Time of Day

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Nobody likes a lawyer until they need one. But with everything Jimmy 'James' Pollock is about to go through after winning this case at the unbridled efforts of corrupt-beyond-belief police officer Lloyd Richters, it's a wonder if anyone couldn't help but feel bad for this poor guy. He starts out with a drink, and then ends up in the drink himself. And ON FIRE, no less!

Submitted: July 04, 2016

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Submitted: July 04, 2016

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In a courtroom whose color pallet was a boring, glossy brown, there was loud silence as Jimmy ‘James’ Pollock wet his lips and rapped his fingers against the table he was sitting at on the defense side. He arose, and, ambling with heavy footfalls against the linoleum at his feet, approached the witness stand. Seated up high there with an absent look to his eyes was his client, Patty Bowers, dressed in a finely pressed white suit and tear blue tie.

“Sir, would you please state your name, ethnicity and social class loud and proud so everyone in the room can hear.”

“Objection,” Prosecutor Billings proclaimed, jutting out of his seat like a cocked spring. “Your Honor, the defense is clearly trying to buy time and waste all of ours with some convoluted shtick.”

“Overruled,” Judge Heinz said, in her flat, booming voice. “Do make whatever point you’re trying to make quickly, though, Mr. Pollock.” Jimmy nodded his head singularly. “Name, ethnicity and social class; loud and proud, please.”

 

“My name is Patrick Moran Bowers.”  He paused and looked out at the jury, all staring silently at him with pensive, seemingly absent faces. “I’m forty-two years old, black…I’ve worked as a stock boy and clerk for different grocery and retail stores for most of my life. I barely managed to rent this suit for today with a couple hundred dollars I’ve been saving up to go on a little vacation with my wife and two children,” he said, earnestly, tugging at his collar.

“Very good, Patty. Now I’d like to make a brief statement directed at the Jury. Why would a poor black grocery store clerk with a wife and children murder a woman he has absolutely no connection to?”

The room was unmoved…but quiet. They were waiting for him to continue.

“Mr. Bowers, how exactly were you apprehended as a suspect in the murder of Elaine Childs?”

“Well, I was driving to work when I saw sirens start flashin’ and screamin’ at me from behind. I pulled over—didn’t want no trouble really—and officer Richter came knocking on my window, telling me I was going over the speed limit.”

“And were you?” Jimmy asked.

“Not that I knew of, but Officer Richter was sure that I was.”

“Did the officer tell you how fast you were going? Did he even mention it when he came up to your window?”

Patty pondered it for a moment, his eyes squinting down at the floor in front of the witness stand. “No, sir. Now that you mention it, he didn’t say a thing about how much I was speeding. And I remember the limit was sixty, too. Last time I looked at my dashboard on my way to work it said I was cruising fifty-seven.” A small but noticeable smirk came across the corner of his mouth.

 

“So let me reiterate,” Jimmy said with his palms raised out to the room as if he was giving out a powerful sermon to a church of his peers rather than a jury of them. “Officer Richter pulled my client over for no clear reason at all, and then began to search his vehicle where he found a 44. Caliber snub-nosed python revolver in the glove compartment and apprehended him under the principal that we know for a fact a similar weapon was used in the murder of Elaine Childs.” He dropped one hand, but kept the other raised with an index finger pointing outward accusatorily at the prosecutor’s side. “However…that alone is the only evidence the prosecution has against my client—that he had in his possession a gun of the same caliber used on Elaine Childs.

“Now, Mr. Bowers,” he said, turning around to face him, sharing each other’s sly smirks, “why exactly were you carrying a gun in your glovebox?”

“Self-defense,” he said, blandly, then added, “I have a permit for it. I had every right to have that gun in my car.”

“And that is precisely my point.” Jimmy walked away proudly from the witness stand with his hands buried in his pockets. “My client, Patrick Bowers, a black man on his way to his job in order to provide for his family was racially profiled and had his rights neglected by Officer Richter, who pulled him over and searched his vehicle lacking any viable cause to do so.”

