Notes - Here's a little one-shot from Saul Goodman's perspective, taking place after the end of the show (and thus, obviously, containing some conjecture on my part). After watching the season premiere the other night, the idea popped into my head and I couldn't resist writing it. Enjoy!
Made Men, by DoofusPrime
Back when I had my old office, I used to think putting up a couple of columns around the room was classy. Not anymore. Now? If you ask me, nothing's classier than a room with a view.
Okay, so maybe I kinda miss the old columns a little bit, and maybe compared to a place like New York, downtown Albuquerque isn't exactly the granddaddy of all office window views, but a man's gotta be satisfied at some point - and believe you me, I am satisfied.
What can I say? Life's been good to me lately. A brand spankin' new law office on the tenth floor, a convertible, a hot new secretary, and more money than I know what to do with. Okay, that's a joke, obviously. What kind of chump doesn't know what to do with a lot of money? There's always a million things to buy out there if you can afford it.
Anyway, today is shaping up to be another good day. The view out my office window is nice, as usual, and I don't have too much on the schedule. Maybe I'll play a little solitaire. Maybe figure out whether or not I brought along that little floor golfing toy thing when I was packing up and moving out of my old office. I'm thinkin' a long lunch break would hit the spot, too. Right now, though, that new secretary needs to get me a coffee. Hopefully she'll lean over real close when she comes in here to put the mug on my desk.
I press my finger on the phone's intercom button. "Miss Harcourt?" I ask while I admire the phone. Even the damn phone is nicer than the one I used to have.
"Yes, Mr. Goodman?"
"Could you be a doll and get me a mug of coffee?"
"No cream. I'm watching my weight. Sugar, though. Four packets."
I lean back in my desk chair, which – yeah, I know I'm really hammering on the same point here – is much better than the one I used to have. No creaks, padded armrests, and I could sit here for hours without my ass starting to hurt. I swivel around and take another look at the view of the city. Things weren't this good a little while ago, that's for sure. To be honest, back when everything was up in the air, when Walter and the Pinkman kid were runnin' around like chickens with their heads cut off, there were a few days where I was pretty sure I was gonna die.
But that's in the past. Things started settling down, Gus is gone, and Walt's turned into a real businessman. Maybe all that time he spent around me drummed a little sense into him. After all those mistakes, all that drama, somehow he ends up being my boss? Go figure. He's got to be the luckiest son of a bitch I've ever seen. Jesse, not so much, unfortunately. It was a real shame about him. Things were tough for a while, but hey, that's life. You just have to tough it out and roll with the punches. Like my name – 's all good, man.
The door opens, and my beautiful young secretary comes in with a mug of coffee that looks like it might be just a little bit hotter than that body of hers. She leans over. I look. Heaven. "Here's your coffee, sir," she says.
"Oh, there's a client waiting for you in the lounge."
"What? You gotta call me when somebody's waiting, okay?"
"Sorry, sir. I was getting your coffee."
"Right. Hey, look, you can just call me Saul, okay?"
"Yes, sir – Saul."
I tap my finger on the table. "Send him in already."
Miss Harcourt isn't the sharpest tack in the box, but that's not really what I hired her for, anyway. A guy in my position can make a few selfish decisions from time to time – besides, being the kind of lawyer I am, it's better to have a secretary who doesn't ask too many questions. She's friendly, easy on the eyes, and won't snoop. Perfect.
A few seconds later and I can tell I should have asked her if the guy had an appointment. I guess in this case I can't blame my new secretary, but just one look at this guy tells me he isn't gonna be good for any big payouts. Dirty clothes, dirty hair, a beard that looks like it crawled out of a gutter so it could cling to his face. He's even carrying one of those black and white marbled composite notebooks, probably with notes about some case he think he has. Who uses those anymore?
"Saul Goodman," I say, already wanting to end the meeting. "What can I do ya for?"
