destiny's paradox

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
this is the second story in the chronicles of insomnia, i hope you enjoy.

Submitted: June 15, 2016

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Submitted: June 15, 2016

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James Dillion Buchanan was the most loved and loathed personal injury attorney in the greater Atlanta area. He was loved by those he got money for and loathed by everyone else. He wasn’t an ambulance chaser, didn’t stalk the emergency rooms, and didn’t own a police scanner. He did exploit the hell out of the local media arena and if there was a monopoly on advertising he owned it. Billboards, commercials, newspaper ads, radio endorsements, you name it his ad was there. He even spent a large sum of money getting the largest advertisement available in the Georgia Dome. James was loved and loathed, even by his own family.

James Buchanan was a third generation Irish American. His great grandfather had taken his fortune he made in Dublin on property and settled in Atlanta to become an American property tycoon. He did make a fortune on property and became the first slum lord of Atlanta. James’ father decided against being a slum lord and focused on commercial property. His father never asked his clients where they came up with the money and that fact that most of his clients were known to have ties to the largest segment of the Chinese mafia did nothing to his father. The men he was genetically linked to only cared about money so how could anyone think less of him for becoming an attorney? He wasn’t a slum lord and didn’t have indirect, or many including the police, or direct ties to any organized crime.

His office was not in downtown Atlanta that would have been too ordinary, too plain for James. And an office would have not shown potential clients his wealth and influence. His office was an antebellum style mansion in Marietta Georgia, an affluent suburb just north of Atlanta. He had promised the local historical society that he would not disrupt the original features and fixtures of the house. But when you pretty much own the historical society and paid them well above the fair market value of the house, and you were James Dillion Buchanan, you pretty much did what you wanted. He had the house gutted and redid so that the main level which contained four offices for his associates, a main reception area, and smaller offices for the legal support staff. He left the original floors and had the dated oak refinished. That was the only original part of the house that stayed, everything else was replaced with the most expensive and appealing fixtures and eye pleasing anesthetics he could buy. In simple he hired the interior decorator he had gotten six figures for in an auto accident, and had slept with on and off for about three years, gave her an unlimited budget, and let her free to design while he continued overworking and underpaying his law firm. He agreed to leave the little bronze sign that gave the historical details of the new office at the edge of the newly paved driveway.

The upstairs was redesigned to his home away from a home that he was never at anyway. A grand bedroom was created, along with a master bathroom that was beyond anything he wanted or needed. Marble tile, a large bathtub with Jacuzzi jets, a shower with dual rain forests shower heads and dual sinks that were made of glass basins. The door by the overpriced sinks opened into a walk in closet that would remain mostly empty, unless he got married which was not likely. On the far west side of the upstairs was an office that James had demanded contain lots of solid wood and leather. He also wanted the wall behind his desk to contain nothing but his degree from Emory Riddle, his law degree from the University of Alabama, and all of his written accomplishments; super lawyer awards, meritorious awards from Georgia Tech and Morehouse. On the wall opposite of his desk he wanted floor to ceiling bookcases filled with classic literature and law books. He had read, or scanned most of the law books but never read Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, or any other great American literature book. He always had the money to pay the right people to make sure he aced English classes without ever doing any work.  All of the furniture was made from some fancy leather. His office was the core of his life and it was wear he spent most of his time so he had a Murphy bed installed.

 

His name was often used in a bad way. He had threatened to sue many on both slander and libel. He was an asshole and enjoyed being one. He was known to make insurance companies pay much more than an accident was worth. He was known to fire his entire staff on a whim. He was known to eat whatever could be delivered or whatever he could grab at a drive through. At 41 his brown hair was infested with silver grey hairs and they were slowly taking over. He had bags under his eyes that were deep and never diminished no matter what age defying products. He owned only three suits and only wore them in court for the judges who frowned on casually dressed lawyers. The rest of his wardrobe consisted of jeans, casual shits, obnoxious Hawaiian shirts, which he wore quite often, and t-shirts both plain and with collegiate logos. He owned one pair of black and one pair of brown dress shoes. His favorite shoes were his black Converse high tops and he often wore them with suits. At 5’7” he weighed close to 200 pounds and his doctor had gave him blood pressure and diabetes medicine which he threw in a desk drawer and never opened. He kept a decanter of aged scotch and three lead crystal glasses on a silver serving tray on a small round oak table between two chairs in his office. James believed that a good stiff drink was appropriate to celebrate a victory, mourn a loss, or for any other occasion. He kept a min refrigerator in his office full of cans of Coke for the several bottles of bourbon and whiskey he kept in his office. The staff knew that if he said he was going to visit his friends Jack and Jim that was a code that he would be in his office with the door closed getting shitfaced.

