By Paul Levine
Jake Lassiter should be happy. He just won a murder trial. But here’s the opening line of “Bum Luck.”
“Thirty seconds after the jury announced its verdict, I decided to kill my client.”
So, what’s going on? I grill the linebacker-turned-lawyer below, and we trade punches…literally.
Paul: I see you’re in trouble again, Jake.
Jake: Don’t blame me. I only follow orders from you, scribbler.
Paul: That’s a cop-out, tough guy. You’ve got a mind – and a mouth – of your own.
Jake: News flash. I’m fictional. I don’t have free will.
Paul: Really? Did I tell you to try and kill Thunder Thurston, your own client?
Jake: I don’t remember. My brain’s a little fuzzy.
Paul: No wonder. How many concussions have you had?
Jake: Sure, blame the victim. You’re the one who made me run full speed into a goal post, splitting my helmet in two.
Paul: But I warned you not to get into the boxing ring with the Sugar Ray Pincher. Another concussion, and next day, you’re standing on a 20th floor balcony, threatening to push Thurston over the railing.
Jake: Thurston killed his wife. He deserved to die.
Paul: The jury said NOT guilty. After YOU argued his case.
Jake: I’m ashamed.
Paul: Whatever happened to, “Jake Lassiter. Last bastion between freedom and forty years in a steel cage. The guy you call when you’re guilty as hell.”
Jake: Your words, pencil pusher. Not mine.
Paul: Didn’t you used to say, “They don’t call us sharks for our ability to swim?”
Jake: I’m drowning here. Can’t you see that? Because of me, a murderer went free.
Paul: Snap out of it, Jake! You were just doing your job.
Jake: YOUR job, shyster. You sent me to night law school. You made me take the Bar Exam four times. You pushed me into criminal law. I could have coached high school football in a pleasant little burg in Vermont, but no, you made me a trial lawyer.
Paul: I’ve never known you to be such a whiner.
Jake: (groans) What have you done to me? Splitting headaches. Memory loss. Confusion. Solomon and Lord think I have brain damage.
Paul: I never told you to use your helmet as a battering ram.
Jake: Once you made me a linebacker, what did you think would happen?
Paul: (apologetically) Truth be told, Jake, I didn’t think about the future. No one knew about chronic traumatic encephalopathy back in the day.
Jake: You gave me a concussion in the game against the Jets where I made the tackle on the kickoff, recovered the fumble, and stumbled to the wrong end zone.
Paul: Sorry about that…and the fact it cost the Dolphins the game.
Jake: All these years later, the judges still call me “Wrong Way Lassiter.” Sorry doesn’t cut it, pal.
Good News for the Hero of the Jake Lassiter Series?
Paul: (brightens) There’s some good news, Jake. Dr. Melissa Gold, a neuropathologist at UCLA, is making progress with athletes suffering from C.T.E. She’s also very attractive.
Paul: You’re going to meet her about halfway through “Bum Luck.”
Jake: I know that. I must have forgotten. Do she and I…you know?
Paul: No spoilers, sport.
Jake: I’m hoping she’s a keeper. It’s about time you gave me a soulmate instead of a cellmate.
Paul: Not my fault you choose women who break up with you by jumping bail and fleeing town.
Jake: C’mon, old buddy. Can’t you tell me if I kill Thunder Thurston? And if I do, whether I get away with it? And if I live or die?
Paul: The answers, old buddy, can be found in “Bum Luck.” Just shell out a few bucks. You can read, right?
Jake: Don’t push your luck, pal.
Paul: And when you’re done with that one, you might try “Bum Deal.” I’d give you a synopsis, but I doubt you’d remember it.
Jake: I oughta break all your fingers so you can never type another word.
Paul: Don’t even think about it. Hey, what are you doing? Ouch! Let go of me. Stop before I zexxpiejnvfpreidssridkmswsk…….
(This “interview” originally appeared in “Mystery Scene” magazine in 2017. “Bum Luck” is available in trade paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats. For more information about the Jake Lassiter series and more, visit Paul’s Amazon Author Page).