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The Snydering Chapter I In my younger and less-jaded years, I received a piece of advice from my father that I’ve carried with me ever since. “Whenever you feel like judging someone,” he said, “just remember that most people in the world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” My father was not given to glib communication, and his words held a powerful significance for me. They would surface in my mind at unexpected times. Like now, on a warm, spring night in the recently moneyed suburbs of Washington, D.C., outside the heavy black gates that protected a famous billionaire named Dan Snyder from a hostile public. Snyder had made his money through telemarketing and placing miniature billboards in hospitals and daycare centers. His employees forged the signatures of thousands of telephone customers and illegally switched their service, helping Snyder cash in on a market bubble by selling his advertising empire for nearly $2 billion to the French. By 34, Snyder owned a professional sports team and soon took to stamping along the sidelines of his giant toy in rich burgundy sweaters, fists balled, furious that the success he’d had in business couldn’t be replicated as easily on a field where talent held sway. How I had come to be standing outside this man’s gates, awaiting entry into his Spring Bacchanal and Cornhole Tournament, was not entirely clear. The Sergeant and Fromm had lured a Roger Goodell 3
The Snydering adjunct back to a hotel and contracted a Ukrainian for the job. After that, I don’t know what happened nor do I care to. It is not my duty, after all, to be aware of such details. I have my job. Logistics has theirs. I prefer to keep the two separate. The adjunct, at least, had been truthful about the passcodes. A small motor churned softly as Snyder’s gates swung open. Beyond them, a long driveway wound into the trees. At its end, stood an enormous white building. Snyder had purchased this manor on the banks of the Potomac River from Queen Noor of Jordan. The grounds were arranged around a limestone-and-stucco mansion that resembled a chateau but, in a certain light that came off the river in the evening, could easily be mistaken for a plantation house. I noticed that many of the trees and bushes between the mansion and the river had been reduced to nubs, as if they’d been doused with a Vietnam-era defoliant. The view of the Potomac, however, was unsurpassed. A grinning man greeted me outside the door. I took him at first for a butler. He said his name was Tony Wyllie. We shook hands in the overly firm manner of executives. “You’ll be glad you didn’t bring a guest,” Wyllie said, a strange tone creeping into his voice. He opened the door and beckoned me inside. From within Snyder’s mansion, a buzz of laughter and clinking glasses floated up, along with a haunting melody. I paused on the threshold, my father’s 4
The Snydering mandate still echoing in my mind. I’d been raised not to judge. Unfortunately, my business required that I pass sentence on others...
The Snydering Chapter II Tony grabbed my hand. His hands were surprisingly soft. "Right this way, Mister...?" "Cooke. Call me Cooke." "Mr. Cooke it is." A chubby man, wearing only reading glasses and black leather briefs, entered the room. I recognized him instantly. My target: Daniel M. Snyder. His stomach protruded over the leather waistband, his chest hair mocking his clearly shaven pubic region. "Danny boy," Tony said. "This is Mr. Cooke. Mr. Cooke, this is Danny, er, Dan." I extended my hand, "Nice to meet you, Dan." "Did he say the password?" Dan said, ignoring me completely, instead locking his eyes onto Tony. "Ah, right," Tony said. "The password. Mr. Cooke, if you could." Shit. I knew it. It was something simple. Something easy. Two letters. Something then "M". "D.M.," I mumbled. "C.M." "Mr. Cooke, if you do not know the password you will have to leave," Tony said, grabbing my hand again. "B.M.!" I said loudly. Tony's eyes widened. Dan looked into nothing. His face dropped. He looked defeated. I called his name, but he didn't respond. I don't think he heard me... *** "Snyder, Daniel," Ms. Drasner says, looking up from her roll sheet. 6
The Snydering "It's Daniel M. Snyder," a small, pudgy boy whispers behind a set of oversized double-thick glasses. "I'm sorry? Speak up, son." "I prefer Daniel M. Snyder when referred to, ma'am." A gapped grin takes the face of Vinny Loveton — who, by all accounts, does not — , "Daniel M.? D.M." He pauses. "Sounds like B.M.! Do you want us to call you B.M.?" The class laughs entirely. Little Paula Wagner, always the opportunist, takes center stage and begins the "B.M." chant that will haunt a young Daniel M. Snyder for years to come. "B.M.! B.M.! B.M.!," the class screams in unison amongst spells of laughter. The kids of Silver Spring, Maryland have always had a nasty reputation, particularly when classmates insist on using their middle initial at the age of eight. To this day, Daniel M. Snyder claims he saw Ms. Drasner smile a little smile that morning, something she denied until her death in 2004. B.M. sent champagne to the funeral. He introduced himself as Dan from that day forward. *** "A 'D'? A fucking 'D'? How is that possible?" Dan yells. The class of 150 University of Maryland students shift uncomfortably in unison. Vinny Loveton grins. 7
The Snydering "That's enough!" Professor Cerrato screams, a vein bulging from his forehead. "I've warned you before, Dan. Get out of here and don't come back!" "You can't do that. I'll sue!" "Good luck with that, Dan." "Whatever. Fuck this. Fuck you. And fuck college!" A young woman named Tanya turns to Vinny, "What the hell is wrong with that guy?" "I've know him since we were kids," Vinny says. "He's always been a real asshole." "Kind of cute though," she whispers as she watches B.M. storm out of the lecture hall. *** Dan pushes '7' and waits. The phone rings and rings and rings. He waits. The machine kicks in, "Hi. This is Tanya, please leave a message and I will get back to you soon. Thanks!" "Hi, Tanya. It's Dan. I know you said never to call again, but I'm rich. I'm really really fucking rich. I'm moving out of my parent's place and buying a car and everything. Like I promised. I want you to see. I did it. Call me back 301-555…" The machine cuts out. "Fuck!" Dan pushes his glasses back to the bridge of his nose. He resets the phone and calls again. "Calm down, Dan. Calm down." *** "The meeting is at 4:00 B.M." "What did you say?" 8