 

Love was allusive and cruel to James, at least love with a woman. He had been married once and for one day. He had met Daisy Hummel in law school and was attracted to her the first time they debated the death penalty. He never understood why she liked him as a massive acne outbreak at 14 had left his face riddled with small indentations which earned him the nicknames of crater and pizza face. He also had a four inch scar on the left side of his face that started an equal distance between his eyes and ear and ran down his face, outward, and ended just above the bottom of his jaw bone. The scar was from a bar fight he had been in just before leaving for law school and his face lost to a broken beer bottle. On top of the acne and bar fight scar he did not care for a dentist and his teeth were a trophy to the smoking and caffeine addiction. His hair was worn in whatever manner he could create in less than a minute, which amounted to a lot of hair grease, a comb, and a forehead to back of head combing motion. He was, and had always had been, careless in his eating and carried more weight than he should have. Even with all his flaws for some reason Daisy loved him.

 

On a crazy whim he proposed, she accepted, and eight months later they had a huge southern style wedding. There were people there neither of them knew and the families blended together quickly and remained friends. His mother still cursed him out and Daisy’s mom would call him occasionally and remind him of what he lost and how bad he hurt her precious little girl. James hated the calls but he took it because, frankly he deserved it. Their honeymoon was in Cancun and they left right after they got pelted with rice. The traditional wedding night was filled with fruity drinks with umbrellas, authentic Mexican food, and the best sex he ever had. Somewhere around two in the morning James decided to go for a walk in the beach. Daisy was sleeping peacefully and he was jealous and hated her for it. James had suffered from insomnia for years and he never told anyone. As he walked on the beach he realized that marriage was a scary lifelong contract with a shitty contract. He knew if they ever got divorced, and the odds were they would, she would get a large part of his future fortune, and James loved money. And if, by some curse of misfortune, they had kids, well that just meant he would have to give her more of his money and that was not something he would part with willingly.  James crept back in to the hotel room at 2:36 am and wrote a mushy “it’s me not you” letter and placed a sustainable amount of the money they got for wedding gifts, he had reserved some for his trip home and the annulment. He placed his wedding ring next to the money, looked at Daisy and smiled. When she woke up the next morning he was sitting in the Dallas International Airport waiting for his connecting flight to Atlanta. His cell phone had found a new home somewhere at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Daisy returned to Atlanta a scorned women on a path of destruction. She married her work and became one of the youngest assistant district attorney’s in Atlanta. She had a reputation for being a cold hearted bitch and was almost impossible to plea bargain with. James was so glad he bailed on the marriage and went into civil law. He may have lived in the same area as she did, but he did not have to deal with her. He even switched churches, not that he ever went back after he moved away from home, so he could avoid her.

 

People tended to think he was very smart and tattered on the line between legal and severe ethic violations, but nothing was ever found on the complaints because James followed the law because he loved the money he earned. He was married to the law and money was his mistress. James’ secret to success was his insomnia. When the rest of Atlanta folks were sleeping he was up working. He couldn’t sleep, no matter what he did. He had tried sleeping pills, natural remedies, insomnia group which he only gained a sex partner for a few weeks. There seemed to be no cure and he was okay with that. There were times where he would get pissed about not being able to sleep, but then he would go online and see his bank account balance and a new love and determination to add more zeros. He had only been inside a court room four times, including the marriage thing with daisy, and he hated court rooms. He was 4-0 and did everything he could to prevent changing that record. Yet, he silently knew at this pace he would be dead in five or six years and he planned to stay in business for a hell of a lot longer than that. One night he went into the local bar he met most of the women he slept with at, for several drinks. While dipping the tip of his cigar in his scotch he overheard a couple sitting at the end of the bar going on and on about some palm reader in Birmingham. Apparently this scam artist had convinced this young couple of their solution to all their problems. They were so determined to do exactly what this fortune teller had directed them to do. They were so brainwashed that they had already packed up their belongs and were heading to Dallas where, apparently their fame and fortune awaited. Good luck James thought. He focused his listening on their conversation without moving closer and gambled that sooner or later this cult headed nut cases would blurt out her name. He half way done with his forth scotch when he got her name. She was known as Madame Destiny, fortune teller and hypnotist.  James didn’t care about having his palm read but the hypnotizing was something that was suggested, on the internet, to use to cure insomnia. This woman was far enough away that no one would know he was about to crack up if he didn’t get a good night’s sleep. The couple ran out of the bar hand and hand and jumped in their piece of shit, rust covered Ford Pinto and drove off.  

