The Minstrel

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51


One fine, dyslexic day in November where the weather was going through hot flashes and cold spells, a day before the onslaught of Black Friday and soccer moms with nothing better to do, Russell decided to ditch his flophouse buddies and go to this mall in some oshkosh place in Roclkland County and look for Cindy. After all, she was a woman, and all women wanted to look good, even those who lived on the streets and stole for a living, so it didn’t seem totally illogical. Right now he was in a Wal-Mart hanging around like the other bored retirees and losers were doing. No one noticed him at all. Russell didn’t know if he liked being lumped in with bored retirees and losers, but hey, he could hang out incognito, and that was all that counted.

The Wal-Mart rationalization worked well until he was threatened by three different women with rape/sexual harassment/stalking, all because he broke some unwritten PC law by tapping them on the shoulder. He was just trying to get them to turn around to see if it was his Cindy. They didn’t really look like her other than being female, but maybe she was wearing some Mardi Gras outfit to avoid being recognized. After all, she was wanted by the police. After that he got himself in hot kiddie pool pee-pee water when he knocked over Elmo. Elmo was holding a guitar, and his hand said “Press Me.” So Russell did. And Elmo began to sing and dig it and go groovy with it with his plastic guitar all lit up, but in his automated mirth and exuberance he began to hustle forward, causing the rest of the overstocked Elmos to lose their balance and fall over. Some kid witnessed the disaster and began to cry saying Elmo died, and the kid’s yuppie father accused Russell for being a heartless jerk for causing his kid pain, so Russell accused the yuppie of being homosexual for being so bent out of shape over a stupid doll. Again, not PC, and Russell wasn’t even sure where the rebuttal came from, but a comeback was a comeback and he could stand tall now.

After all this insanity, he moved his vigil to the front of the store in between the two sets of revolving doors by the classified section. Besides if Cindy did come in, he’d have a better shot of seeing her here anyway, so he figured it all worked out for the best. While surveilling, he glanced over the classifieds. There was some woman named Sylvia who’d give violin lessons in your home for reasonable rates. Russell imagined her to be a big fat woman who was fifty, a virgin and a vapid voyeur, especially with her emphatic CALL ME! YOUR DREAMS ARE WAITING! As a conclusion to her ad. It gave him the heebie jeebies. Then he saw an advertisement that proclaimed, if you have urinary problems, take this phone number with those little strips of paper that you rip off, bearing said number. Russell wondered what pathetic slob would rip off one of these numbers, announcing to anyone passing by, hi, I’m a doofus who can’t take a whiz. I’ve peed and can’t get up. Suddenly, as if the gods defending the souls of the incontinently challenged sought revenge, Russell was afflicted with a sudden pain in his groin so intense that the concept of running up the stairs where the lavatory was made him want to scream in pain. So after knocking into various strollers and walkers and amidst a cacophony of watch it sonny/jerks, he charged outside and found the nearest bush to relieve himself. All relief,

like he did after a hard day’s work and a couple of beers. Speaking of beer, which the smell of his whiz reminded him of, he could use one now. He looked up and found he was in luck, seeing one of those bar restaurants whose big specialty are nachos and Friday night happy hour. He looked at his watch– just after noon. Hey no one could accuse him of being an alkie who needed that morning hair off the dog to get through the day, he thought cheerily, warmed by the thought of spiritual relief, emphasize spirit.

The bar part of the establishment was empty even though the restaurant half was filling up with sweaty commuters on the half-hour lunch hour. Russell was glad those days of rush hour consumption were behind him, as he sunk into the velveteen bar stool and let himself exhale and relax. The bartender was one of these fiftyish Irish (apologies, apologies– Irish American) guys whose beefiness conveyed a lifetime of boxing and street brawls, or too much corned beef, or some indeterminate combination and a hairline that had receded all the way to his ears. Russell saw him as a butcher in a past life, complete with an apron and a cleaver. Well, we all have our pasts, he thought as he ordered himself a Guiness despite his inclination towards Heineken. Hey, when you were with the locals, you did as they did.

He was slurping at the beer and enjoying the scenery of waitresses going by in tight pants when this thirtysomething guy in sunglasses sat down two spaces from him. Shit, a whole empty bar, and this asshole plumps his rump right next to him? No one respected space anymore. Russell did a good take of him; always good to remain alert in his line of work. The guy looked like a film actor who decided to cut the bullshit and get a real job, but held onto some of the trappings of the faux lifestyle: a leather jacket over his Armani, cowboy boots instead of real shoes, and of course, the sunglasses. Russell guessed this was casual Friday style, even though when he looked at his watch, it told him it was Tuesday. The kid nodded hello to him, and Russell did likewise to be polite , but then promptly turned his back on the kid. He was glad some kids still had manners, but he wasn’t in the mood to be friendly. He just wanted to mope about Cindy.

