Chapter 8
Meet Woody's lawyer, Keene Eastbay

By Jeanie Byrd

 

 

 

 




How many times had someone asked him, "Just how do you live with yourself?"

Always, they were people suffering great pain. Always, they were right.

 

He did manage to live with himself, though, because money would always buy pounds of flesh, fine liquor, luxury, and power, and those delights washed down much bitter gall.

Keene Eastbay truly had it all. He'd worked very hard for his fame and fortune and no one would ever dispute that it was earned. He'd been the barefoot poor kid who got to hang out with the cool and the rich because, hell, he'd been BORN a lawyer. He was handsome and articulate and from the time he was a toddler he could talk or charm anyone out of getting in trouble. Even as a kid, he always confounded the adults with the details and the alibis that left them scratching their heads and packing the troubled youths off to their homes with only a lecture. No matter what the mischief was, no one ever actually got caught.

His cleverness and the benevolence of his friends’ rich daddies had gotten him through law school, and one of his first cases had been his buddy Booth McMullen. That had been one tough case to defend and the bottom line was that someone had to take a fall; too many rich kids had been implicated in a serious drug bust and orgy and one girl had never been found. She'd been written off as a run-away, much thanks to Keene for his orchestrating of a final resolution that was palatable to a whole bunch of the richest and most powerful families in the area.

 

Booth took the fall for everyone and the other families saved their pride and reputations. Booth, of course, would get plenty in return for his sacrifice. "And some sacrifice it was!" Keene thought wryly. The guy was a mean, sick thug from way back in elementary school and he’d have ended up in jail sooner or later anyway. Keene considered dealing with Booth the equivalent of paying off a college loan. And sometimes Booth’s schemes could bring in HUGE profits.

 

Keene was certainly not famous for his association with Booth McMullen. He was THE defense lawyer of the Tampa Bay area. He’d famously defended a handful of the Bay Area’s richest sons from the brutal (and videotaped) rape of a Clearwater woman. He’d defended sexual predator teachers, rich hit-and-run drivers, and a drunken, but rich boater who drove right through a dock full of people. They all got mere slaps on the wrist.

 

He was most famous, though, as the lawyer for Red Bluefish, the brazen owner of some of the most famous strip clubs in the entire world. Yes, Keene defended the very God-given right of man to pay to leer at naked women and the right of women to rake in income if they were willing to be leered at, and worse.

 

Some nights, many nights, the sheer vulgarity of his life and his accomplishments kept sleep at bay, in spite of his delightful balance of vodka and muscle relaxants.

 

But boy, was he rich. And now he was on the verge of getting filthy, stinking, mondo rich.

 

How all of that had led to the Bay Area’s premier defense lawyer sitting discreetly and unannounced in the smelly, ancient waiting room of the Snug Harbor police department, waiting to meet the client that didn’t know she even needed him yet, was far too convoluted for anyone to truly frame up. He reminded himself of one of his favorite mantras: Remember, no one can read your mind.

 

No one could know the way the thread of his life and his successes and his associations wove its way through a tapestry of local power brokers. No one could know the huge fortune that was going to come to him, or the invisible steerage of one of the Bay Area’s most revolutionary development concepts of all time.

He’d had the glory and the fame of his many successful cases and clients. In this new grand scheme he would never be seen, never be named, never even officially be involved, but he was the captain, steering the millions of dollars into the port of billions. He would clear the path for every step, grease every gear, and every palm, until the Snug Harbor Resort Marina was signed, sealed and delivered to the principals. Tampa Bay would be ushered into the future as a world-class destination.

 

He shook his head from his ruminations. No, they can’t read my mind. There’s plenty of stuff they CAN know. They can know he was called by his old high school pal to come down and see if he could help this poor lady who haplessly stumbled into murder charges. They could know that Booth had just recently met her and was concerned that this obviously innocent lady would go to talk to the police in a murder investigation without representation. There was nothing suspicious at all if she gratefully accepted his services at a reduced fee because of the sheer audacity of the accusations against an upstanding citizen.

