Spirit Of The Law
"Ohhh, my head," Helen Morgendorffer groaned, grasping at her forehead. "Where am I...?"
She blinked, blinked again and suddenly rocketed to her feet. "Oh - My - GOD."
Helen knew this office as well as her own - except for the fact that there way this office could exist... it was the office of John Milton, Al Pacino's character in the film The Devil's Advocate. "Oh, this is not good," Helen said, looking around the room.
"Never were the words 'That depends on your point of view' more true," a familiar voice spoke, drawing Helen around to see-
"Joseph Fiennes," she blurted out, seeing someone who looked exactly like the famous actor sitting at the desk, dressed impeccably in a navy-blue three-piece suit so well-tailored that it probably cost more than the average new car. "But - you can't be - you aren't-"
"No, I'm not," the man said, sipping from a perfectly-cut crystal, "but if this is what you like - if this is what you want to see... then it pleases me to let you see it."
"You're the Devil." Helen said it as a statement, not a question, and without a touch of fear in her voice. "I knew that I'd probably run into you sooner or later - but I thought I'd run into you at a hearing at the appellate level..."
"Oh, Helen, please - don't be modest now," the man said, smiling as he finished his drink. "We both know that you were pushing the Mittinger case because you know that you cold probably get it before the U.S. Supreme Court on the basis of expanding the limits of attorney-client privilege in the era of electronic surveillance."
Helen suddenly had a vivid flash of memory; pulling her seat belt to fasten it as Jake began to pull out of the Cranberry Commons parking lot, the sudden flash of chrome that seemed to fill her entire field of vision-
"Not yet - the ventilator's still working, but perhaps discernable brain damage – it took them nearly six minutes to revive you," the man said, straightening his jacket as he rose from his chair and came around the desk. "You're going to need a bit of therapy, though - and luckily, your... primary assets... were unharmed."
Helen glanced down to notice that she was wearing perhaps her most... revealing... outfit that she could legitimately refer to as 'business attire': the canary-yellow silk outfit.
Turning to he massive mirror that made up a part of one wall, Helen looked herself over: a skirt just a touch more form-fitting that it needed to be, with a slit longer than required and just below the length that one could legitimately complain; a silken blouse that was almost transparent in the right light, and her favorite V.L. Riley brassiere, one that firmly supported where it needed and still left absolutely nothing to the imagination.
The damn bra alone cost a hundred and fifty hundred dollars - but worth every penny, she thought, remembering the way the opposing lawyer had reacted in an arbitration meeting - the first time she had worn that outfit. One of the best investments I've ever made.
"So, let's get to it." The sudden, perfect smile that appeared on the man's face made Helen scowl – but not as much as she thought it would, she realized. "I mean, the deal."
"Helen, please," the man chuckled. "You really should have spent more time in church actually listening to the sermons. There is no 'deal'. You're an adult who has a sense of right and wrong, but you've spent a career flouting that knowledge in favor of the arbitrary laws of Man – and you've never asked forgiveness or demonstrated contrition for your works and misdeeds."
Helen folded her arms. "So it's going to be a tough negotiation."
"Sorry, no. You've got between ten to sixteen hours before they decide to take you off the ventilator," the man said. "You might as well get comfortable. I've several positions in mind for you down here – and afterwards, I'll brief you on your job description."
"Oh – really?" Helen walked over to the deck, and poured herself a drink. "Perhaps this is where I remind you of Clause 303 – one of the non-negotiable clauses in my contract?"
The man rolled his eyes. "I knew that outsourcing work to Vitale would come back to bite me in the ass," he said. "Let's hear it."
"Oh, just standard boilerplate," she said, taking a drink and finding it to be one of the best Kentucky bourbons she had ever tasted. "We have a duel. If I win – I go back home, and you make sure that I have a complete, full and miraculous recovery from my ordeal. Oh – and the idea of you ever getting me, or my family? That goes away for all time."
"You forget that I know all about you, my lovely Helen," the man said, turning to her. "I know your likes, your dislikes, what you excel in and have no aptitude for whatsoever – what makes you believe that you could best me in any competition whatsoever?"
"Because, as the 'condemned' – the honor of choosing the manner of duel is mine," Helen said, taking another sip as she looked the man directly in the eye... and then, glanced over his shoulder. "I've made my choice."
The man turned – and broke out into laughter as he saw the couch from the Morgendorffer's front room sitting next to the wall across from the two of them. "A simple duel," Helen said, tossing back the remainder of her drink as the man turned back to face her. "Whoever is first to, ah - conclude their oral arguments - loses."
"I already have you, Helen," the man said, actually surprising himself by smiling at her. "Why should I agree to this? What do I win?"
Helen sat her glass down, looked the man over, and brushed a lock of hair from her eyes. "I'd say that you win, regardless of how this goes."
"It's really amazing," Daria Morgendorffer said to her friend Jane Lane, both watching through the window of her mother's hospital room as several doctors examined Helen. "They say that despite everything that happened, all Mom has are a few scratches that should heal up in no time. Weird."
"What's really weird is how good Mom looks – even after getting all banged up in the car," Quinn Morgendorffer – Daria's sister – observed, tossing a glance occasionally at the visitor's lounge where their father Jake was being comforted by his intern Horizon Bridger and Amy Barksdale, his sister-in-law. "She looks like she's ten or fifteen years younger than she really is!"
"Yeah, well, if getting in a major car accident is the way to look like you're a lot younger than you really are – sign me up for that therapy program right now!"
"That can be arranged, Miss Lane," the man observed, speaking softly as he walked past the three girls unobserved, wearing a lab coat and a stethoscope as he made his way down the hall. "Eight miles outside of La Paz, on the Yungas Road. I'll be seeing you... thirty-four years from today. "
29 December 2009