Go For Brokebyestragon©
"Do not write for the wrong reasons—marketplace reasons that crush your true identity. Give yourself permission to believe in the validity of your own narrative." William Zinsser.
My deepest thanks to SA PennLady for her editorial comments and suggestions. Of course, any errors, misstatements or stupidities are solely my responsibility.
Some background for this story will be found in my stories "Easter" and "Trust". However, this is a stand-alone story.
Shortly after I had gone back to work, ribs healing and head no longer hurting from the Second Degree Dope-Slap administered by my nephews, my landlord finally told me to get out of my 300-square foot office, the one next to the fragrant Papa John's, in his strip mall.
I had already reviewed, and he had signed, the lease for what had been my office with a major recipient of TARP. Now the beneficiary of taxpayer largesse, hereinafter the "Tenant", could put in a couple of ATMs and overflowing wastebaskets...with the obligatory out-of-ink ballpoints chained to the counter. No problem, as there wouldn't have been any deposit slips or envelopes in the place for days. They make money from the fees other banks' customers pay to use the TARPooner's ATM machines.
I had stored my files and what minimal office furniture I had (in flagrant violation of all the fire laws, of course) in the basement of my house. I was going to order new cards and change my e-stationery when Jason Whittaker told me there was a vacant office in his suite downtown. The rent was only mildly extortionate, and the main lease had five years to go, so I took the sublet for three years with an option for two more, with a six-month good-guy clause, so if I paid six months' rent I could leave.
Hugh Casey, an old-time lawyer who had leased the entire suite years ago, agreed and got the building owner to consent. Hugh charged me a reasonable fee for same; my heart could barely stand the shock, as good old Hugh had the first nickel he ever made, and all the others that followed. And they said he didn't like Italians. A fuckin' prince is good old Hugh.
I moved again, after I swore I wouldn't ever move again. I wore a suit to the new space on my first day there, as I had sworn I would never do again if I moved. As my files and Salvation Army specials came over from my basement (making me legal again), I wound up having to get my suit dry-cleaned the next day from the dust. But to hell with the dust! I got down to business.
I settled down in my dusty chair, eager to begin in a nice, new location, with colleagues I liked. My cellphone rang.
Not even bothering to see who was calling, I answered with an anticipation I hadn't felt in years. "Lou Bascom."
"Hey, fuckface, I hear you got a new office. Don't go anywhere, I got an OSC coming over in five minutes."
"Molly, my dear, thank you, it's always a pleasure."
"Tell that to Bernie Bastard at four-thirty, and tell your rat-fuck clients to get their filthy asses over there too."
Molly Cohen hung up.
Molly was the most obnoxious, abrasive, uncivil, nasty, brilliant lawyer I knew. We had beaten each other to pulp and back again on numerous occasions. The Honorable Bernardo Barcelona, Judge of the Court of General Sessions of our wonderful county, known to us and all our colleagues at the Bar as Bernie Bastard, had presided over many of those beatings.
To each such encounter he added his own inimitable mixture of disdain and abuse, as he uniformly did, regardless of the race, color, creed, sex, sexual preferences, national origin, or ancestry, of any and all of the attorneys unlucky enough to appear before him. His Honor is an equal opportunity motherfucker. He also has the lowest rate of reversal of any judge in our little corner of Our Great State. Our revered Supreme Court of Judicature loves his wrinkled old ass. And, oh yes, Bernie Bastard knows the law.
I sat back, wondering upon which client I should bestow the gladsome news. My cellphone rang again.
With no anticipation, but with a mild dread, I answered, "Lou Bascom."
"My fucking sister, that filthy fucking cunt, she should die and rot in hell! She won't give me or Joey the statements, and she threw me out when I went to see her. Call the cops."
"Peter," I replied, "we won't need the cops. I expect we'll be in court this afternoon. Are you free at four-thirty?"
"I'll be free when that fucking bitch that fell out of Momma's ass is fucking dead!" he screamed.
"Peter," I said, striving to stay calm, "is Joseph available? You should not worry yourself...."
"I shouldn't worry myself, when that miserable cunt is robbing me and my brother blind...."
Peter Capaldi was in the fast lane to becoming a customer of his family's business. Capaldi Funeral Home was the last one to let you down, if you were Italian, and even if you weren't. Many members of our town's African-American community had been served by the Capaldis. The Capaldis had done more than one twenty-four hour, plain pine box special for our Jewish neighbors. All the local clergy, and a lot of local atheists, were friends of the late Pasquale ("Patsy") Capaldi.
