Short Story Of the Day (flash fiction) – The Start of a Beautiful Friendship by Bill Chance

“Of All The Gin Joints In All The Towns In All The World, She Walks Into Mine.”
― Rick, Casablanca

 

The Bartender and a Regular, Molly’s, Decatur Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#90) Almost There! What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.


The Start of a Beautiful Friendship

Russell never thought, never in a million years, that he could be thrown in jail for pissing on the side of a building. At home, you can pee wherever you want – it is a God-given right. He was no more than a block down the street from the bar when he realized he had forgotten to use the bathroom before he left. There was an unlit alley and he ducked in. He was admiring the patterns of oblique shadow the streetlights made on the rough brick when he noticed the blue and red flashing lights mixed in with the yellowish streetlight.

Just when he broke out into a grin at the interplay of colors and shapes he felt a rough hand on his shoulder.

Russell jumped a bit at the voice yelling in his ear, “Well, now, look who’s going to jail tonight.”

His arms were pulled back and he felt the cold steel click around his wrists.

“Shit, son, you ain’t even zipped up,” the unseen voice said. “Now, don’t you piss on me or I’ll crack your damn head.”

He felt his hands released and as soon as he brought them forward and fixed his pants he was shoved forward. His hand came up to catch himself from falling, his palms against the uneven wall. Boots pushed his feet apart.

Strong hands moved down his sides and between his legs, and finally slid his wallet out of his back pocket.

——————–

The concrete pallet had no mattress and the jailhouse orange coveralls were thin so Russell wasn’t really asleep when the noise outside the cell snapped his eyes open. Two huge deputies were dragging a man down the corridor towards the cell. He was wearing a once-whitish suit, covered in thin blue lines – now stained with blood and at least one other substance. The man looked exhausted and one eye was swollen almost shut but he still heaved and wiggled against the thick arms that restrained him.

The two deputies tossed him against a wall where he gathered himself erect and began the useless task of trying to smooth the countless deep wrinkles out of his suit. One deputy turned and began to work the lock on the cell door while the other kept facing the man in the suit.

“Gentlemen, “ the man in the suit began to talk in a surprisingly clear, steady, and controlled voice. “I do not stand to be treated like this. You should know that, not only am I an attorney, I am a member of the New York bar.”

The guard facing the man did not say a thing but gave a sharp shrug of his shoulder and a heavy telescoping rod shot down from his hand about the length of his forearm. At the end of the rod was a small but mean looking black sphere.

The man in the suit said, “Ahhhh,” but before a complete word could form the guard raised the extended truncheon and began wailing away at the man in the suit. His arm moved like a piston while the rod whistled through the air landing on the man with a sickening wet thud. Russell noticed the man had the presence of mind to cover his good eye with both hands and to turn and curl to present the smallest target. Russell had the feeling that this wasn’t the first time he had been beaten.

Russell guessed that swinging a heavy club like that was hard work and within a minute the guard stopped, bent over with his hands on his knees and breathing hard. He caught his breath and asked his partner, “Do you want a go at him, Hubert?”

“Naw, I got my licks in when we picked him up. I got a bottle in my locker, lets drop him here and grab a quick snort.”

They grabbed the man and attempted to throw him into the cell but somehow, he resisted enough to stand and walk through the cell door on his own volition. It shut with a metal clang and the two guards left without a backwards glance.

“They didn’t put you in a jail jumpsuit,” Russell said.

“No they did not,” the man said with a bit of pride in his voice, “That, my friend, is the source of the disagreement I had with those two apes back there. As you see, I’m still wearing my seersucker, and that I won that argument.”

Russell thought that was a definition of the word, “won,” that he had not ever heard before.

“How did you get here from New York?”

“Oh, I’m not really from New York. I was born and raised less than three miles from this very hoosegow. I only said I was from New York to impress those dimwitted thugs back there.”

“Now,” Russell said, “I’m just a country kid, but if I sat up all night thinking of saying something that would guarantee I got a bad beating in here, I don’t think I could do any better than telling them I was a New York lawyer.”

The man went on as if Russell hadn’t said a thing. “Now friend, I am an attorney… or at least I was. The state bar did not take too kindly… and over-reacted to – a trivial incident involving a real estate loan and the District Attorney’s niece. My present plans, however, do include, when they come to fruition, the reinstatement of my lawyerly license.”

“I don’t see how getting beat up in jail is going to help you get your license back,” Russell said. “Oh, and I’m Russell and I guess I’m pleased to meet you.”

The man seemed to think for a minute before giving up his name. “Jameson P. Samuel, at your service, but you can call me Jim.”

Bridge and Jail

Another night, long exposure, a different zoom from the same spot, the abandoned parking garage, I shot from earlier. The white and red bars are the cars going by on the Interstate – smeared out in time. The buildings are part of the Dallas jail complex with the Calatrava designed Margaret Hunt Hill bridge in the background.

Dallas Jail complex with the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge in the background. (click to enlarge)

Dallas Jail complex with the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge in the background.
(click to enlarge)

The crossing between the parking lot you see and the building to the right is what I call, “the saddest spot in the world.” When you drive by there early in the morning on the weekends you see a crowd of families crossing from the lot to get in to bail their loved ones out of jail.

I’ve never been in there, but when I was younger I would occasionally get a desperate call to go down there and bail somebody out. After paying the clerk and waiting around for everything to process they would shuffle out. On the way to the car I would ask, “Well, what is is like in there?”

Nobody ever answered.


The jail complex is the Lew Sterrett Justice Center.

We all know how nasty the reviews on Yelp can be – but Lew Sterrett gets some intersting press there.

From Yelp:

I had a delightful time at Lew. The industrial vibe of the accommodations, combined with the summer camp atmosphere among the guests, somehow managed to be both sophisticated and good old-fashioned fun. The noise level was high, like the best hipster restaurants. And the complementary proctological exam was a nice surprise. Big D, little A, double L, A, YES!

this guy had something to say:

Wow this is the crappiest place on earth. I have been here twice(last time was November 06, and I would like to say the accomodations were dirty, dingy and downright disgusting. The staff seem like former Walmart employees or even criminals themselves(not to say that all inmates are convicted criminals because they are not). One word of advice…as soon as you get in, grab the nearest toilet paper roll(they are like gold in here) eat a couple of bologna sandwhiches, drink some fake cool aid, and live for the moment because you never know what the hell is about to happen around or too you.