“There’s always a next time.”
The first portion of this log is posted at:
Emil II, Chapter VIII; Emmett II, Chapter XI
Monday morning, 7 October 2007
GM: Lena, when she came by, said she was going to see what she could do so far as getting a lawyer from their parents. A good lawyer is expensive on her still-resident doctor’s salary.
Emmett: He spends lots of his time thinking about scenes for a movie.
GM: But religious nutjob or not, Emil at least comes through with the lawyer.
For the ‘best in the business’ she looks pretty young. Fresh out of law school young. The 17-year-old boy might be distracted by how hot she is, too.
She does get right down to business with him. Em is NOPD’s prime suspect and facing two charges of aggravated battery at the very least. Police have failed to identify the owner of the nose (“though forensic evidence backlogs are atrocious”).
Emmett: His first question is direct. “Do you think I’m guilty?”
Blondes have kind of been ruined for him.
GM: Amber explains that actually matters less than he might think. Some clients think a lawyer who believes they’re guilty won’t defend them or will half-ass the defense. “But everyone is entitled to a legal defense under the law.” She also explains the concept of attorney-client privilege to the teenager. In brief, anything Em tells her is privileged and can’t be used against him. “In fact, I lose my law license if I breach your confidence.”
Emmett: He smiles politely and nods, but says, “I understand, ma’am. I’ve watched The Wire. But I’m asking despite that. I know you’ll do your best for me regardless, but right now I need to know that when I plead not guilty, you’ll support me because you know that I’m not a monster. That bond, that trust, is far more comforting than the legal obligation to defend me. And if you don’t, you’re the first person I need to demonstrate my innocence too. Please, Ms. Cox, Amber, it matters more to me than I can say. Knowing what you know so far, do you think I’m guilty?”
GM: “I’m supporting you because I’m being hired to,” Amber answers frankly. “My job isn’t to prove you’re innocent, because you’re already presumed to be. It’s the prosecution that has to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that you’re guilty. So my job is to poke holes in the prosecution’s case and make their job as hard as possible. That’s why lawyers who defend guilty people are still doing a good thing. They make sure the prosecution has to present an airtight case.”
Amber also adds (“I’m not sure if Jonases were clear about this”) that she isn’t a public defender. She’s a private defense attorney and doesn’t have any obligation to take his case. She is taking it, because she thinks it’s worth defending Em whether he’s guilty or not.
All that matters to her is getting all of the facts so that she can negotiate with the DA’s office from the best (for him) position possible. Does he have any idea, any at all, who the owner of that nose was, or who (if it wasn’t him) attacked them and Emil?
Emmett: He drops it since she clearly isn’t biting, but privately thinks she’s got a lot to learn if she thinks clients are going to answer questions honestly to a lawyer who’s playing coy with their own answers.
Luckily, he does have an answer.
He sells Zyers down the river with the gleeful enthusiasm of recommending somebody for a job interview. He emphasizes the fixation that Zyers has demonstrated towards his assault on Emil not only in the conversation Em had with him outside OPP but on the inside as well, and of course Zyers’ obvious, persistent instability, antisemitism, and pseudo-sexual attraction to violence and pain.
“That psychopath is exactly the man they should be asking questions to, especially about whatever poor bastard is missing a nose.”
GM: Amber asks how Em knows it was Zyers and what evidence he has. That will make the DA’s office a lot more likely to bite than just hearsay or accusations.
Emmett: Em admits that hard evidence against Zyers is beyond him, but that he can produce a witness (Hillary Cherry) who can confirm not only Zyers’ antisemitism, but also that she requested Emmett to find Emil and thus contextualize his being at the apartment.
He also emphasizes that Zyers himself has been bragging about his assault on Emil, and how he “cut that kike up up real nice,” up and down the Parish Prison, including within the hearing of COs Em can name off the top of his head.
He doesn’t mention how he’s spent a fair few of his hours convincing Zyers to grow and elaborate wildly upon that story, including how he followed the stupid niggerjew back to his shitty little apartment, but hey, she doesn’t care about the truth, right?
Mick’s been a real friend to him, keeping him company, sticking by him, taking his advice, trusting him. He might even miss him if the retarded psychopath wasn’t also, well, a retarded psychopath.
Then again, probably not.
GM: Then again, maybe one person might believe he’s tried to be more.
There’s not a lot to do in Orleans Parish Prison. Actually, there is, but there’s still plenty of time spent killing time.
Some inmates write letters. Paper, pencils, and especially stamps are a commodity like anything else. Food, cash, and sexual favors are the most common items, but anything that’s not nailed down is a commodity. Em has never seen another place where every object, every resource, every kindness, is so transactionalized.
They write, the ones who’ve resigned themselves to being in the parish jail for a while, and who have loved ones on the outside.
Sometimes they even get letters back. No one believes the sender and recipient are the only people who read them.