 

James found Madame Destiny’s business establishment to her home in a rather unpleasant section of Birmingham. Her sign was an eye with a crystal ball as the iris which hung from a pole and was secured by a mountain of concrete next to a chain link fence. James got the impression, from the two cars in the driveway missing parts, that the woman was not making much of a profit from her business, but her rate was cheap and she would keep her mouth shut, two qualities that he admired most. Madame Destiny was not what James expected, not that he had any formal expectations. She was an older black woman who smoked a cigarette before the previous one was in an ashtray. Her hair was think and you could see her skull when looking at her from the front. Her eyes were a deep mahogany and had seen a lot, some good, some bad, and some never to speak of. She was 5’3’ and couldn’t way more than 100 pounds soaking wet in clothes. “You must be Mr. Buchanan. I am Madame Destiny. Please follow me.” He got the impression he wasn’t one for small talk and he appreciated it. He was nervous and wanted the hell out of there as soon as possible. The house was smoky and dimly lit. There were two room in the front of the house, but they were kept secret by thick black curtains hanging in the doorways. In front of James was a narrow and short hallway that had pictures on the wall, all covered in black cloth. If he didn’t know any better he would swear someone had just died. He entered what he assumed as the kitchen and was directed, by motions not words, to sit in an old creaky oak chair that faced the back of the house.

 

“Now Mr. Buchanan, you said on the phone that you have insomnia and wish to cure it. Is that correct?” “Yes it is and I would rather skip all the business talk and get straight to it.” Madame Destiny smiled and revealed someone who was in need of major dental work more than he did. “James you must understand that insomnia is not physical, but spiritual. Insomnia is the result of restless energy that you have created.” James could not help but laugh and wonder how long this nutcase had been out of the loony farm. “You can chose not to believe Mr. Buchanan. Until you release the negative energy inside you, you will not sleep as others do.” “Okay. I’ll play along. It’s only costing me $30.00 and I could use some fun.” “This is not a game Mr. Buchanan.” Destiny’s tome had changed from a calm almost monotone voice to a stern mother like voice. The kind of voice you heard as a kid when you were in trouble. “In order to release the energy you must do these three things. First, you must make peace with Daisy. You must mend the damage you did all those years ago. Second, you must genuinely care about someone more than you do money. And third, and this is most critical, you must forgive your family and get closer to them. Even your baby sister, Ray, who cannot seem to find a good path in life.” James’ complexion went white and he sat froze. He had not told her about Daisy and he sure the hell hadn’t told her about his Heroine addicted little sister. Before he could respond she spoke again. “We will now begin the process of hypnotizing your subconscious to do what your conscious can not. Yet, I feel that you will not do as I have said. I warn you that if you fail to do so that the consequences will be life altering. Much like the unfortunate fate that awaits the young couple you spoke to in the bar.”

 

James spent two hours with Madame Destiny and gave her a $200.00 tip because he had no idea what else to do. She had used an antique that was identical to the one his grandfather wore. The outside was a rustic unpolished gold that depicted an English Fox hunting scene on the outside. There was a dial at the top that had a button that you pressed to drop the cover down and reveal the watch. The watch face was an Irish monogram and the numbers were tiny diamonds. James had never seen a watch like that one and the monogram was that of his Irish family. He had never had chills like he did then, and the hairs on his arms stood up as he thought about it. Destiny, and that was her real name as demonstrated on a very antiquated and time worn birth certificate, used the motion of the pocket watch and soft words to put James in a trace. He has no idea if it worked as to him no time had elapsed, but his watch showed that he had been in her house for 30 minutes that he could not account for. The drive back to Atlanta would be longed and he was mentally drained. He found a hotel on highway 287 and got a room. He wouldn’t sleep but he didn’t want to drive back either.