Now daughter Genevra ("Jenny") Capaldi Mastrantonio, who ran the business and held the essential undertaker's license, was fighting with her younger brothers, freezing them out of the business, not giving them operating statements, in breach and derogation of the written partnership agreement Patsy imposed upon his battling offspring from his deathbed.
I represented Pete and Joe. They weren't the easiest of clients, but they weren't outright villains.
After one stormy attempt at mediation by Don Vincero Reitano, my ex-brother-in-law and pillar of our community, Don Vincero washed his hands of the family, and consigned them all to a circle not even Dante had visited, with the finest, purest Italian cussing-out I had ever heard.
So hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to Court we go....
Earlier in the week, I had run into Marty Haimowitz, who represented Carlo Mastrantonio, master butcher and purveyor. Carlo, for his sins, had been married to Jenny for nearly forty years.
I heard through the grapevine Jenny had just fired Marty, because he is intelligent, hard-working, honest, and worst of all, told Jenny she was going to lose in court.
"Marty, what's new?"
"Free at last! Jenny fired me!" Marty was smiling like he won the lottery.
"How much did she burn you for?"
"Carlo sent me a check, but I can never tell her he did."
"Carlo is a saint. I don't know how he put up with her all these years."
"Maybe for the kids." Their three sons were wonderful men. I couldn't believe they were Jenny's. If I had a daughter, she could marry any one or all three, if she could promise me that none of my grandchildren would get any of Jenny's genes.
"Maybe, who knows? Anyway, wanna have a drink this evening? I'm celebrating."
"Sure. Who's your lucky successor?"
"Don't know, don't care. See you at six at the Scales."
The Scales of Justice is a dive across Bradley Square from the courthouse. Marty was so happy he bought two rounds. He should get fired more often.
I had a sinking feeling I knew who was Jenny's new attorney. This might be a giggle ... or a royal pain.
The papers arrived. They were from Molly Cohen, of course. She was representing Defendant Genevra Capaldi, a/k/a Genevra Capaldi Mastrantonio. My clients were forthwith and pending the hearing of the within motion, and until further order of this honorable Court enjoined and restrained from entering upon premises occupied by or belonging to; or impeding, obstructing, interfering, disparaging or in any way fucking with; the said Defendant Genevra Capaldi et cetera, her agents, servants, or employees; or the operation or conduct of her business, known as and by the designation, style, or trade-name Capaldi Funeral Home, Inc., a domestic corporation (hereinafter the "Corporation"). Sufficient cause appearing therefor, let the Plaintiffs Joey Jerkoff and Pete the Prick show cause before the Honorable Bernie Bastard at four-thirty why they should not be castrated, and may God have mercy on your souls, because Bernie Bastard won't.
I cleared my computer of the latest Literotica story I was reading (a writer called PennLady was just having a nubile young lady thunderously fucked by a center on the Stanley Cup-winning Washington Capitals, and I was remembering ... just as well I didn't have time to remember too much), and started my cross-motion and affidavits.
As I walked into the courtroom, papers in hand and clients trailing behind me looking like the Angel of Death and his brother, in came Molly.
She had lost some weight. Although she still resembled a barrel with breasts, she was now a few gallons less than a whole keg. Physically, that is. She had changed from her usual navy blue pinstripe suit with the wide skirt and black pantyhose to a softer, lighter blue pantsuit, which actually disclosed she had a waist. Her heels were at least an inch higher, and her hair was down at her shoulders, not pinned back in its usual bun with a chopstick through it, and washed, not its usual neglected condition.
My initial thought was, "My sweet Saviour, is someone actually fucking Molly? And when is the awards ceremony where whoever it is gets combat pay and the medal for bravery?"
My reverie was interrupted as Margarita Echeverria, Bernie Bastard's clerk, greeted me with her usual gentility. "Sit down, shut up and I'll tell the Judge you're here."
Margarita smiled. "Hello, Molly, how are you? Just wait one second."
Bernie Bastard was an equal opportunity bastard. Margarita had her favorites.
As we sat down, Jenny entered, looking like Lord Voldemort on a bad day. She sat down next to Molly, baring her teeth.
Margarita ushered us into the Judge's chambers. Bernie Bastard was not pleased that we were keeping him from his cutthroat bridge game. "Molly, you don't need to say anything. Mister Bascom, you have twenty seconds to tell me why, if your clients set foot in Capaldi's, I can't have them arrested."
