Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Part Fifty-Nine, Chapter Six - The Mystery of Black-Jowls, Revealed!

The only people happy to see Gris return to his villa are Musef and Torgut.  You know, the wrestlers who failed to menace Heller back in Book Two, only to inexplicably return in Book... Five? as Gris' bodyguards and servant-beaters.  That Musef and Torgut.

The villa staff is all peeking around corners, the two little boys Gris whimsically had surgically altered to look like 1930's Hollywood actors go running into Utanc's room... man, it's all coming back.  All the stupid stuff, all the boring stuff, all the things to hate about the chapters set in Turkey.  A place on the other side of the world from the plot where nothing pleasant happens.

So let's hit the new stuff.  Gris has Madison put away somewhere, awaiting disposal - he tells the publicist that there's Mafia assassins about, so Madison shouldn't be surprised if he's locked in his room.  Gris changes clothes, shaves, showers, gets some food so Hubbard can show off his knowledge of Turkish dishes, though given all the things he's gotten wrong about the country I wouldn't be surprised if sira was a type of antiperspirant rather than a beverage.

And then the hammah drops.  A servant says that Gris has a visitor, and who does it turn out to be but "THE BLACK-JOWLED MAN!"

Gris immediately accuses Jowls of being in cahoots with Zengin the banker... because Jowls admits to being in contact with Prahd?  That's how Gris logic works?  Well, Jowls explains that while he's talked with Zengin, who had to execute a mortgage to pay for Gris' yacht, the man will undoubtedly be unhappy upon learning that it's been seized.

"Then who in the Hells ARE you?" I demanded.

"Perhaps I better introduce myself," he said, taking out a card from his wallet.

I looked at it.

International Mortgage Division

Hubbard.  Sit down, we need to talk.  You keep sticking foreclosure and "evil bankers" arcs in your sci-fi epics.  We thought Battlefield Earth might have been a one-time thing, but it looks like you may have a problem.  But we know someone who could help, someone you could talk to, a psy- wow.  Didn't know the old fart could go through a window like that.

Jowls - well, better start calling him Foreclosure now - has a heap of news for Gris.  When Gris tries to pull rank against the guy, Foreclosure explains that Gris is no longer the Rockecenter family "spi."  Turns out Gris' bosses finally noticed what a terrible job he was doing once Miami stopped buying oil after getting free energy from Ochokeechokee, Florida - especially when they took photographs of a certain engineer who Gris swore was stopped once and for all.  Mr. Bury confirming that Gris had taken Madison for a cruise convinced Rockecenter's crew that Gris had been bought, and not only has he been fired, but they'll charge him with accepting bribes if he shows his face in the States.

Which begs the question of why, if Rockecenter's cartel can take photographs of Heller, they can't take potshots at him with a sniper rifle.  Or use their control of the American government and media to go after him.  As a matter of fact, it looks like the unstoppable juggernaut of Rockecenter's drugs-energy-banking-media monopoly cannot do anything to hurt Heller without Gris or Madison.  For the rest of this book, at least, they're out of the game, while Heller continues on his merry campaign of clean energy and rainbows.

It also turns out the mortgage Foreclosure is talking about refers to a mountain and thousands of acres of prime poppy-growing soil.  Which is to say, Gris tried to mortgage not only the chief supply of the drugs the Apparatus hopes to use to conquer the Confederacy, but "THE ENTIRE EARTH BASE!"  Now, Grabbe-Manhattan did some digging and learned that Gris isn't quite the legal owner of this property, but were willing to overlook that and simply chase Gris back to Turkey (with Teenie's help) and offer him an out.  The yacht is a start, but if Gris is willing to buy the villa and the mountain and all the poppy farms, he can give them to the bank and clear his whole debt.

There's a catch to all this: Gris isn't quite stupid enough to try to mortgage his base.  Well, he is, but someone still forged his signature on that document.  He doesn't protest his innocence beyond a single sentence, though.  Instead he admits defeat, gets up, and presses that secret button he installed two books ago to summon Musef and Torgut to knock out Foreclosure, and has him dragged off to a cell in the Apparatus base.  And all it takes is a phone call from Musef on behalf of Mr. Foreclosure to assure Grabbe-Manhattan that everything's going well, but it'll be a week or two to close the deal.

And that's about it for the "Gris is financial trouble AGAIN" plotline!  We'll hear a little more about it next chapter, but after that Gris will decide that the best way to solve that problem is to deal with the actual thrice-damned plot.  We'll have to wait until a later book for the thrilling conclusion to Gris' mortgage problem.

I had bought time.  I did not know exactly what I was going to do.  I had a week or so to handle this.  I must think of something.

I was halfway down the chute to the very worst of Hells, but actually, at that moment, didn't know it.

Actually by my count, we're like 5/6ths of the way through - oh, Gris is referring to a different hell.  My mistake.

Back to Chapters Four and Five

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