"Excuse me," I say, having curtsied a little too enthusiastically.
"Nothing a little wine won't distract us from," Christian's father says. He proffers a bottle. Mmm... Boone's Farm.
"How lovely to see you again," Christian's mother tells me.
"Really?" I ask.
"No," she answers.
"Mother!" Christian chastises. "This is no place for honesty."
Mrs. Grey raises her eyebrows. I don't know how she can get them so high above her head.
"That's okay, Christian," I tell him. "I've learned to accept abuse. Why, in high school I was voted Girl Most Likely To Date Chris Brown."
"Don't make a sound."
"I mean it."
"So do I."
"Just shut up."
"Not another word."
"I'm not saying anything."
For some reason my not saying anything upsets him even more.
"Zing! Bang! Pow! One of these days, Ana," he says, making a fist and threatening me with it. "To the moon! To the moon!"
What a sweet thought from a sweet man.
"Is she here?" a loud voice screeches from somewhere else in the house other than here.
The ground shakes as, from out of nowhere, Bigfoot in a tight dress comes stampeding into the room and traps me with a bear-hug. Giving me a tight squeeze with what could pass for two tree-trucks but are in actuality her arms, she lifts me high into the air. My bra snaps open and goes flying across the room with a loud bo-innggg! sound. My naked breasts flop up and down like a Slinky.
"That would be Mia, my little sister," Christian tells me.
Little? I don't mean to be unkind, but she's so large they probably had to baptize her at Sea World.
"Ana!" she squeals, "I've heard so much about you!"
"Mia!" Christian chastises.
"That's okay," I say. "Back in high school I was voted Girl Most Likely To Invest With Bernie Madoff."
"It's just that Christian's never brought home a girl before," Christian's mother explains.
"Yes, we were taking bets on whether or not he liked things longer than he liked them wide," Mia continues the thought. "I guess nobody wins."
"Wine?" Christian father cuts in.
Hmm... I had forgotten about him.
"Let me introduce you to the rest of our guests," Christian says, and leads me away from his family. "Ana, this is Bill Cosby. Whatever you do, don't accept a drink from him."
"I'm pleased to meet you, Mr. Cosby," I say.
"He's in charge of the Jello Pudding Pops," Christians mother tells me, explaining the reason why he's here.
"And this is former NBC news anchor Brian Williams."
I offer Mr. Williams my hand, but he's in the middle of telling the story of how he was attacked by the Taliban while climbing Mount Everest to fight Nazis.
"I'll say one thing about those terrorists," he says in conclusion, "without them I would have never broke the world record for climbing to the top of the world's highest peak."
"Whatever you do," Christian tells me, "don't believe a word he says. And this is..."
"Kate!" I yelp in excitement. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm pleased to meet you," Kate tells me. "And you are...?"
"Kate! It's me! Ana!"
"No, not Ana Hu," I tell her. Why she thinks I'm Chinese, who knows. "Ana Steele. Your roommate."
"Well, it's nice to meet you, Miss Roommate. I'd lean in closer to give you a hug, but your breath smells just like the middle part of a Mexican friend of mine named Jose."
"That's a horrible thing to say, Kate." I say to her. "Why do you keep trying to break Christian and me up? I want to know."
"Because," she answers in that one-percenter kind of way of hers, "the more you have, the less I have by comparison."
"Wine?" Christian's father wants to know.
The last person I meet is Christian's father's arch-enemy, Bob Bitchin. CEO of Bob Bitchin Incorporated. The way Christian explains it to me is that Mr. Bitchin is in the middle of a hostile takeover of Grey Enterprises & Enchilada Emporium. Christian's father invited him to dinner so they could "settle this nasty business once and for all."
And, speaking of dinner, it looks wonderful.
There's a meat salad with meat appetizers. Meat sides and a meat main course. In crystal pitchers, there's a thick liquid that's rich and colorful. I've never had a meat smoothie before, but, let me tell you, it looks absolutely refreshing in a refreshingly meaty kind of way. I bet it goes down smooth, just like Kate.
"You'll never guess what we're having for dessert," Christian's mother interrupts my reverie.
"My guess would be some kind of meat," Kate whispers to me, conspiratorially.
The men, stereotypically, are busy talking about sports.
"Did you see the game between the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals?"
I hear Christian say. "What a nail-biter! I had no idea who would win."
