Fitzgibbons got the room, every second Wednesday. All the players split the cost and reimbursed him upon arrival, but Fitz was responsible for going to the office, paying Igor, getting the keys. As first in the room, Fitz had to fill the tub with ice. He put his six-pack of Yuengling in. It was a BYOB affair, but Fitz did need to make a strong pot of black coffee for The Judge. Fair enough, the judge was the full time dealer and never had money in the game.

Igor always gave them room six, probably because it had a large enough table. Every second Wednesday, Igor made sure extra ashtrays were in the room. Fitz didn't smoke, but he was the junior man and knew better than to complain. Klink usually brought a few Cuban cigars for himself and The Prosecutor. The Judge chained Luckies.

Fitz took off his jacket (Men's Wearhouse) and tie, sat down, and cracked a beer. Usually The Prosecutor came next, in a little while. It'd been a long day for Fitz; usually it was. Fitz did all the court appointed stuff in the county, as well as the real estate, because Klink didn't like real estate. Klink got most of the paying criminal work, all the good civil suits, the divorces. But Klink would be retiring in the next five years, and Fitz would get all the gravy. Then some kid who just passed the bar would take Fitz's spot, and wait his turn. That's how it worked. Klink certainly had paid his dues, once.

In fact, The Prosecutor did arrive next, in a conservative yet sharp suit. He ditched the jacket and tie as Fitz had, and put a bottle of Scotch on the dresser. Neat, in one of the Dixie cups provided by the motel. He prosecuted all the criminal cases in the county. "Hey, Fitz, I took care of your mother-in-law's speeding ticket, no worries," he said as he settled in.

"Good, good, I owe you one."

"Okay, Jiminez. Get him to plead. Five years, best offer."

"I think I can get that for you."

Then Klink arrived. Bass shoes, a string tie, bespoke. Smiling at everyone, how ya doin', how ya doin'. He put his twelve-pack of Bud in the tub.

The Judge arrived last. Always. Everyone rose upon his entry, just like court. He wore jeans and a Steelers sweatshirt, but still had the commanding presence of a judge. "Be seated," he told everyone. He took out the cards and took his place at the table. It was time to discuss the non negotiables.

"First, Klink," said The Judge. "This client of yours....whats his name? Yeah, Slosson. Yeah, he's in contempt, that fucking asshole will not pay his child support. Lord knows I've given him enough chances. How the fuck could he afford to retain you? Give me a reason why I don't put him in jail."

"He is an asshole;" Klink agreed. "He's doing construction under the table, or something. I honestly don't give a shit if he does go to jail, he's bad for my reputation. But leave him out two weeks so he can pay me."

"It will be, then," said the Judge. He looked at The Prosecutor, who then spoke to Fitz. "Carlson. You know he's guilty."

"Yep. I wish he'd plead. Can't get him to, but you aren't offering anything!"

"I can't, after what he did.".

"Yeah, well, I can't mount any sort of defense, either, after what he did. Lets do thirty, I'll convince him he was looking at life."

"But the max is thirty."

"You want to go to trial? I said I will convince him he was looking at life. Jesus. What I do for the $500.00 the State pays me to handle this squick".

With that, poker began in earnest. The judge started dealing, everyone ante'd their nickels, and in ten minutes a huge cloud of smoke hung over the table. A couple hands went by, and then Klink had folded (having lost $2.60 to the pot), and Fitz raised The Prosecutor a quarter. A high stakes move in this game. The Prosecutor said "I see your quarter, and I raise you getting Simmons to plead on those dope charges. Six months, shock camp".

"I could maybe get him off. But fine. If I win, you drop those shoplifting charges against Decker."

The Judge nodded. They could proceed. Fitz had three of a kind, queens, and The Prosecutor had two pair, 10's and jacks. Fitz's client got off and Fitz was $6.25 richer.

Later, though, The Prosecutor got Simmons into shock camp when Fitz was trying to bet for a sweet deal for a DUI offender.

As the night went on, Klink and The Prosecutor were very, very drunk, and ten years of a sentence was on the table before The Judge called it off. That's why he only drank coffee. But he did allow the game to continue, and possibly other deals to transpire.

They would leave the room a mess, but always tipped the housekeeper generously. Traditionally, no one went to the office Thursday; no one would've been terribly productive anyway. Court would be Monday, and justice would be played out.

As though rehearsal had never taken place.

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