“This is hog shit!” Lloyd Richter in his dark blue wrinkled uniform and badge glistening brightly on his chest sprang up, nostrils flaring and his face—as wrinkled as his uniform—turning a bright hot flush of red. Judge Heinz’s gavel clacked hard and thunderous against her rightfully earned podium, bringing back loud silence into the room. “You will not speak out of turn like that in my courtroom again, Officer Richter. Keep your profanities to yourself.”

 

For a long time Judge Heinz said nothing. A shadow of defeat draped over her pallid face. She removed her glasses and gently set them down in front of her. “If Officer Richter searched Mr. Bowers’ vehicle without viable cause as the defense has just stated, then I’m afraid the prosecution cannot further incriminate Mr. Bowers under these circumstances.”

 She pressed the nose piece of her glasses back onto her face, and, bringing her gavel down with one final solitary clack, said, “Case dismissed.”

****

 

The reflection of the man James Pollock saw in one of the courthouse’s bathroom mirrors only further reminded him of how dry-as-bone he felt inside. Beads of sweat crawled down his forehead like stirred sugar ants. His hands trembled slightly. Sure, he’d won the case—knocked it outta the ballpark as a matter of fact—but for some reason he still heard the shrill scream for a drink in the back of his throat somewhere. Fortunately enough, he came prepared with a celebratory fifth-bottle of Jose Cuervo Especial, which he was going to enjoy regardless of whether or not he won the case, but now that he did, enjoying it was going to be much easier. It was sitting patiently unopened in the passenger seat of his car in the parking lot. He let out a sigh while staring into the eyes of the man in the mirror. He was running his fingertips over cheeks, feeling he might need a shave after he got home when the men’s room door swung open and slammed against the inner wall savagely. In walked a glaring, grimacing Officer Lloyd Richter, with his right hand tightly holding the grip of his still holstered pistol.

 

“You know, I don’t think I’ve ever met a worse piece of lying shit than you, Jimmy!” he bellowed, his voice echoing weirdly off the tiles of the restroom.

 “D-don’t be so miffed, Lloyd. You and I both know Patty wouldn’t do something like that. He-he’s—“

Jimmy’s weak, quaking words were cut short as Lloyd got within inches of his face, breathing harshly through his nostrils like an enraged bull. James turned away from him, pursing his lips.

He hissed bitingly into Jimmy’s left ear: “You pencil-necked, piss-poor excuse for a human being. That disgusting shitheel killed Elaine. There’s no denying that outside of your hoity toity, bush-beatin’ courtroom, because that’s the honest truth and you know it. You will slip some time very soon. And when you do, I’m going to make you kiss the soles of my fuckin’ shoes…”

 He stood there stiff for a moment, and leaned into Jimmy slightly before turning his back and exiting the courthouse’s white-tiled men’s restroom, again slamming the door against the wall savagely.

Jimmy took one last look at the man in the mirror before screaming laboriously as he punched through him. He kept his fist pressed hard against the new decorative addition he added to the men’s room mirror—it was sort of a real life Halloween decoration. Blood trickled down from his quickly swelling knuckles and filled the cracks in the glass which proliferated outward from his reflection like tiny white tree branches.

****

 

The revolver fished out of Patty Bowers’ glovebox was missing three bullets from the chamber and its long black muzzle was coated with gunpowder residue according to the forensic analyst that examined it, which indicated that it was very recently used. It was that finding that ostensibly solidified Patty’s guilty verdict, and if it wasn’t for Lloyd Richter’s giddiness in going about that finding, Patty would be on his way to Death Row by now. James knew, Lloyd knew, Patty knew; hell, every single person in the courtroom knew how loved Elaine Childs was. A well off white women possibly murdered by a black man? It would not be the slightest bit surprising if an angry mob with pitchforks and torches and shotguns rushed Patty’s house tonight, shouting for him to come out, screaming contemptuous, ill-thought slurs and threatening that they were going to burn it down with his family still inside if he didn’t.

Concisely, Patrick Bowers was very likely a murderer. But Jimmy had a job to do, and he had done it.

