It's night in Havana, and Fidel Castro's bedroom is filled with people he didn't count on entertaining, tonight. And most disconcertingly, almost all of them have guns.
SPYGOD stands with his guns out, aimed in two different directions. One of them's pointed at the door, where a uniformed guard with a very large shotgun is ready to blow him to kingdom come -- or the Soviet-sympathizing equivalent, at any rate. The other's aimed at Fidel, though in order to get to him, it's going to have to go through the chest of the large, strapping, metal-skinned fellow who's put himself between SPYGOD and his apparent target.
There are other people, here, too, and most of them are in uniforms. Guards who ran around the man with the shotgun are in the room, surrounding SPYGOD and aiming their pistols at his skull and vitals. Soviet Supers -- all members of the People's Protectors -- are there as well, amongst the guards; some are armed, and some clearly do not need them, but all are ready to unleash their bullets, blasters, or powers on the man who's crashed the leader's party.
(Fidel's two female companions for the evening are dressed like what might be Playboy bunnies, but they're not armed, and not really up to defending the man who paid for their services, so they don't really factor into this.)
"It's really !@#$ing simple, Ivan," SPYGOD says to the red-suited, silver man in front of his extremely large pistol: "This little baby was made to shoot through a concrete wall, and still have enough juice to fly through a herd of elephants. So it'll go through you like you aren't there, and turn your !@#$-bearded pal behind you into a commie-shaped smear on the bed. They might find his head in Guantanamo Bay, tomorrow, if I don't find it and !@#$ it just to make sure the !@#$er's dead."
"First, my name is being Soviet Steel," the man announces: "Second, your gun will not even penetrate my skin. Our scientists have seen to that. If you do not believe me, you may ask our mutual enemies in ABWEHR how well their guns worked on me."
"This gun's a lot more gun that those guns were, mother!@#$er."
"No doubt this is true, but I have not rested upon my war record, my friend. Improvements are continual, even in living steel. You will not kill me. You will not even inconvenience him. However, as for yourself..."
Every gun in the room is cocked and clicked. If SPYGOD's feeling nervous he doesn't show it, but it's clear he's not quite up to committing the bullet, yet.
"I wouldn't be here if I wasn't afraid to die, commie."
"And I would not be here if I was not also ready to lay down my life. But are you prepared to sacrifice millions of your own people as well?"
SPYGOD blinks: "What the !@#$ are you talking about, you metal-faced !@#$?"
"We spoke of science, a moment ago?"
"You did, !@#$er. I'd rather talk about the massive hole you're about to sprout between your perky, steel nipples."
"Well, friend, please to be lending me your ears for moment. You know of equal and opposite reaction? Let us speak of large reaction to small action. For example, you are being here to kill the leader of this country, yes?"
"No. I'm here to deliver a !@#$ing pizza, !@#$head."
"I am taking that as famous American sarcasm. So, yes, you are being here to kill him. And you are being here to kill him under orders of your own country, yes?"
"The Easter Bunny sent me. He wants his !@#$ing eggs back."
"Again, the famous sarcasm that means 'yes.' So, you are about to commit act of war against this nation of Cuba. And this nation of Cuba and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are being allies. How do you think the Premier will feel about this?"
SPYGOD blinks again, realizing where all this is leading to: "I'm guessing he won't be too !@#$ing happy. Not that he ever is, from the looks of him."
"Perhaps not, but no, he will not be happy at all. He will desire to create an imbalanced reaction. And you, my friend, will be the man who started World War III with only one bullet. Tell me, my friend, will you enjoy living in a radioactive wasteland, filled with the bones of those you called your countrymen?"
"Now we are seeing famous American bravado. I believe the phrase is... 'call it'?"
There's a moment that goes by, and then another. Slowly, SPYGOD lowers both his guns. And the look he gives Soviet Steel could melt the silver man to paste.
"Very good," the People's Protector says: "You have made wise decision."
For once, SPYGOD can't think of anything to say. Not even a single expletive comes to mind.
"Now, we must also allow you to go," Soviet Steel says, gesturing to the door.
"(What the !@#$ are you talking about?)" Castro rages from his bed: "(That dirty capitalist scum tried to kill me while I was sleeping! Rip his !@#$s off and choke him with them! Tie his body to a boat full of fire and float it back to Miami!)"
