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Pâté de Foie Gras
by Steven K. Smith

Dr. Charles Jansson entered the conference room and took a seat near the podium. He stuck a thumb drive in the port by the lectern and reviewed his notes while he waited. A minute or two later people around him stood. He flipped the folder closed and stood as well.

Mr. Hargrove shuffled in with a personal attendant supporting him. He took the seat at the head of the table with the air of royalty taking the throne. A picture of a fifty year younger Caleb Hargrove shaking then-president Ronald Reagan's hand hung in a gilt frame on the side wall.

"Sit," Mr. Hargrove said.

Charles sat and surveyed the room. He recognized only Mr. Hargrove himself and his personal physician.

"Well, Dr. Janson," Mr. Hargrove wheezed, "they tell me you have some results."

Charles stood. He began his presentation with the anecdotal accounts and epidemiological studies, and then the carefully controlled—and carefully hidden—laboratory trials, but Mr. Hargrove cut him off.

"Get to the conclusion. Can you help me?"

Charles put down his notes. "Yes."

"Well let's get started. What do I need?"

"Pâté de foie gras and extra virgin olive oil."

There was a pause. "You're joking," Mr. Hargrove said. "I give you a state-of-the-art medical laboratory—stuff the CDC doesn't even have—the best researchers available, and that's what you come up with? Goose liver paste and olive oil?"

"Yes sir, that's right."

"So I just eat that and my prostate cancer goes away, is that what you're saying?"

"Ah—no sir. You don't eat it. It's applied topically."

"I rub it on my body?"

"Well, it has to be applied directly to the prostate."

"To the prostate."

"As close as possible, yes. Rubbed in vigorously, for at least ten minutes once a day."

"To the prostate?"

"Yes sir. Intra-rectally," he added to be sure there was no misunderstanding.

"You're sure this will work?"

"The results are unequivocal. It works."

"You discovered this from anecdotal reports? People are doing this?"

"Some people have tastes that we might consider unusual."

He glowered at Charles. "Hrumph. Are you sure this is safe?"

"Some care must be taken with the application, but yes sir, it's safe."

Mr. Hargrove looked at his physician, who shrugged. "I'd want to see the data, but I can't imagine it being unsafe."

"Well, it's no worse than some of the alternatives this quack has proposed."

"There is one other factor," Charles said.

Mr. Hargrove's eyes narrowed as he looked back to Charles. "What other factor?"

Whatever component in the pâté that has the effect apparently works in synergy with the body's hormonal environment at the time of application, particularly with regard to dopamine and oxytocin, which must be conducive to—"

"In English, boy!" Mr. Hargrove tried to bellow the words, but they came out as just an extra-loud wheeze.

Charles raised his eyes heavenward. Wincing, he said, "For the treatment to work, sir, you have to enjoy it."