"Your Honor, it's all in my papers." I handed copies to the judge and to Molly. They made a show of skimming them; Bernie tossed his on his desk after less than ten seconds.
"My temporary order remains in effect. Stay out of Capaldi's, unless you're dead, or you'll wish you were dead. Molly, serve and file any reply papers by noon tomorrow. I'll have a written decision in forty-eight hours thereafter. Now get out of here."
I knew I'd won. Molly smiled, as if she'd won. That meant she knew she'd lost. When we got outside and Molly and Jenny turned their backs on us and walked away, I told my clients we won. Of course, they thought I was full of shit and said so. I didn't care; A, I knew we won, and B, I still had money left over from the retainer they gave me.
In fact, we won so big that Jenny tried to burn down the funeral home right before Thanksgiving, but I'd warned Harry Swenson, our fire chief, to watch the place, and his guys and gals hosed it down. Unfortunately, they were so thorough in stopping the fire that any evidence of arson was washed away, so poor Jason Whittaker's client, the biggest insurance company in our part of Our Fair State, had to pay. Before Molly even served him with papers. I'm sure Molly didn't know in advance about Jenny trying to burn down the business. Molly may be a bitch, but she's definitely honest and not stupid.
When I asked Dom DiBlasio, our rough-tough DA, about the fire, he told me Swede Swenson's people hadn't left him enough evidence to convict Jenny for jaywalking. His best assistant DA was Jenny's middle son Romie (ADA Romualdo Mastrantonio), and even if Dom had evidence he couldn't have Romie anywhere near the case.
"So, anyway," I asked, "will I see you Saturday at the function?"
"How can I not go? I gotta give a speech and introduce Justice Oliviero."
"Of course, Dom, I forgot." Our branch of The Sons of Italy was giving our new Supreme Court Justice an award, and it was a command performance for the local Bar. I even sold Marty Haimowitz a ticket, after I bought us a round or two at the Scales. His wife Hannah refuses to attend any Bar functions; she says she is allergic to lawyers, and even Marty makes her itch (where, she didn't say).
Since I was going solo, as usual, I was sitting with the rabble. That was Marty, Jason Whittaker, Maria Urbino O'Callaghan the healthcare specialist (she's counsel to every nursing home in the county), Margarita (Mrs. Bernie Bastard, the formidable Consuela, wouldn't let ol' Margarita get within ten feet of Bernie Bastard without ten witnesses and an armed guard present), and Betsy Fifield from the Messenger (our daily freebie paper). There was an empty seat, and I was surprised because I had heard we'd sold out, for once.
I was even more surprised when, just before the eight-thirty kickoff, in stalked Molly Cohen and sat down next to me.
"Buona notte, Luigi," she hissed in my ear. She had skipped the cocktail reception, which was not surprising; I'd heard (bless the grapevine, well stocked with chirping little birdies) that Molly had cut down lately, which explains some things, but not all.
"Buona notte, signorina," I responded.
She had lost a little more weight. I had heard she joined the spa where my client Jere Pavelitch worked, and enlisted Jere to perform her celebrated airborne-ranger training program. It reduced many a woman to tears, but Molly hung in like a tiger, cursing a streak but working hard. And cutting down on the food and drink. When I ran into Ali MacMurtry, Jere's generously-proportioned spouse, at the Church we attend, Ali told me that Jere was impressed.
Molly had acquired an evening gown to go with her waist, which also did the impossible by flattering her boobs. Molly now looked like a semi-desirable woman. Well, well.
We were almost civil to one another during the dinner, which was excellent. Guilio Cesare Reitano, elder son of Don Vincero and owner of Tre Fontini, the best restaurant for fifty miles, catered this affair, and the food was worth the stiff ticket price. And the wine? By the second bottle (cash bar), I had mentally drafted my bankruptcy petition and the creditor matrix and was ready to file. And I must have been drunk out of my skull, because I looked at Molly. And she was smiling.
At me. And I smiled back.
Gaetano Donizetti, brother, where art thou? Had Guilio Cesare concocted a new Elisir d'Amore? I decided not to have another glass, lest I burst into Una Furtiva Lagrima and be ejected from The Sons of Italy on the grounds of blasphemy.
