Death Becomes Him

I’ve arrived at a decision re: continuing to date Carson, notwithstanding his tainted marital and parental status. Unfortunately, an innocent party had to lose his life in the process.

Quick re-cap: Two weeks ago, my overwhelming desire for love, companionship, and eventual Monique Lhuillier fittings prevailed over doomsday predictions emanating from my brain’s left hemisphere. In other words, I accepted Carson’s offer to a third date of watching the BCS National Championship game over dinner and drinks.

Despite my ambivalence—or perhaps because of it—we had a great time. By the game’s end, the reality of our compatibility hit me with the same intensity as the Gatorade jug that practically decapitated Nick Saban. The evening resulted in our first work-night sleepover—a relationship milestone that I normally celebrate.

The following Friday evening, I invited my two best law school girlfriends over for drinks. My agenda: Continued discussion of The Situation. And by that, I’m not referring to Mike from Jersey Shore.

Rather than rehash the exhausting, overly analytical session that ensued, let’s just say the night ended with more concerns raised than resolved. In law school, they teach you how to think like a lawyer. Unfortunately, we females already think like women. Adding the two together often results in an extremely toxic mental environment, which helps explain the analysis paralysis brought on by my girls’ night.

Thankfully, the remainder of the weekend promised some necessary, albeit unpleasant, distraction. Plaintiff’s deposition in a messy fraud and quiet title case was noticed up for Monday morning. The case’s six-count complaint reads like a low-rent parody of The Sopranos—and its caption contains about as many Italian surnames as the cast list.

The allegations in the case go something like this: The plaintiff needed cash because the IRS had come knocking over several years’ worth of unpaid taxes on his auto transmission business. He went to his nephew (who testified at his own deposition that he has never held a paying job, lives off money “gifted” to him by family members, and hasn’t had a bank account in 15 years because he prefers to do his business “in cash”) for help.

The plaintiff revealed to his nephew that he wanted to refinance three commercial properties that he owned. The nephew responded by passing himself off as a mortgage broker. The plaintiff gave his nephew the files for the three properties, and a few weeks later, his nephew said he had found some interested investors. At some point thereafter, the deal unraveled and the plaintiff said he didn’t want to refinance.  But rather than letting the files for the three properties burn a hole in his pocket, the nephew continued to hold himself out to the investors as acting on his uncle’s behalf, and he sold the three properties and pocketed the cash.

My role in the drama? The title insurer of one of the properties retained a partner I work for to protect its interests in the case.  Which means that once every two weeks, I’m forced to appear in court with the bottom-feeding solo practitioners who represent the other parties.  The nephew himself showed up for one of the early statuses wearing the pants from a Deion Sanders-style pinstriped suit and slicked down curly black hair, and I swear on my life that as I approached the bench, he gave me a once-over and mouthed, “How you doin’?”

The plaintiff’s lawyer apparently thinks that a worn leather bomber jacket counts as a suit coat, and two of the other lawyers have the kind of breath that smells like they’re exhaling cigarette smoke in your face—classy guys that make the legal profession proud.

In any event, the partner I work for on the case is the type that goes MIA the minute he hands an associate the file. So on Saturday, I had to bring him up to speed and show him the dep outline that I’d written for him.  Then I had to spend Sunday making his edits and organizing his exhibits. Complicating things even further, my firm was the only one involved with a conference room large enough to accommodate its lengthy cast of haphazard characters, so we were hosting the deposition.

After a near-sleepless weekend, I dragged myself into the office at 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning to put out any last minute fires and get things set up. At that point, the prognosis for Carson looked dire, thanks to my stress and fatigue-induced negative state of mind.

By 9:30, our conference room—the largest one, with the sleek marble table and an expansive view of Lake Michigan—looked like an extras call for a Scorsese film. While the court reporter administered the oath, I noticed that the plaintiff looked a little pale and uncomfortable. But I chalked it up to the polyester auto mechanic jacket he was wearing—not to mention the fact that there were about ten lawyers waiting to question him over the course of the next few days.

Two hours later, counsel for a relatively uninvolved co-defendant was only halfway done fumbling through his outline. The only alert things in the room were the court reporter’s fingers. I kept myself awake by observing the plaintiff, whose visible agitation and discomfort continued to increase. I found it really odd, since the questions being asked at that point were totally routine. In fact, the plaintiff’s attorney had only objected once or twice. In the middle of an answer, the plaintiff started having a coughing fit and asked for a break. He weakly poured himself a glass of water and stepped out into the hall with his attorney.

Questioning resumed a few minutes later. Despite the break and the water, the plaintiff’s pallor had worsened. There was a brief silence while everyone looked over a new exhibit that had just been passed out. Suddenly, the plaintiff pushed back his chair and stood up. He looked so disoriented that no one said anything for a moment.

Then he collapsed on the floor.

All of the lawyers in the room stared at the plaintiff motionlessly (please refer to the aforementioned “analysis paralysis”), probably trying to figure out the legal ramifications of the situation. One guy shouted, “Let the record reflect that the plaintiff has collapsed.”

