Sunday, January 27, 2013

The End Approaches

Well, it is not like I didn’t know it was coming.  I had another CT scan last week.  That is a routine test designed to see if tumor or tumors can be observed on my liver.  For the first time two malignant, cancerous lesions showed up.  My cancer marker has gone from 500 to 1500 in the last month.  The pain is worsening, requiring more morphine.  Sleep is fleeting at night when the pain increases and I am even more fatigued, which is to be expected.  None of this is good news.  Frankly, it is my death warrant.

My oncologist, the lovely and talented Dr. Moore, tells me that I might make May, so I might be able to enjoy part of another lake season, which is good.  When I asked if she thought I could make it to September for the fifth annual “I’m not dead yet” party at the lake, she was not optimistic.  Of course, I had three doctors tell me almost four years ago that I had ninety days to live, so I’ve heard this before.  But not coupled with these latest medical setbacks.  This time it is different and I can feel it.

The human psyche is really quite remarkable.  Sometimes I think that none of what is happening to me is real.  It is almost like a dream.  That lasts for about one minute and then reality reasserts itself.  I suppose it is like the soldier who cannot comprehend the possibility of his own death, being sure it is going to be the guy next to him.  Or maybe it is an outgrowth of what my grandfather, a surgeon, told me about dying people.  He said they were pretty much all the same.  Every patient wanted just one more day.  I am different.  I do not want another day.  I want another year, but then I have had four, I am quick to remind myself.  98% of people with gall bladder cancer do not make even one year, let alone four.  

Most people do not know that from as far back in my life as I can remember my dad told me, “Son, you are a short-timer.  Whatever you need to get done in your life, get it done before you are 62.”  My dad’s dad and his grandfather died of heart attacks at sixty-two.  Dad fully expected to die at 62, but made 72.  I will be dead before 62, since I am now 61.  Pretty accurate prediction, don’t you think?  I know I believed my dad.  There was never any doubt in my mind that I would not get my allotted time.  Maybe that accounts for some of the things I have done and how I’ve lived my too short life.  I have always been in a hurry, because time waits for no one.

Dr. Moore said it is too early to discuss hospice care, but I should begin doing my homework on that.  I will not lack for nursing care.  My sister, Lisa, is a nurse practitioner, who lives on Winona Lake.  Lisa’s daughter, Lydia, is an RN living at the lake and worked hospice for seven years.  Lynne’s mom, who would be here with one phone call, is a nurse, as is Lynne’s sister, Janis.  I think I’ve got that covered.  Dr. Moore said she is going to make an exception and make house calls in my case.  I am impressed.

My oncologist says my death will likely be peaceful and pain free.  I cannot imagine that, but she has never lied to me. I will likely be surrounded by family and friends.  That is probably as good as it gets, if you can’t bore in in an airplane from 10,000 feet. I just do not want my Lynne to have to deal with a mess.  She will have enough on her mind. 

 I have spent a substantial part of the last four years going over in my mind and with Lynne about life without Mike.  I have lined up a plumber, an electrician, a realtor, car mechanic, CPA, lawyer, financial counselor, painter, roofer, and a host of other people who I know to be trustworthy to help her with the problems one encounters in day-to-day life.  I have gone over our finances with her and warned her about the sharks that lurk in these local waters seeking to take advantage of new widows. The funeral is planned and she has already written my obituary (and done a really good job).  All this information has been stored in what we call the “dead file.”  I know of no widow who has been so well prepared.  She has always been a pretty smart girl.  Armed with this information and protected by good men and women, she should do fine.

I had someone ask me if I had any regrets.  Of course I do.  But few from the last four years, which I regard as nothing less than a God-given gift.  Perhaps, even a modern day miracle. 
I should have been more family oriented.  I should have spent more time with the kids and taken more family vacations.  I should have gone to their games.  I didn’t.  What was I thinking?
 As the actor Rutger Hauer said, as his character is dying in my favorite movie Blade Runner, “I have done questionable things.” I have.  Nothing illegal.  Nothing unethical in my lawyering.  But I have used poor judgment occasionally.  I have made mistakes, personally and professionally.  All of us have.  I could have done better in a lot of things.  All of us could.  I have on countless occasions said hurtful things intentionally to both clients and loved ones.  Shame on me. 
 If I could take the words back I would. I have been blessed with an inordinate number of friends and people who care about me. I often wonder why, since I am not a lovable person.  As God said of the Jewish people, “You are a difficult and unruly people.”  Although I am not Jewish, the description fits.  I am often difficult and unruly for no good reason at all.  Even my dog, the Iverson, does not like me sometimes.  Despite my orneriness, these people still seem to like to hang out with me.  I feel so fortunate, for I am rich in friends, who constantly remind me that they are only a phone call away and stand ready to help in any way they are able.  Most of them drop by the house once a week or more just to check on me (and Lynne).  They care.

