Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Part Fifty-Eight, Chapters Four and Five - Learn a Neat Synonym for "Treachery"

Chapter Four is another attempt to create dramatic tension through environment and atmosphere that is sabotaged by the central character.  It's night and the crew is still completely ignoring Gris, plus the boat's moving into a dark and ominous rainstorm... and Gris starts the chapter "cowering in my room," so terrified of his proximity to Turkey that he screams when Teenie enters the chamber, as though the country were about to sneak up on him. 

She says he looks awful, Gris admits that he's worried about Turkey, so Teenie reassures him.

She shook her head.  "In a few hours, that will all be over.  There's no reason for you to be upset.  Everything is being handled.  You should learn to trust people, Inky.  And most of all, trust me.  I may very well be the only friend you've got.

Or paraphrased, "be very suspicious of me.  Notice how easily my attempts at reassurance can be read as sinister euphemisms."

I flinched.  According to the very best Apparatus textbooks, that is what you say just before you slide a Knife section knife between somebody's ribs.

What, all that?  Spend six sentences giving a short speech instead of taking advantage of the element of surprise to stick 'em?  Says all you need to know about the Apparatus, really.

Also, what kind of idiot assassin goes for the ribcage?  Everybody knows the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.  Thanks, Terry Pratchett.

To help Gris calm down, Teenie has "THREE pieces!" of hashish candy.  And Gris combines his paranoia with some actual subtlety by dropping the treats down his sleeves while he feigns eating them.  Teenie praises him and leaves to spend the night on the bridge so she can "be sure everything gets handled," and Gris resolves to stay up all night.  Two hours later:

Far away, somewhere in the ship, I heard a faint staccato of bells.

A vibration ceased.


And the author comes up with a legitimate cliffhanger chapter ending!  ...That I kinda ruin by progressing right to the next chapter.  Tee hee.

Gris watches through his porthole as another ship comes up alongside the How to Waste a Third of Your Book, and among the crew Gris spots "THE BLACK-JOWLED MAN!" 

Now, Gris got some points by dodging the sleepy-time drugs and staying up to see what's going on, but if he'd been a good spy he'd be dressed in something rather than his bathrobe.  As it is, he sneaks out onto the deck in his jammies to eavesdrop.

He spots "TEENIE!" talking with Jowls over their boats' respective handrails, conveniently deciding to chat on the rain-swept deck during a nighttime storm rather than over the wireless so that Gris can hear both sides of the conversation and see who Teenie's talking to.  Teenie chews out Jowls for apparently being the one behind the harbor riot in Greece, and Jowls replied that it was payback for her delaying.

There, the mystery that consumed the previous two chapters and led Madison to consider stirring up a potentially world-ending war through the dark arts of PR is offhandedly resolved in a few blink-and-you'll-miss-them sentences, and will never be relevant again.

Jowls reminds Teenie that she was supposed to "deliver him into our hands!", Teenie replies that she's allied with Captain Bitts and refuses to put the boat into Turkish waters until she gets ten grand.  Threats and jewelry are exchanged, but the important thing is that Gris' worst sus... well, he hasn't really been suspecting Teenie of anything, has he?  The most he's done is notice Teenie acting funny, and occasionally thinking about how odd she's behaving.  Most of the time he notices Teenie acting funny and conspicuously fails to think anything of it.

Anyway, Jowls vows to return in a few hours and sails off, and Gris gets mad.

Oh, the perfidy of women!

I was sick to the core with her treachery.


There's only one thing to do - spend a hundred pages on another cruise while trying to come up with a course of action.

Back to Chapter Three

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