Dom DiBlasio made a clever but respectful speech introducing Her Honor Maggie Oliviero, and spared us the "needs no introduction" cliché. Her Honor, the daughter of a Guatemalan mother and an Italian father (who died when she was a baby), recited her up-from-poverty story (and this time we knew it was true), from public housing in the poorest town in Our Fair State to Yale Law School, to a US Court of Appeals clerkship, to a white-shoe, country-club law firm and then to a legal services clinic back where she started, all the while maintaining impeccable political credentials. Now she sitteth at the right hand of the Honorable Chief Justice Ludmilla Hedwig Kovacs, also known as The Chief MILF, who had sent her regrets. The Chief MILF had taken her utterly delectable but happily married ass to a conference someplace expensive, and was now, with other similarly exalted personages, engaged in solving the problems of the Universe, while discreetly sipping Piña Coladas.
The Honorable Maggie waxed philosophical, then magisterial; told a tasteful joke about a former Justice we all remembered (whose seat she now was taking), and sat down to a good round of applause. Jason Whittaker, urbane as always even after a bottle of Guilio Cesare's Elisir, whispered to me "She can start a new category, JILFs, Judges I'd Like to Fuck."
"Not bad, Jason," I replied. There was no Mrs. Jason; Jason said he needed variety, and no kids. Rumor said he got plenty of the former, and narrowly avoided any of the latter.
The espresso made the rounds. Molly refused hers so I had two, and we all got up to leave at once.
As we walked to the door, Molly said, "It was a really nice evening. I should go to more of these. It was nice talking to you, Lou." She walked toward the parking lot, leaving me standing still, stunned.
Marty and Jason walked up to me. "Are you ok?" Marty asked.
Jason chimed in. "You look like you're having a stroke." He held up the obligatory three fingers. "How many?"
"Jason, I'm not having anything; you're holding up three fingers. But Molly Cohen was nice to me for the first time in my life. She must be the one who's sick--or crazy."
"I noticed she didn't tell you to go fuck yourself even once, but maybe that's because we aren't in court," Marty offered.
"I doubt it," I said. "Neither time nor place ever deterred Molly. Well, doubtless she'll recover by morning and be her old dear sweet self again." And I expected Guilio Cesare would have run out of Elisir by morning, too.
I didn't see Molly for a month. She was on a major case against a Big Pharma in US District Court, where she had fought the Wall Street Brigade lined up against her to a standstill, and she was prepping for trial big-time. I occupied my time trying to make a living; I was defending two mortgage foreclosures and trying to settle a four-car pile-up that left my client paralyzed from the waist down.
I finished the month two for three. I got one foreclosure tossed out, but Bernie Bastard found for the bank in the other and my client got tossed. Need I say they didn't pay? Then the insurance company gave us a takeable offer as we finished the second day of trial in the pile-up, after Juror Number Three, the lady in the front row, was staring daggers at defendant's counsel (not Jason; this was the next-biggest insurance company, which always used high-priced, out-of-town counsel--big mistake). She was a pip, that one; I'd love to see her again--in the jury box, in my case.
I made enough to finish in front in the office rent, gas bill, taxes and groceries stakes, with a trifle in hand for wine, beer and other necessities of life.
In fact, I was so flush I stopped into Maeve O'Refferty's for two Guinnesses and a look at Maeve. "When are you gonna dump the Sarge and run away with me?" I asked as I finished the first.
Maeve grinned. "Hell hasn't frozen over yet, has it?"
"Guess not. Oh well." The Sarge was Police Sector Sergeant Dolan, her husband, and father of Megan, now the sophomore. "I'll have the second Guinness now, Maeve, if I can't have you."
Maeve was carefully building the second Guinness when Molly Cohen walked in. If ever the Wicked Witch looked radiant, Molly looked radiant.
"Hello, Lou," she said, smiling.
"Hello, Molly, how are you?" I prepared to duck off my barstool if she turned violent, or run for the Fire-and-Rescue if she had a fit. This was not the Molly I knew. Guilio Cesare's Elisir d'Amore should have worn off by now, no?
"They settled. We had to sign a ten-page confidentiality agreement, so I can't say anything."
"Congratulations. Great job."
"Thanks. What's good here?" This proved what I already knew, that Molly had never set foot in O'Refferty's before; she probably had never been in Germantown before. I wondered how she found the place.
Then the light went on. She was looking for O'Refferty's. To celebrate? She was looking for O'Refferty's because she was looking for me, to celebrate with me? You gotta be kidding!
I should explain. I am no girl's dream. I am an elderly widower. Since my darling Rosabella had died two years ago, I had not been with a woman. There was little prospect I would be with any woman, ever. Yeah, I go work out at a cheap gym, not the high-priced place where Jere tortures Molly, but I'm no Mr. Universe, more like Mr. Outer Space. And my economic prospects are far from brilliant. So why was Molly here?