The Devil's Right Hand
incomprehensible voices.
The argument  and the fact that the lights had never been
turned off in the cells had made it impossible for Keller to sleep.
His eyeballs felt raw and gritty. He hadn’t been allowed to shave.
His hands were shackled in front of him and his ankles were
fastened together with a short length of heavy chain. His lawyer
stood by his side.
    The lawyer’s name was Scott McCaskill. He was
an imposing figure, a full six and a half feet tall. He had thick
snow-white hair brushed back until it resembled a lion’s mane. His
face tended to remind people of someone they’d seen on TV, someone
playing a Senator or President. He had represented Keller several
times before. Part of the secret to his success was his massive
presence that seemed to draw all attention in the room to him and
away from his raggedy-assed client.
    “ Your Honor,” McCaskill intoned in a
voice so deep that it almost rattled the water glasses, “my client
has no prior record. He is a bail bondsman licensed by the State of
North Carolina. He served his country with distinction in the armed
forces and was decorated for bravery in the Persian Gulf. In
addition, we are confident that these charges are the result of a
misunderstanding and will be resolved in his favor at
    The judge picked up a sheet of computer
printout and studied it. “Your client,” the judge observed, “has
been remarkably lucky to have no record of convictions. The PIN
check provided by officers Jones and Wesson shows a remarkable
string of charges that were either dismissed by the local
prosecutor or resulted in ‘not guilty’ verdicts at trial. Can you
explain this?”
    McCaskill shrugged and smiled. “The nature of
Mr. Keller’s business is such that the people he returns to custody
are often, shall we say, less than happy with their situation.”
    “ Two of them apparently ended up dead,”
the judge said.
    “ For which incident a jury returned a
verdict of not guilty by reason of self-defense,” his lawyer
replied smoothly.
    Tharrington put the printout down and looked
at Keller again. Keller was beginning to feel like a piece of
livestock being haggled over at the market, but he kept his face
    “ I’m concerned here, counselor,” he
said, “that your client is a violent man. He was apprehended with a
shotgun in his car. He was carrying a weapon concealed on his
    “ For which--” McCaskill began, but fell
silent when Tharrington raised a hand. “I realize he claims to have
a carry permit for that weapon. He has not been able to produce
    “ That’s because Officer Wesson took it.
Sir.” Keller said.
    “ Which brings us to my greatest
concern,” Tharrington said. “The contempt and disrespect shown to
law enforcement. It’s bad enough that Mr. Keller apparently fancies
himself some sort of bounty hunter, despite having no official
standing as a sworn law enforcement officer. But for him to assault
a real officer and threaten him with further violence--”
    “ Sir,” Keller said. “Officer Wesson
assaulted me .” He ignored the
lawyer’s hand on his shoulder urging him to keep quiet. “He struck
me with his baton while I had my hands on the car. Officer Jones
can confirm that.”
    Tharrington looked behind Keller. “Officer
Wesson,” he said. “Is Officer Jones present in the courtroom with
    Keller didn’t trust himself to turn around
and look, but he could hear the smooth confidence in Wesson’s
voice. “No sir,” he said. “She had, ah, other duties to attend to.
And your honor, I was forced to use my baton to subdue Mr. Keller
when he attempted to reach for the firearm I was taking from
    “ And is it not true, Mr. Keller, that
you threatened to take Officer Wesson’s baton away from him and
beat him with it?”
    “ No sir,” Keller said through clenched
teeth. “I told him I was going to take it away from him and shove
it up his ass.”
    Tharrington reddened. He

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