After being given literally a foot-high stack of credit cards (money = love), some footmen bring in a gold-framed blow-up of a New York Grimes headline stating "NO DECLARATION! LEADERSHIP OF PRESIDENT BRINGS U.S. FROM BRINK OF WAR!" Krak is baffled why all the boys think it's funny.
Somewhat petulantly, when she could be heard, the Countess Krak said, "You might at least tell me what you're laughing at!"
"It's for the wall of Jet's study," said Bang-Bang. "We had it specially reprinted and framed."
That told her nothing.
Well, yeah. Why would they feel the need to keep you, a woman, part of the loop?
She turned to Jettero. "And it was mean of you to leave me hanging in midair about Bury and some woman."
Jettero laughed. "Well, it got you aboard that plane, didn't it? And without a word of argument about how you should stay in Turkey."
See, guys? If you tell women things, they'll just end up disagreeing with you. Give them nothing but instructions and life is so much easier.
That made her laugh. "Oh, Jettero!" she said. "Living with you has its moments!
And ladies, this is nothing to be upset about, it's actually endearing. Exciting, even.
Life is certainly never dull. Now please tell me what has been going on."
Well, since she asked nicely, the boys finally fill her in on everything that's happened with Rockecenter and Bury. Which is to say Heller still "kept leaving out pieces of it that had to do with how he had accomplished certain things," so not to make her worry her pretty little head, you know? It doesn't quite work, and Krak still gets scared that a combat engineer saw some actual combat. She repeats that Rockecenter is in fact dead, but Heller points out that Rockecenter is sitting right next to them: Twoey is even scheduled to give a speech to that Swillerberger Conference. Bury wrote it, but pigs are of course going to be added to the agenda.
"Oh, Jettero, be serious," she said. "I'm sure there's some kind of plan or program."
"Yes, ma'am!" said Jettero. "You've put your lovely finger right on it. There certainly is. At four o'clock this afternoon we're due over at Bayonne. And it's very important that you dress well and look very proper and prim, for if you are acceptable, we can then schedule the engagement party."
Krak's mistake was not saying "please." Now she doesn't get any more vital information until tomorrow, if she's lucky.
"Acceptable to WHOM?" she wailed.
"Well, I can't call her by her title yet because she won't be invested until Saturday. And that's the other thing I've got to take up with her, the coronation party.
Oh don't you dare.
And we have to decide upon the date of the engagement party, but I should say it should be the following week."
"Jettero, I feel like I am going faintly insane."
Waaaay ahead of you, lady.
Since they have an appointment, Krak and Heller are rushed in their fancy car, escorted by a pair of tanks - perfect for navigating busy city streets and dealing with traffic, you know? And Heller is of course flippant and evasive about their purpose.
"Do they always escort junior officers with tanks?" said the Countess Krak.
"Well, no," said Jettero. "They're probably afraid that I will forget to turn in my sidearms. One signs for them, you know."
"Jettero, for Heavens' sakes, be serious! I'm worried sick about this Voltar situation."
"If you go worrying about everything all the time, all you get done is worrying," said Jettero.
"Some worry is necessary," said the Countess.
"You'll never be a combat engineer," said Jettero.
Commandos should never worry about things like enemy attacks and so forth. No need to make soldiering stressful.
"I'm not trying to be a combat engineer," she wailed. "I'm trying to become the wife of one."
Maybe you should be reconsidering at this point. You still have jealousy issues, hate his career choice, and the two of you have zero chemistry and a distinctly unhealthy relationship.
On the other hand, I despise you two so much that I kinda think you deserve each other. It's a puzzler.
"Ah, well," said Jettero, "it's a good thing you decided to put your mind on that. Here's your crucial test. We've arrived."
Arrived at Babe Corleone's high-rise, to be more specific. Everyone is of course very pleased to see "the kid and his moll," and with all those mobsters eying her, Krak self-consciously feels like "she was wearing everything backwards and missing a slipper," not like she's just stepped into a room full of thugs and murderers. I guess the mafia has a lot of fashion sense?
