Saturday, May 22, 2010

Case Study #29

Continued from previous post:

Mike Rowe’s face paled considerably in the moonlight washing the patio, which was a difficult thing to discern in the darkness, but I was able to spot it. (Apparently Mother was right about those carrots after all.) He turned to his producer. “Could you step back inside and let me speak to these gentlemen privately?”

Producer: “But Mike, we need to finish this segment. The crew is already on overtime.”

Mike: “Go back in the house. Send the people home if that makes you happy. This is going to take a while.” (Oh?)

The producer stood there a bit longer, glaring at everyone with intense dislike, his eyes telling a tragic tale indicative of years of painful suffering, a miserable existence where people simply did not take his urgency seriously. But we didn’t care. Once he realized this, he and his irritating headset marched back into the house.

Henri and I turned back to Mike, giving him our full and devoted attention. However, he was not quite ready to share. “I don’t know if I can do this without proper lighting.”

Just then, a gypsy woman sporting faded but still colorful attire modestly danced our way from the nearby courtyard, hoisting a clever torch she had fashioned out of an old crutch and a discarded phone book. She gently lit several candles that had been strategically placed in the vicinity, creating a wonderful ambiance, then she waltzed away into the night, warbling a wisp of a forgotten opera. This is France, these things happen.

Mike nervously cleared his throat. “Well, gentlemen, I suppose I have a confession to make.”

Henri stirred beside me. “A confession? Well, then, we simply must have wine.”

A hand suddenly appeared at the kitchen window, thrusting out a bottle. Henri leapt to his feet and graciously accepted the offering, which was quickly followed by wine glasses, some bread, and an artfully-arranged tray of cheese. Then the window was discreetly lowered and the kitchen light extinguished. Well, then. At least someone around here knew how to be a gracious host.

We arranged our treasures on the patio table, made ourselves comfortable in the available roomy and sturdy chairs, and settled in for a winsome tale of livestock and circumstance. Somewhere down the street, a string quartet softly played, perfectly accompanying Mike’s saga, which went like this:

Two days before my surprising arrest for nudity and lewdity, Mike and his crew arrived in Paris for the first of their “Dirty French Jobs” assignments. Not being familiar with the city, there was an error in judgment that resulted in the crew taking rooms at a less than savory hostel, located just a few blocks from Henri’s abode and where we now sat. This in itself is not that unusual. First-time travelers to Paris often find themselves on the unfortunate side of the decision-making process. Just ask Marie Antoinette.

In any case, the crew, finding themselves stacked like cordwood, six to a room, soon grew to hate the sight of one another. There was an altercation involving bathroom privacy, and Mike, knowing that he would need his crew for the shoot in the morning, realized he could not kill them, and therefore decided to venture out, find a nearby bistro, and drink anything the wait staff placed before him.

Unbeknownst to Mr. Rowe, the dominoes of fate were now being placed in position.

Whilst swilling a concoction that supposedly included the once-again-legal ingredient of absinthe, Mike chanced to innocently glance to his right, and spied a comely French woman sitting alone at a table. She appeared to be somewhat blue, possibly on the verge of tears, and quite despondent over making her dinner selection from the detailed menu.

Emboldened by excessive drink, Mike tossed his linen napkin aside and approached her table. “Might I suggest something pleasing?”

The woman, startled at first, glanced up at Mike and then smiled, her tears instantly drying. “But of course. You appear to be a man who knows things. I like men like that.” Then she giggled seductively, which is often all it takes to own a man’s heart, and thus began a whirlwind infatuation. Mike quickly snatched the remainder of his escargots, and slid into the opposite chair at the woman’s table.

As the evening progressed, Mike and the woman, whose named proved to be Vivienne, enchanted one another with amusing anecdotes and flirtatious gazing at one another. By dessert, love was rearing its tender head.

Sadly, the hour grew late, and the lovers had to part. (Vivienne was giving her doctoral thesis in the morning, and simply could not be late.) As they were breathing heavily on the sidewalk outside the bistro, they promised to meet again in two nights. (Mike had an unavoidable segment shoot the next evening, wherein he would be scraping barnacles off of fly boats.) In a frenzied moment of passion, Mike had an inspiration. “Can I bring you a little something for our next rendezvous?”

Vivienne did not hesitate. “I’d like a goat.”

