a lot of shit about that night, but me, I ain't talking. It is what it is, a Brodie, that's how it goes sometimes. We all had too much to drink, sure, but I'm not saying I couldn't handle my hooch- I can handle my hooch.It just colors things though you know? Just like that mouthy nigger. Yeah that mouth was part of the problem. And then there was the sister- prettiest kitten with gams going straight up to heaven and I wanted me a piece of that heaven. Had to show her how real men are, flex a little muscle you see? She laughed at my lady tattoo, hell, I had an in. Distracted you could say. Grace could be the bridge to that though. Grace is a tough broad, a better mate than that scrub son-in-law. No offense. But this whole thing could have been cleared up long ago. Maybe he should have called on old Jones back then. It wouldn't have even made the last page of the sports section. You know, quietlike. But I wouldn't have met Grace I guess, and certainly not that sweet dish, daring me to show her how a real man does it. So no, I ain't gonna talk about that night. Especially since the lawyers say to keep it shut, especially since I'm a God damn hero now- eat with the officers these days. They even pat me on the back. I don't shine shit or eat shit no more. I get fan mail now, can you believe it? Fucking fan mail- letters from dames stateside thinking of Deacon. Aces I'm telling you. It's all coming up aces.
Let’s face it, the money’s good,
and I wanted to travel to Hawai’i.
I can’t believe my life’s work has come to this—
I need to sit down.
I wanted to retire when I was fifty,
but I kept working due to disappointing investments.
All those trials:
Leopold and Loeb,
Finally, at seventy-one,
I had enough money to retire.
Then, the ’29 crash hit.
How could I have prepared?
My son is in debt; I lost a lot.
Luckily, people know my name and it helps.
Working with Universal Pictures
and participating in public arguments on religion
brought in money—
for a while.
Now people rather spend their money
on the talkies.
All my years of fighting for the rights of blacks—
to have it come to this:
I received a cable with the prospect of defending
Mrs. Grace Fortescue and three men
who killed a native Hawaiian man.
They’re paying a good price for my services.
Barnes can’t believe I’m here.
My wife says I can do good work in Hawai’i
and help everyone get along,
but I know she doesn’t feel right about any of this.
I know what some people are thinking, and I don’t blame them.
How could Clarence Darrow be attorney for the defense?
Because the law gave him an ethical basis to hide behind money–
defend the indefensible, assail the unassailable–he could.
It is April. The day is warm on the day of the trial, the smell
of coffee fills the halls and for the exhilaration this brings, he could.
To save a son staggering in debt, for small creature comforts,
to indulge his wife's extravagances, to pamper his lover, he could.
Notwithstanding being the champion of Blacks,
hero of the Scopes trial and Sweet case, he could.
He could, for the same reasons he was defense attorney
for Leopold and Loeb, for attorneys caught bribing jurors.
While a hero of the down-trodden, he defended the owners
who had locked 29 of 30 exits of the Iroquois Theater fire. 506 dead.
A chameleon and opportunistic, he changed like the seasons,
the hands of a clock. A master of the camouflage, he could change
from the righteous, the rod and staff, to the reproachable,
fire and brimstone, or the brown praying mantis, into a leaf,
to catch its prey for the "green" he loved best.
The green he loved best was the velvety
color of that drink he had. Where was it anyway—
China? Australia? Fiji? —the one with
the name he couldn’t pronounce. “The green one,
you know, “ he’d say to the bartender.
Not like any drink he had with his brother in Butte,
to wash away the copper dust from the those Montana mines.
But now in Hawaii it was not time for a binge
not for John Kelley, prosecutor, not now.
Now was the time for butt-off work.
After all, he has a face off with Darrow,
that expert of the sleight of hand,
with 30 years experience over him.
He knew he was up against the magician,
who would probably call in alienists to argue the
“alarm clock insanity“—it’s only temporary— as a defense.
Or he’ll pull the empathy cord—What would you do
in their place? You’d have to defend her honor.
Kelley knows that any trial is over when jury selection is complete.
Could a white jury convict? he wonders .
Then he thinks of the “powder room“ with lounge and separate entry
they built for Mrs. Fortescue because, of course, she couldn’t use the same
toilet as the hoi polloi.
This makes him thirst. He'll need a flood of drink after the trial,
one that would flush it all away.