It had been nearly six months since his trip to New Orleans and that fateful night with Lana. He simply couldn’t explain it but he couldn’t get her out of his mind. What hurt the most was the way she left. After she broke the news to him that she was married, she simply walked out of his life. She didn’t even attempt to explain things. It was like the night and their time together meant nothing to her. David was still devastated by that. He never thought that he would be a “One- Night Stand”.
After she left, David stayed in his suite and drank until he passed out. David isn’t much of a drinker but that night was different. The longer he stayed there thinking about Lana, the more he wanted to go look for her, but she obviously wanted nothing to do with him or else she wouldn’t have left the way she did. After nearly a half of fifth of Crown Royal, David was out like a light. The next morning came sooner than he had wanted. Even though he was still in some what of a drunken stupor, he was awake after only a few hours.
Shortly after he woke up that morning, he found himself sitting in his truck across the street from the coffee shop. He spent hours sitting there debating whether or not he should go in and confront Lana. After several hours, he decided it was probably best that he just left and chalked it up to experience. By the time David checked out of the Quarter House it was late afternoon.
While leaving town, David couldn’t help but notice the large amount of police cars passing up traffic with their blue strobe lights flashing in rapid sequences and their sirens loudly pleading for traffic to move aside. There had to be at least eight police cars and three ambulances. Even though this wasn’t anything unusual, David had a gut wrenching feeling as the emergency caravan passed up traffic. His first thought was Lana. He couldn’t get the image of this out of his mind; that sweet smile, those loving eyes, and that glorious personality. David had the strangest feeling that something was wrong; but simply blew it off. To this day he remembers feeling lower than he had ever felt as he turned on the radio and heard Poison’s “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” then Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares To You”. After the way his day was going, David turned off the radio and drove the rest of the trip home in silence.
Even now, nearly six months later, not a minute goes by without him thinking about her. Trying hard not to be obsessive about it, David has been trying to go on with his daily routines like before but she continues to enter his mind. It was truly driving him crazy. It was clearly apparent to his family, friends, and employees that he hasn’t been himself these last six months. They had no idea what it was other than the fact that he just wasn’t the same David that they knew and loved.
As he entered the kitchen area of his main restaurant in Lafayette’s Historic District, David could see a few of the employees scattering from the far corner. They knew that because he had changed, they were probably going to be in trouble for not doing their jobs. In the past he would have joked and kidded around with them but now he has a very short fuse. He has no patience for anything anymore.
As David approached the small table where the employees were gathering, he saw what it was that they were doing. They were reading the comic strips from a news paper. Looking around, he saw the kitchen manager and the front manager walking through the main doors leading into the kitchen. David simply pointed to his office in the back and they both followed.
Once inside, David immediately began scolding them both for not properly supervising their staff. After it was over, the front manager left but the kitchen manager stayed behind.
The Kitchen Manager was David’s brother, Christopher, and he felt that he could say anything to David that needed to be said.
Christopher wasted no time, “David, what the hell is wrong with you? These people here bust their asses to make your restaurants a success and you don’t even give a shit anymore. What the fuck is going on with you?”
David instantly responded to his brother, “Chris, if I wanted you to know; then I would have pulled you in here and started telling you… but since that didn’t happen, then maybe you should take the hint and get back to work.”
“You’re a fucking prick you know that. You used to take pride in everything you do Dave. Hell, now days you might shave once a week and I can’t remember the last time I saw your grass cut at your house. Dave, the damned place looks abandoned for Christ sake.”
Standing up from his seated position behind his desk, David quickly shot back at his brother, “It would appear as though you have a fucking choice to make Chris, you can either get back to work like I’m paying you to do or you can get the fuck out”
It didn’t take Chris long to make his decision, “Fuck off Davey Boy”. With that, he threw his apron at David and left.
Sitting back down behind his desk, David knew that he may have just pushed things too far. Looking over at the newspaper that the employees were crowded around, David picked it up and flung it across the room. He knew that he was tired of feeling this way he just didn’t know what he could do about it. Maybe he needed help.
Standing up from behind the desk, David began walking towards the front door of his office. As he started stepping over the newspaper that he had just thrown, he looked down and his heart dropped. He couldn’t believe what he was looking at.
