A "Cooper" Story
by Robert Hoyden.
.......I felt the hard barrel
of the 9mm semi-automatic press against the back of my head.
Grimacing, I closed my eyes and imagined my noodle being blown
......."Freeze, Mac, or
you're one for the history books," an authoritative voice
......."There must be a
......."Shut up!" he
ordered, jabbing harder.
......."That's him, officer.
That's the man who tried to break in here. Thank God you caught
him," a middle-aged woman said with a deep sigh of relief.
She rolled open the patio door I was standing in front of and
looked at me through scowling eyes.
......."Hands in the air,
Mac. Slow. Lace your fingers and cup them behind your head. Do
I said, slowly raising my hands, intertwining the fingers and
placing them as directed.
......."Now turn around,
real slow. Watch 'em while I cuff 'em, Dave," the Seattle
police officer told his partner.
.......I slowly cranked around
and looked down the barrel of the powerful handgun. The cop stepped
back, holstered his weapon and pulled a pair of handcuffs from
a small pouch on his thick, leather belt. A short distance away
a small crowd of people was gathering to gawk.
.......Officer Dave, his .38
service revolver pointed at my belly, stood expressionless from
about seven feet away. The first cop stepped back up to me, pointed
at my hands and as I slowly brought them down he rudely cuffed
my wrists, right first, then the left.
......."You have the right
to remain silent...." the first cop started to recite.
I can explain. I'm here on...."
......."You better keep
it quiet, Mac. Anything you say can and will...."
......."It's Cooper. My
name is Cooper."
......."You pig," the
woman said to me as she stepped from behind me. "You're
probably some sicko weirdo...."
......."That's enough, ma'am.
We'll get your statement in a few moments," the first cop
said. He returned to my rights, "be used against you...."
.......I looked over at Officer
Dave, who now had his weapon holstered. A sergeant, he had an
older, wiser appearance to his face, compared to the relative
youth of his tough-talking partner. Sergeant Dave was sizing
me up and I could tell that he knew something was out of place.
Street smart people, like veteran cops, have developed good instincts
for that kind of thing.
......."You have the right
to an attorney..."
......."Hang on, Jimmy,"
Sergeant Dave said. He stepped up to me, looked me in the eyes
"Okay, pal. What do you have to say?"
......."Inside the inner
pocket of my vest are some documents. If you want to reach in
and pull them out, you'll find some answers," I said.
......."Careful, Dave. Might
be a trick," Officer Jimmy warned.
......."I doubt it,"
the veteran cop said. He patted my stomach, my sides and around
my upper torso. Then he flipped back my vest, and withdrew a
set of neatly folded, 8 x 11 papers from my inner pocket. He
looked at me again and then started to unfold the paperwork.
In a moment, he looked over at the woman.
......."Are you Justine
......."Why, yes. Yes. How
did you know?"
......."These papers are
for you, ma'am," he said, extending the documents to her.
......."For me? What are
they?" she asked, alarm rising in her voice as she took
......."Legal papers, ma'am.
This man is a process server. Is that right, Mr. Cooper?"
he asked, looking at me.
......."Yes, sir. I'm here
to serve those pleadings on her. Actually, you just did it for
......."Why didn't you just
say so a moment ago?" Sergeant Dave asked.
......."Your partner kept
telling me to shut up. And he had a gun."
......."I don't understand,"
the woman said, her voice trailing off.
......."Those are divorce
papers, ma'am," I informed, looking at her.
she nearly shouted.
......."Would you guys uncuff
me, please," I asked.
.......Officer Jimmy was speechless.
He slowly stepped over to me, reached into his shirt pocket and
removed a small key which he used to free my now aching wrists.
"I'm sorry, mister."
......."Maybe you should
go a bit easy with those things," I suggested, grimacing
and rubbing my wrists.
"He's only a rookie, Mr. Cooper," Sergeant Dave said.
......."Oh, no. My husband
said he was out of town on a business trip," Justine said,
emotion welling up in her words. "How could he do this to
me? Oh, my."
......."Why didn't you just
go to the front door, Mr. Cooper?" the sergeant asked.