The Snydering "I said the the meeting is at 4 p.m., Mr. Snyder. For the lawsuit. Dave McKenna?" "Right. Okay," Dan looks at his watch. "Is Tony here yet?" "Yeah. He's in his office." "Say, 'yes'. 'Yeah' makes you sound like an asshole." Dan walks down the hall towards Tony Wyllie's office on the other end of FedEx Field. Tony is Dan's Public Relations man. His go-to guy. The man he trusts more than anyone; more than his legal team and, especially, more than his family. After all, Dan and Tony share a secret, a bond. He knocks on the door, pushes it open, enters and closes it behind him. Tony extends a hand in the air signifying "hold on". Dan walks slowly to the chair in front of Tony's desk and takes a seat. "That's sounds great, Tom," Tony says into the phone. "Yep… Indeed… I will tell him. In fact he is right here… Will do… You too… Ba-bye." "Cruise?" "Of course." "What he want?" "The whole gay thing. He just can't get over the fact people know." "I see," Dan's eyes shift to his shoe tops. "Hey, Danny Boy. Don't be sad. Look at me." "No," Dan folds his arms. "Come on. Look at me." 9
The Snydering Dan looks up to a grinning Tony. He holds back a smile, "Are you sure about this McKenna thing?" Tony gets up from his chair and walks around behind his boss, placing his hands on Dan's shoulders. "Of course I am. We have to set a precedent. If you fuck with Daniel M. Snyder there are consequences." "I don't know, Tony," he looks up, over his shoulder into his friends eyes. "I'm getting a lot of heat for it." "And that's my job, baby. To deflect that heat. And I'm doing it. I just got back from College Park. It couldn't have gone better." "Really?" Dan begs. "Really," Tony kisses his partner softly on the neck. "Don't you trust me." "Of course I do," he presses softly against Tony. "You're my Tiger." Tony kisses Dan hard, his tongue raging against his boss's. Dan feels a hand slowly make its way to his stomach and than his belt, "Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em all." *** "Dan! Dan, you there?" I asked. "The password is 'G.M.'" "Right," he said, snapping out of it. "Yes, 'G.M.' Good for you. You can find the rest of our guests in the back, Mr. Cooke. I will meet you out there. Tony if you will, please join me in the veranda." 10
The Snydering Chapter III: The Fetid Breath of the Bligle I walked in the direction Snyder indicated towards the merry sounds of a cocktail party. Snyder’s Xanadu could easily host thousands, but I was told that tonight’s soiree would be relatively small. I took my time winding my way through the labyrinthine house towards the back. I’m not an expert in interior design, but it seemed like Mr. Snyder had more than a prudent number of mounted animal heads (many of them with ladies underwear hanging from the antlers in a most undignified manner). There were also fireplaces in every room glowing a startling purple, which cast an eerie glow. It was a result of the darkness that I hardly noticed the small tuxedoed man standing at attention next an oak double-door. The little man grinned broadly, but said nothing. “Is this the way to the cornholing?” I asked. “What is the password?” He said, with a deep rasping voice I didn’t expect. “G.M.” I repeated. “Right this way, sir. You’ll find the evening’s entertainment at the bottom of the stairs.” He pulled the door open and bowed his head slightly as I passed and I thought I heard him wish me luck. He closed the door behind me. The stairway was stone floored and seemed to belong to an old castle. It was illuminated incongruously by flickering halogen lights. I reached the bottom to realize that I was now outside in an 11
The Snydering enclosed courtyard with twenty foot high brick walls. I saw no other guests, but I could hear noises coming from above my head. Unsure of what to do I walked forward to see if I had to walk up an outside staircase. I couldn’t find a way up. I heard a clinking noise like that of someone making a toast, followed by a loud round of applause. As I walked back towards the mansion, I found my way blocked by a metal gate. “Mr. Cooke, is it?” I heard from above me. I now saw about a hundred well-dressed people atop the wall surrounding the courtyard. “Yes, that’s me. What’s going on?” “Mr. Cooke,” I saw that Snyder was the one addressing me, “You may be wondering what you are doing down there.” “It was a thought.” I said, trying to draw a laugh and receiving none. “I’ve called this little meeting of the owners association,” The crowd made a loud noise at that word, it sounded like “screw”. Snyder continued, “And some of our closest friends, to showcase some of the potential replacement meat if the players continue to complain about their poor... wittle... head owies.” That crowd sneered in unison (a bizarre sound). “Look, I was good in high school, but I’m hardly an adequate replacement for the talented individuals who play in the NFL.” I said. The party goers began pelting me with hors d’oeuvres for a few minutes. I 12
The Snydering must admit, the crab puff that went straight into my agape mouth was delicious. “You think I expect you to play, Mr. Cooke? Hardly. I expect you to die.” He turned away from me. “Ladies and gentleman, as you know, I’ve been working to eliminate the need for NFL meat for years. This year, I began collecting blood, brain and tissue samples from Redskins to begin the final stages of my program. May I present to you, the ultimate football player. Fast as a lion, strong as a bear, with the sharp eyes of an eagle and with the heart and football IQ of an NFL player. RELEASE THE BLIGLE” In front of me was the single strangest creature I had ever seen. Snider called out to one of the guests, “Mel, call it.” Another man wearing a patent leather police cap (or so it appeared from a distance), said, “At 7 foot 4 with a 34 inch vertical, this prospect is a freak of nature in every sense of the words. I think this pick could really turn the Redskins organization around. Look for the Bligle to dominate at the point of attack, and let us all pray that it never attempts to destroy the human race.” Half the crowd started chanting “Bli-gle. Bli-gle.” The other half started chanting “Kill! Kill!” The Bligle, darkly furred, and with a long beakish nose strode towards me, sniffing the air hungrily. Its yellow eyes stayed fixed on mine as I contemplated all of the mistakes in my life that led me to that point. 13
The Snydering I thought about running, but what was the point. I decided to stand my ground and die proudly. I could smell the fetid breath of the creature as it hovered over me. It reached out for my chest and I braced for the end. I was surprised to feel not a fatal blow, but a fairly gentle caress of my chest. I looked up and saw the creature wink at me. I backed away quickly but slipped on a pile of mini quiche and skidded to the ground. As I stumbled, I saw the Bligle lunge at me and I shut my eyes. The next thing I heard was a ripping noise and the smacking sound of lips. I didn’t feel any pain. I looked down to see the Bligle grabbing the quiche (and a good portion of the earth underneath it) and stuffing it into its mouth. “GOD DAMNIT!” I heard from overhead. “I told those idiots not to use Haynesworth! I told them! I toooold them!” Looking over, I saw the short tuxedoed man from earlier standing by the now-open gate to the house. I rushed over...