There was a picture of Lana on the front page being escorted by two Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Deputies. David couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He didn’t waste time leaning over and picking up the paper. His knees felt week as he studied the headline, “LOCAL WOMAN INDICTED FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER”.
David quickly began reading the article about how she was an abused wife who claimed self defense after she shot her husband nearly six months ago. It also said how she was being defended by an indigent defender. David was speechless.
He immediately called his attorney. The Baton Rouge based attorney that David used for his financial affairs was the best in the state. Although not a criminal lawyer, he had to know who the best criminal attorney in Louisiana was. On his instructions, a meeting was set up for three PM in Baton Rouge with the best around. That gave David five hours to get there but it was actually just over an hour’s drive.
After making his phone call, he picked up the newspaper then left the restaurant and made his way towards his truck. Standing next to his truck was Christopher. As David made it closer, Christopher spoke, “Davey boy, first thing first, I’m not here to beg for my job... I can find another job, but I only have one brother… what’s going on with you Bro?”
David opened the passenger side door of his truck, and told Chris, “I don’t have time to stand here and talk right now but you’re welcome to come with me.”
Chris got into the truck and left with his brother then asked, “Where are we going?”
“Well Chris, first we are going to my place to get changed then we are going on a road trip to Baton Rouge.” After saying that, David handed him the newspaper; “Read this then we will talk.”
After reading the article, Chris was loaded with questions but it began with the most logical one, “What does this have to do with you?”
With the exception of the sexual details, David told Chris everything. He even told him how he felt about Lana and how she left him that fateful afternoon.
“Bro, if she left you like that, she obviously doesn’t have any feelings for you. So again I ask; Why are you doing this?”
“It’s hard to explain Chris; I just know that it’s something that I have to do. I feel for her deeper than I’ve felt for anyone in my entire life. I don’t know how it happened but it just did. It started out as another conquest but something happened to me Chris. That night at Jackson Square we really connected. I just know that I have to do this.”
“Davey Boy, how do you know she wasn’t playing you?”
“I don’t know, but I have to do this”
After they finished their talk and made their trip to Baton Rouge, David felt as if he had a purpose in life again. He had a mission.
When they arrived at the law offices in Baton Rouge, David and Christopher made their way into the main lobby. It wasn’t unusual that they were met by David’s attorney and not a mere assistant or secretary. Even though David was a multi-millionaire and should be used to such royal treatment, he never did become accustomed to it. He always felt as though he was putting people out of their way when they did such things. This was a mere product of his “Down to Earth” personality.
As David’s attorney walked them into his conference room on the 10th floor of the office building, he could see a rather well dressed man looking through the windows on the opposite side of the room. Looking past the man, David could see the unmistakable peak of the Louisiana State Capital building and the bridge that stretched over the mighty Mississippi River. It was an awe-inspiring site.
As the meeting began, the well dressed stranger was introduced as Clarke Chapman; esquire.
As the four men sat down, David started the meeting by introducing himself and his brother. “Mr. Chapman, My name is David Friske and this is my brother Christopher. I am not an important man by any means. But I do have important business to discuss with you. There is a young lady in New Orleans that was recently indicted for the attempted murder of her husband.”
David then slide a file folder to Mr. Chapman which contained the newspaper clipping and a single sheet of paper containing the name and the address for Lana’s Coffee Shop in the French Quarter. “Please read over this article then I will continue.”
While Mr. Chapman read the article, David stood and retrieved himself a drink from the small bar at the opposite end of the conference room.
“David, how well do you know this woman?” asked the criminal attorney after he completed with the article.
“Well enough to know that she wouldn’t ever try to or even complete a murder, Mr. Chapman.” David responded as he sat back down in the plush leather chair. “Mr. Chapman, your task is simple. I need your services to be made available to this young lady immediately and pro bono”
Mr. Chapman shifted in his seat at the proposal that he should take this case for free. It was a travesty. “David your not my client and neither is she, its very unrealistic that I would even consider such a proposal”.
David reached into his jacket pocket and recovered a small but thickly packed envelope and slid it towards the reluctant attorney. After Mr. Chapman opened the envelope, his mouth dropped as he saw a large amount of $100.00 bills neatly packed inside.
