When a fisherman is accused of murder, Alabama's first black lieutenant governor may give up his career to defend his friend.1
Davey Simpson, a fisherman, is charged with the murder of a powerful Alabama politician's son. His childhood friend, Ben Johnson, an attorney, has to decide whether to resign as the first black lieutenant governor of Alabama in order to take Davey's case.
While in the Mobile County Jail awaiting trial, Davey has a unique way of surviving confinement. Since he can't endure living in the present, he lives in the past, recalling memories of his two childhood friends--his lost love, Pokey, and his best friend, Ben. Those memories allow Davey to escape the unbearable loneliness of incarceration.
Davey's plight causes childhood friends, separated by time and space, to reunite and renew their relationships. Unexpected twists reveal the many complications involved in the case and in Davey's life.
"Five hundred thousand dollars bail." The judge's words echoed in my mind. When I'd heard his proclamation just a few hours earlier, I knew that I was destined to be imprisoned. Even half that much money would be out of my reach.
I gripped the bars of the jail cell door so tightly that my knuckles turned white. Windowless concrete block walls on the other three sides confined me to this peanut-sized cage with its sickening stench of urine. Smeared colors of graffiti illustrating a previous occupant's caricature of a jail guard offered no relief from the drabness. Instead, the hate that the amateurish art emitted intensified the barrenness of the room's atmosphere.
A feeling of total disconnection from society overwhelmed me and caused me to question my very existence as Davey Simpson, fisherman. No longer did I feel like I had an identity. This was more horrific than any emotion I'd ever encountered; even worse, I was utterly powerless to do anything to change my situation.
I screamed, "Let me out of here!" but nobody paid any attention.
When I repeated my plea a third time, the guard finally yelled back, "Shut up!"
In desperation, I let go of the bars and crumbled to my knees in prayer, saying, Oh, my God! How in the hell did I get in this mess? What's going to happen to me?
In a daze, I stumbled to the toilet in the far corner of my cell and puked what looked like everything I'd eaten for the past week. I brushed some of the vomit off of my orange shirt as I made my way to the cot in the opposite corner and crawled up on it. Staring at me from the wall was that crude sketch depicting a guard with the yellow-streaked face of a weasel. Under it, bright red letters said, I'm in here. He should have been. I could certainly relate to those words, even though I didn't know who he was.
I closed my eyes and forced my thoughts to times past. Momentary escape came in the form of a trance. Mercifully, my mind drifted to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico where, from my boat the My Mamie, I'd watch the sun come up in the morning and fish all day. Satisfied that I'd done a good day's work, I'd enjoy watching that huge orange ball slide down into the horizon in the evening.
I longed to see the waves crashing over the boat's bow and the swells on Mobile Bay as I often did when returning to port after a thunderstorm. I groaned. The freedom of those waters stood in direct contrast to the bars holding me in the damn cell. Despite my efforts to retain those images and block the day's horrible events, the stark reality of what had happened to me came into clear focus.
I could still feel the handcuffs being snapped on my wrists at my home in Bayou La Batre. "You're under arrest for the murder of Stanley Hoffman," were the most terrifying words I'd ever heard. My head started spinning and my vision became so blurred that I couldn't even read the name on the badge of the deputy who read the Miranda Warning word for word.
By the time we reached the Mobile County Jail and the handcuffs were removed, my head had cleared somewhat.
When I said, "I didn't even know Hoffman was dead," and asked why the police thought I had anything to do with it, they acted as if they didn't hear me.
"All right," I said loudly. "You wasted your time reading me my rights because I'm not going to answer any of your questions. But I want an attorney now and I can't afford one. So provide one for me."
After I was fingerprinted and photographed, they led me to a holding cell. With iron bars on all four sides, I felt like an animal in a zoo. However, I wasn't the only person on display. Two white teens sat on a bench opposite me. One was clean-shaven and dressed like an Ivy Leaguer. He was carrying on a conversation with a rail-thin kid with wild, frizzy hair and an unkempt beard. That surprised me because they didn't appear to have much in common, other than the cell we all shared. I made no effort to hear what they said.