“I’m sorry, my love?”

“A goat. But not just any goat, mon chere. I require a goat, white as pure snow, but with four brown paws. It is something I have dreamed of since my childhood days in the Loire Valley. It would mean the world to me. Now, my love, I must run.” And then she was gone, vanishing into the sultry night.

Mike stood there a moment, perplexed. What an absurd request. But he was smitten, and therefore determined to find the exact goat that would send his new love into rapturous spasms of gratitude, even if it took him the next 48 hours to do so.

But Mike did not have 48 hours. He had a very busy schedule, with segments to film, meetings with boring people who approved budgets, and a photo shoot for an ad campaign wherein he would frolic around at sanitation landfills outside the city and throw sludge at the camera. So he was forced to call upon an innocent intern who could devote her time to finding the perfect goat.

This poor intern. Imagine the horrific experiences she must have gone through, tasked with finding a goat in the City of Lights whilst everyone else gets to wear couture and read poetry in cafes. It must have been grueling, the wretched thing. But find a goat she finally did, with just a few hours before the lovers were scheduled to meet.

Once she had obtained the animal, the intern rushed to the set where Mike and the crew were filming. Upon her arrival, Mike was overjoyed, climbing out of a manhole to embrace the young staffer. After heaping copious praise on the blushing woman, Mike tied the goat’s leash to the crew’s van and returned to the sewers. The jubilant staffer, convinced of an impending raise, raced off to the Rue du Faubourg Saint Honore and immediately purchased something useless but fancy at Givenchy.

Sadly, now that the sacred goat had been wrangled, no one thought to make sure that it remained so. While the crew was busy capturing Mike’s exploits with a drain pipe, a short man by the name of Jacques de Bouvier snuck up to the unattended van, untied the goat, and scampered around the corner. The goat, happy to be away from the sewage, did not protest.

(“Jacques is my client!” gushed Henri beside me. Mike glared at him. Let me tell the story, you insipid little man. Henri shushed and refilled his wine glass.)

Jacques then proceeded to the villa of his therapist, and made his customary payment of livestock, never mentioning to Henri that his funds were tainted. Of course, Jacques didn’t really have a chance to mention it, because Henri was not there, trapped as he was in the south of France, his car having ruptured an axle after being run off the road by boisterous Americans. Jacques simply retrieved the key under the third rock from the sundial, shoved the goat in the front door, and walked away. Done.

(This, dear reader, is where yours truly entered the picture, arriving a few minutes later for my session with the Cucumber Lady, and the tragic mishaps that followed.)

Meanwhile, back on the set, Mike has lumbered out of the sewer for the final time, and various people are rushing about, dismantling equipment and storing things in the van. Since so many careless people are not paying attention, it takes some time for the goat abduction to be discovered. Finally, Mike, putting his shirt back on after once again having taken it off for no apparent reason, realizes that things are amiss.

“Where is the goat?”

No one responded, as none of them were in love and thereby did not understand the significance of the smelly goat. Instead, they continued attending to their various duties and pondering what delicious meal they might encounter that evening. Besides, Mike was always asking philosophical questions that didn’t necessarily require an answer.

Frustrated, and assuming that the goat had simply escaped and had not been forcibly taken, Mike thundered out of the little square, racing in the direction he determined the goat would take if achieving sudden freedom. (Mike had once done a segment on a goat farm, and knew that the unimaginative creatures always ran in a southwesterly direction and would always veer left when given road-choice options.)

Luckily enough, short men named Jacques often adhere to this same flight pattern when bringing payments to their therapists. Within minutes, Mike was approaching Henri’s apartment, and soon found himself at the front door through which the goat and been unceremoniously shoved a few hours ago. The door was now locked (Mike did not know about the key under the third rock), but by placing his desperate ear against the portal, he could hear the sounds of bleating accompanied by running water. Mike raced around the building to the patio, found the back entrance to be locked as well, and pondered his next move.

Then he spied the open kitchen window.

Briskly stepping up to such, Mike peered in, and discovered the goat standing in the kitchen, contemplating a cucumber on the counter. Startled, and not in the mood for further travel, the goat snatched the cucumber and tottered into another room. Frantic, Mike tried to climb through the window in pursuit, but his muscled bulk could not quite slip through.

Then he spied the can of Crisco, and inspiration dawned anew.

