Thursday, July 18, 2013

Part Sixty-One, Chapters Six and Seven - Anticlimax

So Chrysler gets renamed Chryster, but Porsche remains Porsche.  The obvious conclusion is that we're supposed to be impressed that Heller's driving around in expensive, sporty European cars, and the author doesn't want to risk any confusion by renaming the brand "Portico" or something.  That might imply a sub-par vehicle, and heavens forbid - oh, right, the assassination mission.

Gris watches through Heller's eyes as he lands at JFK Airport and sleepwalks through customs.  He tells his chaffeur to catch a cab home, as Heller's not going back to the apartment because the surroundings are "too familiar."  Instead he's going to go off and be alone for awhile.  Guess he's sad or something.  Most authors spoil their lazy readers by outright telling them the main character's emotions, but Hubbard knows it's more rewarding for them to have to figure things out themselves.

Heller takes the Porsche - and the cat, for some reason - along with him to that roadhouse in Connecticut.

"Well, cat," he said, "I guess we've got to get used to her being gone."  There was a catch in his voice.  My screen went misty.

Oh, this was ideal.  Heller wouldn't be alert at all!  He was even driving kind of slow and wooden.

I had to take a break after reading that.

I had planned much better than I thought.  I had depressed him beyond belief.  He would be a sitting duck!

Yes, with the power of Sadness, Gris is sure to prevail!  When Raht reports in after his plane lands, Gris gives him some "very explicit directions" about renting a car and how to get to the roadhouse.  The fool-proof battle plan he comes up with, the sort that's only possible if you have a mission control watching things happen through the target's eyes, is for Raht to shoot the blind old landlady, hide in the bushes, call out to Heller, and then shoot him when he answers the door.

But Raht's still reluctant to kill an officer - and not just any officer, a Royal officer.  So to cover his ass, he gets out a recorder and has Gris very specifically explain who he is and who Raht's being ordered to kill, complete with date and time.  Raht also wants ten thousand dollars for the hit; Gris laughs, doubles the amounts, and mentally plans to kill his only competent henchman.  Raht hurries off to get a silenced rifle.

He clicked off.

I polished my hands one against the other.

Heller dead!

This I was going to ENJOY!

The hit itself fills Chapter Seven, all two pages of it.

Heller sits in his room for two hours, holding one of Krak's handkerchiefs.  Raht calls in, reporting that he "sure took care" of the blind old lady (without going into any details) and is now in position outside the roadhouse.  He's got a Winchester Magnum rifle capable of taking Heller's head clean off, with explosive bullets to make up for the fact that the thing's silenced.  Gris orders him to "Shoot to kill, first shot," then sits back to watch.

Raht calls out "Whitey engineer!" a few times in imitation of the deputies who reappeared in this book after vanishing from my memory.  Heller gets up and pulls a pistol, then checks the door.

He didn't see anything and stepped further out on the porch.


An explosive bullet crashed into the stone to his left.

Raht had missed!

From twenty-five yards away, having camped out the kill-zone from a stationary position.

Heller went down on one knee.  He was looking at a bush.

He raised the .45 and, without sighting, fired!

There was a yelp of pain!

Then a blast of fire from the bush.


Wait, wasn't Raht's gun supposed to be silenced?

The visio on my screen went dead!

There was a sound, metallic.  The pistol dropping to the stone.  Then the thud of a body falling.


My speaker was dead.

I sat there for an eerie moment.

No visio.

No sound.

Gradually it was borne in upon me that Heller had been hit in the temple, destroying the visio.  Then he had dropped his pistol and he himself had fallen.  And Raht, taking no chances, had fired again, hitting him in the head and destroying the audio bug.

"Borne upon me" here doesn't mean "Raht reported in and told me how it went down."  Gris is just assembling a scenario he dearly wants to be true out of the sounds and equipment failures he just experienced.

I sat very still.

I could not believe my luck.


Or unconscious, having been knocked out by the explosive rounds.  Or this was all staged and he's working with Raht.  There'd be an easy way to check, of course, just pick up the radio and tell Raht to report in.

Gris doesn't do that.  Why would he, he's already decided what happened.  Why risk contradicting the best-case scenario?

Back to Chapters Four and Five 

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