14 November 2013

Scratch Esquire: Chapter 3

 "What in the world did you think you were doing?" Joel Blackmon, the Commonwealth Attorney, my boss, started in on me as soon as the door to his office closed.

Putting the evidence in front of the grand jury had gone sideways. Instead of tossing it out the jurors told the judge they wanted to empanel themselves as a special grand jury and investigate Sammael Scratch. Nobody had ever seen a grand jury do that before and the Boss was pissed.

"You didn't even think to tell me about it before you tried to do an end run around the Fellowship? You didn't think I might want to know that the grand jury might stick us with this disaster? You know how many calls I've gotten from pastors and newsmen today?"

I stayed silent. Those might have technically been questions, but the Boss clearly had no intention of giving me a chance to answer. He kept right on rolling and all I could do was stand there. Nothing I'd say could possibly do anything but make matters worse. So I stood there waiting for the storm to break.

After about ten minutes, Joel wore down and he just glared at me. After a few seconds he went on in a quieter voice.

"Mike, this is a firing offense. You tried to bury something politically sensitive and left me out in the cold so that I got blindsided when it backfired. My problem is that the office is already short four people and if I fire you I have to assign this garbage to someone else. So, I'm not going to can you. I'm going to make you special counsel to the grand jury and you are going to make this pile of dung into a diamond."

He nodded toward the door and I started to leave. I was almost through the door when he called my name. I stopped and turned back.

"That grand jury better issue a two hundred page report about the how wonderful God, apple pie, the girl next door, and the American way are or it better indict that guy for some felony. Fix it."


The phone call with Carl didn’t go much better.

“What the Hell did you do, Carl?”

“What the Hell did I do? Me? I’m not the asshole who sent me into a room with Sister Cassandra Potts serving as foreman.”

“Who the Hell is Cassandra Potts?”

“Watch your mouth, Mike. She’s the wife of Brother Andrew Potts, the pastor at Mount Sinai Church of God and you don’t want anybody to hear you talking like that about her - including me.”

With that, he hung up on me. I sat there stunned for a couple of seconds and then slammed my own phone down. I sat there staring at it and stewed in my own anger for another minute. Then, I turned to my computer and did a quick search to see who in the world Cassandra Potts was.

It turned out that Mount Sinai Church of God was the biggest “Black” church on the west side of Ridland. It had a beautiful website which showed a large, rather ornate church that looked like it had been around for a while. The site identified the church as “proudly African Methodist Episcopal” and under the “Meet Our Pastor” section there was a picture of a distinguished late middle aged man with a black shirt, white preacher’s collar, and a red cross sewn into the shirt over his heart. Next to him stood a woman who complimented him perfectly. She was a little younger, but she also seemed to have an air of distinction about her - the matronly feel that you get from older women who are used to being the most important person in the room. The paragraph describing her made it clear that she was not just an appendage to her husband. She had just as many degrees as he did and they met and married while they were both studying to get their Masters of Divinity.

She was well educated and from a church north of the river. Chances were good that she would show a little common sense once it was explained to her that there were no secular laws that covered this situation.

I could only hope.

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