Fiction: Breakdown

By Gary Beck

The interrogation room was cold. It felt like I had been there for hours, waiting for my lawyer. I was just wearing a thin t-shirt, ‘save the bees’ and a short skirt, so I was shivering. But I didn’t want to ask that cop who had been ogling my body for a blanket. I had to wonder about my mental state. I had been in the cell in the police station and I was worried about someone leching me. Finally my lawyer came in and got right to business.
“You’re sure you didn’t tell the police anything?”
“I told them I wanted to call a lawyer.”
“Nothing else?”
“Nothing. But a woman detective tried real hard to scare me.”
“Did she?”
“Yeah. She kept telling me what it was like in womens prisons for murderers. But I didn’t say anything.”
“That was smart. Now. How did you pick me?”
“I looked up defense lawyers on my Iphone. You had experience and good recommendations.”
“Alright, Ms. Ferguson.”
“Call me Deena.”
“Alright, Deena. Tell me what happened and then we’ll decide if I’m the right attorney for you.”
I had been thinking about how to protect myself and my girls for hours. I understood that as long as it made sense no one could contradict me, since the girls didn’t wake up ‘til the gunshot.
“It started about six months ago. Martin’s uncle died and left him a lot of money. He quit his job at the big box store where he was an assistant paper products manager. He started drinking and when I asked him to stop he hit me…”
“Did he ever hit you before?”
“No. We had a quiet marriage. No ups or downs, until he didn’t know what to do with himself anymore. He yelled at me a lot, then the girls. Then he forced me to have sex…” I was so embarrassed I didn’t know how to say it.
“It’ll be a lot more difficult talking to the police or the district attorney.”
“I know. A few weeks ago he forced me and had sex in my rear. He really hurt me. He started using drugs and wouldn’t listen when I begged him to stop. He started going into the girl’s room when they were sleeping. I followed him and he hit me. He got angrier and angrier at me, but I didn’t know what to do. Last night he went into the girl’s room and sat on Cindy’s bed. He adjusted the covers then started touching her. I went in to be sure he didn’t do anything to them. He stood up and he had a gun. He said: ‘You’re bothering me. Keep it up and I’ll kill you’. ‘Let’s talk in the other room,’ I said. ‘Get outta here’. I tried to lead him out and he pulled away. He pointed the gun at Bonnie, I grabbed his hand, the gun went off and he fell. That’s about it.”
“Did you pull the trigger?”
“Did you ever handle a gun?”
“Is there anything you’re not telling me?”
“Just how scared I was and how sick I felt.”
“And you’re sure he was using drugs?”
“They’ll test his body for all kinds of substances.”
“He was always high on something lately.”
“It seems like an accident occurred while you were trying to protect your daughters. Unless the police find evidence to the contrary, I don’t think they’ll prosecute you. I’ll take your case, talk to the D.A. and get you released on bail. I require a $25,000 retainer and I’ll bill at $300 an hour. It’ll be a lot more if we go to trial. Is that agreed?”
“Yes. Please get me out of here.”
I watched him walk away and a wave of relief went through me. I felt confident that he’d get me out. I’d never tell anyone, even the lawyer, that I wished him dead. Dreamed him dead… Then it happened… Now I can put this behind us and build a new life for me and the girls.

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn't earn a living in the theater. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and his published books include 37 poetry collections, 14 novels, 4 short story collections, 1 collection of essays and 7 books of plays. Gary lives in New York City.