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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
Dark days in the prison system ensnare a new Criminal Defense lawyer in the life of a very unusual inmate.

Submitted: January 05, 2016

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Submitted: January 05, 2016




A Short Story in Four Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Three


By week’s end, Jack had talked Judge Hatzenby into returning Rags, on the pretext of holding a hearing regarding credits for his ‘good time.” After the hearing the judge took the entire matter, including documents, under submission.

 But they never brought Rags over from the holding cell in the Hilton because of “security reasons.” 

To Jack, it was another petty ploy by P.O. Jackson to keep Rags away from any possible personal exposure.

Jackson had realized in his first meeting with Rags that his skinny red-headed fast-talking parolee-client could very easily charm his way into the County system if given only five minutes with the average Superior Court judge.

Jackson hated Ragsdale, but he could never articulate to himself the reasons why. And so he continued to view this particular offender (in his caseload of fifty) as some unnamed threat, some visceral bruise; almost a barely-contained evil.


After the Hatzenby hearing, Jack went straight to the Hilton.

“The guy’s a complete hole, Eddie; a total prick—and I’m going to get you that good time,whatever it takes.” Rags smiled broadly as he watched his attorney smolder.

“Ah shit, Jack; I know you’ll get it for me; sounds like the judge was ok with it, so; what the fuck, eh?; good as done.” and he unshackled his patented laugh; that cool combination of good cheer and confident self awareness that had forced a smile and hugs and daps from Killer White. Jack joined him in laughter, but it lacked the cool confidence of Rags’ number.

“What really worries me Eddie . . . ”

“Aw for crissakes Jack, call me Rags; you sound like a goddamned social worker with that Eddie shit, man.” And he laughed again.

“Okay; Rags,” Jack smiled and then immediately leaned forward with a creased brow, “what really worries me is where they’ll send you while the good time is being processed; and Jackson is thinking up other reasons to keep you inside; that son-of-a-bitch really hates you for some reason . . .why is that, Rags?”

“Ah, shit Jack; he’s just a puffed up little rooster in his department and wants to play the tough guy; a grunt that doesn’t realize what a turd he is in the punch bowl. I hear even his supervisors hate him, but they can’t get enough on him to can his ass; and then maybe it’s because I told him what a puke he was and for some reason he got pissed off at me,” laughing even louder, “hey, but don’t spill a piss-drop on that little fuck, Jack; he’s a big-time asshole and not worth one single watt of your brain power, man.

Just leave him to me and the other guys he’s fucking over; we’llget him, man; one way or another.” No laughter followed these remarks.


Less than a week after his visit with Rags, and shortly after Matt had settled in with his red cup of courage and a stack of interview files, Marianne brought him his mail, along with a large bag of walnuts from her family farm in Groveland.

The nuts didn’t go so well with the Davies County, but before he had to decide between booze or nuts, he found another note from Rags.





Through the grapevine I hear I got my back time. Other than the hearsay I’d like some facts. If I’m too impatient, well that’s nothing new for me.

filed some sort of paper but haven’t heard anything official. Could it be that these people would keep this info. from me?

As time passes it becomes apparent to me that this back injury of mine will always hinder my work. I’m a painter which is better than a laborer but as the day ends it is throbbing. The pills they give me dry my mouth and I can’t bullshit as good now. (-)



Of course Jack had to smile; by now it was becoming an easy habit whenever a Rags delivery lay on his desk. And each correspondence seemed to arrive at exactly the right moment for Jack: when he was tired and discouraged; or extremely pissed off at a judge, a P.O., a D.A. . . . or himself.

After completing a full and appreciative absorption of the Ragsman’s skinny, Jack found himself being easily enlivened because the envelope was postmarked Macaville, the CDC’s ‘Medical Facility’, a sobriquet for a not-so-rough—but righteous—prison. 

Suddenly, The Jackal brandished a freshly-opened Davies County and called “More cheer anyone; just cracked . . ?” and he waved the whiskey in Jack’s direction. “Jack? . . . to Ray Cheney! Out only eight days and they plunked the bastard right back in Folsom; whaddya say Jack, cool, eh?”