Emmett: No, he hasn’t. Being quite sick of considered a viable candidate for sexual assault (is this what it feels like to be a girl? He’s just going to assume so and pat himself in the back for his abnormal empathy) he pays the price with an empty stomach and whatever he could nab from mealtimes.
He doesn’t need much. A piece of paper, a pencil, stamps and an envelope.
He gets them.
GM: He catches Zyers blasely giving another jumpsuit-clad figure a blowjob in return for an apple and banana.
Emmett: He waves halfheartedly as he passes.
GM: Zyers whistles as he does. “Blow you for free, Em! You’re a real sweet looker!”
Emmett: He smiles and nods, then goes to his cell to write.
Writing never comes natural to him, the way acting and talking does. You can’t see somebody’s face as you’re writing to them. Just paper, and your own words, and nothing but what you make of it.
It isn’t anything fancy. He tells the truth, starting with his name and how he played Westley so he could pretend to be somebody he wasn’t. Such a mild sin, in retrospect. It’s like confessing that he had his hand in the cookie jar.
Still, he writes it. He explains politely who he is. The lies he tells to everybody, and how he came looking for a conquest but found in her somebody unlike anybody he had ever met. How she had no vice he could manipulate, nothing he could pervert or exploit or turn to his advantage— except for her love, and her kindness. He retells, briefly, the story of that first night, when she saw through him enough to know he was broken, how he tried to use his own hollowness to entrap her, how she blindsided him with her generosity and charity.
How he met her mother, who saw through him and who showed him some of who she was. He doesn’t elaborate—except that he knew once Abèlia had him, there was no backing out.
I don’t know if you know all there is to know about her. But she is something else.
He leaves that at that.
He tells her that he never stopped being a bad person, and that he doesn’t expect he will, today or tomorrow or ever so long as he breathes.
He tells her the only reason he could prey on her as he did was because she was kind, and trusting. And he tells her, in that white, empty space, what even he has never admitted—that for all his lust and need and spite, he stayed with her because he liked feeling, for a time, like somebody worth loving.
And so he says sorry, but also thanks her, and lets her do with that what she will.
GM: He plasters the American flag Forever Stamp onto the letter addressed to 1415 3rd St, New Orleans LA 70130 and drops it off. The Mob will read it, he’s heard: they control the mail here. He’s even seen an inmate with a gun. It seems like they half-run this place.
Zyers knows how to survive here. He’s cheerily indifferent to how many cocks he has to suck. He seems to know this place like a second home. Em doesn’t doubt he’s been in and out for years.
But it may be one thing to survive among his fellows and another among the institutions of law.
Amber is thoughtful and says if sheriff’s deputies (COs are in prisons, while OPP is “technically” a county jail) can back up what he’s saying, they might have something to go on. The DA might cut Em a better deal. The biggest headache for them with his case is “there’s actually very little evidence.”
Emmett: “I mean, I called 911. Emil himself says I helped him out, and I have no history of doing anything like this, whereas that guy literally bragged about it. I know that it looks bad not to stay and talk to first responders, but surely that’s enough evidence to create some kind of reasonable doubt. I mean, what exactly is their narrative here? I attacked a guy I was recruiting for my film and called the cops on myself? I still barely understand how I’m a real suspect. Nobody interviewed me or asked about what happened for days. They just arrested me and said something about a unit clearance rate. I know this is New Orleans, but how am I a more likely guilty party than this piece of shit literally talking about it?”
GM: “Reasonable doubt is a standard than only really exists for trials,” Amber explains. “When it comes to arrests and pressing charges, it’s a bit lower. Actually, a lot lower. But again, if the deputies can back this up, I think we might be able to get you a better deal with the DA. In the end, they and the cops want someone to blame for this.”
Amber spends a little while longer asking him for names before saying she’ll talk with him again soon.
Emmett: His only question and potential holdup: what kind of deal? What does she think she can get for him?
GM: Amber answers that dropping the battery charges and clearing up the confusion over the murder charge could well be on the table. The DA isn’t likely to go forward with the latter, given the dearth of evidence and lack of ID on the victim, but would likely give Em a worse deal because they’re pissed over that fact. If the deputy witnesses come through, and they can get Emil to testify on record that Em didn’t attack him (likely in the cards), Amber feels pretty confident about getting Em down to just obstruction of justice, and potentially even dropping that. She’ll need to talk with the deputies, the DA, and with Em again. If he agrees to the deal she hammers out with the DA, they’ll submit it to a judge to sign off on.
Amber advises him to take any deal he gets. Judges do not like trials and can make people wait in Orleans Parish Prison for literally years until a trial date finally rolls around.
Emmett: He tells her, beaming, that if she can come through on that, he’ll sign his name happily.
GM: He actually won’t sign his name, Amber clarifies. He’ll just appear before a judge and plead guilty to a reduced number of charges, or if she can get him down to none, then the process won’t involve him at all. But she’s glad the prospect makes him happy.
