Anyway, the police are completely useless, and Heller is getting away on his new speedboat. Only one group can save Gris now - "The Coast Guard!"
But he won't call them right away, because he needs to get "just a little more data." So instead of dialing them up and saying "there's a fugitive on a Sea Skiff who just left the 79th Street Boat Basin headed towards Atlantic City, get out there quick!", Gris decides to watch Heller boat around for a page and a half. To get that crucial data. And I thought I was good at procrastinating.
Heller quickly figures out the gyrocompass, engages the autopilot, and goes belowdecks, poking around the bunks and head until he finds some charts. He comes out, carelessly slips just by the stern of a huge freighter, and takes his seat.
Typically Heller, he perched himself sideways on the edge of the pilot's seat, hooked a foot under a rung and without the least concern for the absolutely jammed traffic on the river, sat comfortably in the warm sun and began to examine the chart.
He was giving me the data I needed.
Yeah, Gris needs to know Heller's whole route before calling down the Coast Guard, apparently. It's only when he sees that Heller's coming up on the Coast Guard station at Fort Jay that he actually calls them, informing them that they can apprehend that criminal they are now close enough to see with binoculars.
Unfortunately, the Coast Guard isn't any more competent than the police.
"Jesus, is that right, Petey? Mister, Petey says she's clocking 42.3 knots. Man, look at her go! . . . Hey, wait a minute. That number is familiar. Petey, ain't that the old Faustino Sea Skiff? . . . Yeah, I thought so. Man, look at her GO! Petey, git your nose out of the radar and eyeball this. . . . You ever seen a prettier sight?"
Another voice, "Yowee! Man, would I like to be in that on a beautiful day like this, huh, Dicey?"
"(Bleep) it!" I screamed. "DO something!"
Seaman Second Class Dicey said, "I'm sorry, mister. That's just some guy from the Faustino mob going out to pick up a load of dope from some foreign freighter off Sandy Hook. Why would the Coast Guard be interested?"
"Arrest him!" I howled.
"There's no speed limit where he is now. He can't be arrested unless he doesn't have a foghorn and I didn't see him throw anything overboard to litter the harbor."
So while Heller cruises past the Statue of Liberty, raising a hand in salute, thereby making a bald eagle somewhere shed a single patriotic tear, Gris tries to prod the Coast Guard into action. He first claims that the boat is stolen, only for the Coast Guard guy to check and verify that it was in fact just purchased legally. So he gets kicked up to a superior officer, and then explains that the guy on the boat is a wanted criminal fleeing a Federal warrant issued by Rockecenter's henchmen. Which he should have done first thing, in a phone call made the minute Heller left the harbor.
All in all, it takes nearly three pages for Gris' orders to get through - intercept the Sea Skiff before it enters international waters, arrest its occupant, and put him in leg irons before handing him over to the New York police. Gris insisted on the leg irons.
Only then did I allow myself a smile, a very Apparatus smile. Heller was just passing under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, white spray, blue water and bright, spring sun. Little did he know the trap that had been laid.
He had gotten past or around the police some way I could not fathom.
Like I said, it's pretty stupid, and it requires two very contrived coincidences to be any mystery to Gris.
But I had not mentioned any name or identity to the Coast Guard. They would grab anybody in that boat! And I would make sure, through Dingaling, Chase and Ambo, that that was a grab that would be made to stick!
Heller, admire the gulls as you streak by. This is NOT the day you will see your lady love!
Again, this is all being told to us after the fact, a prison confession. So imagine if your grandpa or whatever was telling you about fighting Charlie in the jungle, and his tale went like "so I smiled to myself and said 'this time it is I who will be doing the ambushing!' Then we got in a helicopter and flew for a few hours, and when we got out I said to myself 'enjoy this evening, because it will be your last!'"
Also, I'd really love to read Justiciary Turn's responses to all this garbage. "Gris, I don't really need to know the names and appearances of every single lesbian you slept with, could you focus on Lombar's activities please?"
Back to Chapter Four