The Minstrel

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Russell Frawley had been feeling sorry for himself for too long. Three weeks in a flophouse with a bunch of drunks. A good lawyer like him shouldn’t have to live like this.

His sometime friend and all-round rival had been coming to see him, so often that Frawley found himself suspicious of Ray Spinella’s motives. With Spinella, not too many things were free. Even sex came with price tag.

Spinella brought beer, told Frawley that he should get a real apartment. Frawley got this lecture every time he was over, which was too often. But one time, the tenor of the conversation changed. He was on suspension. He really didn’t know why this happened. Just the previous week, he had this lady Schumacher had been working on the minstrel case. Schumacher had told Spinella that she was going to recommend dropping charges against the hobo. There simply wasn’t enough hard evidence to tie him to the case, she’d said. Spinella hadn’t cared one way or another. He was sick of the niggers complaining an he rich assholes whining that someone hadn’t been arrested. Their crimes weren’t the only ones in this city.

But now he and Schumacher were out of a job. Just out of the blue, the commissioner called him in and pit him on volunteer mandatory leave of absence, though Spinella didn’t quite remember volunteering for anything. For not following through on police procedures, whatever the hell that meant. Spinella hadn’t even bothered to ask. He hadn’t come up with a booking, and he was a bad little boy for making terrible important people upset by his actions. One couldn’t have that, you see.

Frawley had finally called him just after the suspension. It had been broadcast all over the evening news. Now a few days later, the DA’s press aide had finally addressed cranky media that had been knocking at the attorney’s office night and day. No, the DA was not available for comment, but the press aid was willing to confirm the reports that Linda Schumacher, ADA, had voluntarily stepped down from her position. The DA hoped for her speedy return once the issue of the debate was settled. Not much was said about Spinella. Nobody wanted to now about a graying, paunchy cop anyway, Spinella complained. The sexy gal made better headlines than he.

Frawley wanted him to go away. Here, Frawley forgot that he was a graying paunchy lawyer. He felt young again, like he did when he was a struggling law student. Those were the days; the keg parties all night, plenty of booze and pot to go around. Sometimes there were women; that had stopped, at least for awhile, when he met Joan. There had been only one woman since he’d gotten here, but he was satisfied. Funny, but the wealth that he’d been so terrified of losing didn’t occur much to him. He had a lawyer, the best in the business. Already, he’d gotten the judge to throw out some of his wife’s claims. There was ample evidence of her alcoholism and not one shit of his supposed abuse. His only witness was dead, an had been for ten years.

So maybe he’d get back to work. Maybe not. His lawyer would get a good settlement for him. Marital assets, let’s see. The home was in his name, and worth four hundred fifty thousand. IRA, also his. There was no kid for her to raise or put through college. But just in case there was some judge that bought the pity pot act of poor Joan Frawley having to sit on her butt and not earn a living while Quentin drugged himself to death, it was best to envision it being split in half for his own peace of mind. So, for him, two hundred. And the bank accounts, which totaled a little over two million. A million for him. Not bad. The way he was living now, it would last a lifetime without his ever having to go to work. So to hear about the minstrel guy screwing up everyone’s life, he didn’t care. Served them all for letting the right man go. He hoped Velda or the minstrel or whoever the hell it was off the holy hell bunch of them.

Sometimes he thought of Cindy, AKA Addie. He didn’t think of her as much as he used to, but maybe that was because he was drunk so much nowadays. Sometimes, he hated her. It was because of her that he’d been thrown out of his old life, while she was busy living high on the hog. Geez. An heir’s widow. Well, maybe she’d be fucked over too. Joan fucked him over. Maybe she’d do the same to this Addie chick. Lately, when Joan said the word, everyone listened. Maybe she’d expose this Addie chick. Hell, she wasn’t any kidnap victim. Anyone with an ounce of brains would know that.

And yet, maybe there was a chance that he could win with this. Shit, if he proved Joan an incompetent, like a jealous wife, maybe he could destroy her credibility. He’d got back everything. It would be funny. Joan was going have to choose between the Cindy the kidnap victim or send the terrible Minstrel to jail, or Cindy the slut who her husband made a fool of with.

Maybe he should get his ass back to work now.

Carmen Sanchez sat in her apartment. She felt unsafe here with the guns just down on the street below, but now half as unsafe as she felt at work nowadays.

There was a house for her now. The one on Rosedale. Fifty-three years old and she’d never owned a home. Some people would be buying a dream house in Florida at her age. But hers had always been a dream. So much work. If she thought of it, she could be envious of those who seemed to accumulate wealth just by their very touch. The devil could be sly with his temptation. Sin never presented itself in its true vile form when it first approached. There was always the lure of pleasure or power lurking somewhere in its confines. To have all the material comforts of this world and not work for them sounded liberating to her now. Sometimes, the pressure was just too much.

Carlos was doing better. The news that his favorite cousin could still be alive sparked new life in him. He was brighter and more cheerful, not weighted down with the bog of pessimism that seemed to constantly accost him.

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