This is the first chapter of my book. Enjoy. I will take any criticism!
It was a sunny day in Chicago, Illinois. I was dressed in one of my best suits, my driver was waiting outside with my usual breakfast of a bagel and coffee, black. I am a tremendous corporate lawyer. My clients are usually big companies, who knowingly told lies and got caught in that lie with no explanation for their horrible actions. I am so good at my job, I have one of the best spots in Chicago, my own practice, and my name is the only one on the wall. I am the only senior partner, and I want it to stay that way for all the added benefits, is I am well-known and well sought after and I only take the critical, high paying jobs that keep me in my lifestyle.
As I stepped into the backseat, I say nod my head to the driver, who is holding the door open for me. I see my breakfast sitting in front of my seat, scoff and grab my coffee after setting my briefcase down on the floor. I wait for the driver to enter the vehicle. As soon as he is inside, I clear my throat to get the driver’s attention.
“Driver, never place my coffee on the seat in front of my seat. I can’t afford to spill my coffee on my lap as I am climbing in. Got it?” I ask to confirm he understands me.
“Yes, sir. I apologize for not paying attention to that,” said the driver.
I sit back and roll my eyes as I listen to the driver’s apology. I look over to my left after the driver is done apologizing. I see a magazine laying there. I reach for the magazine and start to speak to the driver.
“Also, don’t…” I stop in mid-sentence as I flip the magazine over to see the cover. It is this month’s Chicago Lawyers. I grin to myself, and ignore the driver leaving the magazine there. I look down over the magazine and there I am, arms crossed, a handsome smile and I think back to that day I took these photos for this cover story on me and the firm.
I knew I was going to be in the magazine this month, but time has gone by so fast, I forgot today was the day they were printing and selling it. I decided to flip through the pages as the driver bobs and weaves through traffic making our way to my office downtown. By the time, we reached the office, I was done with my breakfast and half way through the cover story and I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear.
The driver pulls up to the outside of the office, I watch the driver jump out of the driver’s seat and runs to the back-passenger side to open the door for me. I step out of the car, magazine and briefcase in hand, and I begin to walk to the door, eager to get inside and finish reading this article. As the doorman opens the door for me, a person in a hooded sweater rushes out and bumps into me, causing me to stumble slightly, and they offered no apology.
“Well, excuse you,” I yell after the stranger, who in turn ignores me.
I walk over to the elevator and climb on when it opens. Once the elevator reaches the floor of my office’s, I step off the elevator and immediate go to my office saying nothing to anyone.
“Hello, Mr. Smith,” says Mrs. Taylor, my secretary.
“Hello, Mrs. Taylor. How was your night?” I step in close to her and grab her behind, pulling her in for a passionate kiss.
“It was a long lonely night without you,” whispers Mrs. Taylor.
“I bet it was,” I say. I move around my desk to my office chair, behind my desk and sit down. I set the magazine down on my desk and flip to the page I was reading. I notice Mrs. Taylor is watching my every move. I take a few deep breaths to calm my desire for her.
“Do we have any new cases or any new calls,” I ask, as I continue to stare at the magazine, pretending not to notice her gaze.
“There was this box on the main secretary desk this morning. Not sure what it is but it is addressed to you,” she says.
I look up from the magazine and stare at the box, Mrs. Taylor was holding that I didn’t seem to have noticed it earlier. She set the box down in front of me on the magazine. She moves to sit down in a chair opposite of me, and we both look at the box with curiosity and caution. I look up at Mrs. Taylor, then I decide to open the box, but I do it with some hesitation. I rip the tape in one quick motion, then pop the top open. Instead of reaching my hand in, I dump the contents out on the desk. Mrs. Taylor and I look at each other and I double check the box, making sure there was nothing inside stuck, then I toss the box in the direction of the trach can. I look back over the contents that came out of the box, I take note of everything that is there, a few stacks of hundred-dollar bills, a letter and a USB drive. Mrs. Taylor reaches for the letter and begins to read out loud:
“Derek, I hope this covers your lawyer fees to help, Mike Mackenzie. He is currently on death row, for a crime he didn’t commit, I can’t tell you how I know. I have included a USB with his file on it. Please help him for he doesn’t belong where he is at. This is a time-sensitive issue; he will be executed in a few days.”