“Mr. Chapman, its simple. I will pay you the sum of $20,000.00 to take the case. That’s much more than you would normally make even if she were to pay for your services. In return you have to simply seek her out and offer your services pro bono. Even have her sign over all media rights to the case and the surrounding circumstances of the case as a part of the pro bono deal. After she is found not guilty, you can go off and write a best seller on the case having all media rights. Once you’ve done that, I have a few friends in Los Angeles that may be interested in your book. Mr. Chapman, it is a win- win scenario for you. Nothing out of pocket.”
“I have to admit that it’s an interesting offer now that you put it that way.” Chapman said with a slight grin.
All the men at the table burst into laughter as he responded. Even Christopher sat back and knew that David had the high priced lawyer at this point. He loved to watch his brother at work. He was awesome at convincing people to do things that they don’t really want to do.
After the laughter slowed, Mr. Chapman continued, “Now David you do understand that there may be expenses incurred for her defense in the event it goes to trial”
“Well Mr. Chapman, that’s why you are here and not any other criminal attorney. All you have to do is ensure that she’s found not guilty. The money in that envelope is for your time during the course of this case. I expect your firm to absorb all costs incurred because as you very well know, Domestic Violence stories are a big seller now days. And that includes bonding her out of that god forsaken jail. You will get your investment back three fold and you know it as well as I do.” After a slight pause and finishing off his double Crown Royal on the rocks, David continued, “Mr. Chapman, I may be from a small town but believe me when I say that I’m a ‘Big City Business Man’, please don’t insult my intelligence.”
Somewhat uncomfortable at the fact that David was under the impression that he had been insulted, Chapman retorted, “No insult intended David…”
David quickly interrupted the apologetic gentleman, “Mr. Chapman, make no mistake, I can hang with the best of um. Now unlike most cases you have been approached with in the past, I have two more stipulations. First one is that I expect an answer immediately.”
Taken aback by the firm manner that David’s voice had taken, Chapman looked down at the twenty grand then responded, “David, I have lots of cases in the works and can’t just drop them on the spot.”
“I’m not asking you to drop your other cases, I’m simply asking you to make this one your priority… and I do mean YOU and not one of your flunkies. If I wanted a flunky I wouldn’t have asked you here.”
Chapman was impressed at David’s negotiation skills, “Ok, I will take the case. What’s the second stipulation?”
Standing up, David walked back over to the small bar and poured himself another shot. The room stayed silent as David looked at the glass of whiskey then put it back on the bar. He didn’t need this. It wasn’t in him to drink as much as he has these last six months.
As he made his way back to his chair, David simply stood and looked into Chapman’s eyes. “This is the easiest stipulation of them all Mr. Chapman. This meeting never took place. You want to take this case pro bono and it’s as simple as that. Understood?”
Standing from his seat, Chapman reached to shake David’s hand and replied, “Understood”.
Lana sat in her cold cell in the Orleans Parish Correctional Center. How did she get here? The District Attorney told her that he wasn’t going to pursue the case. He told her that he believed it was self defense. What is she doing here? How did her life get so fucking screwed up?
As she sat there thinking about her life, she reminisced about that night with David. She knew that he was the one. Why did she have to fuck that up?
She felt like they were the perfect match. They are two struggling small business professionals; trying to make a modest living. She knew that she had to be honest if she was ever going to have a chance with him. She just never expected him to be so quiet when she told him that she was married. She knew the moment he fell silent for all those minutes, that his silence was his reply. She thought back to the morning after when she more than expected him to come into the coffee shop but was heart broken again when he didn’t.
Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard a jailor calling her name and her automated cell door slid open. Cautiously peering out from the opened door, she could see the jailor at the end of the block motioning her to follow. Noticing her reluctance and fear of her surroundings, the female deputy stated, “It’s ok honey, you have visitors it’s your attorneys.”
Not in the mood, Lana simply replied, “Oh that court appointed idiot. With my life in his hands, I’m as good as dead” she said with a slight chuckle of laughter.
“Well girl, having two attorneys is better than not having any at all.” The jailor replied.