If I had known four years ago that I would last four more years, would I have done things different?  Yes, but not much.  I have tried to clean up my act with people who are important to me and care about me.  I have tried to be a better friend and husband.  To a small degree I have made progress, but I still have a long way to go and I am almost out of time. I made it a point to try to spend more time with these people, to be helpful and not so negative.  I am not sure I made any progress in this area, but I am trying.

I would have taken the time to hike the Appalachian Trail, which is completely impractical, of course.  I have wanted to do that since I was 14.  I never got it done. 

 I would have spent more time flying aerobatics.  I was not any good at it, but on occasion I danced that airplane with the indescribable, sheer delight of flying.  I know first-hand what John Gillispie McGee felt when he wrote “Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the sky on laughter silvered wings.” (He died in a midair in his Spitfire over England.  This most famous of flying poems was found in his pocket and is on display in the Tangmere  RAF museum I visited in England,  just to see the poem.)  There were a few times when I was inverted coming down the backside of a Cuban 8, when I literally laughed out loud with joy.  Countless times I smiled when doing a slow roll, just for the fun of it.  Likewise, a simple loop was an unequaled pleasure.  I should have flown more.  I am pretty sure that I will fly again.

 I would have spent more time playing music, which is truly one of the greatest gifts God has given to man.  Playing music brings joy and peace to one’s soul.  I have sat for hours in my guitar room playing “old, dead black guy music,” as my children used to say, while rolling their eyes at their silly father.  Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Johnson and Blind Blake are musical masters, whose music is timeless.  The sounds created by these men have haunted me for years.  You can get to the place you can play their music (after many, many hours) note perfect and even sing it, yet, there is something missing.  I think it is the soul of these musicians, all long dead now, that permeated their unique music.  

I know what it is like to stand on a stage in front of a thousand people and play.  Sometimes, when the music is good and the mix is right and I am playing with talented people, the music literally soars and the wall of sound blows by you and lifts you off the stage.  Musicians know what I am talking about. 

There have been several books published recently wherein the authors describe dying and going to Heaven.  People have asked me if I have read these books.  I have.  All of them.  It is like people think that I have some special knowledge or wisdom, because I am terminally ill.  Pretty silly, isn’t it?  But I have thought about what each of the authors describes.  Interestingly, all describe the music which swept them up.  Glorious music never before heard coming from some central place that called to them.  I want to hear that sound.  All describe a supernatural light coming from a single source with the light bathing them in a warm, loving embrace.  How can different people have the same experience with no connection?  I do not know.  But I am going to find out.

Lastly, and it always comes back to this.  There is my Lynne, the joy and rock of my life.  I met her when we were freshman at Wheaton College in 1969.  I will not tell you that it was love at first sight, but I never had another date in my life that was not with her.  Same for her as to me.  What was there about her that attracted me?  Apart from that purple miniskirt, legs nine feet long, that tight, turtle necked sweater and those three inch platform heels with a ribbon in her hair?  Or maybe it was that pair of bell bottom jeans with a butterfly sewn on the back and that white peasant blouse with ribbon ties in front that tantalized me.  Or the other night when she wore a black silk wrap around dress with a patent leather belt and her heels with a gold necklace, ring and watch.  40 years later and contrary to what B. B. King says, the thrill is not gone. 

No matter how much of a jerk I have been, which is a lot, trust me, she always forgives me and takes me back with no grudges.  She is always there with encouragement.  She never wants anything.  I swear she is the cheapest date I know.  Sure, she likes nice things, who doesn’t?  But she never asks for anything.  Unbelieveable.  Maybe it is because I have never, ever allowed anything I wanted or wanted to do to take priority over her and her needs and wants.  I have done a lot of things wrong, but not that.  She (and the kids) always came first…always.  I frequently asked her if I made a buck if there was anything she wanted or needed.  Her consistent answer is “just you.”  I do not deserve such love, but then none of us men do.