"Pleasure, sir, I just' – well, lemme see here, I was hopin' I could get some representin' on a domestic dispute I been havin' with Holly. She's my wife, by th' way. I got a couple o' problems fer-"
The guy trails off, looks at me like he's chewing a cud before he opens up his little notebook and starts reading it for a minute. Somebody wasn't prepared, I guess. He shows me the notebook, trying to get me to take a look at something, but I can already tell this isn't going to be worth my time. "Whoa, whoa," I say. Judging by the vibe the guy's getting off, I know an easy to way to shut things down quick.
"Look - just so we can get the boring stuff out of the way, I'm just wondering – what kinda price range are we talking about, here?"
The man thinks for a minute. "Well, I been a bit down on my luck lately, so I figure-"
"Yeah, I gotcha. Tough economy, right?"
"I saw one o' your commercials on the TV," the man said. "Better call Saul."
"Right. I didn't know those things were still playing. What, you saw my website address or something?"
Man, I think, feeling a little irritated. Gotta get those things off the air.
"Lemme do you a favor," I say as I walk over to my desk and rummage through a drawer. "My rates are probably a little high for you nowadays, but I got a card for another law office over on Paseo that might be, uh, more well-suited for your needs. Hold on... here it is."
The man takes the business card, looking a little confused.
"Thanks for stopping by, though, and good luck with your case. Tell 'em Saul sent you, okay?"
I usher the man out of my room and into the reception area, nudging him out the law office doors before turning back with a sigh of relief. My receptionist is giving me a strange look from behind her desk. "Hey, Miss Harcourt," I say as I stop at the door to my personal office, "make sure people look a little, uh – a little more presentable if they don't have an appointment, okay? And remind me to figure out why those old commercials are still running."
I close the door before dropping back into my comfortable office chair. The window view – yep, still there. That guy definitely looked like one of my old customers. I spent a lot of time dealing with people like that to get where I am, and don't get me wrong, it could be fun sometimes, but Saul Goodman's movin' on up, as the Jeffersons might say. Classier work place, higher rates. No embarrassing stuff like those old commercials. After almost getting my head blown off trying to keep Walter White out of trouble, I figure I'm entitled to a higher class of clientele nowadays.
Although, honestly, it's not like I have that much in the way of clientele at all nowadays. One of the perks of working for a guy with a monopoly on meth production in Albuqurque – not to mention markets in a lot of other places in the southwest, and Mexico, for that matter – is that the salary he pays me pretty much tops what I made from all my old clients combined. I've still got my business, a few wealthier clients here and there, but it's really more of a front than anything. Don't want anybody wondering why I fell off the map and haven't been working much anymore. It's a sweet deal – sort of a semi-retirement, in my mind. A reward for all the stress Walter and that poor partner of his put me though, may he rest in peace.
"Mr. Goodman – Saul, sir?"
Miss Harcourt's voice crackles on the phone intercom, interrupting my thoughts. At this rate, maybe I'll have a busier morning than I counted on. "Yes, Miss Harcourt, what is it?"
"You have another client."
"Does he have an appointment? Does he look, um - clean?"
A few moments of silence.
"He's wearing a business suit, glasses, and a pork pie hat."
I raise my eyebrow. Sounds familiar, but definitely not someone I was expecting.
"Let him in."
My visitor steps into the office and closes the door behind him.
"Hey, Walter!" I say, extending my arm. "What brings you to my neck of the woods?"
Walter doesn't shake my hand, although he is holding a bottle of wine, which would make it a little harder. I motion for him to take a seat on the other side of my desk, which he does after handing me the bottle. "Just a little housewarming gift," he says. "Or an officewarming gift, I suppose. How is your new office shaping up, by the way?"
"Pretty good, pretty good. Nice view, huh?"
Walter nods, not really bothering to look out the window behind me.
"New secretary, too. Talk about a cutie patootie, am I right?"
Walter does not answer. He seems a little spaced out today. To be honest, though, it's a little surprising he came in with a bottle of wine – usually the guy only talks to me for business nowadays, and it seems like he tries to keep even that to a minimum. Of course, he's been busy juggling other things lately.
"Any updates I should be hearing about it?" he asks.