“Two attorneys? I only have that idiot from the Indigent Defender’s Board”. Lana replied
“Well, all I know is that you have two visitors and they are both attorneys. One is that kid they assigned you from the Indigent Defenders Board but the other one looks high dollar. That definitely isn’t any $200.00 Montgomery Ward special he has on.”
After the female deputy placed the required handcuffs around Lana’s wrists, she escorted her to the interview room where the attorneys were waiting.
As she entered the small crowded interview room, Lana sat at the end of the small table. She despised this room. It was barely eight feet by eight feet and only contained the small table and four chairs. There was a wall sized mirror at the end of the room. That was one thing that she never understood. Who were the police actually fooling with this device? Who in the world didn’t know that there were people on the other side watching and listening to everything being said in the small room?
After sitting down she looked over at her attorney, if you could call him that. She hated this kid; he looked like he wasn’t old enough to have a driver’s license much less have a license to practice criminal law. His name was Timothy Turner. He was in his late twenties and only passed the Bar a year ago. He started working at the Indigent Defenders Board shortly after getting his license. When they first met, he explained to Lana that this was his first Attempted Murder case but handled many felonies since he became licensed. But what Lana wasn’t told until their third meeting, was that none of those felony cases involved “Crimes Against Persons”. They were all property offenses. Cases like Felony Theft or Felony Damages to Property, things of that sort. This obviously didn’t do much to instill confidence in her situation or in her life line. This young attorney was trying to get his career cherry popped with her case and that made her nervous as hell.
Shortly after she sat down, the pimply faced attorney eagerly introduced his companion. “Lana, this is Clarke Chapman. He is a criminal attorney from Baton Rouge. He has a proposal to make and for the record, I think Christmas has come early this year.” She had no idea why the kid was so happy it was almost as if he was in the company of a Hollywood movie star.
Lana sarcastically answered, “Well kid its apparent that you’re the only one in the room that still believes in Santa Claus. Why haven’t you been able to get me out of here? Doesn’t anyone believe in me anymore?”
Chapman wanted so badly to answer that for her. He knew someone that believed in her. But for reasons unknown to him he couldn’t tell her how he truly came to be there.
“Lana, as my associate mentioned, I am Clarke Chapman. I am a Criminal Attorney from Baton Rouge. I read about your case in a newspaper clipping and would like to represent you. I have tried thousands of cases in the past twenty plus years and I think you will find my representation quite satisfying.”
The kid couldn’t contain his excitement any longer; he had to put his two cents in, “He’s never lost a case… we are set”. He said with total delight. It was almost as if he had just lost his virginity. Both Chapman and Lana looked at the young attorney. Chapman covered his face to keep from laughing but Lana couldn’t resist the chance. She looked at the youngling and asked, “Kid was that your first orgasm?”
It was almost as if the young lawyer’s dog had died. The look on his face instantly turned from excitement to total devastation. “Lana, I don’t know what I’ve done to you to deserve this but I don’t like it.”
“That’s just it” Lana quickly replied “you haven’t done anything… I’m still in here.”
Chapman felt as though he had to step in and save his companion from further humiliation. “Lana, I’m here to ask your permission to represent you in your legal battles…”
Lana had to interrupt Chapman, “All due respect Mr. Chapman, but looking at the quality of that suit, I don’t think I can afford your services.”
“Well Lana, have you ever heard of ‘Pro- Bono’?”
“It was mentioned in a movie I saw once. Isn’t it where you represent me for free or something?”
“That’s exactly what it means. I would like to represent you but not exactly for free. I would like only one thing in exchange. I would like your permission to have any media rights to the story for possible publication. That means you don’t talk to any reporters unless I am with you or unless I supply you with an orchestrated response so on and so forth.”
“Publication? You want to write a book about me?” Lana asked in surprise.
“The thought has crossed my mind. But again the risk I’m taking is that during the course of the case, I may change my mind and not do it for whatever reason but that’s the gamble I will take. But none the less, I have with me a contract where we both agree to something. I agree to extend my services free of charge and you agree to let me publish your story if I decide to do so.”
Looking at Chapman and then to the kid, Lana decided that something was better than nothing. “Can I read over this contract?”
“By all means” Chapman replied as he handed over a folder containing the papers.