I walked through a courtroom several years ago on my way to try a case, when I overheard one of the court reporters say something to the effect that “all men are alike and that they all cheat on their wives or girlfriends.” 

I do not know why that comment rankled me, but as I walked to the door I turned and said, “Most are like you described, but not me.  I have never cheated on my wife and we have been together 35 years.”   

This person then said, “You mean to tell me with all those divorces you have done, you never cheated, even one time, on her?” 

 “That is exactly what I am telling you.  Never one time.” 

“I don’t believe you,” she said. 

 “May be,” I responded, “but it is the truth nonetheless.” 

Her attitude, probably colored by a recent unpleasant personal experience, will infect all of her future relationships negatively.   I understand that the mutual faithfulness Lynne and I have enjoyed is unusual in this day.  Too bad.  People that cheat are squandering a priceless gift.

The Bible says that God knew each of us before we were even conceived.  That is quite a statement, isn’t it?  It is not my intent to discuss theological matters in this blog, nor is it my intent to present certain Christian tenets of faith.  But I am here to say that if He knew Lynne and I would exist, I think He knew we would be a good team and put us together, which is exactly what my wife says we have been all these years.  A team.  We have always worked well together, maybe because we have the same goals and priorities.  We rarely argued over money, kids, disciplining the kids, or religion (all marriage killers).  Mostly, we just agreed, oftentimes without even discussing the problem.  We just saw things the same.

These days I think that we are not so much a team, although Lynne disagrees with that statement.  She says we are even more of a team now that I am on the final lap. I often feel I am not pulling my weight.  Many days I feel like I am letting her down.  I feel so awful.  I am so sick.  Yet, she never seems to let it bother her. Not that I can see. I swear she is made of steel. 

We both think that the best part of the day is at night when we curl up in bed together, both exhausted.  Me from being sick.  And Lynne from working all day. She promises me that the last thing I will see on this earth is her face as I drift into eternity, cradled in her arms. She always smiles when she assures me that she will be with me “until I hear the music” and that death will separate us for only a blink of an eye.  What man could ask for more?

Last week we took a short trip to our favorite place in Ft. Lauderdale.  In a local bar on the beach over a cosmopolitan and a glass of wine, I asked her, “Would you do it all over again?”  “In a minute”, she said.  “So would I,” I replied.  So be it.

Mike out.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cancer Rears Its Ugly Head

Just for fun, I follow a certain stock on my Market App. I can get a line graph that plots its progress and regress. I don’t really understand it beyond the obvious.

However, its recent activity mirrors what’s going on with me. UP down, UP down, UP UP, down down down, UP down. That’s pretty much what it’s like around here as far as our experience with Mike’s disease. We’ve had down: first diagnosis. Then UP: remission. Then DOWN when cancer required palliative measures (ERCP) on a 3 months schedule. Each of those appointments is a DOWN UP.
Throughout all, our friends have prayed for us, supported us, helped us, and ministered to us. And we have weathered on. Keeping the disease and diagnosis stored in our brains, our best plan has been to go on living, being as normal as possible.

We’ve sat, breathless, waiting for the doctor to come into the examining room to discuss Mike’s latest CAT scan. We’ve leaned forward, anxiously, only to be told that there was nothing to report. We've eased back in the chairs.

However, last Monday, that scenario changed. Dr. Moore reported that the CAT has found 2 lesions on Mike’s liver. That’s from NONE to TWO. In less than three months.

Also, the tumor marker, a protein produced by tumors which was elevated before has now doubled that higher number.
Mike’s blood chemistry has been compromised by chemo which the doctor had said Mike would use until it did not work. It now does not work.

And so we face decisions about further treatment. Mike will meet with his doctor next week to discuss this.

We thank you for your continued prayer. We will keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The BIG BOOM or Another Really True Law Story

Several years ago I was retained to represent a 30-year-old man, who was charged initially with child molesting.  The unfortunate facts of the case were that when the “victim” was about fifteen and my client was about twenty-eight, they began having secret, frequent, mutually-consenting, rip-roaringly good sex.  Notice that I did not say the sex was legal, as it clearly was not.  But make no mistake about it, this young honey had been ridden hard and put up wet (a classic Kentucky euphemism) more than a few times by others than my client.  A “victim” she was not.