Quickly ripping off his shirt (which he probably would have done anyway, given any opportunity), Mike then seized the can and began slathering his torso in the hopes of improving his window-access chances.

Just then, the sounds of running water ceased, and Mike spotted a naked, freshly-showered man stepping out of the bathroom and wrapping himself in a towel. In a slight panic (things might be misperceived, given the circumstances) Mike dropped the can of Crisco and hurried across the courtyard, taking shelter behind a dumpster that reeked of garlic and faded memories. He waited for the showered man to become interested in some activity that would take him out of the apartment, or at least away from the window.

Much to Mike’s surprise, the back door suddenly flew open, and the brazen man with his skimpy towel stepped out and rescued the fallen container of cooking grease. Two seconds later, the goat, the cucumber lodged in his tiny teeth, thundered out the back door as well, completely unconcerned about the Crisco, but certainly interested in something on the other side of the courtyard. The man and his towel let loose with a cry of disdain, and then quickly raced after the Billy.

Realizing that his chances of goat recovery were dwindling, Mike joined in the impromptu parade.

The precocious animal darted toward an open door off the courtyard, with the man a few hooves behind him. There was a brief tussle, wherein the man acquired the cucumber but not the misbehaving creature, and the goat raced through the door. Just before the man entered the building as well, Mike reached out to stop him, hoping to plead his case about how desperately he needed the goat, but his efforts failed. Instead, Mike found himself clutching a consolation prize in the form of a damp towel.

Five seconds later, Mike was startled to hear the sounds of children screaming and a harridan woman alerting authorities. Mike wisely decided that perhaps he would retrieve the goat at another time, despite his desperate desire to please his love, and he slipped away from the scene in search of a calming beverage and an alternate plan.

Mike finished the last sip of his wine, his tale complete, and then regarded Henri and I with doleful eyes. “And that, gentlemen, is my tragic tale of love and livestock in the city of passion.”

Crickets chirped.

Then I regained my composure. “So it seems, Mr. Rowe, that, in essence, due to your torrid romance with a woman you hardly know, I now find myself in this legal predicament. I am facing criminal charges because you got drunk and fell in love with a woman, promising her a goat.”

Mike smiled wanly. “What can I say? Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.”

Case Study #28

Continued from previous post:

I took a small sip of wine and then focused once again on the drunken man across the table. “Henri, though our friendship has been long and strong, I must say that I am quite displeased with you at the moment. Why did you not tell me previously that Mike Rowe is currently scouring the floors of your dwelling?”

He eyed me with suspicion. “Mon ami, first of all, perhaps you have not noticed my excessive intake of alcohol. This is presenting some focus issues, as well as causing me to lose my French accent at times even though I am a native. Secondly, I was completely unaware of your need to visit with Mr. Rowe until roughly two minutes ago. Prior to that, we were speaking only of the goat. Perhaps you should just relax and join me in the drunkenness. It certainly reduces the stress level, and it makes things pretty.”

I calmly aligned my untouched silverware before proceeding. “Henri, I must apologize for my forwardness and possibly accusatory tone. And I must admit, inebriation does have its call and charm at the moment. However, it is extremely critical that I speak with Mr. Rowe at once, and we must proceed to your apartment post haste. Please do the finger-snapping thing you do so well, and arrange for the check.”

Three minutes later we were on the sidewalk outside the café.

I raised my hand in preparation for hailing a taxi, but was quickly rebuffed by Henri. “We do not need such things. The taxis are for Americans. Everyone else walks.”

“But I AM American. And it’s been a very tiresome day.”

He scoffed. “Sitting in a courtroom? That’s tiring? Come, it’s just a short distance, we’ll be there in no time.” And off he went, briskly marching down the road and easily weaving his way around after-dinner Parisian couples, who were probably reciting poetry to one another in advance of a philosophical discussion concerning tangerines.

I sighed and waddled after him, silently cursing healthy Europeans and their unseemly disdain for lethargic means of transportation. Within minutes, I could barely catch my breath, my legs trembling and my vision hazy. Henri, of course, was never in danger of even breaking a sweat, and actually had the gall to jog in place at the stoplights.

Luckily, we were only a handful of blocks from Henri’s residence, so my struggles were only temporary. A few labored breaths later we turned the corner and entered the narrow street I knew so well from our college days. (Although I must admit that being so near the scene of my purported lascivious crimes did keep my heart rate slightly escalated, as I glanced about for more children with pointing fingers.)