"(And if we do that, what will the imbalanced reaction from the Americans be, my dear leader?)" the People's Protector asks, turning just enough to regard the man from the corner of his metal eye: "(This is not some anonymous assassin, sent by their Central Intelligence Agency, or another poorly-planned invasion. This is the Director of their Strategic Talents, and the man who killed the fascist who slaughtered millions of my countrymen. You should be honored they sent him to deal with you, this time. And in honor, we can find some degree of mercy, and foresight.)"
Fidel has nothing on that, clearly.
Less than five minutes later, SPYGOD's been escorted out of the building. They've let him keep his guns, but he doesn't dare use them at this point.
"Just so we are being clear in our understanding," Soviet Steel says, once they're some distance away, and looking up at the stars: "Fidel Castro is not being yours to kill. If anything strange happens to him, or he dies of anything but natural causes, we will assume it was you, or someone who works for you, or with you, and the Motherland will respond accordingly."
"So he lives or it's World War III, huh?" SPYGOD says, putting his guns away: "That's a tall order. The Easter Bunny isn't the only one who wants to give him a big !@#$ing pizza, right about now."
"Then perhaps you should do your best to make sure someone else eats this pizza, before it gets to Cuba," the metal man says, leaning in and gesturing in the direction of the shore, some distance away: "It will give you something to think about as you swim for home."
SPYGOD nods, and starts to walk away. But then he turns, and says "Pass a message along for me?"
"Of course, my friend."
"Tell Fidel that, as soon as I can kill him, he's !@#$ing dead. And he knows why, too."
With that, SPYGOD smiles, and salutes his ideological opposite with the Vitarka Mudra: "Be seeing you," he says. And then he calmly walks away, eventually disappearing into Havana, and then the waters beyond its beautiful shoreline.
"Exploding cigars?" SPYGOD exclaims, throwing the stack of papers off his desk in the Heptagon: "What the !@#$? Who the !@#$ came up with this assassination plan? The !@#$ing Warner Brothers? Bugs !@#$ing Bunny?"
"Well, sir, you have to admit, it is kind of funny," the COMPANY's sub-Director, Jerome "Jolly" Jones -- informally known as Second -- says, bending over to pick up a few of the pages closest to him: "They've also got some other ideas in play. They're going to try and put thorium salt in his shoes to make his hair fall out. Something in here about a giant projection of Jesus, too-"
"!@#$ that !@#$!" SPYGOD rages, slamming his fist down onto -- and then through -- his desk: "I can't believe Nixon signed off on this !@#$."
"I don't think it's quite his style, sir. But I do think Kennedy approved it."
"Yeah, wouldn't that just be shades of the !@#$ing Bay of Pigs," SPYGOD says, regarding the ruins of his desk: "You come on into the Oval Office, there's a note in there from the guy you just defeated at the polls, and he's got all the secret plans and conspiracies that are running outlined for you."
"The dreaded black file," Jolly says, shivering.
"Exactly! And you open it up, and look! Here's this crazy !@#$ the CIA came up with to deal with that little !@#$hole down in Cuba. You know, the guy we almost went to war with over those !@#$ing Soviet missiles? Well, hey, Mr. new President, do we have a deal for you..."
"Well, would it be so bad, then? What could go wrong?"
SPYGOD just looks at Jolly: "Friend of mine, do you remember what I told you about that one time I was sent in to do that !@#$-bearded commie fatso in? Operation Easter Pizza?"
"I remember you said you got there on the wrong night because the Agency's intel was faulty."
"!@#$ !@#$ing straight, I did, Jolly," his boss says, coming around the desk and lighting up a massive cigar: "But that wasn't the worst of it. I was told, in no uncertain terms by one of those People's Protectors mother!@#$ers, that if anything happens to our buddy Fidel. They're going to blame me, then blame America, and then launch their !@#$ing nukes."
"An. Y. Thing." SPYGOD repeats, punctuating each syllable with a thrust of his cigar.
"'Oh.' That's a little far beyond 'Oh,' Jolly. Not unless you follow it up with '!@#$,' or maybe '!@#$.' Maybe even 'Jesus Christ dancing a tango with ten !@#$ing drag queens who have their fists up his !@#$.'"
