The Great Carnival Caretaker – Chapter One

His name was Lucien Sebastian Coltrain.  Every time I visited my grandmother at the Shady Spot Rest Home, I saw him sitting in front of the window, safely fastened in his wheelchair.  He would sit there for hours and hours, just looking.  Sometimes, his expression was almost like he was seeing something for the first time or maybe he thought he might be seeing it for the last time.

So many of the residents never had any visitors, at least not to my knowledge so I tried to make a little time for those special residents.  I hoped someone would do the same for my grandmother.

When it was time for my grandmother’s afternoon nap, I walked toward him.  He turned, looked at me and returned my smile with a big toothless grin.  His face and arms bore old age liver spots and purple skin tears that are so common when you’re old.  I wasn’t sure how old he was but he looked to be in his early to mid-nineties.

Before I could say anything, he said “I have stories to tell.  Oh my, do I have stories to tell.”

I introduced myself and told him that I would love to hear some of his stories.  “Oh my,” he said.  “Where do I begin?”

He looked out the window and said “well, I was what you’d call “The Caretaker of The Great Carnival.”

I had been to carnivals, and circuses and fairs and I thought I had the gist of what a caretaker did.  It was basically little more than a glorified janitor but I let him continue.  After all, what he did and what he saw were different stories.

As he continued, he chuckled and said “oh my.  There was this strange, diminutive little fellow named Hobbs who used to come around to look after the elephants.  He wasn’t a big talker unless he happened to be talking to Josie, who was his favorite elephant.  I never got a response from him when I spoke and when he looked at me, he looked like he was looking right through me.  Oh my.  I don’t think he liked me very much.”

I hoped he didn’t think I was being flip when I said “was Hobbs was the caretaker of the great elephants?”  He let out a hearty laugh and said “oh my.  Yes, I guess you could call him that.”  He became rather pensive and I asked if he was alright.

“I was just thinking,” he said.  “Oh my.  Poor old Hobbs fell under Josie one day and was crushed.  I remember thinking ‘not only did I never get to say goodbye, I never even got to say hello to him’.  Oh my.”

He continued and said “now, Maribel Odom is somebody you want to know about.  She was the tallest woman I had ever seen in my life.  She was always bedecked with layers and layers of necklaces, you know, sort of like the ones you get at the Mardi Gras.  She wore these long false eyelashes and I would guess that she had prettied up her face with at least a pound of make-up.  But, oh my.  She was a real sweetheart.”

“I could always count on seeing her strolling around like she was the queen of Sheba.  She would walk up to a crowd of people and start telling dirty jokes.  She didn’t care if anyone listened and she didn’t care if anyone was offended.  She just blurted them out.  I’ll tell you my favorite one, if you like.”

“Please do,” I said.

He smiled and said “it goes something like this.  A guy named Pete was in a bar, trying to drink his sorrow away after his girlfriend broke up with him.  He tried everything to get her to come back to him.  He even had her name tattooed on his private part but she wouldn’t come back so he took to the drink.”

He winked as he continued.  “He decided to go to the ‘let loose’ room to empty his ‘valve.’  While he was standing there, a tall dark gentleman walked in and whipped out his bit.  Pete glanced over his way and couldn’t help but notice the letters W and Y were tattooed on his bit.  ‘So,’ he said.  ‘You used to have a girlfriend named Wendy too’?  The tall dark gentlemen smiled and said ‘no man.  Mine says welcome to Jamaica.  Have a nice day’.  Oh my, Maribel could tell some jokes and her curse words could make sailors sound like amateurs.”

We both laughed out loud and he apologized if he had offended my sensitivities.  I told him that my sensitivities or lack of, might be akin to Maribel’s.  He looked at me, grinned and said “oh my.”

I had an idea that I was going to be hearing those words a lot as he continued to tell me his stories and I also had an idea that Lucien had a good sense of humor and was most likely smarter than anyone imagined.

He seemed to tire suddenly and begged forgiveness when he motioned for the nurse to come wheel him back to his room.  I asked him if I could come hear some more of his stories and he said “oh my, yes.  I have stories to tell.”  His voice trailed off as he was wheeled away but I heard him repeat, “oh my.  I have stories to tell.”

To be continued____________

The Equalizer – Chapter Sixteen

After I spit pizza all over the papers, I quickly wiped it away to reveal what I thought I saw but wasn’t sure.  After a second and third look, it was apparent that I was right.

I saw MY name.  “What the fuck?” I thought.  “Why is my name on that list?”

Beside my name was a deposit of one million dollars, every year for the last five years…the same account from which the check was drawn.  An asterisk denoted further information and referred me to the last page of that particular “sub-part.”

There it was.  I was to be given care, custody and control of Parker Patterson’s entire multi-billion dollar fortune, of course with caveats yet to be spelled out.