Throughout the next hour, that was exactly what he did, refilling his lager periodically. But every so often, he got the sensation of being watched. Finally, he turned around to see the kid still there, with an untouched Tom Collins in front of him. Russell found that kind of weird. Why sit at a bar if you weren’t going to drink? That’s what McDonald’s was for. What Russell really didn’t like about the situation was that he knew the kid was staring at him. Yeah, yeah, he was wearing sunglasses, and Russell couldn’t see his eyes, but Russell knew the kid was staring at him. He had a knack for these kinds of things. He didn’t like this at all. So he decided to put a stop to it and put the kid in his place.

“What do you want?” He insisted.

The kid put on this who me? You’re accusing me of such deviancy? Look. “Excuse me?”

“What do you want? I know you’ve been looking at me for the last hour.”

The man suddenly relaxed, his face warming me into a you busted me expression. “How could you tell,” he said in what Russell assumed was supposed to be yuppie-speak for being palsey-walsey.

“I’m a lawyer. I can tell a lot of things. Like, you’ve been watching me for the last hour because you need something from me, but you don’t want to admit it, so you try to get me to react first by boring your eyes into me like some radar from Mir. Well, it worked. Congratulations. So what do you want?”

The man smiled like his spiritual protÉgÉ finally found the right insight to the Buddha’s pondering. Frawley didn’t appreciate this kind of shit from a young punk, and was about to tell his so but the punk spoke first.

“I have something for you.”

“You what?”

“Have something for you. Something that you’ve been looking for.”

“What do you know about what I’m looking for? I don’t even know you.”

The smiled oh so Norman Rockwellish. “But you do know me. I was at the Pavilion yesterday.”

Pavilion? What the hell was the Pavilion? Frawley scanned the damaged bits of his alcoholic brain to retrieve any memory regarding the Pavilion, and had a vague recollection of some doorman putting him in a valet fetched limo, a movie star he represented one time in some sleaze slander case saying hello, a young man with sunglasses handing him snow—oh, yeah. Now he remembered.

“Okay, yeah. The Pavilion.”

“You got away from me just when the party got started.” The man smiled exuberantly. It didn’t go with the rest of the dark persona, and he didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would let something be out of place, unless he intended it to be that way. Russell was leery, but intrigued despite himself. It would be interesting to see what this guy had that he thought Russell couldn’t do without.

“So what do you have that is so vital?”

The man leaned in, CIA style. Russell went along with the pseudo-conspiracy. “I can help you find Cindy,” the man suggested.

Russell bolted upright. “Cindy? Cindy DiEsposito?”

“Cindy Hughes. Her name is Cindy Hughes.” The man emphasized Hughes like it was the password to crack the World Bank. Excuse me for being surnamincally challenged, Russell thought. But his annoyance was immediately superseded by the excitement of seeing Cindy again. His Cindy. Finding her again, well, it would be worth the bullshit of this kid.

“So what can you tell me about her? Her location?” “Yes. I do. I have a message that she wanted you to hear recorded expressly for you. It is in my vehicle.”

“You do. And if you had all this for me, why didn’t you tell me yesterday? How did you know where to find me today? Are you following me, or what?”

The misfitted smile reasserted itself. “You really don’t remember last night, do you?”

“No. I don’t. The liquor hits you a little harder when you get to be my age. So refresh me.”

Oh you’re so witty, the man’s chipmunk cheeks cheered. Mmhmm. Cut the shit and where’s Cindy, Russell mentally snapped. But of course the kid didn’t. “I will answer each of your questions. First, I tried to relay to you Mrs. Hughes’ message last night in your hotel room, but as you have admitted, you were less than cognizant. So I postponed the revelation until I knew you were more sober to hear it. To answer your second question, and to communicate to you why I was at your hotel room, I accompanied you there at your invitation while at the Pavilion. To answer your last question, yes I am following you. Because Mrs. Hughes is asking for you, and her message is urgent.”

“You’re a snow dealer and she’s been confiding in you while on the lam?”

