Friday, October 12, 2012

Part Thirty-Eight, Chapter Four - A Terrible Name for a Rock Band

Gris sleeps until mid-afternoon, but the serving staff - in Karagoz' case, now sporting a black eye - not only brings him breakfast, but a breakfast whose component dishes and drinks are all the appropriate temperatures.  Satisfied, Gris rolls up his sleeves, puts on his thinking cap, and

Lacking, now, immediate plans, I thought I had better gather data.  It's a good excuse one can give oneself when he feels too smug and self-satisfied to do any real work for the moment.  Also, one likes to savor the suffering of those who are about to writhe in agony.

So this time he's consciously loafing around.  As opposed to, say, most of the chapters leading up to this point.

It was the first time I had both viewers together. But working two screens, I could get a much more precise idea of reactions and actions, for Krak would be looking at Heller from time to time and vice versa.

In other words, we're taking a step away from the extremely awkward conceit of Gris as a limited narrator.  Now we'll know everything but the hero's thoughts.  I guess Hubbard was getting tired of not being able to tell us about the look on Heller's face as he kicks people to death with cleated shoes.  Or fed up with monitoring what he wrote for any information Gris wouldn't be able to see from his unique vantage point.

Anyway, on to more HellerVision and the 24-7 Krak Network.  The Countess is washing a window, Izzy is standing behind her watching, and then he bursts into tears because Krak's "too beautiful to have to live in an office."

Why is Krak so heartrendingly beautiful?  I'm not talking about ascetics, I'm speaking in narrative terms.  Is it to designate that she's a Good Guy, especially when compared with the unwashed, greasy Apparatus baddies who lack any sort of skill at interior decorating?  Is it to contrast with her deadly skills and ruthlessness?  Or is it because Jettero Heller doesn't deserve anything less than the most beautiful woman in the galaxy (who isn't his sister) for a girlfriend?

Heller comes in, sees Izzy crying, and asks Krak to go clean a different room "so I can get to the bottom of this before he jumps off something again and beats me to it."

I think this chapter is going to tell us a lot about Heller and Krak's relationship!

With no women around to get in the way of their conversation, Heller asks Izzy what's wrong (this time), and the banker wails about how they're barely making any money and the IRS is gonna get them, and "when I came in a little while ago and saw her again, I realized I was condemning her to squalor and poverty.  It drove the ruin home so hard I couldn't stand it!"

Remember, Krak is a woman.  If Heller goes down, she's getting dragged into the gutter with him, since she has no way of supporting herself.

Heller decides to go make some money (genius!), Izzy tries to make him promise not to do anything foolish, and Heller "can only promise to try not to."  Krak comes back in and asks what's really going on, and Heller fails to mention their financial trouble and teases Krak about how beautiful she is with "the very best brand of New York soot on the end of your nose."  She throws a pillow, their kisses briefly short out Gris' monitors, and I guess this is romantic and healthy teasing.

Saliva swap concluded, Heller starts flipping through a newspaper and finds an ad that hurts to look at:

5 Casino$ 5
New Year's Bills Getting You Down?

So if dollar signs are standing in for S's, is this a "Swinter Casino Spectaculars" at "Satlantic Citys?"

Heller suddenly decides that Krak is "working too hard," so they've going not to Atalanta, Manco but Atlantic City, New Jersey.  "And wash your face.  This has got to be a clean hit."

Evasive, excluding, vaguely condescending... it must be love!

Krak takes a look at the ad and recognizes Mamie Boomp, billed as a Continental Singer right under the "Dingle-poop Rock Band," which I'm going to very deliberately avoid thinking about.  At this moment Bang-Bang shows up with a load of drinks for "Joy."   Upon hearing about their travel plans the mobster freaks out - the Atlantic City Mafia is "small time, maybe, but vicious," and Krak is of course "too beautiful to let them punks even glance at her!  They don't deserve to!"

Not everybody likes tall Aryan women, y'know.

Bang-Bang does relent, because after all the book jacket promises some action in Atlantic City, and arranges for a helicopter to take Krak and Heller because he doesn't trust the cab anymore.  Does Bang-Bang know someone at the heliport?  Is he paying for this out of his own pocket, or using his mob account?  Would Babe Corleone get mad at him for helping Heller if he was?  Explanations are for weaker, lesser authors.

Krak and Heller prepare to spend the next couple of chapters in an exciting new location, and Gris gloats about how much he's accomplishing without actually doing anything.

I was really smiling.  The Atlantic City Mafia.  I had heard all about them.  They specialized in hijacking and beating up high winners.

My euphoria increased.  There wasn't any way I could lose.  If Heller lost money, it would be just that much less that they would have to meet their bills.  If he won, the Atlantic City Mafia would attack him and maybe he and Krak would both wind up in the hospital.

Or maybe Heller will continue his killstreak when it comes to mob assassins.  Or maybe instead of just putting them in the hospital the mobsters will somehow manage to kill Krak and Heller, which means no more encoded reports back to Voltar, which means increased Voltarian scrutiny on Mission Earth, which means your boss is going to have words with you, you baleful idiot.

What a beautiful day!  It might be cold winter for a lot of people.  It seemed like the balmiest possible weather to me.  It was a downright rosy world!

You're inside, in front of a TV, in a presumably climate-controlled facility.  That's why it's balmy.

The irony is that after announcing how the two-viewer thing will let Gris describe the character's expressions and stuff, Hubbard only takes advantage of this once in the entire chapter, to describe Krak's shocked reaction to Heller's vacation plans.  Everything else is all "Krak said," "Heller said," "said Bang-Bang" with less description than a movie script.

Back to Chapter Three

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