Harville had told me there would be demands and instructions and “most importantly,” a code of silence but I admit, I didn’t think it was going to be on a grand scale such as this.  What exactly was I expected to do in exchange for this fortune?

I started reading the last “sub-part.”  My new “specialty” was to be a Criminal Defense Attorney just like Parker.  I was to, as she had done and done so effectively, defend and exonerate the worst of the worst with whatever means were required and then arrange for their “protection.”

Parker had done a good job on that front.  All of the scumbags she had so skillfully defended had completely disappeared.  Many feared they would offend again, no matter where they had been relocated.  Statistically, a killer will kill again but Parker never seemed concerned.

As I continued reading, I was feeling sick to my stomach.  I jumped to my feet and said aloud “I can’t do this!  I won’t do this!”

But then I remembered.  Goddammit!  I had given my word.  I had given my fucking word.  Harville’s words again came back to haunt me.  “Great tragedy can befall a man who breaks his word.”

I decided that I would actually be okay with living in a concrete pillar next to Jimmy Hoffa.  It was better than completely deserting my honor and integrity.  That kind of underhandedness and contempt for the law, the law I had sworn to uphold was not in my nature.

I was fuming as I read the last part in the folder but the more I read, the more I calmed down and the more I came to understand Parker Carolina Patterson.

Everything was not as it seemed and it started coming together.  It started making sense.  Although not within the parameters of the law as I understood and practiced, Parker had sought and delivered justice and she had delivered swift and mighty justice to all.

I smiled as I realized exactly what she had done.  It was nothing that every one of us have most likely fantasized about at one time or another and I’m not limiting my conjecture to attorneys or law enforcement.

I re-examined the latitude and longitude coordinates noted.  They were skillfully portrayed on a map of sorts.  I sat back in my chair and sighed when I realized that the map was Harville’s property.  The count correlated exactly with the number of exonerated defendants.  “Hmm,” I thought.  No wonder they were never heard from again.”

That was the reason for the code of silence.  I now knew what happened to those “defendants.”  I knew how they “disappeared” and I knew where they were.  I don’t know who actually put them there, be it Parker or Harville or someone yet to be introduced to me but they were there and would remain nameless for all eternity, I expect.

I also didn’t know was why Parker chose me.  Maybe Harville recommended me or maybe she just decided on her own.  Either way, the torch has been passed to me and I had made a promise to carry it.

Some say she was a despicable woman.  Some hated her.  Some admired her.  Some, like Harville, loved her.

As for me?  I finally came to understand her.

When people asked me about her, I would just smile and say “God called in markers and she arranged the meetings.”  I didn’t care if they understood what I meant and I didn’t care what they thought.

A few months after my practice was up and running, I left my office and walked uptown.  I stopped in front of a store and took a deep breath as I opened the door.

A friendly girl asked “what can we help you with today?”

I smiled and said “I’d like to get a tattoo.”

She said “do you have anything in mind?”

“Just two words, I said.”



Nan Fen An.


The Equalizer – Chapter Fifteen

I was wondering if this was some cruel joke and all I would find was a condensed version of “Understanding the Law for Dummies” but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I wiped my eyes and checked my pulse to see if my heart was still beating.

I was shaking my head as I looked at a check made out to me in the amount of FIVE million dollars.  Attached were very specific instructions that I was to open my own law firm.  An account had been established in my name and “funds” would be made available for expenses.  The amount would be known as soon as I set up a “password.”  What the hell?

Word balloons were floating over my head as I thought “what attorney doesn’t lust after having his or her own firm along with the funds for the practice?  No more groveling and putting up with incompetent clerks.  No more kissing asses to be made a senior partner.  No more being known as Mr. #2 or 3 or 4.”

Harville may have had to do that at one tine but he didn’t now.  He was what they used to call “shittin’ in high cotton and farting through silk.”  He had his maid and his butler and his chef and his chauffeur, not to mention the grand estate on ‘hundreds’ of acres of land.

Was I going to become him?  Did I want to?  I believe he had done well for the Patterson’s and I felt he had done the same for Parker.  Aside from my jealous, “pretend hatred” for him, I truthfully believed he was an honorable man but I had this gnawing feeling.  Had I unknowingly, as I said, sold my soul to the devil or I had just accepted a suicide mission?

I went through the folder, visiting each and every case Parker Patterson had won.  I recalled how twice, she had spanked me and made me look like an incompetent schoolboy.  I also remembered how much I despised her then.

I kept asking myself.  “Why me?  What could she have possibly seen in me that had made her choose me as her successor?”  We had barely exchanged ten words between us during all these years, so choosing me made no sense.

There were several “sub-parts” to the folder.  One part contained handwritten notes by Parker, which I found odd.  Why didn’t she use a computer?  Could it be that because once it’s out in cyberspace, it’s out there forever?  Was there something she didn’t want anyone to know?  So many questions.  I decided that I would scrutinize them later.

