Friday, October 18, 2013

Part Seventy-One, Chapter Four - Shall Not Be Mourned

It takes two hours for Heller and Bang-Bang to get back to the mansion with Rockecenter's waterlogged corpse.  Presumably they drove with the windows down.

The National Guard major general running the place is rightfully horrified to see Heller walk in with a soggy body in his arms, especially after Bang-Bang tells him "See what your delay caused!  Maysabongo saboteurs blew up the tank and the road.  You cost Rockecenter his life!"

There's no need to send anyone anywhere, though, the saboteurs are all dead.  And since the general would get court-martialed for failing to protect the most important individual on the planet, everyone agrees "We won't say anything if you don't."  And I guess that's that!  No need to write up a report, verify orders, investigate the scene of the attack, or anything like that.  Take these two guys on their word and get on with your lives.   He was just the wealthiest, most powerful man on Earth, after all.

Heller's nice enough to tell the guards to go fetch Twoey and Izzy, then gets to cracking the combination of Rockecenter's briefcase by ear.  All the important paperwork is safe, but who should say "I think that you will need me" but Bury!  He's all bandaged around his head but otherwise functional, and hoping that Heller will consider his services.  See, Bury's given up on trying to oppose Heller, because "Anybody who can live through J. Walter Madison is unkillable!"

"So you're the one who put him on to me!" said Heller.

"Worse than that," said Bury.  "I'm the one that relayed Rockecenter's orders to kill you when you were born."

"You criminal!" said Heller.

No mention of that attempt to snipe Heller back in Book Two or anything.  It just can't compare to the horror of having someone write about you in the newspaper.

"Well, let me put it this way, Junior.  I am a Wall Street lawyer.  The client is dead: Long live the heirs."

"You don't keep your word!" said Heller.

I mean, trying to kill me is one thing, but lying?

"A Wall Street lawyer only keeps his word to his client, Junior.  That's the legal profession.  But you need me.  You need my firm.  The lines are intricate.  For instance, I can handle Faustino."

Heller said, "He's probably just now passing through Hell Nine unless they let him live."

Nessus?

"Ah," said Bury, "then who is the capo di tutti capi?"

Heller said, "Babe Corleone."

"Well, it will sure raise hell with I. G. Barben Phar­maceutical.  Mrs. Corleone is death on drugs.  But we can convert the firm to something legitimate.  Long live Babe Corleone!

Is Hubbard under the impression that because aspirin's a drug, and opium is a drug, a pharmaceutical company will produce both?

Now, on this client thing, what do you say, Junior?"

"I could kick your bloody head in!" said Heller.

Bury felt his skull. "You already did."

They suddenly both broke out laughing, Bury with his "Heh, heh, heh!"

Technically it was a pistol-whipping.  But hooray, they're friends now!

Twoey and Izzy walk in, with absolutely nothing to say about being held prisoner for a couple of hours after being betrayed by their friend, and Heller explains how he's hiring the firm of Swindle and Crouch.  No worries that Heller's taking up the mantle of his "father," surrounding himself with the same poisonous influences, or may have played Twoey and Izzy like chumps to get this far.  They're trusting friends, I guess.

Bury's only conditions are that he be allowed "free rein" with Miss Agnes/Dr. Morelay the psychiatrist and Miss Peace the secretary, to take them to the zoo's snake house and such (the book's Key reminds us that Bury's favorite pastime is feeding white mice to snakes).  Heller sees no problem with this, and so the lawyer gets to work: sign this, throw away this, get two soldiers to come in and serve as witnesses for the will, and done.  Heller keeps his patents, has control of all those oil companies, gains control of the world's banking system, etc.

Of course there's still that whole war thing, so we get a full page of one side of Bury's conversation with Mr. President, giving the news that Rockecenter had a tragic swimming pool accident, so he can go on and cancel that mobilization and tell Congress not to declare war - because that's how it works, right, Congress does whatever the President tells it?  Then Bury gets in touch with the IRS to waive the Rockecenter inheritance tax.

The others are on phones, too.  Heller calls Miss Simmons and tells her to cancel her nuclear protests, since he has "a firm promise from the oil companies to decontaminate the plants."  Those bastard oil companies, losing millions by refusing to decontaminate their tainted merchandise!  Izzy calls stock people to make sure the deals on those oil companies go through.  And then there's nothing to do but get rid of a certain corpse.

A scared butler came in.  Bury pointed at the body on the couch.  He said, "Take that body to the local mortuary.  Tell them to file a death certificate and fix the corpse up.  It'll just be a family funeral.  Nobody will mourn anyway."  He turned to Heller.  "He didn't have a friend in all the world.  Not even me.  All he had was money."

Did Hubbard, as he spent his last years on the run, an international pariah forced to live in hiding within his home country, have a revelation?  Some regrets about spending his life in pursuit of the wrong treasures?

Or maybe he's sneering at Rockecenter here for having a fortune but no friends, while he had both money and worshipers! 

Heller looked down at the body.  It was staring fisheyed at the ceiling.  Delbert John Rockecenter, Senior, the man who had wrecked hundreds of millions of lives and had almost wrecked the planet, was very, very dead.  No, nobody would mourn.

Well, all those people on his payroll will probably be upset.  And of course the Worldwide Psychologist Conspiracy will be sad that their great puppet got his strings cut.  And in the center of the hollow Earth, some Nazi lizardmen are shaking their claws at the ceiling, cursing that their plan to destroy America once and for all by turning it gay has been thwarted.

But there you have it - Heller has won!  He's got more money than God, total control of a planet's energy and finances, and from that, de facto control of the planet itself.  Give him a castle and we could call it a day, though given his luxury spaceship that'd be superfluous.  Earth is now free of Rockecenter's domination, ready to fall under Voltarian domination!

But we've got another planet in the story, don't we?  An unresolved plotline involving a usurper of an alien empire.  And so we leave the victorious Heller for the next 283 pages so we can see what's happening back on Voltar, in a plotline involving all our favorites: the insane Lombar, the twisted Dr. Crobe, the sexually precocious Teenie, the outlaw-obsessed Madison, and of course the wholly inept Gris.  All running around on Voltar, doing their best to remake it like Earth in the name of satire.

Yeah.

The rest of the book is going to suck


Back to Chapters Two and Three

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