Thursday, September 6, 2012

Part Thirty-Five, Chapter Four - Genuine Imported Turkish Belly Dancers (No Refunds)

Hey, remember when Gris got back to Turkey, and he found out about his crushing credit card debt, and he tried to pay it with his stockpile of transmuted gold bars, only to find that they were painted bars of lead?  'cause Gris doesn't.  He hasn't spared the issue a second though, or wondered at what point he was robbed, or who did it.  He knows he's poor, but otherwise he's been pretty well distracted by his groin.

So is this plot point going to fall completely by the wayside, never to be revisited?  Or is Gris going to suddenly remember it at some point in the next book during some lull in the main plotline, allowing him to spend a Part or two snooping around the base investigating a weeks-old crime, hatching an elaborate scheme to spy on a suspect, botching the scheme, deciding the issue can wait and forgetting about it completely, only for someone to dramatically reveal that they were the culprit much later? (editor's note from the future: I forget the specifics, actually.  What happens in the next book does a pretty good job of driving all concern over lead-painted gold from your mind)

Anyway, this chapter.  After his disastrous attempt to apply Freudian psychology, he comes to a big decision: "I would stop being true to Utanc."  So he meets with... holy crap, the book actually calls him Deplor!  Once.  He's "the taxi driver" twice, and just "he" for the rest of the two or so pages he appears on.  Anyway, Gris has a chat with him about Utanc and the possibility of finding alternative female companionship, only for the taxi driver to explain that the market's fallen out on Soviet girls due to a surge in supply as more and more women hop the Iron Curtain to flee from the rapacious Red Army.  Instead, Deplor suggests Gris become a sugar daddy for local women seeking a dowry.

As the helpful cabbie starts to describe a nice limousine that he's sure would attract all the ladies, Gris explains that he's flat broke.  The cab driver promptly leaves.  Gris gets mad and cleans his room to blow off some steam, which includes putting away all the fake gold bars, and he still doesn't wonder about them!  He doesn't get angrier from the reminder that he was robbed!  He just puts them away!

He does find some unread mail, though, and aside from an ad promoting Hightee Heller's new musical Bold Prince Caucalsia - could this be foreshadowing? - there's a pair of postcards from the Widow Tayl, chastising him for not writing, reminding Gris that their baby is coming along nicely, and subtlety threatening him with legal action if he doesn't marry her.  And Gris panics because as ruthless and murderous the Apparatus is, and as dysfunctional as Voltarian society is, you can get "cashiered for knocking somebody up and not marrying them."

Yes, the Apparatus imprisons people indefinitely without trial, tortures them, executes them, or turns them into circus freaks.  But that doesn't mean they don't believe in family values.

So Gris, who never intends to get married, is mad.  Mad that Tayl is trying to get him in trouble, mad that her letters advise any eavesdropping young officers to investigate the matter ("in or out of uniform"), mad that she had "automatic (bleeps)" from merely thinking about Jettero Heller, and most of all mad at Prahd for performing the procedure that got the widow pregnant with Gris' child in the first place.

(Bleep), (bleep), (BLEEP) Prahd! It was a good thing he was legally dead. Otherwise, I would have shot him out of hand!

Um... wouldn't that make it easier for you to shoot him?  Just saying, if he doesn't legally exist, it should logically be easier to get away with whacking him than it would be otherwise. (edit from the future: also, I think he used this exact "I can't kill him because he's legally dead" statement in an earlier chapter)

Fuming about Tayl fantasizing about Heller leads Gris to start thinking about Heller, specifically how he got Heller away from the Gracious Palms and all the charming young ladies who lived there.  So he suddenly laughs at that victory and decides to switch on the HellerVision "and enjoy his discomfiture." 

I'm sure a psychologist could try and diagnose what sort of chemical imbalance Gris has that leads his train of thought to leap from track to track like that, but the fact of the matter is that Gris' brain works as the plot dictates.  Hubbard needed a segue into another HellerVision chapter, and here it is.

Back to Chapter Three

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