Jolly gasps and crosses himself. SPYGOD either doesn't notice, or doesn't care, and tosses the cigar at the wall in frustration. It hits dead-bang in the center of a large, glossy photo of Fidel Castro that's pinned there, along with various other persons -- especially The Dragon -- and had crosshairs penned on them.
Then he breathes in, and out, and goes to fix them both a drink from the well-stocked bar to the side of the desk. Hitler's shocked head floats in a bottle, up at the top.
"Bottom line, Jolly," he says, handing him a whiskey and water, just how he likes them: "We cannot allow the President to permit the CIA to go through with this Project Mongoose bull!@#$. We just can't. Now, I have the greatest respect for Dulles, and he and his men are stand-up guys, for the most part. But if they give Castro an poisoned cigar, it's going to come back on us. And then we're gonna have some real !@#$ing problems. The kind of problems that come in megatons."
Jolly nods, and downs the hooch in one go: "So we have our people stop their people?"
"We have our people in Havana warn Castro's people to beware of spooks bearing cigars," SPYGOD sighs, sipping at his own: "And pray like !@#$ the Agency never realizes we !@#$ed them."
"I'll add it to the list of things I pray for, sir," his Second says, taking SPYGOD's drink from his hands and downing it, as well.
The White House is usually festive around the holidays, but this year's is especially so. After several months of uncertainty, worry, and temporary moments of elation, the word is final: The Soviet Union has been dissolved, on Christmas Day of all days, and the Cold War is officially over.
And America won.
It's a time for celebrations and joy, for hope and trust. Best of all, it's a time for the long-prayed for promise of a future in which America can go to sleep at night without worrying about the nuclear missiles of an evil empire, anymore.
Of course, that's what most Americans are thinking, right now. John and Jane Q. Public are nestled snug in their winter beds, visions of nuclear disarmament dancing in their heads instead of sugar plums.
But for those comparative few who work in the dark, shadowy world of intelligence, the mood is a little different. There is some elation, yes, but mostly worry and uncertainty, along with the understanding that they're all about to take some large, yet tentative steps into a world they've imagined, but never actually explored, before.
The Evil Empire is dead, and the people who dedicated their lives to fighting it aren't sure what to do, now.
Of course, that worry hasn't even crossed SPYGOD's mind. He still has his plate more than full, keeping tabs on all the various Science Terrorist groups he has to handle, along with America's Strategic Talents, and everyone else's. This is just one more headache taken off his desk, and the realization as to how many more this is going to make hasn't quite hit, yet.
But he has had a burning need, all these years, to do a certain thing. And he has been waiting for the right time, and the right moment, to do that thing.
So when he goes into the Oval Office for a meeting with the President -- who'd really rather be in Kennebunkport, right now -- he decides to start from there and work his way down the wish list.
He snaps a large, glossy photo down on the man's desk. It's got numerous, small holes riddling it, a few large ones -- no doubt created by bullets -- and a few suspicious burn marks. But in spite of all that, and the crosshairs marked on it, it's clearly a picture of Fidel Castro.
"Why are you showing me this, Mr. (REDACTED)," the President asks, leaning back in his chair. SPYGOD hates it when people call him that; he'd rather they just call him (REDACTED), quite frankly.
"Well, sir, it's time."
"Time for what?"
"Time we excised this sorry little tinpot commie dictator from the Western Hemisphere."
"Really, Mr. (REDACTED)?" The President says, clearly unenthusiastic: "Why would you say that?"
"Because while the Soviet Union existed, we couldn't lay a finger on him. He was surrounded by People's Protectors, and it was made extremely clear that if anything happened to him, they'd hold us responsible, and nuke us till we glowed."
"And now that relationship no longer exists, clearly."
"Exactly, Mr. President. Now, most of the People's Protectors were recalled back to Moscow before the coup, and, since they were on both sides of the fighting, a lot of them are either dead or laid up. The survivors on the winning side are being lauded as heroes. The losers, well, most of them are locked up in the Super City in Kostroma, and we won't be seeing them for a while."
"I know this, Mr. (REDACTED)," the President says, clearly losing interest: "This was in your report from two days ago."
"Yes, sir. But, my people in Havana tell me that there's only a couple of the People's Protectors still left there. They were assigned to stay and guard his bearded !@#$, and when the word came down that the Union was over, most of them split. So it's just a couple die-hard supercommies down there, and the only reason they stayed is because they're the weaker ones who can't really put themselves on the market for freelance powers."