Thank god our paralegal was in the room at that moment (I don’t think I have ever said that before in my entire life) because she was the only one thinking like a human instead of like a lawyer. She grabbed the phone in the corner of the conference room and called 9-1-1.

The nephew was the first to rush out of the room. The plaintiff’s lawyer shouted, “Everybody else out!” He then ordered my partner to remain in the room with the plaintiff because he needed to call the plaintiff’s wife and his cell phone didn’t work in the conference room.

I returned back to my office in a bit of a daze. I was too keyed up to sit in there alone. Had there been no Carson, I would’ve had to call my mom. Gratefully, I called Carson’s extension, and he sat with me while I waited for an update.

Twenty minutes later, my partner entered. Without acknowledging Carson, he told me that the plaintiff had suffered a massive heart attack.  When the paramedics arrived, he didn’t have a pulse. Right before leaving my office, he requested that I research the Illinois Dead Man’s Act, along with the oft chance there might be any published cases involving an analogous situation.

A man had just DIED. In our conference room. Right in front of our eyes—during his own deposition, no less—and he was able to think about legal research?!?

Carson announced that we were taking the rest of the day off. “I can tell that you need to decompress.”

Outside the office, he hailed a cab and asked the driver to take us to The Drake Hotel. My eyes lit up—I had recently told him about my excessive love for its old-fashioned, clubby piano bar with a French name that basically translates to “The Golden Cock.” He assumed without needing to ask that it was exactly where I wanted to go.

Over the course of the next three hours, we plowed through several of their enormous drinks (they serve about 6 ounces of liquor in a little carafe, a larger carafe of the mixer, and a highball glass full of ice). He listened and contributed as I aired all of the existential terror brought up by the morning’s events. It was tremendously wonderful.

The next morning, I awoke in his apartment—work-night sleepover #2!—and knew without a shadow of a doubt that I would be giving this relationship the green light.

Death comes knocking whenever it feels like it—even when you’re right in the middle of trying to clear up title to your earthly possessions, your wife isn’t there, you’re surrounded by god-awful lawyers, and you’re under oath in a deposition.

Time is precious, nobody’s perfect, and I’ve already learned that requited love and affection are rare. In short, I’m going to give this a try.

  • Cheryl

    One guy shouted, “Let the record reflect that the plaintiff has collapsed.”
    So funny.  So lame.

  • KateLaw

    That line cracked me up too!  I am glad she’s giving this a go.. even if it took someone dying for her to have a little faith in a thing called love

  • Craig

    I think your articles are far better when you don’t get the guy in the end.  And that was the most boring set up ever for an equally boring ending.  Not your finest work here. (Sorry for being so harsh. The article was just that boring and pointless.) Lone bright spot was obviously the guy dying in front of everybody and nobody moving a muscle.

  • Evil Lawyer

    Thank you for the new post: its was better than 162″s dashboard, despite your disdain for worn bomber jackets. Carson is a keeper-trust us.

  • BL1Y

    I agree with Craig, you spent way too much time giving irrelevant details about the case.  And who the hell gets a marble conference table?  Sounds like a firm that’s more concerned with looking impressive than doing impressive work.

  • Magic Circle Jerk

    Nice to see that you have some perspective. Good piece

  • R Smith

    The big story: its now highly likely that they’ve been “made.” The partner must be wondering why Carson was there, sitting with LF10. Why LF 10 was gone when he came to ask if some remarks were a dying declaration. Maybe an excited utterance. Why Carson was gone when he went to see if he knew where LF10 was.  Were they spotted as they hailed a cab near lunch time?  As firm secretaries buzzed over the “dead man in a depo,” one had to wonder aloud “what was Carson doing there?” When nosy people went to Carson’s office to get an answer to that suddenly interesting question or ask ask him about DeadMan, who could not notice that LF10 was gone too?  Did secretaries call LF10’s cell or house when she was at the Drake? And Carson’s?  If they did and there was no answer at both places, is Carson hiding that from LF10 so she won’t be nervous?  What did both say when asked “Where were you both yesterday?” Who would believe a denial?  Did they hold hands at the depo? Make any physical contact however fleeting? Will LF10 be able to quiet the gossip and watchful eyes?  Will her partner share his suspicions with other partners?  Will nosy secretaries undertake a stealthy effort to stake out Carson’s apartment on weekends?  Does Lf10 have an office rival who will use this to poison L10’s status with partners? Will Guano Dubango go to the Drake to drink?  Will BL1Y be hired at LF10’s firm now that they are touted as a “Plaintiff killer?”

  • BL1Y

    Do you really get the rest of the day off just because someone, not related to the firm in any meaningful way, happens to die?  When I was a summer associate we had to evacuate our building because there was an explosion outside (big enough to launch asphalt over 600ft in the air), and no one was sure what the cause was (we sat over a major subway/LIRR line, so terrorism wasn’t out of the question). While walking down the 30+ flights of stairs, partners will on their blackberries, giving out assignments.

  • R Smith

    When someone inconsiderately drops dead in the same room, its not an outside event impacting all equally. A fire alarm, elevator outage or threat induced evacuation is not a death. People brood after deaths.