The man put his finger to his lips. Russell didn’t think he’d talked any louder than the punk had, but whatever. “Why do you find this so strange, Mr. Frawley? You’re not such an angel yourself, and yet she considered you a special companion, did she not?”

“You know my name too, huh.” Frawley marveled at his own stupidity. What else had he said under the influence? Did he hand out his social security number too? And he thought he was so suave. “Well okay. I want to hear Cindy’s message. Play it for me, please.”

“I can’t do that for you right here. She is in hiding now, and has to be careful. We don’t know who could be around listening. So if you don’t mind, let’s go to my vehicle, where we can be assured of privacy.”

Even though Russell didn’t like the idea of being lured off somewhere, the guy did have a point. And he did want to know what Cindy said to him. It made him hopeful. He’d thought she’d dumped him for good after the way she’d taken off, but maybe, just maybe what they shared hadn’t just been in his mind, had been something that she had felt too. “All right.”

The two men got up and paid their tabs and headed outside. The atmosphere was back in its menopausal state, so Frawley took off the dapper London wool coat he had been wearing in anticipation of normal November weather. But nothing was normal anymore. That’s why he was walking off with some guy he met last night in a stupor just to see the love of his life once more. The whole world had gone haywire.

So they started walking, and walking. Where the hell were they going? The Appalachian Trail? And where was Mr. Limousine Chauffeur? Cindy wasn’t good enough for him? Now they were by a deserted area that had been siphoned into a warehouse section that no one had bothered with for twenty years other than to throw tons of garbage and other undesirables. The kid was jerking him around. Okay, later for this shit–

“Cindy! Get back in the car!” The kid exclaimed. Russell immediately turned to look in the direction he was yelling to get a glimpse of Cindy. The movement caused him to have his back to the kid for a split second, and in that split second, he found himself headlocked with something so cold that he could feel the freeze through his suit pants and briefs pressed up against what made him different from women. His eyes looked down and made out a carving knife against his balls. This enraged him as much as the threat of death did. This asshole was going to take away his manhood? For what?

“You fucked her!” The maniac spat in his ear. “You fucked her! Didn’t you! You fucked her!”

“Fuck who? Cindy?” If this were in a movie, Russell would be laughing right now. But it wasn’t.

“Yes! Cindy! Cindy Hughes! My wife! You fucked her!”

His wife? Oh, Christ. Just his luck to get himself hooked up with her psycho piece of shit husband. And he thought Joan was bad. Well, maybe he wasn’t as hip, young and fit as Jason or Freddie or Mr. Scream 4 here, but he wasn’t about to go down without some ass-kicking. Especially when castration was an attendant issue.

He clamped his teeth on the arm imprisoning his neck with the gusto of chomping down on a prime rib. That brought the knife perilously close to his manhood, but the psycho backed off in pain that Russell had enough leverage to move backwards. Which he did, bucking into the psycho with all the force he could muster, and seeing the yuppie suede boots right in his way, proceeded to shove his dress shoe heel right on the toes. The man lost his grip on Frawley in surprise, and in his newfound freedom, Russell turned around and headbutted the man’s stomach. Ouch, the guy worked out. But not enough to hold his balance from the blow of a pissed off geezer such as himself. The man doubled over, and Russell finally had total advantage. He kicked the knife from out of the kid’s hands, and pulled out his trusty Magnum. His manhood was thanking him now. Not to mention the rest of his members.

“Who’s in charge now, punk,” he called, a premature victory cry.

The eyes of the punk were full of hatred, rage, of a man who also would not go down without his manhood. Trouble was, Russell had already taken that by screwing the man’s wife. This was a psycho blitz that would not stop until the death, and Russell almost anticipated the man’s resurgence of getting up and lunging at him before it even happened. He looked like one of the moving targets in the firing range by the court. When Frawley practiced there, he managed to get off three shots, pow pow pow, right into the target’s chest. In the real world, there was one pow, and the target never splattered brick red paint all over the place. The eyes refused to die on the psycho even when the rest of him gave it up and fell to the ground, useless now as it had been in life. Looking into his eyes, he felt no remorse for taking this life. It was the first time he killed. He’d always wondered what it would be like if he killed someone. He figured he’d feel something. Even when cops killed they sent them to a shrink for the aftereffects. But he didn’t feel anything. Not with those eyes. He felt he just practiced his daily random act of kindness for the world. Cindy in particular.

