When I started this story, I had no idea that I'd end up writing two versions of it. But, that's what I did.
In this version of the story, called 'The Paralegals (Rachael's Version), Rachael, who is one of the two main characters, finds herself struggling over some big decisions. The resulting conflict is debated by two different voices in her head.
Each one represents different facets of her personality; and, each one what to be in control.
In the version I originally conceived, Rachael narrates the story from her point of view. For the most part, her dialog is pretty straight forward.
Rachael's Version is a bit more comedic than the original and I didn't know which version you would like. I've posted the both so you can decide for yourself.
Chapter One – In Court
It was about 3:30, late in the afternoon on a Thursday in the last week of November. The weather outside was unseasonably cold.
I was sitting at our table in the courtroom waiting to see what Willard Sanders, the attorney for the plaintiff, Lilly Rossi, was going to do next.
My name is Marty Gordon. I'm forty-eight years old; weigh in at two-hundred pounds even, I am five feet nine inches tall. I have a 'stocky' build that is, except for my legs, not very muscular. Both my hair and goatee are brown, which I keep cut short and neatly trimmed at all times. Most of the time, I have brown eyes. I say most of the time because when I put in long hours at work, they are usually bloodshot. In my opinion, I'm not very handsome, but to be honest, I'm also not ugly either. What I'm trying to say is that in my I'm think I'm just plain average.
That particular day I was dressed in a navy blue classic, two-button business suit and a white shirt. My tie was dark blue with white stripes. On my feet I wore black socks and black, monk strap shoes.
There were four of us at our table. To my immediate right sat my partner, Rachael Wolf.
Rachel is the other paralegal on the team. She's forty-two and, since I've never been good at guessing women's weight, I won't even try. However, considering she has a figure that would make a playboy bunny envious, it really doesn't matter anyway. Her hair, which is black and wavy, flows down past her shoulders. She has pale, almost alabaster white skin, and brown eyes. If I had to compare her to anyone, I'd have to say that she reminds me of a full figured version of Monica Bellucci. She also is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen.
Next to Rachael was our boss, Samantha Roberts, the firm's head and only attorney. I'm not quite sure of our boss's age but I think she's about thirty-six. She's a little skinny for my taste. Hell, I'll bet she doesn't weight an ounce over a hundred pounds.
Finally, at the far end of the table sat Vincent Rossi. "Vince", as he liked to be called, was the defendant in the case and our client. Suffice it to say that he was obviously male and with a name like Rossi, you can bet he looked Italian.
Moving along, at the table to our left was Lilly Rossi and her legal team. Her team was comprised of Lilly Rossi, her lawyer and a paralegal.
Lilly, by the way, is herself, a successful (if not ethical) divorce attorney. Next to her at their table was her mouthpiece, Willard Sanders. And, next to Sanders was his paralegal, a quiet little man whose name I can't remember.
Sequestered in the Witness room was Gloria Lemons, the self confessed adulteress of the affair and potentially the most damning witness they had.
Before this mess started, Samantha, Lilly, Rachael, Gloria, Vince and I used to be good friends. Now, as sometimes happens, we've divided into two camps. On one side was Samantha, Rachael and Vince and myself. On the other, the unlikely team of Lilly and Gloria.
It was the first day of trial and Lilly was about to take the stand.
Her attorney said to the judge, "I call to the stand the plaintiff, Mrs. Lilly Rossi, your honor." I was somewhat surprised, I had just assumed that he'd present the video, it would be shown, and we'd all go home. Then I could start enjoying my long holiday weekend, Rachael could do whatever it is she does when not working herself to death, Samantha could sulk, and poor Mr. Rossi could cry himself to sleep while he tried to figure out how to pay our bill. Although something told me he wasn't going to be able to pay it. Lilly had been smart enough to get him to sign a prenuptial agreement giving her everything in the event he committed adultery.
I expected this to be the first and last day of what had promised to be one of the shortest divorce trials in history. The evidence in the case was so strong it was sure to be a slam dunk win… for Lilly and her attorney!
But then she did have what, in my mind, was indisputable video evidence of the husband's infidelity with his mistress, Gloria Lemons.
