(graphic illustration of circular logic by darkblack)
I wasn’t supposed to tell you guys this, but well, here goes.
Last weekend as I was tidying up around the FDL safe-house, changing Ned the Fighting Koi’s water and updating the security systems, the doorbell rang. I went to the security console and on the monitor was a nervous-looking bike messenger standing on the stoop.
"Can I help you?" I asked her through the intercom.
"Uh, I’ve got a delivery for Mr. T. Rex," she said.
"From whom?" I asked.
"Doesn’t say," the bike messenger replied, "But I’ve got a bunch of other stops to make, so if you could-"
"I’ll be right down," I said.
I accepted the message, tipped the messenger, then took the courier envelope upstairs and put it through the spectrometer, the explosives detector, the ultraviolet scanner, and it appeared to be nothing more than a card or note in an envelope, so I decided to go ahead and open it. I pulled the strip on the cardboard outer envelope and a small pink card fell out on to the desk. It was addressed to me. The return address said simply "M.M." in swirly script.
Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I read it.
I was wondering if you could meet me for brunch tomorrow. I will send a driver.
"What on Earth?" I wondered aloud, "Is this some kind of trap?"
I went to Ned’s bowl.
"Ned, what do you think of this?"
He responded by swimming once through his castle and then around it three times clockwise, which means, "I don’t know, TRex, but aren’t you dying to find out? I know I am."
So, I called the number and tried to decide what to wear.
The next morning at 10:30, a black SUV pulled up in front of the safe-house as arranged. The driver stepped out and gestured to the rear door and I climbed in.
"You’re going to need to wear this," he said, handing a folded bandanna back to me over the seat.
"A blindfold?" I asked, reaching for the door handle. No freaking way was I going blind into enemy territory.
"Please, Mr. Rex," the driver said, "Mrs. Malkin requires all guests to be blindfolded so as not to give away her location. I was on the job for six weeks before she let me drive without one."
"Oh, all right," I grumbled.
We passed the drive in silence. At one point, the sensation of movement without being able to see started to make me sort of queasy, but I figured if you blindfold a 60ft. TRex and he gets car-sick in your SUV, well, you got what you were asking for. The feeling passed, though.
After about half an hour, we slowed, pulled into what sounded like an underground garage, then came to a stop.
"Okay, you can take it off, now," said the driver.
I stepped out into what looked like a perfectly normal suburban garage except for the liveried butler standing next to the door into the house.
"This way, suh," he said in a plummy Brit accent, and opened the door.
I followed him up a set of stairs and down a hallway, around a corner and into a cavernous drawing room. A grand table with a shell pink tablecloth was arrayed for a meal and at its head sat Michelle, looking fresh and dainty in a twin set the exact same shade as the tablecloth.
"Hi!" she chirped, grinning broadly, her eyes looking only slightly glassy.
"Um, hi," I said, "You wanted to see me?"
"Please!" she said, indicating the chair to her right, "Have a seat!"
Cautiously, I took the proffered seat.
"Would you like a mimosa?" she asked, still with the frozen smile.
"Uh, no thanks," I said, "I don’t drink. Some orange juice might be nice, though."
"Of course!" she said and gestured at the air. A maidservant sprang from the shadows and quickly poured me a glass of juice.
"Did you have a nice drive over?" Michelle asked.
"Oh, fine," I said, "Lovely view of the neighborhood."
For a half-second she froze, eyes widening, then she realized I was making a joke.
"Oh!" she said, "That’s funny!" and she laughed a high, crazy-sounding laugh that went on for several beats too long.
This was excruciatingly uncomfortable.
"So, Ms Malkin, to what do I owe the pleasure of this invitation?"
"Please!" she said brightly, "Call me Michelle! I was just wondering if you could tell me everything you know about the International Criminal Court in Geneva! I have some concerns about the treatment of some detainees who are facing terror charges."
Oh, my god! I thought, Can this be? Miss Boo-Freakin’-Hoo is finally coming around? She’s actually come to realize how badly our treatment of the Gitmo detainees reflects upon us as a nation?
Certain that I was playing a vital part in what would surely be blogosphere history, I gave her everything I know about the ICC and even filled her in on some of the actions Amnesty International have been taking against the US practice of rendition. And brunch began to progress swimmingly. We had eggs and crumpets and coffee. It was a little like I imagine having brunch with Bree Van de Camp from "Desperate Housewives" would be, but aside from the stiffness and kinda scary cheery-brightness of her demeanor, I began to think there might be some hope for our Michelle. She seemed pretty passionate about the human rights issues facing these detainees.
"They’re being held on suspicious testimony!" she said, "Their rights have been denied at every turn! They’ve been tortured and humiliated, and none of them have access to the evidence against them! It’s disgraceful!"
"Yes, yes!" I agreed, "It really is! It’s what we’ve been saying all along. But what in the world has led you to this turnaround on the rights of the Guantanamo detainees, Michelle?"
"What?" she said, her frozen smile abruptly disappearing, "WHAT DID YOU SAY?!" Her voice rose to a shriek.
"Um, uh…I said I was wondering what made you change your mind about the Guantanamo detainees?"
"WHAT?! Those FILTHY, MURDERING ARAB TERRORISTS??!!"
I looked around nervously, "Isn’t that what we were just talking about?"
"NOOOOOOOOOO!!!" she screeched, sweeping the dishes, flowers, and serving plates off the table with her arm, "CHRISTIAN DETAINEES, you stupid fucking dinosaur!! CHRISTIANS WHO KILLED MUSLIMS!! GOOD TERRORISTS!!" She scooted back her chair from the table, grabbed her butter-knife and pointed it at my throat, "If you ever tell anyone I wanted to help those murderers at Gitmo, I’ll KILL you!! AND THAT STUPID GOLDFISH OF YOURS, TOO!!"
How did she know about Ned?
Then I noticed a drop of blood as it fell from her right earlobe to the shoulder of her sweater.
"Michelle," I said, pointing, "You’re bleeding!"
She dabbed her hand at her ear, looked at the blood, then slung it on to the table-cloth, where I watched it bead, then spread as the stains sank in.
"It’s nothing!" she snapped, "You are not to tell anyone that this meeting happened! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?!"
"But, Michelle, how can you support rights for one set of detainees and not the other?"
"THEY KILLED MUSLIMS AND MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO DIIIIIIIIEEE!!" she screamed in a full-throated roar. More droplets of blood squirted out of her ear. I was worried she was having an aneurysm.
"I think I need to get you a doctor," I said, rising from my chair.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" she screamed, lunging at me with the knife, "NO MORE DOCTORS!!!"
And that was when my courage failed me. I just ran blindly until I found a door to the outside. And then I just kept running. I vaulted over hedges, fences, and pools, ran through back yards and vacant lots. Finally, I stopped and stood panting and holding my knees until I figured out that I was only a block or so from a busy street and the sounds of traffic.
"What the FUCK?!" I wheezed. Did that really just happen?
Once I caught my breath, I walked until I saw a cab go by, "TAXI!!" I shouted.
The cabbie drove me back here to the FDL safe-house. I scooped up Ned’s bowl and held it tight to my chest.
"Nothing’s going to happen to you, Ned," I reassured him, "I won’t let that crazy lady get anywhere near you."
He swam three times counter-clockwise around his castle and then through it, which means, "I’m glad you’re home safe, now please no more brunches with crazy right-wingers, okay?"
Okay, Ned, okay.