A Common Tragedy: Part Four

(The scene is Michaels' new law office. It's in rather poor shape, full of books and such but in need of repair. Michaels is sitting behind a desk rummaging through some papers when Davis walks in carrying a file folder)

Davis: Might I have a word with you sir?

Michaels: I guess so, I don’t seem to have an appointment for a while. What have you done?

Davis: I didn’t come to talk about me, rather, I came to talk about an old friend.

Michaels: A friend of mine or of yours?

Davis: Both

Michaels: Then who is he?

Davis: Senator Livingston. (There is a brief moment of tension as Michaels looks up at Davis but says nothing) I know you are an opponent of his and I thought I could talk to you about him.

Michaels: (looking back at his work) that case has been closed for some time now.

Davis: But I have new evidence…

Michaels: (getting angrier but not looking up) Then go to the police.

Davis: But they are the enemy.

Michaels: (trying to avoid yelling) Then I guess you have a problem don’t you?

Davis: (heavy sigh) Listen, I know how much you hate this guy, I know how you wanted to bust him as an assistant DA, I know you led a crusade against him for months after the crime and that you are still today a political opponent of his. Trust me, you are going to want to see what I have.

Michaels: (clinching teeth) Listen, that case is closed and it shall remain as such, there is nothing that you or anyone else can do about it.

Davis: (raising his voice) I want to bring him down too, I know the truth!

Michaels: (gets up and leans over the desk) You have no business here. Please leave immediately. I am now a defense attorney now. If you ever have trouble with the law, please stop by but otherwise good day and let me finish my work!

Davis: (begins to head out, Michael's eases back into his seat, Davis stops halfway) Just answer me one question, why did you stop?

Michaels: Dates and politics.

Davis: Pardon, I don't understand.

Michaels: (buries his nose in his work again) About five years ago the McCarthy Bill was passed. This set the statue of limitations on all alleged crimes committed by state elected officials to one year. This was designed to protect political careers from repeated false allegations. This stems from the fact Senator McCarthy's comrade Congressman Smithson was a victim of repeated allegations of soliciting prostitutes though none were true. However, he was still voted out of office.

Davis: I see… well, that's a crock of…

Michaels: (stands up and raises his voice) You know, I counted the days, I counted the God-damned days. I have it marked on this calendar here, (walks over to it and flips one page back) it's been one month almost exactly since it expired. I fought right up until that day.

Davis: Is there anyway around it?

Michaels: Well, to prevent it from being completely illegal they added a clause in it so that should new evidence appears the prosecutors can go before a judge in a closed-door session to present the evidence, if the judge gives the ok, then the case is re-opened.

Davis: That's great, we can go before a…

Michaels: This is where politics comes in, (walks closer to Davis) no judge is going to open a case against a State Senator. It's a "you scratch my back" deal. Everyone wants favors and everyone wants to be owed favors. It's simple, two kids are killed, a year goes by, they are forgotten and lost in the legal shuffle. It's a tragedy, but it's a common tragedy.

Davis: So just like that (snaps fingers), you’ve given up. Now you won't even look at what I got?

Michaels: Don't you see it doesn't matter? No one cares what's in the envelope, this world revolves around money and power, not truth.

Davis: I can't believe this. You have given up. You've sold out. You've quit! I came to you because I thought you believed in things, I thought you believed in justice, in rights and…

Michaels: (grabs Davis by the collar) I did believe in those things. Look what it got me. (Shakes him) Look! A crappy office in the back of an alley, outdated law books and debt so high I can barely see the sunrise. This is what justice got me! (shoves him to the ground)

Davis: (looks up) So it's that simple is it? You lose a battle or two and surrender the war. It's no wonder American justice is just a dream if you are one of the keepers of it. Look at what you do now. You make a living off of keeping criminals out of jail. (gets up) How many Livingston's have walked free because of you?

Michaels: I provide a necessary and constitutionally required service.

Davis: You don't believe that so how do you expect me? You can't even live with yourself can you? I see the lack of sleep in your eyes. This isn't what you want to do…

Michaels: (sits on his desk and hangs his head) I quit the DA's office in disgrace, I couldn't get the job done, the system was working against me as it always has. At least here I can do my job.

Davis: (walking closer to him) I am giving you in this envelope a chance at redemption. True it is only a chance, but won't you at least take that chance.

Michaels: Livingston is a state senator, I am just a lowly defense attorney. I can give you names of people who will eat whatever is in the file up and will have the power…

Davis: (yelling) I want you to do it dammit!

Michaels: (shouts) Why!? Why me? What is so special about me that you came out to the bad part of town just to see me and turn your crusade over to me? Why?

Davis: (calmly) Because it's not my crusade, it's yours. You're a wounded warrior, you lost a battle but you are ready to try again, I know this.

Michaels: (shouting) You don't know me one damn…

Davis: (shouting to top Michaels but getting softer) I know you wanted him bad and still do. No one knows this man better than you. No one has dreamed about him being in jail more than you and no one, no one, wants this as much as you.

Michaels: (staring at the floor) I've given up on wanting the impossible.

Davis: Then there are two dead kids that will never see justice.

Michaels: I've watched Livingston destroy so many lives. Not just the two in question but so many others. He has been careless with his laws, he's run people out of business, turned communities to dust and trashed whole towns with just a stroke of his pen. What's worse is that there's never anyone there to speak out against him.

Davis: Then be that voice…

Michaels: I can't! Don't you get it! I'm one of those lives. I had it made before I heard his name and now look, I'm trapped in this hell known as a law office when I could be living the American dream kissing the DA's ass.

Davis: There are a lot of "I"s in there.

Michaels: So?

Davis: Doesn't that seem selfish to you. But, don't you forget that it was you who quit the DA's office.

Michaels: (yelling) I couldn't get the job done!

Davis: (matching volume) So that's the way it is! One big failure and you're out? I don't understand you. You've turned your back on all that's sacred because of one lost battle. The war must go on!

Michaels: One criminal on the street is one too many. Livingston is among the worst, you will get no argument from me on that note. But I can't stand to see people like that go free…

Davis: So you become a defense attorney, that makes a lot of sense.

Michaels: I deal with shoplifters, not murderers.

Davis: So that's how you rationalize it? That's pathetic. Just face it, you've become what you hate.

Michaels: Perhaps, but I'm useless on the other side…

Davis: Useless because you failed?

Michaels: Yes… (softly) yes…

Davis: Then take my advice, (drops the folder on his desk) redeem yourself. (exits)

(Curtain Falls)

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