The Rogue Voice

A LITERARY JOURNAL WITH AN EDGE

October 01, 2006

Cabby's corner: The good lawyer

‘I have a very hysterical client. Somebody tried to rape her in Morro Bay. She was at the police station. I’m her family lawyer.’

She looked at me. Her red-rimmed eyes welled up and a look of absolute despair, almost terror, took hold of her eyes. ‘I won’t be able to go out there anymore! My yard…it’s my favorite place in the world…and I’m afraid to go out there now!’


The good lawyer
Taking care of unpleasant business

By Dell Franklin

I had just gotten to work around four in the afternoon and was at the airport, waiting for some flights to come in, when my fellow cabbie, holding the dispatch phone, informed me I had to go downtown to the city hall building and pick up a fare and drive them to Morro Bay.
When I arrived at the designated spot, nobody was there. I parked in the yellow zone in front of the old ornate Fremont Theater and sat, keeping my eyes on the city hall building. I waited five minutes, growing angry. I do not like to wait for people. If you say you’re going to be there, well, be there. I got out and paced. Finally, a short, fireplug of a man who filled out a beautiful suit like a weight-lifter, scampered across Monterey Street from the courthouse and signaled for me. We met on the sidewalk, beside the cab.
“Sorry I kept you waiting,” he said right off, offering his hand, introducing himself, “but I have a very hysterical client. Somebody tried to rape her in Morro Bay. She was at the police station. I’m her family lawyer. She’s still in the courthouse. Be patient, please. I’ll take care of you.”
I said OK, and he hustled back across the street, obviously a one-time athlete, possibly a football fullback. Usually, I ran the meter when I had to wait for people, demanding the fare pay for my time, but this guy was obviously concerned about his client, trying to calm her down, and so I didn’t press it. Five minutes later, he shepherded her across the street, an attractive but ragged-looking thirty-something woman with long, mussed up honey-colored hair, dressed in work shorts, and a man’s long-sleeved shirt.
The lawyer introduced me to her, but she was in a state of extreme agitation and perhaps shock, and she did not look at me as the lawyer helped her into the shotgun seat and continued talking to her. I waited for him on the sidewalk, and when he was finished comforting the woman, he handed me his card.
“I don’t have any cash on me right now. Can you come to my office up the street when you return to town?”
“Well, we don’t like going out of town without collecting first. And I don’t like coming across town when I can be at the airport.”
“I can go down the street to my ATM if it’s that urgent….”
“No. It’s OK. I’m being a little short. It’s just that I run into a lot of deadbeats, but I’ll come back for you.”
“Thanks, pal. Please be good to that lady, ey? She’s been through hell. Right now the police are trying to hunt down the bastard who attacked her. This lady is in a lot of distress. She’s very fragile.”
“I’ll take good care of her. That’s a promise.”
“Thanks.” We shook hands. I got back in the cab. Drove through town in the rush-hour traffic, headed for Highway 1. I decided not to try and talk to the sniffling figure beside me, who was curled into the side of the door, as if trying to make her self smaller. I fiddled with the radio, left it on NPR. Out on Highway 1, we oozed into the flow of’ traffic, picking up speed. I nodded at her.
“Thanks for driving me home,” she said in a small voice. “I don’t know what I would’ve done without my lawyer. He’s a great guy.”
“He seems like a good guy. I liked him right off.”
She sat up a little.
“So,” I said, “you live in Morro Bay. You I like it?”
“Well, I do…I mean, I’ve lived there a while. In North Morro Bay. I guess I like it. But after today, I don’t know.”
“Uh-huh.” I knew she wanted to talk about it, but it had to be on her terms. “You look familiar. I used to be a bartender at Happy Jack’s in Morro Bay. Were you ever in there?”
“Yes. I used to go in there in the early ‘90s, before I met my husband. I don’t go to bars anymore.”
“That’s probably where I saw you.”
She sat up a little more. She put her handkerchief in her purse.
“Somebody tried to rape me,” she said. “I was out doing, yard work. I do a lot of yard work. I have a really nice yard and garden. I love working in the, yard. My husband, he really loves the way I keep things so beautiful and tidy. I was watering some plants, and out of nowhere this guy just jumped over the fence and tried to rape me, right in the yard. He just grabbed me!”
“What did you do?”
Her voice cracked with a slight sob. “I fought him. I fought for my life. I kicked him. I threw the hose at him. I scratched him. I fought and fought. He threw me down and tried to rip my clothes off. I punched and scratched at him, and I screamed…my God, I screamed, but there was nobody around, everybody was at work, and finally, I was crying so hard, and fighting so hard, and screaming so loud, he just took off.”
