Great Bodily Harm by Jeffrey Wald

Arthur sat at his desk, finger pecking away at his computer keyboard like a chicken tossed shelled corn. As he typed, his furry eyebrows did the work of a silent metronome, rising up then down, up then down.

“Conclusion,” he typed. “Because biting off the tip of a fellow’s nose does not meet the legal definition of ‘great bodily harm,’ the complaint alleging that Mr. Dodd committed first degree assault against Mr. Franks must be dismissed. Certainly, Mr. Franks received some bodily harm, just not of a ‘great’ nature.”

Arthur leaned back in his chair to admire his handiwork, then printed his motion and memoranda of law, placed the still-warm papers in a thin folder, and locked up for the night.

He glanced down at his Timex. 1:53 am. The number 16 bus would pull up in 4 minutes. Arthur stood waiting at the bus stop, whistling Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

The bus arrived and Arthur took a seat above the wheels at the back of the bus. The bus jerked and roared down University as Arthur sat watching the neon signs of establishments that remained open, and then abruptly stopped in front of the pink lights of Topless Tequila at University and Monterrey.

“I’m four minutes early,” growled the bus driver to the three riders. “We’s gonna sit here for a coupla minutes.”

Arthur watched as a man tottered out of Topless Tequila, miraculously sauntered to the bus like a cooked spaghetti noodle, then stepped inside.

The man staggered to the back of the bus and sat on the bench immediately facing Arthur. The bus again jerked down University. The new rider appeared to be staring out the window behind Arthur, entranced.

But then suddenly he arose from his seat, put his bearded head directly in front of Arthur’s, and stood there breathing heavily.

“You don’t remember me do ya?” the man asked, each effervescent word almost choking Arthur with the smell of Ron Diaz.

“I’m afraid I don’t good sir. Seems you have the wrong guy,” responded Arthur.

“Maybe in yur line of work it’s easy to mash us up, swaller us, and then regurgitate us without rememberin the bitter taste we left in yur mouth, but I’s remembers all!”

“I’m afraid you’re going to have to give me more to go on good sir.”

“The Friggman trial. Three years ago. He chopped off me hand at Topless Tequila. They charged him with first degree assault. You represented that monster. Told the jury it wasn’t great bod’ly harm. Said I still had one good hand. Said maybe I couldn’t give the ladies Washingtons with me left hand while touching me Willy with my right, but I could swap back and forth. You got him off! And you know what he done after that! A year later he finished the job. See!”

With that the crazed man lifted his arms to reveal two stubs where his hands should have been.

“Well tonight Mr. Fancy Attorney I’m gonna give you a little great bod’ly harm.”

The man leapt toward Arthur with teeth bared and mouth open. He was going for Arthur’s throat. Arthur deftly raised his folder and positioned it in front of the man’s progressing teeth. The man’s mouth collided with the folder and he bit down upon it like a police dog on a burglar.

The bus driver saw what was happening in his rearview mirror. “Arthur, toss him out” he yelled, opening the back door.

In one deft motion, Arthur seized the man by the throat, lifted him off the ground, and tossed him out the back door, recovering his folder in the process.

“I don’t know why you keep riding this hell hole, Arthur” said the bus driver, continuing his descent down University. “It’s a strange and terrifying world out there.”

“That it is” responded Arthur, more to himself than anyone else. “That it is.”

When the judge began reading Arthur’s motion and memorandum of law the following day he was surprised to observe deep teeth marks on the pages. “Another of Arthur’s crazy stunts,” thought the judge. “What a coot.” Then he handed his clerk a note that simply said “motion granted.”

Arthur P. Goldburger by Jeffrey Wald

The door marked Arthur P. Goldburger, Attorney at Law, clattered open. After a muffled cough, the door crashed shut again.

“Come in, come in,” cried Arthur nervously behind endless rows of paper stacked on his desk. He swung his legs up like a child on a swing, then swiftly down to catapult his behind off the chair.

He scurried to the front door. His large eyebrows, furry as caterpillars, appeared to pull the rest of his body along with them.

“Please do come in and have a seat,” Arthur said to his visitor. “I’m glad you were able to come on such short notice.”

Arthur ushered the visitor into his office and cleared a knoll of papers from a chair. “Please sit, sit. Can I get you something to drink? A coca-cola, coffee, maybe some tea? I think I have a little Evan Williams under my desk if you’d care?”

“That won’t be necessary.”

“Weather sure took a turn for the worse, I was worried you might not be able to make it.”

“It’s that time of year.”

“Did you find the place OK? I’m a bit off the beaten path here, not all my clients have found me on the first try.”

“I know the area.”

“Well…shall we get straight to business?”

“Let’s.”

“OK. First-things-first. What do you charge?”

“My standard package is ten grand. But I offer various upgrades.”

“The standard should be fine. And might I inquire about your methods?”

“That depends. For every motive there is a method.”

“I’m not following.”

“My method of execution depends on your motive for killing. For instance, if it’s business-related, a single bullet to the head will do the trick. To terminate the lover of a cheating spouse, I suggest a more prolonged sequence. But torture is an upgrade.”

“No, no, torture won’t be necessary. Whatever is quickest will suffice. I’m afraid that I’m to blame. He shouldn’t be made to suffer now on my account.”

“Not to point fingers, but he’s going to die on your account.”

“Well, yes, but you see, if it wasn’t for me he’d safely be in prison right now.

“How’s that?”

“I defended him. Convinced the judge to suppress evidence of bodies he had entombed in his backyard.”

“How many bodies?”

“Twenty-two.”

“That’s a good piece of lawyering.”

“A little too good. I can’t sleep at night knowing that nut is free. I have no doubt that he will slay again. Which is why it’s so urgent that you finish the job tonight.”

“No problem.”

“When will you do it?”

“I’ll give you a call at 8:05. I will be finished by then.”

“Well I should let you go, ah, prepare,” said Arthur, catapulting himself off his chair. “Do let me know if you run into any trouble.”

“Not a thing to worry about Mr. Goldburger. You’re in good hands.”

After his visitor departed, Arthur looked at his clock. 5:52. Time enough for a drink, he thought, and he reached under his desk and pulled out the Evan Williams. He poured himself a generous drink and sat back in his chair, closing his eyes as if deep in thought. He promptly fell asleep.

At exactly 8:05, the phone screamed.

“Arthur Goldburger speaking,” he recited drowsily.

“Mr. Goldburger, it’s me.”

“Is the deed accomplished?”

“There’s been a problem.”

“What sort of a problem?”

“I’m arrested.”

“Oh my. Don’t worry, I’ll get you out of there. I just need a $50,000 retainer.”

“I’ll have it wired tomorrow.”

“Magnificent.”

Arthur P. Goldburger leaned back in his chair, and when he closed his eyes to return to sleep his eyebrows cast a pall over his face like grave-markers during a full moon.