Leigh Buchanan Bienen: Works

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Title: He Was a Big Boy Still Is
: Leigh Bienen
Publisher: Ontario Review
Issue: Vol. 41, Article 15, pp. 38-47
Description: A dramatic monologue by a White public defender, counseling the mother of a young, mentally-impaired Black defendant.

A WOMAN in her 30’s or 40’s, a public defender, is speaking.

– Come in. Come in. No. I’m just glad I was here. That’s all. No. It doesn’t matter about the other appointment, I just wanted to be here when you came. Some forms have to be signed.

– No . No. It’s not inconvenient. I was just working. That’s all.

– What a pretty hat. You don’t see hats with real feathers on them much anymore. Bird of paradise? Lots of women wore them in the twenties. That bird’s extinct now.

– Oh, no. I didn’t mean that hat looked old. It’s beautiful. Really. The colors. They’re beautiful. Such a long tail.

-I understand. Of course, you didn’t come here to talk about your hat. Yes, I am his lawyer. No, really. I am. Yes, I know, you have to leave at twelve. Well, that’s fine. OK. Look. Your son. Jackson. Here’s the score.

– No. That’s just a phrase.

– Yes. I saw him yesterday.

– He did seem a little better. He was still in the ward. But he spoke a little. He wouldn’t answer any questions.

– Why would they want to kill him?

– Oh, the electric chair. You mean, if he were convicted. Well, we’re a long way from being there yet. Besides we don’t have the electric chair anymore. Not in this state.

– It’s a different sort of thing. They kill you differently. Anyway, they want him alive now. He hasn’t even been tried yet. They definitely want him alive at this point.

-The State. So that they can prove their case against him. Sure. That’s why they put him in the hospital. So he couldn’t try to kill himself again.

– They can’t just execute him. They want to keep him alive now, so they can kill him later? Well, there are lots of problems with the prosecution’s case.

-You know. With what they have to prove. They haven’t proved he killed anyone yet…



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