......."I tried that. Three
times over the last two days. Her car was there, but she never
answered, so I figured I'd try the back."
......."And she probably
though you were trying to get to her," Officer Dave said.
......."I was, but for that
reason," I said, pointing at the documents in her hands.
......."I'm sorry, Mr. Cooper,"
Officer Jimmy said, slightly embarrassed. "I guess I overreacted."
......."I'm glad it got
resolved without serious trouble - like me getting shot."
.......Justine Francis, sniffling
and slightly shaking, turned and vanished into her apartment.
The young cop put away his handcuffs and began to shoo the crowd
.......Sergeant Dave, with a
slight smile on his face, stood looking at me. "That's a
tough job you have, Mr. Cooper. How long you been serving paper?"
......."Oh, about twenty
years," I said. "As you might imagine, stuff like this
happens pretty often--I've had more than one gun crammed in my
.......The sergeant laughed.
"I can imagine. For our report, would you mind telling me
where you work?" he asked, taking a pen and a small writing
pad from his breast pocket.
I run a small business called Seattle Process Service,"
I said, pulling out my own pen and a sheet of paper. I put down
the date and time of service on Justine Francis.
......."Mr. Cooper, you
know, you could help me out here."
I asked, folding the sheet of paper and tucking it back into
my hip pocket.
......."My sister, Helen,
has a restraining order to serve on her husband, Curt. He's a
complete, unmitigated asshole. I was wondering if you would mind...."
......."Why don't you serve
......."I thought about
that, but I'd likely shoot the prick on sight. He smacks Helen
around, controls and verbally abuses her. If I even see the little
shitbird I'm likely to start blasting away as soon as he opens
......."Do you carry a weapon,
......."No. No, I don't."
......."Well, you may want
to start carrying one if you take on this case. This guy is a
I rubbed my chin. "I charge more to serve guys like him."
......."No problem. He'll
just end up paying the court costs anyway. He can afford it.
What do you think? Can you help her?"
......."This is what I do,
sergeant. Why don't you have her drop by my office with the documents.
I'm in the Interurban Building, just across the street from old
Smith Tower in Pioneer Square," I said, handing him a business
......."Thanks, " he
said, taking the card. "And, again, I'm sorry for the misunderstanding.
I think my partner learned quite a lesson."
......."I'm glad you took
over when you did," I said, reaching out and shaking his
hand. "But I know that in your field, erring on the side
of caution is the best way." I nodded, turned and walked
around the side of the building, into the parking lot and piled
into my Toyota pick-up.
.......Sitting behind the wheel,
I took a deep breath and let out a long sigh. Having a gun poked
into the back of my head was quite unnerving. Then again, over
the course of my career, I'd had a pump shotgun stuck in my face,
big dogs sicced on me, and a man trying to run me over to avoid
being served a lawsuit--not to mention more threats and dressings
down than I could count.
.......Of course, the pay was
usually excellent, I cut my own hours, and I was my own boss.
And when you came right down to it, I enjoyed this clandestine,
cloak-and-dagger type of work. I was not far removed from the
world of a private detective. In fact, I spent a lot of my time
tracking people down. I often used public records, asked questions
of the parties involved, and generally ran hither and yon following
up leads in pursuit of litigants on whom I could serve papers
and, of course, earn bucks. And there was always something new.
.......The next morning, about
seven-thirty, as I stepped into my small fifth floor office in
the turn-of-the-century Interurban Building the telephone rang.
I was on it before the third ring. "Seattle Process Service."
......."Is this Mr. Cooper?"
......."It is," I said.
......."Mr. Cooper, this
is Helen Myers. My brother, Dave, said that you might be willing
to serve papers on my husband, Curt."
......."Dave, the police
......."Yes. That's him."
......."I might be able
to help you. Do you have any idea where your husband is at any
......."He's a construction
company foreman. He goes from job site to job site a lot. But,
I do know where he will be this afternoon."
......."Helen, I'm in my
office right now. Why don't you come over with the papers?"
......."Do you have a photograph
......."I can get one."
......."Bring that, too."
......."I'll be there within
the hour, Mr. Cooper."