You might be interested to know that Gloria also just happened to be Lilly's best friend… that is until Lilly caught them in bed together!
Unsurprisingly, things started exactly as I expected they would. Sanders went straight for the jugular!
"Mrs. Rossi", he began, "In your complaint you said, and I quote, 'I was sure that Vince was having an affair'; is that correct?"
There was an appearance of anger on Lilly Rossi's face when she replied, "Yes."
"Were your suspicions correct?" Sanders continued. His voice had changed from professional to soft and conciliatory.
Meekly, she replied, "Yes."
"How do you know they were correct?"
With an almost a triumph look expression on her face, Lilly Rossi answered, "I have proof!"
"What kind of proof do you have?" Sanders asked. His tone showed no change of emotion.
She answered, "I recorded them together."
"What do you mean you recorded them together? Was it an audio recording? Were you there when the alleged act of infidelity occurred?" Judge Judith Hastings asked, interrupting.
Sanders frowned. For, while it wasn't common knowledge to the public, it was well known to those of us working in the court system that the judge had recently developed a dislike for his client.
I looked over at Samantha and then at Rachael, both were smiling. We all knew that Judge Hastings was hoping Lilly would admit to being present during the act. If that happened, then Samantha could claim that Lilly had, at the very least, given consent to the act and possibly even been a willing participant. Either way, the allegation of adultery would be effectively nullified. Unless, of course, Lilly said she was hiding at the time.
There was a faint smile on her face that couldn't conceal the scorn hidden behind it as Lilly replied, "No; I mean, before I left the house I hid two cameras in our bedroom. They recorded the whole thing."
Still looking at the judge, Lilly said, "I brought the cameras here with me today."
"Why did you use two cameras?" inquired the judge curiously.
To which Lilly responded, "For a couple of reasons. First, one might always fail. And second, I didn't know exactly where in the room they might be. If I had used one camera, it might not have captured the bitch's face"
"You know better than that Mrs. Rossi." The judge interrupted. "You will restrict your testimony to the facts and not embellish it in any way." The judge warned sternly.
Sanders approached the bench. In his hand he held four evidence gags. Two about a foot in diameter and two were just large enough to hold a single compact disk each.
"At this time, your honor, I'd like to enter into evidence the videos and cameras Mrs. Rossi is talking about. I also request they be marked 'Plaintiff's Exhibits 26, 27, 28 and 29.'"
Vince Rossi turned to Samantha and asked angrily, "Why don't you object or something? You said she only had one video, not two."
"The truth is Vince that I just found out this morning. I knew about the first one, but not about the second one.
Sanders pulled a fast one on me. He sent the two videos over all right. But one video he labeled "Original" and the other he labeled "Backup Copy".
I just assumed that the second video was a duplicate of the one labeled "Original' so we never looked at it.
I tried to keep it out; but, the judge said that, while she was sympathetic, it was my responsibly to examine "ALL" the evidence. She's right, it's my fault. I let him get one over on me." Samantha replied.
Vince looked at her, anger in his face. I guess he realized she'd been tricked because he calmed down and then asked, "How bad is it?"
"As bad as it gets!" She told him somberly.
In a voice too loud, he exclaimed, "FUCK!"
"WHO SAID THAT?" The judge yelled sternly and looked right at Vince. And then before he could answer, she looked around the room as if looking for somebody to blame. "Nobody did it? Well, the next time it happens 'Somebody' is going to be in contempt." Then the judge turned to Lilly and said, "You may continue Mrs. Rossi."
I looked over at Vince. He was red faced, teeth clinched and tight lipped. The judge had given him a break. I could tell he knew it wouldn't happen again.
Smiling again, Lilly said, "I hide one camera on the television stand under the TV and the other I placed atop the large dresser on Vince's side of the bed. "
"Mrs. Rossi, I'm confused. If you placed the second camera on top of the dresser as you say you did, how did it go undetected by Mr. Rossi and Ms. Lemons?" asked the judge.
To which Mrs. Rossi responded, "I guess they were too busy screwing each other to notice it!"
Laughter ensued throughout the entire courtroom; and, a few bangs of the gavel later, the Judge Hastings ordered that cameras be produced.