Her momma was politically active in a minor sort of way in my hometown and embarrassed by the circumstances. My perception was that she had her eye on higher office and was fearful that her daughter’s activities would become the subject of common gossip. The situation was worsened as her daughter did not want her boyfriend prosecuted.  But mom would not walk away, even when the prosecutor counseled her that a trial would be embarrassing for her daughter,  who had threatened to refuse to testify, thereby destroying the State’s case.  Mom wouldn’t budge. Mom was gambling that my client would not want to go to trial. So the scene was set for a potential courtroom battle.

The state of molest law in Indiana at the time was much the same as it is now.  If the young lady or boy is sixteen or older, each are fair game.  Younger than that and you are “poaching.”  As I used to explain to my clients, “I do not care if she greets you at the door stark naked and suggests you retire to the bedroom immediately as her parents are not at home, if she isn’t sixteen, she is not fair game.”  The only exception is if the defendant reasonably believed the girl to be sixteen (always ask to see the driver’s license) and that she told him she was.  Unfortunately, this possible defense did not have any basis in fact in the case.
Further complicating the matter was that my client was a buck sergeant in the 101st Airborne at Ft. Campbell.  He had been trained as a combat medic in the infantry.  Apparently, he had done well as the army had sent him back to school on their dime to get his R.N. certification and an associate’s degree, which he had just completed.  This would serve to promote him to the commissioned officer rank of second lieutenant.  However, the army was not going to commission him as an officer if he was convicted of a felony, even if he somehow could escape the inevitable jail time a conviction would require.  Worse, the army would certainly give him a dishonorable discharge if convicted of anything that was a felony. 

My client was in deep trouble and knew it.  But unlike most of my criminal clients, his attitude was different.  He told me, “Mike, I know I screwed up really bad.  I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I didn’t think anyone would get hurt.  I know I am guilty.  Just do the best you can for me.  I know you don’t have much to work with.”  How refreshing.  The very rare, realistic client.
Responding, I told him that each case was different and that even the most hopeless of cases oftentimes presented an unforeseen opportunity to help a client.  I told him not to give up hope, as you never knew what would happen while a case was going through the system.

I will not bore you with the machinations of the criminal justice system’s internal workings in this case.  But I will summarize the positions of the major players.  First, Mom was still out for blood, mostly I suspected, because of the embarrassment to her family the trial was going to cause and her incorrect assumption that the case would never go to trial.  Daughter was mad at Mom, because she thought she had found “true love.” However illegal it may have been at the inception, it was now perfectly legal, since she was now sixteen.  The prosecutor, a veteran of many of these cases, wanted to plea bargain the matter to get rid of it, as it was not the best of cases, since the girl was uncooperative.  But he was jammed up dealing with the angry mom.  My client was resigned to being labeled as a molester, being dishonorably discharged from the army, being unable to practice his profession, and to doing a substantial amount of prison time.  Me, I was desperately and unsuccessfully trying to figure a way for my client to get out of what seemed to me to be an inevitable felony conviction.  No one was happy, that was for sure.

After much time had passed and everyone had time to calm down, the prosecutor and I worked out a deal where the prosecutor would trash the molest charge, if my client would plead guilty to “improperconduct with a minor.”  The new charge was still a felony, but a lesser one, that did not necessarily denote intercourse.  My client advised that he would likely still get bounced from the army, but it would not be with a dishonorable discharge.  It would be with a “less than honorable” discharge.  Not good, but better.  Everybody was still upset, but apparently, everyone could deal with the terms of the deal.
I advised the court that a plea agreement had been reached and that a plea hearing needed to be set, which the court quickly did, before one or more of the parties changed their minds.

