Flagrante Delicto

There's a floral arrangement
on the glass coffee table
in my attorney's waiting room
that resembles something
from that dated cartoon movie
with the wizard-mouse
I never liked.
I want to flick ashes
in the bulbous cups of the flowers
but they'd have me out of here
in cuffs if I even finger-fucked
the Bic in the left pocket of my Levi's.
My copy of "Papillon" laughs from my lap.

"Excuse me. Mr. Vargas?" interrupts the receptionist.
"Anthony will see you now."
She leaves off his greasy Italian surname
possibly an Esquire at the end
for the sake of making me feel comfortable.
I'm anything but.
Their charade isn't helping.
I know an act when I see one.
That's why I'm here in the first place.

His office is on the third floor
of a recently renovated walk-up.
I'm winded by the time I find
his glass paneled door
and enter to the smell
of fresh paint and new carpet.
Crime pays his bills
and business is booming.

I land my ass in one of two
leather chairs, positive that they're real.
Naturally, he's shaken my hand
before a word has a chance to escape.
"How are you, David?" he asks
knowing the answer.
"That's understandable," he replies
to my face's response.
It boils my balls to see how easily
I fall into the script these people
have spent years perfecting.
Sharks are born swimming, alright.

I can't beat myself up
but I could've thrown it back at him
by informing this leech
that sex doesn't feel good anymore
and I want to invest
in people.
There are stories about fuck-sweat
and disco tears that'd have his Guinea ass
scrambling for holy water.
But I spare him and break silent wind
in his expensive leather chair instead
hoping that it reaches his nostrils.

We go over the case.
He embellishes for what he thinks
is my benefit.
"It's happened to all of us,"
when clearly it hasn't.
The best of us, maybe
but not the whole lot.
I can feel salty beads forming
on my forehead.
The oscillating fan on the corner of his desk
must've quit turning years ago.
It's focused on him.

"Is it hot in here?" he strategically asks
seeing the sweat about to run down my brow.
His designer shirt doesn't lose a crease
as he opens the window behind his desk.
I almost acknowledge the lovely view
since a brick building faces us
from across the three-foot alleyway
but decide that he's not worth
my brand of jaundiced humor.
I'm well aware that he wasn't warm
and when I suggest we kill the radio playing
to eliminate any distractions
he looks at me like I've never
had two women in the course
of the same Friday night.
Still, he wants my vote of confidence
since that's the key to funding
his shameful operation:
the converted tenement, the student loans
represented by calligraphed degrees
hanging on four walls, the sleazy secretary
doing her nails downstairs
between sadistic billing sessions.

"Women like bad boys, Dave,"
he reminds me, managing to add
clairvoyance to his list of credentials.
"Men take broken bones
better than broken pride.
They didn't hang Him there all that time
merely to drain the life out of Him."
I cringe at this, though not for
its borderline blasphemy.
There's a degree of sympathy owed
from one potential convict
to the most famous One in history.
Hopefully my tale won't end as poetically.
It unsettles me to think that my fate's
in this man's hands as opposed to some Creator's.
Mythology went to the curb with
the old reel-to-reels my mother
tossed in a box for the trash man.

He skillyfully leaves the question of numbers
to me, furthering his act of sincerity.
"Retaining the firm," he calls it
but we both know it's, "Buying your freedom."
"That's our flat rate," he says in the Royal We
"whether we appear one time or twenty--
short of going to trial, of course."
His offer to appear makes me think
of that big-eared cartoon mouse
in the pointy sorcerer's hat again
this time with the face
of this olive skinned extortionist.

"Of course," I repeat sardonically.
"And here I was worrying that everything
I've heard about you people was true."
"It is, and then some," he responds
with a smile that has perjured the jury before.

I sign a name that looks nothing like mine
glancing around the room for a razor
with which to expedite the process
through opening a vein.

He's won this bout
like I prevailed in the one that got me here.
Eight years ago that beer bottle broke my nose
for the debut defeat, but there have been
a few shots at redemption for that scar.

Retire a champ.
Go out on top.
Do what it is that makes you happy
and keeps a good woman corralled.
But retire.

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