Short Fiction – Defiant Hemlock #4: Jocks, Gods, Emo Boys and Nerds

Photo from Jeff Miller, St. Petersburg Times photograph, first day of Gulf High School football practice. Creative Commons license.

ADA Flex Fisher waited for Judge Gallant to return from her bathroom break. Beside him, Jack Kinzer seemed deep in contemplation of the judge’s Ravenswing Pub poster. Flex noticed that the other man was wearing mismatched socks. 

Flex passed a hand through his close-cropped blonde hair and shrugged his muscular shoulders. They may have taken the game away from him after he graduated Defiant Hemlock High School the hero of the Angry Hens football team, but he still hit the gym a couple hours a day at four in the morning. After long hours at the office, he went home to play World of Warcraft until after midnight. That is, when he wasn’t working on a case. WOW, gym, work, sleep; that was his life now. His high school self would have laughed, then possibly cried. He’d become a nerd.  

That was not the plan. He had escaped Defiant Hemlock High for the promise of Ivy League freedom. Flex matriculated at Harvard for his undergrad, majoring in political science and philosophy, with a minor in French; he went on to Yale Law, thanks to his uncle’s deep pockets. Besides, Flex may have been a high school jock, but he wasn’t a dumbass. He’d dreamed of practicing corporate law in Manhattan. But his grandma got Alzheimer’s, and his deadbeat mother needed his help. So he took a job with the DA’s office, which was always hiring, and his grandma died a year later. Somehow, he was still trapped in the land of the Angry Hens, a land where old men at the diner still congratulated him for that win against Thurston when he was 17.

“I’m still not convinced this information is worth giving up the deal. It’s a good deal and you know it. I went out of my way for you,” Flex said, scattering his memories like a flock of crows as the taut silence between them rippled. He remembered Kinzer from high school. The kid spent most of his time sitting underneath the bleachers, alone, always lost in a cloud of weed. Emo. So emo, as they said back then. “Poutine isn’t exactly a credible source. And I have video footage. The jury will eat it up.” 

“I know,” Kinzer said, tearing away from his contemplation of the Ravenswing Pub mascot, the one with the thick handlebar mustache shaped like an angry black bird and a brass monocle. “But he won’t take the deal. Nothing I can say will change his mind. You know how these things go.” 

“Trial will be another slam dunk. You sure you want me to pummel you again? Another loss won’t look good for business.” 

“No way,” Kinzer said, his dark eyes blazing. “Anytime I get to take down the persecuting prosecutor, I’m all up in that shit. You’re on, buddy.” 

“You always lose. Doesn’t it get old?” The two were adversaries in the courtroom, but outside work, sometimes they even played chess in the park. Flex suddenly realized he missed those games. Kinzer was good at chess.

“No, friend.” Kinzer dropped his voice to a fiercely dramatic whisper. “The system already lost the case for me.” 

“Oh, God, here we go again.” 

They heard the insistent clack of Judge Gallant’s heels on the worn carpet, and they straightened in their seats like schoolboys caught with the cookie jar. Which just so happened to be a favorite analogy from Flex’s voir dire questioning of juries when he was explaining circumstantial evidence.


By Denise Ruttan.

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