Friday, March 1, 2013

Part Forty-Eight, Chapter Six - No Hero to His Valet

Gris starts off the chapter by deflecting responsibility for his situation.

Never drink alcohol and smoke pot at the same time.

The result can be near fatal, as I found out when I awoke to another terrible day.

Gris crawls out of his room in time to catch his wives as they head to work, asks for money, and gets thrown seven dollars.  He tries to treat his hangover with some water, aspirin and champagne, then settles down to watch Heller's adventures in the American legal system.

Heller's breakfasted is interrupted by another legal attack ("Well, kick them out."  "I can't, sir.  There's police with them and they've got guns.")  The Shabby Man In The Shabby Coat With A Shabby Hat serves Heller a seizure order, nabbing all his financial assets as if it were illegal to hide money behind a false identity!  Absolutely outrageous!  Again, they chew him out for pulling a gun on a lawyer, even though the author never actually showed it happening.  Police Inspector Grafferty's along too, and thinks he recognizes Heller from a sex offender lineup a few years ago, rather than a restaurant where Heller smeared pasta sauce all over the officer's face in front of his favorite actors.

Man, that was a stupid chapter.

So Heller's broke, homeless, carless, and even his staff are leery of interacting with him for fear of getting sucked into his legal troubles.  All those wonderful things that fell into his lap without any real effort on his part have been taken away from him!  How devastating.  Especially that nice apartment he got all of ten chapters ago, that might be the most painful loss of all.

Gris watches Heller wander around New York, stop in the shadow of the Empire State Building, and scribble a note "so fast I could not follow it."  I'd ask why a slow-mo replay is impossible, but it doesn't matter - all he's doing is passing on a note to Izzy, so this "mystery" lasts less than a page.  While he waits for his friend to arrive, Heller kills time in a restaurant.

Robert E. Lee once said "The power which the strong have over the weak, the employer over the employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the confiding, even the clever over the silly — the forbearing or inoffensive use of all this power or authority, or a total abstinence from it when the case admits it, will show the gentleman in a plain light."  Sirius Black of the Harry Potter books put it a little simpler: "If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."

Heller went up the street to the Sukiyaki Bar and Grill.  He went in.

A Japanese came over.

"Give me a glass of water," said Heller.

"You no order food?  You no order drink?"

"Give me a glass of water," said Heller.

"I'm most sorry, we don't serve water.  If you broke, go to Salvation Army soup kitchen."

"You like this place?" said Heller.


"You don't want this place wrecked?"

"NO, sir!"

"Then bring me a glass of water."

The heroic Japanese waiter stands firm and generously allows Heller to sit, but refuses to serve him anything.  Unlike back in Chapter Three, Gris is able to appreciate and respond to Heller's miserable situation, and claims that it even helps cure his hangover.  Eventually Izzy shows up - Heller explains he was all secretive and passed his note via third party because he's noticed that "people seem to know where I am and where I go."  Gris has absolutely no reaction to this comment.

Izzy and Heller talk about the current situation, and we get more scathing satire of the legal system - "This can't be very legal."  "Well, legal is whatever the lawyers say it is."  Izzy assures him he's taking the case to one of the fastest lawyers in town, so it might get resolved in a matter of months.  He also reports that the private detectives Heller evidently hired off-camera have yet to find any sign of the Countess Krak.  Heller again worries about "That poor kid."  I start to worry about Krak's age, given the amount of ephebophilia in this wretched series.

In other news, well, Izzy shows Heller a newspaper screaming "WHIZ KID BIGAMIST SECOND WIFE SUES FOR DIVORCE."  Apparently the Whiz Kid was in Mexico posing as a revolutionary and fell for a local girl, but their (bleeping) got her "jealous burro" braying so a priest found out and made them get married.  I suddenly realize I am reading a crappy story within a crappy story and feel a rush of vertigo.  Izzy has to explain that no, they can't throw this new girl in jail.

Izzy does toss Heller a wad of money (causing a waiter to arrive with two glasses of water.  Heller says nothing.) so he can run to Brazil, like he first suggested back in... Book Three, I think?  But Heller resolutely says he's got to find his girl.

The Japanese came over.  "You order now?"

"I'm going to order somebody vaporized before this is through," said Heller.  He walked out.  He was looking up and down the street, as though by that he could locate the Countess Krak.

I was jolted.  I had never heard him sound so cross before.  Did he mean me?

Nervously, I threw the blanket over the viewer.  Irrationally, I thought he might look back through it and see me.

And even though this seems a logical point to end the chapter, there's three and a half pages more.

Gris tries to get some sleep, but his headache and a nagging worry that won't go away keep him up.  Then his wives come home, he asks for money, and they call a meaning to explain the situation.  They give him invoices and open the safe for him, and Gris eagerly dives into the piles of money.  "There must be $65,000 here or more!"

But then the former Miss Pinch drops her bombshell, before Gris gets any ideas about trying to run off with his money.  See, by marrying not one but two women, Gris has committed the crime of bigamy!  That's why Gris has been worried these past few chapters, he's been reading all about the Whiz Kid's bigamy fiasco without realizing that it also applies to him!  He's that stupid!

So Gris is horrified and the horrible women laugh at him and order him to take a shower.

"Why?" I pleaded.  I had had enough horror today.

"Why?" she mimicked.  Then her eyes narrowed and she poked her face very close to mine, for all the world like Lombar.  Her voice became very deadly indeed.  "You can stop your underhanded, chauvinistic machinations right now!  By plying us with champagne and pot on our wedding night and then refusing to do your duty, you thought you could throw us back into lesbianism.  You tried to make me break my sacred vow to crush Psychiatric Birth Control forever!  Well, buster, you did NOT succeed!"

She slapped at my side just like Lombar.  "It was NO good!  You only confirmed my determination!  Two lesbians will arrive in the next half hour and they'll be two ex-lesbians when we're through.  And no more tricks to wreck the program!  No more whining about them being dead!"

Y'know, the first time Gris got brutalized by Candy and Pinch, he tried to kill them and solve his problem that way.  The thought doesn't even occur to him now.  Guess marriage does change a man.

Defeated utterly, I began to crawl out of my clothes.  I felt terribly confused.  I kept thinking I did not want to have sex with Dolores Wister nee Pubiano de C√≥pula's burro.  But there was nothing I could do about it!

Belatedly, I started screaming.  I hate burros!

So, back to the subplot where Gris has sex with lesbians until they turn straight.  Oh, and we'll check in with our old friend, Dr. Crobe.

Back to Part Forty-Eight, Chapter Five

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