As she was reading the letter, I was turning that name, Mike Mackenzie in my head trying to recall where I know it from. “That name sounds familiar. It doesn’t say who it is from?” I ask her.
Mrs. Taylor flips the letter over then back to the front and says, “no.”
After sifting through the other contents, I take the piles of cash and stuff them into my desk and turn to Mrs. Taylor. “Bring the rest of the stuff to Matthews.”
“Ok,” says Mrs. Taylor as she grabs the USB and letter and leaves the room. I go back to my story in Chicago Lawyers. I lean back in my chair, toss my feet on the desk and continue to read. Then there was a knock on the door. I look up, then quickly take my feet off the desk, straighten my suit and yell, “come in.” In walks Matthew, followed by Mrs. Taylor. I lean back in my chair again.
“Good morning, Matthew,” I say with a hint of annoyance. I wish I could just finish this article!
“Hello Derek,” rushes Matthew. “How do you expect me to do this case that was sent to you when I have my workload to worry about?”
“Well, I need to stay open in case something more important comes up,’ I respond to Matthew with no difference in my voice, trying to let my annoyance to Matthew’s tone of voice not be noticed.
“What can be more important than getting some guy off death row?” argues Matthew, raising his voice.
“A high paying client, who messes up and needs me to clean up the mess and pays more,’ I answer him.
Matthew glares at me, huffing then stares at Mrs. Taylor, then back to me. He rolls his eyes at me and storms out of the room, slamming the door behind him. Mrs. Taylor and I look at each other, and I shrug my shoulders then I pick up the magazine, once again, put my feet up and continue reading where I left off.
* * *
After sitting around the office for a few hours, handling a few small things here or there, Mrs. Taylor and I decided to take an early lunch. I was digging in my desk for the cash I stored in there earlier and putting them in my wallet and placing it back in my pocket when Matthew storms into my office.
“Derek, you need to come with me to meet the judge on this case you gave me,” says Matthew.
“Can it wait?” I ask him.
“No!” yells Matthew.
I swing around and look at Matthew, “what the hell is wrong with you?”
“This man’s life depends on us if he is innocent, that is what the hell is wrong with me, and you don’t give a damn about him,’ says Matthew before walking out shaking his head. “Be there at two pm; we are meeting Judge Frank.”
I stop to think what he could possibly mean by that, I care, I gave him the case, so he can get credit and build his reputation. If that isn’t caring, then I don’t know what is. I roll my eyes and go back to placing my wallet in my pocket. Mrs. Taylor walks in ready to go to lunch.
“What was that all about?” she asks.
“I apparently need to be with him to meet the judge,” I state, slightly annoyed with the situation.
“Oh ok,” she says. “Does that mean we are having a short lunch break?”
“Yeah, unless we pick a place closer to the courtroom,” I say.
* * *
I reluctantly meet Matthew outside of Judge Frank’s office. I see Thomas, a lawyer I have always won against and has it out for me, waiting outside too. We walk up to Thomas, and we nod to Thomas and he nods back, but now words were said. The judge opens his door and invites us all in.
“Gentlemen, what can I do for you today?” asked the judge, directing his question to anyone.
“I would like to postpone the execution of Mike Mackenzie,” answers Matthew.
“Why is that?” replies the judge.
“Because we have reason to believe that he was set up,” answers Matthew, who looks behind him and notices me sitting down, and checking my hands and nails for any hang nails and lacking interest of the conversation. Matthew turns back to the judge.
“What reason do you have to re-open MY case?” demands Thomas, directing his question toward me. I continue to stay out of the conversation, and Matthew answers.
“We received a letter and a USB driver with a few pictures and some articles that suggest that maybe he was set up,” says Matthew, while pulling the letter and USB out of his brief case and handing them to the judge.
“I doubt any of that information is accurate. Mike is a killer; He deserves to be on death row for killing his girlfriend and nothing to prove otherwise. The can’t even recall where he was that night and with all the evidence pointing to him, you have no case or proof to re-open this,” states Thomas.
“We would just like the chance, sir to see if this could lead in this direction. We received this information this morning in an unmarked box dropped off asking us to look into this,” pleads Matthew.
“Sir, this man abused a woman; tied her up; and sent her over a cliff to her death, and they a fingerprint to prove he did it,” says Thomas, matter-of-factly.