I frown, looking through some of the paperwork on my desk. "Not too much," I say. "Uh, let's see... oh, wait, there is Hernandez. I managed to get him off on a technicality, but the way that guy handles things, it's only a matter of time before he gets busted again. We might want to cut ties."
"I'll take care of Hernandez," he says.
I raised an eyebrow.
"How is that?"
"Mike will take care of him."
The way Walter says the name makes me gulp a little, involuntarily.
"You sure?" I ask. "Maybe that's a little extreme for-"
"No children. That's the rule. Hernandez knew it."
I shrug, figuring it's best not to argue the point. Sure, maybe Hernandez had some of his street-level dealers selling to kids, but that's no reason to kill a guy. Not to mention it draws unneeded attention. But then, Walter does have that rule. Personally, I think it's just a way for him to feel better about himself – hey, I'm a drug lord, but I don't peddle the stuff to kids, so I'm a pretty nice guy. That kind of thing. The kind of twisted up morality you get when you're a guy in Walter's position, a guy who's compromised so much he doesn't know right from wrong anymore. Selling to kids is bad, but murder is good? Yeah, and everybody gives lawyers such a hard time!
To be honest, I can sort of sympathize with him, or at least I could back in the day. I remember I did pro bono work a few times when I got into the business. Even with the skeezy guy who just came in five minutes ago, I gave him a business card for another law office – that's charity, basically. I'm not evil or anything. But the thing is, I know who I am. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there; let the bleeding hearts figure out how to change that. I'm in it for me. And as far as I can tell, Walter's just working through some last kinks when it comes to dealing with who he really is.
"So how are things going with you?" I ask, trying to get some kind of conversation going.
Walter shrugs. "Alright. A lot of work to do, but we need to expand if we want to stay ahead of the competition. It's just hard to find good people to work with, nowadays. People like Hernandez, it's – you can't find people like Jesse so easily."
I nod, not really wanting to continue on that subject.
For a second, I almost ask him about his wife, but I figure it's not worth the trouble. I meet Skyler from time to time, classy lady, she's involved in things too, but I know they don't get along too well. I've got his house tapped again, after all. I know all about his family life. As far as I can tell, Walter and his wife don't talk about anything outside of business – not that he's home much in the first place. But that's marriage, I guess. He has a daughter, but I don't think he gets to talk to her much with the hours he keeps. And that son of theirs, the cripple – he went off to college a while ago, on a scholarship I think, after a big falling out with the family that got caught on tape. Didn't want their money.
So I listen to a lot of wiretap recordings. Big deal. I like to know what the boss is up to.
"Jesse was a good kid," says Walter, after a long silence. "Lot of potential."
The vibe in my office has suddenly gotten a lot less easygoing. I don't know why Walter is visiting me. There's really no business to talk about; the way he's sitting there, I almost start to wonder if he's just lonely. Maybe it's lonely at the top. I'm happy about the bottle of wine, but right now I'd really like to be alone. I'd really like to get a little buzz, maybe practice my swing if I can find that stupid golf toy, maybe enjoy the view, but Jesse...
Well, Jesse is a subject I don't really wanna talk about. I don't know why Walter would want to talk about it either – sometimes I think about Jesse when I don't want to, and it's one of the few things that can kill a good mood, other than having somebody like Mike inches away from killing you. Really, I'd like to just forget about the kid.
I shift, uncomfortable, adjusting my tie. Walter stares blankly.
"Do you ever," he begins - "do you ever think about the way things used to be?"
I do. But probably not the way he does.
I start to feel like I'm in over my head.
"Hey, Walter," I say, laughing, trying to pass it off like it's nothing, "look, buddy, I'm not your psychiatrist."
The look on his face makes me wonder if I crossed a line. Walter doesn't smile much, but it's like his mouth and his eyes are frozen even more than usual. He sits like a dead man underneath that hat, the one that used to be so ridiculous but I have to give him credit for nowadays, he owns that look – he sits there, and for a second, I'm afraid. I feel the fear crawling up my back like little fingers. Did I cross the line?
