Dad’s angry eyes pierced my heart. He broke off the stare and breathed out an exaggerated sigh after a few uncomfortable moments.
“Jeremiah, why didn’t you listen to me?” he whispered.
No doubt these same words had been expressed thousands of times by anguished parents to wayward children in this exact place, the visitors’ room at County Jail Number 2. A bulletproof glass window separated us as we sat facing each other.
Words formed in my mouth, but I swallowed them. What could I say?
I shrugged and looked down.
“So, nothing to say for yourself, huh?” he said, slowly shaking his baldhead back and forth. Then he added, “You know what?”
“What?” I whispered, not really wanting to hear the answer.
“I don’t understand you anymore. Why do you keep making trouble for us?”
The tight handcuffs cut off the circulation in my wrists. The leg irons chafed my ankles. My orange jumpsuit with the number 2-66679 on the breast pocket felt itchy and hot. Sweat rolled down my rib cage. I felt miserable and Dad was not helping the situation one bit with his angry demeanor.
“Dad,” I said in a paper-thin voice, “I’ve tried to explain everything to you, but you won’t listen. You always get mad and stomp off.”
“Give me a break! Who wouldn’t do the same? How many men in this city believe they’re prophets, ordered by God to speak?”
I let the insult go and glanced over at the digital clock on the wall. Fifteen more minutes until the guards escorted me back to my private cell among the serial rapists, child molesters, and gang-bangers.
“Dad, please. We don’t have time for this right now.”
He drummed his fingers on the white Formica countertop, trying to release his pent-up fury.
“What about a lawyer for me?” I said.
“I phoned the Christian Alliance Firm. They said no.”
“Why?” I said.
“Your lawyer friend, Sean Finley, told me the firm does not agree with your prophecies. They want nothing to do with you.”
My mouth dropped open. Sean Finley had been my college roommate. I sold him and his wife, Beverly, a home in Pacific Heights. Now, he won’t help me in my hour of need. That’s just great! I thought.
I shook myself out of my reverie.
“What about other lawyers?” I said.
“I tried five other top-notch firms. They all said that they’re too busy.”
I gasped as a wave of panic washed over me.
“Nobody wants to represent me?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Then, tell me,” I shouted loud enough that others in the room turned to look at us. “Who have you found for me?”
He blew out a deep breath before answering.
“Newman Little. Isn’t he the socialist nut-case lawyer from Berkeley? Always ranting about some wild leftist agendas on radio and TV talk shows.”
“That’s the guy.”
If I could have, I would have held my head in my hands and cried, but the handcuffs prevented the maneuver. I stared off into space, not seeing anything, not thinking anything, not hearing anything, and not even realizing where I was.
Dad gawked at me, his eyes attempting to peek inside my mind.
“Son, San Francisco is in an uproar over what happened to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge. People want to hang somebody and you’re the somebody being fitted for the noose. And to be honest, you’re the perfect political scapegoat: white Christian male with a big mouth.”
(Excerpt from the novel, Jonah, by Larry Nevenhoven, ©2012, Amazon eBook)
(Continued in Part 2)