 

Over the next couple of weeks James was more energized than he had been in a long time. The only thing he changed in his life is extending the hours at the office and requiring his staff to work harder and longer hours than they already did. At first he didn’t know how to act after getting six solid hours of sleep, it was something he was not used to and didn’t know what to do with the new found energy. But a week after his trip to Birmingham a colleague decided to retire and offered James his personal injury practice and James did not hesitate to expand his business. He had to admit he had woken up in some odd ways. One time he woke up to find himself in a shower with what looked like cat scratches on his left arm and chest. Another time he woke up on an old road in the woods wearing a jogging suit, something he would never own. He figured that maybe he just drank way too much and blacked out. The only irritation he had was the three things he was supposed to do or suffer some punishment or some shit. He brushed that mental reminder aside and focused on cases and money and the occasional call girl. He would soon realize how wrong he was to ignore Destiny’s warning.

 

Atlanta has a high crime rate so most crimes don’t get very much attention on the media, but the two recent murders were the headline, the whispers of the gossip community, and the headline on every evening new show. Two women had been murder. Both had not suffered any sexual trauma, both had a brand new gym sock stuffed in their mouth, and both had their hands bound together with duct tape. More heinous was the fact that both had had their throats slashed and were left in the wide open for the world to see. Local law enforcement was doubling and tripling the efforts of an already budget crippled police department. Someone decided the fame of this killer needed a title and thus the Atlanta Slasher was born. The police press conference was a dog and pony show of “everyone stay calm, we have no leads yet, and the police will solve this series of murders in the fastest way possible.” Yep, the police were so confident that the chief of police called his contact in the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and begged for help. One thing everyone bet on, there would be more murders before the asshole was caught.

 

James listened to the news brief about the murders and didn’t pay a whole lot of attention. A couple of party girls who had too much to drink and ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Since he started sleeping his arrogance had grown and his sympathy and empathy had dwindled to a point of almost not existent. As far as he was concerned the girls being murdered was just another day in Atlanta. It had become routine that James would stop working around 8:00 pm, grab a quick shower, and crawl into bed. He would have a glass of scotch or a mixed coke and bourbon or whiskey, and channel surf for about an hour. But that night he skipped the channel surfing as every channel was discussing the Atlanta Slasher. “Glad I don’t have tits and a nice ass”, he said to himself. He yawned and closed his eyes with pleasure because tomorrow would be another great day to make money.

 

When James opened his eyes he had no idea where we was but the air around him smelled like a boys locker room after two a day football practice. He was more hazy then normal and it took him a few minutes to gather his senses. As he stood up to stretch he lost his balance, fell to his left and splashed into Lake Oconee. The cold water snapped him awake and he quickly climbed back into the aluminum flat bottom fishing boat he owned. “Wait! What the fuck?! How the hell did I end up at the lake?” James was quite confused and freaked out. Not only was he in the middle of Lake Oconee in his fishing boat, but he was seventy-five miles from Atlanta. He put his hand on the housing of the little Evinrude 3.5 horsepower outboard motor and it was warm. He could smell the exhaust from the exhaust and knew that it had not been too long before he woke up that the motor had brought the boat to the middle of the lake.  But that didn’t explain the odor and he looked outside of the boat and all around. Maybe I went fishing and that is the smell. The bait might have been warm and the fish were dying or dead in the boat. But he didn’t see a fishing rod, or a bait bucket or any sign of fishing. He did see a blanket by the bow of the boat. It was lumpy and there was something sticking out from it. Not knowing what to expect he grabbed an oar and slowly inched towards the blanket. He jabbed the oar into the blanket and steeped back in case whatever was under the blanket was alive. Thirty seconds or so passed by and nothing. He moved to the blanket again and bent down grabbing the blanket with his left hand and holding the oar in his right like a baseball bat. When he yanked the blanket back he dropped the oar over the side of the boat and followed it with puke.

