Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

That's my Jake

He's been in town a couple of days.

I got to Bennett’s office twenty minutes early, just so I could suss the place out. I got into the habit when I had to hit the probation office. The first couple of times, I was pissed off and my PO wasn’t cutting me any slack, at all, and I was close to being sent back to prison. Then I noticed how he was seeing four or five people an hour, and when the one ahead of me came out without a slouch to him, things went better between me and the PO. So those few minutes of watching people come in and leave and see what sort of emotional turmoil or joy they had going on helped me figure out whether or not I needed to make the son-of-a-bitch happy or could just slide.

Now, I didn’t do it to be nice to the guy. Even on his best days, my PO was prick. But I did not want to go back inside, because even with the stupid restrictions and impossible demands and ridiculous attitudes of the probation office, it was better than letting some fucker you’re sharing a cell with treat you like his personal slave...and I mean that in every way that you can think of. And it was better than dealing with asshole guards who think they’re as good as cops and keep trying to prove it to you, knowing full well that if you even thought about hitting back at them, you’d get years added to your sentence. And other convicts who were out to show how they’re the alpha-dog and you’re not even good enough to be their bitch.

You learn how to read people faster than they can take a breath, in prison. You learn who’ll cover your back and who’ll knife you for a drag on a joint. You learn how to talk a guard into letting you do anything you want without doing something he wants. You want to see country in miniature? Spend a week in one of its jails and you’ll know all you need to know.

So the reception area of Bennett’s office was one of those serviceable spaces that fronts for a dozen offices just past the big gray wall, with a semi-pretty receptionist behind a massive desk and commercial chairs; it could’ve been a doctor’s waiting room or an airport terminal or the next step to hell, for all you could tell. The place was almost full, but the only people ahead of me with Bennett were this guy and his lawyer, and the guy’s hands were shaking, a little. His lawyer was oh-so-softly explaining something to him, like the best deal he could get, more than likely, is one that’d ruin his life. I started watching them. The client was a little dumpy but dressed nice enough – not high-end but not Target, either. Closing in on middle age. A fat wedding band on his finger. His nails polished and perfect. His hair conservative and his posture just right. He screamed closet case.

His lawyer was actually good-looking. Sandy hair and earnest features on a strong jaw. His suit was probably JCP but it fit in all the right places. He had his right hand on the client’s left shoulder as his left hand gripped his briefcase so tightly, his knuckles were white. I don’t think his nails’d ever been manicured.

Now I don’t know why, exactly, but something about him seemed off. Not gay or closeted, but not real. Like he was acting a part. I focused on him. Saw how tight his neck muscles were. How he made little jigs with his head to emphasize a point to word or something he really, really wanted the client to understand or accept or give into or something, but the other people talking and the hum of the heating unit and traffic audible outside mixed in to make it a drone, so I couldn’t make out what they were saying.

Then the client snapped, “That can’t do that to me!”

That’s when it hit me what was wrong about the lawyer, and I popped off with, “Yes, they can.”

They both looked at me, and the lawyer said, “Excuse me, but this is none of your business.”

“They can do anything they want,” I kept on with. “The DA has the power of the police and the state behind him. If he wants to fuck you, he’s gonna fuck you. Only question is, how much of a fight’ll you put up.”

“Hey!” the lawyer snapped. “Butt out!”

And the room got a lot quieter.

“You’re not helping, any,” said the client.

“No, you’re not helping,” I shot back. “I don’t know what you’re accused of, but you picked the wrong lawyer to defend you. He’s scared shitless he’ll have to go up in court and -- .”

The lawyer bolted to his feet and snarled, “Shut up! C’mon, Gary, let’s go over here.” He started towards some chairs on the opposite side of the room.

Gary slowly got to his feet, his eyes hurling vicious pain at me. “You don’t know what I’m up against.”

“Don’t I?” I said.

“I have a wife. Three kids! I can’t go to jail.”

“So you’ll give into blackmail?”

That’s when a tall, slick, perfectly dressed man who had such perfect wavy brown hair that had such a perfect touch of gray at his temples I wondered if he dyed it that way, appeared by the door in the gray wall, looked around, and focused his ice cold eyes on me. Obviously, this was James A. Bennett, Deputy District Attorney, and I could tell he already knew who I was. And that he already didn't like me.
“What’s going on here?” he snapped.

Gary’s lawyer all but jumped over to him and pointed at me. “Jim, this guy’s messing with my client.”

Jim, huh? I got to my feet, smiling, as he tried to growl me into submission with, “Who’re you?”

“Jacob Blaine,” I said back. “We have an appointment -- .”

“We HAD an appointment. You’ll leave this office, right now, or I’ll have you arrested.”

“On what charge?”

“Start with you interfering with a criminal investigation.”

I laughed and turned to Gary. “Dude, you really do need a new lawyer. The one you got now is gonna fuck you, but good.”


Michael said...

It's interesting to get into Jake's head for a change. I can't wait to read more.

JamTheCat said...

Thanks, Mike! This is just a first pass so it'll probably change a bit, but when Jake's having fun, so am I.