Verse 9: BREAKING THE LAW
"Kochanski!" Buzz peered up through the bars of the Groton police station jail cell at the guard who had called his name. "Your lawyer's here."
"'Bout time," Buzz muttered as he got up from the bench and waited for the guard to unlock the door. He was the only one left. Billy and some anonymous drunk had been sprung hours before and Buzz had been left to his own devices all morning. The problem was that he really didn't have any devices. At first, he had tried to sleep, but couldn't get comfortable. In the end, he had contented himself with thoughts of Gloria and what he had done and would like to do to her.
The guard led him to a small windowless room. Seated at a white table was a balding man leafing through a manila folder. Raising his eyes from the papers, he invited Buzz to have a seat on the opposite side. After about a minute, the lawyer closed the folder.
"Mr. Kochanski, my name is Alvin Schumann. I have been retained by your parents to act on your behalf in this matter."
"What kept you?" Buzz complained. "Billy got out hours ago."
"Mr. Thurber was charged with simple Breach of the Peace. You were suspected of possession of narcotics, and it took longer for the tests to come back on the substance found in your pants."
"Can we keep that out?" Buzz asked nervously. "They had no search warrant."
Schumann sighed. "They did not need one. It was a routine search incident to an arrest, so shut your mouth and let me do the talking. This is costing your parents $150 an hour, and frankly I have other things to do." Buzz glowered but remained silent. "Excellent. Mr. Kochanski…."
"Call me Buzz."
"How very apt," Schumann observed. "Buzz, then. You know the expression 'dumb luck'? You are its poster child. I can tell from your blank expression that you do not understand. Fine. I'll make this as clear as I can. The police tested the substance in your pocket and found that while it might have given you cavities, its possession did not constitute a felony."
"You might have thought you were buying Ice, but you got burned." That Buzz understood. "That substance that looked like yellow rock candy?" Buzz nodded warily. "Actual rock candy.
The lawyer shook his head.
"Shit!" Buzz growled. "I'm gonna kick that motherf…" He paused, then realized the import of the lawyer's words. "That means they can't bust me for possession, right?"
"Bravo! The light dawns." Schumnann clapped his hands twice. "Since there are no felony drug charges, we are left with simple Breach of the Peace for your destruction of property worth in excess of $100, to wit, an oil painting. That is a misdemeanor. Since you have no felony record, I secured your release without you posting any bond. Sign this form," he opened the folder and slid a sheaf of paper at Buzz. "It is a Promise to Appear at a hearing on the remaining charge. You will be notified of the hearing's date within three business days."
Buzz flipped through the pages.
"They all say the same thing, Buzz," the lawyer said. "You are promising to show up on the assigned date. If you don't, you will be arrested and put back in jail. Is that understood?" Buzz nodded. Schumann handed him a silver ballpoint pen. "Sign at the X. Bear down."
Buzz scrawled his signature. Schumann took the form, and held out his hand for his pen.
“What happens then?" Buzz asked.
"You plead guilty and receive a suspended sentence, which will require you to pay restitution, a fine, and court costs, or perhaps do some community service."
"What if I want to fight it?"
"Then you plead not guilty. A trial date will be set, where you will be found guilty. That sentence will likely not be suspended, and you can expect to served 30 to 90 days in jail."
"I was provoked!" Buzz yelled.
"No doubt. Still, I advise you to plead guilty. Eighteen witnesses saw you trash that painting, with what I understand was a very expensive bottle of booze. You don't stand a chance."
"Fuck," Buzz grumbled.
"It's an unfair world. Here." Schumann removed the bottom sheet and handed it to Buzz. "For your scrapbook."
Buzz folded the sheet and stuck it in his shirt pocket. "Billy get one of these?"
The lawyer nodded, standing up. "Most likely. I'm afraid Miss Yurkel was not so lucky."
"Ashley Yurkel?" He regarded Buzz coldly. "The underage female who was arrested with you. Surely you remember her?"
"Ashley, right." A pause. "What's going to happen to her?" Buzz had entertained great plans involving Ashley and the Ice. He'd heard that you could screw for days on just one pipeful and had been eager to put that rumor to the test.
"She has been remanded to the juvenile authorities," Schumann reported. "There will be an arraignment later today. No doubt the prosecutor will seek to have her tried as an adult, something you should bear in mind in your future dating plans. Then again, the next time you see her she will almost certainly be an adult, so that is something you can look forward to."
"Aw man!" Buzz whined. His dreams of sexual excess went poof! The meth was fake and Ashley was going away to do time. This was turning out to be one piss-poor day. "This sucks."
"She sent a man to the hospital. That is a serious charge."
"It was an accident!" The lawyer looked at him questioningly. "Ash didn't mean to hurt that lardass Carlo. She was aiming at Gloria."
"I shall pass that along to her defense attorney. I am certain it will sway the jury. Now, if you will accompany me to the processing desk, you can reclaim your personal effects and we can both get on with our busy days."
The lawyer knocked on the door, the guard opened it, and all three proceeded down the hallway. Schumann turned over the papers to a uniformed officer, who date-stamped them and set them in a tray. He pulled out an envelope containing Buzz's wallet, watch, keyring, cigarettes, lighter, high school ring, and a handful of coins. Buzz checked the contents of his wallet, and then slipped it into his back pocket. The officer made him sign another form, then pressed a buzzer. A loud click indicated the door to the reception area was now unlocked. Schumann and Buzz exited together.
"Here's my card," Schumann held one out. Buzz looked at it. "If you really want to fight this charge, call me." He started for the door, but Buzz grabbed him by the sleeve.
"Hold on, man. You're a lawyer, right?"
"No, I just play one on television."
The sarcasm was lost on Buzz. "I wanna sue someone."
"Gloria! I want to sue that bitch for sexual harassment. How much will it cost for you to take the case?"
"Sexual harassment?" Schumann repeated the words as if unfamiliar to his ears.
"Yeah, I want to sue her for a million dollars."
"Sexual harassment?" Schumann repeated again, "This I have to hear."
"She fired me because I had sex with her and then she didn't want to have sex with me nomore," Buzz explained, mentally spending his expected windfall. "That's what provoked me."
The lawyer sighed. "Buzz, here's some free legal advice. If she rebuffed your sexual advances, then fired you when you persisted, that is sexual harassment – by you against her."
"She could sue you."
"Ain't that a twist," Buzz pondered. "What woulda hadda happen for me to sue her?"
"If she wanted to have sexual relations with you and you refused, and she fired you because of that refusal, you could have a case."
"But why would I refuse to bone her? She may have a mean streak, but dude... have you seen her, man? She's hot! I mean sssst! She's got a nice rack and a real sweet caboose!" Buzz was aghast at the idea that he would pass up such an opportunity.
"Mr. Kochanski, remember when I mentioned dumb luck?
"Yours just ran out. Have a nice day." With that Schumann walked out of the police station. Buzz watched him go, then walked over to a pay phone, inserted some coins and dialed.
"Del? Buzz. Lemme talk to Nick." He lit a cigarette, ignoring several prominent No Smoking signs. "Come and get me." He listened to Nick's protests. "I don't care, just come now. We got plans to make." Another pause. "Yeah, we're going to nail that cooze once and for all."
He hung up and ambled outside into the bright sunshine, wondering what had happened to his shades. Waiting for his ride, he imagined various scenarios involving himself, his buds, and Gloria Robinette. One way or another, he vowed, she was gonna pay.
Buzz smiled for the first time that morning. Maybe today wasn't going to be so piss-poor after all.