 

James kept washing his face and rinsing out his mouth with the brackish water of the lake. He knew what he saw but wanted to force himself to believe it was an illusion. He had found the source of the smell but didn’t want to look again. When James first pulled the blanket back the sun had barely broke the horizon of the lake. By the time he mustered up the courage to turn and face reality the sun was warming the surface of the water and the aluminum of the boat and heating up what had been under the blanket. He closed his eyes, turned around so he was sitting within inches of the source of the smell and took a deep breathe. He opened his eyes to see the naked body of a woman in her forties, tucked in a fetal position. Her hands were duct taped together, he could see part of cloth object hanging out of mouth, and her throat had been slit in a rough matter. The blood from her throat had mixed with the urine and feces that had escaped the dead woman’s body. James scanned her body up and down and was looking for a mark, a birthmark the shape of a crescent moon. When he found it, he had no doubt that what he knew when he pulled the blanket back was not a nightmare. The dead body of the senior assistant district attorney of Atlanta was in his boat. The dead body of a very popular and well respected woman was in his boat. The dead body of Daisy Hummel, his ex-wife was in HIS boat. His boat in the middle of Lake Oconee and they were the only two in the boat. His boat on the lake where he owned a house, seventy five miles from Atlanta.

 

His cabin filled in the missing pieces to the puzzle. The cabin was a messy array of broken furniture, shattered glassware, and blood. James fell to the couch in utter shock. It had to have been someone else. Yes! Of course! One of Daisy’s many convicted felons had gotten out of prison, abducted her and him, brought them here and drugged them both. Someone wanted her dead and wanted him to be the fall guy so they didn’t go back to prison. He would call the olive and get tested for drugs. The lab people would find some sort of drug in his system and his theory would prove right. A tiny voice in the back of his head asked, why you? Daisy hated you? You didn’t hang around her or her friends. And what about her husband? Rumor was they were having marital issues. Wouldn’t have been easier to abduct him as well? He was not a criminal attorney but he knew that he would be asked questions that he could not answer and he would be the prime suspect. He had to figure something out because he could not go to jail, he would lose everything that he worked hard to build.

 

Lucky for James it was the off season for the lake so it was desolate of people, at least there wasn’t anyone near him. He went into the little shed out back of the cabin and grabbed some nylon cord extra from a crappy fishing net he once attempted to build. He shifted crap around and found several weights from a barbell set he once purchased. He never used the weights and never intended to. He did intend to set up a workout room in the cabin to impress the ladies, but that idea was as successful as the fishing net. He also grabbed two brand new rolls of duct tape.  He had grabbed a t-shirt in the house, ripped it, saturated with cheap cologne. Before he headed back to the boat he wrapped the piece of t-shirt around his nose and mouth and tied it off on the back of his neck. The cheap cologne was nauseating but it would be better than the smell in the boat.

 

He loaded the boat with the stuff he had gathered and started the motor. Even the smell of the burning oil and gas fumes from the motor was better than the smell in the boat. He looked around to make sure no one was watching him and, other than a few Mallard ducks and fish breaking the surface of the lake, he was the only person. Afraid of tipping the boat he held the throttle so that the boat slowly went from the beach to the middle of the lake. It was already hot and the humidity was starting to rise. He wiped the sweat from his brow with his arm, stopped the motor, and dropped the anchor over the side. The anchor wasn’t big or bulky and wouldn’t reach the bottom of the lake, but it would keep the boat stationary. Once he had the boat settled, to the best he could, he grabbed the dead body of Daisy Hummel and tried to lay her flat in the boat. The lack of space was not as much of a challenge as straightening out her limbs. He wasn’t in shape and weak muscles caused great strain and busted blood vessels in his face. Once he had her limbs straight he grabbed the first weight, a 25 pound weight, and placed it on her abdomen. He placed a piece of duct tape across weight and slowly maneuvered the tape around Daisy’s torso so the weight was masked in duct taped and secured to her body. Next he put her legs together and places a smaller, 10 pounds, weight just below her knees so that is rested on both legs. He took the rope and started to cut it with a rusted bait knife he had in the boat. This, of course, took longer than he planned and, he thought, he didn’t plan well. Once he had the rope cut he wrapped it around her ankles ands and tied it as tight as he could. He had to stop and rest and that’s when he realized he was thirsty as hell and didn’t bring anything to drink. He grabbed the role of duct tape and, once again, taped over the weight and around both of Daisy’s legs and stopped wrapping when he thought the weight was tight enough. The last task was to keep her hands together. To accomplish this he put the weight between her hands and finished a half a role of duct taped around the outside of her hands. He grabbed another piece of rope and decided not to waste time with cutting it and wrapped in such a fashion that her head was permanently bowed to her chest and tied off at her hands. The finale was lifting her over the boat and dropping her in the water and when her body hit the water and sank beneath the cloudy surface he was glad that gravity was working.