......."You can just call
......."Okay, Cooper. Thank
you," she said, then hung up.
.......Within the hour I answered
a knock at my door. Helen Myers, short, squat and wearing big,
dark sunglasses and a scarf over her head, stood looking at me.
She had a manila file folder tucked under her arm and a small
purse dangling by a long strap from her shoulder. She furtively
glanced to her left and right down the hallway and after my "please
come in" gesture stepped into my quaint, though somewhat
cluttered, two-room office.
.......She looked around at my
business quarters and then reached out to touch the old, chipped
brick wall to her right. "This place is right out of a crime
novel, Cooper. It's the kind of place you might find a cheap
.......I smiled, kind of liking
the "cheap detective" remark. "It works for me."
.......She took off her sunglasses
to reveal a deep cut near her left eye. Though she was not beautiful,
by any means, she certainly had a nice face, aside from the battering
it had recently taken.
......."Compliments of your
husband?" I asked, nodding at her wounds.
......."Yes," she said,
sadness lacing her word.
.......I now realized that I
would - once again - be looking for a violent type. Nothing unusual
for me, of course. But as far as I was concerned, anybody who
used violence to get their way was a coward. And I would be quick
to defend myself.
......."So where will he
be today?" I asked.
......."A work site near
the Northgate Mall in North Seattle. Can you do this today, Cooper?"
......."Yeah. I think so.
I also have a simple subpoena to serve up north this afternoon.
It will put me right in that area."
.......She reached into her folder
and withdrew the legal papers, or "process" as we called
it in the racket. Paper clipped to the top was a photograph.
I took the papers and quickly thumbed through them, noting that
the documents included a restraining order and various other
adorable pieces of lawyer-generated fireworks.
......."I don't see any
divorce papers here," I said, looking up at her.
......."That's next. Right
now my attorney said we have to get him to keep his hands off
of me. So she drew up this restraining order, filed it with the
King County Superior Court and said I needed an experienced process
server to serve it. It was good timing that Dave met you."
......."Do you have any
......."You ask a lot of
questions," she said, a tinge of defensiveness in her words.
......."Yes. A boy and a
girl. One and two years old. Respectively."
......."How long have you
two been married?" I gestured to a chair. "Care to
......."No thanks. I'll
stand. Less than two years."
......."Has he always smacked
......."Not really. The
first year was wonderful. Then for some reason he just started
to get weird. At first he just ordered me around, verbally abused
me, came home at late hours and was mean and nasty. Then two
days ago he smacked me."
.......I looked at her wound
again. It was more of a slice or an incision than a bruise, like
he'd been wearing a thick ring. "Sounds like a classic case
she said. She put her hand up near her wound, like she didn't
want me to examine it any more.
......."Yeah. Domestic violence,"
I echoed. "So specifically where is he going to be this
......."I wrote down the
address on a separate piece of paper under the photograph."
.......I pulled up a corner of
the photo and quickly ascertained the general area the address
was located. "Is this a new home he is building?"
......."Yes. He and his
crew will be there the whole day."
.......Great, I thought. A bunch
of burly construction workers who'll want to protect their boss.
That certainly upped the ante on trouble occurring. "What
kind of vehicle does he drive?"
......."If you see a big
blue Ford 4X4 with "Pacific Northwest Construction"
on the side then he'll be there."
......."Besides the photo
give me a general description, please."
......."White male, six-foot-three,
two hundred and forty pounds, short, styled-brown hair and a
nice smile. Don't be fooled by it, though," she warned.
"Any more questions?"
......."That should do it."
......."How much will this
......."Take a check?"
.......She reached into her purse,
pulled out her checkbook and jotted out a check. She zipped it
out of the book and handed it to me. Then she looked around.
"Don't you have a secretary?"
......."No. I work alone.
I like it that way."
.......She shrugged. "Well,
good luck, Cooper. Be careful. In fact, you might as well expect
I often got these types of warnings, but I forged ahead with
varying degrees of reservation. Sometimes you had to be a tough
mother to serve papers, other times it was like a walk through
a candy store.
