Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


So Pete Singer now knew what Viagra was, and he knew also that the U.S. ambassador was using it to aid him in doing unimaginable things to Pete's mother. Pete's mother had just found out from Pete's lawyer that Pete was ensconced at the Metropol Hotel selling contraband Viagra. Pete's lawyer, the smelly Mikhail Mikhaylovich, had stumbled upon this shocking piece of news when his ex-wife, the long-legged Tanya Mikhaylovich, called him up from a holding cell after being swept up by prostitute-hunting police at the Metropol. Mikhaylovich had naturally been beside himself because: his ex-wife was always getting herself, him and other people into trouble; it was always the kind of trouble that made Mikhaylovich ache with jealousy; it was the last kind of trouble that his client, Pete Singer, could tolerate, because he was already up on espionage charges, and drug-smuggling charges would surely do him in. Mikhaylovich had phoned Pete's mother and asked her to come to the Metropol for a talk with her son. Before setting off, Pete's mother had phoned Lena, Pete's supposed fiancee.

"Peter, I need to speak with you." She uttered her stilted opening line too soon, while she was still coming through the door.

"Actually, mother, I need to speak with you," Pete retorted with rather more confidence.

"What you are doing here is unacceptable," Nancy Singer persisted.

"No, what you are doing here is unacceptable," Pete responded, and rushed to get his next shot in before his mother opened her mouth. "You don't have a leg to stand on telling me what to do anymore."

"I am your mother," said Nancy, stating the obvious, as mothers and shrinks do. As we know, she was both.

"I'm surprised you remember that much. Maybe you recall you have a husband as well? My father?" Pete's voice was getting squeaky, and this was making him even more angry, and that was coming through as righteousness.

"I remember a lot more than you'll ever know," said Nancy Singer, retorting to the only sure route available to the unfaithful spouse -- implying there is something unspeakably wrong with your marriage. Well, there usually is. "I also remember that you have no right to speak to your mother like this."

"I have every right to speak to you however I want," Pete squealed as his mother stared in disbelief and the Mikhayloviches cowered in matching armchairs. "And I can also take measures. And if you don't want me to, then you better stop what you're doing. And I demand that you leave Moscow immediately and go back to Boston. Otherwise ..."

"Shut up!" This distinctive directive was accompanied by the sound of the suite door shutting. Lena was in the room, looking more fabulous than Pete remembered. Possibly because she was inaccessible. Possibly because she was furious. "You little prude," she continued. "Where the hell do you get off? Why are you the only one who has the right to be happy and everyone else has to serve you? Not that you know how to be happy, of course."

Pete hadn't expected this. What had he expected? Hard to say. He basically believed that everyone, at least everyone he might meet, shared the same set of rules about life. Like you don't cheat on your husband. At least not if you are Pete Singer's mother. And you don't sleep with a married man. At least not with the U.S. ambassador.

"Where I get off, if you are really interested, is with having some morals," Pete shouted. "I don't know if any of you remember what they are, but they have something to do with marriage and family and being faithful."

He liked that. That sounded good. "Pete Singer," Lena began, and Pete saw that her face was growing distorted. She was apparently not the least bit amused. She was angrier than Pete had ever seen anyone be. "Ever since I have known you, you have been telling one lie after another. You lied to your parents about being in Moscow, you lied to them about being engaged to me. You lied to your readers, pretending to know what you were talking about. You lied to everyone about getting yourself into this stupid Viagra scam. And you expect everyone to forgive you and come and save you. You are so used to it, half the time you don't even seem to know you are lying. You seem to believe all your stupid stuff."

"Well, doesn't that excuse me?" Pete asked. "Why do you say he lied about your engagement?" asked Nancy Singer.

"Is this all some sort of joke?" asked Tanya Mikhaylovich.