Saturday, January 2, 2021






At five-minutes-to-six p.m. in the Principality of Monaco, Ralph Serafina is into some serious people watching from a table just inside Cafe de Paris.  He sips kir—white wine and blackcurrant juice, a local specialty—and watches for anything suspicious. 

His problem: much of the action is suspicious, even if it has nothing to do with his presence—the very nature of Monaco.

At 6:10, a Bentley stops in front of the famed cafe and Michael Zudex alights.

Serafina waves.

Zudex approaches and sits beside the American.

"Well?"  Serafina desires a departure from the playfulness of last visit. 

Zudex nods.  "Moscow agrees.  We make deal."

Serafina smiles.  "Excellent."

"They meet you," says Zudex.

"I told you already.  I'm not going to Moscow."

"No.  They come here."

"Who comes here?

 "Case officer.  And division chief."

"That's bold."

The ease with which a case officer and his chief would saunter into Monaco further demonstrated the SVR's audacious new behavior in their presumed new European hub.

"They meet you tonight," says Zudex.  "On my yacht."

"I don't think so."

"But is private, no?"

"Too private.  Are they coming with money?"

"We can do all business," says Zudex.  "On my yacht."

"All business, yes," says Serafina.  "On your yacht, no.  I'll get a suite at the Fairmont.    I'll phone you in one hour with a room number." 






A buffet had been laid on for Dalkin, Bradley Fatwood and Bernie Rosen in a hospitality suite next to the conference room.  Billed to Dalkin, of course.

The Worthog party, uninvited, retreat elsewhere for refreshment. 

At one p.m. the deposition reconvenes.

"Mister Dalkin," said Worthog.  "How much are you worth?"

 "I think I'm worth my weight in gold."

"I mean, what are your assets?"

Dalkin considers this while inhaling and exhaling deeply.  "Well, I'm smart and I..."

"I mean, how much money do you have?"

"Objection," says Fatwood.

Worthog turns on the lawyer.  "Ms. Rigglesworth is suing your client for damages amounting to millions of dollars.  We are entitled to know about the defendant's assets."  He returns to Dalkin.  "How much money do you have?"

Dalkin reaches into his blue jeans pocket and extracts a wad of bills, flips through them, reaches again for change.  "Two hundred, forty-six dollars and seventy-two cents."

"Do you have bank accounts, Mister Dalkin?"

"A bank account."

"How much money is in that account?"

"Not much."

"Do you own stocks and bonds?"

"No and no."

"Do you have an IRA or other kind of retirement program?"


"Do you own property?"


 "Do you have any money besides what is in your pocket and in your bank account?"


"Are you staying at a hotel?" asks Worthog.


"How will you pay your bill?"

"With a credit card."

"And how will you pay your credit card bill?"

"That's exactly what American Express keeps asking me."

"How much do you earn as an investigative consultant?"

"A few grand here, a few grand there."

"Who are your current clients?"

"Objection," says Fatwood.

"It is pertinent to the question of assets," said Worthog.  "In the absence of real assets, we may have to garnish Mister Dalkin's salary."

"That’s premature," says Fatwood.  "You haven't been awarded damages and, as far as I can tell, you're going to lose this case, not win it."

Worthog glares at Fatwood. "This is my deposition.  The Court allows me these parameters."  He returns to Dalkin.  "Your clients, Mister Dalkin."

"One current client."

"Who is your current client?"

Dalkin shrugs.  "It's secret."

"I remind you that you are under oath."

"Thanks for the reminder.  It's still secret."

"I'll phone the judge," says Worthog.      

"Phone Santa Claus if you want."

"For the record," Worthog turns to the stenographer, "Mister Dalkin refuses to answer my question.  We will file a motion to compel from the Court on this testimony presently.  Now," he returns to the deponent, "we shall address matters of character. Do you drink alcohol, Mister Dalkin?"


"Would you describe yourself as a social drinker or a heavy drinker?"

"I'd describe myself as a selective drinker."

"Selective?  What do you mean selective?"

"If a martini glass isn't chilled or it doesn't have three olives, I won't touch it.  I'm discriminating with wine too. And don't ever try to serve me a drink in a plastic cup."

