Plots You Cannot Use by Warren Bull
When writing fiction, an author is constrained. The events have to be plausible.
However, reality does not. The following events were reported in Humaverse on
March 17, 2020
I call the first one “Revenge is Best Served Cold.” It could be apocryphal but it is a
good story. I do not condone the behavior.
A wife cheats on her husband during his frequent travels for work. She files for divorce and gets to keep the house and her new man. Months go by and the husband is still pissed and feels trapped. But then he has an epiphany: “I wonder if she changed the password to the thermostat?” She did not.
For the next year, he continues to mess with the thermostat. In the middle of summer when they’re sleeping in HIS bed, he turns the heat on to 90 degrees at 3 a.m. Middle of winter? Time to shut off the heat and hope the pipes freeze. Away on vacation? Turn the air conditioning down to 55 and let it run 24/7 for a nice surprise bill when they get home.
The second could be called “Dress for Success — Not”
In criminal court one morning, the accused wore a pair of very
unique custom-made red cowboy boots… that were stolen from the house he was accused of robbing. Yes, he wore them. To court. To plead not guilty. The prosecutor was laughing.
This incident reminds me of advice attributed to Mark Twain: Better to remain
silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.
My father is an attorney and this was always his favorite case. Some dude was allegedly smashing a wall with a sledgehammer along with a group of a few others, in order to try and break into a private property.
The cops rolled up, and he was the only one to get caught. Fast forward a few months, and this guy is in court. Apparently, a cop on the witness stand began to say something about how “the defendant was the only one caught, but there were two other men who fled on foot and couldn’t be apprehended.” My father’s client’s face lit up when he heard that statement.
He immediately jumped up and screamed out "AHA!” before proceeding right away to tell the judge, “That’s not true your honor! There were four of us!” I guess he thought that if he could disprove something that someone else was saying, then he would be let go on some kind of technicality. Safe to say, he was eventually found guilty of vandalism. My father says that upon hearing the comment, the judge just kind of sighed and unenthusiastically told him that it would be a good idea to keep his client quiet.
The advice also applies to the following:
Another lawyer told me about his weirdest case. There was this a man who was serving 20 years for hiring a hitman (who happened to be an undercover cop) to kill his friend. In prison, he came into some money and hired my friend to prove he was innocent. He wanted our law firm to tell his friend that he better recant his testimony, or else he’d would use his new money to hire a hitman to kill him “for real this time.” This genius told his lawyer his plan on a recorded phone call from the correctional facility.
And finally, a memory that could be labeled “Sorry Your Honor”
In my first year, I represented the 19-year-old child of some rich people in San Mateo County CA. My client went on a shoplifting spree, and I had to clean all her cases up with a global plea (meaning we handled them all at once). Being new, I filled out the plea form wrong, swapping the charges with the pleas. It’s an easy mistake to make. Every court has its own unique form, and I didn’t have experience with San Mateo’s.
The judge calls my line, starts reading off the plea form, notices the mistake, and then starts screaming at the top of his lungs, “COUNSEL! WHAT IS THIS?! WHAT IS THIS?! IS THIS YOUR FIRST DAY ON THE JOB? THIS IS A COURT IF LAW AND WE DO NOT ACCEPT MISTAKES! FILL THIS PLEA FORM OUT CORRECTLY OR I WILL HAVE YOU TAKEN INTO CUSTODY FOR CONTEMPT!” I did not expect a reaction like that.
My client, who clearly had a huge bong rip at 8 AM and wore an all-pink velvet tracksuit, looked at me like I was the biggest idiot in the world. After I corrected the plea form, the judge made me wait until the very end of the day. Then he called me up to the bench. I’ll never forget the words he spoke to me.
In private he told me, “Sorry to ream you like that. Everyone messes the plea form up, so I just pick the youngest lawyer to yell at. Maybe you noticed all the other lawyers fixing their forms? Anyway, gotta’ do it to keep the calendars running smoothly. Where did you go to law school?” After that, he invited me into his office for coffee and gave me some really good life/work advice.
In critique, I sometimes comment that just because something actually happened does not mean anyone will believe it when presented as fiction.