Henri stopped to caution me at his door. “Don’t make a fool of yourself, Dr. Brian. Let me speak with him initially. You don’t want to embarrass yourself unnecessarily.”

I bit my tongue, refraining from reminding him that I had already appeared nude in national publications, clutching a can of Crisco. There was little shame left to heave upon me.

Henri opened his door.

It appeared that there were several hundred people in his apartment, rushing about madly, fiddling with lighting and pawing at electronic equipment. It was quite fascinating, really, and at another moment in time I might have been content to gawk and giggle. However, we had a fully defined mission at hand, and it was imperative that we complete it. Henri served the initial volley.

“Mes amis!” he shouted, jovially. “I am very sorry to be intruding, but I have a friend who must speak with Monsieur Rowe as soon as it is possible. I trust this will not be an inconvenience?”

All activity ceased in the room, and various sets of eyes turned in our direction, most of them clearly expressing that not only was this inconvenient, it was thoroughly unappreciated. In fact, if there had been available weaponry, I dare say there would also have been bloodshed. Things were not going quite according to plan.

A short, bookish fellow broke away from the angry mob and approached us, lugging a clipboard and sporting one of those ridiculous headsets that Madonna is always wearing, even when she bathes. Despite the fury in his eyes, he forced the semblance of a welcoming smile, as if we were the best of companions. I immediately pegged him as a producer of some kind.

“Greetings, gentlemen,” he proffered. “Mr. Rowe would love to speak with you, but he is extremely occupied at the moment. Perhaps another time?” Just then, there was the startling sound of a toilet flushing, followed quickly by the bathroom door being wrested open, and Mike Rowe walked into the living room.

Much to my amazement, he took one look at me, released a startled yelp, raced to the back of the apartment, through the kitchen, and out the back door, giving it a good slam as he hastily exited.

The producer took off his headset. “Excuse me, I’ll be right back.” Then he thundered out the back door as well.

Henri turned to me. “Is there ANYWHERE you can go that you don’t frighten people? It must be terribly difficult for you.”

“Henri, I haven’t the faintest idea what that was all about. I’ve never met the man in my life, so an opportunity to offend him has not arisen. Let’s go see what the fuss is about.” I started marching toward the kitchen.

Henri hesitated. “Dr. Brian, I’m not sure if it’s our place to do so. He seemed quite distraught, and you may only exacerbate the matter.”

I sighed. “Henri, this is YOUR apartment. You have every right to determine why people would want to flee from it.”

He finally joined me, and it turned out that we didn’t have to go far. The kitchen window was wide open, and we were suddenly privy to the conversation on the back patio. (Why does Henri insist on keeping that damn window open? Things fall out of it, and I get arrested. Will he ever learn?) We leaned toward the window, our inquisitive minds yearning for information, but being careful to remain in the shadows. Sort of like those people at the Watergate Hotel.

Producer: “We need to finish the shoot. We’re almost done.”

Mike: “I’m not going back in there. I’m not talking to him.”

Producer: “Who IS he?” (Sound of pages being flipped.) “He’s not on the call sheet.”

Mike: “He’s… it’s not important, but I’m not talking to him. Go do your thing, and make him leave.”

Producer, apparently pausing to reflect, then: “Is there something you need to tell me?”

Mike: “Of course not. I’m just not in the mood for fans right now.”

Producer: “Well, you never ran away from that OTHER fan you have. The only time I’ve seen you run was…. Oh God, have you done something illegal again?”


Producer: “Mike?”

Mike: “Maybe.”

Producer: “Ah, hell. Mike, we’re already over budget, we don’t need any more expenses. Is this something we can fix without writing a check?”

Mike was silent for quite some time, then: “There may have been a misunderstanding with my goat. I was just trying to get him back after he was kidnapped. No pun intended.”

Suddenly, the puzzle pieces began falling into place, and images flashed through my mind. The open kitchen window on another day, the empty spot on the window sill where something had previously been, and a close-up of Mike’s enormously-large hands on his TV show, hands that could easily have made the deep finger tracks that I briefly spotted in a certain can of shortening.

I threw open the back door and confronted him.

“YOU tried to steal the Crisco!”