"So, to sum up, he's relatively unguarded, he's no longer protected by Soviet nukes, and you think we should just go down and shoot him?"
"I was going to vote for ripping his head off and sending it into orbit, just to be sure, sir. But, yes, shooting will do, as long as we have a big enough gun."
The President looks at him, leans forward, puts his elbows on his desk, and steeples his hands in front of his face.
"You know, Mr. (REDACTED), we don't talk too much, you and I."
"That's correct, sir. I know you have a busy schedule-"
"It's not that I have a busy schedule. It's that I really do not like talking to you."
SPYGOD blinks: "Well, sir, I-"
"Do you remember, earlier this year, when we had that little problem with Saddam Hussien?" The President asks, looking at his COMPANY Director: "I'm sure you do. I'm also sure you remember that I had you going from country to country, trying to keep the conflict from going Super on us, seeing as how Iraq doesn't have any strategic talents worth anything, but Libya does?"
"Of course I remember, sir," SPYGOD says: "I believe you said I did an A+ job on that."
"That's right. I did. And you did. And I'm sure that good memory of yours will also remind you that, contrary to what some people thought we should do, we did not go any further into Iraq than we absolutely had to. So that darn Saddam Hussein is still in power, and claiming he won, somehow."
"You said you didn't want to overstep your UN mandate, sir," SPYGOD says: "Which, I mean, given that the UN's a house full of commie sympathizers anyway-"
"You really need to learn when to shut up, Mr. (REDACTED)," the President says, rising up from behind the desk and staring SPYGOD down: "You might actually learn something once in a while if you did."
"I like to think I know I few things, sir," SPYGOD replies, shocked to see this side of the man coming out at long last, but still holding his ground.
"Then maybe you would know that it wasn't just overstepping the UN mandate that I was worried about, sir. What I was worried about was nation building. I had no interest in getting involved in it at all. And if we went into Baghdad and toppled Saddam Hussein, that is exactly what we would have to do. And do you know what that would mean?"
"Well, I was involved with Germany for a while-"
"Germany! Yes. So you know we would have to commit troops there for years. And you know we would have to spend large amounts of money. And you'd probably figure that we would potentially be losing people left, right, and center to loyalist attacks, of course."
"Yes, sir. And-"
"But then, once we tried to get that country up and running again, we'd be losing people to sectarian violence. We'd be trying to get three different groups of people, with two different forms of the same religion, to all work together. And none of them would be playing nice. Oh, and did I mention that Iran would be doing their best to influence things from across the border?"
SPYGOD can't say anything to that, so he lets the President continue.
"It would have been a darn mess, Mr. (REDACTED). A darn, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mess. The press would have a field day. The American people would go from cheering me on to wondering what I was thinking. The Generals would start grumbling and talking about mission creep. Congress would start talking money and human rights violations. And all we would get in return is... what, exactly? A Muslim democracy? Can you imagine the candidates arguing over who hates the Great Satan more?"
"Sir, with respect, I think you've made your point. But-"
"I'm. Not. Done. Yet. Darn it." The President hisses, pointing a finger in SPYGOD's face: "That is exactly what we have waiting for us in Cuba, sir. We kill Castro? We break the country. We break the country? We buy the darn thing. And when you couple that with the fact that the UN will be all over my behind-"
"We say we liberated them from tyranny, sir," SPYGOD insists: "The man's executed and imprisoned dissidents. He laughs at human and civil rights. He has kids !@#$ing spying on their parents, for Christ's sake!"
"Is any of that really a casus belli, Mr. (REDACTED)?" The President says, returning to his desk and sitting down: "Do we invade North Korea, next? How about Myanmar? Laos? Or China, for that matter?"
"I'm not talking about an invasion, sir," SPYGOD says: "I'm saying we shoot the strongman and let nature take its course. His brother doesn't have the charisma, and there's no others in waiting. He's killed them all. The people will rise up and-"
"And put another darn strongman in there,": the President says: "And another, and another. It wasn't a real democracy before the revolution, you know."
"But they won't need us to send troops, sir. They'll do it themselves. Whichever way they wind up they have to be better off than they are now."