Now, to deal with this body. He sure as hell wasn’t going to go to the police with it, even if it technically was self-defense. The Hughes had a lot of money, probably a lot of clout, and Russell knew from experience where that would put him, and he just wasn’t in the mood to deal with the bullshit. It would be advantageous for him if he could make this look like a suicide and have the whole thing go away. Only to do that, he’d have to leave his piece. That would still involve him. Too bad he was a law abiding citizen. If he’d bought it on the black market, all he’d have to do is wipe the piece down, and voila, instant suicide. Suddenly his attention caught a bulge from the man’s pants. Frawley had thought it was a post-mortem hard-on at first, but now looking again, he noticed it was at a really strange angle even for a dead man, like he had been the one castrated. Frawley’s heart thumped in his chest as he knelt to investigate, hoping against hope that it was the alibi that he dreamed for. He found his gloves in his prostrate London wool coat. Anxiety made him fumble with them as he tried to put them on, and his own klutziness increased his frustration, as he continually surveilled the area for any outside activity. None was forthcoming other than distant traffic, and once he did get the gloves on, his courage returned, enabling him to plunge into his task with true gusto as he pulled the leather jacket away to reveal a holster. He now had a winning ticket. His excitement grew, as he reached for the holster, hoping he’d hit the jackpot, hoping, hoping–

He almost screamed with glee. Mr. Patrick Hughes, psycho that he was, at least had class when it came to women and guns. Out popped a Magnum 357, the same as his, and upon further investigation, showed that it also was fully loaded. It was like becoming an instant multimillionaire. Seeing that no attention had been garnered by the first shot, Frawley fired Hughes’ gun once into some garbage heap that he covered up, just to keep everything in alignment before putting the gun in Hughes’ hand. He envisioned what position a body would be in if someone was crazy enough to commit suicide by shooting himself in the chest. After enacting several possibilities (with the safety clip on– he wasn’t about to join Patrick Hughes, thank you) he found that though awkward, it was possible, and finally decided on an angle whereby Hughes’ hand rested on his groin, as though reflexes popped it back. Resisting the urge to plug a couple of shots there, Frawley figured it was good enough. Looking at the knife that almost castrated him, he picked it up and found it fit in his belt buckle like the knights of old. It then dawned on him that Hughes could have easily taken him out with the gun and he wouldn’t have known what happened. This knife made this attack personal. Hughes had wanted to see him die in front of his face, to die with the last image in his brain being his blood gloat of victory. Well, maybe in the next life buddy. The knife was Russell’s new talisman that showed he still had what it took to survive. He took one last look at Hughes and still felt nothing.

There was blood speckled on his clothes, but not as much as he thought there would be. His London wool coat had remained unblemished from the struggle, so despite the fact that it was still too warm for it, he put it on. Instantly any visible proof of the killing dissipated. With that, he walked away, and headed for the bus stop. All the way, his thoughts were all on Cindy, wondering if now, she would want him to claim her, now that she was finally free.

The newscast startled her. If it had not been for the newscast, she would not have known. If it had not been for the hotel room, she would not have seen the newscast. If there had been no money, then there would be no hotel room. If there had no body, there would be no money. If she had not been a witness, she would have never seen the body with the money that gave her the hotel room where she saw the newscast.

Christ. Some god was really trying to screw with her life. The newscast was supposed to have made her feel free, that the running had ended. But it hadn’t. How could she walk back into her old life, the venerable widow, without being dragged through hot coals by the authorities? Why the hell did she keep on seeing what she saw? Someone was trying to set her up for a big fall. Shed go home, to collect her worth as a widow, only to find police and FBI waiting for her fall, ready to bait her in a second. A kidnap victim, my ass, she thought. They probably had her on as an accessory to murder. The handcuffs would clamp on, and Patrick would have his final laugh. No fucking way.

Man. Her own head seemed just as much a prison as her husband was. Late husband, that is according to the media. Late husband. This was what was supposed to have made her feel free. It didn’t.

She wondered about the life she had led. All the time, she had been searching for something that seemed to be missing. She never found it. Thirty years old, and no better off than when she was a child. By now, she was supposed to have a career, be established, have a name for herself. Instead she practically didn’t know her name. She didn’t know for sure if she was a Diesposito or a Hughes, or whatever elusive name that the seed donor that was her father held? Who the fuck was he, anyway? Who the fuck was she?

Go back to Boston. That was what she should do. Dye her hair blonde, hop on Amtrak, hide out in a bathroom. Or maybeshe sifted through the remaining money she had. Three hundred forty-three dollars. A rich fuck in the Bronx. What an idiot. Asking for trouble, if not murder. But hell, it was coming in handy for her purposes. It sure as hell would be enough for Boston. She could go there and see her mother, if she was still alive. Maybe Amanda and Charlie were still around there. She hadn’t spoken to her sister, brother or mother for years. She wondered if she would recognize them. God only knew if they would recognize her.

