'Tis a Far, Far Better Thing

‘Tis a Far, Far Better Thing

I could hear him from across the bar.



He was overweight, obnoxious, and should have known better.  Curly hair, or what was left of his curly hair, hung precariously off the back of his head and covered the back of his grey blazer.  Under that fabric drape a Hawaiian shirt exploded in yellow color.  His partially hidden shirt seemed to share his transparent personality:  loud and completely lacking self-awareness.



Two elegant Chinese women half his age seemed to hang on his every word.  They looked at him with feigned admiration and occasionally touched him hinting promises of more to come.



They were spies, and this guy was too much of an idiot to realize it.



“Watching the show?”



I glanced over to see Delaney placing my Old Fashioned deliberately on a coaster in front of me.



“Our nation’s secrets are so easily accessed,” I said with a grunt.



She glanced over and watched the show at the other end of the bar for a second.



“Yeah, I am sure that before he owned a software company he regularly had multiple beautiful women fawning over him.”



“Yes, Delaney… they know the way to a man’s heart… and our secrets.”



“Gives my race a bad name.”



“Is that why you color your hair blonde?”



She flashed an angry glance towards me, her Asian eyes becoming slimmer.



“Who says I dye my hair?”



“You do you, my dear,”  I said raising my glass in a mock toast.



Delaney headed over to the other side of the bar to talk to a lonely customer who was staring into his drink.  I watched her as she worked her unique magic.  As she talked to him, I listened to the muted sounds of Latin jazz that Habanas pipes in for ambiance.  Try as I might I could not stop listening to the moron getting worked at the other end of the bar.  I sighed and took a sip from my Old Fashioned.



“Holding court, Steven?”



My muscles tightened.  That voice.  But this time with a greater degree of discomfort.



I looked over and saw him pulling out the barstool to sit down next to me.  That same emerald handkerchief blazed out of his blazer breast pocket.  I could see emerald and silver cufflinks peeking out of his cuffs as he pulled back the chair.  Of course they matched both his handkerchief and his penetrating green eyes.



“Gabriel. Thought you might be showing up… where is your friend?”



I felt electricity burn through my shoulder to my legs.  Hands had been laid upon me, and they were having the intended effect.  The poison in my glass sloshed around as I almost lost my grip.



“I’m right here, Steven.”  Michael’s low baritone voice still caused my ears to ring.



As I looked up at him I could see Gabriel gently smiling.



“I think I knew you were here too.  The cosmic vibrations were more intense in this place than usual.”



“Well, at least you didn’t smell sulphur when we approached.”



“No, Gabriel, I know what side of the line you guys are on.  Besides, there are enough demons already here to provide temptation,” I said looking at the Chinese spies.



“Not your best day in court today,” Gabriel said, changing the subject.



“No, you guys should show up with me one day.  I could use your support.”



“Steven, you have our support… but you know we don’t work that way,” Michael said moving over to stand next to Gabriel.



“No… you just hang out in faux Caribbean spy dens masquerading as bars.”



“Good work if you can get it,” Gabriel said flashing that distressing smile.



I smirked.



“So, what happened?”



I looked at the two for a moment… and thought, “What the hell?”



“The State wanted to prosecute my client for a crime he didn’t commit.  In fact, he was actually the victim.  They refused to prosecute the other guy.  Worse, they subpoenaed my client’s father to testify against his son.  My client did not want to put his father through that, and decided to accept an offer.  He pled guilty to a crime he did not commit.”



“’Tis a far, far better thing than I have ever done; ’tis a far, far better rest than I have ever known,” Gabriel said, looking down at the bar.



“Hmmm, Sydney Carton he is not.  But he was innocent.  Now, I guess, he is not.”



“And you are upset that justice was not served,” said Michael looking down at me.



“Michael, what if that serpent was not the devil?  What if it was just a snake in the wrong place at the wrong time?  What if you were so sure of your actions that in actuality you smote some Aramaic kid’s pet?”



Michael laughed.  “Well, first it was a demon.  We have a way of knowing these things, and, secondly, that act took place a few millennia before kids in Mesopotamia started keeping snakes as pets… but you said something that bears reflection.”



I looked at him waiting for him to continue.  “Snakes, people, prosecutors, and priests are never at the wrong place at the wrong time.  Quite the contrary, we are always at the right place at the necessary time.  It is the decisions we make that define who we are.  The power to act nobly is afforded to everyone, the prince, the pauper, and your client.  Justice very well may not have been served, but your client had the benefit of acting with virtue.  All in all… not a bad deal.”



“I am sure he will reflect on that as he does his 40 hours of community service picking up trash on the freeway.”



“Funny enough, Steven… he just might.”



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Comments (3)

  • Olaf Kilthau Reply

    Tough decision!

    03/13/2024 at 08:16
  • Glenn Jeff Okamoto Reply


    03/14/2024 at 08:29
  • Norm Ellis Reply


    03/18/2024 at 15:32

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