Seb the Philistine
Although this series contains things from the world in which we live, including real persons, places, and events, it should be read as a work of fiction. All characters are fictional and not based on any actual living person. The events that take place are entirely the product of our imagination.
Note: The main character is the result of my first collaboration with Patty Hines.
The name on his birth certificate was Sebastian John Fillmore. He wore black driving shoes, the black, off-the-rack suit his assistant picked up from Macy’s, and his late father’s Omega. Every day, Monday through Friday.
He liked to leave work early, starting on Tuesdays, and head to the Halekulani, where, instead of the signature Mai Tai, he liked to have a Cape Cod, tripled, and poured into a pint glass. The bartenders knew him on sight, and they had it ready.
He sat in the “cocktail area,”and didn’t have any patience for the typical bar waiter schtick; unless the glass was empty, he would waive them away with an annoyed hand, and he rarely, if ever, smiled, except when the traditional Hawaiian band played “Happy Birthday” for one of the paying guests. To most of the people at the Halekulani, he seemed a harmless, if out of place, sort.
But this was not the way the government viewed him. Sebastion was a trial lawyer by trade, in fact, one of the best defense lawyers in the islands. A long time ago, some overworked federal prosecutor had dubbed him “the Philistine,” a play of sorts on his last name, but actually based on the Biblical Goliath.
Though certainly not similar to Goliath in size, his advocacy against the government on behalf of his Davideque clients was. When his name appeared on filings as the defense attorney of record, most federal prosecutors unfortunate enough to draw him as their opponent bemoaned the development by walking around saying, “Aww, I can’t believe this! I got the Philistine on this damn case!” Because it meant they were in for a real fight and would actually have to work for a change.
He never bothered to tell his wife he stopped off for a before dinner drink — or several — at the Halekulani. It was his routine now, and one of the few ways he decompressed. And she stopped asking or caring years ago. If “Sebbie,” as she called him in the throes of passion, came home loosened up, it was actually to her benefit, because Seb could get edgy.
In fact, “Edgy” could’ve been his middle name. He had edges and hard angles everywhere, both real and metaphorical. Seb stood about 6'5" and was a bit lanky, to put it kindly. Back in his days playing forward for the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors basketball team, he was a force; a tall, solid farm boy from off the Palouse in far eastern Washington state, the roster proclaimed him to be 6' 6" and 235. (Coaches always cheated on rosters). But in Seb’s case, those number belied a lightning quickness that fooled opposing coaches and players; he looked slow moving up and down the floor, but down around the post he could dart around lazy opponents for easy layups and dunks. And on the defensive side of the ball, people got frustrated by his ability to slide left and right, almost reading their moves before they had a chance to make them. He was a master at drawing charges and making it look like the offender had run over him; in a sense, a very good actor, a skill which would translate well to the courtroom: Seb could sell a charge to a referee as well as he would come to sell a crazy defense theory to a jury.
These skills resulted in Seb being named All- Big West Conference three times. His biggest claim to fame was holding Bill Walton to 12 points in a game during Walton’s senior season at UCLA. It had been Walton’s lowest offensive output of the year and it got the attention of a few NBA scouts. But alas, a professional career was never to be. Seb blew out his right knee near the end of his senior year, had surgery, and the long and painful rehabilitation ruled out playing at the level he was accustomed to playing. The surgery, though successful, had left him with a permanent, if barely discernible limp, and as he got older the knee would become afflicted with arthritis, which only contributed to his edginess. This was just one of many things that fed his reputation as a Philistine. The guy could be downright grouchy at times. Especially when the knee was acting up.
Seb wasn’t a “looker,” in the traditional sense of the word. There weren’t many people who would use the term “attractive” to describe him. At this point, pushing 50, he was pretty nondescript. Years of fighting the power had worn him down outwardly, if not inwardly. But his doting and adoring wife had scarcely noticed, if at all. To her, he was still rocking it, the ever increasing lines on his visage making him look like a weathered Clint Eastwood. Clint Eastwood in glasses. That’s what she saw anyway, and hers was the only opinion that mattered.
But what really set Seb apart in his chosen field of law — something he had essentially fallen into by default of not knowing what he wanted to do with his life after sports — was his steel-trap mind. Nobody possessed a quicker, more intelligent brain, and nobody in the islands, indeed nobody in the entire 9th circuit, was quicker on their feet than Seb was. He had a super, hyper-vigilant intelligence, one that — when he was pushed too far — he would aim like a high-powered machine gun at anyone stupid and unfortunate enough to piss him off, including judges. The people who had witnessed some of these intellectual ass-whippings never forgot it. And they silently pledged never to get caught in Seb’s crosshairs. He had actually reduced several young prosecutors to tears and run at least two of them completely out of the profession.
He didn’t look the part of a high-dollar, flashy trial lawyer. Some people thought this was on purpose, a carefully crafted personage that was all BS and designed to catch unwary whippersnappers flat-footed so he could pounce and eat them and their cases alive. But the truth was there was no plan to anything; Seb dressed the way he did because he didn’t care what he looked like and he absolutely loathed shopping and spending any money whatsoever on “work” clothes, something he found ridiculous and unconscionable in his chosen trade.
He had uncovered enough shyster lawyers in 2,000-dollar Armani suits and intellectually undressed them in front of enough judges and juries that he’d proven the point: Never judge anyone’s skill or ability based on what they’re wearing or what they look like. Put another way: never judge a book by its cover. The irony was, the uninitiated — those who were unfortunate enough to have not yet crossed paths with the Philistine — did exactly that when looking him over the first time. And this, unfortunately, was always to their detriment.
To be continued.
Glen Hines is the author of two books, Document and Cloudbreak, available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. His writing has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Task & Purpose, and the Human Development Project. If you enjoyed the first installment in this series, let him know and recommend it to others