A promotion is good news, isn't it?
Corey Smith, Assistant United States Attorney (itself an estimable post) and the main prosecutor in my case, a man whose job it is to justify the government's hefty expenditures on Grand Jury trials and other associated fribble in its endeavor, over nearly four years, to indict me, and the person who is responsible, more than anyone, for the ignominious position in which I now find myself, is becoming Chief of the Civil Division of the Northern District of Florida.
If I were his mother I'd be proud. My son, a lawyer. My son, who has made good for himself and brought honor to the family. My son, a midwesterner who in his unprepossessing way has garnered allies and is working his way, American-style, to the top of his game. Like Henry Clay, that Kentucky lawyer who made it all the way to the Senate and Secretary of State in 1824, or Robert Taft, an Ohio statesman who fought labor unions and was named one of the greatest senators of all time, or Clarence Darrow, also a midwesterner and a civil and criminal lawyer who gained notoriety in the Scopes Monkey Trial for defending a man who was charged with the crime of teaching evolution in the public schools--or even Abe Lincoln himself, another self-effacing Kenthuckian who studied law by candlelight and became the most iconic figure in American history.
Who knows what might be next for Corey Smith?
If I were his mother I'd give him a big hug. But I'm not sure his distinctive midwestern reserve would permit one of the hugs I'm prone to giving, prodigious and Italian, in which the person being hugged gets immersed in a tidal swoop of sentiment. Midwesterners hug differently; they're mannerly, and they respect one another's boundaries. For them, love is found in the hazardous spaces between sentences. Such individuals are a mystery to those of us with Mediterranean blood. And speaking of mothers, surely he has one? I wonder what she's like. As a matter of fact, I'd like to sit down and have a chat with her, one-on-one, woman-style.
Which gets me to thinking: Who is my prosecutor? Who is Corey Smith, really?
He has been part of my inner life for so long that he feels like a brother or a cousin, perhaps an old childhood playmate, maybe even a friend. I relate to him daily, in my thoughts. I wonder what he's doing, messing around with my life. I even wonder what kinds of pressures he might have to deal with, from on high. Is his boss, U.S. Attorney Pam Marsh, a tough one to please? Has she told him to justify his actions against me? Has she asked, "When are you going to wrap up that Colasante case, Mr. Shylock?*" Does he have a lot of explaining to do, on account of using government resources for a case that, from my standpoint, has no validity?
I think about Corey Smith as the oppressed think constantly about their oppressors, even though those oppressors bestow very little consideration on their victims, so accustomed are they to victory. I have turned him into many different characters, all of them originating out of the tempest of my inner life, with charges like those of electrical apparatuses, some positive, some negative. I relate to him through these characters, who become the legatees of my frustration, anger, and helplessness. I become everyone: the government, the prosecutor, the patients, the doctor, the staff, and the people on the sidelines, booing and hooraying. Sometimes I am rooting for myself, and sometimes I am not.
Yet, I've never met the man, Attorney Smith, whose name offers no clues about his private world. I haven't even seen a photograph of him. I don't know for sure if he's a midwesterner, and I haven't got a clue about his personality. I know nothing, in truth, about the actual Corey Smith. Except, for the time being, that he got a promotion and will be leaving his post, and that this small turn of events might in some way have an impact on me, for better or for worse.
*Shylock, of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice," is famous for his legal argument: "If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?"