His Friends Called Him ‘Hank’

I was supposed to have jury duty, last week. I looked forward to it, in a perverse sort of way. Before appearing, the case was settled, delayed, or otherwise disappeared, much as it was the last time around.

One can always hope, but it seems doubtful that I’d be chosen. The questionnaire asked if I’ve been the victim of a crime. Technically, no. Am I married or related to law-enforcement? Again, technically, no, having long-since widowed and remarried. Still, pretty sure that certain ‘technicalities’ would get me weeded out.


April 12, 1980, 430am. Two policemen, locals of Melbourne Village PD, came to our door. Melbourne Village may have been a bit larger than your average movie-set, with a force that, on a better day, wouldn’t have impressed Barney Fife. Stepfather, John, answered the door. First officer, out of my earshot, said “Your son’s been involved in a killing”.  I heard John said “You mean Larry killed someone?”. The officer turned to the other and said “Or was he the one who was killed?” He then relayed the correct information to John, whom I believe said  “Oh”. I still didn’t know what had happened, but didn’t go in to find out. I heard Mom crying..and have no memory after that. The next memory was driving to Orlando.


Mom died in 2013. Couple months later, I found my brother’s wallet. Was poking through a drawer in Mom’s dresser, and there’s this ratty paper bag. For future reference, when you find a ratty paper bag in the back of a drawer, brace yourself. Opened it, and there’s a wallet. Simple, black, folding, with a comb sticking out. Only then did I note that ‘black wallet’ is written on the bag, in Sharpie-style pen.  Hmm. Maybe it belonged to my stepfather? His last days were spent in a nursing home..hmm. I look further into the bag, and there’s a bunch of matchbooks. There are two clusters that are stuck together, and they’re all kind of shaded over in a light, almost-red color. I suppose they could have gotten wet, somehow. But water wouldn’t make them stick. Then I find the unmistakeable evidence tags.  Personal effects, more aptly.



His name was Lawrence Henry Lorenzo.  Mom got his things back, maybe a year after he died. Not sure of the time-frame, and no clue why it took so long. It made about as much sense as anything else in that case. My brother was stabbed to death on the evening of April 11 1980. With evidence of premeditation, but nothing readily2013 Nov 19 002

proven, the defendant pleaded No Contest to Second Degree Murder. When the time came for sentencing, the Judge decided, of his own accord, to reduce it to Manslaughter. No coherent reason given, other than a Judge-imposed notion of “sudden combat”, which we had never heard of. I don’t know about you, but 83 stab-wounds would seem to exceed what a normal person does in the heat of an unplanned moment. Maybe that’s just me.  A 15-year sentence was imposed, to run concurrently with the punishment for the other person killed, as the defendant fled the scene. Tidy. He was out in six.

Upon second glance, it was glaringly obvious that the matchbooks were fused with 33-year-old blood. It’s funny how you literally cannot process that, at first. The cascade of memories is enough…the wallet, the matchbooks, the pay-stub, the tags accounting for it all… including a bottle of pills, long-since confiscated.  $60 cash was noted on the tag. It was from a cashed paycheck. I remember that well.  Mom said “What do you do with the cash in someone’s wallet when they die?”  You can’t just pocket it, trust me.


So little remains of a human life: A wallet, a headstone, ashes and some blood. That, and more than I could ever tell you.

So, jury duty? Probably not


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