This is a story I am often asked to recount whenever we’re talking about my dad. He was a young lawyer working in a mental health unit at the Public Defender’s Office, which meant he had to work with clients who may (or may not have been) fit for trial. On one occasion, he was interview a skinny white kid who seemed lucid and respectful. However, he would only give one or two word answers to my dad’s questions.
Having been questioned by my father, I know it is possible to give one or two word answers to his questions; however, when he wanted to know something specific, and you answered in a limited fashion, he got suspicious. In short, this was not a good move for the client to take.
After a few minutes of back and forth, my dad’s client asked him if he wanted to see his sketch book. My dad, being a great lawyer, said, “sure.”
According to my dad, the kid’s note book was full of, “all sorts of satanic shit. Rambling writings about human sacrifice, some doodles of pentagrams, pentacles, occult symbols, daggers. You know, weird drawings.” At the end of this kid’s Codex Satanica was a, “really great looking picture of the devil. Great line drawing–really clean lines.*” The kid said to my dad, in a new found baritone, “You see that picture? That’s me! I’m the Devil!”
I have to interrupt the story here to remind people (or educate them if this is their first time reading a story about my dad) what my dad looked like in his prime. He was over 6’2, 260lbs at this point in his life. It was still very clear that he was still athletic. he did have something of a beer belly, but it added to his presence. In short, if he wanted to be, he could be intimidating. More often then not, he wasn’t. However, given his presence, saying something designed to scare him would be a bad, bad idea.**
So, the kid tries to scare or impress my dad. My dad, still holding the note book, tears it in half and looks at the kid. “Listen asshole, I don’t care if you’re satan or jesus. You want to get the hell out of here? Then sit down, shut up and answer my questions. Don’t try any more of this bullshit with me.”
The kid really opened up after that. He was still mad as a hatter and found unfit for trial–but he was a really compliant client after that.
*A seldom reported fact about my dad: he thought about going to art school and learn how to drawing. He was not, however, that talented an artist as far as I could ever tell. Talented bullshit artist, yes. Illustrator? Not so much.
**True fact: Scariest thing my dad ever said to me–“Get up.”