"You know, I can't help but wonder where this is really coming from," the President muses, putting his feet up on his desk: "I happen to remember a certain person who jumped into Havana, one night, back in 1961 with a really big gun. I also remember he had a little trouble carrying out his mission."
"That's because a certain, other Agency gave me bad intel, sir," SPYGOD says, his hackles raising up: "Just like they gave me bad intel about a certain, leftist South African lawyer. But you wouldn't know anything about that, given that you were head of the CIA for about a year, there. Would you?"
"No I wouldn't, Mr. (REDACTED). Just like I wouldn't know that you thwarted a number of perfectly good attempts to do away with Mr. Castro before now."
"That was different, sir. That goes back to-"
"You know what, I've had enough of this nonsense," The President says, putting his feet back on the floor: "I have a mountain of headaches waiting for me, and you've just gone and added another mountain. So you know what I'm going to do?"
"I'm going to write an executive order, starting clearly and unequivocally that you, Mr. (REDACTED), are expressly forbidden from taking any direct action against a foreign head of state. Period."
"A logical extension of the COMPANY Charter, if you ask me," The President says, pulling out a pen and some stationary and making some notes: "So unless he goes to war with us, which is highly darn unlikely, you, sir, are forbidden from so much as breathing in his direction."
"That's... that's !@#$ing stupid, sir."
"Don't you dare talk to me about stupid," the President glowers: "Don't you dare. I watched you boss my predecessor around for eight years, sir. He loved you. He thought you were the bees knees because of who you were and what you did. And all the while I had to play damage control and convince him that you were a power-mad idiot whose only real accomplishment was killing Hitler. By accident. And still he thought you knew what you were doing, because you looked like you did."
"I do, sir. And I know that-"
"Be quiet, or be fired."
"Very well, sir," SPYGOD says, seeing that this is hopeless: "May I go now, sir?"
"Please do. And don't came back here until I actually send for you."
On his way out of the Oval Office, he hears the President say one more thing: "And just so we understand each other, if that man does declare war on us, I'm going to hold you personally responsible. You will not like what happens next."
"I'm sure I won't, sir," SPYGOD says, leaving as fast as his fine, gay legs will take him.
He never returns to the White House again, after that. Not until after the next election, anyway.
"...so I was hoping, Mr. President," SPYGOD concludes, doing his best to smile at the puffy-faced Democrat who's sitting in the Oval Office: "That we could consider striking that executive order. You don't have to make a big song and dance about it, the way you did the Mexico City one. Just let me have the option to take care of some of those bad guys on the quiet."
"Yeah, I heard you might ask me that," the new President says: "Me and the outgoing had a talk the other day about that."
SPYGOD tries to smile: "Yes, we did have a very large difference of opinion on that, sir."
"I imagine you did. Well, Mr. (REDACTED)-"
"Just (REDACTED), please," SPYGOD asks: "I only get called that in court, and I try to-"
"Mr. (REDACTED)," the President repeats, smiling and leaning closer: "I can see we need to establish some ground rules, here. I appreciate you taking the time to come here and talk to me about the things I need to know, but I'm not going to let you write foreign policy from your Flier. That's my job. So, no, I will not be rescinding that executive order. In fact, I will be informing you that I expect you to keep your hands off any foreign dignitaries and ambassadors while you're at it."
"Very good, sir," SPYGOD says: "Was there anything else?"
"Well, yes. Just between you and me? If anything happens to Fidel Castro during my time in office? I'm holding you directly responsible."
SPYGOD smiles, but it's as hollow as a cheap, chocolate Easter Bunny.
"...so I was hoping, Mr. President," SPYGOD concludes, doing his best to smile at the vacant-faced man who's now occupying the Oval Office, and clearly lost track of the conversation several minutes ago: "That we could consider striking that executive order. You don't have to make a big song and dance about it, the way you did the Mexico City one. Just let me have the option to take care of some of those bad guys on the quiet."
"Well, you know, I know how you feel," the man says, leaning back into the couch: "I'd like to see that weasel rubbed out, too. Him and Saddam, quite frankly-"
"But do we really want to hand over that kind of power to any one Agency, sir?" The Vice President asks. The man's been lurking at the far end of the couch arrangement, making notes and sort of listening with that eerie, reptilian leer of his.
"Well, I think we can trust (REDACTED), here," the President says: "He's done an amazing job with keeping the world together for the last century, right? I think it's been that long?"
