I was wondering if this was some cruel joke and all I would find was a condensed version of “Understanding the Law for Dummies” but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I wiped my eyes and checked my pulse to see if my heart was still beating.
I was shaking my head as I looked at a check made out to me in the amount of FIVE million dollars. Attached were very specific instructions that I was to open my own law firm. An account had been established in my name and “funds” would be made available for expenses. The amount would be known as soon as I set up a “password.” What the hell?
Word balloons were floating over my head as I thought “what attorney doesn’t lust after having his or her own firm along with the funds for the practice? No more groveling and putting up with incompetent clerks. No more kissing asses to be made a senior partner. No more being known as Mr. #2 or 3 or 4.”
Harville may have had to do that at one tine but he didn’t now. He was what they used to call “shittin’ in high cotton and farting through silk.” He had his maid and his butler and his chef and his chauffeur, not to mention the grand estate on ‘hundreds’ of acres of land.
Was I going to become him? Did I want to? I believe he had done well for the Patterson’s and I felt he had done the same for Parker. Aside from my jealous, “pretend hatred” for him, I truthfully believed he was an honorable man but I had this gnawing feeling. Had I unknowingly, as I said, sold my soul to the devil or I had just accepted a suicide mission?
I went through the folder, visiting each and every case Parker Patterson had won. I recalled how twice, she had spanked me and made me look like an incompetent schoolboy. I also remembered how much I despised her then.
I kept asking myself. “Why me? What could she have possibly seen in me that had made her choose me as her successor?” We had barely exchanged ten words between us during all these years, so choosing me made no sense.
There were several “sub-parts” to the folder. One part contained handwritten notes by Parker, which I found odd. Why didn’t she use a computer? Could it be that because once it’s out in cyberspace, it’s out there forever? Was there something she didn’t want anyone to know? So many questions. I decided that I would scrutinize them later.
Another part contained the names of the defendants, whose freedom and “protection” had so skillfully been arranged. I found it curious that their names were coupled with “latitude and longitude” coordinates. No new identities, addresses or employment records were attached. There weren’t even any pages where that information had been redacted.
“Hmm. That’s strange, I thought.” I knew about witness protection and I knew that it was kept secret from the general population but the arranging officers or departments were privy to that information and there was always a record somewhere.
The last part of the folder was a sort of “accounts payable” spreadsheet. It went back twenty years and the first entry was a name that I didn’t recognize. Underneath the name was “Jackson Alton Benson.” For some reason, that name sounded familiar but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.
I carefully followed the line across the top name and gasped when I saw the amount “paid.” It was a cool one million dollars.
The next entry was also a name I didn’t recognize and the scenario was the same. I halfheartedly scanned through the names and the last one caught my eye.
The name was a Mrs. Cumberbatch. Underneath her name was “Bernard Copley.” Even after twenty years, I knew that name well. It was the case that first introduced me to the famous Parker Carolina Patterson. It was the case “she won.” It was the case that made me start despising her, not because she won but because she had humiliated me. And it was because she had arranged protection for that horrible excuse for a human being.
The records indicated that Mrs. Cumberbatch was Evelyn Copley’s mother. She had received one million dollars every year for the last twenty years. Wow. I was on to something here but I wasn’t exactly sure what.
A quick call to Harville went unanswered so after ordering a pie from the local Pizza Hut, I settled down to have another look at the papers.
I wasn’t prepared for what I was going to see.
To be continue_______________