Another part contained the names of the defendants, whose freedom and “protection” had so skillfully been arranged.  I found it curious that their names were coupled with “latitude and longitude” coordinates.  No new identities, addresses or employment records were attached.  There weren’t even any pages where that information had been redacted.

“Hmm.  That’s strange, I thought.”  I knew about witness protection and I knew that it was kept secret from the general population but the arranging officers or departments were privy to that information and there was always a record somewhere.

The last part of the folder was a sort of “accounts payable” spreadsheet.  It went back twenty years and the first entry was a name that I didn’t recognize.  Underneath the name was “Jackson Alton Benson.”  For some reason, that name sounded familiar but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.

I carefully followed the line across the top name and gasped when I saw the amount “paid.”  It was a cool one million dollars.

The next entry was also a name I didn’t recognize and the scenario was the same.  I halfheartedly scanned through the names and the last one caught my eye.

The name was a Mrs. Cumberbatch.  Underneath her name was “Bernard Copley.”  Even after twenty years, I knew that name well.  It was the case that first introduced me to the famous Parker Carolina Patterson.  It was the case “she won.”  It was the case that made me start despising her, not because she won but because she had humiliated me.  And it was because she had arranged protection for that horrible excuse for a human being.

The records indicated that Mrs. Cumberbatch was Evelyn Copley’s mother.  She had received one million dollars every year for the last twenty years.  Wow.  I was on to something here but I wasn’t exactly sure what.

A quick call to Harville went unanswered so after ordering a pie from the local Pizza Hut, I settled down to have another look at the papers.

I wasn’t prepared for what I was going to see.


To be continue_______________



The Equalizer – Chapter Fourteen

I was in a fog and really don’t remember the actual act of driving home.  I found myself looking along the side of the road for some evil, satanic, red man with horns and a bifurcated tail.  I took turns looking for said man and glancing at that blue folder that lay innocuously on the front seat.  But was it innocuous or would I literally be releasing the hounds of hell as soon as I opened it?

In my head, I found myself mimicking Brad Pitt in the movie “Se7en,” as he emphatically and fearfully screamed “what’s in the box?  What’s in the box? What’s in the fucking box?”

I was reasonably sure that Gwyneth Paltrow’s head wasn’t in that folder unless of course it had been run through some huge hydraulic press.  For a split second, I wondered “shit!  I wonder if Parker Patterson’s head is in that folder?”

It’s amazing what those little psychotic neurons in your brain will insinuate into your mind when you’re unsure of just about any and every little thing.

My sanity returned (I think) and I convinced myself that there was no head in the folder.  I didn’t have a clue what was in there nor did I have a clue what I had gotten myself into.  I also knew that I had given a solemn oath and now that I was alone with the folder, I was beginning to have second thoughts.

I was worried.  I was kind of scared.  Could I keep my word?  Would I keep my word or would this be the first time I betrayed my lifelong commitment to honor…the very thing my reputation was based on?  Harville’s words echoed in my head like a gunshot bouncing off the walls of a deep canyon.  “Great tragedy can befall a man who breaks his word.”

I stared at the folder almost like it was a living thing.  I had trepidation, anticipation, curiosity, dread, fear and I admit, a little excitement.  It seemed to have an almost mystic quality, like it was going to either give me transcendental power or actually end me.

The answers to all of my questions were in this folder, according to Harville. I sat down, took a deep breath and reached for the folder.  I almost wished I had one of those fine Gurkha Her Majesty’s Reserve cigars, if for no other reason than to have something to chew on other than my fingernails.

I opened the folder and the first thing I saw was an envelope with my name neatly written on the front.  I literally moaned aloud, “shit.  What’s in the envelope?  What’s in the envelope?  What’s in the fucking envelope? Instructions? Demands?  White powder?”

After my initial shock and a few minutes of reservation, I reached for my letter opener, unsure of whether to use it to skillfully slice along the top of the envelope or prepare to stab to death whatever crawled out.

It was time to put on my big boy panties again.

I opened it.


To be continued_______________

The Equalizer- Chapter Thirteen

I was spellbound and patiently waited until he began to talk again.  He was drawing circles on the top of his desk with his finger, like he was trying to find his words…maybe words that he didn’t want to say.  Maybe he was having thoughts that he didn’t want to have or didn’t want to revisit.  I didn’t know what he was going to say but I could tell that it was going to be painful for him.

He took a deep breath and said “I remember that day like it was yesterday. Parker walked into the library and said ‘I want to learn everything there is to know about the law.  She acted like there had been no silence for the entire year she had been here and I found that odd.”

“I had to resist my inclination to ask questions about the past or why she suddenly wanted to talk so I played along and asked her what kind of law she wanted to study.  She said ‘criminal law.’  I want to know every trick of the trade, be it underhanded, through the backdoor, under the rug, dirty or illegal’.”

