Monday, December 2, 2013

Part Seventy-Five, Chapter Six - Diamond Eyelashes

Technically we're on the main plot now, in that the events that follow will eventually allow Madison to start PRing an unsuspecting Heller.  We've just got a few steps to go through before reaching that point, you see.

Step one: hitting a jeweler's.  Flick's got a cousin from Calabar who ended up a respectable businessman, which is to say he's a fence for tomb raiders.  They take the Gilded Angel and land at what Madison describes as "an island in the middle of a ghetto sea," which sounds like a great name for a group mixing rap and surf music.

I'm kinda surprised by what happens when they disembark.  Not the fact that the most garish hoverbus ever imagined ends up attracting unwanted attention, but...

They landed and the Model 99 in all its glitter instantly attracted a swarm of tough-looking, hooting kids.  Suddenly Madison was aware that this footwoman had other uses than being felt up.  She was out of the car like a tiger.  She had somehow gotten hold of a stinger.  Her target was the biggest boy and he got the weapon in the teeth with a shower of sparks.  He didn't get a chance to recoil more than a foot when the footwoman had him by the arm.  In a sort of a whirling motion, she swung him--his feet left the ground--and like a scythe, used him to take out the whole front rank of hooters.

All in one paragraph instead of a series of single sentences, no exclamation points, no abuse of capitalization.  It's almost like another author wrote this brief, gratuitous action sequence.

The footwoman opens the door for them and warns Madison and Flick to watch their step due to the "trash" strewn about on the pavement - and the author explains that she's referring to unconscious bodies, because if we're reading this book we have to be pretty stupid, right?  And Madison is pleased and impressed by how this seemingly sweet, smiling, big-bosomed babe happens to be someone who makes an "animal snarl of satisfaction" while she's trashing a mob of ne'er-do-wells.  "Ah, he thought with pleasure, he had quite a crew!  Totally deceptive!"  Because remember, sometimes Madison's a duplicitous schemer, not a clueless dreamer.

Inside the store with barred and bulletproof (what about blasters?) windows is an old man introduced as Cousin Baub... who, har har, sells baubles and jewelry, great Hubbard.  He's just delighted to see his Cousin Flick, and the two will insist on referring to each other that way, which gets old pretty fast.  Cousin Baub is quite impressed that Cousin Flick has gone up in the world enough to be interested in buying, rather than pawning, jewelry.  Madison tells Mister Baub - italics necessary - that he's interested in "an absolutely stunning stone in an absolutely stunning setting the like of which has never been seen before and WON'T be recognized."

Mister Cousin Baub happens to have one such jewel, the "Eye of the Goddess," which he stole from a pre-Voltarian tomb on Calabar back in his adventurous youth, but was unable to sell because it's obviously been cut.  It's a "top-color," nearly flawless emerald encased in a diamond too big to be mounted in anything short of a crown or pendant.  He and Madison brainstorm out loud about setting it in a gold net cap so that it could be worn in the middle of one's forehead, with golden eyelids and "strings of little diamond chips to look like eyelashes above and below."

For all Hubbard's trash talk about bad guys having no taste, the guy seems to think that slathering shiny metal and rocks on anything makes it beautiful.

Mister Cousin Baub can have it finished in two days, so now we've just gotta haggle the price out.  Mister Cousin wants a hundred thou, which Madison mentally converts to two million dollars in an attempt to impress us how this stone is worth way more than that diamond Richard Burton gave Liz Taylor.  Cousin Flick offers five thousand, which Mister Cousin flatly rejects.  And then it gets a bit ridiculous.

"Listen, Baub," said Flick. "I'm family. Remember?"

Baub sighed. "Not a credit less than thirty-five thousand! Plus the setting and cap."

"Thirty thousand with the setting and cap," said Flick.

"NO!" said Baub.

"Twenty thousand" said Flick.

"NO! NO!" cried Baub. "You just offered thirty thousand!"

"Bought," said Flick. "Give him the money, Chief."

So I guess that's Flick's mutant power, spending other people's money whether they or the salesman likes it or not.  He also lets slip during his talk with Cousin Baub that Flick gets 10% of whatever Madison spends as a "commission."  Except for this purchase, of course - " I won't do anything crooked on any­thing connected to Hightee Heller.  She's sacred!"  Hell, more than sacred, she's a Heller!

The chapter ends with Flick happy that he may finally end up realizing one of his life's dreams after all, as if we give a fart, while Madison grins that "'The Eye of the Goddess' wasn't all he had planned for Hightee Heller."  And there's our ominous cliffhanger ending, the grim possibility of further gifts for a movie star.

Back to Chapter Five

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