The Practice
The Means

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Written by: David E. MachiaKelley

Back in court, Eugene's questioning the security guard. The guard admits that the man he suspected of shoplifting had not, in fact, shoplifted anything. He allows that on this occasion, he was mistaken. Eugene asks how long he's worked at Saveworld Drugs. He says five and half years. Eugene asks him to estimate the percentage of the customer base that was African-American; the manager guesses fifty percent. Eugene pulls out some Saveworld survey results and tells him that it's fifty-six percent. Eugene asks if anyone else in the store is authorized to stop suspected shoplifters. He says no. Eugene asks how often he stops people for shoplifting; the manager thinks it's about once or twice a day. Eugene gets him to agree that, based on Saveworld's hours of operation, that means he stops about sixty customers a month. He then asks how many of the customers he's stopped in the last month were white. The manager says he knows what Eugene is trying to do; Eugene tells him to just answer the question. The manager claims not to recall. Eugene: "You don't recall stopping any white customers, or you don't recall stopping any white customers in the last month, or you just don't recall anything?" The manager says he doesn't recall stopping any white customers. Eugene: "So even though forty-four percent of your customers are white, zero percent were stopped for shoplifting? That would mean a hundred percent of suspected shoplifters were African-American!" The manager just stares at Eugene. The white jury looks pretty unmoved.

Bobby's at dinner with Helen. He says he's not so sure it was a good idea to make the trial all about race, what with that white Wellesley jury and all. Helen thinks it's a perfect case for this strategy. She thinks that these people, coming from a "rich, affluent white town," are desperate to reach out to minorities so long as they don't actually have to meet one. Bobby accuses her of being a cynic. She tells him to trust her, that white suburbanites feel guilty about their swimming pools. Helen says, "Showing compassion to an African-American is a way of atonement. I slept with a guy from Wellesley once. We came this close to even having dinner." Um, huh? Bobby looks mildly annoyed and she says it was a joke. If so, it's lost on me. It might have made sense if Helen was black. Bobby asks earnestly, "Why do you do that? Try to shock me?" Again I say, huh? Helen says, "The truth?" Bobby replies, "No. Lie to me." She tells him she thinks he's a little buttoned-down. He says he's not. They quibble about this for a bit. She rephrases and calls him "sexually conservative, then." The hell? Where's all this coming from, and what's it got to do with anything? He tells her she knows nothing about what he's like sexually. She agrees, saying they've been on three dates and she doesn't have a clue, and says either he's not attracted to her, or...Bobby interjects, "What am I supposed to do? Attack you? Is that what you want?" Helen looks very serious. He says, "Well?" Helen: "I'm thinking." Bobby smirks and laughs. I rub my forehead and manage to keep my fingers from curling into a claw and gouging out my own eyes.

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The Practice

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