"Even idiots manage acts of genius occasionally," Fitzgerald responded with an eloquent shrug, "and vice versa."
"Yes, but these divergences of genius and idiocy don't add up to a convincing behavior. His story fits the evidence as much as yours does, but anyone clever enough to come up with such an elaborate story — a story that would unfold by reluctant degrees and perfectly match video evidence that he didn't know existed — while at the same time carrying on an Oscar-worthy performance of weeping real salt tears for over an hour, would have also been clever enough to wipe an oily fingerprint off a knife before using it to commit murder."
"People do incredible and inconsistent things all the time, Roddy," the DA toyed with her leather-handled brass letter-opener while watching the defense attorney out of the corner of her eye.
She always enjoyed opposing him, he threw such challenging obstructions in her way but showed great respect for justice and the law; they had become friends over a number of cases when she was still an Assistant District Attorney, and though he'd never traded on the relationship when she was elected DA, her door was always open to him. She particularly admired the way he frivoled and posed like a useless fop in order to gull people into believing him a harmless eccentric... it was a ploy she wished she could find some way to adapt to her own use.
"I myself will frequently do something incredibly stupid," Fitzgerald went on, "like leave my housekeys in my front door or drive right through a red light, while plotting out a particularly clever strategy. I'm sure you've done it, too."
"I see your point," Casterman considered, tucking his hands behind his head, "I once was so distracted with a brief I was writing that I agreed to let my mother-in-law move in with us. Now I understand you: you posit that my idiot Danny Boy was so disconcerted or distracted thinking about his crime that he simply neglected to clean up the mountain of damning evidence he left behind; but after a night spent dangerously in the same building as the murder, and then being arrested in a particularly spectacular manner, he suddenly regained his criminal-mastermind cool and started calculating his way out of it?"
"It's possible, maybe even probable," the DA swiveled around to look out her window, "If killers didn't do stupid things, we'd never catch them, would we? And your 'idiot child' isn't as dumb as he is pretty, he graduated summa cum laude from Stanford and joined MENSA with a 150 IQ."
"Do tell! My, what busy little bees you've been," Casterman was impressed by so much detail in an investigation that had been open for only a few hours.
"He's also the best suspect we have, he rings the bell on each of the Big Three: Access, he was in that apartment; Opportunity, he left fingerprints and DNA on the knife, so he certainly held it, and definitely had sufficient strength to use it; and Motive, he was in an utter rage of hurt feelings and affronted dignity."
"But he's such a lamb! You can read people as well as I, and I know the child is innocent. Though I'm being paid very well to assume he's innocent, I have more than the required logical premise: I simply know he didn't and couldn't kill anyone. I knew it the minute I looked at him."
"What I know," Fitzgerald put down the letter-opener and swiveled her chair around to face Casterman, "is that he looks innocent. Too innocent by half, if you ask me: those big doe-eyes, that fresh-as-milk complexion, those cherubic curls, the lost-puppy look, the Little Lord Fauntleroy manners... they absolutely scream innocence. But I wouldn't let off a suspect for looking like an absolute angel any more than I would charge a suspect for looking like a murderous demon; looks are too deceiving, Roddy."
"Well, I suppose we shall have to agree to disagree, Clarice," Casterman swung around and planted his well-shod feet on the floor, "as per usual. So that leaves us with the basics: first, which of your minions will I be wrasslin' on this case; and second, can we set bail this afternoon?"
"I have to sound my ADAs to see who will be best to handle the trial, who wants the notoriety and who has the time. As for bail, the soonest we could manage is tomorrow morning," Fitzgerald consulted a memo on her desk, "at eleven-thirty. Messrs. de Seguemont and Willard-Wilkes have been on the horn all day, flexing their Social muscle to good effect: three judges have 'volunteered' to work this evening and Saturday to flush out the backlog. But your docket has to wait its turn, the detainees arrested before the popular Mr. Vandervere have rights, too. If we weren't having a particularly light weekend, your little lambkin might have been in limbo until Tuesday."
"It's not just my principals who want this expedited," Casterman got up and moved over to the sideboard where he'd left his briefcase, "You have your ambitions as well. Mustn't let the press get cold... you need to have a trial underway before people forget about the very eye-catching bit of beefcake that's going to hit news-stands tomorrow morning, and the airwaves this evening."