Fuck that tight-assed old Drill Sargent of a pig for trying to scare him off for doing his job. Fuck him AND his idol threats. He wouldn’t make good on them. He just wanted to scare Jimmy, because that’s what pigs love to do—scare the people they’re supposed to be protecting and serving. Having to be around police officers on a regular basis was one of the main things he absolutely hated about being an attorney.

 

There were quite a few things James had done absentmindedly after getting behind the wheel of his silver Crown Victoria:

Firstly, and most obviously, he uncapped the oddly oval-shaped bottle of Jose Cuervo and upended it, emptying a great deal of the brownish liquor in sloshy gulps down his throat; then he punched the car radio on and was immediately grinning at the sound of Staying Alive by The Bee Gees in its first ten seconds of start-time and turned it up all the way, the car windows vibrating with sonic life.

And as the grayish white highway connected and curved before him and under the Crown Vic’s tires, he felt that anger and spite from earlier over the idle threats of Lloyd Richter slowly, slowly leak out of his ears. He hadn’t eaten a thing all day. The alcohol being so suddenly run to his stomach had nothing to be absorbed by, and thusly, the swimming, sinking feeling had flooded his brain already. And boy was he grateful for it.

 

(AH AH AH AH STAYIN’ ALIVE STAYIN’ ALIVE AH AH AH AH STAYIN’ ALIVE)

Jimmy’s heart rolled in his chest and he jerked hard at the steering wheel.

His tires rolled and lumped over an alligator that had died smack dab in the middle of the lane he was spiraling down at eighty miles-per-hour so smoothly before it caught his eye (and GOT caught under his tires). He was no longer in a car. He was now in a spinning Funhouse Bumper Car that spun and screamed and seemed to go on whirling for miles up the grayish white highway until it finally came to a jarring halt by the divider of the opposing lanes on the right.

Jimmy tried to catch his breath but it was an elusive, fleeting thing that came out in small pants—first from his mouth, then he rested his head against the steering wheel and tried to catch it through his nose.

The stench of burnt tire rubber was all around him immediately. He figured he must have swerved too hard, hit the big green bastard anyway—despite all of his efforts to throw the wheel to the left and far away from it—and then fought hard and long for about one-hundred yards to correct the car’s course while spinning like a ballerina on a frozen lake. If there was anyone driving up the adjacent lane at the time of his little dance he would’ve been a goner for sure. He was at least thankful for that. In actuality, he realized, the only damage that had been done was to his tires, and they could be fixed with ease once he got home.

 

Then that awful bright mixture of blue and red flashed behind him and sirens wailed. He looked up from the steering wheel and all of the anger and spite came back in an instant—much more of it building up inside of him, too. A police cruiser was coming up on him now, like a shark to a wounded seal, and he didn’t need prescription eyeglasses to know it was Lloyd Richter with the razor-straight rim of his hat showing through the cruiser’s windshield. For a moment he could also see the polarized shades which were sitting on top of that hat during the altercation in the courthouse bathroom. Now they shielded his eyes and the creased wrinkles bellow them, and bellow those glasses as the cruiser rocked to a steady halt in front of the Crown Vic James could see that Lloyd Richter was grinning an almost terrifying grin.

Fuck!” he screamed and hammered the console between the driver’s seat and the passenger’s.

Lloyd kept his grin, nearly tightening it across his face as he came up to the driver’s side and rapped his knuckles on the window.

 

“Excuse me, son, but could you please turn off the ignition and kill that music for me? Would you please?” His voice made him sound like he was a preschool teacher pleading with a child. James killed the engine, a disgusted grimace on his face as he did so. The Bee Gees were just about to go into their second verse when it was cut off short.

“Step out of the vehicle please,” said Lloyd Richter, still speaking to a toddler with the hope of obedience. James protested, explaining tentatively that there was an alligator carcass in the middle of the road that he saw when it was too late. Lloyd only raised a calm hand and quieted him in an instant. “Out of the vehicle.”

