The Lawsuit

Guest Post by George Davis 

Students crowd the high school hallway, going to classes. A boy decides it is the moment for him to dash through the crowd to squeeze the hip of a female student, Jean. She faces the boy and objects to his rudeness.

“Shut the fuck up, you liked it,” the boy tells her.

“You ass hole.”

The boy shoves her against the lockers. A group of students chant for a fight, but another boy, Andrew, steps into the circle, punch the boy’s face with a right cross that shocks the boy. He runs away.

“Are you okay?” Andrew asks Jean.

“Yes. I’m okay.”

Jean and Andrew are in the tenth grade.  

In the twelfth grade, days before the graduation ceremony, they’re holding hands, on a stroll to the downtown movie house.

“We’ll be going to college after the summer,” Andrew says.

“Maybe we’ll get the same classes being you’ll be a business major and I’ll be majoring in accounting,” Jean says.

“Think it will be too early to lock in our future together?”

“Nope. Lets seal it with a promise kiss.”

They kiss, drawing giggles from a few people on the sidewalk near them. 

They live together in a small apartment. They help each other study. They work part-time jobs. For three years of college, they enjoy doing these things together. Until during an elective class, Peter Jenkins introduces himself to Jean.

“I have to work a few hours extra,” Jean tells Andrew.

“Again?”

“They’re short handed.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll make it up tomorrow.”

“It’s Sunday. Our day to rest and study.”

“Well, I’ll do something special for you.”

“You don’t have to, go back to work.” 

It stops raining however mist still lingers in the air. Andrew strolls up the street to their apartment house. He sees Jean rushing down the steps with a suitcase in tow. She goes to the open trunk of a new Lincoln, putting the suitcase in it.

“What’s going on?” Andrew shouts.

Surprised. Jean stands in place. Peter Jenkins walks out of the building vestibule clutching a computer case.

“What the hell is this?” Andrew demands.

“This is Peter Jenkins,” Jean says.

“So?”

Peter Jenkins goes to the driver side door, opens it, and toss the case on the back seat. He gets in the car as Jean suck in a deep breath. “In our time, you were there for me, but I decided Peter would be better for me the rest of my life.” She hurries to open the car door.

“How long have this been going on?” Andrew asks.

“Since last semester,” she says getting into the car. Peter drives away. 

“What happened between you and Andrew?” Andrew’s mother asks over the telephone. “He dropped out of college.”                                                           ŸŸŸ

Andrew joins the army. He soldiers in a war theater and then completes his college degree. He also learns that call girls have no interest in being a heart breaker. After his discharge from the army, he moves to Philadelphia Pennsylvania and enrolls in Temple University’s Law School. After his graduation, he passes the bar exams. A civil law firm hires him, mainly because of his veteran’s status.                                                             ŸŸŸ

Andrew’s secretary greets him with a good morning smile and, “there is a folder on your desk, special delivery from the boss.”

“Give me a heads up.”

“The client is from Atlanta Georgia and he owns office complexes in Atlanta, Jacksonville and Tampa Florida.”

“How the hell did we get the case?” He interrupts.

 “Five years ago he bought a complex here in Philly.”

“How did he get his money?”

“A silver spoon kid, his daddy owns several apartment complexes around Atlanta.”

“What is the lawsuit?’

 “The complaint is homosexual discrimination.”

“What?”

“Four gay guys are suing him for multi-millions for workplace discrimination.”

“Workplace discrimination?”

“Failure to recognize them for promotions because of their sexual preference.”

“Thanks.” 

He reads the documents and then notices the defendant’s name, Peter Jenkins. He picks up the office telephone.

“I can’t take this case,” he says.

“What?” The female voice says.

“I don’t want to handle this case.”

“I put it on your desk for you to handle.”

“I don’t give a damn.”

“Wait a minute, I’m your boss, don’t talk to me like that.”

“I can’t deal with it right now.”

“Well, you have to deal with it. Listen, Andrew, this would be good for the firm. It will give us a reach south of the border that is why I gave it to you, my top trial lawyer. What is the problem with handling it anyway?”

“Okay. Okay. I will do it.”

“Good. Martin will be your second and Alice will do the footwork. Peter Jenkins will be here for a face-to-face conference in two days.”

Maybe it won’t be him he hopes.                                                           ŸŸŸ

Peter Jenkins enters the conference room. Andrew avoids his handshake gesture and introduces him to Martin and Alice. They feel Andrew’s animosity but practice good manners towards the client.  

After the meeting, Martin and Alice leave the conference room.

“I didn’t ask for you specifically,” Peter Jenkins says. “Hell, I didn’t even know you were a lawyer. We thought after you dropped out of the college.” Off Andrew’s cold stare, he returns the discussion to business. “I got a recommendation for this firm from my lawyer in Atlanta. Your boss suggested you because she said she would put her best litigator on the case.” He implores, “I need this win, because if I don’t get it, I’ll be in the red for years to come and that may end in bankruptcy.”

“I work for the firm’s reputation,” Andrew tells him.

“I understand,” Peter Jenkins says as he gathers his paper into his briefcase. He walks to the door and stop. He looks at Andrew. “Jean is fine,” he says, “we have one boy in senior high school, getting ready for college.” He walks away.

