Billy Joe Luster, the Winnebago paralegal, had begun leaning his six foot three inch frame downward in an attempt to diminish his presence as his fall from grace progressed. Formerly of the prestigious Pepperdine Law Review and once a successful ambulance chasing attorney, he had been disbarred for solicitation of prostitution, three times. The recession of 2008 had forced him into practicing law without a license by scraping the bottom of the client barrel. He leaned over even further and whispered into the ear of his partner, The Cadillac Lawyer:
"Oh my God Tony, what in the hell happened to your face?"
"This morning at the gym I had to shave by holding the cartridge in my fingers because I lost the razor handle,” smiled cherubic Anton Antonovich, as he slouched plumply on one of the marble benches in the hallway. They were waiting for their pond scum sucking client to arrive and the bailiffs to open the doors to the courtrooms in the cavernous 7th Floor hallway of the downtown Los Angeles Superior Court. Billy Joe was the mastermind who optimized web sites to attract legal clients, give legal advice, sell them on the deal, get the money, and find an unscrupulous attorney to go to court. The whole operation was illegal and the Los Angeles Police Department, the State Bar of California and their agents were on to him.
“You could cancel your 24 Hour Fitness membership and move up to Equinox with me, they have free disposable razors and everything else you need right there at the sinks. Why didn't you just run out and buy a new razor?"
"I would have been late for court."
"It would have been better if you had done nothing, your face looks like shit."
"Does it hurt?"
“Have you been drinking?”
“No,” he lied.
Billy Joe couldn’t take his eyes off of the bloody little railroad tracks running down Tony’s face. Deeper and bloodier at the top, gradating into shallower scratches at the bottom of his face. It was obvious the wounds were caused by embedding a hand-held Gillette shaving cartridge into flesh. Billy Joe just wanted to hear it in Tony’s own words. This was the final omen. In between the bloody little gashes there were splotches of perfectly shaved skin and spots where his unshaved beard popped up. It was a parable of life. The cuts were a code. It was a prophecy that he could learn and understand, maybe use it to find a way out of being convicted and incarcerated for the unauthorized practice of law.
The horizontal cuts were deepest at the top of his face where he began his customary downward stroke and decreased in intensity down at the bottom as he seemed to have found a way to let up on the pressure to decrease the cuts and get an inch of clean shave at the bottom of his face. But then, as he tried to go underneath his chin and down his throat the bloody massacre began again in earnest. Tony needed to get a grip, and so did Billy Joe.
After servicing their client’s legal needs he drove his Toyota back to his RV in Playa del Rey where he lived parked at Toe’s Dunes and Tony drove his Cadillac to Malibu where he lived in the parking lot of the Methodist Church.
One of the bad things about living full-time in an RV is the lack of a real bathroom. For a civilized morning bathroom and work out routine nothing could compete with a gym with a steam room. It is important to use bathroom water sparingly in an RV because the worst thing about living in an RV was emptying the waste water tanks at a dump station. The only good thing about it was the fact that the free dump station was at Dockweiler State Beach where the brisk onshore kept the chemical smell to a minimum. You had to put tons of chemicals in your RV tanks because you do not want to smell what is in them. Most importantly, you do not want to see what is in the blackwater tank because if you can see it you can definitely smell it.
That was the moment when an epiphany washed over Billy Joe. With one foot holding down the blackwater hose he surveyed the waves breaking cleanly on the shore and thought of the waves of blood on Tony’s face earlier that morning. In his fugue state he accidentally let his foot off of the hose and it shot his own effluent out into the open before he could stick it back down into the hole again.
“Oh shit!” He said and then laughed.
The searing images of Tony’s sliced up face were superimposed upon the mess on the ground, the waves on the ocean and the meaning became clear. The prophecy was being revealed to him. It was so easy it was stupid. Tony was sinking into the waves like a rock and Billy Joe had to let go of him before they both drowned. Once he let go of the rock he was able to stand up tall again. There was nothing left to do except unwind the dump station water hose and wash everything into the drain.
© 2023 Dean McAdams