"The press does put an annoying amount of pressure on the case," the DA allowed, "and an annoying kind of pressure, too. I've had to make an emergency salon appointment this afternoon before the press-conference. Hair, nails, facial, and a professional makeup artist. You men are so lucky."
"Don't be fooled, my dear, I have to leave for an appointment myself. Haircut, manicure, and facial, maybe even some spray-on tan; and a professional color consultant is sending over some ties and shirts that 'scream innocence,' as you so beautifully put it," the defense attorney shuffled his papers and closed up his briefcase, "May I suggest a hot-oil treatment? It gives such a nice shine that looks lovely on television. And not a white blouse, Clarice, it looks so sterile. Something in a tomato bisque color will bring out the warm red glints in your hair."
"Duly noted, good buddy," Clarice got up and came around her desk to give her opponent a friendly hug, followed by a more professional handshake, "though the hot-oil treatment was already scheduled; and I didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday, I know better than to wear white on television. When can we expect a motion to supress the video?"
"You read my mind, as always. I'll have it ready long before Discovery; all I have to do is construct a better argument than some prudish distaste for showing porn to a jury," Casterman paused in the door and struck his signature heroic pose, "This is going to be a grand fight, Clarice: there will be media attention, good publicity all around, and accolades will rain down on you and yours, even when you lose. And you will lose."
"I wouldn't waste too much time writing a victory speech yet, Roddy," the DA rose to see her friend out, "We have a very good case, here."
"I only wish poor little Danny didn't have to suffer through it," the defense attorney sighed, feeling slightly guilty for treating the issue with such levity when there was a stupid, innocent boy's life at stake.
"Your 'poor little Danny' is hardly little, he's six-foot-two if he's an inch; and the experience will build some much-needed character," Fitzgerald held the office door for the departing attorney, "Besides, the Protective Custody Pod was just completely remodeled, very modern, fully in keeping with today's bleeding-heart philosophy of criminal detention. It's like a college dorm, but cleaner. We'll take good care of your pretty lambkin."
Danny learned two valuable lessons that afternoon: first, that pretending to not be afraid frequently results in actually not being afraid; and second, that even the most harrowing experiences can be turned into exciting adventures if only one assumes an attitude that the harrowing experience is an exciting adventure. Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals frequently feature songs extolling this clever expedient.
Whistling the happy tune of "I Whistle a Happy Tune" from The King and I, Danny breezed through the booking process with a convincing imitation of good humor, being cheerfully charming to everyone who handled him; consequently, the booking deputies (who, Danny was interested to learn, were county sherriffs rather than city police officers) were extraordinarily pleasant and kind to him in return, guiding him gently through the maze of rooms and hallways like a visiting dignitary.
In the bare and brightly-lit holding cell, which he had all to himself, he whiled away the time leafing through the battered telephone directory hanging under the free phone while trying to think of whom to call: he already had a lawyer, and couldn't arrange a bail-bond until bail had been set. He ended up calling the Burnett Gardens Spa to apologize for missing his mud-bath, seaweed-wrap, manicure, and pedicure appointments that afternoon, and learned that everyone at the spa knew all about it and had been gossiping about him all day... his arrest was already in constant rotation on the news-show teasers.
"You looked hot, though," the receptionist enthused, which pleased Danny more than he would have thought possible in the circumstances, "With your arms behind your back like that, your delts and abs just popped. And that black towel was way sexy."
With this compliment ringing in his ears, he continued smiling and whistling as he was led through the various cubicles in the big noisy department for fingerprinting, DNA sampling, medical examination, and mugshot photography. His mugshot even showed him smiling with genuine laughter, and the deputy operating the camera joked about launching a career as a glamor-portraitist on the strength of it.
The deputy who relieved him of his street-clothes folded the sweater and pants very neatly and slid them carefully into their envelope, and placed his shoes sole-out to keep everything clean. The deputy in charge of doling out orange jumpsuits and rubber sandals let Danny try on several things for the best fit, and even brought out his own personal sewing kit to whip-stitch some tucks into the waistline so the roomy extra-large would hang better.
Though Danny was dismayed to have to give up his lovely linen and cashmere for another tacky, bleach-smelly coverall, he found it was much less irksome with his own high-quality underclothes between it and his sensitive skin. The molded brown-black rubber sandals were unexpectedly quite comfortable, though they looked terribly silly with his tan socks.
