By Christopher Zoukis
Sitting in the old wooden chair, I felt cold. I had been in this small, stark room inside the McDowell County Jail for twenty minutes, waiting for my attorney. To many the room wouldn’t be cold, but to someone wearing only a pair of orange scrubs it was. Today would include yet another visit with my attorney, a routine repeated so many times it was . . . well . . . routine. So when he entered I was unimpressed.
He extended his hand and I clasped it. Staring into his eyes I knew this was a formality not extended to all of his clients. I knew this because I knew some of his clients were neither pleasant nor hygienic. After sitting down, he divulged the reason for his visit. I was to sign the plea bargain that had been offered by the U.S. Attorney. A vice squeezed my chest. I couldn’t breathe. My left eyelid twitched wildly as my attorney looked at me with a tender, knowing gaze. A 22-year-old kid who was in way over his head.
He laid out the deal starting with the good news. The U.S. Attorney had agreed to drop a charge. This charge was a bogus one they knew they couldn’t prove. So far, they were only retracting a lie that couldn’t add any time to my sentence. I was less than thrilled but still hopeful.