“Sir, didn’t you find that a little strange that the biggest evidence against this man is the fact that there was only the one fingerprint there?” asked Matthew. I look up, staring at the judge, waiting for an answer.
“Well, that doesn’t seem like much of a case against him,” mutters the judge.
“This is bull-shit!” says Thomas.
“Alright Matthew and Derek, I’ll give you 24 hours. I can’t postpone the execution without any real evidence. But if you come to me with something real, I will postpone it,” decides Judge Frank.
In a rage, Thomas stomps out of the room, with Matthew and myself right behind him. Once outside of the judge’s office, Thomas spins around and glares at me.
“Smith, what the fuck is your problem?” demanded Thomas.
“Nothing, like Matthew said himself, we just got this information this morning asking us to review the information,” I say shrugging my shoulders and shifting my stance and checking my watch, letting him know that I don’t care for his dramatic actions towards me.
“No wonder you are here,” say Thomas. “This mysterious package was for you Derek, not Matthew; you just gave it to your dog to do the work, because you can’t be bothered with anything so small as a man’s life. You don’t feel this case is worth it.” Thomas chuckles at us, turns then begins to walk away, “well Derek, I doubt you will give a shit to find anything because you don’t care.”
I watch as Thomas walks away, and I start to wonder, do I not care? Matthew said it earlier, and now this guy of all people. Someone who has fought against me and lost. Why would he say I don’t care? My clients are people, they need me to do what I do, they need me to win, isn’t that caring? I look over at Matthew, who was watching me.
“Give me that damn file,” I mutter to Matthew, who seem to have read my mind and had the file in my hand before I finished the sentence. Matthew gives me a pat on the back.
“Let’s bring him down,” says Matthew, I look at him and nod in agreement.
* * *
After taking the file from Matthew, I head straight to my office, instead of meeting with Mrs. Taylor in our usual after lunch spot, at a hotel for our daily fun. Once I get back to the office, I upload all information from the USB onto my computer, and begins to look over everything. After reviewing the information, I decided the first thing I needed to do was visit the man on death row, Mike. I need to see if there is anything he could get from him about the fact that Thomas said he couldn’t even really tell anyone where he was that night.
I arrived at the jail and was escorted into a visitation room where Mike was waiting for me. Mike, 29 with an athletic build, unkempt hair and a distant look on his face turns to me and a sense of recognition shows in his eye.
“Hello, Mike. I’m Derek Smith, your new attorney,” I say as I walk to the chair across from Mike. “I want to hear your side of the story. Can you tell me what happened?”
Mikes looks away from me and starts to rock back and forth, shaking his head. Mike looks back at me with a frightened look.
“I didn’t do it,” whispers Mike.
“What didn’t you do?” I am him, leaning on the table trying to hear what Mike was saying.
“I said it loud and clear,’ yells Mike.
“Mike, can you calm down and tell me what it is you’re talking about?” I ask him, trying to keep up with the conversation.
“You should know, you were there. I swear you heard me. Why didn’t you listen to me?” pleads Mike.
I straighten my stance and reach for the chair next to me, so I can sit down, thinking this was going to be a long conversation and a very confusing one. The noise of the chair against the floor startles Mike. Mike jumps up from his chair and throws my papers that were on the table between us and slides under the table. I instantly stop moving the chair. The guards come rushing in, trying to push me out of the room to safety.
“Stop! Nothing happened. I am okay,” I yell to the guards.
“Are you sure sir?” asked one of the guards, closes to me.
“Yes I am sure,” I say. I look over at Mike, “shit. I’m sorry Mike. I didn’t mean to scare you. I’m going to finish pulling this seat out now.” I proceed to pull the chair out, and Mike eyes me from under the table. I start to sit down, then suddenly, Mike flies from under the table and yells at me.
“Smith, why didn’t you fucking listen to me, Corporal?” yells Mike.
I stare at Mike confused, “what? Mike…”
“Corporal, I gave you instructions not to go back. I told you not to do what you did. As your Sergeant, I should have died not you!” whimpers, Mike. Mike sits back down in his chair and goes back to rocking back and forth, his gaze far off. I stare at him for a few minutes as the situation of what he just said starts to come to an unsettling conclusion. This can’t be right? He can’t be his sergeant. No, they said there were no survivors. No, this just isn’t right. I sit there and as this information settles in, Mike mutters and mumbles grow distant.