The deputy in charge of linens searched the piles for the softest bedding and towels, which were still appallingly rough and smelled dreadfully of age and bleach. The last stop yielded a rather festive little plastic bucket containing a bar of strong-smelling white soap, a small red can of shaving cream and a disposable razor, a "fresh-scent" deodorant stick, a bottle of conditioning dandruff shampoo, a flat-head toothbrush and miniature toothpaste, and the tiniest bottle of all-purpose moisturizer Danny had ever seen; Danny cooed delightedly over the strange items (he didn't even know how to shave) as if they were a VIP gift-basket, and the deputy in charge of toiletries slipped him two extra bottles of lotion on the sly.
Clutching these bundles in his arms, he bade a cheery farewell to the Intake department, allowed himself to be re-cuffed, and was led back through another maze of corridors and short elevator trips in the company of a certain Deputy Laskiewicz. The deputy was a bit taller than Danny and a good deal wider, big-boned and slope-shouldered, with dancing gray eyes and a happy demeanor, comfortingly gentle and yet extremely impressive in his black uniform bristling with badges and weapons... he made Danny think of the California brown bears that lived in his family's forests back home, lumbering and cuddly yet potentially ferocious.
Though Danny had no idea what the Protective Custody area was like before the renovation, he approved of the soothing blue-and-beige colors and soft-white lighting of the rooms and corridors through which he was led. Having envisioned something out of an old prison film, filthy and noisy with iron bars and cinderblock, open urinals and bare lightbulbs in little wire cages, he was pleasantly surprised by the more hospitable atmosphere of creamy plaster and gleaming linoleum, the traditional sliding cage walls replaced with wooden guide-rails and enameled doors and windows inset with reinforced glass.
Danny's composure cracked, however, when he was invited to step into the narrow cell; it was hardly bigger than his hall closet at home, less than six feet wide and eight feet deep, with just enough room for the berth-like bed on the left, a small table with an attached stool to the right, and a strange stainless-steel fixture at the foot of the bed that combined the offices of toilet and sink. A television housed in a box of thick lucite was nestled near the ceiling above this fixture, facing the bed, and a square window above the table overlooked an outer hallway walled in frosted glass. Danny's breath rushed out of him as instantaneous panic took hold, and he stepped backward involuntarily, crashing into the deputy.
"Hey, hold on," Deputy Laskiewicz cautioned, grabbing onto Danny's arms to steady him.
"I can't," Danny gasped in terror, turning his head to look pleadingly at the deputy, "I can't!"
"Claustrophobic, huh?" Laskiewicz diagnosed the problem, "It's okay, you'll be fine. All you have to do is get used to it. Sit down on the bed, take some deep breaths, and you'll be just fine."
"I can't!" Danny whimpered piteously as the tears started in his eyes.
The big deputy pushed Danny gently but firmly into the tiny room, holding him close from behind as he struggled instinctively to get away; with an admirable combination of force and patience, he pulled Danny down into a seated position on the narrow bed and held him as he dissolved into tears, stroking his hair and making the kinds of soothing noises one makes to an hysterical child.
And though Deputy Laskiewicz had a very kind heart, he was also aware that this might all be a clever ploy: he had Danny in a carefully coordinated lateral domination hold, careful not to hurt him but trapping the prisoner's cuffed wrists in his lap and holding his head tight to prevent him from biting.
Eventually Danny relaxed against the big man's chest and stopped struggling, but he couldn't stop weeping; all his fear and anger came surging out of the place where he'd squashed it down with happy songs and cavalier attitudes, rushing through his helpless body like a flash-flood. But even that ran out eventually, and Danny lay still and limp, snuffling and gulping down shallow, ragged breaths.
"I'm sorry," Danny stuttered out finally, "I'm acting like a big baby."
"That's okay, buddy," the deputy carefully let go of Danny while standing up, still holding the cuffed wrists in check until he was on his feet, "You can't help being claustrophobic. But the only way around phobias is to confront them."
"Thank you," Danny accepted the wad of toilet-tissue from the deputy and dabbed at his face with it, pulling his cheerful attitude back on with his trademark dazzling smile, "You're being so kind to me, I really appreciate it."