 

They would never know that the real reason he was here was because that asshole Booth had told him, after all these years, that he’d killed that stupid Patsy girl that Keene had worked so hard to convince everyone was a run-away.

 

They couldn’t know that the whole reason that both that old sot Flora and that brain-dead marina rat, Lucas, were dead now was because that asshole Booth had then BURIED Patsy’s body under the pram shed.

 

They couldn’t know that snaking its way through the backdoor politics of Tampa Bay and Snug Harbor was a project that would change the face of Snug Harbor forever. A project that would all but sell itself to everyone, once he had greased the wheels of the machine.

 

It was win-win, or so it would seem when the commission unanimously voted in the Snug Harbor Resort Marina project. The voters would win, with many more marina slips, discounts to residents, a glorious resort hotel, kitschy shops and a waterfront restaurant that would put the old Snug Harbor staple, the Bon Voyage, to shame. The city would win, as they would no longer have to have city employees responsible for marinas, boats, and a public park. The land would be back on the tax roles to the tune of millions.

 

Most of all, the developers would win, because all the big promises and concessions had loopholes and clauses that would ultimately let them do almost anything their cold little hearts desired.

 

It was a beautiful plan that stood to blow into smithereens if Booth’s little faux pas of so many years ago resurfaced under the claw of a backhoe.

 

Because no one could know just how this whole marina resort that was in the works would change the face of Snug Harbor marina yet. Gone would be the ostentatious Bon Voyage restaurant. Gone, especially, would be that termite ridden “pram shed”, that stinking, sagging “boat club”, and that raggedy little spit of sand and ramp so worshipped by that silly group of women, the Windlasses.

 

So much hinged on keeping the Windlasses at bay. This plan would only fly if the Windlasses, the only people who really truly cared what happened to that God-forsaken spit of land on the west side of the target marina, were kept distracted and uninformed until the inks dried, the votes passed, and the gavel fell. It was bad enough that they were stirred up now by the “accidental” death of their member and the old dockhand. But if the excavation work Booth had been secretly undertaking was discovered again, as it had been by the drunken Flora, or worse, Patsy’s body itself were to resurface, the Windlasses would be sticking their noses into the bushes far enough to uproot the secrets of the Marina plan, unofficial as it now was.

 

No one could read his mind, so no one could know that attorney-client privilege protected his knowledge of how Flora died, of how Flora had tried to hide under the pram shed with her bottle that day, and her prized stolen oar, Woody’s oar, had knocked over Booth’s digging equipment. Booth had been so hazy the night he killed Patsy, he couldn’t remember exactly where her body was buried. It had never been important, until Keene realized the planned project would unearth her remains.

 

Keene had made sure Booth had spent the last few months carefully exploring, searching to find the remains without being discovered. He’d insisted Booth work only under the cover of night, carefully restoring the old boats and general crap that littered the crawlspace under the shed. He had Booth watch by day to see if anyone paid too much attention to the old shed. Keene knew Booth had seen Flora under the shed that day, dispatching her quickly with the oar and letting the water drown the last of life away from her unconscious body. It would be made to seem like an accidental drowning. Keene would see to that in the end.

 

In the meantime, his defense of Woody would buy time for Booth to finish finding and disposing of Patsy’s long dead body under the pram shed.  And it would buy Keene time to complete the inner workings of the marina project. The Windlasses would be so distracted coming to the defense of their own, it would all slip by before they were ever alerted.

 

The door to the reception office opened and the pudgy, uniformed old lady that passed for an officer in this dippy little town returned with the tracings of a powdered donut on the end of her nose and dusting the front of her shirt. Keene smirked and decided it was time to introduce himself. If this woman were more astute, she’d surely have recognized Keene Eastbay from his many newspaper and TV appearances, but previously he’d simply told her he was a lawyer and was waiting to meet a client. He’d taken a seat and begun to read before she’d bothered to query him further.

 

Now he walked over and introduced himself, “Hello, my name is Keene Eastbay and I’m here to see my client, Woody Kapok.” He watched with delight as recognition lit up her clouded eyes. He smiled charmingly and added, “Would you please tell her that I’m here to see her?”

 

 





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