When he reached the beach he smiled because he was still alone. He wasn’t surprised as it was only February and people wouldn’t start overcrowding the lake for another month or more but he looked all around several times to make sure. He unmounted the tiny boat motor and flipped the boat upside down, he would clean it later he had other more important matters to deal with, like an alibi and getting rid of the evidence. He couldn’t believe he would have killed her but all the fingers would be pointed at him and that would be very bad for business. First, he called the office and said that he would be in tomorrow. To his shock and further confusion he had been gone three days and no one knew where he was. He told his secretary that he was fine and just needed a break. As he was ending the call he punched the gas pedal and shot small pieces of gray gravel at all the trees. He drove well above the speed limit and stopped at the first grocery store he came to.

 

His trunk was full of every type of bleached based cleaning chemical sold, rubber kitchen gloves, sponges, steel wool a broom, a mop and a bucket. He stopped at a Waffle House for something to eat and almost feel asleep at the table. He was saved by a rather bubbly waitress named Amanda asking if he wanted more coffee.

 

By lunch he had sterilized every crevice and crack in the cabin. James didn’t forget about the boat. He had purchased three extra gallons of bleach just for the damn boat. By the time he was finished the aluminum boat looked better than it ever had. Back in the cabin he pondered as to what to do with the broken coffee and dinner tables, busted chairs, broken pieces of flea-market art, a couch that looked like a tiger used it to sharpen his claws, and an array of pieces of cheap furniture and assorted God only knew. James had considered renting a truck and hiring a couple of homeless to help him dispose of the busted shit. But, he thought, they would ask questions and would stammer with answers and would be arrested and in jail before supper. He typed “haul services” into the internet service bar on his android phone. After a headache causing hour he finally found a small, one man owned, and hauling company with seven day a week service.

 

He had rehearsed the phone call in his head through half a pack of cigarettes and was still shaking when he called. ‘Is this Hauling by God’s Will’ ?” Hello Leroy. My name is Nick Kreger and I own one of the cabins out on the lake. Yeah it is nice to have. No, no not here too much, work and all. Listen, I rented my cabin and the people had one helluva party. Trashed the place and busted all kinds of stuff and I need it hauled off today cause I have renters coming in two days. Can you help me out? Great! Tell ya what. If you can take care of this in the next two hours I’ll pay ya $500.00” James felt like patting himself on the back. His bullshit story worked and he was going to be home by bedtime.

 

The note he left on the busted table said he had to go and buy new furniture. He left five $100.00 bills next to the note. James had been sure to throw the rubber gloved he wore while writing the note out the window at 70 mph. He saw the exit for Atlanta, put his blinker on, smiled and slowed onto the exit. He merged into traffic on the highway in a textbook manner. AS soon as he was set in a lane he punched the gas until the speedometer read 80 mph. He clicked the cruise control button and turned up the volume on his driving CD of various 80’s music.

 

An hour later, as James was getting closer to hone, Leroy Beau, proud owner of Hauling by God’s Will pushed the door to the cabin. “Lordie, Lordie, Lord. This sure is one big mess. Unh. Whets wrong with folks today, gotta be bustin up stuff to have a good time.”  He motioned for the passenger in his truck to get out. Demetrius Serton was his nephew and the boy needed fixin’. After he prayed, and he made his nephew join him, he walked to the back bedroom of the cabin and told his help to quit sittin and get movin’. They two men started haulin out stuff without wasting anytime. Leroy was thankful that he had a key to the landfill cause this was gonna be a three trip job.

 

The ripped up sofa was the last item on the third and final trip. As Leroy and Demetrius angled the bulky sofa to get it out the door, a cell phone slid out from underneath a cushion, landed on Leroy’s foot and flipped face over on the grass. After the couch was dropped, despite his yelling, and on the ground, Leroy brushed hid hand together hands together and picked the phone up.  There was about 10% battery life left and the picture on the phone was of some blonde woman and a guy with dark hair and a mustache. “Hey D. C’mon over here a sec.” He handed his nephew the phone and said, “find the contacts on this phone so’s I can call and find the owner.”  Before Leroy had finished the sentence his nephew put the phone in his hand and pointed at it. The first number that he saw had the name Abigail next to it. He pushed the green phone icon and waited while it rang hoping someone would pick up.

