Friday, November 27, 2009


Look! I'm alive! Thanksgiving is giving me plenty of time to relax and work on my latest novel project. I'm getting a lot of writing done, but not so much on short stories, though I do have some ideas I'm looking forward to putting down on paper (so to speak). In the meantime, please enjoy this story of mine!

Aaron M. Smith- written March 2009

I was running late for work that day, like most days. In law school, I’d gotten used to staying up all hours of the night cramming for tests, burying my nose in books until the sun cracked the blinds in my apartment. “Regular waking hours” were an unknown concept to me. Which is why I’d been dragging into work every day since I passed the bar. I’d been working at the public defender’s office since before I graduated, so I knew the quickest way into work and where I was likely to find a parking spot.

Today, though, I was going downtown.

As I squealed around a corner and narrowly missed turning the wrong way down a one way street, I glanced at the clock on my car’s dash. Eleven-oh-six. I was already late, and parking was going to be hell on a Monday morning.

It was fifteen after when I nearly blew the doors of public lockup from their hinges as I rushed in off the street.

“Lookin’ for Tony?” Said the woman behind the bulletproof glass-walled registration desk. I nodded- Tony Snow was the lead public defender in the city, and was in with all the right people, including the district attorney. I’d been shadowing him for weeks. I nodded at her as I straightened my tie.

“He said he’s running behind, said for you to go on in and interview the perp,” she gestured to a door adjacent to the secure goldfish bowl she worked in. There was a loud beep and click as she unlocked the door, and the armed officer next to it stepped aside to let me through.
I didn’t waste any time- my shoes slapped the vinyl tile as I strode down the halls.

I’d never interviewed a suspect on my own before.

An officer I recognized (Hibbard, I think) was on the other side of the door. He gestured for me to follow him, and I prayed that he couldn’t hear my heartbeat thudding in the empty vinyl-tiled hallway.

“First time on your own, huh?” Hibbard glanced over his shoulder and smiled. He was a young officer, only a few years older than me.

“Heh, yeah,” was all I could think of.

“Well, here’s his file,” he said, and passed me a manila folder. “You ought to go over it before—”

“No time, we were supposed to begin this interview twenty minutes ago,” I said. I could imagine Tony’s bald spot turning beet red if he found out how late I got started. That was the last thing I needed- to make a poor impression on my first solo assignment. Hibbard stopped in front of a plain door, and I stepped inside without preamble.

The room was plain, like all such interview rooms. Concrete floors, metal table, metal chairs, plain fluorescent lighting. A man, remarkable only in just how plain looking he was, sat on the far side of the table, dressed in standard faded orange prison attire. He looked sort of bored.

“Good morning, mister…” I opened the file and took a quick peek. “…Waters. My name is Robin Marshall, I’m going to be your defender in court this week.”

“Huhm.” Waters said. He ran a hand through his plain, thin brown hair.

It’s going to be fine, I coached myself. You’ve seen this done a dozen times before. How hard can it be to keep the ship afloat until Tony gets here?

I popped open my briefcase and took out a legal pad and an ink pen, then laid the folder next to them on the table. I wondered if Waters could see me sweating through my shirt.

“Well, I haven’t had time to go through your files, yet, so why don’t you—”

“Can I have your pad?” He asked.


“Your pad. I like to draw. Don’t get to in prison. Can I have it?”

“Uh,” I said. This had never happened before. “Yeah, uh, sure. Knock yourself out.” I slid the yellow legal pad and ink pen across the table to him as I leaned back in the chair and flipped through the folder.

I caught motion out of the corner of my eye, and turned as the door to the interview room burst open. Hibbard rushed in.

The next moment, something heavy and hard hit me in the side of the face.

The table was upended, and I was on the ground with an orange blur on top of me. Something sharp raked against my cheek, and I heard myself screaming as I flailed my arms, trying to get the man off of me. Something hard hit my face; hard enough to snap my neck back and cause me to hit my head on the concrete floor. White flashes of pain glittered before my eyes.

There was a grunting noise, and a cry out, and then the weight was off of me. As my vision began to return, I heard a man screaming.

The table was on top of me, and I was on the floor. I sat up and saw Hibbard and two other officers on top of Waters, one with an open can of mace, Hibbard with his nightstick against Waters throat. The third officer was busily cuffing Waters hands together.

I laid back against the cold floor and listened to my heart beat out a basso rhythm against my temples for a moment or two. I dully became aware of something wet on my face. When I touched it, my cheek was sore, and my fingers came back….


“Should have read the file,” Hibbard said, as the two other officers hauled Water out of the room, who had gone back to looking jut as plain and docile as he had when I’d entered. “Do you even know why Waters was arrested?”

The contents of the file I’d been reading was scattered across the floor. I rifled through a couple pages until I came up with his rap sheet. I felt my eyes widen.


“With a ball-point pen,” Hibbard filled in. “Right through the esophagus of some poor bastard. Good thing you turned your head when you did, and you use those cheap-ass pens.”

The ink from my shattered pen trickled down my neck and stained the collar of my shirt. I wearily looked down at it. “Have the receptionist call Tony,” I said to Hibbard from my place on the hard concrete floor. “Have him bring me a clean shirt, will ya?”

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