Jimbo Jankovich had no idea what was going on.
Stepping in Larry Sharpstein’s office was like walking into a time capsule that hadn’t been dug up yet. Nothing in the room spoke of the current era save his cell phone and Starbucks mug. Even the sunlight struggled to permeate the windows they were so crudded over with years of lip service and snapped judgements.
Books populated the shelves along every wall. Not only were they packed in vertically, but stacks of books were stuffed in every available nook. Many were leather-bound. Most were hardcover. A minority were paperback, but they lobbied for space with just as much dusty enthusiasm.
Presiding over this sprawling library was Larry Sharpstein, Esq., their oafish and decaying Lord. There was no way of telling just how old he was, and so it was conceivable that he might never die. He gave the impression that some of these were indeed the first books and he was there to witness them bound. He was timeless, an institution, fermenting in this realm of paper and leather, hardwood and oily carpet. His grizzled little finger tapped at a paragraph in a court document centered on his desk. It was faded and yellow as his skin, perhaps also from another time and another dimension.
“It says here, plain as day, you failed to fulfill your responsibilities to my client,” His voice was a scratchy whistle, something you would hear from a cartoon beaver who had smoked too many Cuban cigars. His dull eyes rolled from the document to Jimbo Jankovich who stood before him holding his hat.
“He is filing a grievance for damages amounting to but not limited to any and all such provisions garnered, gathered and earned by you and anyone you have had decidedly professional contact with in all days since your conception and first breath of oxygen.”
Jimbo Jankovich took deep breaths through his nose as he puzzled over the words.
Mr. Sharpstein took the opportunity to elucidate, “You have been found to be delinquent in your duties, Mr. Jankovich. And I as a duly sworn representative of my client have been dispensed to ensure you absorb the gravity of the allegations levied against you and to also ensure that you intend to fulfill your end of the bargain which you engaged with my Client once upon a time and so forth and such with.”
“I still don’t understand what’s going on,” said Jimbo Jankovich feeling tense as a coffin rod. “None of what you’re saying makes any sense.”
Mr Sharpstein’s tongue emerged from between his papery lips like a little pink slug checking the air temperature. It wiggled back and forth before disappearing back into the man’s darkness.
“I’m speaking as clearly as I can, Mr. Jankovich! I am merely conveying to you the complexities of your circumstance. I have simplified them to the best of my abilities as required of me by the laws of the great state of Kansas.”
“But what agreement?” Asked Jimbo. “And who is your client?”
“I’m afraid that information is confidential and protected by the Client’s privilege to remain anonymous so as to avoid any undue scrutiny and harassment from you or any associated parties.
“What you need to know is what I have told you and that is all that you need to know,” Sharpstein’s voice rustled out of him like a snake escaping its own dead skin.
“So what? I owe this person I don’t know, like, pretty much everything I have for something I didn’t do and can never be sure that I had to do or not?”
“Precisely,” said Sharpstein, who imminently sipped from his Starbucks mug.
Jimbo realized he was strangling his own hat and loosened his grip. He took another deep breath and searched the little sarcophagus’ eyes for any remaining sprinkles of humanity.
“This is bullshit,” said Jimbo Jankovich.
Unperturbed, Sharpstein replied, “This is the law.”
“And what if I don’t pay? What if I turn around and walk out that door and never look back?”
“Then we will contact the banks and take what we are owed.”
“But I don’t think I actually owe you anything!” Jimbo was losing his patience.
“If you would just read this para–”
Jimbo grabbed the document and shook it in Jankovich’s face.
“Just because you threw a bunch of abstract language on a paper doesn’t make it true!”
“I assure you the language is quite concrete.”
“I don’t even know who you are!”
“But we know who you are. Just sign here to indicate you acknowledge your fault and indicate your intention to ameliorate.
“I didn’t do anything,” said Jimbo.
“And so we will take everything,” said Larry.
Jimbo crumpled up the document and threw it into the rolling mountains of books.
“I AIN’T SIGNING SHIT!”
Tut tut tut, said Sharpstein. “It doesn’t matter. It’s already done.”
Feeling a draft, Jimbo looked down and realized his shoes were suddenly gone.
“You have a lot to learn about the legal system,” said Larry Sharpstein.
Jimbo wanted to respond, but realized he no longer had the words.