"Just since Korea, sir," the Veep says, keeping his true feelings at the moment in check.
"Oh?" The President says: "When was that? I always forget dates. My poor wife'll tell you that."
There's laughter, then, but it's really hollow.
"Okay, how about we compromise, here," The President says, looking at SPYGOD and the Vice President: "We'll keep the order in place, at least for now. But if a situation comes up where we absolutely need you to do something to someone, we'll rescind it."
"He could come to me with the evidence and I could present it to you for consideration?" The Vice President quickly says: "It'll save you some time."
"Well-" SPYGOD says, but it's too late, and the President's already nodding and standing up.
"That sounds absolutely !@#$ing great," the President says, shaking SPYGOD's hand: "I look forward to working with you, sir. I know my predecessor didn't like you much, but I think you'll like the ideas I have for the COMPANY. We're going to do great things together, sir."
"I'm sure we are," SPYGOD says, trying to smile. As he does, he sees the look of triumph on the Vice President's face: !@#$ you, SPYGOD it says.
!@#$ you back, Dick, SPYGOD replies, realizing it's going to be a very interesting few years.
"...so I was hoping, Mr. President," SPYGOD concludes, not quite sure how to read the look on the face of the man occupying the Oval Office: "That we could consider striking that executive order. You don't have to make a big song and dance about it, the way you did the Mexico City one. Just let me have the option to take care of some of those bad guys on the quiet."
"No," the President says: "I'm not at all interested in letting you have that kind of power. I don't even think I should have that kind of power, quite frankly. It's a dangerous road to nowhere good."
"It would have gotten the people of Cuba free a lot earlier, sir," SPYGOD sighs, exasperated.
"Cuba? Is that what this is about?" The President asks, somewhat flabbergasted: "I heard you were an old Cold Warrior, SPYGOD, but I don't think there's anything to be gained by killing that relic at this point. He's old and tired, and his brother isn't much better. I think if we wait, relax some of the restrictions, and let nature take its course, we'll be better off."
SPYGOD looks at the President, and smiles: "You really are one naive little !@#$, aren't you?"
The President blinks, and then smiles back: "And you really are as impolite and unreasonable as they told me. But, seeing as how that's just what the world needs in a COMPANY Director, I'm going to allow that to stand."
"You can stand on your head for all I care, you little-"
"I know what this is about, (REDACTED)," the President says, holding up a hand: "I know what it's really about. This Cuba thing of yours. And for what it's worth, I'm sorry."
SPYGOD blinks: "How... how do you know...?"
"People talk when you aren't listening, apparently."
"I don't want your !@#$ing pity."
"You don't have it. I don't pity you. I empathize, that's all. But empathy isn't going to let me let you kill Fidel Castro, just because he's there and he deserves it. Now, if he gives us a reason, then okay. But it'll be done by my people, and not you."
"I see," SPYGOD says: "Well, thank you for leveling with me, sir."
"You're welcome. And what I know stays between us?" He extends a hand to shake.
"Thank you," SPYGOD takes the hand to shake: "I'd appreciate that."
"You're welcome. And I'd appreciate it if you didn't insult me in my own office from here on out. Okay?"
SPYGOD smiles. Maybe not as hollow as usual, this time.
"(Who...?)" the dictator asks, his eyes fluttering open. He looks younger than he has in years -- almost as he did back in the Revolution -- but his eyes are still an old man's eyes, full of burst blood vessels and set within wrinkled lids.
"Heya, !@#$beard," SPYGOD says, putting a foot down on the man's chest before he can get up, and turning his button off so the man knows who he is: "You really do know the best spots in Havana."
"You?" the young old man stammers.
"Me," SPYGOD says: "Let's talk, shall we?"
He pulls a very old photograph out of his shirt pocket and holds it up so the man can look at it. The dictator blinks for a moment, uncertain of what he's seeing. "Who is that?"
"No one you would have remembered, you fat !@#$," SPYGOD says, pushing his foot down a little harder on the man: "But someone I can't forget. So while we're here, waiting for my friend to get done over there with your !@#$ing meal ticket, I'm going to tell you all about him."
"Who... who is he?"
"My. !@#$ing. Brother."
(SPYGOD is listening to Violence (Pet Shop Boys, extended Hacienda version) and drinking sweet, sweet vengeance at last)