Babe's yelling at someone to get "those sons of (bleepches) in Chicago to throw their God (bleeped) drugs in Lake Michigan and begin running rum or I'll put a hundred hit men on their tails," which is to say they should stop selling drugs and start selling drugs. Heller presents his fiance, Babe recognizes her as a countess, which puzzles the Countess, and then the mob boss, having exchanged no dialogue with Krak, announces that she's so beautiful that Heller needs to marry her right away. Because that's what's important in a marriage.
After a while, the giantess put her in a chair like Krak was some kind of porcelain and, gazing at her with admiration, offered her a silver box with Russian cigarettes--which of course Krak didn't smoke--and called for cookies and milk for Jerome.
We are going to run this stupid "Heller looks like a boy and will be fed as such" thing into the ground. I bet the last thing he eats before leaving Earth for good is some bloody milk and cookies.
Babe and Heller talk and plan the engagement party. Krak sits there silently, being pretty, like a good future wife should.
They were finally being shown out and Mrs. Corleone turned to Jettero at the door. She said, "No wonder you would never touch those girls at the Gracious Palms!"
Kissed on both cheeks and getting into the Silver Spirit again, the Countess Krak's head was in a new whirl. What girls?
I honestly thought that Heller had fully spilled the beans when he and Krak made up on the yacht several books ago. I thought he finally gave a complete account of his experiences on Earth and decided to stop keeping secrets from his girlfriend. But it turns out I sorely overestimated the wonderful Jettero Heller.
This is a long chapter. Heller finally talks about the Gracious Palms, and Krak decides "he was quite witty and charming about it and she forgave him." They eat a fancy dinner, the tank crews and police escorts get tables too. They go to a boxing fight, the tank crews and police come too, Krak doesn't understand why the combatants never kick each other. They have a second supper and pick up some TV network heads, and everyone laughs when someone tells the story of the time Heller smeared spaghetti sauce over the face of Police Inspector Grafferty. Only two hours after going to bed does Krak find an opportunity to have her future husband listen to her concerns, which is a pretty understated way to imply that they spent the intervening time doing things that made a proper conversation difficult. Some unusual subtlety there, Hubbard.
Heller insists that it'd take "at least a million men" to conquer a planet like Earth, men that he's sure Lombar can't throw at him if he's still busy with the rebellious Prince Mortiiy, not to mention the fact that the Fleet and Army still hate him. Krak has a woman's intuition, so she wonders if something like PR could turn all of Voltar against Heller, but Heller scoffs at this - "That goofy PR technology isn't even known there." And there's no way that an agency that's imported drugs from Earth for x number of years could also have picked up some of its media "technology," right?
In short, Heller refuses to waste any more time worrying that his enemies may do anything other than what he expects them to.
And though he smothered her with kisses and though he soon had her mind on other things, he did not, that night or in the weeks to come, succeed in smothering her worries.
Somehow she KNEW it was far more dangerous than he said. But he wouldn't even listen!
Krak, what about your relationship with Heller makes you think he's interested in communicating with you in the first place?
So that's our Earthly interlude. Everything's going so swimmingly that surely something bad's about to happen. Heller still has trouble telling his girlfriend things, and it'd be nice to say that his aggressively casual response to the threat of Hisst's retaliation may be a sign of how worried he really is, were it not for the fact that he's being exactly as flippant as he's been from the start. Krak still has jealousy issues but now that she's stopped hypno-helmeting people, she's reverted to a passive love doll for Heller to show off. Twoey still has a thing about pigs. Babe still has a warped sense of morality when it comes to her illegal activities. Bang-Bang and Izzy barely got any screentime, but I still dislike them.
No rape or murder going on right now, but Earth doesn't have anything else going for it. Might as well get on with Madison's adventures in Relating to an alien Public.
Back to Chapter Three