In My Defense

A short story by Tina Konstant

In my Defense - a short story by Tina Konstant.“I didn’t do it!” Eddie Mince grips his fists into tiny tight balls. “This is nuts! You guys see a guy like me walking down a street with trees instead of trash and you think any kind of bad shit to go down must have been me who did it. Well I didn’t take the damn car. I don’t care how much ‘my style’ it is.”

He shoves his hands into his lap and picks a scab off his thumb. It comes off in a lump opening the gate on a bloody ooze. “Shit,” he mumbles. “I didn’t do it.”

He looks up to his lawyer across the table. The guy’s a dick. Overworked and overfed, underpaid and bored of Eddie as Eddie is of himself. And the guy only just left law school. Apparently he has to deal with a few skanks like Eddie before he’s allowed into the big leagues. The guy can’t even dress the part. Suit hangs off him like a leper’s skin. Is this really the life he was going to die living? Someone else’s bouncing board to the  next level of his career? A goddamned trampoline?

Eddie doesn’t think so.

He knows it isn’t. He has plans. No way is he going to be jacking cars until he dies old or someone shoots him. Just last week he drew up his own career plan. Why not? His dick of a lawyer can do it, why can’t he? He’s even read a book on it: “Plan your life. Live your plan.”

Crap title. Eddie makes plenty of plans and none of them go exactly as expected. Still, Never Give Up, Chapter 5. 

He read the book and follows it like an evangelist does the second coming. Step 1, Know What You Want. Step 2, Know What Is Required To Get There. Step 3. Make The Plan. Step 4. Follow the Plan. Step 5. Never Give Up.

What does Eddie want? He doesn’t want to be hauled in every time some smug-ass bitch forgets where she parked her car and calls it stolen.    

“Eddie,” his lawyer says. His tone all soft, like he’s speaking to a three-year-old creeping into the backdoor of a tantrum. Stupid bastard’s no older than he is. What the hell right does he have to speak to him like that? But Eddie lets him. Pick Your Battles. That’s what the book says. Pick your battles.

“Eddie,” the lawyer says again incase Eddie hadn’t heard him the first time.

“What, Lawyer. What?”

“There are witnesses saying you were driving the car. If I’m going to give you the best defense I can, I’m going to need to know the truth.”

“Well, in my defense, you moron, of course there are witnesses. I was driving the stupid woman’s car. I was delivering it to her home. I work at Frank Bette’s garage. Frank gave me the damn keys and told me to drop it off. Talk to Frank.”

The lawyer scratches some notes on his pad. First words he’s written since he arrived. “What time did you drop it off?”

“3.30 p.m. On her drive. There were sprinklers on and some kind of skinny hairless dog yapping in the window. I rang the bell. No one home. I put the keys through the door. As per instructions. Full stop. Whole story.”

“Apparently the woman, Mrs. Cleaver, came home at 5 p.m. and the car wasn’t there.”

“I don’t see how that’s my problem. I dropped it off then took a bus back to town. I have no clue what happened after 3.30 p.m. It wasn’t me who took it.”

“Witnesses say they saw someone fitting your description walking onto the property at 4.10 and opening the front door.”

“My description?”  Eddie interrupts the lawyer right there. “Let me guess, average height, white, brown hair, maybe sort of blonde, average weight, wearing a black jacket, no, a brown one, no, wearing no jacket at all. This is shite. And anyway, how did I open the front door? What kind of keys do you think I have? No way did I open that door.”

The lawyer goes quiet until Eddie stops speaking, then after a brief silence, carries on where he left off. “The witness said that a man, fitting your description; about 5’6″, slim build, Caucasian, slight stubble, brown hair, aged between 19 and 30 years old, wearing blue jeans, black hoodie, black leather jacket and black trainers.” Eddie looks himself up and down. So some damn fool is cloning him. The lawyer keeps talking. “The witness said you, I’m sorry, the man he saw, took a pouch out of his pocket, took out some small tools, not a key, and picked the lock in the front door.”

“Who’s this witness? I’m going to buy him glasses and a one way trip to the knacker’s yard. I was not there after 3.30 p.m. I did not do it. I did not steal that bitch’s car.”

Again, the lawyer waits until Eddie stops speaking, then after another pause, carries on. Prick. Eddie scratches the cut on his hand until wet blood coats his finger tips. I’m going to get this guy a one way ticket to the knacker’s yard and all, goddamned shovel included.

“The witness said the man then picked up the keys from the floor like he knew they were there, then got into the car and drove it away.”

“So what time did this witness say he saw this shit?”

“4.10 to 4.14. He wrote it all down.”

“Well, I know I didn’t do it. I wasn’t there.”

“Where were you then?”

“I was on other business. More important business than lifting a car. I mean, think about this. If I wanted to steal it, why the hell would I drop it off in the first place? Why not just take it straight from Frank’s garage?”

“What were you doing between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. last Wednesday, Eddie? What was this other business?”

