Authors: Mick James
Corridor Man 1
Published by Credit River Publishing 2015
Copyright Mike Faricy 2015
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior and express permission of the copyright owner.
All characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The Corridor Man series is written by Mike Faricy under the pseudonym Mick James.
I would like to thank the following people for their help & support:
Special thanks to Stephanie, Elizabeth, Robert, Tim, Julie, Mattie and Roy for their hard work, cheerful patience and positive feedback. I would like to thank family and friends for their encouragement and unqualified support. Special thanks to Maggie, Jed, Schatz, Pat, Av, Emily and Pat, for not rolling their eyes, at least when I was there. Most of all, to my wife Teresa, whose belief, support and inspiration has, from day one, never waned.
“Darkness dwells within even the best of us. In the worst of us, darkness not only dwells but reigns.”
The cinder block walls
were painted a glossy dark grey to a height of about five feet, then painted a lighter grey from there up to the bare concrete ceiling. The only light came from the dusty, flickering fluorescent fixture hanging at an odd angle and about a foot off-center on the ceiling. It was a sunny, spring day outside, not that you’d have any idea sitting in the damp, windowless interrogation room.
The uncomfortable chair Bobby Custer was sitting in was bolted to the floor. The thing positioned just far enough away from the steel-topped table so that you couldn’t quite comfortably rest your elbows on the table top.
Bobby glanced at the two federal agents wearing suits who were seated across from him, then glanced down at the file they’d placed on the steel-topped table before looking back up at them.
“Your choice, Bobby. You don’t want to take the offer, that’s fine. You’re more than halfway finished serving your sentence as it is. It’s your
after all, so I’m maybe guessing you’re probably thinking what’s three more years? After all you’re a sharp guy, right?” When he emphasized the word
his partner smiled, like it was a private joke, just between the two federal agents.
“Come on, I never said I didn’t want to take the offer, it’s all just coming at me a little fast. The first I heard of it was when you sat me down in this chair,” he said, then shifted from side to side in an effort to find a more comfortable position.
“That’s right,” the grey-suited agent said. He’d been doing most of the talking, but Bobby couldn’t tell if he was the man in charge or just the messenger.
“Well, so, I mean, you can understand I need a moment or two to collect my thoughts.”
“Sure, go ahead and collect them, but just remember we leave this room without an answer and the deal goes out that door with us. Gone. Forever. We’ll just give it to someone else. I’m thinking there’s a lot of guys who would jump at the chance.”
“But what I don’t understand is how you get them to hire me, to take me on? Denton, Allan, Sawyer and Hinz is a heavy-duty firm. Last time I checked I was still disbarred. The odds of me getting a license back to practice law are just about zero. That is, unless you guys could maybe pull some strings.” He sounded hopeful, then looked from one blank face to the other and all hopeful thought seemed to disappear.
“That’s not gonna happen. Let me make myself clear, again. This would be an entry level position, and it would remain just that, entry level. You are not going to regain your license to practice law. That’s not in our offer. Are we on the same page here?”
“Yeah, okay, I get that, sort of, I mean, yeah. But then, why would they hire me? They’re eventually going to learn all about my past, the disbarment, the conviction and the sentencing sooner or later. Aren’t they?”
“Not only will they find out, we intend to tell them sooner rather than later so there is no question at all. I’m going to say it again, you will not be practicing law.”
“What you will be doing is anything they tell you to do and anything
want you to do. It’s that simple. They want you sweeping floors, emptying wastebaskets, making coffee or putting toilet paper in the rest rooms that’s what you do. And then you report back to us.”
“I don’t know, I....”
“That’s fine,” the pinstriped suit spoke for the first time, then pushed his chair back and stood. He had a deep, gravelly voice and he cleared his throat before he spoke. “You were just one name on a long list. You’ve grown fond of your routine here, fair enough. At the end of the day it’s your choice after all, so enjoy the next three years, Bobby. By the way, that’s one thousand and ninety-five days plus some change. Okay, Stan let’s get the hell out of here,” he said, then pushed his chair in and made for the door.