“I was a little taken aback but I asked her why.  She said ‘I want to defend the undefendable’.  I asked her exactly what she meant and her answer made my blood run cold.”

I knew I was going to risk being chastised when I asked “what did she say?” He simply answered my question and when he told me, I think I was as taken aback as he was.

He said “you know she was a child prodigy, right?”  I told him that he had mentioned it.  “Well, you can also safely bet that she didn’t have any sort of education for the ten years she was gone, so that posed a problem,” (he hesitated and said “in a way).”

I immediately asked him how she was able to get licensed with the Bar.  I knew a degree was necessary and of course, so did he.  He looked at me and said “there are some things you will not know.  That is one of them and another is what happened to her during those years.”

He suddenly turned his chair around and completely out of left field said “this is a beautiful estate, don’t you think?”  I nodded.  “I own hundreds of acres,” he said.  “Hundreds.  I can’t tell you how many times I used to take one of my golf carts and show Parker around.  She was such a bright little thing.  She wanted to know the kind of every tree that stood on the property and the name of every flower.”

I watched as he seemed to be completely immersed in nostalgia.

Then he abruptly turned his chair back around.  He picked up the thick folder and as he tossed it to me said “you have questions about Parker.  You want to know about her.  You didn’t understand her.  You hated her.  You couldn’t understand why she would defend the lowest of the low.  You will find the answers to all of your questions in here but there is a caveat.”

“Once you read it, there will be demands and requirements and most importantly, a code of silence.  Those demands and requirements cannot be refused but there will be rich rewards.  Do you understand?’

I hesitated a bit.  Harville stood up and said “have you not wondered why you are sitting here?”

I had to admit that I hadn’t.  He went on to say “do you think it was an accident?  Do you really think a seasoned attorney like me would be so silly as to not only leave an autopsy report behind, but request the return of an unimportant one? There was a reason you were contacted.  That’s why I gave you instructions to contact me when you figured it out, remember?”

I sat in silence.  I really didn’t know what to say.  He looked at me and said “you were chosen.”

“Chosen?” I asked with bewilderment.  “Chosen by whom?”

Harville said “by Parker.  She left specific instructions that should something happen to her, you were to be contacted.  You may not have respected her but she respected you.”

The conversation seemed to be over when he asked “so what do you say?  “Are you in?”

I needed to know more.  I couldn’t just arbitrarily give him an answer.  I said “I need more information.”

He looked at me and said “well, you’re not going to get it.”

I finally gave a weak “okay.”  Harville read me like a cheap novel and didn’t seem to appreciate what he perceived to be uncertainty.  “This is no time for a flip, half-assed, insincere agreement.  You have to be dead sure,” he said.

“You have a choice of whether to read what’s inside or leave it here.  Once you have read it, there will be no turning back.  Your life will be forever changed and you must be prepared for that.”

I told him that I understood.  Harville looked at me and said “do I have your word?”

I’ve been known to stretch the truth a little or skirt around it when necessary, but when I give my word, I will not break it.  My word is my bond and it is written in stone.

He shook my hand and gave me the folder.  He held onto my hand and looked me square in the eyes as he said “great tragedy can befall a man who breaks his word.”

As I was walking out, I thought I could hear my knees knocking.  I stopped at the door, turned and said “you didn’t mention the tattoo.”

He looked at me and said “you’re right.  I didn’t.”

As I was walking back to my car, I couldn’t help but wonder.

“Had I just sold my soul to the Devil?”


To be continued_____________________



The Equalizer – Chapter Twelve

Harville glanced at his telephone and said “that call changed my life forever.  Officer McDowell was on the phone and told me that he was sure Parker Patterson was in his interrogation room.  My first reaction was of course to completely dismiss him but he was adamant.”

Officer McDowell said “according to what we can determine, you are her Godfather.  Is that correct?”

Harville said “I don’t think I even answered.  I called my driver, Porter and told him that we were going to the police station.  I wasn’t sure what I would find.  I had always believed, or wanted to believe, that Parker was still alive and part of me wanted to shout with joy but the other part of me was thinking ‘this could just be a cruel joke’.”

“When I walked into the room, I immediately knew that it was her.  She looked up and for a few seconds, I wondered if she remembered me.  She held her gaze but didn’t even offer a twitch as far as recognition.  I walked over. bent down and asked her if she knew who I was.”

“She looked at me but didn’t respond.  I offered my hand but she didn’t take it.  I told her that I was her Godfather and guardian and I would be taking care of her.”

“A victim’s advocate had tried to talk to her but again, no response.  Since I was to essentially take custody of her, the advocate and I agreed that she should be taken to the hospital for a thorough check-up.”