James stepped out and was immediately greeted by the exact words he did not want to hear: “Now, I told you you were gonna slip soon, didn’t I? Now look at ya. Hah! You look fucked, positively fucked, Jimmy. That’s what you look like. Oh and by the way, I’m not even gonna waste my time taking out a breathalyzer. I could smell the poison off your ass soon as I came up to your window. No need to waste my time or yours, so I’m just gonna skip to the fun part.”

 

“Fun part…” he muttered.

“Uh-huh. You stay right here, don’t move a muscle,” he said as he walked back toward the cruiser, opened the door and came out holding a long chrome-silver 12-guage shotgun.

“Lloyd please!”

“No, no, Sugar Plum. You and I’ve got business to dole out, and this business includes my very loud-mouthed friend here,” he said, raising the shotgun up to Jimmy’s head and dropping his grin. He now had an expression of unremarkable stone on his face, one that men on the hunt normally wear moments before going in for the kill.

“Cut me a break!”

Lloyd Richter’s eyebrows furrowed and he lowered the barrel a few inches, it was now pointed at Jimmy’s chest—at his heart, to be exact.

 “Cut you a break? No, no, Sugar Plum. Enough ‘breaks’ have been cut today!” Lloyd roared, suddenly furious.

“Did Elaine Childs get her ‘break’?!

 “No! But you let her killer go because of some hogshit technicality so you could get a paycheck.”

He shooed a shell into the chamber: (!click-clack!)

James screamed so hard he got a sudden swimming pain in both of his temples. At some point as he clenched his eyes shut tight in preparation to have his head blown off his shoulders, Lloyd instead turned aimed at the Crown Vic’s left headlight and squeezed the trigger.

James cringed and gnashed his teeth. Glass shattered, sprayed out and tinkled against the asphalt. Lloyd promptly walked over past Jimmy to the other side of the car, cocked the gun again and unloaded another shell into the right headlight. Glass exploded, then lowered into tinkling whispers against the road like tiny wind chimes dangling from a tree branch.

“I’m not gonna hurt ya Jimmy,” he said, earnestly. “I’m just gonna fuck your day up a little, kinda like how you fucked up mine.”

 James opened his mouth to say something, his lips quivering frightfully, but was interjected.

“Give me your keys and get back in the car,” Lloyd said.

“Wha- what?”

“Give me your keys and get back in the car!”

Lloyd Richter snatched the keyring and again returned to his cruiser. No doubt he was going to pull something out of it that was awful. But what on Earth could be worse than a 12-guage shotgun and a dirty, maniacal cop behind the wheel of it?

James’ ears rang and his temples ached. Whatever buzz Jose Cuervo might’ve given him earlier was now as dead as the alligator carcass which got him into this hell in the first place.

“Hell…” he nearly sobbed under his breath.

And that’s just where he was too.

 

The indiscernible smell of raw gasoline gurgling around in Lloyd Richter’s sun-bleached red can snapped him out of feeling oh so sorry for himself. He craned his neck out of the open window. In one hand there was a long rectangular red and white box of what Jimmy could only guess were matches; in the other was the gas can which he uncapped and threw the cap over the concrete divider next to them.

“Lloyd what the hell are you doing, man? You said you weren’t gonna hurt me. That’s what the fuck you said—“

“Oh I know what I said, Sugar Plum.” He was grinning again. “But you’ve got to understand that any man, regardless of their way of life, the complex of their skin, or how much green-blue paper they got in their pocket, is capable of lying. Hell. You make a living off of it, don’t you?”

He doused the windshield. From inside, it looked like it might’ve been pouring rain all over the front of the car. James continued to beg, plead, and cry for him to stop, to which Lloyd only began to cackle, cackle like a fucking schoolgirl at a sleepover as he emptied every last drop of fuming gasoline, leaving a small trail straight back away from the car for him to light at a safe distance. Like its cap, Lloyd threw the can over the divider and removed a single match from the rectangular box.

“One for the money!” he yelled giddily.

A sudden remembrance seemed to punch James right in the jaw: he kept a spare car key inside of the spine of his wallet.

“Two for the show!”