The evidence bag containing the camera was opened. The camera was removed from the bag and held up for all to see.
For several seconds, silence filled the courtroom as all eyes stared at it. The camera, it turned out, was designed to look exactly like a vibrator. There were a few snickers from the audience.
"That's a camera?" the judge asked. I could hear the disbelief in her voice.
Unashamed, Lilly replied, "Among other things."
There was an outburst of hysterical laughter after which the judge, who had turned red faced, probably from embarrassment, was forced to order a recess.
As soon as we left the courtroom, the bailiff walked up to Samantha and handed her a note.
She read it and then said, "Don't go anywhere. I'll be back in a second."
Samantha led Vince outside, presumably to calm his nerves.
Meanwhile, I said to Rachael, "Have you seen the second video?"
Down the hall, someone opened the door to the courthouse letting in a rush cold of wind. It must have blow right up her black dress because she shivered suddenly and I saw her teeth start chattering.
"No. Have you?" Rachael replied.
I took off my suit jacket and put it around her, then answered, "Nope. But I heard Samantha tell Vince that it's worse than the other one."
"Thanks." Rachael said, and then she added, "Jesus Marty, how much worse can it be?"
Before I could answer, Samantha walked up. Vince wasn't with her.
"Where's our client?" Rachael asked.
A worried look upon her face, Samantha replied, "In the bar across the street getting a drink, he'll be back in a few minutes."
"What was that note about?" Rachael inquired.
Then she sprung it on us, "That was from Judge Hastings. She let me know that when court resumes, she intends to let Sanders show the second video. Then recess for the holiday weekend. If you had any plans this weekend, cancel them. We're all working!"
"But we've already checked out of the hotel and what with the holidays, we'll never get another reservation!" I told her as I thought to myself, 'There goes my weekend!'
Going into 'boss mode', she instructed, "Don't worry about that, it's all taken care of. You'll both be staying at Vince's residence.
He's going out of town for the weekend and has given us full run of the place. He told me the place has four bedrooms. One bedroom is being used for storage and he is sleeping in another one.
After what happened to him, he doesn't want to go near the master bedroom and doesn't mind if you use it.
You two can figure out who gets it when you get there." Samantha paused as if waiting for us to say something. I think we were both in shock. When we said nothing, she continued. "Your first priority is to watch both of those videos. Since we haven't had a chance to analyze that second video, look at every frame of it and see if you can find anything to help us. Then I want you to examine the bedroom as if it were a crime scene. If that doesn't pan out, go over the entire file again. "
"Are you going to be joining us?" Rachael asked.
"I can't. Jimmy's still sick and I'm not going to leave him with the babysitter that long." Jimmy was the name of her three-year-old son.
"I'm going drive home when court ends today but I'll keep in touch with you by phone. I'll call you when later and see what, if anything, you've come up with.
While you're working at it from this end, I'll be going over both videos and the affidavits again."
It was my turn to ask questions. "What if we can't find anything? Then what will we do?"
"I know you two. You'll find something. You always do." At that point the bailiff opened the courtroom door and called everyone back in. Before she turned to walk to the door, Samantha handed me something and said, "Here's the keys. Go on! Get moving you two and don't let me down!"
Two hours later, after we realized that the GPS in Rachael's car had gotten us lost for the third time, we found someone to give us directions and located the place. Five minutes after that, we were walking in the front door of Rossi's house.
Chapter Two – Change Of Venue
The first thing that struck me when I walked in the door was that the place was filled from wall-to-wall with sports trophies.
The second that grabbed my attention was the 65" plasma TV to the left as soon as you walked in the front door.
No sooner had I sat first batch of our bags down than Rachael hurried past me. From the way she seemed to be moving about the room, I could tell she was searching for something.
Jokingly, I said, "Didn't you go before we left?"
"I'm looking for a phone book, smart-ass. Do you want Italian or Chinese?"
I responded with, "Hookers or food?"
"Food," She replied. "I wouldn't know how to expense the hookers."
I countered, "How about 'Expert Witness?"
"And what am I to tell the auditors when they ask what area of expertise they had?" She asked playfully.
I answered, "Forensic Knot Expert."
