Attorney for the Damned (Apologies to Clarence Darrow), The Beginnings

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw.
—T.S. Eliot
Back at BCCC: A CO, perhaps intentionally, let slip I was a lawyer, until that moment I was basking in my ‘Bird’ standing – when I was not stressing about the immediate future, my wife and children, the real world, life – after that I had all the diversion from the tedium of routine I could wish for as I became the repository for story after story, the last refuge of hope for guys with no business hoping any longer. . . I began my four and a half year stint as the resident legal therapist in every place I was unfortunate enough in which to reside – I was transferred many times, but never alone, so my ‘attorneyness’ followed me everywhere.

Bridgeport was the beginning – it did not set the template, it was too new in every context possible for me to handle the sudden . . . . responsibility . . . . . in anything other than a hodge-podge manner – but it presaged so much more and certain truths emerged that were universal wherever I went, despite the fact I tried, very hard, to deny them.  Stereotypes were created and broken, my naivete was eroded away as resolutely and irrevocably as an M&M in the Mohave Desert. 

It started with Marc, Sad Sack (dead ringer), Robbery 1st.  He spent all day everyday telling the story of his arrest in excruciating detail, proclaiming his innocence, and avowing his cousin not only ‘did it’ he set him up.  It is his mantra, though small details changed each time he told it, kind of like Pacino trying out the nuances of a character.  The others could take it no longer and begged me, BEGGED, me to read the police reports and tell him (and them) what I thought. I did, (A constant over the next thirteen months, a dearth of reading materials – see later)  it went like this:

“Gee, Marc, the cops had nothing on you.”
“Not a thing.”
“Well, that’s good, and  . . . “
“Not one damn thing, right up to the moment you admitted you robbed the Gas Mart.”
“You wrote out and signed a full confession”
“I confessed?”
“In detail, pages forty-four through forty-eight.”
Marce dwells on that for several minutes while the room dissolves in laughter, then, “So, you mean the only thing they got on me is that I confessed?”

In many ways,, Marc set the standard for the hundreds to come.


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