As we finally make our way to the table and sit down in our pre-assigned seats, Christian's father accidentally bumps into his arch-enemy and spills a splash of wine onto his lap. Without thinking, Mr. Bitchin grabs his dinner napkin and uses it to wipe the crimson liquid from the front of his pants.
"So sorry, old chap" Christian's father tells him, faking an English accent.
"Da-add!" Christian chastises.
"Mr. Bitchin, are you okay?" Christian's mother asks. I can hear concern in her voice.
Mr. Bitchin's eyes have started to pop out. He begins to clutch his at his throat like he can't breathe. He stands up, weaves back and forth, and then collapses to the floor.
"Oh, my Goobers!" I say. "Bob Bitchin's dead!"
My Inner Goddess and I Forget What The Other One Is immediately hit the road. If there's an accusation of murder to be made, they don't want to be there.
I can't blame them. Neither do I.
The cops are called and a Lt. Columbo shows up. He's a wrinkly little man in a wrinkly little raincoat with a glass eye that always seems to be pointed in the opposite direction of the way he's looking.
"Can somebody please explain to me the chronology of the events of the evening?" he asks.
"Wine?" Christian's father offers.
"No, thank you," Columbo says, politely, "just the facts, ma'am."
"I'm a sir."
Christian's mother immediately takes over the situation.
"Well, you see, Lieutenant," she says, "we had all just sat down for a nice dinner, when Mr. Bitchin..."
"And who would that be?"
"That would be the dead man whom we called you about."
"I see, I see... hey, is that Brain Williams?--Are you still up for the position of Pope, Brian? Yeah, I thought so. Anyway--You were saying, sir?"
"I'm a ma'am."
"Well, we sat down for dinner, but, before we could eat, Mr. Bitchin..."
"Mr. Bitchin. The dead man we called you about."
"That's right. Go on, go on. I'm sorry for the interruption."
"Well, before any of us could eat anything, Mr. Bitchin had the bad manners to be murdered. Which reminds me, Lieutenant, will you be done soon? I'm famished."
"Just a few more questions, just a few more questions. I see your husband has been passing around wine like he was Gunga Din with a water pouch. Did everybody have a glass?"
"Yes. We all had a glass."
"And were there any hors d'oeuvres?"
"And did everybody have some?"
"Yes. We all ate hors d'oeuvres."
"And no one had a chance to eat any of the food at the table?"
"No. Lieutenant. No one did. Are we done?"
"Just one more question, ma'am. One more question."
The statement just kind of hangs there while Columbo's wandering eye makes its way around the room, looking at everything and yet nothing in particular.
"Say... is that Bill Cosby? Uh, miss? I wouldn't drink that if I were you."
"Your question, Lieutenant?"
"You had one more question?"
"Oh, yeah... was there anything out of the ordinary that happened? I mean, out of the ordinary as in something that was not ordinary thus making it out of the ordinary."
"Well, the only thing I can think of was when my husband accidentally bumped into Mr. Bitchin."
"That would be the dead man?"
"That's another question, Lieutenant."
"Quite all right. When my husband accidentally spilled some wine on Mr. Bitchin, Mr. Bitchin grabbed his dinner napkin, cleaned himself off, and then expired."
"I see, I see."
"So, do you need to call CSI? NCIS? The ACLU?"
"Not at all. With everything you've told me, I know who killed Mr. Bitchin."
"The dead man you called me about."
"No, I mean: Who killed him?"
"Why, it's obvious that it was your husband, ma'am."
"Surely, you must be joking."
"No, ma'am, I'm not. And don't call me Shirley. Everybody knows that Mr. Bitchin was in the middle of a hostile takeover of your husband's company, Grey Enterprises & Chinese Nookie Palace. Since everybody touched the same things, drank the same things, and ate the same things, the only thing that was different was when Mr. Bitchin handled his dinner napkin. It's obvious that your husband must have poisoned the dinner napkin in advance, and then not-so-accidentally spilled wine on Mr. Bitchin, causing him to grab his napkin to dry himself off. We'll test the napkin and I'm sure we'll find it contaminated with a fast-acting poison of some kind."
We stand there, all stunned.
Christian's mother looks in disbelief at her husband.
"Could it be true, dear?"
"Of course, my love. Every word."
Christian's mother then turns back to the police Lieutenant.
"Will you be arresting my husband for murder, Lieutenant?"
Columbo's glass eye rambles all over the room and finally settles on Christian's mother.
"Of course not," he assures her. "He's rich."
Fifty Shades of Funny