"You're kidding right?"
I told her truthfully, "You could always try it. I read about this guy in Great Britain last year. He's a member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers & Forensic Science Society."
"Okay, I'll bite, how does that make a hooker an expert witness?"
While taking off my jacket, I said, "Well, a couple years ago, before you joined the firm, I was on this case involving a man whose wife found out he had been seeing a prostitute. When I interviewed him, he told me the hooker he saw specialized in Bondage and Domination and that she knew more knots than a sailor did. I figured he knew what he was talking about because he was a retired rear-admiral in the navy."
"Hookers as expert witnesses, huh? For both our sakes, I hope it doesn't come to that; but if it does, you'll be the first one I let know."
I decided to change the subject, "I'll finish unloading the car; and then, I think I'll take a look around. It might be a good idea to know where everything is… particularly the bathroom!"
When Rachael didn't respond, I looked at her to see why. She had found the phone book and was busy searching through it.
There was a phone in the living room. After she'd located what she'd been looking for, Rachael picked up the phone and started dialing.
I could hear it ringing on the other end. A second later, she was talking to someone. While she was busy on the phone, I went out to the car and retrieved the rest of our bags.
After I brought them inside, I started setting up our laptops on the coffee table. About five minutes later, Rachael hung up the phone.
During that time, she'd made two calls.
"Samantha's said to tell you that things went about how we expected they would in court. Luckily, there were no more surprises. She's about half way home. She said she'd call about midnight for an update; that is, if we don't call her first.
Also, the food should be here in an hour. I hope you like Philly steak and cheese sandwiches, French fries and coleslaw."
I smiled. Steak and cheese sandwiches are one of my favorites. "Great!"
Seemingly satisfied, she stood there deep in thought for a minute. Then said to me…
"I was just thinking. She said we could have free run of the place. Why don't we figure out how to use that overpriced entertainment system of Vince's and watch the videos on it? That way we won't have to spend any more time staring at these tiny laptop screens than I have too."
I'd gotten so caught up in what I was doing that I had completely forgotten about touring the place.
It was just about the time I deciphered the workings of the entertainment center that our dinner showed up. As you can imagine, all we talked about was the case.
We finished eating, cleaned up the trash; and then, began analyzing the videos.
I had intended to start with the video neither of us had seen. Within seconds, I knew that I must have put in the wrong one by mistake because the image on the screen showed a clear, unobstructed, wide angle view of the bed.
The video we were supposed to be watching had been taken from the television stand at the end of the bed.
"Sorry," I said to Rachael embarrassingly when I discovered my mistake.
I was in the process of getting up so I could swap it out with the other one when I heard her say, "Let it play. Maybe we'll see something we missed the first time."
"Okay." I said and sat back down.
As I resumed watching, it occurred to me that the images on the screen reminded me a great deal of the late night soft-core porn I occasionally watch on the satellite back home.
There was Vince, lying on his back atop the bed. He appeared to be nude.
Gloria walked in the room, bent down and placed her hands on either side of his head. Then she kissed Vince passionately on the mouth. The kiss lasted for over a minute.
After breaking the kiss, she stood upright and then began slowly undressing until she too was totally nude.
I guess she wasn't in the mood for foreplay because Gloria wasted no time in climbing on the bed and into a kneeling position over him.
Once there, Gloria, who was facing him, lowered her weight until it looked as if she were sitting, on top of him.
The way I saw it, her legs were straddling his waist and their pelvises were touching.
Were the video from the camera on the dresser the only evidence, as unlikely as it seemed, there might have been a slim chance Samantha could have argued that the couple on the screen had not actually be having sex.
The placement of Gloria's legs was such that there was really no way to tell if actual penetration was occurring. The logic being, if there was no penetration, then there was no infidelity.
To be quite candid, Samantha would have had a better shot of convincing a motorcycle cop that she just threw up beer vomit on that she hadn't been drinking!
A half hour later, the video was over.
I looked over at Rachael. For some reason, she had a flushed look on her face.
"Learn anything?" I asked kiddingly.
Rachael giggled and replied, "Besides that fact that Gloria is a screamer? No, not really. You?"