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October 2011

A Little Story about me and the Law

Tonight I want to tell you a little story about my experience in Oklahoma City in the mid 90's. As everyone knows, when I get tired of traveling, I like to do other types of work. The summer of 95 I had the great fortune to get a little part time job in a law office. The duties were easy and fun, and during my off hours I was able to work in my mother's little store. My employer's suite of offices was located on the main floor right on Hudson Street only a couple of blocks from the ill fated Murrah Building. He had several partners, and various hard working associates; I worked in the back as a proofreader and fax machine operator.

I always wanted to create a case file, but everyone said that kind of work had to be done by real paralegals. So I had to sit and watch the busy lawyers take their newly created cases to the nearby Court bumping and skipping on little rolling carts, while I watched the phone and sent the faxes.

I didn't mind at all. My job was the funnest on the corner—I faxed the lawsuits, and then I answered the phones.

We did a few product liability cases that summer, sued a few drunk drivers, and even settled some business disputes via mediation.

But what I liked best was standing over that fax machine and waiting for those calls.

They always had the documents prepared to go late in the afternoon. This meant I started my faxing while everyone was already home, at the nearby cocktail lounge, in with a client, or still over at the Court.

It never took very long…I would run a lawsuit through the fax timed with its filing in Court, and sometimes in concert with a process server. The Defendant would always call me. They would call me just about everything you can imagine too! I had grown men begging and crying over the phone, drunk drivers cussing and swearing, I have heard every single threat known to man, and I was told by my employer to simply say "Thank you for the business."

The most valuable lesson I learned in that long ago law office was that we can make ourselves count…not just our dollars, but also as people.

My advice is to never think you are big for your britches…You might have some flashy red shorts, and a big pickup truck, a cool job, and you might be draining off the bucks in a big way…but you can be had. If you are not humble enough, then you will be.

My fictional hero is taking shape!

She couldn't believe he was gonna stick up for me. He met with her at noon over tacos, tea, and heavy iron lamps; the room was dark and romantic. She took advantage of the opportunity, flipping her hair, lying through her smile, and tarnishing what bit of integrity she had left. He never flinched, he simply said, "I don't believe it, and I don't care."

Not many real men are left, but he's a classic. He really couldn't care less, and the noisy din of gossip and lies fell on the deafest of bored ears; I was overwhelmed with pride, thankful, and in awe. So many times before people were prepared to believe the upmost in trash, they revelled in the smut, and enjoyed the wreckage their words brought into my life.

Now I have won something worth having.

My pen means a lot to me. I was able to tell my story in pages and pages of handwritten anecdotes, and I pushed them into his lap through his open window. "Take this, please, it's my story!" He was angry and tired, put off by my brash behavior, but he flung the huge stack of words into the seat beside him, and he said, "I don't really need this, my mind is made up!"

My lip quivered, my heart broke, I knew I had lost again to that terrible thing that has followed me for a lifetime, to her jealously, her hatred.

I was wrong!

Today I am sitting in my new chair, in my new room, and I am so happy. I think I have my hero!

The Quest for a Hero: Onward Ho!

Imagine a rudderless yacht pitching and yawing into the bleakest, darkest abyss, an empire without its noble champion, the meaningless monarch wandering into the mead hall hours after the Court has already assembled, exiting stage left before all of his other players, flapping his jacket like a goose poised for flight.

In my quest for a hero, I need not look here; yet, you know who you are.

No matter where she lived, her house always smelled like wet plaster. I sat in her overstuffed Lazy Boy recliner trying to appear painfully stupid, while some of the worst advice to ever pass tonsils flowed across the room into my seemingly ignorant ears.

"You should just use some White-Out on that document, photocopy it, and take it right up there to the tax office. No one will know there is a lien holder on that property."

Amused, and somewhat stunned, by the low-life assumption that I would falsify a document of any kind was rather maddening.

"I might think about it," I told her, "But I wouldn't want anyone to imagine I was trying to steal something."

"Well, you aren't really stealing," she replied. "You are simply owed the money, and you will be saving attorney fees."

I remember when my hero first made his presence obvious; she asked me, "Why would anyone of any stature care about you?" Her newer and larger chest heaved in anger, while she glared at my mother screaming, "Well, it's real to her!"

Anyone that purveys bad advice to you is not your friend.

Someone is pretending to lead the people, when instead he is simply enriching himself. However, over on the other side of the spectrum are people who actually sacrifice for their internal beliefs. Looking beyond the obvious and into the theme of the 'goose poised for flight' is an art I have mastered. Should we cook the goose, or let him remain? I believe even the most cowardly bird can be salvaged…..almost. It all really depends on how cheap the bird is, and whether or not he keeps a tawdry Court.

But in the quest for a fictional hero, one must usually 'cook the goose.' And in the case of an anti-hero, we often find our truest subject. As for me, I wouldn't want the purest of heroes, nor do I want Terry Eagleton's painfully honest interpretation of evil to dance across my pages. Or has it already done so?

Her rooms always smelled like wet plaster…hmm?

Planning for an Epic: the Hero

Writing is so lonely, I wonder if I can do it. Putting these little blog posts up are so easy, instant gratification. Whenever I post a blog, I get readers right away. Sometimes I get comments, and sometimes I get hate mail. Whatever I get, it is all meaningful. But when you write 'fa real' then you write all alone… you write without critics, and you develop living and breathing characters from the life you have experienced.

I guess porno perverts are good fodder for late night writing, crime stories, and small town scandal; but, please, am I not worth more?

Maybe I could tell a story about the school superintendent who sits on his duff at home for most of the day…everyday. This is a complete epic: corruption, cronyism, drugs, theft, child abuse, and so on! Maybe I could talk about the woman who walks dogs for financial favor, or create a character that peddles in child porn and mingles with kids. My story could include the man from my past who watched me busily doodling with my pen at a pay phone…a mafia like character, shady and serious; he knew so much about my scattered life.

I could spice my vignettes with old ladies who have no class and never mind their own business.

I could make all of this stuff up, or I could just write what I know.

The only way to get rid of a set of hips like that is to get liposuction. That's exactly why after 10 years of never seeing that woman, I had to laugh. Her butt had always been bigger than the Titanic, and now it was skinnier than my own, dressed in a black pant suit, and her hand sported the ugliest and gaudiest diamond ring I had ever seen, definitely not purchased at Tiffany's.

"Just like a crow," I thought to myself.

She works in finance, calling herself an advisor; but, strangely, everyone in her immediate family was as poor as dirt. If that was how she wanted to advertise, well then, people should have been smarter.

How could I write what I know? What I actually know is not worth sharing: characters without any character, stealing and lying scum, better forgotten than remembered. Well, maybe I might include one.

The stories parade through my mind like acts in a play, all day long. So many places I want to go, yet, so many characters I am confused about. Who should I kick, and who should I keep?

To me the greatest hero is one who tosses his magic into the sea. After the strife, after the climax, after the conflict, he returns to his docile self, a man without balls. Just kidding.

To me the greatest hero is one who keeps his guns very close and his friends very far.

You know who you are.