Captain Bitts explains that at four o'clock in the morning, Gris came running in to order a new destination. He doesn't outright say what that destination is, and Gris is to embarrassed to ask, so this gripping mystery continues for another three pages. I can only assume that the author is giving readers a chance to feel clever by guessing the destination before Gris is told. The captain does hint that "half the shipping lanes of the world converge straight ahead," and Gris can see some mountains off the starboard side of the yacht.
Gris finds Teenie and asks where they're going, but she's intent on riding her bicycle on the ship's bloody racetrack and refuses to talk with him. So Gris tracks down the publicist on the yacht's bloody squash court. Gris tells Madison that there are two places on the planet the yacht absolutely must not go to, the United States and Turkey. Madison responds by talking about someone who was banished by his king, then "took on the whole country single-handed," and when he died his body was strapped onto his horse and the sight of it was enough to rout the foe. Then Gris outright asks Madison where they're going.
If you're like me and played Age of Empires II, you should know the answer by now.
Madison is startled at Gris' memory lapse, and reminds the Apparatus agent that he barged into Madison's room at three in the morning, demanded to know who he was researching next, and based their destination on that. Madison wanted to learn more about Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, or El Cid, because... advertising? Gris' strikingly idiosyncratic knowledge of planet Earth requires Madison to explain that this means they're going to Spain.
"Spain is a big country," I said. "WHAT PORT?"
"Oh, you want to know what PORT we're going to. Well, why didn't you say so? Although, for the life of me, I can't see how you forgot ordering it.
Did nobody on the boat notice that Gris was high? Did nobody find it odd that the thoroughly unpleasant individual was giggling, taking an interest in other people, and running about at four in the morning? Did the highly-professional world-wise captain not think to check for confirmation of their new heading the next morning rather than follow a drug-addled directive?
Teenie was all over the ship at an ungodly hour telling everyone you were absolutely disgusted with Casablanca and wouldn't spend another hour in the place. Frightful row, leaving so quickly. So we're sailing to investigate Charlton Heston---I mean El Cid."
Heston starred in a 1961 film based on El Cid. So it's not a complete non-sequitur, it's an achingly dated movie reference.
Anyway, the destination is Valencia. And Gris has no reaction. After screaming the question of which port in Spain they're going to, it turns out it doesn't matter. I mean, anywhere but Turkey and the US, right? So he lets the sports director take him jogging.
The author is still struggling to make this exciting.
Had I only looked, I would have seen Fate jogging along beside me, and had I then really inspected the apparition, I would have seen that it had begun to bare its fangs.
This is an attempt to fool the reader into expecting that something interesting is about to happen.
Back to Part Fifty-Six, Chapter Six