Jack laughed while shaking his blond head and lifting his red cup. “Great news Carlos; I haven’t even received anything saying he was out; how do you know?

“I have his last roomie on a burglary beef; came through the prison underground and he told me about an hour ago in The Hole. They caught the son-of-a-bitch stalking his ex-wife at her mother’s place. One of the kids spied him and told mom, and she called the cops; and into elslamo.”

Not more than a dozen letters into his stack, Jack found the Cheney notice, and sighed. He wasn’t sure why.


Two weeks later, Jack made his first visit of the day to the Hilton; Rags was in town. Jack first got buzzed through several gates and eventually into a cramped interview room. 

And there was Rags. He appeared to Jack as somewhat less of a presence than he had been during their previous meeting, but Fast Eddie was already chattering and this jawing seemed to restore him to his natural stature. 

Jack told him of the next court appearance and they laughed about Rags’ adventures in the joints and Matt told him about getting a pass to see a Shuttle launch and having dinner with Sally Ride and several other astronauts in Cocoa Beach.

But now they were going to move Rags to Q.; a fact that pleased neither one of them. Jack told Rags that he would do everything he could to keep him in the County, with the hope of persuading that same Judge Hatzenby that Rags should be kept at the County ‘farm’, a facility in the foothills of a mountain some twenty miles away from Madronez where the men sleep in barracks and there are no fences. 

Several projects were available for the inmates to work on as well as classes given by volunteers. Last summer, Lt. Masterson had permitted a rock group: The Goodtime Brothers, to put on two concerts for the inmates. 


“Judge, this man has done absolutely nothing of a violent nature from the day he was born;nothing. Locking him up in the state prison system is absurd; and basically unfair. 

Why? Because his crimes are simply drug related. True, he was caught with a large amount of meth, but meth is everywhere; people even make it in their bathtubs. But, state prison?”

Matt continued to list all the positives of Rags, and even added the unusual argument that Rags could keep tensions down and morale high, in a setting where some elasticity of behavior and inventive projects could raise the level of every inmate’s ambition and success—and determination to get out and stay out.

“I went out to the farm yesterday and talked with Del Masterson, the Lieutenant who runs the place; and after looking at Mr. Ragsdale’s rap sheet, and listening to me for only a short time, he consented to take Mr. Ragsdale at the farm, but he would be in the lock-down area to begin with and then, all going well, the Lieutenant would move him into the general population of the farm. 

Lastly, your honor, this is a man who has more humor and more creativity than ninety-nine out of a hundred inmates in the system. Every day he is locked down reduces that vitality and creativity, and every day of confinement diminishes his potential to be a major contributor to society.”

“But Mr. Koch, I have no control over this situation; I can strongly recommend a year at the county farm; and I will;  and I do so right now, but the state, represented here by his Parole Officer, Mr. Jackson, has stated emphatically that not only does he—well, the State, have the final say, because Mr. Ragsdale is presently in the state system and on parole from that system.He,” and the Judge stared at Jackson, “wants Mr. Ragsdale back in prison. And even worse,” he added, while now glaring at Jackson, “this man wants Mr. Ragsdale in San Quentin,” 

He paused for a long time, while holding his gaze firmly locked on Jackson. “After all you’ve heard from Mr. Koch, Mr. Ragsdale and myself, are you still determined to hold this man in the state prison system?” 

Almost before the Judge finished speaking,Jackson barked, with soggy sarcasm. “Yes!” and only after several moments, in a curt tone, still steeped in scorn, he added, “your honor.”

Judge Hatzenby released his locked glare and turned to Rags and Matt. “Sorry gentlemen,” and he turned back to Jackson, “and must it be San Quentin? 

This time, the Judge’s words carried a very heavy dose of mockery. Jackson appeared startled by his Honor’s tone, and in a barely audible level, he managed to squeak “Yes, your Honor.”





© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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