The Snydering Chapter IV: Cooke And Bligle Jim Escape To The Potomac My body reacted with the instincts I'd acquired over countless hours of drills and practice snaps as a hustling white guy backup linebacker and special teamer at the University of Maryland. Turning and crouching, I quickly scanned the field, diagnosing the play, even as I flashed low and hard to the gate. In that brief moment, my eyes locked on those of the creature, which with its superior athleticism had itself already covered some 20 yards. Within this visual embrace between just-a-man and more-than-beast, across the span of space and evolution, was an instant acknowledgement: whether we liked it or not, our fates were intertwined. "This way!" shouted the butler, his jarring voice now projecting the unnecessarily overwrought gravity of Christian Bale's Batman. The bligle dashed through the gates, I quickly after it. As I passed the tuxedoed man I slowed only slightly, looking back as I ran, my eyes searching his own for instruction and understanding. Even in that moment, I wanted to know — why had he helped me, when he surely stood to face the wrath of Snyder? "Follow the bligle," he called after me. What other choice did I have? The bligle was ahead in the courtyard, its back arched and hands grasping something on the ground. I noticed with unease that the courtyard was littered with strange animal corpses and dried blood. 15
The Snydering "SCHRRRAAAWWWRRRRKKKKK!!!" The call of the bligle. It melds a muscular, minotaur roar and piercing, avian shriek into a singular sound both hideous and desperately fearsome. The monstrous yelp dominated the fading evening. Digging its clawed raptor toes into the grass-covered courtyard, the beast pulled mightily on a large grate with gargantuan furry paws, attempting against reason to tear it from its heavy, welded mooring. As sweat materialized on the bligle's feathered brow, hope rose within me. As I reached the bligle I looked back to Snyder and his cohort. They seemed strangely unmoved by what was, for me, an enormously confusing and panicked situation. Then I noticed something inexplicable: the crowd was all donning odd masks covering only their noses. Possibilities swirled in my head. Were they about to release some kind of gas to debilitate me and the bligle? But the masks were oddly familiar to me as a longtime why-can't-theyjust-sign-hustling-white-guys-like-they-used-to-hey!Kerrigan-was-a-great-pick Redskins fan. Of course! It was the mask of the Hogettes — the treasured matriarchs of RFK Stadium who donned rubber pig snouts (and ladies' clothing) in honor of the Redskins' hustling white guy (mostly) offensive lines of The Real Joe Gibbs Era. This deeply cynical action only confused me further. Sure, by wearing the hogmask, Snyder and his fellow owners were openly mocking the NFL fans who yearned for a return of 16
The Snydering those days of yore — in particular, the long-suffering Redskins fans who wander aimlessly around purple, green, and orange-adorned FedEx Field with eyes amist and memories churning of the Hogs and the Posse, of bouncing stands, of Darrel Green and Dexter Manley and Chip Lohmiller and everything good and holy. But why now? The bligle still worked feverishly, unleashing its mighty call with each attempt, when we heard another sound. "HRRRAAWNNKKKK hrawnk hrawnk hrawnk hrawnk ...." The bligle looked over its shoulder with a frustrated expression. 'Goddammit,' I thought, 'not another genetically manipulated Snyder freakshow superbeast.' But it was. Suddenly the hog masks made (some) sense. Several men stepped forward from the crowd. I could make out Snyder, Jerry Jones, Al Davis, and three other decrepit white dudes. They wore thick leather arm covers, and perched on top of each was an ungodly sight — horned, winged, flying fucking wildebeest bird things, each hrawnking and snorting at the top of its lungs and lusting feverishly in the direction of the courtyard in which I stood, utterly exposed while the bligle struggled with the grate. Snyder shouted: "Instead of fighting each other, let's see how these little guys do when they have a 17
The Snydering common enemy! A-ha-ha-ha!" The other owners joined in this insidious laughter. At the command of their handler-masters, the flying fucking wildebeest bird things dropped from the sky in unison, gliding towards us with the fangs of warthogs and wings of falcons. "hrawnk hrawnk hrawnk hrawnk ...." As I entered the fetal position and prepared to accept my fate, I heard the distinct sound of metal tearing from metal, like a bad sound effect from a bad WWII submarine movie. The bligle had somehow pulled free the left corner of the grate, and now peeled it back to create a space to enter. I hesitated. The butler had told me to follow the bligle, and here I had been waiting like a child for it to do something, anything, to save me, but now I wasn't sure — What the fuck did the butler know anyway? And did the bligle really intend for me to go with it? In that moment of doubt, the bligle looked at me with a shockingly human expression. Its eyes told me that it understood my fear, that it cared. I had assumed — as, no doubt, had Snyder — that the bligle was but a mighty beast, with only those aspects of human intelligence necessary for its intended purpose of being a goddamn sack machine and replica jersey-selling phenom. While admiring the sheer force of will and body it displayed in opening the grate, I had inferred but animal singlemindedness. I did not realize until this startling moment that this hybrid lion-bear-eagle-professional18
The Snydering athlete whatthefuckisthat had acted not only out of blind, instinctual self-interest, but also out of sympathy for my plight. My temporary stupor at the bligle's emotional capacity was suspended only by an even more stunning development. The bligle suddenly shouted at me: "Get the fuck in the hole. The flying hogs will fuck your shit up." I dove headfirst, followed closely after by the bligle, who bent back the heavy metal grate to close the hole behind him. After doing a complete flip and landing on my back with a splash, it was apparent immediately that we were in some kind of drainage sewer tunnel system, just as one would expect in a narrative like this. The bligle immediately set off running before saying another miraculous word, with me in pursuit. It was obvious that it knew these tunnels, which had various sizes and came and went in all directions. It navigated the maze with ease, slowing only for me to keep up. The bligle climbed into a smaller tunnel, barely squeezing through. I clambered in after. We crawled for what seemed like miles, my nose uncomfortably close to the bligle's foul-smelling ass, which was adorned in shit-crusted feathers. The sky had long since turned to black by the time we finally emerged, but I immediately knew where we were. Through grit, strength, and cunning, the bligle had led us to the Potomac River. We 19
The Snydering worked our way down to the river bank, a silence lingering between us until I summoned the courage to speak. I lacked the stones to ask what I really wanted to know: 'What the jesus christ are you, bligle?' "Why? Why did you help me?" I finally stammered instead. "Don't matter now, anyway. We're on the run from Master Snyder," it replied. There was so much I yearned to unpack after hearing this, but I knew it had to wait until I had the bligle's confidence. "Shit, there's nowhere to hide from that dude." "Yes, I suppose we are on the run from Snyder," I said. "And there may not be anywhere to hide. But if we get him before he gets us, we'll have a chance." "What do you mean get to him?" "I'll tell you about it on the way. We need to get on that river before morning light. We're 20 miles upstream of D.C. — there's a hack reporter on every street corner there. We just need a vessel." We set to work immediately. The bligle snapped trees with its bare paws and sheared them of branches and leaves with its foot talons. I gathered strips of tree bark and vines and such, and together we assembled a makeshift raft. "Now about the plan," I started as we eased the raft into the water. "You tell me everything you know about those flying fucking wildabeast bird things. I'm pretty sure I heard Snyder say something about using them for fighting. The bloody courtyard, the ritualized wearing of hog masks ... that shit is 20
The Snydering organized. You think it was bad for Michael Vick, wait til the media hears that Danny Boy and the other owners have been breeding flying horned pigs for single combat ..." "Hold up." The bligle cut me off in mid-sentence. "If I'm gonna take your ass up to DC and save you from whatever hellacious shit Snyder sends after our asses, we need to back it up a minute. What's your name?" "Of course, my apologies." Shit, I was going to do whatever the bligle said. "Raljon. And yourself?" "Raljon. Word. Snyder and those muthafuckas just call me 'bligle,' but with my boys I go by Jim." With that, Bligle Jim extended his paw. I reached out my fist and gave him a pound. As we pushed off down the mighty Potomac, dawn was just breaking on the eastern horizon.
