I was spellbound and patiently waited until he began to talk again. He was drawing circles on the top of his desk with his finger, like he was trying to find his words…maybe words that he didn’t want to say. Maybe he was having thoughts that he didn’t want to have or didn’t want to revisit. I didn’t know what he was going to say but I could tell that it was going to be painful for him.
He took a deep breath and said “I remember that day like it was yesterday. Parker walked into the library and said ‘I want to learn everything there is to know about the law. She acted like there had been no silence for the entire year she had been here and I found that odd.”
“I had to resist my inclination to ask questions about the past or why she suddenly wanted to talk so I played along and asked her what kind of law she wanted to study. She said ‘criminal law.’ I want to know every trick of the trade, be it underhanded, through the backdoor, under the rug, dirty or illegal’.”
“I was a little taken aback but I asked her why. She said ‘I want to defend the undefendable’. I asked her exactly what she meant and her answer made my blood run cold.”
I knew I was going to risk being chastised when I asked “what did she say?” He simply answered my question and when he told me, I think I was as taken aback as he was.
He said “you know she was a child prodigy, right?” I told him that he had mentioned it. “Well, you can also safely bet that she didn’t have any sort of education for the ten years she was gone, so that posed a problem,” (he hesitated and said “in a way).”
I immediately asked him how she was able to get licensed with the Bar. I knew a degree was necessary and of course, so did he. He looked at me and said “there are some things you will not know. That is one of them and another is what happened to her during those years.”
He suddenly turned his chair around and completely out of left field said “this is a beautiful estate, don’t you think?” I nodded. “I own hundreds of acres,” he said. “Hundreds. I can’t tell you how many times I used to take one of my golf carts and show Parker around. She was such a bright little thing. She wanted to know the kind of every tree that stood on the property and the name of every flower.”
I watched as he seemed to be completely immersed in nostalgia.
Then he abruptly turned his chair back around. He picked up the thick folder and as he tossed it to me said “you have questions about Parker. You want to know about her. You didn’t understand her. You hated her. You couldn’t understand why she would defend the lowest of the low. You will find the answers to all of your questions in here but there is a caveat.”
“Once you read it, there will be demands and requirements and most importantly, a code of silence. Those demands and requirements cannot be refused but there will be rich rewards. Do you understand?’
I hesitated a bit. Harville stood up and said “have you not wondered why you are sitting here?”
I had to admit that I hadn’t. He went on to say “do you think it was an accident? Do you really think a seasoned attorney like me would be so silly as to not only leave an autopsy report behind, but request the return of an unimportant one? There was a reason you were contacted. That’s why I gave you instructions to contact me when you figured it out, remember?”
I sat in silence. I really didn’t know what to say. He looked at me and said “you were chosen.”
“Chosen?” I asked with bewilderment. “Chosen by whom?”
Harville said “by Parker. She left specific instructions that should something happen to her, you were to be contacted. You may not have respected her but she respected you.”
The conversation seemed to be over when he asked “so what do you say? “Are you in?”
I needed to know more. I couldn’t just arbitrarily give him an answer. I said “I need more information.”
He looked at me and said “well, you’re not going to get it.”
I finally gave a weak “okay.” Harville read me like a cheap novel and didn’t seem to appreciate what he perceived to be uncertainty. “This is no time for a flip, half-assed, insincere agreement. You have to be dead sure,” he said.
“You have a choice of whether to read what’s inside or leave it here. Once you have read it, there will be no turning back. Your life will be forever changed and you must be prepared for that.”
I told him that I understood. Harville looked at me and said “do I have your word?”
I’ve been known to stretch the truth a little or skirt around it when necessary, but when I give my word, I will not break it. My word is my bond and it is written in stone.
He shook my hand and gave me the folder. He held onto my hand and looked me square in the eyes as he said “great tragedy can befall a man who breaks his word.”
As I was walking out, I thought I could hear my knees knocking. I stopped at the door, turned and said “you didn’t mention the tattoo.”
He looked at me and said “you’re right. I didn’t.”
As I was walking back to my car, I couldn’t help but wonder.
“Had I just sold my soul to the Devil?”
To be continued_____________________