Thursday, May 23, 2013

Part Fifty-Five, Chapter Two - Garbage Day

Gris and Teenie's cab arrives in Tudor City, "a collection of twelve brick buildings built in the 1920s in the Flamboyant or Tudor Gothic-English style of architecture." Teenie gets to climb fourteen stories to her apartment, and while she packs Gris hangs out with the cab driver, watching his portable viewscreen.  I suddenly wonder whether it'd be possible to track Krak and Heller by the streaming video and audio they're constantly emitting from the transmitters in their skulls.  Are they giving their human friends cancer?  Will they die of leukemia in a few years?

The view shows the back of a garbage truck - Heller and Krak have caught up with Flagrant.  We know because they put his name on the side of the vehicle, along with a billboard boasting "TODAY'S GARBAGE IS TOMORROW'S AMERICA," a sign promoting a contest to win a trip to the garbage dump, and loudspeakers playing a garbage jingle.

Happy garbage to you,
Happy garbage to you,
Be kind to your garbage,
And it will love you.

I... guess this is satire, right, of how advertising agents like to advertise things that don't need it, and make up obnoxious songs for public sanitation services.  Or something.  It's not really important, because we're about to have a thrilling chase scene!

Flagrant notices the cab with the Corleone sign on it, and guns the gas.  "Now hold on," you say, "I've seen a modern garbage truck, and they're about as nimble as a drunken walrus."  But L. Ron Hubbard is one step ahead of you, see - Flagrant's not in one of those behemoths, but a pickup truck carrying sacks of trash in its open back.  So this car chase isn't completely implausible, it's just boring.

But (bleep) that Heller!  He was racing right alongside the garbage truck!

Then the old cab leaped ahead with a ferocious roar.  It snarled down the street ahead of the truck.  Heller applied his brakes and yanked his wheel.

With a scream of tires, the old cab went broadside.  It jarred to a halt.

It was blocking the street!

The garbage truck bore down on it like a juggernaut!

I prayed, hit that cab!  Then that will be the last of Heller.

I'm reminded that we're basically watching a guy watching an unexciting car chase. 

But Flagrant had jammed on his brakes.  The heavy vehicle was shuddering to a halt.  Oh, Gods, he was going to stop.  I wanted to scream "Hit that cab!"  Oh, Gods, if he stopped he would be caught.

He stopped.

But he wasn't caught.

Flagrant had the truck in reverse!

It started backwards slowly and then began to pick up speed.  He couldn't

Well, you get the idea.  Flagrant gets his not-quite-a-real garbage truck going forty backwards.  Heller gives Bang-Bang the wheel, steps out on the cab's running boards, and when he gets close enough to his quarry, throws a concussion grenade into the back of the garbage truck.

He didn't want to shoot out the truck's tires for fear of hurting Flagrant, so Heller threw a grenade instead.

Don't worry, it gets dumber!  The concussion grenade's blast blows all the garbage out the back of the truck, while lands in a perfect barricade sealing off the street, and because Flagrant is fleeing in reverse, he plows right into it.  And instead of bludgeoning through the sacks of trash and spraying banana peels and used tissues everywhere, the trash bags have just the right consistency to bring his truck to a "squishing halt!"  And even though the concussion grenade that thew Gunsalmo Silva from the Empire State Building was powerful enough to leave a dent in the floor, after this grenade Flagrant and his truck are unharmed.

One last bizarre thing to note - Flagrant got slowed down by traffic stopped at a light.  They're out in public having this little car chase, throwing around explosives.  And nobody notices.  There's no mention of alarmed bystanders, much less police officers showing up to politely inquire what the hell's going on here.  Aside from that brief mention of stopped traffic, Yonkers is completely empty save for the protagonists and the guy they're chasing. 

Tune in next chapter as Heller and Flagrant have a chat in the middle of a street, their parked vehicles and a wall of garbage cutting off traffic, and nobody minds because nobody else exists.

Back to Chapter One

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