He frantically searched both of his coat pockets for that little leather on-hand bank. It was a gift from his father on his eighteenth birthday. The back was a boring brown—not unlike that of most courtrooms—but the inside was an entirely different texture and a lighter, more eye-catching shade of brown. It might’ve been sheepskin or some kind of velvet or God knows what, but he pulled the little newborn unused key which was bound to no ring and had no friends to dangle chummily with and raped it into the ignition.

“Three for the—hey! What do you think you’re doing!?”

James stomped the accelerator. The Crown Vic roared with fiery life…literally. Match still lighted, Lloyd fell face first into the windshield. The whole front of the car erupted into dancing orange flames which swallowed Lloyd in a blink.

The dashboard speedometer was now flying past seventy, and James could hear clearly through the windshield and the open driver’s side window Lloyd’s screams of anguish and rapidly elevating agony.

Jimmy couldn’t scream, he was holding his breath, choking it too tightly for anything to be let out of his mouth. Suddenly there was an odd sound under his tires—a ricketing, sort of like a bicycle chain clinking round and round while a kid slowed to a stop on a sidewalk somewhere in a much nicer place than where Jimmy was right now.

 

He corrected his course, swaying the car into the right lane—he only just realized he was going down the left—and saw that the bridge no longer was paved flat over land on this right side; it was now suspended high in the air above a large and murky body of water, it could’ve been the Peace River, it could’ve been the Suwanee, but it didn’t matter what river it was for what it was worth to Jimmy in that instant that he made that split decision as a last-ditch effort to save whatever kind of life he had left. But the funny thing was that Jimmy didn’t really even make the decision himself. Lloyd Richter—somehow still clinging to the hood of the car for his own dear life—made it for him when he managed to rip his sidearm from its holster and fire four nine-millimeter bullets through Jimmy’s windshield.

Three whirred past him, striking the backseat’s cushion. The last one ripped into his right shoulder and forced him to recoil back, throwing the steering wheel farther right.

The metal and concrete barrier on the right flank of the bridge was turned into practical crumbled dust as the Crown Vic piled through it. For a moment as Lloyd Richter flew off the hood of the car (screaming and still aflame), and his shoulder stung like a thousand wasp stings, it felt like Jimmy ‘James’ Pollock could fly. Fly through the air with his newly sprouted wings, whistling gracefully just above the shimmery blackness of the river before reality struck and struck hard when the car plopped into the water and quickly began submersion.

“Oh Jesus!” he managed.

Under the extreme and sudden water pressure, the windshield with its bullet holes and cracks in its structure almost immediately began to give way. It burst and murky water seemed to engulf him in a brownish tsunami.

The Crown Vic could go. Although it was a rather flippant departure from his valuable silver steed there was nothing James could do accept swim out through the large gaping hole that was once his windshield and try to rise to the surface.

 

And he did, taking one last look down into the muddy black depths where the car was still slowly being pulled in by some unseen force down there.

He swam all the way to sandy shore, wincing with nearly every stroke at the pain in his shoulder. He crawled helplessly and panting until his shoes no longer filled with water, then rolled over on his back, taking in hitching breaths.

You rotten son of a BITCH!

Lloyd Richter swam dazedly toward the sand, splashing forward relentlessly. Chills creeped all over Jimmy as he saw the burns on Lloyd’s face and head made him look almost identical to Harvey ‘Two-face’ Dent from the Batman DC comics he used to read as a kid. Most of his face was charred and peeled off, exposing burnt tissue and muscle underneath. Only greyish tufts of hair remained on his head in random splotches. Lloyd Richter looked like the living dead splashing toward the sand at a terrifyingly brisk pace.

 If there were ever a time in Jimmy ‘James’ Pollock’s life when he had thanked God for living in Florida, it was then.

An alligator sprawled out of the water and clamped its long, terrible jaws around Lloyd Richter’s head, yanking his entire body down with him like a bobber which sinks hard at the unfortunate bite of a fish on a hook.

He said clearly: “Hope you taste good, asshole.” 

3998 words


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