Once again, the fates have pantsed my dignity and snickered at its underwear.
I'm down in Texas for the deposition of a federal prisoner who allegedly has bad testimony about my client in a civil case. The prisoner is crazy or acting crazy, and so is in a federal medical facility. The facility is located on a joint reserve military base outside of Fort Worth.
The opposing party has thoughtfully provided me with instructions for getting onto the base and to the prison facility in a rental car. But I'm not planning on renting a car, so I make a quick call to the facility to make sure I can take a cab there.
I fly down to Fort Worth, spend the night in a rather substandard Hilton (redeeming feature: room service brough the biggest. bowl. of. tortilla. soup. ever. I mean, you could drown a mid-sized cat in this thing.)
The next morning I drag myself out and grab a cab for the short right to the base. The taxi brings me to the front gate. There are two Marines in BDUs at the gatehouse.
I check in, saying that I'm going to the prison for a "meeting." A "meeting," they ask? Yes. What kind of meeting? Well, a deposition. Oh, they say. So you are a lawyer, then?
The piano-player-in-a-bordello thing isn't going to fly, so I cop to it. Satisfied with their recon of the enemy, they find my name on a list.
"You can go in," the lead Marine says. "But the taxi can't."
"Oh," he says, "Didn't they tell you? Taxis can deliver people to the checkpoint, but taxis aren't permitted on base."
He and his partner are grinning.
I pay the taxi driver, extract my suitcase, and wave him off.
"All right," says I to the marines. "Can you direct me to the federal prison facility?"
"Sure," one of them says, grinning more. "Just go straight down this street, take a right and the second light, then the next left, and it will be at the end of the road." He grins even more broadly, as does his buddy.
"Thanks," I say. "Can you tell me roughly how far it is?"
At this point the Marines are grinning so broadly that I think their grins are going to meet in the back and their heads are going to topple off onto the Texas hardpack like hats in a big wind.
"Aw, I don't know, precisely," says the first one. "I'd say it's about .. eh .. would you say, two and a half miles?"
"More like three, I'd bet," says his partner.
This is the point at which I am supposed to throw some stereotypical lawyer fit, I think.
But I'm not gonna. I remember my grandfather, a Navy man, saying that you should never take shit from the jarheads. Or words to that effect.
So fuck 'em.
I say, "Well, then, it's a good thing I've got half an hour, isn't it? And it's a beautiful morning for it."
And with a polite nod I take off at a power-walk pace, pulling my suitcase and briefcase behind me. I hear laughter behind me.
It is a beautiful morning for a walk. It's in the low fifties, so I don't really start to sweat at this pace until I've walked about a mile in my suit and tie. I haven't reached the second light at which I am supposed to turn yet. Lots of military folks in civilian cars are zooming past me and looking at me incredulously. I entertain myself by looking at the various jets they have displayed on the side of the road. This base includes assets of the Texas Air National Guard, so I'm keeping my eye out for W's plane.
Eventually after maybe a mile and a half a SUV with military plates and a cop antenna set comes roaring up and an MP leans out. He's grinning a lot. He says he's here to offer me a courtesy ride to the prison.
I briefly consider refusing as a point of honor, but accept politely and climb in. He peels out in a big cloud of road dust and speeds towards the prison.
Midway through he gets on his radio and tells someone on the other end — someone who is laughing — that he's picked up the Whiskey-Mike and is conducting a courtesy escort to the prison. More laughing on the other end.
I wonder for a while. Walking Moron? Walking Motherfucker? Wanton Maniac? What a Man?
So I get to the deposition on time, though in something of a mood.
I don't really start to feel any better about myself until I corner the prisoner's lawyer and, like Hannibal Lechter convincing Miggs to swallow his tongue, convince him to get his client to take the Fifth for the entire deposition. He steps into a private room to meet with his client as the court reporter sets up. And when his client comes shuffling out of the private room into the deposition room, clutching the piece of paper with one sentence scrawled on it that we will hear over and over for the next three hours, and I see the faces of the lawyers on the other side, everything is copacetic again.
The court reporter gave me a ride out of the base. I waved nicely to the Marines at the gate on the way out.
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