God only knew if the rumor was true. Shit, she hoped so. It sounded crass, but she wanted the asshole she married dead. No, not really. If she had she would have killed him herself, or would she? She never was one to harm others. Even when Patrick was at his worst, she didn’t hurt him. She’d slugged him around a few times, but that was it. Much less than he deserved.

She never could get the whole thing, what prompted someone to be so perfect to all that could see and then decided to spend their whole life trying to take someone down in private. Her thoughts, misguided as they were, had always been for her personal survival and betterment. She never had time to try to rip someone else down. Maybe that had been Patrick’s goal to begin with, to rip her down and make her as pathetic as he was. He hadn’t succeeded. In that respect, she had won.

It was weird, she had gotten beaten so often and everyone around her pretended they knew nothing, that everything was normal. One time, even, her mother-in-law had been visiting, and Patrick punched her right in the eye, then her jaw. It had been later at night, and he’d been pissed at her for staying up watching David Letterman instead of coming up to bed when he dictated. Or something like that. She had gone up to bed an hour or so later and had been greeted with boom, pow. She kicked him hard in the shin and headed down to the kitchen for ice. There had been Victoria Hughes, sitting at the table, eating truffles and reading Wuthering Heights, calmly looking up and smiling at Cindy like it was normal for people to walk around with split lips and bruised eyes. Patrick, in the meantime, had been yelling all kinds of slurs and obscenities. You could still hear him down in the kitchen, two floors below the bedroom. All the while, Victoria Thorton Hughes languished in her chair as though her son’s insanity was background noise. As calming as Muzak. Cindy slept on the couch that night. She woke up to find Victoria standing over her like she was some wretched animal; whether she finally noticed the split lip or disdained at the thought of her not docilely doing her wifely duty by sleeping in the marriage bed, Cindy was never informed. She and her son convened in harsh whispers which excluded her, for the remainder of her stay. Cindy couldn’t see out of her eye for three days, it was so swelled. She didn’t even bother to ask her mother-in-law to take her to the doctor. She knew that a woman who didn’t spend the night with her crazy husband wasn’t worth her mother-in-law’s time; taking time away from Bronte would be a crime.

Back to reality, the one with no Victoria or Patrick in it. Indifference and confusion dominated her. Paralyzed, she continued to watch the TV. They were still talking about her. Shit, and no one had invited her to speak on Today? Boy, that should be some concern of hers now, right? Hell, she never thought she’d make it this big in the world as a homeless girl. She never even got this much attention from the media as a rich battered wife.

Well, she discovered. She was a kidnap victim. Her head snapped. That was a new one. She looked out at the sketch of her so-called kidnapper and—

Oh. She sat speechless. It was a crude sketch of that Rican hobo who’d been following her around. They said he was a murderer

He was not, she instantly bolted. They said who he murdered, and she knew they were wrong. She had seen with her own eyes. It wasn’t him. Now she felt that her paranoia had been justified all along. If they were willing to lie and say this guy was a murderer and kidnapper, why wouldn’t they put a clip on, care of dear old Patrick Hughes the Third, to say her husband was dead just to lure her back to her intended inheritance, just so she could be punished at the hands of her master? Well, why not? They were lying about everything else on TV.

Just then, an abrupt knock came on her door. Oh, shit, she thought with her hearth stomping away, the guy at the front desk saw the news clip. He’d come to send her to the police so she could be arrested or sent back to the fancy Bostonian jail. Oh, shit. Don’t answer. She crept under the bed, not even wanting to walk to the keyhole for fear of her approaching footsteps giving her away. She crept under the bed as the knocking increased to pounding, hoping they would go away and never come back. Come to think of it, she should go now. She was on the ground floor. The window was right near the bed. She could get out in no time—

The guy pounding on the door was yelling. In Spanish. Relieved, she crawled out from under the bed as she recognized the voice. Funny how she trusted this stranger like she trusted no other. She should stop, based on her life. But she didn’t. Just living, not stepping in front of a truck, well, she had some trust in some basic level of life. This guy, maybe he sprung from that.

She opened the door to find him still yelling. Quietly, she put her finger to her lips, and motioned him in. Quickly, she closed the door behind him, hoping nobody else had been disturbed enough by the encounter to come outside and see who they were.

