This is part three of the 18th in this series of those not accepted by journals for publication.
Like I said, I’m not a prude, but I tapped my only once puffed image Roy-Tan on the ash tray and made a quick head and eye move toward my laptop to type her name and statement. While I did my 60 wpm on the keyboard, she sat where I’d asked her to when she came in. Feeling safe to not blush out, I looked up and gave myself a 100% pay raise saying, “My fee is $135 per hour with a minimum of $270 plus travel expenses and $1000 up front.”
As she continued with a few more details, her smooth but husky voice and vocabulary confirmed she was from the south. The tiny Wellesley pendant on the silver chain where I shouldn’t have been looking indicated she was well educated or had the right things for a resume` if she needed. Other than vocabulary, she sounded somewhat the same as a USO girl I’d dated once when I was taking some specialized training at Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
“By policy,” I told her, “I do a short background study on my clients before taking a case. The cost is on me.”
Well, it was a hunch-generated situationally created new policy. I’d not thought about having a policy because including the parking lot incident, this would be only my fourth request for service. Two of the other three had likely to-never-be-paid balances.
I returned one of the bills to her. “If I decide to not take your case Mrs. Gibson you get $730 back, if I do, it’s under the conditions I told you. I’ll contact you.”
She wrote a phone number and E-mail on the back of one of my business cards saying, “If you’re Clay, I’m Cassie. She left, but the Shalimar took its time mingling with the hint of Roy-Tan moved by the overhead fan in the poorly ventilated office space. I realized after she walked out that I’d been so excited about getting a real case that I didn’t get her address. Well one could seriously question the real excitement trigger. But she had told me about making a purchase downstairs.
Mrs. Fender told me it was a cash purchase, but she said, “The lady left a phone number in case I get another 78 like she bought. Why did you want her address? Is she a client?”
“She is,” I told her, then excused myself and stepped outside.
It didn’t take long to discover Cassie’s basic background and current economic status. I found Casandra and Carver Gibson’s address in a direct lookup web page. A further search showed Carver to be VP of one of the many startup tech companies in the area. I took a drive. The gated single-family home and yard overlooking the river was larger than Hemenway’s Finca Vigía I’d visited once when in Cuba.
I called the number she’d written on my card. It went to dial tone after five rings. Then I called the number Mrs. Fender had given me and left a voice message. Little did I know that my fourth case would take a turn no one could have expected.
Just after our meeting at the office, Cassie had E-mailed me a list of events and places where I might observe her ‘solid waste extruding body part’ former husband. (Well, those are my words – not what she actually said with very much emphasis.) The first event where I could observe him without logging significant mileage was their daughter Melissa’s high school graduation ceremony the first Friday in June. I surmised that the daughter’s graduation would be like the alleged Christmas cease fire during World War One. Former Mr. and Mrs. would exchange pleasantries for an hour or so then go back to their trenches locked and loaded.
I went out on a limb and dipped into my survival ‘if necessary’ account and bought a professional digital camera with two spare lenses. Except for updating the office and adjacent living space, the twenty-five-hundred and change was more than I’d spent on anything since buying the Miata. Grandpa would forgive me from the grave, and I’ll forgive myself too when I pay it back from c-gibs@got$.com’s still unwritten contract.