The grey suit nodded and closed the manila file that had sat open on the table for the past forty minutes. He stood, didn’t bother to push his chair in and looked down at Bobby. “Nice talking, Custer, enjoy your next three years.”
“Now wait, hold on, can you just hold on a minute? Please?”
“We’re out of time, Bobby. It really just comes down to a simple yes or no from you. No pressure.”
“Okay, okay, Jesus yes, I’ll, I’ll do it. How soon can you get me out of here?”
“We can have you in a halfway house tonight, you’ll do sixty days there, just to get you reintroduced to society and make you look legit. Once you’re out of the halfway house you’ll apply for the job, and they’ll hire you. Yes or no?”
“Yes, yes, for God’s sake, of course. Yes.” Even in the damp musty room he could feel a long trickle of sweat suddenly ran down his spine.
The grey suit tossed the manila file back on the table. “Open it, sign the top page, initial the three lines at the bottom of the next three pages, then sign the last page with today’s date. Not surprisingly, it’s Friday the thirteenth,” he chuckled.
The neighborhood was made
up of 1890’s three-story Victorian homes with large front porches. Dutch elm disease had wiped out the massive boulevard trees some forty years ago and the replacements had finally begun to return character along with some shade to the streets. Once defined by the infamous intersection of Selby and Dale the area had rebounded over the past five decades with an influx of “urban pioneers.” Property taxes increased accordingly and the tonier designation of Cathedral Hill had been gradually adopted by developers.
Despite the institutional blinds on the unwashed windows, the three-story brick structure that served as a halfway house looked deceivingly elegant from the outside. Today was day sixty. Moving day for Bobby, he was all packed and staring out the front window while he waited for his younger brother to pull up.
All his worldly possessions were stuffed in a worn black suitcase and three brown paper grocery bags with handles. Everything neatly lined up out in the hall near the front door of the halfway house.
He had filled out and submitted his paperwork at the end of last month. He’d said his goodbyes almost six hours ago at seven-thirty this morning, at his final group counseling session. Now it was just a matter of his brother, Andrew driving the get-away vehicle to deliver him from this hell-hole of positive thought and naïve intentions. Andrew was four and a half hours late and counting.
Everyone is supposed to learn patience in prison. Bobby learned a number of things. Don’t react. Don’t take offense. Be nice to the correction officers. But as for patience, well three out of four ain’t bad.
He had counted the days. Every day, one thousand four hundred and ninety eight of them in the Duluth Federal Prison Camp, FPC for short, just a little over four years, each day about twenty-eight hours long. Then these last sixty days of “reintroduction.” A hell of a price to pay for a minor dalliance with a trust fund. Add to that the heavy fine, loss of all financial support, loss of his license to practice law, his divorce, estrangement from just about everyone he ever knew and last, but not least, his disbarment. It was probably a safe bet the Minnesota Bar and every other state Bar would be in no rush to talk with him anytime soon.
“Everything okay, Bobby?”
He had been focused on the empty street outside and hadn’t heard Baker waddle up behind him. Baker was one of the counselors, not that he was ever much help to anyone. Worthless might be a more accurate description. He slurped from a white coffee mug stolen from a near-by restaurant. The mug seemed to be permanently attached to his right hand. He had at least a half dozen Oreo cookies crammed in his left hand, with another two or three already stuffed in his mouth. He wore his usual sandals, shorts and the black t-shirt emblazoned with the moniker
that served as the staff uniform. He had a gleaming bald head surrounded by a fringe of graying shoulder-length hair all pulled back in a wispy ponytail.
“Think maybe your ride forgot?” Baker actually sounded serious. Then he crammed another Oreo into his mouth.
“No,” Bobby said staring out the window.
“Weren’t they supposed to be here this morning? Early? It’s after lunch,” Baker said, swallowing to make room for another Oreo.
“It’s my brother, he’s got kids, little guys, twins actually so he’s always running a bit late.”
Andrew didn’t have twins. As a matter of fact he didn’t have any children. You’d have to have sex with your wife before you could bring children into the relationship. Bobby didn’t think Andrew’s wife Fern was interested in sex, it might mess her hair.
