Thursday, March 7, 2013

Part Forty-Nine, Chapter Four - I've Lost Track of How Many Vehicles Heller Owns Now

Heller drives to the docks, "avoiding piles of this and that and people," gets out, and finds the dockmaster to ask about a fleet of cabs dropping someone off.  Luckily the man remembers the "real tomato" who came by one day to hire a ride to a yacht.  He remembers that said tomato looked sad, and since she used a credit card issued to "Sultan Bey and concubine" concludes that she was being sold to "some God (bleeped) Turk."  The dockmaster who willingly participated in what he thought was human trafficking directs Heller to contact Boyd's of London to figure out where her yacht went, because why call the port authority when you can ring up an insurance company?

Heller places a trans-Atlantic call, speaking with an operator who uses famous Britishisms like "doncha know" and "caught us with the panties half off."  They're initially leery of giving away personal information until they mistake Heller for a bill collector and happily look up where Krak's boat went off, notifying him that the Golden Sunset is anchored just off Atlantic City.

Aaaand it gets stupid.

Before Heller is even on the phone, Gris is elated to hear the approaching sirens of Grafferty's men.  The cops show up while Heller's in the middle of his conversation, but run past the phone kiosk without noticing him.

Remember, when Madison was first unleashed upon Heller back in Book Two... or Three? ...he needed a "Whiz Kid" on hand for his publicity stunts, and so hired a body double.  Unfortunately, he went with a "body double" with buck teeth and enormous thick glasses, so Heller had to put on a disguise to look like this faux "Whiz Kid."  Which means that the policemen hunting him down here are using the wrong description to do so.

And so any suspense or tension is tossed into the trash due to the aching stupidity of this book's villains, turning what could be an exciting manhunt into a farce.  Heller ignores the cops completely, going about his business while New York's finest look under shipping crates.  The police ask Mortie who his passenger/driver was, but since Mortie only knows our hero as "Clyde Barrow" he doesn't give Heller away, and is in fact quite astonished at the Whiz Kid's adventures in bigamy.  The police ask Heller at one point if he's seen the Whiz Kid, but Heller claims to have seen "Not a soul."  Not sure if he's just lying or subtly deriding everyone on the planet.

Oh, and Heller buys a boat.  It's a Sea Skiff, if you're interested, a thirty-six-foot oceangoing speedboat.  The purchase takes about two and a half pages while cops run back and forth in the background.  So Heller acquires transportation, while Gris calls up Grafferty's secretary or whatever to tell them that they guy they're looking for is right there, but gets hung up on.

Heller and Mortie the cab driver part ways, but not before Mortie acts all concerned, 'cause Heller's been given a real "man-killing boat," so the cabbie makes sure that he's loaded up with gas and supplies, including a six-pack of nonalcoholic beer.  Because... it's funny?  That Heller's like thirty but looks eighteen, so nobody lets him drink?  Pretty doggone funny. 

The chapter ends with Mortie waving Heller off with another description of how dangerous the ocean is, implicitly making Heller all the more heroic for daring to venture out upon it.  And Gris seethes that the cops are useless, and "HE WAS GETTING AWAY!"

It goes without saying that Heller has no trouble operating a boat.  For what is a spaceship but an enclosed boat able to fly between worlds?

Back to Chapter Three 

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