Em spends another day in jail before Amber sees him again. The sheriff’s deputies, she explains, were unfortunately (if perhaps unsurprisingly) not willing to corroborate his statements. She still thinks she can get Em a good deal, though. There ultimately isn’t any evidence the victim is dead, or that Em removed his or her nose. The entire case is a giant headache for the DA. They’re probably going to let him stew in jail for a while longer, hoping he’ll crack. Amber tells him to hang on (and to repeat “I want a lawyer” like a broken record if any cops try to speak with him) while she looks into things further. The DA’s case is still very weak beyond obstruction of justice.
It’s as Em’s being escorted back to gen pop by a deputy that he passes a dapperly-dressed black man wearing a suit and sunglasses. A dock-tailed dobberman with a service harness and cover reading Seeing Eye Dog pads ahead of him.
“Bad news from your lawyer, mmm?” the man greets Em with an oily leer.
Emmett: “Some,” he admits. “You selling any good news?”
I hate blind people. Does that make me, like, bigoted? No. No, it’s normal. I’m normal.
GM: The leer widens.
“Are you his new fucking lawyer or just wasting my time?” the annoyed-sounding deputy interrupts.
“Of course, deputy. We don’t want to keep you waiting,” the blind man replies soothingly.
The leer returns as he turns back to face Em.
“Bertram S. Villars, attorney at law. If you’d rather get your legal counsel from someone who graduated law school before last year, and who didn’t suck cock to pay tuition, my first consultation is free.”
Emmett: This guy thinks he can talk me into—wait. Free?
“Free sounds good,” he hedges.
GM: The yellow-toothed leer widens. Em has seen similar looks from drug dealers giving out their first hit for free. He has the distinct impression this man does not consider his ‘generosity’ to constitute a profit loss.
“For your patience, deputy,” Villars replies in the same cloyingly soothing tone, slipping a bill into the man’s pocket.
The deputy smiles. “Room’s yours. Holler if you need anything.”
The pair and Villars’ dog head back into the interrogation room. Em’s newest lawyer lights a cigarette as he listens to the teenager’s story and Amber’s advice thus far. By the time it’s done, there’s nothing left of the cig but smoke in the air.
“The deputies can be made to corroborate your story, and to make the assault charges and murder question go away,” he finally replies. “They just won’t do it for nothing. They’ll need to feel their efforts are… appreciated.”
“Cox knows this, by the way. She just isn’t willing to stick her neck out for you. I didn’t say she sucked cock simply to badmouth her. She’s only just stopped working as an escort for a madam named Christina Roberts, and she’s being very careful to keep her nose clean this early in her career.”
Emmett: Em is impressed despite himself, at this man who glides bat-like between worlds. His own twisted angel.
“That’s a hell of a tip, Mr. Villars. A hell of a tip.” He glances around. “I’m not getting out of here without Cox’s help, and until I get out of here, I’m dependent on the friends paying her bills for me. But you strike me, if you don’t mind me saying so, as one sly motherfucker. She won’t stick her neck out for me, but I can’t just drop her, so I’m wondering if you have an idea for how we can help our guards feel appreciated without bringing her into the loop, or how we can approach her and convince her to see our point of view.”
GM: Villars waves a hand through the lingering smoke. “Her mind’s made up. There’s nothing we can offer that’s worth more than a bright legal career ahead of her.”
“What makes you say we can’t simply drop her?”
Emmett: “How’s the family paying for my legal fees going to react if I suddenly ditch their lawyer? My own folks have left me to rot. And you don’t strike me as a big pro bono guy.”
He cups his hands in an expression of regret. “Hey, if I could hire you over her, done in a heartbeat. I have a feeling we could do great things together. Right now, I’m wondering how I can make that dream a reality, you follow? I’ll tell you what, though. You’re a creative guy. I can be, too—it’s how I ended up in here, too much fuckin’ imagination. Between the two of us, think we can come up with a way to get you paid, and me out of here?”
GM: “That’s precisely what I am paid for,” smiles Villars.
He questions Em a bit further about his situation with Emil’s family, then answers, “Sometimes the quickest way someplace is a straight line. Tell them you’ve found another lawyer you want them to pay for. Tell them Cox only just stopped working as a prostitute, if they don’t bite. I doubt they know.”
Emmett: “Think you’re cheaper than her?”
GM: “Better lawyers bill fewer hours. Cox will spend who knows how long on this case when it’s open and shut.”
Emmett: Em nods thoughtfully.
He knows he’s being sold to. And yet, something about this man calls to him. Maybe he just needs a new father figure.
Ugh, what am I, a girl with daddy issues? I don’t even like those kinds of stories.
GM: “Oh,” Villars leers, “and because this is the first question first-timers to our criminal justice system like you usually have:”
“I truthfully don’t give a shit one way or another if you killed that person and hacked off their nose or not. I’m in this for the money. I’ll defend you if you’re Hitler, so long as yours is good.”
Emmett: “You know, that’ll come in handy when I get into trouble later on.”
GM: The yellow-toothed leer widens again.
“There’s always a next time.”