Wait, Hubbard keeps spelling it out as "Seven Up." Maybe that counts.
So Gris goes to the ABC "TV show hall" to oversee the capture of Krak when she crashes a live show of "Weirdo World" to try and kidnap the Whiz Kid. He had to get stitches from that skateboarding accident last chapter, so his head is wrapped in bandages, saving him the trouble of coming up with that part of the disguise. This isn't to say that Gris didn't come up with anything else to add.
I plucked at [the Eagle Eye Security Officer's] sleeve. Annoyed, he pushed at me. "Beat it, you old bat," he said. "Can't you see I'm busy?"
I laughed delightedly. I was disguised as an old woman with a floppy hat and had smeared bootblacking on the bandages to give me a black face. He thought I was some Negress! "It's you that's the bat," I said, "for I have heard they are quite blind. I'm Smith, you idiot, the man Dingaling, et cetera, take their orders from."
"Well, Jesus Christ," said the security officer.
"No, Smith," I corrected him.
The Wachowskis totally ripped this off for Matrix 2: The One With More Hugo Weaving. Also, Gris' disguise consists of blackened bandages wrapped around his face. And people mistake him for a black woman. Oy.
Gris Will Suffice is assured that the security team has the studio surrounded. Gris settles down in his seat with his portable viewscreen and tries to keep his vision clear despite all the bandages and lingering bleeding. And apparently he's remembered that he's an employee of an alien infiltration team rather than a henpecked husband threatened with being in the same room as some "homos," 'cause he declares "Lombar Hisst and the fate of the Voltar Confederacy were depending on me, to say nothing of the fate of Earth!" instead of "maybe if I got Krak taken care of I could get back to figuring out what to do about Teenie!"
So he sits on his ass and watches (a portable) TV.
Krak's in a little room with her own portable screen and microphones in front of her, making Gris worried because she's not even attempting to disguise herself, and talking to Bang-Bang about making sure someone "knows the route". He tries to relax as host Tom Snide comes out to do talkshowy things and make bad jokes, and because this is a work of satire, there's the usual question of whether statements like "my dearest friends who keep sweeping my popularity from coast to coast - just don't sweep it under the rug" are meant to be legitimately funny, examples of the kind of faux-humor that appears on daytime television, intentionally not funny, or what.
There are audience cue cards such as "HOWL WITH LAUGHTER," "SAY OOOOO WITH DELIGHT," and "SCREAM WITH LAUGHTER WHILE OOOING WITH SCREAMS."
The fake Whiz Kid capers about while "dressed in the black of a Western outlaw," discussing his recent rape charges and dropping double entendres like "I admit I have been lying down on the job." Gris gets spooked when his portable TV shows Krak watching her portable TV and seeing a disguised Gris in the studio audience. The host eventually upsets the Whiz Kid by going off script and introducing his next guest, a lawyer.
Crap in a hat this book is moronic.
Another sound. Voltarian! I thought I had lost my wits. Then I located it. It was coming from my viewer. The Countess Krak had her left-hand microphone in her hand and into it she had said, "Cue. Walk to center stage." In VOLTARIAN!
Snide had risen and was making an elaborate, ushering bow.
ONTO CENTER STAGE WALKED MISTER CALICO!
The good news is that the author has finally made use of Krak's uncanny, some would say unbelievable, ability to train animals. The bad news is that this is how he decided to do it.
So... the cat walks on stage. In a bow tie. He is a smart enough cat to know what a chair is and which side is his right. Krak has put a little receiver in his ear and a speaker on his collar so he can introduce himself as "I am a lawyer cat," and he even is smart enough to work his mouth like he's talking.
The girl with the cards had recovered. She raised a card.
The audience didn't read the card. They were saying, "A talking cat." "It's really talking." "What a cute cat." "Listen to it TALK!"
Ventriloquy, Earth-made hidden speakers? No? Can't think of any way this might be a trick or special effect?
So... the cat explains that "Cats are the very basic of the law," and makes a lot of animal-related puns. Terrible, terrible puns. Puns that are capitalized so that you, the drooling, balefully stupid reader, will know where the funny is.
The cat seemed to say, "The law violently opposes anything DOG-matized. Police CAT and MOUSE with criminals. Criminals RAT on one another. Judges think everyone is a RAT. And the end product of any legal action is a CAT-astrophe!"
The crowd howls in laughter, and in their defense, they do seem to earnestly believe this is a talking cat, so we have to cut them some slack. Gris meanwhile warns the security team that their target is the one making the cat talk. A security officer assures him that "We'll handle."
But they're too slow. The cat tells the audience and the Whiz Kid that he... well, the cat's a male, but Krak is doing the voice... anyway, the cat proves its lawyer status by doing "what every lawyer does." It jumps up on the Whiz Kid double, and Gris thinks the cat may have taken something from its harness and put it in the man's pocket. Then it grabs the double's wallet with its teeth and runs off the stage. And of course, "THE DOUBLE RACED AFTER IT!" And so does Gris and the security detail.
The page-long chase scene takes everyone to an external staircase near a van, which we are told is different from the one Krak and Bang-Bang were using earlier, and nothing else. Different color? Make? We don't need to know right now, I guess.
Several things happen. Gris realizes that Mr. Calico must have slipped one end of the "follow-compellers" on the Whiz Kid, and is wearing the other on his harness to make the man follow him. The fake Whiz Kid crashes to the bottom of the stairs and is scooped up by Bang-Bang and stuffed in the van. The security guys, and then Gris, go "ZWOOP!", skid down the steps, and land in a pile at the foot of the staircase.
I say "and then Gris" because he watched the security team start to slip but doesn't hesitate in trying to run down the steps right behind them.
The van escapes, and nobody can get the vehicle number because "IT HAD NO LICENSE PLATES!" And Gris has to take a moment figuring out how it all went so wrong.
I couldn't account for any of this.
What had caused such a catastrophe?
And then I looked at the steps.
The cat could run down them but nobody else could.
THEY WERE COVERED WITH BANANA PEELS!
I'm tempted to say we've reached a new low for Mission Earth, but then my stomach lurches and I remember Gris raping Candy and Pinch back in Book Five, or Torpedo raping that dead cop last book. I think I can state that this chapter has some of the highest concentrations of Stupid seen thus far. We've got Gris' disguise, a talking cat, and banana peels on stairs. This leaves Heller smearing Grafferty's face with tomato sauce in the dust.
Back to Part Fifty-Three, Chapter Five