I glanced at her. There were scratches on her cheek and bruises discoloring her arms and legs. She started to cry again.
“Go ahead and cry,” I said. “It’s good for you. You need to cry.”
“I’m so worried about my husband,” she sobbed louder.
“But why?”
“What if he doesn’t believe me?”
“What do you mean—doesn’t believe you? There’s a police report, isn’t there? Look at your bruises and scratches.”
“Yes I know but maybe he’ll think…well, that I…invited it?”
“How can he think that, for Chrissake?”
“I don’t know. He might, though, think I asked for it.”
“No way. What kind of guy is he?”
“He’s real macho. He’s a contractor. I’m just so ashamed, so worried he won’t believe me….”
“What you do is you don’t try and convince him of anything. You direct him straight to your lawyer and the police.”
“He’s already talked to my lawyer.”
“Have you talked to your husband?”
“Yes,” she sniffled. “I don’t think he believes me. I don’t know what to do.”
We were approaching Morro Bay. “You need a drink,” I said.
“Yes, I think so. I’m not much of a drinker anymore.”
“Just get a half pint, enough to take off the edge, and relax you a little. What do you drink, normally?”
“I guess, bourbon.”
“What do you like to mix with it?”
“Seven-Up, I guess. Or Coke.”
“OK, we’ll stop at a liquor store. You get a half pint of bourbon ans a bottle of Seven-Up. Go into your living room, lock up the house, turn on the TV, and have a quiet drink or two, and wait for your husband.”
“If he doesn’t believe me, I don’t know what I’ll do,” she wailed.
“If he doesn’t believe you, leave him,” I said. “It’s none of my business, but how the hell can you have a relationship if your husband doesn’t trust you?”
“I’m so screwed up,” she admitted, as we pulled into a liquor store parking lot. She sniffled.
“Listen,” I said, “you’ve just been through a very traumatic ordeal and so you’re not thinking too clearly. You’ve been humiliated and made to feel dirty…by some animal, a criminal. It is NOT your fault. Don’t let this incident rob you of your self-worth and your confidence. You fought for your life, and you’re here, and you won. It took a lot of guts to fight off that guy. None of this was YOUR fault. You’re a victim. Your husband will understand. Now go in there and got yourself a nice stiff drink to calm your nerves and don’t worry about your husband. Everything’ll be okay.”
Still shaky, she entered the liquor store. A few minutes later she returned with a package. I drove her through the neighborhoods to her modest house. The yard was tidy and in full bloom.
“I wish I could tip you,” she said.
“Don’t sweat it. Go on in there and relax. You didn’t invite this. You’re a nice gal. Have faith in yourself. It’s been a bad, nasty day, but you’ll have good ones after this. Hang in there. Good luck. Now go on in there.”
She started to leave. “Look at my yard…my garden…isn’t it beautiful?”
“Very much so.”
She looked at me. Her red-rimmed eyes welled up and a look of absolute despair, almost terror, took hold of her eyes. “I won’t be able to go out there anymore! My yard…it’s my favorite place in the world…and I’m afraid to go out there now!”
“Listen, that was a one-shot deal. He’ll never come back. All this will pass. In no time, things’ll be back to normal.”
She was facing me, trembling. She seemed to lean toward me, ever so slightly, and I took both her hands in mine, gave them a little squeeze. “Hang in there, kid; sometimes that’s all we can do. It’s not the end of the world. That’s what my mother always told me, and it’s true.”
I let go of her hands. She got out of the car and opened the gate of her short, white picket fence and walked up to the porch and front door, opened it, then turned and waved at me, still distraught, and disappeared into the house.
Since there were no fares, I drove straight into downtown SLO and found her lawyer’s office. I heard somebody shout, and looked onto Marsh Street and saw the lawyer, still in his beautiful suit, skimming along the asphalt on a skateboard. Hauling ass! He zoomed right up to me, curled to an abrupt stop and hopped off his board with the skill and agility of a teenager. He wore tennis shoes. He was grinning. “This is my therapy, man,” he explained. “How’d it go?”
“I got her to do a lot of talking. I think she’ll be OK.”
“Crying always helps. What do I owe you?”
“Call it forty bucks.”
He pressed three fresh twenties into my palm and told me to keep the change. “Thanks for your trouble. I appreciate it.”
“Well, I hope she’ll be OK.”
He shrugged, rolling his eyes in a helpless manner. “We do the best we can, man.” Then he smiled and we shook hands, and he zoomed off on his skateboard, expertly dodging traffic. §

Dell Franklin is the publisher of The Rogue Voice. He can be reached at publisher@roguevoice.com. Read more of his Cabby's Corner series here:
  • Ode to Tobias Wolff
  • Sisters from South Central
  • A soldier's story
  • First fare (hair of the dog)


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