“All right. ‘Course you know our policy,” Baker droned, then paused to slurp more coffee. “We really can’t release you unless a vetted, qualified individual integrates…”
Bobby tuned him out. Baker quoting chapter and verse policy in between tossing more Oreos into his mouth was not what he needed just now. He checked his watch, Andrew was now four hours and fifty minutes late, but who was counting?
“Think we should make a phone call, maybe reschedule?”
“No, I’m sure he’ll show up in just a couple of minutes.”
“Got your key to the new place?”
“Yeah, I got the key.” He’d been clenching the damn thing in his pocket for the past three hours.
“Any problems, you know we’re always available.”
“I don’t plan on any problems.”
“If you say so,” Baker shrugged, not sounding all that convinced. He tossed the last of the Oreos into his mouth and absently wiped his hand across his beer belly. “Well good luck, man,” he said, spitting bits of Oreo in Bobby’s direction, then slurped some more coffee before he trundled off to the kitchen. No doubt ravenous after the counseling session he’d just provided.
Andrew’s red Subaru pulled to the curb just as Baker pushed through the steel security door into the kitchen. “He’s here, he’s here,” Bobby shouted excitedly, sounding like a six year old waiting for Santa Claus. He quickly gathered his possessions, pulled the front door open and raced out to the street.
Andrew sat behind the wheel looking more grim-faced than usual. He gave the slightest of nods and pushed a button on the dash. There was an audible click as the back hatch unlocked and Andrew nodded again indicating the rear of the car. Bobby placed everything in the rear, then climbed into the back seat directly behind Andrew and as far away as possible from his sister-in-law Fern.
Her hair looked perfect, her face betrayed no emotion. She wore diamond stud earrings about as big around as a nickel and what looked like the latest fashionable top. A fragile silver chain hung around her shapely neck and no doubt some diamond pendant dangled temptingly on her surgically enhanced chest. If he had to guess, Bobby would have said she’d been clenching her jaw for the past week, ever since she learned they were going to serve as his designated driver this morning. Her door was locked and she stared straight ahead, not that you could really tell behind the pair of designer sunglasses.
“Need to sign out or anything? Maybe turn in a key?” Andrew asked. He eyed Bobby cautiously in the rearview mirror.
“No. I’m good to go.”
“You’re sure? We really don’t need you doing something stupid again. Creating some sort of incident this afternoon,” Fern said as she continued to stare straight ahead. “God knows we don’t want to have to come back here.”
“Thanks for coming to get me. I really appreciate it.”
“We really didn’t have much choice now, did we?” Fern replied.
Andrew exhaled audibly, put the car in drive and pulled away from the curb. Bobby buckled up for safety. No one spoke on the way to the efficiency apartment as Fern silently stared out the window, oozing toxic displeasure.
Bobby felt like telling her he’d been locked up with rapists and murderers for the last four years and if she didn’t put a smile on her Botoxed face he was going to get a couple of them after her. She probably wouldn’t have been intimidated. Besides, he didn’t really know any. The Federal Prison Camp he’d been held in was a minimum security facility, about the worst he’d be able to conjure up would be something like an irate financial adviser with a penchant for spanking.
They sped across town in almost complete silence, the exception being Fern’s occasional sigh reminding everyone she was less than happy. Fourteen very long minutes later Andrew rounded a corner and screeched to a stop a good half-dozen car lengths from the front door of the apartment building. Fern glanced over at her husband and Bobby felt the heat from her glare stab all the way into the back seat.
Andrew pressed a button and unlocked the rear hatch.
Bobby climbed out into the fresh air. Placed his suitcase on the sidewalk, gathered his grocery bags and closed the hatch.
Fern leaned over toward Andrew and said something to him. Her lips curled into a sneer but Bobby couldn’t hear what she was saying. Then Andrew motioned him over and lowered the window.
“Thanks for signing for me, guys. I really appreciate…”
“Bobby, I think it would be best if we didn’t hear from you,” Andrew said.
“Ever again,” Fern added looking over the top of her sunglasses.
Then Andrew raised his window and they quickly drove off.