When the hearing date rolled around, I advised my client to meet me at my office about thirty minutes early and to wear his class A uniform.  The judge had some military experience, so I thought the uniform would do my client some good.  The hearing was set for 1:30, but the judge called me that morning to tell me that a drug trial was starting and that he wanted to slip us in at 1:00, while the jury was coming back from lunch, with the drug trial to recommence at 1:30.  I told the judge that we would be there.
My client showed up five minutes early and we walked to the courthouse together.  I told him what would happen and explained what he would have to do.  We walked into the courtroom and noticed that my fellow defense attorney in the drug case and his client were seated at the defense table.  I told my colleague that my plea hearing had been bumped up to 1:00.  He and his client, who was carrying a briefcase, got up and walked to the courtroom door.  At that time, a deputy entered the courtroom and advised my friend and his client that the sheriff wanted to see them in his small office next to the courtroom.  My client and I seated ourselves at the defense table and waited for the judge and prosecutor to show up.

After about a five minute wait, the prosecutor took his place at his table and the judge took the bench.  The probation officer grabbed the bailiff’s seat, anticipating that he would be asked by the judge to prepare a presentence report on my client.  My client and I were sitting about five feet in front of the double glass doors to the courtroom.  The prosecutor was sitting to my immediate right at his own table.  The judge was sitting about fifteen feet in front of us.
After calling the case and running through the recordkeeping requirements, the judge asked me to bring him up-to-date on the status of the case and to recite the terms on the plea agreement.  I stood and began to carry out the judge’s request, as I had done hundreds of time before.

Suddenly, I heard a loud roar behind me and the double glass doors shattered into a thousand shards that blew behind me and my client on a pressure wave that caused the shards to bury themselves in the wall opposite the doors.  The ceiling fell in with light fixtures hitting me and the judge on the head. My client and I scrambled under the desk.  The judge hid under the bench and the probation officer ducked under his bench.  Smoke and dust blew in through the blown out doors.  I could smell gunpowder.  I heard someone shout outside that “He’s got a gun.”  I immediately thought that someone was going to come into the courtroom and begin by shooting anyone in a suit.  I yelled to the probation officer, “You got your piece with you?”  He responded saying he was unarmed.  I realized that we were in big trouble and it was likely going to get a lot worse.

After maybe a minute with no one coming into the courtroom, my client and I came out from under the table.  My client immediately took off his uniform coat and handed it to me saying, “This is what I am trained for.  Keep my coat and I will pick it up at your office.” 

 He rushed out of the courtroom and went directly to the sheriff’s office, where he began to administer first aid to several wounded people.  He helped a police officer friend of mine who had taken a shard of glass in an eye (he would later lose that eye).  He helped my attorney friend and the sheriff, both of whom had been riddled with bomb fragments.
The courthouse was quickly secured by the police and we were instructed to evacuate the building for fear that there might be other bombs.  I walked out of the courtroom and did not see my client, who had gone with an ambulance.  My former secretary, who had been in the room next to the sheriff’s office, was a little unsteady on her feet, so I helped her down the stairs.  I headed back to my office, my client’s coat in hand, and called my wife to let her know that I was uninjured.

By the next day, it had been determined that the drug defendant had rigged five pipe bombs in his briefcase tripped by a switch under the handle. 

Only three of the bombs had gone off, so it could have been much worse.  When the deputy noticed the defendant was carrying a briefcase, he had reported it to the sheriff, who decided to search the briefcase.  Clearly, the defendant had intended to blow the bomb in the courtroom, taking out the judge and jury.  Stymied in that endeavor, he blew himself up in the Sheriff’s office.

Eventually, my client came back to my office to pick up his uniform coat.  I noticed that his shirt and tie were bloodstained.  He asked what he should do about his case.  I told him that the system would get around to resetting the matter sometime, but that he should not worry about it.  I would keep track of the matter and notify him.  I also asked for the name and address of his commanding officer, so that I could write a letter informing him of my client’s brave action.
A month passed and the matter was not reset.  My client called to inquire of the status of the case.  I told him we should “hide in the tall grass” and maybe it would blow over.  Eventually, a year passed with nothing going on.  Then another year.  My client and I continued to hide in the tall grass, hoping.  Finally, I got a phone call from the judge, who asked if I remembered the case.  I responded that I did.  Then, he said, much to my surprise, “I heard your client was involved in giving first aid to some of the wounded.  Any truth to that?”  I confirmed that it was true.  The judge then said, “I have not heard from the mom, the daughter or the prosecutor.  Have you?”  I advised I had heard nothing.  “Well, it has been more than two years.  Can’t be anyone all that upset about the situation,” commented the judge.  “Probably not,” I said.