Helen slipped her sunglasses back on, turned, opened the door,
exited and vanished down the hallway. As the door drifted shut
I looked back at the clock on a nearby table. It was just before
9:00 a.m. I decided to slog through some paperwork most of the
morning, grab some lunch and then head out to serve Curt Myers
and take care of that other subpoena. I was planning on an interesting
- and lucrative - afternoon.
.......Shortly after 1:00 p.m.
I drove north up Interstate Five, outside of downtown Seattle.
I glanced at the two sets of legal documents on the seat next
to me. One set was for Curt Myers and the other set was a subpoena
duces tecum that I had to serve on a doctor's office. A subpoena
duces tecum is just a lawyer's fancy way to say "subpoena
.......It looked like the doctor
had examined a patient involved in a particular litigation and
the attorneys wanted to see the medical records. Doctors expect
subpoenas and are pretty easy to deal with. In fact, nine out
of ten times you could leave the duces tecum with the office
manager or a receptionist. Duces tecums are candy to a process
.......After exiting the freeway
near the Northgate Mall and driving about six blocks I pulled
up to a muddy, lumber-strewn yard where, true to Helen's information,
a blue Ford 4X4 sat with "Pacific Northwest Construction"
emblazoned on the side.
.......I could see three or four
muscled, broad-shouldered, safety-hat wearing honchos milling
around inside the half-finished building. One guy was hammering
in the rafters and another man was blasting nails into a four-by-four
beam with a pneumatic nail gun. I put my face in my hands, rubbed
vigorously and thought about the money. I shook the cobwebs of
reluctance from my head, glanced at Curt's photograph once more,
tucked the restraining order into the inner pocket of my vest,
and headed up to the house.
.......I arrived at the open
front door of the building and looked inside. A big, mustachioed
guy stopped sawing, looked over at me, and scanned my large frame
up and down. "What do you need, fella?"
"Looking to find Curt Myers."
......."We don't want no
trouble around here, pal? You look like trouble," he said,
laying down his saw and turning around to face me. One of his
comrades stopped hammering, looked over at me, perched a pair
of safety goggles on his forehead and stepped up to his buddy.
......."It'll just take
a minute," I said, stepping calmly toward the two men. In
situations like these, I had to show an air of authority, which
most people naturally respect. It usually worked.
.......The two guys looked at
each other. "He's upstairs. Back room. Watch your step,"
the mustachioed guy said, with a toss of his head towards a stairwell.
.......Relief washed over me.
My whole mission could have ended right there with a confrontation.
I stepped past the two guys, around a saw horse and started up
the stairwell. At the top of the stairwell I looked around, heard
voices and pounding and went in that direction. I came into what
appeared to be, perhaps, a master bedroom under construction.
There, three more guys were driving nails into two-by-four studs.
The really big guy in the middle was Curt. Now it was just a
question of confirming that it was Curt, delivering the papers
and finding a safe exit.
.......Curt and one other guy,
sensing my presence, turned and eyeballed me standing there.
......."What do you need,
friend?" Curt asked.
......."Are you Curt Myers?"
.......He hesitated, looked at
and then behind me. I glanced back and the first two guys I encountered
downstairs were standing just a few feet away.
......."Yeah. I'm Curt.
......."Legal paper, Curt.
I have a legal paper for you," I announced, moving my head
slightly to gain a full sense of everyone in the room. I could
see four guys; the fifth was out of my field of vision.
"You're one brave motherfucker, dude," Curt said, "to
come tromping in here to serve me."
......."I knew he was fucking
trouble the minute I laid eyes on him, Curt" a voice said
from behind. The one worker on Curt's right started to bristle,
a small smile crossed his face and he took a step in my direction.
I tensed up a bit, but he bent down and tied a shoelace.
.......The guy on Curt's right
lifted his nail gun up to waist level and squeezed off a round.
The nail exploded out of the device and zipped by inches from
my leg, plinking off a far wall.
......."Just doing what's
got to be done," I said. "No need for trouble, fellas."
......."You're already trouble,
pal," the mustachioed guy said.
.......I pulled the papers from
my vest and walked over to Curt, who simply stood his ground.
