Suitcase City

Suitcase City by Sterling Watson

Book: Suitcase City by Sterling Watson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sterling Watson
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    “Well, assuming there are no criminal charges—I mean assuming the cop, the uncle, decides to leave the matter where it lies—there’s still civil court. And believe me, my friend, anybody can sue anybody for anything in civil court, and the burden of proof is much less severe. It’s not proof beyond a reasonable doubt; it’s proof by the preponderance of the evidence. Lots of difference there, old buddy.”
    “What about this guy, Thurman Battles, the kid’s other uncle? What’s he like?”
    “Oh my Christ,” muttered Walter Demarest, drinking the Budweiser from his Amstel bottle. “Oh my sweet, suffering Savior, Thurman Battles is a bear. A veritable grizzly.”
    Walter had said, Bay-ah , and Teach didn’t like it, but you couldn’t have every good thing with a friend, and Walter was a friend. Walter was, in fact, a lifeline thrown across the wild, heaving seas of this table to the leaky rowboat of Teach’s life. Teach drank the last of his beer and said, “You mean I couldn’t go talk to the guy. He wouldn’t listen to reason?”
    Walter Demarest looked at him and slowly shook his head. Teach couldn’t tell if the man was weighing the stupidity of the question or was simply at a loss for words. Finally, Walter said, “Thurman Battles is reasonable as Thurman Battles sees reason. He’s reasonable as it suits him and his client. He’s reasonable when his reasoning is better than yours, and the judge and the jury know it. The rest of the time he’s Vlad the Impaler in an Armani suit.”
    Teach had saved the best and the worst for last. The thing he had come here for. “Look, Walter,” he said, trying to get the man’s small, clear, green eyes to meet his, remembering all the times when the two of them had played golf with a pint of Wild Turkey in the cart, “I was wondering if you’d consider representing me if this thing gets out of hand. I mean, if this kid does file a civil action.”
    Teach waited. Walter’s eyes brightened. He put down the beer Teach had given him and pushed back in his chair. “Uh, Jim . . .” His voice was measured and a little remote, the voice he used when telling Teach to put the five iron back into the bag and go with the six because, after all, there was a breeze behind them and Teach was hitting to a sloping green. And Teach noticed, vaguely, from the thickening haze of morning beer, that old buddy had gone away. Teach was Jim now. “Uh, Jim, I hate to say this, but you couldn’t afford me. Not for half as long as a thing like this could take if it goes the way Thurman Battles might want to take it.”
    Teach felt his anger rise out of the beery mist. What the hell, how did Walter Demarest know what he could afford? And just as quickly as it blossomed, Teach’s anger wilted. Walter had been to Teach’s house, had seen him wearing the Brooks Brothers suits he bought once a year at the Christmas sale at the Old Hyde Park store. Walter had ridden in Teach’s two-year-old LeSabre once when his own Lexus was being serviced. Walter knew what he knew. Maybe this was a kindness.
    “Listen, Jim,” Walter said, rising and leaning forward, putting his pale, manicured hands on the table, “call my office on Monday and I’ll give you the name of a young guy I know who’s just getting started. He’s good, and he won’t charge you an arm and a leg, and I’m sure he’ll do as good a job with this thing as I could. Hell,” he added, “maybe better.”
    Walter pushed off from the table and crossed to the bar where he signed his check and left his empty bottle. As he headed for the door, Teach called out, “See you out on the course, old buddy.”
    Walter didn’t turn or speak, just raised his left hand, giving Teach the back of it in a jaunty wave.
    Teach finished the beer, feeling like a very old buddy. He got up a little unsteadily, carried the pitcher and his glass to the bar, and signed the chit. Trevor, the weekend bartender, retrieved the pen from

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