The Snydering Chapter V: Return to River Bend As the raft drifted away from the banks of the Potomac, I looked back at Dan Snyder's mansion, clearly visible over the ragged stumps of protected trees he'd hacked down to clear a view of the river. I'd been told that in the quiet of the morning Snyder would sit in a windowed aerie — a watchtower of sorts — and take his breakfast while gazing upon the rushing waters below. He ate only the finest brand of macrobiotic granola, although occasionally he would filch a sausage from the 24-hour buffet his minions prepared for his wife. When no one was looking, Snyder would devour the meat with abandon, grease slicking his chin. His eyes would narrow as he studied the rapids below, his tiny brain turning over like a Fiat engine on a frigid day. What madness filled his thoughts in these moments? I had to know. I had come to Snyder's party to see the Redskins owner in his element, to understand the nature of his insanity. Yes, he'd tried to have me killed in his fighting pit as soon as I'd arrived. And, yes, his menagerie of freaks was horrifying, a motley and lecherous crew of shankers and genetic anomalies. But I'd taken this assignment for a reason. If I fled now, Snyder would certainly win. Besides, the Bligle had started acting weird. He was perched on the far side of the raft muttering into his chest feathers. A beast as fierce and violent as this was not the ideal traveling companion. The Bligle 22
The Snydering had been subjected to the worst kind of abuse in Snyder's dungeons and could snap at any moment. There is nothing more dangerous than a laboratory mutant coming to terms with his freedom. I knew from experience that a powerful rage would soon fill him with a brute strength. When that happened, he would be impossible to control. "I'm sorry, Bligle," I said. "You saved me from death. But I am a professional and I have a job to do." With that, I dove into the Potomac and made my way for shore. But the Bligle did not understand, and I felt a pang of guilt as he squawked dolefully behind me. My mission, however, was paramount. I clambered ashore and unzipped the secret pouch in which I stored my rubber pig snout and silly wig. I put them on and completed the disguise with handfuls of leaves and river mud. Then I turned toward the River Bend estate, more determined than ever to find the truth about Snyder.
The Snydering Chapter VI: Robot Surrogates and the Abyss "Something to drink?" Wyllie asks me. We're alone, sitting in the cavernous, dimly-lit foyer, on a silk-upholstered settee anchored against one of the towering stone walls; the sounds of mirth reach us as a breeze of soft echoes from the vast mansion beyond. My host has not appeared yet. One notes the apparent lack of reason for pausing in this room, and yet cannot help but feel as though the pause is planned — that this stop is a scripted part of the evening. One hesitates at the notion that perhaps this is the designated poisoning area. One does not let that stop one from partaking of free libations. One nods. Wyllie flips a hand over his shoulder with practiced nonchalance; his pores, one imagines, are pulling the tricky double-duty of oozing smug selfsatisfaction while also sagging open to soak in an impressed reaction which, sadly, they will not receive. I've been hosted by Elizabeth Taylor, who had our meals delivered to the table by cartwheeling bodybuilders dressed as Praetorian guards: the presence of an attentive household staff will not arouse my jaded eyebrows from their contentment. Somewhere behind us, a door slides open. You glance around the enormous room: the ornate stone sconces holding tall candles, their firelight fanning feebly into the great, gloomy void; the vast tapered staircase clad in rich burgundy carpeting; the warm glow beckoning from between the massive opened double-doors atop the stairs. You imagine the 24
The Snydering small, beige, cylindrical crab-cakes all new-money men invariably serve at these sorts of things – how arrogantly they will shrug their slacker way to your stomach, coasting on the innate deliciousness of expensive crab; you imagine the studiedly casual yuppie bragging you will endure between and during and among bites: "Oh, it's so difficult to find a good yogalatae-bo class these days, what with my busy travel schedule and such other things as a person says when it is important to her that everyone be aware of her self-actualization." You become aware that the footfalls thudding their way across the gleaming hardwood floor toward you are accompanied by a growing mechanical whirr. "May I prepare your drink, sir?" What asks you this question, in the Queen's English no less, is not a man — or a human being at all. Rather, it is something that manages the feat of being simultaneously an abomination against the word "robot," and an abomination against the feat of evolution called "tiger": something that stands on four legs in front of you with acid green light beaming out of its titanium eye-sockets and the contents of a hotel mini-bar protruding from an open panel on its back. It turns its head toward you slowly, its metallic features fixed and yet somehow conveying the bottomless black despair of a being whose fluorescence-emitting eyeballs have gazed into the Abyss. 25
The Snydering You notice that its front two legs stand on their own "paws" on the floor, and that its evidently nonfunctioning back feet have been duct-taped to skateboards. Because you cannot immediately determine whether what rises in your chest at this moment is born of pity, mercy, or disgust, you repress the urge to smash this failed thing to neutrinos. For now. Maybe I hesitate for a beat too long in answering the wreck's question, or maybe my face betrays some fleeting glimpse of the complex mélange of emotions and digestive juices churning inside me — in either case, Wyllie senses my vertigo and his smirk spreads like a puddle of fresh diarrhea across his face. I compose myself. The heart, still reeling at this monstrosity playacting bartender and waiter before me, says lots and lots of scotch; the mind, wanting to keep its wits for the evening to come, says bitters and tonic; the mouth sees reason, and throws in a thank you. Mechanical things happen, with mechanical sounds, while this facsimile of life's infinitely hopeless stare hangs on me, unmoving, and somehow a drink is produced, and I am taking it. Wyllie's face is a tapestry of smugness. I want to kick it off. "Thank you, Ti-Gor," he says, and, after a pause, the wretched thing nods slightly and begins to tow its disgraceful ass-end back to whatever sad closet lately shat it into my presence. Wyllie turns to me. "Shall we adjourn to the great hall?" What passes before I 26