.......I extended them and his
big hand came up, taking the nasty documents.
......."Why don't we just
toss his sorry ass out the window, Curt?" the mustachioed
guy suggested, then laughed.
......."Okay, guys, back
to work," Curt ordered, which was definitely a major relief
.......There was some grumbling,
but everyone turned and went back to work. The two guys from
downstairs disappeared and the other two guys turned back to
.......Curt stood looking at
me. "What's your name, man?"
......."I admire tough guys,
Cooper. My boys here could have beat the hell out of you, but
it probably wouldn't have been easy," he said, looking at
my broad shoulders and solid frame.
......."It would have been
ugly and unnecessary," I said.
......."Besides, it would
have played right into that little bitch's plan."
......."She knew you were
headed into trouble, Cooper. Helen set you up. She was trying
to use you."
......."What are you talking
......."If we all got into
a fight that incident would have been reported in court and she
would have told the judge, 'See. Curt Myers is just a violent
.......I thought about his words
and then about Helen. "She claims you smacked her, Curt."
Cooper. I never - ever! - laid a harsh hand on her in
my life, and she knows it. She is one conniving broad, I'm here
to tell you."
......."Her face was beat
Cooper," he said, laying his hammer on the floor, crossing
his thick arms over his huge chest and relaxing a bit.
......."I don't know, Curt.
I've heard many stories over the years."
......."I bet you have.
Well, I know this woman, Cooper. I know her real well. She's
psycho. Man, when she gets pissed off, she goes ballistic. She
cut herself with a knife."
......."That's a real stretch,"
I said, shaking my head. "You want me to believe she cut
herself just to get the upper hand in court?"
......."It's the truth."
......."Her brother, Dave,
thinks you're a bad ass, too."
......."He's just a dumb
cop. He has to back up his sister. I have nothing against him."
......."He sure didn't like
......."How about a beer,
Cooper?" Curt said with a friendly smile.
.......I looked at his two workers
and then smiled. "Sure. What do you got?"
......."We always keep a
stash of the stuff around the job site. We got Miller and Bud
Curt shouted. "Take a break! Mac, grab a round of beers
and come on up."
a voice said from downstairs.
.......Within ten minutes Curt
and I were seated on a makeshift bench, two of his guys were
sitting on the floor, backs to the wall, and the fifth guy was
leaning lazily again a window frame. We were all slugging down
beer. There were four or five crushed beer cans lying in a small
pile near a wall.
......."Divorce in this
state sucks, Cooper," Curt surmised.
......."I know. I meet all
kinds of people going through it," I said.
......."Thing is state law
lets the kids stay with the parent who can bullshit the most."
I said, taking a belt from my second and final beer.
......."Take Mac here, for
instance," Curt said, head nodding towards the guy near
the window. "His soon-to-be ex claims that he beat her -
like Helen is doing to me - and the court just took her word,
on the face of it. No questions. No investigation into the real
......."Man, I don't hit
women," Mac lamented. "My poor late momma would come
out of her grave and kick my sorry ass if I ever smacked a woman."
......."The court awarded
her temporary custody and now his ex is dragging the matter out
for, what, two years now, Mac?"
......."Well, the kid stays
with her during the preliminaries, establishes friends, goes
to school. Then when the hearing for a final divorce comes down
the court refuses to make any changes in the kid's life, saying
it would be detrimental or not in the child's best interest."
......."Like I said a few
minutes ago, this is a tough one to believe," I said, still
......."Well, that's what
Helen is doing, Cooper. And she used you. She sent you in here
to get in trouble. That would have come out in court and gave
the judge plenty of reason to grant her temporary custody. And
I wasn't about to oblige her." He reached over to the mustachioed
guy and gave him a friendly jostle. "Ol' Karl here was just
bullshitting when he suggested we toss you out the window."
.......We all laughed again.
.......I started to rise to my
feet. "I've heard a lot of this stuff over the years, Curt.
It's this part of the job that bums me out. So, frankly, I just
stay out of it, besides serving the papers."
......."So you're out of
......."Yeah. I got one
more stop to make, over by Northgate Mall. Thanks for the beers."
