Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Part Fifty-Nine, Chapters Four and Five - My Big Dumb Turkish Shotgun Wedding

Back in Turkey, and the author's wasting no time in making us regret it.

Gris wakes up on the limo's bunk, which has to be stained with all matter of incriminating fluids after all it's been through.  Madison and Ahmed and Ters (evil laugh) are all there with him, making the 225 mile drive to Afyon.  They're drinking Cokes and will stop for more Cokes along the way.  I wonder if Gris considers himself a Pepsi man given his 7-Up hallucinations from last chapter, or whether the differences matter to his alien palate.  I wonder if Hubbard confuses Sprite for 7-Up.  I wonder what effect high fructose corn syrup has on the Voltarian metabolism, if they're supposedly super-susceptible to drugs and whatnot.

Ahmed has a message from the young "doktor" Muhammed Ataturk, aka Prahd Bittlestiffender, aka the guy who loves to surgically enhance his patient's genitalia whether they request it or not.  It's meant to assure Gris that regarding Nurse Bildirjin, "he has everything fixed up" (Ters: evil laugh).  The always paranoid Gris immediately feels optimistic and grows relaxed enough to take a nap.  He wakes up just as the limo arrives in Afyon, but instead of going to the villa...

Ters, who was driving, gave his evil laugh.

He braked suddenly in front of a mosque.

He honked his horn.

Instantly the car was surrounded by a mob!

With horrified eyes I saw Nurse Bildirjin.  She was very swollen with child.

HER FATHER!  He was elbowing forward.  HE WAS CARRYING A SHOTGUN!

With screams surging in my throat, I scrambled around trying to locate my machine gun.  IT WAS GONE!

Prahd's there too, and gets in the limo to talk with Gris, or more specifically to twist his arm.  He gets Gris to agree to start paying him and let him stop giving mobsters plastic surgery so Prahd can work on curing all those terrible diseases ravaging Turkey, then he starts explaining.  Prahd's studied Islamic law, you see, and so to save Gris from being stoned to death he thought to use the concept of kaffārah, a fancy way of saying "monetary compensation," to save the agent's hide.  If Gris set up a fund to feed poor villagers for the next hundred years, it'd make up for all that involuntary rape and out-of-wedlock pregnancy.  Gris agrees to all this, naturally planning to weasel out of the demands later.

There's one more catch - Gris has to marry Nurse Bildirjin.  Gris objects that he's already married, but Prahd assures him that under the Qur'an a Muslim is allowed four wives, and Gris suddenly realizes a way out of his bigamy dilemma back in the States.  I'd like to rant how Turkey is actually one of three Middle Eastern countries that has banned polygamy, but I have the sinking feeling that in the next book or something Gris will be told this so we can start up the polygamy subplot again. (editor's note from the future: actually, in the next book we get to say goodbye to Gris for a good while)

Three paragraphs after realizing that converting to Islam could end his troubles with Pinchy and Candy forever, Gris limps into the mosque, "a martyr to my duty as an Apparatus officer," seeming very reluctant to save his own skin.

We're told jack squat about the marriage ceremony, other than that "A Moslem marriage is pretty businesslike.  They don't consider women have any souls [sic] so the religious angle is almost absent."  It's mainly a matter of signing a contract, at which point Gris learns that he's expected to pay a million dollar dowry to provide for his new bride, and the vacation home she expects.

"As a matter of fact," said Nurse Bildirjin's father, shifting his shotgun to the other arm, "I have the bank orders right here.  You have to pay the dowry at the ceremony, you know."
I hesitated.

The crowd ran out to get the rocks they had dropped.

I signed the contract and the others on the Piastre National Bank of Istanbul.  Gods, what would Mudur Zengin think and do now?

I'm sure we'll spend a hundred pages finding out.

With Gris' signature and those of Ahmed and Ters (evil laugh) as witnesses, the marriage is over.  But when Gris gets back to the car and tries to fold up the limo's bunk to accommodate his very pregnant wife, he feels something he'd left under the cushion - "THE BOMB!"  Seems that some stubborn bit of lint or dust kept the...

Seriously?  This is why they're crappy plunger-activated explosives?  For this?!

Gris screams at the thought that the bomb could go off at any moment, and so does the logical thing, picking it up before stepping out of the limo with the explosive in his hands, knowing that all it would take would be that "little lever" - not a plunger anymore, I guess - to fall into place for him to die.  Because, I must reiterate, he decided to pick up and carry around the bomb he felt under the seat.  The crowd screams and panics and runs, and Gris decides to throw the bomb in the safest place he can think of, the mosque.  And the bomb of course detonates after he throws it, because Gris decided to pick it up and swing it around and chuck it somewhere.

The place of worship is leveled, Prahd is disapproving, angry mob is angry, but the guy who just conducted the wedding is pleased as punch.  See, Gris had such a reputation that the...

Okay, tangent.  Hubbard names the "Turkish religious master" in charge of the mosque as a khoja, which according to Wikipedia is more of a religious group than a religious rank.  A somewhat more accurate word could be Khawaja, "lord" or "master."  I'm just going to go with imam.

Anyway, due to Gris' reputation as an evil scumbag, the imam was convinced that the mosque would collapse should such an incarnation of darkness step foot inside, prompting Prahd to promise that Gris would build a much better mosque for him in such an event.  So.  Gris doing something profoundly stupid with a bomb?  The conspicuously low-tech bomb failing to go off for nearly a year?  All of that so Gris could destroy a building in a gag that lasted less than a chapter and have the bill added to his mounting financial woes.

Well done, Hubbard. 

Prahd takes Gris to the hospital to treat injuries sustained during his flight from the yacht, but decides to leave a scar on his forehead because it makes Gris look like he's scowling, and "people need some kind of warning," hur hur.  Nurse Bildirjin of course declines to go home with Gris in favor of continuing her relationship with Prahd, and only went through with the wedding to have a "legal father" and the dowry.  And it's only then that Gris begins to suspect that Prahd might be manipulating him.

Little did I know that my travail had barely begun!

Hear that?  The author's just getting started!

It's like some deranged emperor has invited us all down to his dungeon so we can watch him torture a loathsome prisoner, and even though we hate the guy too, we're long past the point of wanting to just execute the scumbag and be done with it.  But nope, our emperor's still working the thumbscrews and hot pokers with a twisted grin on his face, relishing every moment of his victim's agony.

Back to Chapters Two and Three

No comments:

Post a Comment