The Snydering smile and offer a confident-sounding reply of "Certainly!" can only be a mere fraction of a moment, but feels like a decade of careful consideration of that glowing doorway at the top of the staircase, and of what hypothetical cybernetic horrors may indeed have to be endured between and during and among bites of crab-cake. And this can be the only reason for our stay in this room: to introduce me to the creation named "TiGor" and blast away from me any expectations I had for the rest of this evening, like a heavy winter coat a host graciously removes before taking his guests into the warmer recesses of his home. Fine. Accepted. I may yet deliver a surprise of my own, or several. *** Opposite me, at the rear of the warmly lit, extravagantly appointed great hall, giant two-story French doors sit wide open; the party overflows from this room out into the grounds beyond. Here are hundreds of Washington-area types, meticulously scrubbed and buffed and waxed and infused, militantly unfashionable in their power ties and cufflinks and little black dresses and a few scattered evening gowns. What's this they're doing? Networking? Interfacing? Have they invented a new word that means auditioning potential victims? I can see no more Ti-Gors, no cybernetic atrocities at all in fact, and it occurs to me just how mundane, how normal, this party seems, and then I notice that Wyllie is very carefully closing the door 27
The Snydering behind me. Indeed, leaving aside the towering French doors at the far end of the room, this great hall contains three doors that appear to lead to the rest of the house, and now all of them are closed. Wyllie locks the door behind me. The implication is clear: the festivities have been very carefully contained here. Here, where Daniel M. Snyder is not. Physically, Snyder certainly isn't a fellow who stands out in a large crowd, unless it's a large crowd of cats. He could, theoretically, be obscured by a cluster of partygoers, or an end-table, but still: he is not in this room, nor among the guests spilled out onto his spacious lawn, and I am certain of it. A waiter — a real, live, human waiter, or at least one who convincingly appears so — proffers a tray of canapés and, you guessed it, small cylindrical crabcakes. As I finish my finger-food, I see Wyllie staring at me with a strange, eager, intense expression. "More to eat?" he asks. "No, thank you," I reply. "Refill your drink?" he asks. I've barely touched it. "No, thanks." "Then may I suggest we move on?" he asks. "Move on?" He moves closer — close enough that I can smell a strange plastic scent on his breath. He speaks in a low, conspiratorial murmur. "These people," he says, with a tiny jerk of his head toward the throng behind him, "are here for the Spring Bacchanal and Cornhole 28
The Snydering Tournament. They will be sated, many times over, and sent home. But we both know you're not here for suckling pig and beanbag-toss. You're here for the real game." He smiles knowingly. "Shall we?" Who could decline? Not I. "Lead the way," I say, and Wyllie looks very pleased. Wyllie heads off to my left; I follow. We snake our way through the crowd — "…we were going to send Isabelle to Sidwell Friends, but we decided to harvest her collagen-rich skin instead…" — to a door, which Wyllie unlocks and holds open for me, revealing a dark, carpeted corridor curving gently to the left. I pass through; he follows close behind; I hear the click of a latch, the thud of a bolt, and the sounds of the party are gone. We are joined by a low, sickly green light, a sound like an idling refrigerator, and the stink of motor oil. Ti-Gor stands before us, every bit as dismal as before. For the first time, Wyllie looks a bit uncertain. "If you'll pardon me, Ti-Gor will be your escort from here." He glances at his watch, glances from side to side, shuffles his feet nervously: a lackey forced to improvise beyond his capacity. "My presence is required at… erm, I have to, um… well," he says, and abruptly takes off running down the corridor, more than a little frantically. Ti-Gor and I watch him dwindle into the gloom, his footfalls muffled by the carpet. He rounds out of sight; we hear a door open and then shut. 29
The Snydering "If you'll follow me please, sir," says my mechanical guide. His left eye flickers erratically, like the world's most dispirited wink, as he turns and heads down the hall. The skateboards prop his rearend up above his front, and at least two wheels are wobbling badly: we make slow progress, and the corridor is very long. After a while, I notice that his front legs have begun to creak: he seems to be laboring to continue. "Are you, um, quite alright?" I ask. The beast exhales a bone-deep sigh of despair. "In the jungles of my youth, I frolicked in a meadow, chasing dragonflies. At night I curled up in the warm, downy softness of my mother's tummy, and dreamt of hunting water buffalo with my brothers. How I miss the gentle caress of her serrated, meat-scented fangs." *** The man himself. Maybe not quite as I expected him. He sits Indian-style on a large gold-colored satin divan, in a circle of light at the center of a very large, dark room, dressed in what can only be described as the gold-and-brick-colored kāsāya of a Tibetan monk, his eyes hidden behind impenetrably black Ray Ban wayfarers, oozing serenity: Daniel M. Snyder, perhaps the most loathed man in all of professional sports. Wyllie comes shuffling into the room, huffing and sweating and dragging another large, satin-covered divan, which he parks a few feet in front of Snyder, 30
The Snydering who gestures with an extended palm for me to sit. TiGor looks up at me, as best he can look up, which is to say he looks straight ahead and I hear motors whirring and I imagine that he is trying to look up at me. Perhaps to implore me to leave this place. I cross to Snyder and sit. Wyllie watches us for a moment, breathing heavily, hands on hips, then turns and trudges out of sight again. "WELCOME TO MY HOUSE," my host intones. "Thank you," I reply. "I TRUST YOU HAVE HAD ENOUGH TO EAT AND DRINK," he says. "Thank you, I have." Wyllie comes back, carrying a small three-legged table and a flat, square-shaped object roughly the size of a slim briefcase. He sets the table down between Snyder and me and places the object — a chessboard — on top of it. From a felt bag he produces the pieces, and begins to setup the board: white on my side, black on Snyder's. "Is this ‘the real game'?" "WE SHALL SEE." Wyllie has completed the setup; he trudges off into the shadows. The pieces are ornately carved, deep black obsidian for him and pure white ivory for me. Snyder gestures; I begin: pawn to e4, the standard opener. Snyder, unreadable behind those pitch-black shades, contemplates the board; he stares (or blinks, or sleeps) for thirty seconds, then moves his king's pawn to d5. It is an illegal move, but more 31