......."No problem. Let's
hit it, guys," Curt ordered, standing up.
.......I made my rounds, giving
everybody warm and vigorous handshakes.
......."Drop by anytime,
Cooper," Mac said. "Just don't bring no more court
.......We all broke into a hearty
I said, waving and heading off to the doctor's office.
.......Northgate Physicians Clinic
was across the street from the Northgate Shopping Center, and
just six blocks from Curt Myers' job site. Over the years I had
served many subpoenas and lawsuits on the physicians who practiced
behind these doors, but never--I double-checked the name--on
Dr. Larry Cutterhouse.
.......I looked around as I entered
Dr. Cutterhouse's ground floor suite and approached a heavy-set,
female assistant sitting behind a counter, tapping on a computer
keyboard. Behind the assistant four or five people were fiddling
with charts, working computer terminals or talking amongst themselves.
Several people were sitting in a small waiting area to my left,
including a fellow in a wheelchair and an old man leaning on
his wife's shoulder, as she held his hand.
......."Can I help you,
sir?" the assistant chirped pleasantly.
......."Yes, I have a subpoena
to serve on Dr. Cutterhouse."
......."A subpoena? Oh my!"
she said, rearing back just slightly.
......."It's just a subpoena
......."A subpoena doo...sess...t...what?"
......."Just a subpoena
for records, ma'am."
.......Still perplexed, she scratched
her head, looked around and said," Just a minute, please."
......."You can take it,
ma'am. It's not a big deal. Most doctors just have me leave them
at the desk," I said, fishing the legal missive out of my
......."Just a minute,"
she said again, rising from her seat, turning and walking around
a corner and out of view. In a moment she came back, returned
to her seat, looked up at me and said, "Someone will be
right with you." She then resumed tapping on her keyboard.
.......In about forty seconds
a very big, broad-shouldered man in a long white jacket appeared
from around the same corner. He looked like a Chicago Bears linebacker
or a muscle-bound bar bouncer. He stopped about twenty feet away
and looked at me. A small, almost sinister, smile crossed his
face, then vanished. Without a word, he turned and went back
out of view.
.......I started to get impatient.
Come on, people, I thought. Let's get it done.
.......Then another assistant
came around the same mysterious corner and approached me. "Are
you the gentleman with the legal paper?" she asked, politely.
......."Well, Dr. Cutterhouse
said that he wants to personally take the paper."
......."I hate to disturb
him for such a small matter, ma'am. I'm sure he has patients
he needs to...."
Besides, I think he would like to talk to you."
......."I don't know, sir."
.......Maybe Cutterhouse wanted
me to serve a paper for him or something. In any case, I wanted
to get this over with, so I just shrugged. "Okay."
......."Fine, sir. If you
would just go down to the end of the counter," she said,
pointing the way, "down that corridor to the last examination
room on the left. Dr. Cutterhouse will meet you there in a moment."
"Thank you, ma'am," I said, nodding and followed her
.......Within a minute I slowly
pushed open the door and stepped inside the well-lit and sterile
examination room. The smell of disinfectant wafted across my
senses as the door floated closed. In the middle of the room
there was a sheet-covered gurney with a large, adjustable light
centered over it. All the walls had windowed shelves, drawers
and countertops with piles of towels, boxes and other medical
equipment stacked hither and yon. There was a colored chart of
the human anatomy plastered on one wall and various signs forbidding
smoking and advising all personnel to wash their hands coming
into the room and leaving.
.......I turned as the door swung
open and in trundled the big linebacker-looking fellow. He stopped
and stood looking at me as I started to unfold the legal papers.
......."Are you Dr. Cutterhouse,
sir?" That was the name stenciled over the breast pocket
of his jacket, but I needed to go through the formality anyway.
.......He made one step toward
me and without warning his hand shot out and swatted the legal
papers from my grasp, sending them flying across the room.
......."Hey!!" I protested.
.......In less than a moment,
he was on me. He grabbed the front of my vest and shirt with
both fists, lifted me off the ground, swung me around and slammed
my back violently into the door, my head just missing a coat
hook. My whole body shuttered from the jolting collision.
