I set down the 'phone. "You interest me strangely, Reeves. Do you mean to say the odds are not with me?"
"An outcome in your favor would require Bishop Legendre to be assigned to Rome, your Excellency."
"Precisely, Reeves. Then all the other reassignments will follow as the night the day. And on Pimples's appointment, I happen to have a gold-embossed tip, laying on velvet. That's what makes the whole proposition such a daisy."
"It is true, your Excellency, that Bishop Legendre's assignation to the Congregation is regarded as a fait accompli by those in the know in the Vatican."
I furrowed the b. "You speak in riddles, Reeves."
"The matter is multilayered, your Excellency."
"What you give with one hand, you take with another."
"This is a situation that illustrates the adage, 'If it 'twere done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly,' your Excellency."
"And where does the cat come in, Reeves?"
"I thought there was a cat i' the adage."
"That would be a different adage, your Excellency. 'The cat loves fish, but does not like to wet her paws.'"
"I'm not altogether certain I've ever heard that one, Reeves."
"It is alluded to in a monologue by Lady Macbeth, your Excellency, who bemoans that her husband is letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would.'"
I chewed on this for a moment, then said, "Bring us back round to Pimples, Reeves."
"Yes, your Excellency. Bishop Legendre's appointment is to be announced the first Tuesday of next month. Prior to that time, however, he will be visited by Cardinal Vittoria."
"Not unexpected, Reeves. Vittoria is something of the power behind the throne in the Congregation."
"An apt observation, your Excellency. His visit is, as it were, the final T to be crossed prior to the announcement of Bishop Legendre's appointment."
"But why should his visit throw off Pimples's appointment? He must already know all about him."
"They have never spent time together socially, your Excellency. In the three days Cardinal Vittoria will be a guest of Bishop Legendre's, it is likely the cardinal will discover something off-putting about him."
"Off-putting about Pimples? Why, he's the soul of geniality!"
"Yes, your Excellency. But, as is common among such open-hearted persons, there is one subject on which he is adamant and humourless, a subject on which Cardinal Vittoria happens to hold an equally adamant, but opposite, position."
"Do you mean to suggest, Reeves, that Vittoria might come away so hot under the collar he'd squash Pimples's appointment?"
"The potential is there, your Excellency."
"This is red hot stuff, Reeves! What's the bone of contention?"
"The superiority of American football to soccer, your Excellency."