Click Here to Read the Next Entry in This Series.

Case Study #27

Continued from previous post:

Henri clarified. “Mr. Rowe does not have YOUR goat, Dr. Brian. He has HIS goat. He had the papers.” He paused. “But why, dear friend of crazy youthful days, is there such interest in the goat? I am not understanding. This goat is not your friend.”

Just then, the bailiff began performing some scurrying activity off to the right, hovering about the entrance to the judge’s chamber. It was time for this insipid show to continue. “Henri, I must let you go. Can we meet for dinner to further discuss this situation.”

“Dinner? Will they let you out for such?”

I sighed. “Henri, I am no longer IN jail. I was released on my own recognizance, which, quite frankly, came as something of a surprise to me. If my sterling reputation is all it takes to get me out, then why bother with the arrest in the first place? In any case, I can do whatever I want. Except leave the city or approach small children, and who would want to do either? Dinner, Henri?”

“The usual place?”

“Perfect. Abientot.”

I slid the phone back to my lawyer, Olivier, who snatched it up and then made a small entry on the expense report he always has open before him. Petty little man, always about the money and who has how much of it. But I needed him for now.

“All Rise.”

We dutifully stood, as the squat and moody judge woman entered the room and regally made her way to the throne of her tiny kingdom. I’ve never understood this business with the standing as legal officials arrive. It reeks of superficiality. If we really had any respect for her interpretation and application of law, we wouldn’t be doing things that would have us presented to her in the first place.

After a few moments of Her Highness perusing all corners of the room to ensure that even babies and the senile infirm where basking in her glory, she waved a dismissive hand and took her seat. Whilst the room did likewise, she then proceeded to spend an inordinate amount of time shifting around royal implements lying about her desk. Finally satisfied, she cleared her throat.

“Before we continue, I would like to address our timeline for the completion of this trial. While I understand that the popular press is making a tremendous amount of money on these proceedings due to the salacious nature of the charges…”

(She glanced at the long row of windows on the left side of the room, where photographers were pressed against the glass, snapping photos of her irritated face which they could then use for belittlement purposes on the evening newscast.)

“…We must also keep in mind that expediency is a just and wonderful thing. That being the case, and along with the fact that the cheese festival in Rocamadour is set to begin in two days, I trust that we can have both a verdict and a sentence by tomorrow afternoon. Ring the bell, bailiff person, and let’s get started.”

What? How could this be? The prosecution was still in the midst of its long-winded and illogical presentation, showing no signs of slowing or any grasp of the truth. Even if they could manage to cease with their bilious puppet show by the end of the day, how could we possibly present a viable defense in a few short hours tomorrow morning?

I turned to Olivier. “How can she do this? Is this legal in any way?”

He sighed. “It’s the cheese festival, mon ami. These things happen.” Then he made another tick on his spreadsheet. Apparently, I was now being charged by the question and not the hour. He was truly an irritating man of suspect worth.

“But, Olivier, are we READY? Can you do this?”

He sighed again, which was quickly becoming his most loathsome habit, about to surge ahead of “his tie smells like garlic”. He fingered his storyboards once again, and then turned to me. “You must trust me, Dr. Brian. Because trust is all we have. We have not much of anything else. They are very strong with the evidence. It is tres difficult to win when there are photos of your manhood where it does not belong. But I will try.”

“But I didn’t DO anything, the entire situation was completely circumstantial, there were many factors well beyond my control or counsel, and really, how harmful is it that enlightened children in a progressive daycare facility were briefly exposed to the male anatomy?”

He sighed a third time, sending me closer to the edge. “Dr. Brian, we really should not rely on the defense strategies utilized by the Vatican. However, it IS true that the children are the heart of the matter. Let us see what the wee ones say, yes?”

On cue, the Prosecution began calling upon the little terror tykes to take the witness stand.

And of course, each of them looked amazingly cherubic, as if they had just dropped down from the artfully-painted domed ceiling of the courtroom, gracing us with their angelic presence, causing the entire jury to coo and smile. They all had the same story, recounting an innocent day wherein they simply wanted to learn about world peace and play Chutes and Ladders. Then the tranquility was shattered by the sudden appearance of an evil man, accompanied by horned-animals and Crisco. They have cried every night since.

