The President shook his head. "It won't wash. Your client stays in until 2018."
I leaned forward and pleaded, "But now that you're in the White House, Alphonse has promised he'll never to do it again."
The President removed the gum he was chewing, reached into his shirt pocket and lit a cigarette. "This is between us..." he smiled. I nodded vigorously.
"Mr. President," I continued, "I think you said recently this is a time for reflection, not retribution."
A smile of pleasure wreathed the President's face as he exhaled.
As forcefully as I could, I pressed, "Didn't you also say 'Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past'?"
"He did what he did," the President said.
"Then I'm the one who should be in Joliet," I said. The president looked surprised. "I'm the lawyer for the organization that ran Alphonse. I wrote the opinion that okayed importing cigarettes over the State line. Alphonse did it based on my say-so. How can you make him suffer for taking erroneous legal advice?"
The President shook his head, then patted his shirt pocket and asked, "Pardon me, would you like a cigarette?"
"No thanks, Mister President. Uh, did I hear you use the word 'pardon?'"
"No you didn't," he chuckled, and pointed to his watch. Time for me to go.
"Look," I said, taking one last, desperate swing. "My client Al Capone will never, I swear on my Mother's honor, will never harm another soul. If you free him, I promise he will never go around the world assassinating political leaders, poisoning sugar crops, overthrowing governments or torturing prisoners. I promise you, the man is reformed."
The president crushed his cigarette in an ashtray: "So how can we use him?"
(Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based writer who formerly worked for the Chicago Daily News and as a columnist for wire services. Reach him at email@example.com)
1 | 2