A few more months passed with nothing being done about the case.  And then I received a notice from the court that the judge had dismissed the case for the State’s failure to prosecute the matter.  This was good news for my client, but under the law the prosecutor could refile it.  I called him and asked if he was going to do refile.  He responded to my question by saying, “I haven’t heard from anyone for two years.  It’s not like I don’t have anything to do, you know.  I am not going to refile it.”
I called my client and gave him the good news.  As you can imagine, he was ecstatic.  His life and career had been restored.  Who would have guessed?

Looking back on this matter, I have often questioned whether justice was done.  I do not know.  Clearly, my client was guilty of the crime charged.  His actions following the bomb were commendable, perhaps even heroic, but have nothing to do with the committing of the crime charged.  I was under no obligation to call the languishing case to the attention of the court. 

The prosecutor could have done so at any time, but, I suspect, chose not to, since he thought the case was sour from the beginning.  Mom and daughter disappeared from the face of the earth.  Maybe Mom figured out that her daughter was a “sportin’ girl” (an old blues term from the 1920s), and had rethought the potential embarrassment.  Maybe daughter simply pitched a monumental fit.  I just don’t know.  It probably doesn’t make any difference.  It was so long ago.
In the past few years, the American public has been innundated with video tape of IEDs detonating in Iraq and Afghanistan.  While I would certainly agree that the Kokomo bomb was not as powerful as those used by our enemies in those countries, the bomb was powerful enough to crack the limestone and marble walls, floor and ceiling in the southwest corner of the courthouse and to knock the corner of the building out of alignment.  I suppose I can say with honesty that I have been blown up by a bomb.  Our bomber could have set it off in the courtroom when my client and I walked in.  His finger was tied onto the detonator.  But it did not happen. Why not?

 Maybe the Lord was looking out for me and my client.  I like to think so.  I like to think that the Lord saw something redeeming in my client and decided to give him another chance at a normal life.  Maybe, maybe not.  I do not know.  Who can say?
Mike out.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Drunks and ME

I should begin by telling you I do not drink much.  An occasional glass of wine, never two glasses, and no hard stuff, ever.  I may have consumed a grand total of two beers in my entire life.  I’m not trying to say I am better than anyone else, who might drink a bit.  I am just not into it and never have been.

While I am not much of a drinker, I have lots of experience with drunks, many of whom I found to be funny, entertaining people, who frequently managed to get themselves into trouble, requiring my legal services.  God bless them and alcohol, both of whom helped put my kids through school.
People who drink too much usually get the opportunity to really screw up while they are having “just one (or five) more.”  They rarely think about the consequences, which is probably just as well.  Surprisingly, the unintended consequences are not always bad or tragic.  Sometimes they are hilariously funny.  I present to you for your consideration the following true stories from my law practice.

I was asked to represent a fifty-five year old lady, who was not unfamiliar with one Jim Beam.  She had been drinking at the local bar most of the afternoon and on into the evening, when the bartender cut her off, because she fell off the bar stool a second time.  The barkeep told her it was time for her to go home and that he would call her a cab.  She responded by telling him that she would go home when she was good and ready and that she was not ready.  The irritated bartender called the cops who showed up five minutes later to remove the now unwanted business invitee.

The two officers, who were much experienced in dealing with winos, politely told the lady that she needed to leave and they would take her home.  She responded by saying she wasn’t going anywhere with them.  The cops replied that if she was going to be uncooperative and not let them take her home, they would arrest her for public intoxication and take her to jail.  She responded by telling them that they were not going to arrest her, she was not going home, and she was certainly not going to jail.  The cops, having had their authority questioned by this obviously inebriated drunkard in front of a bar full of probably equally wasted onlookers, were not amused.

So, they approached her from two sides and firmly grabbed hold of both of her arms in an attempt to get her off the bar stool.  As they did so, both of the officers suddenly froze in place and one was heard to shout “Oh my God!”  They both dropped her onto the bar stool and backed away slowly with looks of sheer horror on their faces.  Within seconds, the rest of the crowd, likewise, was yelling and retreating from the drunken patron.

“OK, lady, you win.  We’re out of here,” they said to the lady.  Turning to the frustrated bartender, one of the officers said, “You are on your own, pal.  And don’t call us back, either!” 

