Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Of mice and batmen

The guy was waiting for me when I got in this morning. The first words I heard were, "There was a man here to give you a paper." I already knew what this was about. I'd been informed while I was driving, but I'd laughed it off.

What in the hell did he want me to say?

Downstairs, in the lobby, there was supposed to be a note. Outside in the cold, a currently unemployed pizza delivery boy (but who wants to be a comedian) stood outside and waited for me to take the note. As soon as I asked for the note, he stepped forward with the subpoena. Later, while the two of us were sitting at the courthouse, with me waiting to be called and with him waiting to get paid, he said he'd never done this kind of work before. It was his first day.

He might have been lying about that.

I didn't really mind. I've never been subpoenaed. I've never been asked to testify about anything -at least, I don't remember having ever testified. I once gave a statement for a lawyer about a friend in college who was accused of stealing some tires. I told the lawyer my friend was far too stoned to have stolen anything. He was practically unconscious. Of course, it turned out he did steal the tires. I just wasn't there when he did it.

In this business of journalism I'm weirdly attached to, you expect running into some sort of legal issue eventually. It happens most often to reporters who cover money or business or the government. It occasionally happens to reporters who cover education or even crime. It very seldom happens to guys like me who write about bass players and even less to guys who write about people who own a batmobile.

A little over a week ago, I did a story on a guy who owns (or owned) a replica of the batmobile. This was similar to the vehicle used in Batman and Robin, the Val Kilmer installment as the caped crusader. It was a follow up story, just a cute piece to pass the time and give people something to think about besides maybe getting laid off. It sounded cool. The interview wasn't any great shakes, but it was interesting enough.

The owner of the car has quite the fan club. The next day, I got hit with phone calls and e-mails from a wide variety of people who knew or had heard of the guy's dastardly deeds. He's got a pending case in Putnam over a hit and run. He is a frequent visitor in family court apparently and some of his neighbors don't like him.

It might have been a different story if I'd known all of this before, but as it happens, most people don't mention pending court cases when they're seeking publicity about something. It's sort of funny how that works.

Anyway, the owner of the batmobile is involved in matter with one of his ex's. They wanted to ask me about what I might have noticed while I was interviewing him. As my attention was affixed on the weird looking car in the driveway and pretty odd conversation with the owner, I might have been occupied.

It didn't really matter. I sat around for an hour with the guy who served the paper, but never went in. My assistance wasn't required. They were victorious! His attorney mentioned they might like to call me at some point in the future and I rolled my eyes. That sounded great... Meanwhile, the ex-pizza guy trailed us on the way out like a stray dog. I think he would have hit me up for some spare change if he hadn't served me a subpoena. Whether I was called to answer questions or not, he wanted to get paid. I don't blame him.

The morning wasn't entirely wasted. I listened to a pair of old ladies reverently talk about the end of days while they waited for their evil, heavily tattooed children duke it out with their former soul mates over hateful phone calls, broken promises and God knows what. Both women were pretty certain the end was soon. They were looking forward to it. If their kids were still living at home, I imagine the apocalypse must be pretty enticing.

It was a pretty good time for all.


unsilentmajority said...

I would have refused to testify.

primalscreamx said...

Yeah, maybe, but it wasn't like anyone could get me to say anything I didn't know to be true. Realistically, I wasn't very useful.