That done, it's still well before suppertime, so Gris decides to kill time the old-fashioned way - HellerVision. He finds the book's hero in his Empire State Building offices, playing ball with the cat, who still doesn't have a name and will therefore turn out to be called Destiny or something to make one of Gris' complaints extra ironic. (editor's note from the future: actually, the cat's name will be even dumber than that) Heller advises the cat not to bat around the ball too hard, lest someone "get the idea that you're an extraterrestrial and they'll get you for a Code break." But all of Heller's near-Code breaks concerned him blabbing about alien concepts or terminology, while his own superhuman combat prowess has been accepted without question. So it's a strange recommendation to make, is what I'm saying.
Then Bang-Bang shows up, carrying some photographs Heller had taken, a fluid to remove emulsion, and some exposition. He describes how he's trapped doing his job and afraid to go back to the mob, but he has a few ideas to get "in clover." First is to track down the license plate numbers of every single publisher (not publicist, he says "publisher") in the country, put bombs in their cars, and kill them all. Heller dismisses this as "expensive," instead of saying "crap in a hat, you're proposing mass murder!" Bang-Bang's second idea is to set bombs in the buildings of NBC, CBS, and ABC, then if the fake Whiz Kid goes to one, bring the whole place down on him. Heller objects to this only because "then the reporters would mob me," so presumably he's been wearing his fake glasses and teeth in public to ensure that he looks like the fake Whiz Kid. His plans of indiscriminate carnage dashed, Bang-Bang sticks with his third plan: hitting the scotch with the cat.
I can only wonder what the Big Three networks' acronyms stand for in this terrible setting. Network of Boring Commentary? Clowns Broadcasting Slime? A Bunch of Crap?
With his distractions gone, Heller gets to work, making a pile out of all the IDs he's looted from the corpses of the various thugs and assassins who decided to engage in criminal activity while carrying identifying and incriminating documents on them. Gris belatedly realizes that Heller's killed a whopping forty people, from hoodlums to mobsters to IRS agents, "if, by some stretch of the imagination, you could call IRS agents human." In fact, Gris goes on to deduce, Heller is actually "dangerous!" So Gris resolves to keep Heller under control, then convinces himself that with Madison and Mr. Bury and Rockecenter around, the power of Public Relations has Heller completely neutralized.
So he watches unconcernedly as Heller carefully removes the photos from the various passports and driver's licenses, then sticks in some doctored photos of himself. Though Heller is making an attempt to circumvent the negative publicity attached to the Wister identity and thereby escape Gris' trap right before his eyes, the Apparatus agent dismisses Heller's efforts because all those mobsters and crooks would be in police computers, so they won't do him much good as alternate identities. And since that first step is thwarted, Heller will never, ever take further measures to create a better identity, or keep chugging away at the problem until he overcomes it. Yes, Heller is defeated. Forever.
He didn't have a prayer!
That would teach him the stupidity of trying to benefit a planet!
Planets and populations exist to be milked by the power elite. Unless one understood that thoroughly, one could do a lot of stupid things like help people.
The Gods put the riffraff there as prey for superior men like Hisst and Rockecenter. And there was very short shift for anyone who thought otherwise.
I hugged myself with glee.
I wonder where Gris puts himself on this two-rung totem pole. He obviously isn't a superior man, since he nearly starved to death in the very first book, but he continues to look down on "riffraff." Is there an intermediate "lackey" slot for him to fit into?
And I guess the "things fitting into slots" allegory is as good a way as any to segue into the next chapter.
Back to Chapter One