Friday, February 15, 2013

Service of Process

Jake hid in his car two houses down from Dominic Salvatore. He was lying in the back seat of his Audi peeking out the back window staring hard at Salvatore’s front door. He was on one of the narrow avenues in the foggy Richmond section of San Francisco, where tiny two-story houses are so close together they nearly touch.

Jake tried serving Salvatore the day before, but, even though there was a pickup truck in the driveway and lights on inside, no one had answered.

“I want that guy served,” his client, attorney Herman Fine, told him. “We need his depo taken ASAP. Go back tomorrow and get him, I don’t care how.”

The deposition subpoena was for a personal injury case to which Salvatore was not a party. A former co-worker of the plaintiff, he was just a potential witness – nothing more. An investigator had attempted a phone interview with the 83-year-old man and found him to be “uncooperative and hostile.”

Jake was known for his tenacity, which was why Herman Fine always used him. He had never failed to complete an order and he had no intention of failing now.

An elderly man wearing a robe and slippers shuffled out the door to the mailbox. Jake jumped up and walked to the old guy brandishing the subpoena.

Salvatore took off running for his front door. Jake followed. He threw the papers on the porch.

“You’ve been served Mr. Salvatore.”

His job done, Jake turned back toward his car.

“Like hell I have!” Salvatore screamed. He followed Jake and threw the subpoena into the middle of the street.

“Fuck you!” he said and flipped Jake the bird with both fingers. “No one fucks with Dominic Salvatore!”

Jake picked up the papers and placed the subpoena under the wiper blades of Salvatore’s truck.

“Like I said, you’ve been served. I suggest you show up at the depo, otherwise you will be held in contempt.”

“You don’t know who you are fucking with you piece of shit.”

“Whatever,” Jake said. “You’ve been served, I’m leaving now.”

Jake again turned to go. Salvatore pulled a knife out of a pocket of his robe and stabbed Jake in the right thigh. Jake went down, his face landing in the gutter in front of the driveway.  Salvatore jumped on his back and put the knife to his throat.

“I made my bones when I was 18 years old,” Salvatore said.

Jake struggled to keep his face out of the dirty water. He was in horrible pain; it felt like a muscle had been completely severed.

“What the fuck are you talking about you crazy old man?”

“That was the first time I killed someone – when I became part of the crew.”

“Jesus!” Jake said, “I’m just a process server, you don’t need to kill me! This isn’t some god damn mafia gang war. It’s just a stupid civil suit. I need an ambulance. Jesus Christ!”

Jake began to feel the knife puncture his skin just before several of Salvatore’s neighbors arrived and pulled him off the process server’s back. Someone helped him up and he leaned against Salvatore’s truck. Blood streamed down his leg and onto his socks and shoes. He heard sirens.

One man had the knife now. Two others were holding onto a struggling Dominic Salvatore, who stared at Jake with a nasty grin.

A police car and an ambulance arrived. The paramedics put Jake on a stretcher. As they wheeled him up and into the vehicle, Salvatore managed to break free. He grabbed the papers from the windshield, and threw them on Jake’s chest.

Jake flung the papers back out onto the street.

One of the policemen cuffed Salvatore while the other picked up the subpoena.

“Do you know who I am?” Salvatore shouted.

“No,” said the officer as he read the front of the document. “Who are you?”

“I’m Dominic Salvatore!”

“Oh, then this must belong to you,” he said and placed the subpoena in the pocket of Salvatore’s robe. “Looks like you’ve been served.”

An enraged Dominic Salvatore saw Jake’s smiling face just before the paramedics shut the back doors of the ambulance and drove away.