As each of the urchins left the stand, they were presented lollipops from the lead prosecutor, the judge, the bailiff, and Mia Farrow, who always flies places where foreign children are in need.

Olivier leaned over to me and whispered. “You are right, Dr. Brian. We must find the goat immediately.”

Later that evening, I rushed to meet Henri at our favorite restaurant, a tiny venue that serves exquisite mushrooms. He was already there, perched at our usual table and well into the process of wine-swilling. I tried not to let his inebriation irk me, for we really didn’t have time for lectures and hateful accusations. Besides, being a fellow mental physician, listening to disturbed people talk of inane things all day, I can understand the attraction of alcohol.

Upon seeing my distinguished figure marching in his direction, Henri’s face lit up. He bellowed something unintelligible and tried to stand. This resulted in the spillage of a water glass, a basket of breadsticks tumbling to their tiny deaths, and an obvious non-Parisian who clearly did not understand the hierarchy in this establishment, muttering about rudeness to her androgynous table partner.

“It’s okay, Henri,” I said soothingly, as I removed my raincoat and placed it on a nearby chair, making sure one of the sleeves slapped the ignorant patron in the back of the head. “I don’t need you vertical. I just need you to tell me where the goat can be found.”

He looked at me with blood-shot eyes, a speck of dried souffle clinging to his chin. “J’ai dit que-”

I held up my hand. “In English, Henri. I’m too traumatized to translate. The children want my soul.”

His eyes came into focus a bit more. “Perhaps I should have the coffee, then.” He snapped in the general direction of the waiter, and within two seconds there was a steaming demi-tasse of thick liquid expertly placed before him. (This is why we loved the place: quick service, glorious food, and a general lack of idiots. The harridan at the neighboring table must have slipped through during a slight breach of security.)

Henri began adding the first of 12 sugar cubes to his beverage. “As I explained, the goat is now in the possession of Mr. Rowe. He knocked on my door shortly after your arrest, presenting me with official ownership papers and waving a leash.”

“But why, Henri? Why would Mike Rowe own a French goat?”

My companion stirred the cup before him. “This I do not know. It is possible that he explained this to me while retrieving the goat, but I was somewhat distracted by the camera crew.”

“Camera crew? He was FILMING?”

Henri nodded, then downed half the coffee in a startling move. “Yes, I believe he plans to use the footage somehow, although I am not certain. He is in our country, producing another episode. He seems to think the Americans will be titillated by the concept of “dirty French jobs”. I am not certain what this means, but his crew snickered and one of the camera people ran into a wall whilst laughing. Americans are clumsy, are they not?” He downed the rest of the cup and signaled for more.

“Henri, do you know where I can find Mr. Rowe? Was there contact information on his ownership papers? Did he give you a card? Did the goat leave a forwarding address?”

Henri accepted his second cup from the efficient waiter, smiling warmly and possibly flirting. The he turned his attention back to me. “I can do better than that. I know exactly where Michel is.”

My heart leapt. “Please tell me, Henri, it is critical.”

“He is at mon apartement, filming a segment for his TV show.”

I was taken aback. “What possible dirty job could he find THERE?”

Henri smiled. “Have you ever tried to get goat crap off of hardwood floors? Mon dieu, it‘s overwhelming.”


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Case Study #26

Dear Dr. Brian:

Mike Rowe (that guy on the truck commercials and on “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel) somehow reminds me of you. Are you guys related?

Curious in Kendrick

Dear Curious,

What an astonishingly interesting query, although I daresay I shouldn’t be surprised, based on our previous correspondence, wherein you’ve proven quite insightful. As I’ve noted in the past, you have an amazing ability to toss aside most of the overwhelming chuff on the Internet, focus on the few things of actual discourse value, and then demand detailed explanations that will satisfy you both scholastically and emotionally.

And yes, I do indeed have a relationship with Mr. Rowe, albeit our association is not one you could deem traditional, and is certainly not based on us sharing relatives who may have procreated in the distant past. And although we were quite close at one time, we have since drifted, and we no longer communicate with any regularity. We have different interests. In addition, there are certain legal restraints which may have led to the dissolution of our once-tight bond.

You see, Mr. Rowe was a critical witness in the lengthy Parisian trial wherein I was accused of certain crimes involving nudity, cooking ingredients, and livestock. (For the more important details of this clearly politically-motivated misuse of power, you can read my original account by clicking Here.) Of course, Dearest Curious, I’m sure that YOU personally will not need to utilize this link. I’m only including it for the newer patients who have not yet surmised how essential it is that every comma I type be emblazoned in their memories.

