the other day i was thinking that this storyline would make a good tv show - in part because a lot of the lawyer stuff is inspired by suits. and this would be the show's theme song.
i really like this story. let's hope the polybot doesn't get me.
I sat in the uncomfortable wooden seat, tapping my pen on the fold-away table in front of me. People were beginning to file into the lecture hall, but I was the first person here.
It felt like so long since I’d done this. And I felt like I didn’t know how it worked any more. Would we talk? Would he sit next to me? Were we still going to be friends? Does it really have to be awkward, the first time you see someone after they’ve banged the living hell out of you?
As I sat there, overthinking it, someone cleared there throat next to me. I looked up sharply, and saw Wilson standing on the step, glancing down at me.
“Can I sit?” he asked quietly. I nodded, moving my legs to the side so he could pass by me. There was a minute of silence as he got his books out, and I waited for him to say something.
“How was your weekend?”
That was it? He was going to ask me how my weekend was, instead of addressing the big sexy elephant in the room?
“It was fine,” I said, shrugging. “Just reading and... well. More reading.”
He laughed. “Do you ever get out?”
“Only on Tuesdays.”
There was an awkward pause just as the professor walked in, loudly setting up at the front of the room. He flipped through pages in a book on the lectern, finding his place for the lecture.
Wilson shifted next to me. “Look, about last week...”
“People v. Williams,” Gilmore bellowed from the front of the classroom, interrupting our conversation. “Case details, please.”
I suffered through the next two hours of dry case law and continual hints of a pop quiz next week, desperately wanting to leave. Not because of the coursework – I didn’t mind it that much. Not even because of the insufferable Professor Gilmore. But because the tension between Wilson and I was more than I could stand, and I didn’t even know if it was there. I could have been inventing it completely, and he was unaware. How was I meant to address that? Ask ‘hey, is it weird that you spent last Tuesday night giving me multiple orgasms and now we’re sitting here like nothing happened?’
The thing was, it would have been easier if the sex was bad. We both would have avoided each other, and we would never need to acknowledge it ever happened. But the fact that it was good meant that there were questions. What now? Do we do it again? If so, so we do it as friends, or something more?
“You’re giving that pen a workout,” Wilson murmured. I’d been chewing on it absentmindedly as I mulled over my sex life. I smiled sheepishly, placing it back down on my book as we listened to the last ten minutes of the lecture. We both packed up hurriedly and made our way outside, standing outside the classroom in silence.
“Do we need to talk about... it, or not?” he asked.
I hugged my books to my chest, a little surprised. “Well, uh... yeah, probably.”
“Okay, um...” he bit his top lip and looked away. “I can’t now, I have... I have to go...”
“Wait, aren’t you staying for Methods?”
Wilson shook his head, walking away quickly. I stood there, thoroughly confused and slightly offended. Before class, he’d seemed like he wanted to discuss it... to come to some agreement. And now he didn’t. What had changed in the two hours? It was making my head spin. And I hated being thrown for a loop.
“Gentlemen,” Jonathan said smoothly, leaning back in his chair and holding out his hands. It was a classic lawyer move, meant to intimidate the opponents, like he had an ace up his sleeve. There were six men from the insurance company sitting across from us, all shooting us stern, serious looks. In reality, they all looked exactly the same. I thought Cleary Gottlieb was homogenous, but these guys really were something else.
Our team, half their size, was Jonathan – a mostly cookie-cutter attorney, if the cookie had been a tiny bit deformed on the way out of the oven. There was the plaintiff Peter Schmidt – ridiculously rich, with the eccentricities that the wealthy liked to cultivate (like undiagnosed Tourettes and a penchant for cravats). And then there was me. My differing quality being that I had a vagina.
We were sitting in one of the firm’s most impressive conference rooms, sporting a view out to Lady Liberty. I’d taken to orange ferry-spotting while I was here, but the serious tone in the air drew me back to reality for the first few minutes of the meeting, at least.
“I take your presence as a hint that you want to offer a settlement,” Jonathan said, now leaning forward and resting his forearms on the table. The insurance clones looked stoic.
“$20,000 with no admission of guilt,” one of them piped up.
Jonathan looked at the client, who raised his eyebrows for a few seconds, before also leaning forward and staring down our opposition.
“$20,000? Twenty fucking thousand? Do you know how much that is for me? That’s a fucking day... that’s less than a day, you fuckwits. That’s pocket change. You know, I’m dying of the rarest fucking disease known to man, or whatever, I don’t give a shi.t about what $20,000 would do for me. I care about what you’re going to do to the next poor fucking soul who gets this disease and is going to die in their shi.thole of a living room because they can’t afford a fucking hospital bed.”
He continued, as the other party finally showed a little emotion, looking shocked and maybe a little ratteld. “I’m a rich old as.shole, nobody’s feeling sorry for me, but what if this young thing was in the same situation?” he asked, pointing to me. “A part-time worker with ridiculous college debt. A pretty girl who’s hung out to dry by her insurance company, well... that’d get some sympathy, right? So I’m just saving you the disappointment when she laughs in your face and telling you that you can take your $20,000 and –”
“That’s enough, Peter,” Jonathan said, placing his hand on the client’s arm. He shut up immediately, but the effect of his words still lingered in the air.
One of the suits stood up, and the rest followed, buttoning up their jackets. “Well,” the lead one said, clearing his throat. “This has been enlightening.”
As soon as they left, we packed up and left the meeting room, discussing the case as we walked down the hall.
“I think it’s obvious that they’re going to throw as much money as they can afford at you before they ever admit guilt,” Jonathan told Peter.
“Good. So they either go bankrupt, or they admit they’re guilty and change their policies. They can throw me $100,000,000, I don’t give a fuck.”
Jonathan stopped walking, looking serious. “You realise that this is going to take a long time, Peter. Maybe more time than you have.”
“Then let it be my legacy. Getting stuck with this fuckery of a disease has given me a new perspective. Don’t roll your eyes at me, dipshi.t. I’m not going to let them do this to people who can’t afford it.”
We continued walking to the reception area, sending Peter home to wash his mouth out with soap. Over the past few weeks, I’d grown a bit of a rapport with him – Peter, Jonathan and I, when we weren’t in the company of others, were free to throw around as many bad words as we wanted to and be completely open about the case. So when I was quiet, Peter stared me down.
“The fuck is wrong with you?” he asked.
I crossed my arms in front of me defensively. “I’m here because I want to be a lawyer, and I want to be taken seriously. I don’t appreciate you hypothesising me as a weak, pretty victim when I’m doing as much work as anyone else.”
He nodded, placing his hands on his hips. “You know, I understand that, but what you don’t get is that you’re in a room with eight men, and things aren’t as equal as you would like them to be. I guarantee you every one of those insurance geeks checked you out, and if you want to ignore that instead of using it to your advantage, then you’re a lot fucking dumber than I thought you were.”
“Oh, go get a horrible rare disease and die,” I said, rolling my eyes.
Peter winked. “That’s my girl.” He shook hands with both Jonathan and I and strode out of the office, leaving us in his wake. We went back behind the doors that separated the attorneys from the real people together.
“Though he is right,” Jonathan said, “keep standing up for yourself. Especially here.”