"Waiting for the Noun" by Paul García


Joe walks past the grey-painted cinder block walls and numbered steel doors to introduce himself. The young corrections officer staring at video screens ignores him, finally looks up. “Yes?”


Joe speaks slowly, to not need to repeat himself, “Joe Martínez. Interpreter. Here for a U. S. Probation interview. Prisoner’s name is Arturo Luna Baez. Defense Attorney’s Mike Howell. Probation Officer’s Jim Hayes. He probably entered the back way, through the garage.”


“Okay, sir. Nobody’s here yet.”


“I’ll sit and wait.”


Joe stows his coat, money and metal in a locker, pockets the key, and takes a plastic chair. He puts on reading glasses and works on his clipboard’s invoice until Mike Howell arrives. “Hey, Joe! How ya doin’?” Howell is a big man bundled up for this below zero spell with the earflaps of his fur-lined ushanka tied up at the crown. He pulls it off, exposing a shaved head, and bites off his mittens. “Cold enough for ya?”


Joe looks over his reading glasses, stands, shakes hands. “Mike. It is chilly.” He nods toward the corrections officer. “Told ‘em we’d be here.”


Mike says, “And I called. Let’s see.”


Joe sits back down.


Mike, still in his overcoat, approaches the guard. “My name’s Michael Howell. I’m here to see Arturo Luna-Baez.”


“And you are?”


“His attorney.”


“Why don’t you have a seat.”


They sit and wait. A C. O. comes through with two inmates happy to be heading outside to shovel snow. Joe and Mike make small talk. Howell is a golfer. “Had my clubs regripped.”


Joe only nods.


“Some have it done every winter.”


Joe knows miniature golf, when his daughter Lucy was little, summers, years ago. “You must miss golf.”


“I’ll hit a few on Florida courses soon. Haven’t seen cold like this for ages.”