 

The office had been quiet as everyone worried about Daisy. She had been missing for five days. He husband had been arrested and questioned and released when the cops agreed that he was innocent. The police had been in and out of the office all morning. All of the staff that chose to come to work were questioned over and over.  As the most junior of attorneys, Abigail looked up top Daisy and was more of a nervous wreck than normal, and that was saying a lot.  When she saw her phone ringing with Daisy’s number, she screamed so loud that several people came running towards her thinking she was hurt. “Daisy?!?” “Where have you been? Are you okay? Why haven’t you called?” “Who are you? Leroy who? Why are you talking on Daisy’s phone?”

 

“Well Ma’am its like this. See, I got a call from a fella sayin his cabin had been messed up something bad and he wanted me to come haul away all the broken stuff away, so I did. Me and my nephew wuz getting the last piece of furniture, a cut up couch, to put it on the truck when a cell phone fell out. I had my nephew find the contacts and the first one I saw was you.”  “ No Ma’am, I ain’t seen no ladies round here. The man’s name? Oh sure I got it right here in my job notebook. He said his name was Nick Kreger. No ma’am I didn’t see him. He was gone when I got here, left a note bout goin to buy new furniture and stuff. Well, I never heard of him either, but I seen his picture on the TV before. He is one of them big time fancy lawyers from Atlanta, He’s got that really big sign just outside the east side of Atlanta. Yes, the cabin is at Lake Oconee. Sure I will wait for the police. Yes I am positive bout what I know, I would swear on a stack of the good book higher’n the sun.” He told D to truck and go get them some lunch. Leroy sat on the busted couch and shook his head back and forth.

 

James had gotten home around 10:00 and without incident. Although he jumped at every sound and every flashing light made his heart stop, he sighed a little because he was home. His bed hadn’t been slept in in three or four months so it was a little dusty. He didn’t care, sleep and he had divorced many ages ago. He did need sleep but knew he would achieve it on his own. He reached in a top dresser drawer and pulled out a bottle of sleeping pills one of his doctors had given him two years ago. Next to the bottle of pills was a pint of whiskey older than the pill. He washed down two sleeping pills with a good mouthful of whiskey that was fermented enough that James coughed his way to the bed. He kicked off his shoes, took another swig of whiskey, and crawled up to the pillows. He was asleep before he fought to get under the covers.

 

When the sun was too bright to sleep anymore, James grabbed some ibuprofen and chased three down with what whiskey was left in the bottle. He slid his shoes without untying them and grabbed his keys off the floor intended to go down the street and grab two jelly doughnuts and two of the largest cups of black coffee he could buy. James’ mission of caffeine and sugar came to an abrupt stop when he found a copy of a Dallas newspaper on the hood of his car.

 

The headline read, “MODERN DAY BONNIE AND CLYDE MEET TRAGIC END INSIDE A DALLAS BANK.” The article talked about a young couple robbing several area banks before getting caught and going out in a true gangster style. The picture of the couple had been circled in black marker and underneath was written, “You were warned.” He looked at the picture again and straining his memory he realized that the two in the picture were the same two that he ease dropped on and what had led him to Destiny.

 

After a quick shower where he was determined to go see Destiny again and find out what the hell was going on, James realized the information for Destiny was at his office. He figured he would go to his office, make up a good lie on the way, and grab the card from his jacket pocket. He smiled as knew his plan was fool proof and he would get answers from that crazy old bitch if he had to stay in her house until she cracked.

James would not make the trip to see Destiny. If fact, he would only see her one more time before he died. As he put the car in reverse an angry swarm of police cars blocked the only escape. High on justice and coffee, countless cops jumped out of their car with their revolver drawn and were screaming for him to freeze, get out of the car, lay on the ground with his hands on his back. James was confused as to what to do without getting shot that he simply turned off his car and threw the keys out of the window. It took five cops to yank him out of the car and throw him on the ground. Actually one cop would have sufficed but it would look better on the news if a bunch of um were needed. They read him his rights and he shook his head that he understood. James was a lawyer and knew the routine. Even though he was not a criminal attorney, he had friends that were and he was grateful for the beer and smoke weekly poker games.