No, I tell myself. That's stupid. Walter's no fool. Okay - so maybe I shouldn't have cracked a joke, if it even was a joke, but it was no big deal. Like Walter would do anything to his loyal lawyer just because of a stupid crack. Sometimes my imagination gets away from me. I'm no Hernandez, after all. I wait for a minute, feeling the silence in the office pressing down like a ton of bricks, until Walter cracks a smile, laughs. I'm a little surprised, but I join him after missing a beat.
"You're right," he says. "I guess I'm in a strange mood today. Anyway, I had some business downtown and I just thought I'd stop by and make sure the new office space is working out alright. Let me know if you need anything."
"Hey, thanks. Come by anytime."
I get up from my chair with a surge of relief. We shake hands, and Walter leaves the office. I see him nodding to my receptionist as he passes through the lounge room. She looks back at me for a second, but I close the door, wanting a little privacy as I sink back into my chair and loosen my suit a bit, trying to feel comfortable. The temperature in the room feels kinda hot all of a sudden. That was definitely a weird meeting.
I'd like to say Walter is a nice guy, and I guess in some ways he is. He's a family man, after all, usually pretty understanding and polite. But there was always a side to him that made him a natural fit for the kind of thing he does nowadays. There was always that pride, that anger, that need to prove himself, to be in control. It's only gotten worse – ever since what happened to Jesse, ever since Walter couldn't save him, that's when he really changed. When I think about it, I can't help wondering if Walter White died about then. Two deaths for one.
The guy I've talked to since then? The guy who took Gus's old job, and what seems like a bit of his personality for good measure? That ain't Walter White. I might call him that, but it's not really him anymore.
I feel sorry for the guy, really. He's a lucky man, a lot luckier than Jesse was, but I wouldn't want to trade places with him. He's like a shell, sometimes. The stuff that happens to people like Jesse, to people like Gus, and the stuff that'll probably happen to Walter one day when the competition heats up too much, maybe coming up from in Mexico – that's not for me. I've seen enough crap from my old clients to know you don't want to be living on the bottom, but I've seen enough lately to know you don't want to live on the top, either.
I like where I am. Not a target, not a pawn.
I'm a little bit like Mike, in a way, although I wouldn't want Mike's job in a million years either. My job, basically, is to take care of people's dirty laundry. Mostly Walter's dirty laundry. I handle it for him, do his little chores while he's off on the front lines, and every once in a while I'll pick out something really dirty, something really embarrassing, and I keep it around, just in case some curious cops come snooping around and I need to shift the blame.
No sir, not me. I'm squeaky clean! Okay, maybe not exactly, but take a look at this guy over here...
I press the speaker button.
"Miss Harcourt? Could you bring me another coffee?"
The sound of Miss Harcourt filling a mug of coffee just barely reaches me through the office door, and with it comes the promise of refreshment and cleavage. I put my legs up on the desk and check out the new pair of designer shoes I got the other day. There's a little crinkle on the front of my new suit; I smooth it out, wondering if Miss Harcourt notices how pricey it is. I cross my arms behind my head, and thank my lucky stars things have worked out so far. Things got a little dicey for a while, at least for a simple lawyer like me, but I can't complain anymore. This is the life.
Notes - That's it, hope you guys enjoyed it! I'd love to get reviews and feedback, positive or negative. I don't write in first person all that often, and Saul Goodman has such a distinctive voice and personality, I'd be interested in knowing if readers thought it worked out alright. I'm pretty happy with it, but of course I might be biased.
I always thought Saul seemed kind of in over his head on the show, although it's not clear how to me much he knows about Gus. But compared to his usual clients, Walter seems like more of a big deal. While Jesse is dead in my story, I always thought Saul might end up getting it on the show - I guess if that happens, my story will end up being even more AU than it already is by the time the show ends, haha.
Oh, and as for the title, "Made Men" is a reference to the "made man" of the mafia, and of course a reference to Walter and Saul both having achieved great success, although Walter is obviously much less happy in his new life. It could also be a pun on "Mad Men", another AMC show, but I didn't realize that until after I made up the title. And I haven't seen Mad Men. I hear it's good though. :)