Dear readers, tonight we reprint an interview held at a coffee shop with a homeless, disbarred lawyer, living on the streets of a city filled with monsters. Here’s here to tell us about the problems he faces, from drugs to werewolves.
-I’m here with Benjamin Salazar, Esq.
Mister Salazar, could you please tell us a little about where you grew up. Paint a picture. What was it like there?
Well. I grew up in the old mill city of Colton Falls, Massachusetts during the 1960’s, and what I erroneously believed, at the time, was the Golden Age of recreational drug abuse.
Little did I know my childhood experimentation with heroin and horse tranquilizers would pale in comparison to the shit the kids are pushing up their arms today.
I know, I know. You see it, too. Jesus.
These kids today. Am I right?
Practically have drugs handed to them. Have everything handed to them. Don’t even have to work for it, that’s the problem. Have it prescribed by their doc or delivered by some kid named Tad who drives an Acura and lives in an old Victorian on Main Street in uptown USA.
The good shit, too. The hard shit. Synthetics straight out of China. Fentanyl. Carfentanyl. Pure. Uncut.
Man oh man…
And when they inevitably OD?
Jesus, everyone’s packing Narcan these days. Everyone. They’re literally giving it away. (Salazar digs into his briefcase and slaps a fistful of blister packs of Narcan on the table.)
But me? My day?
I had to trudge uphill through sleet and rain to score my overdose. Both ways. Into rough neighborhoods. Lawrence. Lowell. Downtown Colton Falls.
Black kids beat me up. Hispanic. White. Vietnamese. Everyone.
Jesus, even Jewish kids beat me up. My own people. And do you know how many Jews live in the Merrimack Valley?
-Uh … no. (The waitress brings us our coffees.)
About five. Really. Counting me. And they all beat me up.
Every. Single. One.
I mean, they’d take turns. Crazy, right? And one of them was my first cousin.
And … she was a girl.
-Okay, that’s … kind of sad, I guess. Maybe we should just move on. I notice you have esquire appended to your name.
Just what the hell are you getting at? (Salazar rips his glasses off.)
-It means ‘attached.’ I think.
Oh. Well. (He fixes his tie and sits back down.) Sorry about that.
Yeah. Yeah. I used to be a lawyer. A trial lawyer. Damn good one, too. That’s why I had the ‘esquire,’ ahem, appended … to my name.
Now though? I just keep it there cause I’m used to it and, truth be told, I’m a bit of a douche bag.
-A what? Oh. Never mind. Uh … so you retired from practicing law?
Retired? With the fat 401k and vacation home in the Berkshires? (Salazar takes a sip of coffee, waves a hand.)
Naw. I wish.
I was disbarred, y’see?
It’s that same old story. Perjury. Kickbacks. Abusing power. Clients. Drugs. Attempted murder.
-Wow. What a … a colorful career.
Career? Hell no, that was just my first trial.
During the opening statements.
Man, I’d gobbled down a fist full of magic mushrooms this dirty old hippy traded me for a ’63 Impala. I thought my hair was on fire!
-Y-Your … hair?
The funny part?
Man oh man, I lit up like a roman candle, except I ain’t Italian. Hah! (Salazar slaps the table.)
Pomade I was using had kerosene in it. You believe that? Anyways, I vaulted onto the judge’s bench, ripping my clothes off, screaming bloody murder.
Both of us, me, the judge, screaming in each other’s—
-Wait, why did your pomade have—? Okay. Alright. Nevermind. Let’s … let’s just move on, okay? Please…?
So, you had said you were disbarred.
Disbarred. Defrocked. Decaffeinated. They yanked my license. My meal ticket. My crank. Ruined me financially. Emotionally. Sexually. Almost. (He winks.) Turned me out into the streets of Colton Falls.
(He raises a hand conspiratorially.) I still practice, though.
-Isn’t that illegal? Practicing without a license, or whatever?
Huh? Jeeze, I don’t know. Maybe. Probably. How would I know? I just said I ain’t a lawyer, right?
-Touché’. Indeed, yes, you did. (Whew … Deep breath. Okay. Focus.) You said you live on the streets of Colton Falls. You’re homeless. How long has it been?
Oh, man… What year is it?
Forty years, then. No. Over fifty. Jeeze. Practically sixty.