Worthog harrumphs.  "How many cocktails do you consume daily?"

"Objection," says Fatwood.  "I hardly see how..."

"We have every right to address issues of character,” says Worthog.  "Do you take drugs, Mister Dalkin?"


"Which drugs?"

"Let's see."  Dalkin looks to the ceiling. "Advil.  Pepcid AC..."

"Do you consume illegal drugs?"


Worthog smiled a gotcha kind of smile.  "Which drugs?"

"I buy a pain-killer called Veganin whenever I'm in London.  It may be illegal here because it has codeine in it. Bite me."

"Do you travel to London often?" asks Worthog.




"Elsewhere in Europe?"




"Isn't that where you have hidden your assets?"

"Objection," says Fatwood.  "Don't answer. Mr. Worthog, you are abusing this deposition to harass my client."

"Is your case so bad," says Dalkin, "that you have to ask me a lot of questions that have nothing to do with it?"

Worthog reaches for a stack of papers on the table in front of him.  "I would like these marked Exhibit One," he announces to the Court Reporter, before pushing a copy across the table at Dalkin. "Do you recognize this series of memos?"


"Are you the author of these memos?"


"To whom were these memos written?"

"Dick Mutton—mutant masturbator."

"And who did you think Richard Mutton would give these memos to?"

"I didn't think about it."

"But you wrote them for Mr. Mutton in his capacity as Vice President of Ding-a-Ling Widgets?"


"Did Mr. Mutton give these memos to Philip Dillman?"

"You'd have to ask Mutton—mutant masturbator."

"These memos are about your meetings and conversations with Ms. Rigglesworth, correct?"


"These memos include details about Ms. Rigglesworth that you could not possibly have known."

"How's that?"

"Did you bug Ms. Rigglesworth telephone?"

Dalkin chuckles.  "No."

"You think this is humorous?"

"No, I think your lawsuit is humorous.  This is pathetic."

"Did you surveil Ms. Rigglesworth?  Or have her surveilled?"

"No and no."

"Did you intercept her mail?"


"Her faxes?"


"Her e-mail?"


"Then tell me, Mister Dalkin, how could you possibly know the personal details about Ms. Rigglesworth that appear in these memos?"

Dalkin sighs.  "That's been my point all along, you wanker.  Rigglesworth yakked her head off about everything.  There isn't one thing in these memos she didn't tell me herself."  Dalkin's cell phone whistles.  He un-clips the mobile phone and puts it to his ear. "Yeah-what?"  His eyes nab the stenographer recording this.  "Hey, this is private."

"My client requests that we go off the record for a recess," says Fatwood.

"No," says Worthog.  "The deponent is speaking to an unidentified person in the middle of a deposition.  I demand to know who he is talking to!"

"Eat my boxer briefs," snaps Dalkin.  "I don't even know who it is yet."   He rises to leave the room.The videographer calls time and switches off his camera.

Milton Worthog hurls abuse at the videographer before turning to Dalkin’s lawyer.  "Ten minutes!  I want him back in ten minutes!"

Dalkin turns to face Worthog.  "Would you shut the hell up?  It's long distance.”

"Get the judge on the phone!" Worthog hollers at his son.  "I won't stand for this!"

Dalkin steps out the door. 

"Am I calling at a bad time?" asks Richard Thornington.

"Yep," says Dalkin.  "Perfect bad timing."

Thornington, calling from London, fills Dalkin's head with some alarming news.  It isn’t specific—not on an unsecured line—but it is enough.

"Shall I come to Washington?" asks Thornington. 

Deeper consultation of the veiled kind would seem essential.

"No.  I'm going where you are."  Dalkin beckons his attorney with his right hand.  "How much longer is this farce gonna last?"

Fatwood shrugs.  "It could go into tomorrow."

"Fuck that.  Unlike these dorks, I've got a life."  Dalkin returns to Thornington.  "I'll be on a plane tonight.  Where are you staying?"

Nine minutes later, Dalkin reseats himself opposite Milton Worthog.

"For the record," says Worthog, "Watson Worthog has telephoned Judge Rudolph with a motion to compel the deponent to answer my questions concerning current employment.  I have no further questions until we have a ruling."