“Parker didn’t resist any of our efforts.  She got up and walked with us to the car.  On the way to the hospital, I told her who she was.  She never even blinked.  I told her that a doctor was going to do a ‘minor’ check-up, just to make sure she was alright.”

“I felt like a cad.  Of course she wasn’t alright.  Who knew what hell she had been through during the last ten years?  I certainly didn’t and she wasn’t talking.”

“Dr. Trask came up and introduced himself.  I told him who she was, what had happened to her and how long she had been gone.  He shook his head and said, ‘I remember that kidnapping.  Well, let’s have a look’.”

“After what seemed like forever, Dr. Trask came out to talk to us.  He said ‘well, she wouldn’t let me touch her but she did allow us to take x-rays’.

“He went on to say ‘I have never in my entire practice, seen such injuries.  Almost every bone in her body has at some time, been broken.  She doesn’t bear any physical scars but I can only imagine what kind of mental and psychological damage has been done’.”

“He said ‘we couldn’t get her to talk which makes me wonder if maybe she has forgotten how.  Ten years is a long time and being so young, it’s possible she’s forgotten how, especially if no one was talking to her.  Captivity and severe abuse can do things to you’.”

Harville said he asked Dr. Trash what he would recommend.  He said “I would just try to make her feel as safe as you can and see what happens. You know of course, about Stockholm’s syndrome, right?  She may try to bolt and go back to the person or persons who held her captive, or she may not.  Physically she is fine.  Her breaks have healed nicely.”

Harville paused long enough for me to ask him if he remembered how he felt the first time he saw her.  Big mistake.

“Are you a fucking moron or something?” he asked.  “How am I supposed to answer a question like that?”  I apologized and said something lame like “I’m sorry.  I just can’t imagine.”  He glared at me and said “of course you can’t imagine you twit, unless you have been in that situation.”

Then he said “can I continue or do you have any more asinine questions?”  Embarrassed, I asked him to please continue.

“I brought her here and showed her where she would be staying.  I asked her if maybe she would like to go shopping for some new clothes.  She never answered.”

“I don’t know how long she had been wearing the clothes she had on when she was found and it took Maria, my maid, a while to let her at least wash them.  After a few weeks, Parker seemed to warm to Maria and would wear the clothes she bought for her.  She never thanked her but her eyes would sometimes light up.”

“Maria tried to hug her once and Parker abruptly stepped back.  Even though it was apparent that she was touched starved, she was repulsed by the very thought.”

“Parker seemed to be comfortable here but she always walked with her back to the wall, almost scooting along with her hands out as if trying to feel for a doorway or something.  When she walked up or down the stairs, her back was to the wall.”

“She spent almost all of her time in this library.  I would lay odds that she read every single book in here.  It was like she was trying to satisfy a long ago forgotten voracious appetite for the written word.”  He motioned toward the corner and said “she always sat in that chair, with her back to the wall.”

Harville’s eyes teared up when he said “I once saw her standing in front of my grand piano and wondered if it triggered anything.  I told her there was music in the seat, if she’d like to play something and walked away.  I never saw her look at it again.”

“I would talk to her just like I would talk to anyone but I never again asked her if she remembered me.  I never asked if she remembered her parents.  I never told her what happened to them nor did I ever ask what happened to her.  You know, I didn’t care if all I got was silence.  I knew she listened because she would make eye contact and a few times she looked at me like she wanted to ask me a question…but she never did.”

“After a year, she finally spoke.”


To be continued___________





The Equalizer – Chapter Eleven

He seemed to have drifted away and I had been warned not to interrupt so I didn’t dare.

He buzzed for the butler.  “Mr. Winslow, would you please bring us a light lunch and some coffee?  We’ll have it out on the veranda.”

Mr. Winslow, acting every bit as prim and proper as Mr. Carson on Downton Abbey said “of course, sir.  Right away.”  It was clear that we were going to eat lunch before the conversation continued.

We were served a scrumptious salad made of baby spinach leaves, topped with strawberries and almond slivers.  That was followed by Jerk Salmon with a hefty helping of Couscous.  Although out of my realm of casual dining, I imagined that Mr. Harville dined that way every day, served by said prim and proper butler.  Yep.  I still hated him.

We finished our meal and went back to the library, where he surprised me when he pulled out a box of cigars from Gurkha Her Majesty’s Reserve, which he boasted cost $15,000 a box.  The number 38 was stenciled on the box and I wondered if that was an indication of just how many boxes he owned.  I didn’t ask and although I didn’t smoke, I graciously accepted and hoped that I didn’t make a fool of myself by coughing up a lung while trying to pretend that I knew what I was doing.

Once again, he leaned back in his overstuffed chair that I was sure cost as much as that box of cigars, took a few puffs and began.

“When Parker was five years old, she was kidnapped.  After a frantic search, ransom demands were sent to the Patterson’s.  The demand was ten million dollars for her safe return.”