(He nods, smiles.) It’s been quite the trip.
You spend any time in Colton Falls, you know that ain’t nothing.
I’m sure homeless living poses a variety of challenges. What’s been the most challenging for you?
Most? Hmmm… That’s a toughy.
It’s either finding a place that’ll cook you a decent, medium-rare cheeseburger or … it’s not getting eaten by werewolves.
What?! Werewolves? You’re joking, right?(The waitress brings us our pancakes.)
Nope. (Salazar digs into his pancakes.) Werewolves. Vampires. All manner of eldritch beasts. Colton Falls is lousy with ‘em.
Then, get this, there’s these creepy little bastards. Look like homicidal garden gnomes. Wear red hats. Iron boots. They run around the train station, gnashing their teeth, biting people, kicking ‘em in the nuts.
You ever get kicked in the nuts by an iron boot?
-I’m a woman, Mister Salazar. (I notice for the first time his glasses have no lenses.)
My, my, my, you most certainly are. (He leers as he smooths down his receding hair with a dollop of what I can only assume is kerosene-infused pomade.)
It sounds like you’ve had a rough go of it in Colton Falls. You’re educated. Motivated. Intelligent. (Moderately) It seems drugs have played a major part in your downfall. Do you regret it?
Well, sure, I regret it. Who wouldn’t?
I’ve been on the wrong side of this from the start.
–(Oh, thank god.) That’s what I hoped you’d say.
Yup. Don’t do drugs, kids.
Get in on the ground floor in pharmaceuticals. One of the big ten. Legal drug pushing. Yessiree, now that’s where it’s at.
Street dealing’s for chumps.
Gotta deal from the board rooms. The pharmacies. The hospitals.
And stick with the opioids. Synthetic heroin, baby. Get ‘em hooked. Early and often. Heh.
And once they’re hooked, sell ‘em the shit to try and wean ‘em off it. And keep selling it when they relapse. Inevitably.
The circle of strife, baby. (He slaps the table. I hate him.)
-You are a horrible person, Mister Salazar.
(Salazar shrugs, chews the last of his pancakes, burps, then drapes his napkin across his plate.) A fair observation. I’ve known worse, though.
-Mister Salazar, you can go now. Interview’s over. I’ll get the check.
Excuse me? (He rises in indignation.) Just because I’m homeless you think I can’t foot the bill for pancakes and coffee? Please.
You said before the interview you had no money.
I don’t need money.
Voilà. (He whips out a packet of Alka-Seltzer, tears it open, and pops a tablet in his mouth.)
Do you have a cell phone? (Foam starts fizzing and pouring from his mouth. I can barely understand him.) Would you be so good as to dial 911? Tell them it’s a seizure.
-I most certainly will not!
A hard case, huh?
(He spits out the foam and wipes his chin.)
Then you leave me no choice.
(Salazar straightens, reaches into his pocket, and whips out a small packet which he promptly pours out under his tongue.)
-What was that?
Oh… (His pupils start constricting, and he looks suddenly far away.)
Just a riddle sometherg I gut form a guy named Trad…
On urn Acura… (Salazar keels over across the table.)
(I fumble out my cell phone and dial 911.)
-Does anyone know how to administer Narcan?!
(A dozen hands rise in the restaurant.)
(Only later, do I realize we never did pay for breakfast.)
Kevin Wright studied writing while playing Dungeons and Dragons around the age of ten. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts with an English degree and fully utilized it by seeking and attaining employment as an emergency medical technician and firefighter.
Kevin Wright peaked intellectually in the seventh grade. He is extremely boring.
He enjoys reading a little bit of everything and writing sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. He does none of it well. ‘Lords of Asylum’ is a fantasy novel that made the semi-finals and Senlin Net in last year’s SPFBO. ‘The Clarity of Cold Steel,’ his latest novel, is a lightning-paced steampunk detective novel. Kevin continues to write in his spare time and is currently working on a sequel to ‘Lords of Asylum’ entitled, ‘Husk.’ It’s romantic comedy.
You can find Ben Salazar on the pages of Monster City.
Keep an eye out for more mid-week SPFBO fantasy specials! Join us on Friday to meet priest back from a war, who found another right on his doorstep. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.