"Are you hungry? Dinner isn't for another couple of hours, but I can take you over to the commissary before it closes. They sell chips and stuff like that."
"I don't have any money," Danny admitted while the deputy removed his handcuffs, "Everything I had was taken into evidence when I was arrested. My lawyer brought me the clothes I had on."
"He probably left you some money, too, then. Let's go find out."
As Deputy Laskiewicz led him by the elbow down the corridor and into a large common-room where the commissary window was located, Danny had to resist the urge to take the deputy's big square hand and hold onto him like a child. The experience of being held and comforted through his claustrophobic episode had been thoroughly infantilizing, but pleasantly so, and Danny was giddy with affection for the man.
"I won't be able to leave you out here," Laskiewicz explained as he stood with Danny in line for the commissary, "You're charged with a violent crime, so we have to treat you as potentially violent. You'll be escorted by a deputy wherever you need to go."
"I wasn't planning on going anywhere," Danny smiled, gazing curiously around him at the rather depressed-looking men of various ages who wrote letters, played board-games, and watched television in the clean and well-lighted space, "I guess I have everything I need in my room, except maybe a bathtub. Will I be able to take a shower later?"
"In the morning, usually," Laskiewicz was surprised by the speed at which Danny had bounced back from his hysteria, referring to his cell as a room and treating the whole thing as an adventure again; he was beginning to find the prisoner childishly endearing, and had to resist the urge to ruffle his hair and steal his nose, "But if I'm not too busy after dinner, I can take you tonight if you want."
Danny discovered on arriving at the commissary window that someone had indeed deposited money on account for him, an unnecessarily huge sum that he wouldn't be able to spend if he were there for a month. He bought a can of cola, an immense blueberry muffin wrapped in plastic, and a bag of corn-chips to tide him over; he also purchased some writing materials and extra toiletries that he didn't really need, and offered to treat Deputy Laskiewicz to a candy-bar but was refused on account of regulations. He was also allowed to scoop up an armload of magazines from a table by the door to keep himself occupied.
"I have to lock you in now," Laskiewicz said with a note of sternness in his gentle voice as he watched Danny arranging his purchases and magazines on the little table, "If you really need something, this blue button on the intercom by the door will buzz the guard-station, okay?"
"Okay," Danny swiveled around on the little stool and looked up at the deputy, his eyes wide with fear but his mouth resolute with a small, brave smile, "Thank you again for your kindness, Deputy."
"Take it easy, kiddo," Laskiewicz smiled as he slid the door closed, watching Danny for a few seconds through the glass to make sure he didn't freak out again before turning and going off to resume his duties.
"This isn't so bad," Danny said aloud to himself in a slightly demented sing-song as soon as he was alone, "I'll just pretend I'm on a train. I'm on the train to Reno, just like in The Women. This is my private compartment, so cute and compact, with everything I need en suite. And that's not a blank wall outside the window, it's just fog. And I'm not trapped in here, I simply have no desire to go out."
Unconvinced by this fiction and deeply uneasy in the tiny space, but well on his way to conquering the fear that still gripped his chest, Danny made up his bed and lay down to watch television, with an elderly issue of The New Yorker to read during commercials.
Detective Varajian sat back and sipped his wine, watching in appalled fascination as Detective Spevik shoveled chicken fettucine into his face with shocking efficiency; he wondered if the young man could actually taste the delicately seasoned pasta and meat as it traveled through his rhythmically chewing mouth, or if eating were merely a mechanical operation for getting the nutrients from the outside to the inside of his body with as little fuss as possible.
Varajian picked at his lasagne and considered how to handle the topics he wished to discuss. The young detective had agreed only reluctantly to have dinner with him — he was more interested in avoiding his girlfriend at home and getting a free meal from an expensive Italian restaurant than in spending any more time with his senior partner — and Varajian didn't want to set off any of Spevik's unhelpful defensive habits.
"About this afternoon..." Varajian led off gently.
"Oh, boy, here we go," Spevik threw down his fork pettishly and rolled his eyes like a chastised teenager, "I knew you were going to lay into me."
"Nothing of the kind!" Varajian refused to get ruffled, and continued calmly, "I wanted to say how impressed I am with the speed and detail that you brought to the investigation today. You have amazing investigative skills."
"Thanks," the young detective acknowledged the praise grudgingly.