“They consulted me of course and asked me to get the money together.  I urged them to follow the FBI’s protocol, which was to not pay the ransom. We reminded them that after 48 hours the victim rarely survives and it had already been 36 hours, but they were determined.”

Against the FBI’s advice and mine, they agreed to pay the ransom. Arrangements were made for the trade but the FBI had placed cut-up pieces of paper in the bag in lieu of actual cash.  The kidnappers were being watched and knew they were being watched.  After they noticed they had been scammed, they opened fire, killed the agents and escaped.”

“There was one more phone call to the Patterson’s and that was to tell them that they had ‘fucked with the wrong people’.  They didn’t get another call and two weeks later, their house burned to the ground.  When the fire was put out, their bodies were found and aside from being charred, they had been tortured.”

“No one could figure out how the killers gained access through the Patterson’s tight security.  One agent suggested that Parker may have been used as a means of gaining entrance.  If that was true, it would never be known.  If she had witnessed their torture, it would also never be known. All of the security cameras and videos were destroyed in the fire.”

“In reality though, everyone assumed that Parker was dead.  She was ‘buried’ alongside her parents.  I was Parker’s Godfather and the Patterson’s will stated that their entire fortune would go to Parker but would remain in my possession until she reached the age of 25.”

As I listened, I was mesmerized and had a bazillion questions but he had already warned me not to interrupt, so I just sat and waited for the “next chapter.”

He continued.  “Even though we buried Parker and her parents, I could never shake the feeling that Parker might still be alive.  We always had a special connection and I didn’t feel like it had been ‘broken’ for some reason. You know how sometimes you just feel something in your gut?  I never gave up hope that some day, she would come skipping down the hall and into my library.”

I remember the sadness in his eyes and I didn’t care if I made him mad by “speaking out of turn.”  I said “obviously, she survived.”

He didn’t react in the hostile way I expected when he said “well, there’s surviving and then there’s surviving.  Yes, she survived in that she was still breathing.  The kidnappers had kept her but they had not kept her as a toy or a child of their own.”

“When she was fifteen, she somehow managed to escape.  A farmer found her running along a road out in the country and called the police.  They weren’t quite sure what to make of the situation but they took her to the station and she offered no resistance.  At the station, several officers tried to talk to her, both male and female but she wouldn’t say a word.  She just sat in the corner with her head resting on her knees.”

“A sharp-eyed officer remembered seeing a missing child flyer from ten years earlier.  Using the process of age-progression, a rendering of what Parker Patterson might look like at fifteen years old revealed a dead-on match and a little digging into the past, revealed my name.”

“I’ll never forget the day my phone rang.”


To be continued_______________


The Equalizer – Chapter Ten

I managed a meek “okay.”  Harville said “she was a piece of work, wasn’t she?”  I nodded in agreement.  He smiled when he said “I understand she spanked your bottom a few times.”

I could feel my face flush as I tried unsuccessfully to attribute the “butt kicking” to my youthful inexperience but I knew Harville wasn’t buying it.

“She sent quite a few of you crying home to your mamas, didn’t she?”  I began my defense but he quickly dismissed me by saying “save it.  I want to tell you a little about Parker Patterson but first, I want you to tell me what you really thought of her and you can be honest.”

I put on my big boy panties and said “okay.  I thought she was a fucking bitch and I hated her.  I never could understand how she could so vehemently defend people who were lower than pond scum and not only that, but get them protection.  Protection!  Like they actually had some kind of value to society.  Like they were somehow entitled to special treatment after they had raped, murdered and destroyed other people’s lives.  I’ll be honest with you.  More than once, I wished somebody would end her.”

I felt ashamed after my rant and tried to temper it with the stupid statement “but I’m sorry that she was killed.  She didn’t deserve to die that way.”

Harville figuratively yanked the chair out from under me when he said “that was a pretty visceral response.  Were you in love with her?”

“No!” I proclaimed rather loudly, “but I will say that I admired her and envied her ability to win every single time.  Every single time!  She always found a loop-hole or a mistake or some way to make the rest of us look like rank amateurs.  But I will admit that she was drop dead gorgeous.”

I tested the waters when I flippantly said “tell me.  Were you in love with her?”

That question seemed to anger him at first.  He looked down and there was obvious pain in his voice when he said “yes, I did but I didn’t love her in the way you are implying.”  His reply was genuine and I felt like a cad because I could see the anguish in his face.

Still wearing my big boy panties, I switched gears and took charge.  “Okay. Tell me about Parker Carolina Patterson.”

He leaned back in his big, impressive chair and began.  “Parker Patterson was high-born.  Do you know what that means?”  I stopped just short of asking him if he thought I was a complete idiot.  Of course I knew what it meant to be high-born.