In any case, Mr. Rowe’s involvement came about thusly:

We were in the first few days of the trial, the bit where it’s still boring while humorless people go over all of the tedious matters. My lawyer, Olivier de Quelque-Chose-Francais, was fiddling with his storyboards, mapping out the spacing of dramatic moments in his upcoming oral presentations. Suddenly, just as I was finishing an exquisite pomegranate tart, I had an inspiration.

I turned to my lawyer. “Olivier, we MUST find the goat.”

He paused in his shuffling, removed his spectacles, folded them, placed them to the side, and adjusted both of his shirt sleeves so that exactly one-quarter inch of material was displayed at the end of his jacket. Then he turned to me. “What is this with the goat?”

I sighed. “The GOAT, Olivier. The one I was chasing? It is imperative that we find it. I feel it would make an excellent character witness.”

He made a small noise signifying that perhaps he should have gone to medical school after all. “We talk of a goat, Dr. Brian, an animal that does not speak. How will it witness for your character?”

“It won’t have to SPEAK. It just has to BE. Once the jury sees what a vicious, filthy little animal it is, they surely can’t blame me for wanting to get it off the streets and away from the children.”

Olivier put his spectacles back on, apparently no longer interested in my proposal. “You led the goat TO the children, are you forgetting this?”

I snorted in frustration. “I most certainly did nothing of the kind. I was trying to CATCH the goat, not prompt it to invade the nursery school. Really, Olivier, how much am I paying you anyway?”

I suddenly had his full attention again. Subtle financial threats can be quite useful at times. “Very well. We will find the goat.”

At the next recess, when cell phone usage was once again temporarily allowed, Olivier whipped out his designer unit and began making calls. The ensuing conversations mostly consisted of him saying “oui” an irritating number of times, interspersed with bursts of that rapid-fire French where you can’t catch a word of it. Eventually, he snapped the phone shut a final time.

“The goat is no longer in the correctional facility.”

This startles me. “They goat was in JAIL? Why on earth would they do that?”

“It’s France, mon ami. These things happen.”

Perplexed, I try to learn more. “Then where is the goat now?”

“I do not know, Dr. Brian. I am not intimate with the goat. Perhaps it is with its owner?”

Ah. That would be my friend Henri, he of the Cucumber Lady whose vegetable gift led to my current misery. I must speak with him immediately. “May I borrow your phone, Olivier?”

He appeared to take offense at this request. “Have you not one of your own? It is my understanding that Americans are born with them.”

Very amusing. “There was a recent incident involving a nice Merlot and some exuberance. Please speak of it no further. Your phone, Olivier?”

He slid it toward me with measured exasperation. “I will charge you double for the minutes.”

“I expect nothing less.” I punched in Henri’s number.


“Henri, my friend! How are things?”

“Ah, the good doctor is calling. Have they convicted you yet?” Then he cackled in a boisterous way that indicated there had been copious beverages at lunch.

“You’re such a clever fellow, Henri. Have any of your clients paid you with actual money lately?”

The laughter stopped, followed by the sounds of a wine bottle being re-corked and some brie being re-covered. “I am deserving of that. You know that I would do anything in this world for you.”

“Music to my ears, as I have a favor to ask. Can you loan me the goat?”

“That I cannot do.”

These French people, they turn on you in an instant. First they have a king, then they don’t, then they have a king again. It’s preposterous. “Really, Henri? Why would that be, pray tell?”

“There was a misunderstanding, and the goat has been reclaimed.” A pause. “It seems my client did not own the goat he gave to me.”

“So your client used a stolen goat to pay for services rendered. The shame, Henri. The utter shame.”

He sighed. “I die the little death when I think of it.”

“How unfortunate, Henri, very troubling. Now, I’m sure you need time to heal, but I must press a bit further. Where is the goat now?”

“He is with his rightful owner, the American who does the dirty jobs.”

I am completely mystified. Who could this person be? “Henri, I don’t understand. Are you drinking the wine again?”

“Non, mon ami. The man on the American TV show. He travels and does dirty things. Michel… something.”

I am stunned. “Mike Rowe has my goat?”

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