"You got more information in one hour than I, or anyone in the Division, could have managed in a whole day. And while I think you'll be the first to admit that you need a little more discipline, and your interrogation methods could use some polish, I don't think these should present a problem to someone of your intelligence. I see a great deal of potential in you, the makings of a first-rate detective."
"I think that's what my Ma would call a 'left-handed compliment,'" Spevik smiled pleasantly, his hard face melting for just a moment into attractiveness.
"I have a proposition to make," Varajian leaned forward onto the table confidentially, "But first, may I please offer you two pieces of advice?"
"Sure," Spevik agreed after a pause, his curiousity piqued enough by the mysterious proposition to outweigh his dislike of taking advice.
"Don't make enemies, Scott. You might get where you're going faster by stepping on people; but once you get there, all those enemies are under you, gnawing away at your foundations. When you fall, and you will fall eventually, they're first in line to kick you while you're down. You made a powerful enemy today with Griggs."
"That old gasbag," Spevik clicked his teeth, "You should see the way he treats Putnam."
"I know, but that 'old gasbag' is one of the best forensic scientists in the country," Varajian sipped a little more wine, "He gets away with his peculiar kind of bullshit because he's the best. Putnam should know that he's lucky to be training under him. But you watch, Fitzgerald's handling of him this afternoon is going to cost her; any time she wants something from him in the future, she's going to have to wait. He won't attend conferences like the one we had today, he'll submit everything to her in the densest writing he can come up with, and he'll take every opportunity that presents itself to fuck up her pet cases."
"Isn't that unethical?"
"Oh, he won't do anything unethical. But I'll bet you a dollar he's down in his lab right this minute looking for ways to prove Vandervere innocent, just to piss her off. He's a genius, you know; he'll find some way of making her look bad, and she won't be able to do anything about it. DAs come and go, but Griggs has been cock-of-the-walk down in Forensics for fifteen years, and nobody can touch him. That makes him dangerous, bureaucratically speaking; and as such, he's worth placating."
"Okay, I'll watch whose toes I step on," Spevik appeared to accept the criticism with good grace, "I can spend some time next week sucking up to Griggs. A tin of my Ma's oatmeal cookies should do it. What's the second piece of advice?"
"When you're inventing a professional persona by watching television, model your behavior on the doctors, not the detectives," Varajian said in the most neutral tone he could muster.
"What are you talking about?" Spevik narrowed his eyes suspiciously.
"Your behavior in the interview room today, it was the old Good-Cop/Bad-Cop Scene, and you were playing Bad Cop. You were hot-dogging, essentially — exactly the way a detective on television would. You were, in fact, doing the very thing that makes Griggs so universally disliked, letting TV writers dictate your behavior."
"I don't do that," the young detective sounded hurt.
"Yes, I'm afraid you do; and in this one place more than any other, I know what I am talking about. You don't want to be explosive and confrontational with a suspect, it just sets their defenses up. You want, instead, to be slick, methodical, and confidential. In any interview or interrogation, you are extracting information out of people, the same as you extract information out of the computer; it's the same way a surgeon extracts tumors from a brain, or a psychiatrist extracts supressed memories from a molested child. It's about skill, and coaxing, and tact."
"I get you," Spevik chewed on this advice carefully, not entirely sure he liked it but at least not spitting it out, "Smooth operator."
"Exactly," Varajian smiled his warmest, most avuncular smile.
"Okay, so I hear your advice. Now what's the proposition?"
"Do you want dessert? They make an amazing tira mi su here."
"No, thanks," Spevik patted the flat slab of his belly to indicate fulness, "I'm already gonna have to do forty minutes on the treadmill before I go to bed. I don't usually eat starch at night. Was that your proposition?"
"No, but I'm going to admit something I'd rather not, so I'm stalling," Varajian looked down at the table and shifted his flatware around bashfully, "The thing is, you were right about my attraction to Vandervere. Not that I would purposely screw up the investigation so that I could date him... that was really hurtful of you to say."
"Sorry," Spevik sounded as if he actually was sorry.
"Even if he was free, he's way out of my league. But my judgement was clouded by my attraction to him. So I've been trying to think this investigation through again, doing my best to keep him out of my mind's eye as I think. And it's tough."
"I also think that your judgement might be clouded by Vandervere, too," Varajian said carefully, "The way you reacted to him led me to believe that you harbor some resentments against him, or more likely his type."
