Friday, May 17, 2013

Part Fifty-Four, Chapter Five - Learn a Synonym for "Lucrative"

So has the mighty alien empire of Voltar figured out alarm clocks?  They managed to skip pharmaceuticals and the field of mental health, so it's certainly possible.  At any rate, Gris either forgets to set one or is ignorant of such devices' existence, and so oversleeps on his big day.  He wakes up at ten in the morning and worries that court may already started.

I freaked!

Yeah, see... I dunno if I'm okay with that sort of language coming out of a bona fide alien infiltrator.  Maybe if he was trying really hard to blend in and use the lingo of the natives, then we could have an obnoxious alien dropping all sorts of dated 80's (90's?) slang like "far out, dude!" or "totally radical!" But Gris' interests are centered around the 1930's, and he's too lazy to make that sort of effort to learn the locals' ways.  So this feels about as out of place as Gris successfully planning and executing an assassination.

Anyway, Gris hurriedly calls Eagle Eye Security and tells them that the lady with the "fifty G" bounty is in the courtroom of Judge Hammer Twist right now.  Off goes the security team to valiantly fail in the service of an idiot.

Job's a good 'un.  His master "plan" executed, Gris sits down and watches things happen on the viewscreens.  One viewer shows the Gerry the Whiz Kid Double sitting nearby in the busy courtroom, another shows a van interior, while Crobe is "diddling around" (snicker) "with some awful concoction of brain cells, humming happily."  Look carefully and you can spot the end-of-chapter plot twist.

Court goes slowly, there's a whole line of people waiting for some judgment.  Man who ran off on his wife, seven years hard labor.  Burglar slash strangler of secretaries, one year suspended sentence.  Bigamist pleading guilty, life imprisonment.  Gee, it's like the author thinks this country's bigamy laws are too harsh or something.  All the while security goons shuffle in, guarding every exit.  Gris gloats that Krak can't escape because the guards are specifically "on the watch for powder or paint," raising the question of how they'd be able to notice now what they didn't earlier, or why they let the obviously powdered or painted person pass by last time if they did notice the disguise.

After awarding a little old lady fifteen million dollars in damages for falling on a sidewalk

"Thank you, Your Honor," the old harridan said.  "And I'm not forgetting the Retirement Fund of Judges, like we arranged in chambers."

it's Gerry Wister up before the bench.  He announces that he's dismissed his attorneys and is representing himself

"Oh, my!" said the judge.  "This is bad business!  How do you expect lawyers to get properly rich if they don't get juicy targets like you?  You're pretty remunerative around here."

and we also learn that "satire" is an antonym for "subtlety."

Anyway.  Gerry's pleading guilty, not to any specific charge but "Any suits filed against Wister."  This forces the judge to go through a bunch of paperwork.  Those women have recently dropped their suits upon finding out that Gerry was going to do this and he... didn't have any money... what?  When did this happen?  Gris sure as hell didn't warn Madison back in Chapter Two.  Did he do it in between the paragraphs I read?  And here's the bigger question, why would Madison tell the girls to not bother with their suits instead of doing something about his kidnapped Whiz Kid?

The search for some crime to stick on this guy continues.  The "rape of a minor" thing is a big deal, "even in Mexico," except "American authorities refuse to believe that there are any virgins in Mexico," and burro stealing is no longer a crime due to the introduction of the Volkswagon.  Also, Gerry admits to never having visited Mexico, which the judge dismisses as irrelevant.

Twist was getting quite angry.  The sunburn went redder.  "Clerk, Mr. Prosecutor, isn't there something we can get this young man for?  Cant' be wasting the court's time like this.  Here we have a potential legal victim standing right here

If you ever needed evidence that this acclaimed master storyteller can't be arsed to proofread a single chapter he excretes, here you go.  I'm not pointing any fingers at the uncredited editor, mind you; if it'd been me, I'd have figured that anyone who made it this far obviously didn't care what they were reading and just left this stuff in.

and nothing to charge him with!  Unacceptable!  Wasting the taxpayers' money!  Unthinkable!"

The clerk does find an order to commit one Heavenly Joy Krackle for mental evaluation, specifying that she not see Dr. Crobe.  Since Crobe's a model psychiatrist - "You can always depend on him to get rid of unwanted people!" - the judge decides to ignore that part of the order.  But then a Mr. Philup Bleedum steps forward, representing Miss Krackle, and explains that she was ordered executed at Atalanta under the alias of Lissus Moam, going on to request a delay in the commitment order until her previous execution order is fulfilled.

And Gris gets worked up at this book's what, twentieth? meaningless Code Break.  The judge of course hears "Atlanta Penitentiary" and so doesn't discover the alien conspiracy, and when the attorney tries to put away the documents about Lissus Moam, the viewer's arm deftly exchanges it for a new piece of paper, too fast for anyone but concussed, hungover, sleepy Gris to notice.  "A magician switch!"

The new order is to send Jerome Wister to see Dr. Crobe, which means that Gerry Wister will get to have his brains scrambled instead.  The judge is happy to finally be able to convict the guy for something and sends the poor sap off to his doom.  Hooray!  Another victory for the forces of not-Gris!

But wait, there's more!  The viewscreen character gets up to walk out of the courtroom.  One of the security guards touches just off-screen, notices some makeup paint, but then is grabbed by the elbow and marched out of the courtroom and down a side hall to the top of a flight of stairs.

"I don't think you heard the judge.  Neither Heavenly Joy Krackle nor Jerome Terrance Wister are now wanted for anything at all."

Please note the revelation that doesn't occur here.

The security officer heard wide-eyed as he stood teetering.

"And I think when you go to collect your fee, you'll find a hole where Dingaling, Chase and Ambo offices once stood.  So skip the zeal, mister.  This is the only pay you're going to get."

And teeter, teeter, fall away.


That's the onomatopoeia for someone falling down a flight of stairs, of course.

The security officer went down the steps all arms and legs.

THUD!  He hit the bottom.

Philup Bleedum's face was reproving.  "Was that necessary?"

"Maybe not necessary, but oh, so satisfactory."

Then the viewscreen character exits the courthouse, a "BLACK van" pulls up, the door opens, "AND THERE INSIDE WAS THE COUNTESS KRAK!"

So, couple of things.

First, Gris didn't recognize Heller when he spoke, and it took seeing Krak on the viewscreen to make him realize that "All today, due to my impaired sight, I HAD BEEN WATCHING THE WRONG VIEWER!"  Second, at some point Krak taught Heller the magician's switch, probably in the same chapter that the Whiz Kid Wives found out about Gerry's decision to confess and Madison decided not to do anything about it.  Third, Heller just used brute force and threats of future violence to solve his legal problems, begging the question of why he didn't keep doing that in the first place.  And fourth, our brave hero just mentioned that he has or is planning to bomb the offices of the lawyers arrayed against him, which again raises the question of why he waited until now to do this.

Also, why would the security guard find makeup on Heller's face when he has that doodad that turns his skin black without any?  And why didn't he say anything, shout, raise the alarm when he made the discovery?  And what about being grabbed by the elbow completely incapacitated the guy?

This is actually a very Mission Earth-y chapter of Mission Earth.  None of the plot points fit together, the reader is hammered in the forehead with the satire, and the writing is just bad.

Back to Chapter Four

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