 They roared out the door, followed closely by much of the crowd.  As the cops and patrons hit the door, my client was heard to exclaim, “I told you I wasn’t leaving until I was ready to leave.”  She got down unsteadily from the bar stool and weaved toward the door, leaving a smelly trail of fecal matter from the immense, dark load she had silently deposited on the bar stool and made her grand exit into the night.  The cops arrested her the next day.  Presumably, after she had a chance to shower.

Or how about this one?  My client was driving home after work late one afternoon, when he was pulled over by two squad cars, who had been alerted by a do-gooder fellow motorist.  My client was cooperative in answering the officers’ questions and did not appear to be intoxicated.  Nonetheless, the officers asked him if he would perform a couple of field dexterity tests, so they could be comfortable in allowing him to continue on home.  My client said he would be happy to comply. 

 The officers told him to walk heel-to-toe down a white line for 15 steps, make a 180 and walk back.  My client said that was entirely too easy.  He quickly dropped to the ground, performed a creditable handstand, and walked the line on his hands in both directions, all the while counting the fifteen steps as directed.  The cops were incredulous.  But they were still not satisfied.  

They asked if he would take a breath test from their portable alco-sensor device.  My client said he would be happy to comply and proceeded to blow a .45 BAC, or about six times the legal limit.  Or, if you prefer, gave a result that would have literally killed most of us by alcohol poisoning.  At the very least, he should have been comatose.  He was promptly arrested and hauled off to jail.

How can this be, you ask?  When my client was about two years old, he had some sort of neurological problem.  Treatment required him to take a liquid medication four of five times a day.  The medicine was suspended in alcohol.  He took the medicine until he was 15 years old.  By that time his system was used to the alcohol, which led him into a quart a day Smirnoff habit.

Or how about this one?  My client came home from working the second shift at about 6 am.  His charming wife was extremely upset because the shift was over at midnight.  My client advised her that he had worked four hours of overtime and then stopped at a local bar that routinely stayed open all night.  Wifey was having none of that and accused him of making a side trip to his girlfriend’s house.   

My client, who was clearly drunk, knew where all this was going, so he told the frau that he was leaving.  He headed for the door of the upstairs bedroom, which Wifey promptly blocked with her ample body.  Knowing that he would likely have to physically remove her from the door frame to exit the bedroom, and knowing that she had a previously disclosed penchant for calling 911 and claiming that he hit her (which had previously landed him in jail on domestic abuse charges) my client went the opposite direction, heading for the sliding glass door that led out onto a second story balcony.  He climbed over the railing on the balcony and jumped to safety, two stories below, breaking his leg.

When I asked him if breaking his leg hurt, he told me that he was too drunk to notice, but that he had at least not gone to jail.  As he signed the divorce papers, he commented that he preferred the hospital ER to jail, as the treatment he received at the hospital was better than at the jail.

Finally, there was my client who had too much to drink about five minutes before we were to appear in court.  It was obvious to me he was drunk as he could hardly speak.  I knew the judge would not appreciate his condition.  I told him I could probably get his case continued, but he insisted on finishing the matter.  I suggested that if the judge discovered he was drunk, he might put him in jail for contempt.  He wanted the hearing done.  So, I told him to sit quietly beside me and I would do the talking.  Under no circumstances was he to move or talk and he was not to look at the judge.  

 For a while he did well.  Just as ordered.  But then I heard an unholy, roiling sound from his lower regions.   I instinctively knew what was coming.  I grabbed his jacket, which he had put on the chair next to him, and put it onto his lap, while reaching under the table to move my briefcase and get a file.  Meanwhile, my client looked over at me, put his head down and silently vomited into his jacket.  He did a remarkable job of covering up his indiscretion…except for the smell, which quickly permeated the courtroom. 

 The judge, now acutely aware of what was going on asked if my client would like a short recess.  I said that he would.  Two minutes later, in his chambers, the commented that I almost got away with it, but that the giveaway was the loud protest that had come from my client’s distressed tummy.  He got a day in jail.  Probably justified.

So there you have it.  I could go on with another hundred similar stories about humans and their misadventures with alcohol.  Often times tragic, but not always.  Sometimes, just plain funny.  Kind of like life and the human condition.

Mike out.