"Maybe," Spevik allowed, knowing full well that he'd been laboring under a huge resentment against everyone he'd met on this case so far... though he wasn't consciously homophobic, he did casually despise fags as weak and inane, and this case was unusually populated by fags; and then, almost everyone involved in this case was also rich and/or good-looking, Easy Street all the way. Still, he didn't want to admit his prejudices out loud as Varajian had, "But even if I didn't dislike him, I'd still think he was guilty."
"Exactly, just as I can't convince myself of the kid's guilt. I just can't picture him stabbing someone in the heart with a kitchen knife. I don't think he'd have the stomach for it. And that brings me to my proposition," Varajian leaned forward again, his face schooled to display an earnest excitement, "I want you to convince me he did it, and I want you to allow me to convince you that he didn't. If we conduct this investigation as a debate, we might just get somewhere. Did you do Debate Squad in high school?"
"No, I played football," Spevik wasn't even sure his high-school had a Debate Squad; though he was sure that if it had, he would have been too cool for it.
"In the rules of debate, each side has a position, and you try to convince the other side of that position. It's pretty easy, you just keep coming up with counter-arguments until someone runs out and has to admit the other person is right. You and I have different positions on this case, so we just keep counter-arguing each of our points until one or the other of us is convinced... or better yet, until we get at the actual truth."
"So you want us to fight it out?" Spevik looked confused.
"No, not quite... we won't work in opposition to each other, we work together while testing our different theories. It's science, really. Good detective work is based on scientific inquiry."
"Sounds kind of fruity, but I don't see why not," Spevik shrugged, "Except that the case is already going to trial. Captain Morris won't want us wasting time working on a case that she'll consider practically closed, when there are other cases out there sitting wide open."
"Morris, I can handle," Varajian said with a happy smile, "As long as you agree to work with me on this, and I with you, Morris can be made to see the wisdom of continuing the investigation."
"How?" Spevik was unconvinced.
Varajian paused before answering, wondering whether or not Spevik was trying to play him again... he had a clear vision of the little sneak rushing into the office early on Monday morning to get at Morris first. But he had to start Spevik's education somewhere, and he wouldn't get there without first displaying a degree of trust.
"It's easy," Varajian reached for the bill as soon as the waiter laid it down on the edge of the table, "Three points: one, Rodney Casterman is representing the kid, and Casterman always puts his own people onto the investigation. He's going to have a PI working our case by Monday afternoon at the latest, digging up exculpatory evidence. And if we didn't find every possible piece of evidence first, we'll look like idiots; if you and I look like idiots, Morris looks like an idiot."
"So you're going to appeal to her ass-covering instincts."
"It's probably her strongest emotional urge," Varajian laughed conspiratorially, risking his relationship with the Captain in a gamble to win more of Spevik's trust, "Point two, de Seguemont is going to be on to Allenwhite and make sure the Bugle is focused on our investigation rather than on the kid... and where the Bugle goes, the Herald and Sun will follow. All those newspapers will ask: if professional police detectives can't dig up better information than a hired PI, why should the taxpayers support such an expensive police department in the first place?"
"Public relations angle, very smart," Spevik said admiringly.
"And tying the two together, for Three: if our evidence isn't water-tight, iron-clad, and endlessly thorough, Casterman will pick it apart in seconds; he'll do it in a courtroom full of news-cameras, and with humorous little catchphrases that the media will eat up and repeat on a continuous loop. That will make the whole Department look bad. We need to have so much evidence on Vandervere that, no matter what the outcome of the trial, nothing the Defense comes up with will reflect badly on the SFPD. And to do that, we're going to have to continue to conduct a model thorough investigation."
"Masterful," Spevik said, entirely impressed with Varajian's reasoning... his mental image of his senior partner as an ineffective old fairy evaporated; he finally saw the intricate workings of the brilliant strategic mind that was able to create so seamless a battle-shield as the image of an ineffective old fairy.
"And if Morris hears any of these rationales before I meet with her at 10 a.m. on Monday," Varajian said pleasantly as he signed the credit slip, as if remarking on the weather, subtly displaying a bit of steel claw, "Or if you ever try to embarrass me in a conference like you did today, I will peel your skin off in one-inch squares and roast your ass-meat for dinner."