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Chapter 40

THE HARLEM SATELLITE office of the social service, nonprofit New York Heart was on 134th Street off St. Nicholas Avenue. The sour scent of sweat and marijuana made Francis X. Mooney nostalgic as he mounted the unswept stairs two by two.

For the past ten years, Mooney had been the main adviser of their legal outreach program, which took on cases for the poorest of the poor. He stared at the posters and photographs of the organizations community theater and community garden that covered the stairwell walls and smiled. New York Heart was truly a labor of love.

Whats cooking, kids? Francis said after he gathered the half dozen social workers in the cramped conference room ten minutes later.

Francis X. smiled around the battered table at the lanky twenty-somethings. He remembered being that young, having that fire in the belly to set things straight. Not every young person was a selfish, whining brat, he thought.

I just got your message this morning, Kurt, he said. Hows Mr. Franklins case going?

Kurt, the social services in-house law advocate, looked up from his bagel and cream cheese. Hed gone to Ford-ham and hadnt passed the bar yet, but Francis had faith in him. The kids heart was in the right place.

The reason I called is that Mr. Franklins last appeal pretty much got slam-dunked into the shitter, Francis, he said between bites. The fuckers are going to fry him this Friday, and the rednecks down there will probably tailgate in the prison parking lot. What are you going to do? Hope the Republicans are happy. Another one bites the dust.

Francis couldnt believe it as chuckles exploded around the room. Mr. Reginald Franklin, the son of a destitute local resident, and borderline retarded, was about to be executed by the American government. How was that funny?

Did you look over the habeas corpus? Francis said.

Of course, Kurt said. The appeals court decided to go by the trial record.

Thats what they always do, Francis said, raising his voice now. Did you get a copy of the police report, like I told you to? Did you look into the adequacy of his first attorney? The man supposedly fell asleep at one point.

The room was silent now. Kurt set his bagel on the table as he sat up.

No, I didnt get a chance, he finally said. I did call you.

Didnt get a chance? Didnt get a chance! Francis yelled. His chair made a thunderous shriek as he leapt up. Are you out of your fucking mind? The man is about to die!

Jeez, Francis, Kurt mumbled with his head down. Relax.

I wont, Francis X. said. He didnt want to cry. Not in front of these kids, but he couldnt help it. A torrent of hot tears poured down his reddened face.

I cant relax, dont you see? he said as he stormed out. Theres no more time.

Chapter 39 | Worst Case | Chapter 41