How to Measure a Man


Most measures of a man are classified as childish in decent society. Capacity for alcohol, net worth, sexual conquests, bench press, potency of bowels, whether he wields a dick or a cock. I always err to a higher road. I believe the true measure of a man is how few lawyers he’s had to hire in his life. Goes to character.

Current legal dispute: It started as a turf thing, property lines in an industrial park, and let’s just say the aggrieved parties became so personal and relentless about their grievances that I became the aggrieved. But lest we err, let it be the high road like I said. I invited the aggrieved couple — a husband and wife named Dorney — and their two attorneys out to my estate on a Sunday morning to talk it out. My attorneys would be present, as well — a formal business occasion, after all — but we could at least do business in a pleasant and relaxed environment.

They arrive at the appointed time in two very showy cars. I meet the party on the turnaround and escort them through the big house and out back past the pool and down the lawn to what I call the grove, a tranquil area under a canopy of trees that bumps up against 600 acres of hardwood forest. A climate-controlled garage nearby holds the snowmobiles and ATVs and a game room with full bar. A true playground and I love it. The grove has comfortable seating around a large glass patio table under the trees, and that’s where we sit. I serve the refreshments myself.

I keep my attorneys away from the table at first. My way of being cordial.

It starts off well enough. But Merle and Melanie have grievances and the aggrieved shall always be heard. They don’t like me. They don’t like my kind, they say. They don’t like my business or my home. They say I’m a … and that’s when I signal my attorneys in the climate-controlled garage that they need to join the conversation. I interrupt Merle Dorney to tell him I’m sorry, but he’s wrong, and to prove how I know, his wife will now be beaten to death with a baseball bat signed by Roberto Clemente I bought at auction for $157,000.

My lead attorney hits Melanie Dorney from behind with said bat, but in the shoulder to begin, cracking her collarbone. My second-chair attorney points a Fabbri over-under 12-gague at the Dorney attorneys and Merle Dorney and asks them to please remain seated. I sawed off the Fabbri last week for spite.

There’s screaming as my lead attorney indeed beats Melanie Dorney to death with the Clemente bat. My second-chair attorney has to step closer with the Fabbri to keep the others seated. When my lead attorney is finished and Melanie’s hanging half out of her chair dripping gore out of her head, he signals my second-chair attorney to unload one barrel each from the Fabbri into the Dorney attorneys by saying three words, “In the face.” The second-chair does so.        Merle Dorney remains seated, panting in his chair. My third attorney — still an associate — appears and binds Merle Dorney’s wrists with a set of steel cuffs attached to a coil of Black Diamond 9.6 climbing rope. The other end of the rope is attached to the back of a Can-Am ATV my lead attorney has already mounted and started.

Merle Dorney says something to me about manhood. My lack of it, apparently.

“Merle, you can’t even see you’re being beaten to death with a yardstick,” I reply.

My lead attorney peels out into the forest. The Black Diamond rope uncoils fast on the ground next to Merle. He watches it not even knowing he’s moaning.

The rope twangs tight and Merle is yanked from his chair wrists-first and dragged off into the trees.

My second-chair attorney and his associate and now a fresh-faced paralegal attend to Melanie Dorney and her attorneys.

I am a man. I know it and now you know it because these are the only attorneys I’ve ever had to hire. Consider that the next time you have legal needs.

~ fin ~

Mike Zimmerman head shot 2

Mike Zimmerman sold his first short story to Gorezone in 1989. He is a 2022 National Magazine Award finalist and author of crime novels A Mosquito Over Sunset and Where the Sun Don’t Shine. Find him at