She was immediately greeted with a huge bear hug, “Mi hiya, mi hiya,” he crooned, over and over, clutching her like he’d never let go. Panic at the realization that this had been his deal, thinking she was his daughter, sprang out. Now she’d never get rid of him. She should have bolted out that window and not answered the door. She’d never get rid of him. But deep inside, there was a part of her that didn’t want to. It was an immature part of her, the part that drew her to creeps like Patrick without any logical explanation. She didn’t know what to do now.

“Vendra comigo.” He said, tugging her hand.

“No,” a frustrated Cindy yanked away from him. Too much was going on. She had to rest. It was dangerous here, but no more so than anywhere else, and now that she’d paid for the room, she wanted to get her money’s worth.

“Por que no?” He was puzzled. His own daughter rejecting him. Cindy wondered why he left his daughter in the first place. Asshole, was her first reaction.

“I don’t want to.” He looked at her uncomprehendingly. Vexed, she exclaimed. “Look, why don’t you speak English. This is goddamn America. I don’t understand Spanish.”

She may as well have been talking Martian-speak for the look that he gave her.

“Look. No comprendo espanol. Comprende?”

A sad look formed on his face that got to even an exasperated Cindy. “no mas?” He asked in a quiet voice.

Cindy felt her hear drop for him as she instinctively realized that the passage of time had changed things irrevocably for himwhat was she saying. She wasn’t even the right woman. Her daughter was someone else, someone else who had been deserted. She felt a bond with the unknown woman. And anger at this man.

She was ready to throw him out. Ready to speak and scream the words. But he had already gone. Gone to lick his wounds. She thought she heard him crying as he walked down the hall. Good, a father who left his child deserved his pain. She didn’t feel bad for him at all.

But as she lay awake on the ratty bed, she knew that what he head championed was not quite so true in her heart.

Russell Frawley, Esq had not set foot in his office for three days now. Jonathan Pfeifer was beginning to wonder if he had a job.

He was watching TV. The manhunt for the minstrel was still out. The parents of Mark Timothy Haines were on every channel, pleading for the capture of their son’s killer, for justice. Only one of the obscure independent stations broadcasted Lupe Corazon and her ever grateful fiancÉ, Octavio Garcia. They asked for support from the Puerto Rican community to preserve the freedom of a hero and miracle wrongly accused. A pair of hands who healed would not destroy, was their cry. But no one wanted to hear their story. It sounded like an incredible hoax. No one believed in miracles anymore.

His phone rang. He had his own personal line now, a recent gesture that Jonathan was surprised that Frawley was capable of making. Ashley, probably. She was probably calling to tell him she was going to be out late shopping again and the raven would be at the Reilly’s. Things since their tentative truce during the riots had quickly fallen apart.

But it wasn’t Ashley. “Mr. Joseph Pfeifer?” a strong yet hesitant female voice inquired.

“This is he. May I help you?”

“I’m not sure. I would like to speak with you. My name is Carmen Sanchez. I was the nurse at the hospital that you dealt with when you helped the transient.”

Transient. That wasn’t a name that you heard terribly often. “Yes, Ms. Sanchez. I remember you.”

“First off, do you have free consultation?”

Jonathan laughed. “I’d hardly call a conversation a consultation. But yes, I have free consultation, at least Mr. Frawley does. He’s the lawyer here.”

“I would rather speak with you.”

“But Ms. Sanchez, I’m not a lawyer. You might want Mr. Frawley if you want legal consideration.”

“You have knowledge of the law, I gather.”

“Yes. I’ve graduated from law school. But I am waiting to take the bar examination.”

“That’s good enough for me. Now, something else. This will be confidential, even though you are not a lawyer yet?”

“Certainly.” Jonathan started to doodle on his paper. Squares, shapes, that sort of thing. “May I ask the general nature of this conversation?”

“I’d rather say in person.” Carmen Sanchez said pointedly. “When may I see you?”

“I’m free all afternoon.” Boy, was he free. He’d never thought that freedom could be so boring.

“So, I’ll come by at one o’clock?”

“Sure,” Jonathan would be glad for the distraction, if nothing else. It was eleven-thirty now. And he couldn’t help but think that a person like Carmen Sanchez wouldn’t be stopping by a white boy’s lawyer office unless she had something important to tell.

“Please give me directions.”

So he did. And Carmen hung up the phone. So did he.

He was actually looking forward to speaking with Carmen Sanchez.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51