Monday, May 6, 2013

Part Fifty-Three, Chapter Three - The State Department Is Out To Get Us

Gris needs a plan.  He needs a way to weasel out of these child rape charges, or those bigamy charges.  He needs a way to get his life back under control.  He needs, in other words, to watch TV.

So Heller's still on the luxury yacht in the middle of the ocean, looking wistfully towards New York, Gris guesses.  The captain walks up, they chat about poker, and Heller voices the observation that Captain Bitts would have to land in New York and let Heller go to a bank to withdraw that eighteen grand in winnings he owes Bitts.  Unfortunately for Heller (and Gris, who assumes that the guys who let Heller escape will manage to catch him if he returns), the captain sticks to his orders from the "owner's concubine" to keep Heller safe from Russians and Americans and whatnot and bring him back to Turkey.  Heller shrugs and asks if he'd be up for a game of dice later.  Feel clever for remembering Heller's dice prowess all the way back in Book One and realizing that he'll use it to win back the money he owes.

I thought all this over.  I was looking for some advantage on which to base a plan.

Something went flash in my head.

The "advantage" Gris was waiting for turns out to be "remembering something from the end of the previous book."  Yes, Gris realizes that he has contacts in the U.S. government he could use to go after Heller, much like how he was able to send the Coast Guard to ineffectively chase him around.  Using his Rockecenter-Swindle and Crouch credentials, Gris asks the State Department about sending the Navy after a criminal fleeing the country on a private ship named the Golden Sunset.

But alas, after consulting the Citizen Harassment Office and assuring Gris that the State Department remains "devoted to the arduous task of making all possible trouble for U.S. citizens wherever they may be found..." wait, why?

Skip a few paragraphs and the State Department clerk explains that they go out of their way to protect known "political terrorists" (as opposed to terrorists who kill people for giggles, I guess) and drug runners, allowing such ne'er-do-wells to "keep everything stirred up and the media happy."  But I thought Rockecenter and his energy slash pharmaceutical comma psychology cartel was running the government, not the mass media?  And this doesn't answer the question of how getting U.S. citizens seized by the Chinese government by planting contraband benefits the State Department in any way.  So it's the guv'ment being evil because that's what the guv'ment does.

Anyway.  No, they won't go after Heller - in an amazingly convenient coincidence, an oversight allowed the U.S.-Turkey extradition treaty to expire, so it'd be illegal to board and seize him.  Instead the clerk recommends that Gris get the CIA to just blow up the boat (extreme harassment!), but Gris declines because Heller still has a CIA passport, so he assumes they wouldn't go after one of their own.  Also... he owns the yacht.  Even if destroying it would mean killing his mortal enemy, Gris still won't part with the boat he's only seen through the eyes of his foes.

He gets dumber.

For a bit I wondered about simply sending the captain a radio and telling him when and where to dock and have the court officers waiting there to pick up Heller.  But it was too simple to work.  They warn you against simple solutions in the Apparatus.

This won't be justified either.  The State Department harasses U.S. citizens when they go abroad because.  The Apparatus trains its agents to form overcomplicated, unsuccessful plans because.  That's how the world works, that's how the only way the plot can work.

More to the point, Gris decides that if he tried the simple route of contacting Captain Bitts on the radio, it wouldn't work - the captain would obviously think it was a fake message without Gris proving his identity in person, and the captain then would tell Heller and Krak that "Sultan Bey" was involved in their problems.  It's a sudden reversal of his usual assumption that everything will happen the way he wants it to.

Wait, did I say "Krak?"

This train of thought collided abruptly with the fact that the Countess Krak might very well, at that moment, be following some line of investigation which would lead her to me!

A horrifying threat!

Four chapters ago we saw her talking about going after the "Whiz Kid" to see if he'll squeal.  So not only is she still a few steps behind, but Gris can take the obvious step of warning Madison that his star player could be kidnapped soon.  Get the guy some extra security.  Tell them to be on the lookout for a master of disguise.  Or set a trap for Krak and Bang-Bang!  You know who they'll be going after, you can control their target's movements, and have goons at your disposal!

It was one of those awful days when just at the moment you were sure things couldn't get any worse, they did!

Wow, what an exciting cliffhanger.  Tune in next chapter, which ends with Gris jubilantly declaring that "The world looked much brighter!"

Back to Chapter Two

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