The Snydering to the point, it is a very, very stupid illegal move. Momentarily I weigh fealty to the rules against the obligations of a courteous houseguest, then take his pawn. He smiles. "YOU HAVE QUESTIONS." I can't resist. "Yes. Mostly about that very stupid move just now." He looks over my shoulder; the smile broadens without remotely conveying any actual mirth. "AH. DARLING." There is the clopping sound of high-heeled shoes, or hooves; I turn; I forget about Ti-Gor, chess, hope for the future. Tottering toward me on spike heels, face frozen in a nightmare Joker grin, bloodshot eyes ablaze with manic glee or terror or both, is Tanya Snyder. Her every feature is a taut, shiny monument to advancements in the field of cosmetic surgery: lips so stuffed with collagen that the upper dangles over her teeth and the lower flaps down onto her chin; chin and cheekbones protruding hideously, as though coated in silly putty; nose pointy enough to cut diamonds; the skin around her jawbone and beneath her ears and along her forehead stretched nearly to translucence. Her insanely augmented breasts, straining against the confines of a form-fitting cashmere V-neck, are weirdly flattened along the bottom, where two rods or spokes protrude from her shirt-front… are they some kind of metal?— Her tits are cantilevered. 32
The Snydering Her tits are cantilevered through her chest. Her tits are cantilevered through her chest and there are steel I-beams sticking out of her front and back and there is no God. I am standing; I am stumbling backward; I am pointing at her chest in horror and the sound that comes out of me is desperate and pleading and outraged: "Wha-what did you-why?" Snyder is placid, smiling, his face upturned toward mine. His surrealistic travesty of a wife does not seem to have noticed me at all: she stares at her husband with slavish devotion, unblinking. "PLEASE SIT," he says, gesturing again to the divan opposite his. "ALL YOUR QUESTIONS WILL BE ANSWERED." I see that Mrs. Snyder is drooling. "B-buh-but-wha-how-y-you…" It's all I can muster. He gestures again. "PLEASE. LET US CONTINUE. ALL WILL BE MADE KNOWN TO YOU." I retake my seat, instinctively arching my torso away from the teetering woman as I do so; for her part, she stands, and stares, and does not move. TiGor ambles up beside me and stands, watching. Snyder's attention has returned to the board. He looks at it for a long minute, brow slightly furrowed, then moves his king's rook to c6: another illegal, impossible, utterly retarded move, placing his rook directly in the line of attack for my advancing pawn. Beside me, Ti-Gor shares in my puzzlement, or that is 33
The Snydering how I choose to interpret the trickle of warm transmission fluid that erupts from between his paralyzed rear legs. "ASK." "Why?" I ask, and then outrage floods through me and I keep going, my voice rising with each word. "Why that? What the hell is that? Why in God's name would anyone do that?" I am not concerned for Tanya Snyder's feelings. I am quite sure she does not possess any. "TO MAKE HER MINE." He nods to the board: "YOU MAY MAKE YOUR MOVE." Humoring that sad rook at the mercy of my pawn, I continue with my Italian Game: king's knight to f3. "To make her yours? What does that mean?" He moves his queen's pawn sideways, to e7. "NOTHING UNCHANGED BY MY WILL CAN BELONG TO ME. WEALTH DOES NOT BELONG TO ITS HOLDER UNTIL SPENDING TRANSFORMS IT INTO THE INSTRUMENT OF HIS WILL; OBJECTS DO NOT BECOME POSSESSIONS UNTIL THEY ARE INDWELT AND MARKED BY THE WILL OF THEIR MASTER. GRILLED CHEESE?" He extends a hand, which holds a tinfoil pouch emblazoned with the logo of regional gas station/convenience store chain Sheetz. Oh, hell no. "No, thank you." "I'LL HAVE ONE, IF YOU DON'T MIND." "Not at all." 34
The Snydering He holds the pouch higher, and suddenly Wyllie is there again. He takes the pouch from Snyder's outstretched hand and ferries it behind my back, around the woman-thing, to where Ti-Gor is standing. Ti-Gor turns his hopeless flickering gaze toward me and holds it. There is a smooth mechanical sound; a narrow slot opens on the top of his cranium, revealing a slow-moving conveyor belt and several glowing heating elements. His head is a toaster oven. Wyllie places the Sheetz pouch in Ti-Gor's headslot and steps smartly back around to Snyder's side. One wonders where that grilled cheese sandwich will exit. Ti-Gor holds his gaze on me for several more seconds, as though trying to communicate something deeper than the mild sensation of heat radiating out of the top of his head, then looks away. "IT IS YOUR MOVE." King's bishop to c4. "So you turned your wife into… you did that to your wife, so that you could own her? Couldn't you have stopped at a round of Botox?" He picks up his king and queen, swaps their positions, and puts them back on the board. "YOU FAIL TO COMPREHEND. THERE IS NO STOPPING: THERE IS ONLY THE MONEY, AND THE SPENDING. IN BRINGING THE MONEY AND MY WIFE TOGETHER, I MAKE BOTH OF THEM MINE." "Part of me is a Nintendo," Ti-Gor interjects. 35
The Snydering "So that's what all the capricious spending is about?" I take the rook. This places my pawn in position to be taken, but it's a trade I'm happy to make. The slight smile returns. "A MAN MAKES HIS OWN WHATEVER HIS WILL CHANGES. SIX FLAGS IS MINE BECAUSE I WILLED IT TO HAVE AN OFFICIAL MATTRESS. THE FEDERALLY PROTECTED LAND THAT ABUTS THIS HOUSE IS MINE BECAUSE I CHOPPED DOWN ITS TREES FOR A BETTER VIEW OF THE C&O CANAL. THE WATERS OF THE CANAL ARE MINE BECAUSE I POOP IN THEM IN THE MOONLIGHT." He moves his queen — illegally — to f1, immediately next to my king. "CHECK." "Sometimes I can play Excitebike in my head," Ti-Gor offers. "I lose on purpose. So that I can know what freedom feels like." I take his queen. He seems not to notice. "And what about Albert Haynesworth?" After a minute of concentration, he picks up a pawn, waves it in a large circular pattern over the board, places it back in its original location, and sits back, satisfied. "MY WILL MADE HIM FAT AND BORED. HE BELONGS TO ME." "Seems like an awful lot of money to have paid for the privilege." His serene expression does not change. "YOU JOKE, BUT DO NOT UNDERSTAND. MONEY IS 36
The Snydering NOTHING. ONLY THE USE OF IT HAS VALUE. A FOOL PAYS ONE DOLLAR FOR A SNICKERS BAR WHEN HE CAN HAVE THE SAME SNICKERS BAR FOR A MILLION. YOUR MOVE." A single, discordantly happy DING! sound emerges from somewhere inside Ti-Gor at my side; there is the smooth sound of another slot opening toward the back of his body. A tinfoil pouch rockets out of his rear-end and sails into the darkness of the rest of the room, trailing smoke behind it. Looking over my shoulder, I see it smack into a distant wall and plop to rest on a pile of similar-looking tinfoil pouches, each adorned with the Sheetz logo. This pile is ringed by dozens upon dozens of dead flies. "Your sandwich is ready, sir," intones Ti-Gor. I move my second knight into play. Mrs. Snyder, I notice, has roused from her stillness and begun rocking from foot to foot in a manner that suggests impatience. Likewise, Tony Wyllie is quickly bending and unbending his knees at Snyder's side, his upper body bopping up and down, like a two-year-old who needs to pee. Snyder lifts both his king and his remaining rook and, very calmly and with an air of imperturbable assurance, places them on the floor beneath the table. With a sproinnng! that echoes around the room, Ti-Gor's right eye ejects its lightbulb. He lowers his head. "I could have had a better fate," he says. "I could have been a throw rug." 37
