#freestories #suspense #novels #crime
By HARRY JENKINS: What do you think when you hear the word lawyer or attorney? A lot of people think of of greed and money or all the jokes they’ve heard over the years like— what’s the difference between a lawyer and God? A: God doesn’t think he’s a lawyer.
No doubt many of these jokes are well earned by my profession, but not every lawyer is shady and disreputable. In fact, I’m one of those actually criticized by my wife [and likely plenty of others] for not leaping high enough for the brass ring. My marriage seemed to be dissolving before my eyes. You know—in the back of your mind, you hide all the signs, all the hints because you don’t want to face them after twenty years. Then I met Natasha!
Also, I grew up in Toronto which was, forty years ago, Protestant to the core. Most people will agree that somehow you are imbued with your surroundings and parental influences. If you read these few paragraphs below from Conduct in Question, you’ll learn a lot about me and my city, Toronto. Looking back, I can see that I was the absolutely perfect one to turn a blind eye. That ability certainly had a great effect on how this story unfolded. Everyone’s conduct was in question. Question after question came to mind as I lived through these weeks. How much money is enough was one of the toughest ones.
Since Harry’s childhood, the city had changed beyond recognition. He had grown up on the southerly face of Hoggs Hollow, at the city limits. Near his house, the streetcar line ended.
Looking north, he could see Yonge Street, just a strip of pavement, cutting a narrow swath through the waving treetops, underbrush, and river lands until it reached the far side of the valley. Today, he faced a brand-new city of gleaming office towers and condominiums on the far hill.
When he came home from school, the streetcar would let Harry off at the loop under a red-tiled shelter, reminiscent of rooftops in exotic lands. The afternoon sun slanted sharply, illuminating the row of houses. His home was there: neat, square, and ordinary.
Most of all, he remembered Sunday afternoons when his father would take the family for drives around the city. Dad would go to any part of town, and there seemed to be a message in every trip. Often, they would start down Mount Pleasant Road, which wound its way through the ravines. Queasy with the smell of sun on the fabric-covered seats, Harry would try to hold his breath. His sister Anna, always with a book, sat beside him. He would keep the window rolled down until the green of the ravines gave way to the shops on Bloor Street. Sometimes he would grab her book and tussle in the back seat, until they started down Jarvis Street. Then they rolled up the windows and stared out.
In front of the old sunlit housing and the vast shadowy churches and parks lay a world unknown to them. Men, the kind they never saw uptown, stumbled drunkenly along the sidewalks. Noisy scuffles broke out, and lonely cries echoed up and down the empty street.
In Sunday school, the virtue of hard work—mingled with compassion for those less fortunate—had been drilled into them. Girls in prettily smocked dresses and boys in starched white shirts and gray flannels learned to count their blessings. “Be honest, truthful, and kind. Work hard, and you will be rewarded,” the teachers would always say, and then they’d warn, “Jesus is watching you.”
Harry had learned his lessons well. He had kept his part of the bargain. But where was his reward? Flashy cars and grandiose houses were the supposed perks of his profession. His Ford was surrounded by Audis. Playing by the rules had not gotten him far. Of course, he wasn’t poor. Laura and he were comfortable. Yet, there was a yearning, a sense that the time for making real money was passing. But it wasn’t just the money. A dull emptiness nagged at his spirit.
Reaching to the back of his desk drawer, he fumbled for a pack of cigarettes. He took one and opened the window to the fire escape. With any luck, the breeze would dissipate the evidence. Closing his eyes, he drew deeply on the cigarette.
If you played by the rules and did not stray, your reward would come. It was ridiculous to be still burdened by Sunday school lessons at the age of forty-two! By now, he should have developed some personal moral code, suitable for most occasions. Spots of sunlight permeated the gloom of the alleyway. He watched as a few people walked between the buildings far below.
Laura and he had argued a few weeks ago about money—a topic fraught with land mines. Her hardened face floated up in his mind. LAURA
“Law practice is more than just making money,” Harry had insisted.
“Of course!” she said in wearily impatient tones. “But it certainly doesn’t hurt to set the right value on your services.”
“So I’m not making enough. Is that it?”
“No. But if you didn’t get so personally involved with your clients, maybe you’d do better.”
Harry was astonished. “So I care too much about them? I care about what I’m doing?”
She glared at him. “Why do you practice law, Harry?”
“Maybe you should have been a social worker.” She was goading him. She knew he hated that mentality. “Always holding the client’s hand.”
“Clients trust me! I’ve earned that. I can’t turn around and fleece them.”
She smiled up at him. “Harry, you’re a true knight in shining armor.”
She was laughing at him. Locked in a futile dance, neither of them had heard nor understood the other.
Harry realized he had been gripping the window ledge. Maybe more money would help, but he yearned for something more. He flicked his cigarette out the window and watched it twirl into the abyss.
Have you met Richard Crawford–my partner who so unceromoniously dropped dead at my feet in the office? Miss Gladys Giveny was his secretary—a person so opposed to technological advances that I expected she might bring out the quill pens in my absence.
Here is Mr. Crawford’s office. I imagine this is a jarring time warp for you.
Any efficient office manager would have dispensed with the services of Miss Giveny immediately. I did not for reasons I could not have expressed at the time. However, it was a wise decision. I quickly learned that Miss Giveny was the keeper of the firm history and its secrets. Therefore, at least for the moment, she was indispensible.
Mary E. Martin is the author of two trilogies: The Osgoode Trilogy, inspired by her many years of law practice; and The Trilogy of Remembrance, set in the glitter and shadows of the art world. Both Trilogies will elevate the reader from the rush and hectic world of today and spin them into realms of yet unimagined intrigue. Be inspired by the newly released and final installment of The Trilogy of Remembrance, Night Crossing.
Please click the board below and you’ll find both trilogies for sale on Amazon. They can be purchased just about anywhere online.