Eddie sits back and grins. “Just trust me when I say, I was on other business. Part of my plan see, to step up. I’m what is commonly known as an entrepreneur.”

The lawyer nods then starts talking again. Same tone, same drooping jowls, same bored, can’t-be-arsed look on his face. “The police have followed you on CCTV. They see you getting onto the number 43 bus at 3.42, a block away from Mrs. Cleaver’s property. They see you getting off the bus at 3.58 on Youngs Street.”

“Exactly. Where the garage is that I work.”

“Then you seem to disappear. You walk down May Street, away from the garage, you turn right into Hendly Road and walk into Chicken Lickin’. The next time you can be seen on CCTV is at 5.03 when you get back onto the number 43 bus again, this time at the other end of the route, and walk to the garage.”

“So now you know.” Eddie leans back on the steel framed chair. He wants to rock it but the police have screwed it to the floor. Same with the tables. Same as they are trying to do to him.

The lawyer scribbles a few more notes that Eddie can’t read, then puts his pen down, laces his fat fingers together and looks up at Eddie. “So now I know what, Eddie? Where did you go after you walked into Chicken Lickin’?”

“I had work to do. Didn’t want some nosy cops tailing me around town.”

“So was that work taking the car?”

“No, you idiot. I told you. I’m stepping up.”

“Okay.” The lawyer looks down at his pudgy fingers, then back up at Eddie. Eddie smiles. Soon I’ll afford me a good lawyer. One who knows how to dress.

“Your friend, Chris Crackers, who owns Chicken Lickin’ said you came in, took a box of chicken and left through the back door.”

Eddie shrugs. “Yes, so?” He’ll brain Chris Crackers soon as he gets out of this dump. Stupid git. Rolling over for nothing.

“So your time is unaccounted for from 4.03 when you left through the back door of Mr. Cracker’s premises and walked back into the garage at 5.03. One hour exactly.” The lawyer unlocks his fingers and spreads them out on the table. “You have to tell me what you were doing and where you were otherwise you will be arrested for stealing the car. The police have a string of offenses they want to hold you accountable for and they’ll use any excuse to build a case that will put you away for a very long time.”

Eddie shakes his head. Unbelievable. Most of what the police have on him is true. They just can’t prove it. It’s all crap anyway. Eddie isn’t proud of his past. If he’s going to be arrested for anything, it’ll be something big and in the news. That’s why he’s trying to make more of himself. But to be taken down now? On something he didn’t even do? Just as he’s turning things around? That just isn’t fair or right.

The past is the past. That’s what the book says. Let It Go. He has let it go. Why can’t the police or his stupid dumb-ass lawyer?

“I was busy. No, there were no witnesses. No, I can’t prove it.”

Eddie stops. What is he saying? Of course he can prove where he was and what he was doing right to the last filthy second.

“Shit!” He digs his hands into his back pocket and pulls out a phone. “Damn right I can prove where I was between 4.03 and 5.03, you fool.” Eddie bounces on his chair. Think, that’s what the book says. Think and Plan and Act. That leads to Results.

Results. Things are turning around. Think. Plan. Act. Exactly what the book says and Eddie’s doing it. He isn’t leaping about like a god-damned jellybean any more. He has a plan and it’s a good one. He has a business too. He has skills. Ones people pay for. Half up front and half when the job is done. Hell, yes! He isn’t Eddie the car jacking nut-job. He’s Eddie, the professional businessman. He’ll show this cheap suit prick.

Eddie scans through the photos of cars, girls and houses he once thought he’d have. Not anymore though. Not now that Eddie’s a pro.

Eddie finds the photo he’d texted his new client. “Proof? You want proof? Look at that time stamp right there. Just the time stamp.”

The lawyer takes the phone and stares at the photo. “Ahh, Eddie? What are you saying?”

Jesus, is this guy really an idiot? Eddie takes the phone back and using a fingernail caked in blood, he points to the time stamp at the bottom right corner of the photo. “4.15. Exactly when the blind git is supposed to have seen me stealing a car I could have taken any time.”

Eddie points to the name of a building in the photo. “Fit Gym. Five miles away from the stupid house I was supposed to have taken the car from.” Finally, Eddie points to the lump on the floor. “Wait, I’ve got a better shot of that.” He flips through the photos of Finch McCrady. His eyes are open in the picture, but half his jaw is missing. “Proof.” Eddie slams the phone on the table, leans back far as he can in his chair and crosses his arms. “No way did I steal that car at 4.15. I was five miles away putting a bullet in Finch McCrady’s ignorant head. I even sent a text. Here, I’ll show you.” Eddie opens his texts and angles the phone so his lawyer could read it. “There’s the guys number, you see? That’s when I sent the photo. 4.31 p.m.” Stupid prick. “So, in my defense my arse.” Eddie sniggers. But his lawyer isn’t there anymore. That’s right. Eddie scratches the bleeding sore on his hand. He’ll get another lawyer. One that can deal with his level of expertise. One who knows how to dress.