 

During the trial James and hired and fired three defense lawyers. All of the lawyers he could get were from out of town, which cost him more money and they were not liked in the court room. His last lawyer was a smug asshole from Nashville and acted like the king cock in the chicken coop. He better damn well save my ass, James thought, as I have already had to sell my practice for pennies on the dollar and surrender my license. His current lawyer practically begged and pleaded with the jury to have mercy as James was the victim of a medical condition called homicidal insomnia and he had some bullshit medical article to substantiate his claim.  The prosecution examined three well known, nationally, medical experts and by the end of their appearance, James’ lawyer’s attempt to gain sympathy only ended in a new found detest for the out of town lawyer and, by extension, James.

 

The trial lasted seven days, but it took the jury less than ten minutes to reach a unanimous verdict of guilty of felony murder in the first degree. The evidence was argumentative with the exception of the recording of his voice on Daisy’s phone. His voice threatening to kill her and describing how. There was no need to validate the recording, no need to spend money on a vocal specialist. James’ voice had been recorded so often that the jury, and the rest of the courtroom, knew it was his voice. The only other piece of evidence was the uneaten portion of Daisy’s body that was pulled from the lake after some kid sunk a hook into her eye and yanked it up on his fishing boat. It was the recording of his voice on Daisy’s phone that was the only evidence the jury needed. James spent another 30 days in jail until the sentencing hearing. He had fired his last lawyer so when the judge entered the courtroom he stood up alone with his hands cuffed behind his back. The jury looked at him like he was Judas returned from hell.

 

“Madam Fore woman, has the jury reached a sentencing recommendation?” “Yes we have your honor and we have done so with all of us in full agreement.”  The bailiff took a folded piece of paper from the jury and handed it to the judge. “Will the defendant please rise. Do you have anything to say before you are sentenced?”  He cleared his throat as he stood and could not think of a damn thing to say, not anything remorseful or regretful or pitiful. “You honor, I have nothing meaningful to say at this time. “ “The jury has recommended the punishment for your crime be death by lethal injection. While I have never supported a jury’s recommendation, there is a first time for everything, and this is that time. James Dillon Buchanan, for the hideous murder of Daisy Hummel, I hereby sentence you to death by lethal injection. Until such time as the lethal injection is executed you shall remain on death row in the penal system of the state of Georgia.” The gavel smacked on the solid oak desk and James’ was immediately grabbed by two guards and escorted to transport van and driven to the state prison and processed in as the newest member of the Green Mile.

 

Five years to the very day that James Buchanan had met Destiny he was being strapped on a table, with a needle being stuck in his arm and a priest begging God to have mercy on James’ soul. In his five years on the Green Mile his sanity had withered away and his grasp on reality was worthless. He had a desire in the beginning to appeal his conviction, write a book, become a jailhouse lawyer, a reborn Christian, and countless other ideas. In the end, after about two years, he realized that he had no chance at any of his ideas. He was a death row inmate with just enough privileges to stay alive until the state killed him. It was as he was eating his last meal that he broke out in hysterical and eerie laughter. It was in that moment that he heard Destiny’s three requirements loud and clear in his head. In was in that moment that he realized that the old woman had made him kill Daisy. It was in that moment that he understood that she was an evil creature who used people to do her wishes. In was in that moment that he smiled because he would die an innocent man and he could accept that.

 

The governor used his execution for his political campaign. The warden gave a stern lecture on how the state needed to enforce the death penalty in greater numbers and he crowed about how great the prison was under his guidance. The priest flipped a switch and said, “James Dillion Buchanan. Before the state of Georgia carries out the sentence of death, do you have any last words?” All of the spectators, mostly Daisy’s family, tensed as they waited for James to beg for mercy, say how sorry he was, and give some insight into what happened and why. But they would leave the execution disappointment as James’ only words were, “this is Destiny’s paradox.”

 

After he was officially declared dead the spectators stopped fanning themselves and began to leave quietly. Among them was an elderly black woman walking with a limp and a cane. Destiny looked over her shoulder at the drawn black curtain and shook her head. As she exited the building she looked at the person next to her and said, “I warned him. I always warn them, but they never listen.”


© Copyright 2017 Jay Michaels. All rights reserved.

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