Andrew pounds the table with the bottom of his fist until a female employee appears in the doorway to investigate the noise.                                                            

A portrait photograph of Jean sits on a mantelshelf in his apartment.

“Is that your daughter?” The call girl asks.

“No. A college friend,” Andrew says.

“Did she die or something?”

“Not as far as I am concerned.”                                                            

After the first day of the trial, Alice stops Andrew in the courthouse corridor.

“I don’t know what it is between you and the client, but you’re giving the case to the other guy. It is not his to have.”

Andrew looks at her in a dumbfounded manner.

“What is going on?” She asks.

“What do you mean?”

“You’re not aggressive enough with the material I gave you.”

“So?”

“So. Shit. You’re giving the case away.”

“No I’m not.”

“Like hell you’re not.”

Agitated Andrew snaps. “What the hell do you know about being a damn lawyer?” He draws a few glances from other people in the hallway.

“I’ve been a cop for twenty-two years,” she says, “prosecutors used my reports to put people in jail and not one wasn’t put in jail from my reports. I came to this law firm ten years ago with that reputation and know-how. You don’t throw your high-hat shit in my face.”

“Damn. Okay.”

She tells him. “If you keep the bull shit up, I’m going to the boss.”

“Okay. I get the message.” 

The trial ends after three days and all waits for the jury’s ruling. The day the jury’s decision is to be announced, Andrew and his team stand in the courthouse corridor waiting for Peter Jenkins. “Here he comes,” Alice says.

Andrew sees Jean; her prettiness is still with her. Peter Jenkins introduces Jean to Martin and Alice. “Andrew, you already know.”

“Andrew. How have you been?” She asks through a smile.

Andrew’s gaze slithers off Jean to face Peter Jenkins with a glare; he says nothing and then in a distraught manner hurries into the courtroom. Martin follows.

“You talk to the client,” he tells Martin.

“What?”

“You handle all the formalities with that bastard.”

“Okay, but, what is it with you and him?”

Andrew ignores Martin’s question.

Alice believes she now know why Andrew behave the way he did the first day of the trial.     

The jury agrees with Andrew. Peter Jenkins and Jean celebrate with hugs and kisses. Andrew avoids the customary victor’s handshake with a client. He leaves the courtroom, reminiscing when he and Jean were high school lovers, with lifetime visions, sealed with a promise kiss, that ended in their third year of college; he didn’t even know Peter Jenkins was in their life until that bad day she told him. He stands on the courthouse steps looking at nothing in particular until he hears his name called. It is Jean.

“I want to.”

Andrew interrupts her. “I did it for the law firm I work for,” he says.

“I’m so sorry I hurt you that much,” she says.

“The son-of-a-bitch will get the bill in the mail.”

“I’m so sorry,” she says in a choked-up manner.

She walks to a waiting Peter Jenkins. They get into a taxi. Peter Jenkins’ words do not get Jean’s full attention. She uses the taxi mirrors to look at Andrew until she cannot see him any more. She pretends her eyes are tired to wipe away tears with her hand. Andrew looks at her until she’s gone from his sight. He wipes his eyes dry with the back of his hand.

Alice walks up to Andrew. “You’ll forget her by the time you’re on social security,” she says.

“I will not,” Andrew says in a choked-up manner, “because I cannot.”                                                            ŸŸŸ

Andrew sits at his desk, reviewing a case. His secretary interrupts. Agitated, he stares at her.

“There’s a Jean Jenkins on two. She says it is very important that she talk to you.” She leaves, closing the door. Andrew composes himself and then picks up the telephone.

“Hello?”

“Andrew?”

“Yes.”

“It’s Jean.”

“How are you?”

“It has been a long time since I heard your voice.”

“Four years.”

“Not that voice.”

“What do you mean?”

“Peter is gay,” she blurts, weeping. “He has been so all his life but never bothered to tell me. Not until after, his father’s will was read. Then he divorces me, gives our son and me some money and goes off to Hawaii with his lover of twenty years or more to celebrate being a billionaire. He used me to keep his homosexual hating father in his corner because if his father had found out he was gay; he would have been cut out of the will.”

“Either you come to me,” Andrew says.

“I was used like a rag doll, thrown away after getting too dirty to play with. I got my doctor to check me for disease. She found nothing but I still feel like I have some bug. I lived a sham love life all those years.”

“Or I will go you,” Andrew tells Jean.

Andrew paces the Amtrak station until the announcer announces the arrival of the airport train. He stands near the detraining stairway. They see each other and step towards each other and they hug and kiss, not with passion but affection. They embrace.

“Do something important for me,” Jean whispers.

“Anything.”

“I don’t want the stigma of being married.’

“We’re lovers, shacking-up.”

“Thank you.”

They stroll, holding hands, to the exit.

“You have luggage?” Andrew asks.

“I’ll have to call the delivery service and give them an address.”

“I’ll take care of that.” END 

George A. Davis born in Philadelphia PA (presently resides in Tampa FL): studied creative writing at The Community College of Philadelphia, retired Federal government employee, and presently write stories. http://www.upauthors.com/authors/georgedavis

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Posted on August 22, 2012, in Short Stories. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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