Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Part Forty-Six, Chapter One - Back Where It All Began

Although Gris' plan is to sit around in a motel room, watch viewscreens, and hope that things happen the way he wants them to, he's stymied by the carbon-based interference blocking out Krak's signal, while Heller's screen is still blank because Raht and the bloody 831 Relayer are on the move.  So all Gris can do at the chapter's start is try to decide why he's feeling squeamish, as if he'd just witnessed something unpleasant.

I sat there restively.  My nerves were in pretty poor shape after that cop murder and rape.  I wondered why these things were having such an effect on me.  By psychology theory, there was neither limit nor personal penalty to crime unless it happened to oneself.  Nothing had happened to me yet.

Someone needs to introduce Gris to the wonderful, lucrative world of "psychological damages."

Why was I reacting?  Psychology and psychiatry couldn't be wrong.  That was unthinkable.  Man was just an animal that had no conscience or soul, just a rotten beast, in fact.  So, of course it shouldn't affect me, no matter how many rotten things I did.

Nothing new here, the author's just repeating himself in case we missed the point the first time.  But don't worry, Hubbard's satire!psychology will reach new heights of stupidity once Gris checks on Crobe later on.

Clamping down on a crisis of faith in soulless science, Gris instead busies himself with finding a potential escape vehicle in case Torpedo doesn't pick him up after killing Krak, and makes "some other precautionary arrangements."  About this time Heller's viewer comes back on as Raht flips a switch on the relayer.  Our hero gets dropped off via a rope ladder dangling from a helicopter, landing in a used car sales lot.  Yes, he's back at Harvey "Smasher" Lee's Bargain Cars For True Virginians, Money Back Sometimes.


It was only... using a calculator here... ah, approximately 1600 pages ago that Heller was first dumped off in Virginia, eventually picking up a Cadillac from Mr. Lee here.  Gris obligingly spends a paragraph reminding us how Heller was probably still wanted in this town (under a different alias) and left with a Miss Mary Schmeck, who tragically died off-screen with no further impact on the story.

Mr. Lee steps out of the sales office, and goes white at the sight of Heller, who asks if there's a cheap car available.  Harvey instead asks if Mary's around, and Heller says "There's nobody with me."  Because... no need to tell a shady car salesman that a woman who haggled with him died of a drug overdose?  Well, surely Heller has a good reason for doing the things he does.  Even if we never get to hear it.

I'll skip a page of haggling - Heller ends up buying a cheap ride he can "use and throw away," some awful French car called a Karin.  Apparently this was a real concept vehicle, and I've gotta say, I can see why it never went any further.  Heller asks about Stonewall Biggs, and Harvey gets all shifty-eyed and explains that he's still at the (burned-down) courthouse.

Heller drives off in his rolling pyramid and arrives at the pile of rubble marking the old building, next to a temporary structure.  It's past dusk now, and as Heller gets out some voices shout that he's under arrest in thick, mangled Southern accents.  Yes, Mr. Harvey tipped off the local cops about a car that got "stolen" off his lot.  The officers move in to cuff Heller, who is mostly annoyed and asks if they can "put this off until business hours?"

I'll skip a half-page Hubbard Action Sequence in which Heller ends up throwing one cop at the other.  He dumps the unconscious cops off at the temporary courthouse and drives back to Mr. Lee, grabs the man by the throat, ties him up, and threatens to torch the man's merchandise if he doesn't tell where Mr. Biggs is.  The man blabs, Heller drives off towards the new directions, arriving at a nondescript house in some generic neighborhood unworthy of description.

Heller knocks on a front door, an old black woman announces that there's "Some young whaht mans," and Mr. Biggs starts chatting with Heller in Hubbard's patented What The Hell Is That Accent?

"Well, Junior!" he cried. "Mah, this sho' is a su'-prise!" And he was pumping Heller's hand and beaming. "C'm in, c'm in and set a spell! Mah, am ah glad t'see you, boy!"

He led Heller into the kitchen and sat him in a chair at the table. "We've et. You et? Marcy, git some vittles on. Some of that friahd po'k 'n greens."

"Ah'm mighty glad t'see you well," said Heller, unstrapping his musette bag and laying it on a chair.

"Aw, they cain't kill off an ol' coon dog lahk me," said Stonewall Biggs. "They thought ah was done fo' aftah you pulled me aht of that fiah but ah was jus' singed, jus' singed. Marcy, he do look a bit ga'nt. Hurry up them vittles so's we c'n talk."

I am tired of Virginia already.

Gris chortles that sitting down for exposition only plays into his hands, since it keeps Heller away from Krak so Torpedo can... well, presumably he could snipe her regardless of whether anyone's around, but I guess Gris has latched on to the "defiling" part of the plan too.

Heller and Biggs make small talk, then Heller asks for more information about his birth.  So Biggs tells a short tale of how the town doctor got drunk one night, so Biggs asked some questions, and the doctor said something about how "Ah done a lotta rotten things in mah tahm, but at leas' ah nevah murdered th' two of them."  And Biggs admits there'd been some rumors about a local girl getting married to Mr. Rockecenter and coming home pregnant and how she disappeared and how her parents died in a car accident that looked suspiciously like a car bomb.  But nobody has any hard evidence and the local sheriff would sell his soul for some "waht mule," so nobody did anything and the rumor never went anywhere.

So a whole town has suspicions about how the world's most powerful man might have murdered his wife and unborn children, as well as his in-laws.  Way to cover your tracks, Rockecenter.

Biggs gives Heller directions to this doctor, a Tremor Graves, but when he tries to leave Heller finds that the rolling pyramid has been stolen.  Biggs ends up driving him off, so Gris calls an operator, announces a Federal emergency, and without any attempt to verify his identity is able to tip off the local police that the man who stole a car and beat up two officers is on his way to a hospital in a Buick.

I hung up.

I beamed.  Heller would be stopped.

Torpedo would have his chance!

Of course, if Heller did get stopped, and arrested, and jailed for his crimes, he wouldn't be able to write his reports back to Voltar, and since Gris doesn't know the cypher to forge him, the Voltarian government would get tipped off that Mission Earth is failing, and go ahead with the invasion plan, jeopardizing the Apparatus plot to seize control of the Confederacy.  On the other hand, given their past success rate there's absolutely no reason to believe the local law enforcement has any chance of apprehending Heller, so Gris is probably safe from his own short-sighted stupidity.

Back to Part Forty-Five, Chapter Seven

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