Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Part Thirty-Two, Chapter Five - On the Edge of the Abyss

Some consistency would be nice, is all.  Of course you'd want to use "Delbert John Rockecenter" instead of John D. Rockefeller, since the real-life Rockefeller didn't consider himself a god and died long before this book's setting.  But why do some groups get stupid new names, like the National Association of Mental Stealth, but other things don't?  It's the Empire State Building instead of the Entire Stakes Building or whatever.

Does Hubbard only rename the things he's "satirizing," like all those newspapers with Grimes in their titles?  That can't be it, 'cause we still have the United Nations as opposed to the Unorganized Nations, and the FBI doesn't stand for the Fascist Board of Interrogation.  And hell, I don't think any Voltarian has boggled at the incredible coincidence of their homeworld and Earth both sporting intelligence agencies with the acronyms of CIA.

Yes, I'm stalling.

Gris is just in time for his plan to work - among the hordes of workers going home along 7th Avenue, he immediately spots Miss Pinch's "bulky, mannish overcoat," and more importantly the purse she's holding that's packed with tens of thousands of dollars.  Gris refers to it as "target-object."  A lot.

Hat down, collar up, I had target-object in close view.  An old hand at such campaigns, trained by the Apparatus to the keenest possible edge, I foresaw no trouble in obtaining target-object.  A quick snatch, a fleet run, a stuffing of target-content into my pockets and a flinging of target-object into nearest trash can and victory would be mine!

I quivered with the thrill of the chase.

A $80,000 quarry does not every day enliven the spirit of the hunt.

All that spy-speak to say, he's gonna snatch a lady's purse and run.

There's some flowery metaphors when Gris describes Miss Pinch's hat as "a beacon calling to a storm-tossed mariner adrift on the heaving and pitiless seas of New York," and a moment of panic when it looks like target-object's owner might slip into a subway terminal ahead of Gris.  But instead Miss Pinch dawdles at a newsstand, torn between Muscle Making for Men Complete with Full Nude Photos or an issue of Panthouse Magazine with Full Nude Cover Folds.

So... is this supposed to be a dig at how debased Earth society is, and how "genuine" journalism is so vulgar as to share self space with pornography?  Or can you really buy girlie mags at New York newsstands?  I dunno, I haven't been to New York.  I suppose it's possible, I mean Times Square has really cleaned itself up since the time Hubbard was alive.  I'll give Hubbard the benefit of a doubt.

Heh.  First time I wrote that I said "Heller."

So while Miss Pinch is distracted by porn, Gris comes up behind her, grabs target-object, and runs for it even as a police whistle begins to blow.  And then even Gris admits he makes a mistake, which you might have spotted as you wondered just how easily a cutpurse can fish eighty thousand dollars out of a lady's purse and get it into his own wallet while fleeing the crime scene.  Gris blindly jams a hand into target-object only to have something snap down onto his fingers, something that keeps him from pulling his hand free.

In agony, I sought to shake the purse off.  It wouldn't leave!

With my left hand, I seized the bottom of the purse and tried to pull it off my hand.


In extremis, I stopped and tried to use my left hand to free my right.  I plunged my left hand into the purse.



And now both his hands are stuck, and Gris realizes that the "police whistle" sound is coming from inside target-object.  Then Miss Pinch comes up behind him, smugly stating that she anticipated all this, before turning off the whistle.  She has a gun on Gris, "quite invisible to the passerby," and suggests he accompany her to her nearby apartment.  Miss Pinch leads our villain to "an old shabby house" (of course) and unlocks a basement apartment, before directing him down a hall into what can only be called a dungeon.

It was dull red of hue.  Instruments of torture hung tastefully upon the walls.  Festoons of whips served in place of curtains.  A huge bed occupied the center of the room, its four posts topped with the grinning faces of gargoyles.  The carcass--stuffed, I hoped--of a dead goat hung head down in a corner.  It was full of darts.

I'm glad it's a carcass of a dead goat.  Carcasses of living animals are always such a mess, like corpses of living humans.

Miss Pinch explains that the basement is totally soundproof and adjacent to a handy garden to bury bodies in.  She tells Gris to do as he's told and that she'll free his hands once certain precautions are taken - men are so violent, after all.  So at gunpoint she strips Gris naked and shackles him spread-eagled to the bed.  Once he's secure, Miss Pinch pulls off the purse and reveals that the objects mangling Gris' fingers are ordinary rat traps.

I'd say we're in Looney Tunes territory if it wasn't for, you know, the whips and chains and life-threatening overtones. 

Miss Pinch takes off her coat and hat and checks herself in a mirror framed by daggers.  Gris complains that she hasn't taken off the traps yet, but his captor assures him "Everything in its own time and place."  Then she calls out "Candy, baby!  Come see what I've got for us!"

And so the chapter ends on a cliffhanger, with an unfortunately nude Gris imprisoned in an angry woman's dungeon waiting to see what she's going to do to him.  There's not many places a story can go from such such a set-up, so you can probably guess what's going to happen next.

Back to Chapters Three and Four

1 comment:

  1. Oh it gets bad but it gets worse on Gris's second trip to New York. After Prahd gets it in his head to do some work on Gris.