The Snydering This cannot go on much longer. "YOU ARE HERE TO JUDGE ME," Snyder says, quite matter-of-factly. I say nothing. It is pointless to deny. "ALLOW ME TO SHOW YOU MY BENEFICENCE." He nods in a beckoning sort of way, and within moments, both Wyllie and Mrs. Snyder are on their knees, one on either side of him, pawing at his legs like dogs, gazing up at him adoringly. Their worshipfulness; their childlike devotion: I want to drown them in a toilet. He smiles at them. "ARE YOU HUNGRY, MY PETS?" They whimper like animals. Snyder reaches into the recesses of his robe; when he pulls his hand back out, it is clenched around something small and rectangular. Their pawing becomes more frantic. Wyllie is panting; the horrible woman-thing is drooling copiously. Snyder opens his hand: it is full of credit cards. He holds them up over his two supplicants and lets go, allowing the cards to rain down on their heads. "HERE. FEED." Here are two adult human beings, composed (mostly) of flesh and blood, grabbing up fistfuls of plastic credit cards and wedging them into their mouths. Here they are, chewing frantically on them, making grateful-sounding little grunts and moans as they gnaw. See how they grab up new fistfuls of 38
The Snydering cards and jam them into their still-full maws. Don't you want to kill them? I do. The cantilevered travesty of a woman turns toward me; tears are streaming out of her eyes — pain and ecstasy, insanity and gratitude. Through the mouthful of firm plastic, she tries to speak. "EHCKS GEHGLIGHUSH!" she gargles. Flames erupt from Ti-Gor's empty eyesocket. This is it, this is the moment. Daniel M. Snyder, you have trashed business ventures large and small; you have antagonized the powerful and the weak; you have disgraced the most powerful organization in the sports world; you have turned a noble jungle cat into a skateboard-riding, oil-shitting derelict. I am your judge, and you are guilty. You must die. I stand and draw the pistol from my jacket. There is a deafening roar from the deep shadows behind me, so loud and so sudden that I reflexively turn to look. It comes lurching out of the darkness toward me, Snyder's ultimate protector, his final trump card. Its torso is a flailing mass of limbs, dozens upon dozens of them, flapping and wriggling in every direction. It skitters forward hideously on eight legs. At the end of an impossibly long, telescoping neck, bowed beneath the fifteen-foot ceilings of the enormous room, with blood-red light pouring out of its eyes, is the head of what used to be — what may still be — Vinnie Cerrato. As I watch, agape, the face splits open down the middle and the two halves pull apart; white fluid 39
The Snydering spews from the space between them. It roars again, and charges at me. I have dropped my gun. I may have dropped my bowels as well. A recurrent squeaking sound catches my attention: Ti-Gor is very slowly wheeling himself into the space between me and this oncoming atrocity. Is this a sacrifice on my behalf? Or a desperate grasp at sweet, sweet death? He raises his smoking, melting head and yells the answer: "HOT BLOODED! CHECK IT AND SEE! GOT A FEVER OF FOURTEEN HUNDRED DEGREES CENTIGRADE!" His entire body bursts into flames. Unfortunately, Ti-Gor's time as a kamikaze incendiary bomb is short-lived and ill-fated: as the Cerrato-monster charges, Ti-Gor, still burning quite festively, rolls right past it and bumps into the same door through which I entered this room, pushing it open. I like to think that he may have distracted the beast for a split second: with a great crashing sound, Cerrato's head smashes into the hanging chandelier, scattering crystal shards all across the room. Its legs — all eight of them, including, I now notice, three that are affixed to Rollerblades — go flying out from under it, and the monster goes down. The room is quite silent, except for the hearty crackling sound of Ti-Gor's burning husk. I turn back around to see Snyder still seated calmly on his divan. Wyllie and the woman are still chewing away at their meal, now with their mouths bleeding profusely. One 40
The Snydering of Mrs. Snyder's breasts is spraying a fine stream of silicone gel onto the floor in front of her. It appears that, during the last few moments, I managed to take both of Snyder's bishops and three of his pawns while not even seated at the table. Even with his dark glasses on, Snyder's smile is unmistakably one of triumph. "IT APPEARS I'VE WON OUR LITTLE GAME," he says. The Cerratomonster stirs noisily. Fine. Sounds good. Maybe I don't exactly run out of the room, but I certainly don't saunter, either. *** Back up the curving corridor. Through the door at the end, into the brightly-lit great hall, still teeming with partygoers totally unaware of the goings-on elsewhere in the house. Through the crowd as calmly as I can proceed — "…I had to sell the house in Bethesda: it really just didn't have enough rooms for all of my indentured Haitians…" — to another door. Back up the hallway to the great staircase. Down the stairs two at a time. Across the foyer. Out the front door. Down the driveway. Up the dark street toward the main road. I hail a cab; he pulls to the curb. My mind races on the ride back to the hotel. What happened tonight? What did it mean? Most importantly, what will I tell my employers tomorrow? That a fifteen-foot-tall robo-Cerrato attacked me and I lost my nerve? That I was saved by a Nintendo on wheels? 41
The Snydering Twenty minutes later, we pull up in front of the hotel. Climbing out of the car, I shudder at the sudden certainty that back there, in that madhouse, Wyllie and Mrs. Snyder are still chewing their plastic dinner; the thing that was once Vinnie Cerrato has dragged itself to its many feet and skittered back into some black recess to mewl and hunt for cockroaches; Snyder has more money to spend, more of the world to transfigure into the stuff of his personal slime-trail. Ti-Gor's titanium body is still searingly hot to the touch. I hope he's dead. Deader, I should say. I reach for my back pocket to pay the driver. Why was I allowed deep inside Snyder's home if he knew why I was there? What was he trying to get from— Wait. My wallet is gone. That son of a bitch.
