Helen Wister?

It takes two pages, but Gris eventually gets across that Madison is due to run out of front-page material soon, while Gris has an exclusive scoop.  Madison retorts that he already has the next headline ready: "WHIZ KID DONATES WHOLE SETTLEMENT TO CHARITY."  Gris is aghast until Madison slyly explains that the undisclosed out-of-court settlement between Octopus Oil and the Whiz Kid amounted to zero dollars.  Nobody loses, nobody gains, so... the point was... well, somehow this is "stopping" Heller.  I guess.

Gris suggests a new headline: the Whiz Kid's in with the mafia!  Madison isn't too excited ("well, who isn't?") but soon has a stroke of inspiration.  He rustles up an old reporter "who knows mob figures and is expendable," one Bob Hoodward of the Washington Roast and crap on a stick.  It's even explained that this "Hoodward" guy is credited with taking down Richard Nixon "and some other mob figures" back in the day, so it's pretty obvious who he is.  So why bother with the fake name?  You didn't call the fallen president "Richard Dixon" or anything, Hubbard.  Is this satire?  Are you trying not to get sued? 

Hoodward gets on the phone with somebody and arranges for a suspiciously abrupt, brief ceremony in which they'll hand over a "Most Honest Man of the Year" award to an undisclosed recipient.  Madison gets some trusted photographers in face-obscuring makeup and bulletproof vests, while the fake Whiz Kid receives his own orders.  Soon Gris and Madison and other crewmen get in an unmarked van and arrive at the back of Tammany Hall, which incidentally was restored as a landmark to be used "for only the most sacred occasions" by none other than Rockecenter.

New York's political machine?  Oil cartels?  The drug trade?  The mafia?  The Klan?  Terrorist cells?  Psychology?  All one guy.  Is this how Scientology views the world?  A few, enlightened followers of the Right Way versus a monolithic alliance of evil?

Gris and Madison get to a convenient overlook, the cameramen take their hidden positions.  The fake Whiz Kid moves in and Gris notices how, besides not looking anything like Heller, he lacks the real deal's "aura," and instead has "the air of a cheap bum."  Madison finally reveals which mob figure he's involving in this scoop - Faustino "The Noose" Narcotici himself.  Gris is dismayed because, as we've seen, the Narcotici mob is absolutely terrified of Heller and will flee on sight.

But the "Whiz Kid" looks nothing like Heller, so why would... oh.  Yeah, last chapter the Narcotici guy who panicked at the sight of Heller was a lieutenant who had seen him before the whole "Whiz Kid" thing started.  But this is Narcotici himself, who only knows Heller by his reputation as established in the papers, so he'll recognize the Whiz Kid as presented with the goofy glasses and buckteeth.  Which means that at no point did the Narcotici outfit get suspicious that the "Wister" one guy recognized looks nothing like the "Whiz Kid" being trumpeted in the papers.

Stupid Hubbard Villains and plot holes, what else is new.  They put a racing helmet on the "Whiz Kid's" head to hide his face.

(edit from the future: no, wait, Heller put on a ski mask before crashing the funeral a few chapters ago, and everyone only panicked after he introduced himself even without seeing his face.  Which is pretty sad, really, but at least it covers up this little plot hole)

Narcotici shows up.  He is given some bills to give to the recipient of the fake award.  Fake Whiz Kid walks up to take the bills and fake award, flips his visor, and in the split-second between this and Narcotici fleeing in terror, the cameramen get a shot of a smiling mob boss giving cash to a smiling Whiz Kid.  Mission accomplished.

Poor Hoodward complains that he's going to get whacked for this stunt, so Madison offers him a new life in Israel as Martin Borman.  If that's a reference to anybody I can't figure it out.  The chapter ends with Madison and his team on their way to the airport.

Wonder how differently the book would have gone if Gris had explained which mob family Heller was in with.  I guess it's supposed to be ironic that the journalist is ignoring the truth even though it'd be much more useful to him, or something. 

Next chapter... oh goodie.  Miss Pinch is back.

Back to Chapter Two


  1. Martin Borman=Martin Bormann, Hitler's personal secretary
    He didn't try hard on that one

  2. In fairness, Richard Nixon was more mobbed up than a lot of people realize (in addition to the more obvious ways in which he was crooked, and a bad President). Nixon's alleged bagman and lifelong confidante was a guy named Charles "Bebe" Rebozo. The two had an unusually close relationship, especially for someone as notoriously homophobic as Nixon. Nixon spent most of his leisure time with Rebozo and not with his wife Pat, whom he didn't seem to like at all. Nixon had a lot more secrets than Bob Woodward figured out.