“Well,” he went on.  Her father invented a little gadget that nobody knew they needed until he convinced them that they needed it.  He patented it, marketed it and became a multi-billionaire.  That’s billionaire with a B,” he said.

“Parker was not only the apple of her parents’ eyes, she was a child prodigy. She was reading at three years old and actually read “War and Peace” when she was four.  She was a brilliant pianist and I remember seeing her sitting in front of that huge Steinway grand piano.  Her little fingers were flying over those keys like a bumblebee in a garden of daisies.”

I interrupted him and said “you knew her when she was a little girl?”  This time I think he was the one who had to stop just short of asking me if I was a complete idiot.  He shook his head and said “how else would I know these things?  He looked sternly at me and said “don’t interrupt me again.  I don’t like it.”

After I apologized, he continued.  “I was the Patterson’s attorney and they were my only clients.  As you can tell, they paid me quite handsomely.  In return, I was totally devoted to them.”

“They were as honest as the day was long and never asked me to hide assets or misrepresent their wealth in any way.  They were very unassuming and gracious about their wealth and position and that’s a rare trait, son.”

“They were very generous to charities.  If they saw a homeless veteran, they would put them up for weeks and sometimes months.  They would open their home on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  They didn’t care if you wandered in off the street or were another ‘blue blood’ who had been invited.”

“Parker met each one at the front door and handed them a gift and a card.  They were living the perfect American dream.”

He hesitated for a minute and said “then, one day…..”



To be continued______________________

The Equalizer – Chapter Nine

The next morning, I decided to make one more call to Harville.  Knowing he wouldn’t answer, I put the phone down, threw my feet up on the desk and started drinking my coffee.  I almost spit my coffee all over my pant legs when he actually answered the phone.

I had gone over and over in my mind exactly what I was going to say if and when he ever answered but suddenly, my mind went completely blank.  It seemed like an hour before I finally blurted out the words “the equalizer.”

Harville said “I’ll book you on the next flight to Chicago.  Somebody will be waiting to pick you up.  Plan on spending a few days.”  Then I heard the “click.”  I have seen movies where the players hear that click and continue to say “hello?  Hello?  Hello?”  I never understood that.  I would yell “you stupid idiot!  Why are you still saying hello?  They hung up!”

Call me a stupid idiot.  I found myself saying “hello?  Hello?”

Oh boy.  Obviously Harville thought that I had “figured it out,” but I didn’t have a clue what was going on.  I would have to fake it.  Maybe I’d pull the ole “what do you think?” hoping he would think I knew what the hell I was talking about and start telling me what I didn’t know.  I knew I was going to be intimidated by his “status” but I was determined to act like I wasn’t.

I got to the airport just in time, given the short notice.  It was a relatively short flight and when I walked through the terminal, I saw a well dressed chauffeur, holding a sign bearing my name.

When we got outside, he opened the door to a stretch limousine.  Of course. What was I expecting?  A ticket for a ride on the city bus?  When I got in, that song “How Do You Like Me Now?” popped into my head.  Yep. I wasn’t on the “list” but I was being chauffeured around in a limousine.  That was class.

I had to snap back into reality because I was about to face Harville and like I said, I knew nothing.  I figured the worst that could happen is that he would toss me out and I would be relegated to fetching a cab back to the airport.

The limousine pulled up to what could only be described as a mansion with a well-groomed lawn, luscious landscaping and a fountain that was as big as my living room.  Okay.  I was duly impressed.

I rang the doorbell and I kid you not.  The classic British butler answered.  I told him who I was and he said “of course.  My name is Mr. Winslow.  Mr. Harville is expecting you.  Please follow me into the library.”

I looked around the room and felt like I had landed in the middle of a storybook castle.  “Please make yourself comfortable,” Mr Winslow said. “Might I bring you a cup of tea?”  I thanked him but declined.  “Oh, yes,” he said.  “I forgot.  You Yanks prefer coffee.  Might I bring you a cup of coffee then?”

I politely declined once again and he said “very well.  Mr. Harville will be with you shortly.”  I spent a few minutes, fantasizing about what his life must be like.  Butlers, maids, chauffeurs, limousines and it was a given that he had his own chef.  I decided that I hated him.

Don’t misunderstand.  I lived comfortably.  I had a nice home, drove a nice car and had money in the bank but I had started at the bottom and clawed my way to the top.  But being there, it seemed like my top was almost like his rock bottom.  Yep.  I hated him.

He finally came into the room and at that very instant, I realized that I had forgotten to bring the autopsy report.  I was hosed.  He shook my hand and told me to sit.  He got comfortable in his overstuffed leather chair behind his, what I was sure was a hand crafted desk.

As he glared at me, I sheepishly admitted that I had forgotten the report.

