Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Part Forty-Five, Chapter Three - Miss Agnes' Revenge

The chapter break interrupts the end of Miss Agnes' forced confession and infodump, though she only has half a page of monologue left to say, so you have to wonder why the author decided not to end the chapter there, assuming you haven't given up trying to make sense of all this several volumes ago.

All Agnes has left to say is that as part of her revenge scheme, she took the opportunity to give Rockecenter a little snip when he knocked himself out falling off a horse, thereby ensuring that there will be no heir to dispute his fortune.  Which is what he wanted anyway, I thought.  Rather surprised Rockecenter didn't take care of that himself.  Unless his plan was to simply abort any pregnancies that resulted from his lifestyle, which is probably keeping with the stupidly evil characterization the author is going for.

But that's it - Agnes feels insufficiently rewarded for all her work advancing psychology, since she's after nothing less than the Rockecenter fortune.  So Krak, kind-hearted soul that she is, decides to help the woman.  "Listen carefully.  You will feel rewarded when you propose to some nice young man and settle down."  Yes, ladies, always remember that your ultimate ambition should be holy matrimony with a man.

My earlier fears prove justified when Krak goes on to mind-control Agnes into signing over the monster motor home.  It's not outright theft, since Krak decides to set the terms as Agnes letting her "friend' take the thing out for three months and try to sell it, and if unsuccessful Krak will pay "fifty thousand credits."  Krak knows about Earth dollars, and the approximate exchange rate of dollars to Voltarian credits, but she still phrases the deal in alien currency anyway.  But it's a moot point since Agnes puts down fifty thousand dollars when she writes up the "contract," which opens up the can of worms of whether Voltarian mind-control magic reads the wielder's intent or the victim's.

Agnes hands over the deal, forgetting about being hypnotized and questioned as per standard mind-raping operating procedure, and shoos Krak out the door.  The Countess gets Bang-Bang to move their things to the "land yacht" -

Bang-Bang looked anxiously at the house and then at Krak.  "Hey, you couldn't have bought this.  It's worth a million bucks."

"It's a steal, Bang-Bang.  Get the baggage."

Which is a witty bit of wordplay unless you think about how much money Heller's making, and the implication that Krak has no access to it.  And apparently isn't using Gris' credit card anymore.

But wouldn't you know it but Krak forgot to make Agnes hand over the keys to the thing?  She sends Bang-Bang back to the house to pick them up, and for no real reason at all decides she'd "better make sure he is all right" and gets out the X-ray telescope identical to the one Gris was using for a chapter or two back in Book Four, I think, which of course she just so happened to have been carrying in her baggage all along.

This?  This is an example of the hoops you have to jump through if you want to have the story follow someone into a building, but have come up with the ridiculous set-up of your narrator being a character in the story narrating other characters' actions through long-range spy implants, looking through their eyes and listening through their ears.

Bang-Bang goes back to the mansion, Agnes perks up at the sight of him and asks if he's a "nice young man," then she reaches for his belt buckle.  Bang-Bang freaks and tries to flee, but trips over a garbage can and falls onto a couch.  Agnes jumps on him and, despite his thrashing and desperate attempts to escape, commands Bang-Bang to "Lie still, you nice young man!  I've got to settle down on you!"  And there's the usual shaking furniture and things falling off the walls and shelves to denote a Hubbard Sex Scene.

Now, you might be tempted to call this a rape.  After all, Bang-Bang did not initiate this encounter, tried to get out of it, but was stripped, held down, and used.  But see, he's a guy, and we all know that men are lustful creatures who wouldn't say no to a quickie with a woman they're terrified of and have no interest in.  Plus if he'd really wanted out of it, surely he's strong enough to get out of a woman's pin?  So there you have it - men can't be raped, at least not by women, so what would be shocking or horrifying were the gender roles reversed is instead titillating and even comedic. 

Krak watches the whole thing.  After all, Gris couldn't tell us about the diploma falling off the wall if Krak weren't staring at the sordid affair through her magical telescope.  The most she does is cluck her disapproval of Agnes' actions - "You give these primitives the simplest suggestion and even then they get that wrong!" - and feels sorry for Bang-Bang because he must be so embarrassed, but again, she doesn't stop watching his humiliation.  The whole event annoys her more than anything, because now they'll have to find a place to stop for the night so Bang-Bang can rest, when Krak was hoping to drive straight home.  She does not interfere, or try to rescue him... oh, what am I saying, rescue implies that something bad was happening!

Miss Agnes lay there grinning like a ghoul. "Oh, boy, that was really good," she said. "Forty-four years I kept myself a virgin

This book has an unsettling fixation on hymens.

for that rotten (bleepard).  But now revenge is really sweet.  I've let myself be settled down by a nice young man instead of him.  And that vengeance was really great.

Her first act of revenge was to sterilize the man who was worried that his heir would try to steal his fortune.  Her second act of revenge was to have sex with a random stranger rather than the man who showed no interest in her for four decades.

Revenge after all is the best reward.  And I've got it at last!  I'm full of it!"

She puts on her pants and throws Bang-Bang the keys and whatnot, advising him to "take up Psychiatric Birth Control.  If anybody found out that nonperverted sex is that good, they'd overpopulate the world!"

Bang-Bang flees to the land yacht, begging Krak not to lose the keys because he "couldn't stand getting another set!"  He also asks if Krak said anything about him to Miss Agnes, but the Countess of course feigns ignorance.  And Gris out of nowhere remembers that the old cab they had been driven was bulletproof, but now they're in a huge target with dinky aluminum walls.  Surely fate was smiling upon him, Krak is a gonner, yadda yadda yadda might want to tell your hitman that the target is in a different vehicle, ace.

Back to Chapter Two 

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