......."What the fuck you
doing, man? Let me down!!" I demanded, grappling with his
"I hate fucking process servers!!"
......."I don't give a damn
what you don't like!" I shouted. "Let me down!!"
.......He kept pushing me into
the door. Then he drilled me in the left side of my rib cage
with a bone-crunching punch. My eyeballs bulged out and air surged
from my lungs as pain galloped through my body.
.......I couldn't believe I was
being attacked by a doctor!! Then he reared back for what appeared
to be a big time blast. His fist zeroed in towards my nose.
.......I had just enough strength
to jerk my head to right as his fist crunched into the door.
He let out a howl of pain and released me.
.......I fell to the waxed floor
and then to my knees, gasping and groaning.
.......I had enough of this bullshit,
I thought. I drove myself upwards and butted the top of my head
into his big chin, connected solidly and sent him back across
the room. He slammed into a cabinet, his elbow shattering a glass
......."Why are you doing
this?" I shouted.
......."I hate you sneaky
......."I wasn't sneaking,
for chrissakes. I told your staff what I had," I yelled,
bringing my right fist up to face level to defend myself.
.......Then he jerked his elbow
out of the shattered glass case and said, "The last time
one of you sons-of-bitches came in here you said you had a subpoena
and you had fucking divorce papers."
......."Now why would your
wife want to divorce you? You're such a pleasant, gentle guy,"
I said though clenched teeth, my words dripping with raw sarcasm.
......."And then one of
you guys came flying in here unannounced when I had a patient
half-naked in here," he continued.
......."It wasn't me."
......."It doesn't matter."
......."You better believe
it matters. You just assaulted me, Cutterhouse," I said,
lowering my fist and reaching for my battered rib cage, which
was damn sore.
.......Then he seemed to get
hold of his soaring emotions, shook his head, looked at me through
a pained expression and said, "I'm sorry."
......."Sorry? Sorry? Man,
you are going to be seeing one hell of a lot of process servers
with this sort of foolishness, pal. I promise."
......."I got out of hand.
I lost it," he said, then starting in my direction. "Let
me look at your ribs."
I threw my hands up, palms toward him. "Stay away! Stay
the hell away!"
.......I gingerly walked across
the room, grimacing as I snatched up the subpoena, turned back
to him and tossed it on the gurney. "You been served, pal.
I doubt if it will be the last time either."
......."Look. I'm really
sorry," he said, his words dropping to a near whisper "I
just lost it. The divorce has me wound up like a top."
......."That's no excuse
for assaulting me," I said, turning and reaching for the
door. I jerked it open and looked straight in the faces of three
staff members looking at me, wide eyed.
......."Is everything okay,
sir?" one of them asked, peering over my shoulder.
I said. "Just wonderful. You better teach him about the
......."What do you mean?"
one of the women said, still wide-eyed.
......."Don't make a patient
any worse off than when they first came in," I said.
......."I don't understand."
......."Talk to Cutterhouse,"
I said, throwing a thumb over my shoulder. Then, holding my left
side and twisting my face in pain, I eased past them as they
started to crowd into the examination room. I beelined down the
corridor, around the counter and out the exit.
.......Like I said: There's always
something new in process serving. Always.
Copyright (c) 2001 by Robert Hoyden
is a rookie writer. This is his first published story, although
a second story, which also features the process serving adventures
of "Cooper", has just been published in The
Mammoth Book of Legal Fiction. And Robert has just wrapped
up his first novel, and is currently searching for that ever
elusive literary agent and/or publisher. He can be reached via
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, Robert runs his own process serving
company based in Seattle's historic Pioneer Square district.
His mottoes: "Never Met A Deadbeat I Didn't Like" &
"You sue 'em, I serve 'em". His favorite watering hole
is the Merchant's Cafe in Pioneer Square, which could be straight
out of a Dashiell Hammett novel. Beer anyone?
And head here for more Thrilling Detective Fiction!
Please direct further comments and
inquiries about submissions to the fiction
editor, or check out this page.
"And I'll tell you right out that I'm a man who likes talking
to a man who likes to talk."
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