I wasn't, as Basil has suggested, going through the drawers of the desks at The New Criterion willy-nilly. I was searching them methodically, with an almost Teutonic precision, modelling my behavior on that of the lynx or weasle. If he hadn't been so busy submitting the children's art to destructive criticism Basil might have noticed the white cotton cloves, sterilized tweezers and collection of little ziplock bags.
What was I after? Hard to say. It was a case of I'll-know-it-when-I-see-it. In this case, I didn't see it. But all was not lost. I once again enjoyed the heady feeling of seeing certain volumes that have graced my shelf grace the shelf of Roger Kimball. Foremost among them being Washington's Crossing and Paul Revere's Ride, both by David Hackett Fischer. It gives one such a yeasty uplift knowing that one hasn't been completely wasting one's reading time.
Anyway, the assorted brightly-colored liquids I had taken aboard at Fiendish's club--always against the better judgement of the Fiendish One, who persisted in suggesting something he called "caution"--had made the joints somewhat looser and the mind somewhat more agile. I'm not saying I thought of anything brilliant. Like Shakespeare's gatekeeper in Macbeth, I agree that the whole point about liquor is that it gives one the sense of budding potential. Actual results aren't as important as that incipient feeling that at any moment you're ging to rip a modern Ode on a Grecian Urn or Circus Animal's Desertion off your chest. Or later into the evening, perhaps discover the wheel or bring home the secret of fire just to amuse the kiddies.
By the way, Basil, I have it on impeccable authority that the real "business" Fiendish was "called away" on at the last minute had nothing to do with making the wheels of Jurisprudence run more smoothly in Gotham. No, seeing what he was up against--especially after I attempted to raffle off one of the paintings over the bar in hopes of raising enough cash to facilitate more transactions at the counter--Fiendish immediately went back to his office on the hundredth-and-something floor of his swanky firm and started Pulling Strings. The commissioner of police. The mayor's office. The local League of Concerned Citizens for the Suppression of Rannygazzoo (it doesn't spell anything; don't bother trying). All to make our way smoother by alerting the Powers That Be of what was about to Be.
I call that darned sporting. Too bad, as events turned out, that not everyone got the memo...