Friday, February 27, 2015

Day In the Life

[Editing "The Honorable Man" (available at required deletions. Deletions are part and parcel for creating a better work.  Once in a while whole chapters get yanked. Below is an example.]

The noon mail had been good to Johnny Murdock. The closing of a case was usually helpful to the bank account.Roberts Goods, Esq., Attorneys at Law, had come through with a tough win the other day and Murdock replied the next day after that with a flurry of invoices, bills, expenses, and claims for his services. They’d won. He’d won. The client won. A year-long privacy invasion suit was finally over and Murdock relished getting paid. Not that his rent was behind or his car stuck in the shop impounded by a Mechanics Lien. Payment meant an end of a long drawn-out case.
The case began when Ms. O’Clare, Barbara O’Clare, married a swindler and a gambler. His name was Billy O’Clare, who grew up on the right side of the tracks, but in early adulthood, moved to the wrong side of the tracks. He had kept clear of the law, married Barbara Dempsey, whom he had known from high school but was not in love with her at the time. Once the most recent Ms. Billy O’Clare was gone from the scene, bought and sold to live a life of luxury in Las Vegas, Billy wooed, seduced, purchased, some say, Barbara Dempsey into becoming Ms. Barbara O’Clare.
One, but not the most important enterprise, of Billy O’Clare’s enterprises, was an oil and gasoline distribution company. Over a few years’ time, the state’s environmental agency had began to talk seriously with Mr. O’Clare about several impending demands on his tank farm property with regards to potential serious health hazards. Billy O’Clare also sensing that problems lay ahead initiated an arranged divorce in which Barbara O’Clare was awarded, as they say “substantial” amounts, as an award for living with a man who didn’t love her and treated her without benefit of affection.
Indeed, the details were never shined upon in court. The split was mutually agreeable and within two years (the proceedings went amazingly fast) the tank farm failed, too, physically, and Billy O’Clare’s major source of wealth was wiped off the face of the earth. Or, more precisely, drained into the river.
Barbara O’Clare, in the interim, also, underwent a change of heart. It was nice to be a kept divorcee. She had money, friends, a place in the mountains, a place in town, and a place along the Gulf coast of Florida but what she didn’t have, really, was a place in the community. Living the lie was hard on her. Through a friend’s lawyer, she got in touch with Hermie Applong, an investigator of Murdock’s acquaintance, who put her in touch with a very good, private lawyer at Roberts Goods.
When word reached Billy O’Clare from his spies, he was not in the least bit happy to know that his so-called former wife was now going to be his real former wife and take all that money (in the millions by now) with her. This was not the kind of news a gentleman who was used to having his way with men and, in particular, with women, swallows easily. Such news tends to interfere with the interaction between a man and his Wheaties.
Billy O’Clare choked on the news. Literally.
The story goes that he was eating breakfast when his patsy from the courthouse came by to offer some information in exchange for an undisclosed number of boat payments. O’Clare puked in his corn flakes, then beat the messenger, and upon storming out of the house, found himself at one of the few bars outside the city limits, leaning on a man who, after careful vetting, was willing to murder Ms. Barbara O’Clare nee Dempsey. This man was in his early twenties, a muscle builder, having his once-a-week beer along with a shot or two of legal, high-potency muscle stimulation drugs, and was crazy enough and desperate enough to answer Billy O’Clare’s siren song, helped along with a wad, police later found $13,000 in the man’s room, to carry out the plan.
Which was a good plan until the man, who was so drugged from bulking up his brain to deal the end to Barbara O’Clare, botched the job and before he could implement Billy O’Clare’s specific involvement, the man fought the Law in his cell, bashed his head against the walls, and went into cardiac arrest only to be pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
The supposed hit-man’s death was later the subject of a suit against the county and the sheriff. Beyond that, Billy O’Clare became desperate enough to try his hand at harassing Barbara O’Clare into returning what he’d had seen as his all along: the money. Forget the houses. He wanted what he saw as his money returned to him. His attempts at forcing his ex-wife to pay up led to the need for several investigators and inquiry specialists to be involved which led in turn to Hermie Applong and Johnny Murdock working together which was rare in the that kind of business.
Ms. O’Clare’s privacy had been seriously breached and it was Murdock, and Hermie Applong, hired by Roberts Goods, who spent a year watching the watchers. Roberts Goods had introduced over seventeen hundred photos into evidence documenting the invasion. The judge almost threw the book at the ex-husband, as well as his attorneys and their hired watcher, that very day, and the trial, that dragged on and on forever it seemed, was now over and done.
Everyone involved went home, finally. Billy O’Clare had stupidly kept declaring his innocence to the media but his former law team wasn’t listening anymore. As recent as last night, Murdock was chatting with Hermie Applong over drinks at the Two-11 Saloon, when the senior member of “the other side” stopped by to slum for a moment.
“Murdock,” said Malcolm Roades, who seemed glad the case was over, too, even if he’d lost, “you are a good man.” He slapped Murdock on the back. He ignored Hermie Applong. “I want you on my side next time.”
“Pick a better case, counselor, and I’m yours,” said Murdock. He smiled at Roades, lifted his glass in a salute.
“You got that right,” said Roades.
And now, two days after that, as Murdock counted his money. He thought he might take a vacation. Go up into the mountains for a few days. Drive the Blue Ridge. Take in a night or two in Asheville or hit the casino in Cherokee. Drive all the way to Charleston and smell a different kind of fresh air? Maybe? Maybe not. The four checks felt good in his hand. A complete resolution of the ex-husband’s wrong doing, or some remorse, or some hint of kindness towards his ex-wife, would have been nice, too. The four checks were now laid out in a square on his desk. Once marked up on his ledger as paid, in the bank they’d go. That had a nice ring to it.
Roberts Goods was a decent firm to work with. Nice guys who were also well intended and moral, as well as practical, practitioners of the legal profession. Not just lawyers. Something a little more. It felt good.


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