The Law: Of Ducks & Men

MacArthur Park in downtown Los Angeles is a wastebasket for crumpled lives. On its grimy benches and littered walks gather the old, the warped, the baffled, the embittered, the workless, aimless flotsam of a great city. A faded woman in an antiquated ball dress and long black gloves glides along, clutching a parasol. Two fat, coarse-faced girls stroll hand in hand. An old man sits limp and vacant-eyed, numbed by the weight of his loneliness.

Among the habitues of MacArthur Park is Spanish-born Raymond Lopez, 71, a short, swarthy man with moist eyes set over deep purplish pouches. A retired...

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