“I don’t give a shit about that report,” he said.  “You think I needed to see that report?”  I shrugged and asked why he had requested that I get it and send it to him.  “YOU’re the one who needed to see that report,” he scowled. I was at a loss.  I didn’t have a clue what to do or say next.  He obviously thought I knew what the hell he was talking about.

He opened a drawer and pulled out a rather thick folder.  He plopped it down on his desk and said “look through this.”

“What is it?” I asked.  He acted a little perturbed and said “I don’t like to give instructions twice and I don’t like to repeat myself.  Understand?”  I nodded, I think.

“Now, ” he said.  “Before you do that, let’s talk about Parker.”



To be continued________________







The Equalizer – Chapter Eight

What the hell did “the equalizer” mean?  I didn’t know but I was damn sure going to find out.  I told the coroner that I had changed my mind and I would take the report.

Harville’s words were once again knocking on my brain.  “Call me when you figure it out.”  I hadn’t figured anything out but I was hell-bent on finding out what those words meant and how they tied into Parker’s last word.  I also knew that Harville was the only person who could help me.

I flew into my office and told my clerk to get Harville on the phone.  “What should I say?” she asked.  I had to hold my tongue while I was thinking “you are dumber than a bag of hammers, aren’t you?”  I collected myself and calmly asked her to just make the call.

A few minutes later, she knocked on my door and said “there was no answer.”  I shook my head.  I knew what the answer to my next question was going to be but I asked anyway.  “Did you leave a message?”

“No,” she said.  “You didn’t ask me to.”  For a second, I thought I was going to go into orbit and stroke out.  I envisioned snapping her useless head off and using it as a bowling ball but on second thought, hollow bowling balls won’t knock down many, if any, pins.

This gal had been hired because she was the niece of one of the partners. How I got strapped with her, I have no idea but she sure wasn’t office material.  It was like trying to teach a first grader to write when they had never seen a pencil or a piece of paper.  I was sure I was being punished for some reason.

I emphasized every single word as I said “call him back and if he doesn’t answer, leave a message and that message should be that I would like for him to return my call at his earliest convenience.  Do you think you can handle that?”

She smiled and gave me a cutesy “of course.”  I’m not sure she was even bright enough to understand when she was being insulted.  I didn’t care.  I just wanted to talk to Harville.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to say to him, if he called back.  I hadn’t “figured” anything out but I did believe that there was a connection between the word “tattoo” and the actual tattooed words “the equalizer.”

What was she trying to tell me?  I was sure that the last word she uttered wasn’t to let me know that she had a tattoo.  I just kept asking myself. What does it mean?  What does it mean?

I waited all afternoon for Harville’s call.  It didn’t come.  I had already decided that he wasn’t going to get the autopsy report until he returned my call.  It was pure petulance on my part but I didn’t care.  If it pissed him off, tough shit.  If he wanted the report, he would have to talk to me first.

I left my office feeling a little smug, although I really didn’t know why. Maybe I felt like I had the upper hand because I was holding the autopsy report hostage.

I had a conversation with myself all the way home.  Not only was I talking to myself, I was answering myself.  “Like Harville is going to fold because you’re pouting like a child.  Like he’s going to tell you the answer to what you haven’t figured out yet.  Like he’s even going to return your call.  You’re a fucking idiot and he knows it.”

I battled myself long enough and decided I would let it go until the next morning.  I had it in mind to just barrage him with calls until he responded. Sure, with the clerk I had, that would mean a call every other month maybe, if I was lucky.

I strolled into my office and asked for Harville’s number.  My clerk said “oh. Do you want me to call him?”  I told her that I did not and I would like for her to give me his number.

I called and of course, got no answer.  I left a rather hostile, not threatening, but hostile message.  I told him that I had the autopsy report and stopped just short of telling him that I intended to keep it until he returned my call. I stressed the importance of a return call and told him that I would be anxiously waiting.

I wasn’t listed in The Chamber’s Legal Library but I tried to act like a big shot, you know, like I was someone of substance that warranted a call from the noted Mr. Morgan Ayers Harville, Esquire.

Another call went unanswered, and another and another.  I started doodling “the equalizer.”  I was trying to take an analytical approach.  “Okay.  What is the definition of an equalizer?”

“One who equalizes.  One who gets even.  One who counterbalances.  One who evens the score.  In slang terms, it can mean a gun.”

I was on to something!  I quickly dismissed the gun definition.

“Getting even.”  Who was she getting even with?  Other attorneys?  That was a good question but I didn’t have an answer.

“Counterbalancing.”  What was she counterbalancing?  Guilt versus innocence?  Righteousness versus pure evil?  I wasn’t sure.

“Evening the score.”  What was the game and who were the players?  Was the game the trial?  Were the players the accused or the victims?  Somehow, I couldn’t get that to make any sense.

But like I said, I thought I was on to something and it had to do with something or someone being “equalized.”


To be continued_________________