The contract didn’t seem too complicated. It contained the standard legal format with big words that most people didn’t know the definitions of. But the jest of it was relatively simple. It was just as simple as he had explained it to her. But one question continued to loom in her mind.
“Mr. Chapman, I know I asked this already but I still don’t understand one thing. Why me?”
He suspected that she would press this issue. Chapman was a very ethical man. Although he never legally agreed to David not to reveal his involvement by way of contractual agreement, he did give his word. He knew that if he told her the truth that his personal ethics would be called into question. But at the same time he couldn’t bring himself to lie to Lana either. That would be no way to start a professional relationship with her and if ever she found out, then she would never trust him again. Chapman decided that it was best to tell the truth and stay with the truth.
“Lana, like I said, I read about your case in a newspaper clipping…” Although not the absolute truth, he did in fact read about it in the newspaper clipping that David gave to him during their meeting. It was a technicality but he suspected that it would suffice. “…and I was given the pro bono idea from someone I know through an associate who is a financial attorney in Baton Rouge. It’s just that simple ma’am.”
“Oh my god, I can’t believe this is happening. You mean to tell me that its just that simple, I have a real attorney for free?” it was then that she caught what she said and decided to spare “junior” any further humiliation, “I mean a more experienced attorney”.
Chapman felt for his younger associate. He knows that young attorneys try hard but still have a lot to learn before they are actually trusted by those that they represent. This trust can only be gained through experience; experience that they get through indigent work.
Lana saw the humiliation in the kid’s face and had to apologize. “I’m sorry Tim; I just lost faith here with me being arrested for defending myself and everything. I know you were doing your best. And before I agree to this ‘pro bono’ stuff, I want you to know that it isn’t because of you. I want you to know that it’s because of me. I know I’m innocent and I think that Mr. Chapman can help me more than you can right now.”
Tim couldn’t help but agree with Lana because he knew that everything she said was the absolute truth. “Lana, I know I lack experience but experience isn’t something I can get over night. But this isn’t about me getting experience. It’s about you getting out of here and away from the Attempted Murder that you have been charged with.”
Looking at Chapman, Lana spoke confidently, “Mr. Chapman, I’ll take your offer under one condition, you allow Tiny Tim here to assist in my defense.” She winked at Junior as she said it and the three of them burst into laughter.
Once Chapman agreed and the papers were signed, the two attorneys were off to do their work and Lana was escorted back to her cell.
The next day, Lana awoke to hear the female Deputy calling her again and heard the loud noises produced by her cell door automatically opening. Surprised by the commotion, Lana didn’t know what to make of it. She picked up her head and tried her best to move her hair from her face.
“Pack your bags sweetie your out of here” replied the female Deputy as she entered Lana’s cell.
Not believing what she was hearing, Lana had to ask her to repeat it. The Deputy gladly did so with a big smile on her face. Lana had the type of personality that she made friends where ever she went. And although the circumstances were a little more stressful than she wanted, jail was no different. The female deputies working her block and the other female inmates there had all grown to like Lana because she was honest with them but at the same time she didn’t take any shit from anyone. Those were two qualities that they greatly respected.
“Your out of here sweetie, your going home. The judge issued a bail order in your case and it was posted this morning. Let’s get you cleaned up and over to “Out- Processing” so you can go home”.
Lana couldn’t believe it; she was instantly exhilarated and filled with over-whelming joy. She was speechless. Without even thinking she jumped up and started to give a bug hug to the Deputy. Just before she closed the distance, Lana caught herself and stopped.
With a small giggle, the female Deputy simply responded with, “You know that isn’t allowed… but yes I’m happy for you as well. Get your things Lana so you can get out of here.”
It didn’t take as long to process out as it took to process in. Lana was surprised that she actually got several “good luck” greetings from the Deputies that she had to deal with while she was in the Parish Jail.
When she picked up her bags and walked towards the front doors, she thought for the first time since she found out she was getting out, where was she going to go? She couldn’t go home and she surly didn’t want to intrude on her friends. But under the circumstances, she knew that these were small decisions that had to be made. All she cared about right now was that she was out of jail until her trial.
As she walked towards the front doors, she could see the sunlight shining through. It was a magnificent sight indeed. That first breath of fresh air she ingested seemed more crisp and clear than any other she had ever taken in the past.