Monday, June 17, 2013

Part Fifty-Seven, Chapter Six - Change of Plans

So the good ship Plot? What Plot? lands at Elba Island in calm Italian waters, causing Gris to comment "that was the first time I had seen anything Italian calm."  That is the only thing approaching satire in this chapter.

Gris and Teenie and Madison tour Napoleon's old residence, which Gris considers a palace what with all the summer resorts and Napoleon museums, so "the man must have been a complete psychotic to want to escape from all this."  He also compares the place favorably to Spiteos, reassuring the reader that the place does exist beyond their hazy memories of Book One.  Then he decides to chillax with some "expressos" at a sidewalk table.

Now, Gris has been doing a lot of hash lately, and he's even hallucinated from it.  All that crap about meeting Columbus and dancing camels and whatnot.  However, those have all happened shortly after taking the drug, and he's never hallucinated the day after taking some. 

"Hello, Inkswitch."

I knew I shouldn't have hit the hashish the night before.  The hallucinogenic effects were obviously recurrent.  I could have sworn that was Bury's voice.

"Mind if I sit down?"

It WAS Bury's voice.

I dared look to see if the hallucination was also visual.  There he was, three-piece lawyer suit, snap-brim hat, drawing up a chair.

He looked at me.  "How are things going?" he said.

"What are you doing here?" I said.  Maybe the hallucination would vanish.

Bury just dropped by to check on an arms cache so that old Hatchetheimer, that rascal ex-Nazi, has enough explosives to take out the Vatican.  How Bury got here is explained (he took a company hydrofoil), why the evil syndicate that controls the world needs to blow up the Vatican is not.  Not that they really need a reason, since they're one-dimensional Bad Guys.

It's not clear when Gris disabuses himself of the notion that he's hallucinating his boss.  He checks out the hydrofoil because he's never dreamed up a completely new vehicle before, but he never has a "so I'm not hallucinating!" reaction after seeing the thing.  He's figured it out by the end of the conversation, at least.

And what a conversation it is.  Bury asks how things are going, Gris assures him that everything's "fine, fine."  Bury inquires about that guy with the new fuel source, Gris says he's been "absolutely" handled, "Smashed, mangled, and dismembered.  Incapable of even lifting his little finger."  Madison is similarly doing well, "Wrecking people's reputations all over the place.  Splendid man."  Yes, everything's all fine, now, here, how are you?

Which means that Bury has no idea what's really going on.  Sure, Gris has done a godawful job of reporting in to his boss and conveying pertinent information in general, but it looks like Bury is content to let this strange Fed who wandered in one day handle the case that could potentially destroy the Rockecenter energy monopoly without any sort of oversight.  He certainly hasn't been reading the papers, or else he would've noticed the Whiz Kid getting kidnapped or Madison being presumed dead.  He hasn't even noticed that the real Rockecenter son, the key to him seizing control of the company, has gone missing!

Guess he's been really busy looking at that weapon stockpile.  For the past month or two.

Bury hydrofoils off, and Gris tries to figure out how the lawyer knew to find him here, deciding that it must've been due to that time Gris flashed his "Spi" badge in Marseilles.  After that he "just began to realize that I had told Bury an awful lie.  Far from ceasing to be a fuel threat, Heller was more a menace than ever!"  Nice for the author to remind us what happened two chapters ago.

So Gris convinces himself that Bury will never find out about Heller's progress.  Or wait, if he does find out somehow, Gris will just say that he and Madison have been cruising around doing research on anti-Heller tactics - not that they knew Heller was still alive and kicking, of course.  In the end, Gris resolves to... dammit...

Madison's "outlaw research" is now a real thing.  Gris' "plan" is now to help Madison make Heller an outlaw.  Just like Napoleon.  Or El Cid.

That night Teenie and Madison discuss what they've learned about Napoleon:

"Well, he wasn't a real outlaw," said Teenie learnedly, around a mouthful of Turkey.  "They didn't hang him."

"I can't really understand why he's a national hero to the French," said Madison.  "He wasn't French.  He was a Tuscan, an Italian.  But there's something to be said in his favor.  He sure was a great PR.

Yes, Napoleon wasn't much of an outlaw, but he sure was a great Public Relations.

Here he was, a foreigner, attacking the French from the inside while disguised as their general, killing millions of them, and they made him their emperor for it.  Now that puts him up into PR ranks pretty high.  What a genius to pull one off like that.  I'm sure glad we followed his up.  Gave me lots of data on what people will fall for."

And Gris, having decided his best course of action is to embrace the madness, offers to help the two out with their "outlaw list."

The good news is that this stupidity only lasts twenty-five, thirty pages or so.  The bad news is that after that we eventually end up back in Turkey.  The worse news is that in another hundred pages Gris will still be struggling to come up with a way to get rid of Heller.

Back to Chapter Five 

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