The Snydering Chapter VII: Mr. Snyder Likes His Corpses Fresh "Lose something?" the driver asked. "I had... I mean, I thought... I mean, yes, sorry." My wallet was somewhere in the Snyder manse. For all I knew, Wyllie and the abomination that had been Mrs. Snyder were chewing away at its contents as I spoke. "I can pay you, it's just going to take me a few minutes to set up a line of credit at the hotel." "Don't worry about it," he said. He turned around to face me. I hadn't noticed anything about him at all. I was too shaken from the things that I had seen, things that were unholy, things that no man should have to face. I sensed that I had only skimmed the surface of the horrors. For a moment, I was worried that the driver himself had been altered by Snyder's greed in some way, but he seemed normal. The only odd thing about him was the hat—the kind of grayish fedora that had gone forever out of style when Tom Landry died. "I know you," I said. "From the lockout." "Keep quiet, then. Let's drive around a bit. Unless you'd rather go back to your hotel." I nodded, and he put the cab in gear. We took a couple of laps around the monuments before he spoke again. "Do you want back in there?" he asked. I wanted my wallet back. I wanted to complete my mission. Even more importantly, I wanted my dignity, or what was left of it. I wanted to destroy 43
The Snydering whatever other unGodly aberrations of nature and science Snyder had at his disposal. "I need to go back. I'm afraid. I won't say that I'm not. But I need to do something." "You want to strike a blow." "How do I do that?" "You are asking the wrong gentleman. Not that I didn't do my best. We tried. We got a lot of concessions. But it wasn't enough. Part of it was the paycheck, but most of it was the allure of the game. They wanted to play. They will always want to play, even as it destroys them. That is what they do." "That's not what I do." "No. That's why you have to go back in. I just have one question for you." "What's that?" I asked, although I knew what it would be. "Are you ready to do what it takes to get back in there and destroy Snyder?" "He pulls a knife, I pull a gun, that kind of thing?" "Don't be flip. This isn't the time to be flip. This is the time to die." "Die?" He slipped me a piece of paper, a clipping from one of the local newspapers. It was an obituary of one Langley Landover, dead at 74. He was an accountant, recently retired from from the Treasury Department, who left behind a wife and three grieving children. 44
The Snydering The funeral was in two days. "What does this have to do with anything?" I asked. "Did you read the last line?" I had. It said longtime Redskins season-ticket holder. "I don't get it." "You will." He pulled into a large hospital complex. It was dank and cold in the corridors under the hospital. "Are we going to the morgue?" I asked. It wasn't totally a joke. "No. That's where Mr. Landover is, bless his soul. If you're going to replace him, we need to get your core temperature down." He opened a door that said PHYSICAL REHABILITATION. "In here. Strip." "Wait. Just wait. If you have a plan, I need to know right now why it involves me taking my clothes off." "Because you don't want them to get wet, that's why." Inside the room, there was a whirlpool and several fifty-pound sacks of ice. "I would have thought this was obvious. If you're going to get back in that house, there's only one way to do it." I poked a tenative finger into the water. It was already cold, and I knew it could get colder. "You want to send me in there in a body bag." "It is better than coming out that way. Strip. There's not much time. Mr. Snyder likes his corpses fresh."
The Snydering I got in the whirlpool, and the driver emptied the first bag of ice. "Would you like some reading material while you wait?" My teeth were already chattering. "S-s-sure." "This is the standard NFL Personal Seat License agreement. Note that I said standard—this is the leaguewide agreement. Not just for the Redskins. You understand?" The agreement was on a clipboard; he put it in front of my face. The highlighted section said: "EARLY TERMINATION: If this agreement is terminated by the untimely death of the Applicant, the Special Procedures in Section 4-XVII:a(viii) of the NFL Franchise Agreement will apply." "That's just l-l-legal mumbo jumbo," I said. "What d-d-d-oes it mean?" "Well, that's the necrophilia clause. If you buy a PSL, and you die before it expires, it triggers the necrophilia clause. That's what was about to happen to Mr. Landover. He didn't read the fine print. Of course, even if he had read it, it wouldn't have mattered—your average fan doesn't get to see documents like the franchise agreement." I couldn't feel my legs anymore. The driver poured in another sack of ice. It hit the rest of my body like needles. "S-s-s-o..." I couldn't say anymore. I could barely breathe. I would have given a thousand dollars for a Sheetz grilled cheese sandwich right then. 46
The Snydering "So, if you buy a PSL, that means that the owner of your local team has the right to access your dead corpse for sexual purposes for up to four hours." "Wh-wh-why?" "Well, I can't answer that. What I can tell you is that this has been something that has gone on for a very long time. No one knows how long. Maybe the Rooneys know. All I know for sure is that everyone in the upper hierarchy of the National Football League is a necrophiliac. They all do it. Al Davis... God, you wouldn't want to know what it's like to watch Al Davis rape the hell out of a dead Raiders fan. I've seen it. I wish I could unsee it. It's disturbing. But Snyder... he's not what you would call a normal necrophiliac. If you know what I mean." I couldn't feel any more of my body below the neck. The pain had gone, but I was worried about hypothermia and the long-term fate of my reproductive system. "It explains everything, when you think about it. Not just the owner's attitude towards the fans, although that's part of the reason. Why do you think they encourage so much beer-drinking? Why do they encourage so much unhealthy food? They want a steady stream of dead season-ticket holders. And then there's the whole outreach to women aspect, which came about because..." "MRRFFF." I said, which was the closest I could manage to "Get me out of this damned whirlpool." 47
The Snydering The driver pulled the drain on the whirlpool and rolled over a gurney. The body bag was already draped over the top. He motioned over to the darkness, and a couple of hospital orderlies helped me out of the whirlpool and onto the bag. "Are you ready? Blink once if you are." I blinked. I was ready. I was going to infiltrate the Snyder manse as a corpse, and confront not only his madness, but the whole necrophiliac monstrosity of the NFL. "Godspeed, Mr. Landover. Godspeed." He zipped up the body bag, and I was left alone and cold in the dark.