  • BL1Y

    Smith: The death of a person not related to you, who you’ve only known for about 2 hours is as much an “outside event” as a massive explosion some 50 yards away that sends pieces of street smashing against your building (my window was completely opaque from the debris for the remainder of the summer) can also lead to brooding.  But, I don’t recall anyone from my office using that as an opportunity to skip out and play “ignore the salami” with a coworker.  (Btw, the explosion did kill someone…oddly enough, also from a heart attack.)

  • R Smith

    BL1y: You may have located an issue where you are more of a douche than me.  People in general couldn’t use it to bail. But someone dying in the same room would affect me. Even as I immediately wondered if anyone would miss the piaget on his wrist or the older mont blanc fountain pen with gold and silver inlays that fell to the floor, I’d ponder the life’s effort that expired. As I thought about how to bill for time spent answering questions about it, I’d wonder about the dreams and security of kids or spouses that died with him.  Hoping he woud not lose sphincter control in my conference room, I’d wonder if he lived with passion, or was a sour crabbed CPA type; if he was mean to waiters, if he ever sat by the ocean and listened to seagulls.  Maybe its just me.

  • BL1Y

    Maybe you would take some time to ponder what type of life he’d had, and consider the worth of your own life.  But if you were actually distraught, would you run off to play hanky panky with some girl you’re only kinda maybe sorta interested in?

  • Bill

    I would not care.  This fellow Carson may have gotten OK sex from this woman, but he has to listen to all of this?  Mon Dieu!  That mouth won’t shut up.  Zip it, Beeotch.  It’s not worth it for any guy to have to put up with this crap. Like Jaye Lenno says:  A man prostitute charges $50 to kiss a woman like this; $100 to have sex with her; and $200 to listen to her.  Personally, that would be too cheap.  We do not care about all these details.  Carson may have humped you, but trust me, he does NOT want to listen to you!  Or put another way, “ Shut your mouth and open your mouth.”

  • Anonymous

    I think R Smith makes a number of good points.  I do think people will start wondering about LF10, now that her demeanor will be different.  Women tend to be a lot calmer after they start getting sex.  (Less hysteria now thta their hymens are getting massaged), though look out if Carson stops paying attention to her.  I think Carson spent to buckaroos for a room at the Drake b/c he probably had tell tale signs of another babe at his own apartment.  It wouldn’t be cool for him to bring this woman home to find a bunch of dirty linen laying around with some empty condom wrappers on the bedstand.  He also spared us the need to have to read about this.  I think LF10 should make sure she limits the talking going forward.  No guy wants to hear about everything.

  • CSM

    You think that’s bad BL1Y?  At my old firm, there was a bomb threat at my building.  The firm, in its infinite wisdom decided that it was not credible and was not something that should interrupt anyone’s billing, so we didn’t even find out about it until the end of the day and after the rest of the builidng had been advised to evacuate.

  • Alma Federer

    I am so much smarter than LF10.  And probably a lot prettier, too.  I also think she has become verbose.  Men and women tire easily reading this long, dull stuff.  Get to the point, next time!

  • Evil Lawyer

    Alma Federer: You are too jaded.  she and Carson are obviously in the giddy phase:  everything the other does is facinating.  Later some things become irritating, but they are miles from that.  She also has a multi-dimensional approach to men that you sadly lack: she’s with a divorced man with a kid and an as yet unmet ex-wife.  He remembers what she likes. Whisks her off for an afternoon.  Sits with her when she’s upset.  Do you inspire that type of loyalty?

  • Alma Federer

    Evil:  I have men who remain very loyal to me; even after I am no longer close to them.  These are men who wanted to marry me, but I did not want to marry them.  I have learned that you cannot be too easy with men, or they will run all over you after they have their way with you.  I am looking for a man who will respect and adore me and I am interested in having a family as well as a part-time law career.  That is my goal.  If LF10 can learn something it is not to expect too much from this or any other man.  Otherwise she will be disappointed.

  • Evil Lawyer

    Alma: You can’t measure your worth by the number of men you trample underfoot.  When I say “loyal,” I don’t mean people that want to sleep with you after you’ve ended it. Or men that want to marry you who do not interest you.  I mean men on a roughly equal level, that go out of their way to keep you after sleeping with you. Because they like you.  Enough to listen to someone pratter on for hours at the Drake hotel in the afternoon, because they like hearing your voice. Because you have some habit-twisting a fork, moving you eyes at a certain time, misprouncing a word–that they think is fetching. The kind of loyalty that made Mrs Strauss stay on the Titanic; that made the two in the greek fable want to die together.  Do you have the slightest idea of what this is?

  • traveling xBL3Y

    Hey BL1Y, are you talking about the steam pipe explosion on 41st? Damn, I almost forgot about that.  I had my car that day so I just booked it out of the city.  I think most at my firm bailed for the rest of the day.

  • Lisa

    Good call, Law Firm 10!  I’m happy to hear that Carson is a go.  Looking forward to the updates!
    Now if only that Matt Richardson would find a nice girl and settle down…