July 30, 2017
“I’m Mr. Heworth,” said Benjamin, with a wry smile as he cleaned a pint glass. “What can I do for you?”
“You’re the, uh, you’re the lawyer?” the middle-aged, pear shaped woman asked. “Sorry, I shouldn’t judge. I just didn’t expect to find a lawyer wiping down beer mugs, that’s all.”
“No, you wouldn’t. Lazy bastard never does anything to help around the bar. It is half his, you know?” Benjamin noticed the confused look on the woman’s face and smiled. “Sorry. I’m not the lawyer. He’s not in right now, though he should be back shortly. Can I get you anything while you wait?”
“You’re, uh, not the lawyer?” the woman asked with a hint of annoyance in her voice.
“No, ma’am,” Benjamin said, cheery as a mockingbird.
“Then why’d you lie to me?”
“Technically, I didn’t lie to you. You didn’t ask for the lawyer, you just said Mr. Heworth. I am Mr. Heworth, just not the lawyering version.” The woman rolled her eyes, and Benjamin laughed. “Sorry, when you spend all day around lawyers, semantics sort of becomes a way of life.”
The woman sighed and sat down on a bar stool, placing her purse on the bar. “It’s alright. I understand completely. After all, my husband is a lawyer, and it’s a constant parsing of words. It’s absolutely tiresome.”
“You sound unhappy,” Benjamin said, stopping what he was doing and coming to devote his attention to the woman. “You want to talk about it?”
“What’s there to talk about?” the woman asked. “It’s the classic girl meets hotshot douchebag, is enamored, marries before she realizes the relationship is built around, well, the physical aspect, and ends up an empty shell of herself, stuck in a loveless marriage built around constructing a social façade and having abandoned all her dreams.”
“Doesn’t that describe most marriages?”
The woman laughed, looking down and shaking her head. “I don’t know. Probably. We spend so much of our marriage trying to impress the hoity-toities at my husband’s firm, those who have nothing better all day to do than sit around at their country club, looking down their noses at those who have to actually work for a living. It’s wearisome. We have no relationship of our own. I think that was the final straw. We were at a dinner party a few weeks ago, and since no dinner party is complete without that couple arguing constantly and making everyone feel awkward, we were happy to oblige. I thought, ‘I just can’t do this anymore’.”
“I’m so sorry. Let me know if there’s anything I can do,” Benjamin said. He stood at the bar and turned. “Um, I should let you know, though, that my brother doesn’t typically do divorce cases. And by typically, I mean he doesn’t.”
“What? Where’d you hear that?”
“Uh, from my brother. Whose office is in the back of my bar.”
“I find that difficult to believe. A sole practitioner? I would think he’d take any case he could get.”
Benjamin shrugged. “You’re welcome to wait around for him and ask him yourself. Conveniently, here comes his paralegal now.”
Zach walked in to the bar and headed straight to Jeremy’s office before being stopped by a shout from Benjamin.
“What’s up?” Zach asked.
“This woman’s looking for Jeremy. Do you know when he’ll be back?”
“Should be shortly. They were just wrapping up when I left. Who knew a contract situation could be so complicated?”
“Everybody. Literally everybody knew that.”
Zach shrugged. “Oh. Anyway, the whole thing is boring as hell. I almost fell asleep several times.”
“Shouldn’t be doing that in court, buddy.”
“And it dragged on, and on, and on.”
“I feel you,” Benjamin said. “This woman wants to speak to Jeremy.”
“I’m hoping we’ll only take criminal and civil matters in the future, but I guess I understand. He’s kind of got to take whatever work he can find.”
“Zach,” Benjamin said, pointing toward the woman.
Zach turned to her. “Oh. Hi, I’m Zach Wells. What can I do for you?”
“I’m looking for an attorney. I’m taking it you aren’t him?”
“I’m his paralegal. What can I do for you?”
“My husband and I are about to go through a divorce and child custody situation. I need representation.”
Zach clicked his tongue. “We don’t really do divorce cases. And by don’t really, I mean we don’t.”
“But I just heard you say you needed all the work you could get.”
“Except for from you.”
“Zach!” Benjamin scolded him from behind the bar.
“Right. Let me rephrase. As much as we’ll take on work in areas such as, say, real estate, which neither of us particularly enjoys, divorce cases are a whole different story. They can get kind of messy, and we don’t like being in the middle of it.”
“What about the custody case? That should be easy. My husband and I both love our daughter very much, and have no problem splitting custody.”
“Hmm. There’s no question of who the parents are?”
The woman shook her head. “No. I’ve been faithful to my husband the entire time we’ve been married, and he doesn’t question that. He’s certain that Sheri is his.”
“What about you?”
“What do mean?”
“You’re certain the child is yours?”
The woman tilted her head at Zach. “Yes. Maternal uncertainty isn’t a thing. Nobody’s going around sticking babies into uteruses. Uteri.”
“Right. Got you.”
The door opened and Jeremy walked in.
“Hey Jer, this woman’s here to see us,” Zach said. “She wants to know if we’re interested in representing her in her divorce.”
Without walking over, Jeremy turned to the woman. “We don’t take divorce cases. And by don’t take divorce cases, I mean we don’t fucking ever even consider taking divorce cases.”
“You don’t have to be so rude about it,” the woman said. “I just don’t understand why you’d turn down a perfectly good fee.”
“So I don’t have to deal with psychopaths like you and your batshit husband.”
“You know what? Fuck you,” the woman said, grabbing her purse. “Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.”
“You want to fuck my horse?” Jeremy said to the woman as she stormed out of the bar. He took a deep breath.
“Somebody’s in a mood,” Benjamin said. “Care to tell us why?”
Without saying a word, Jeremy walked over to the bar. He handed a piece of paper to Zach, who looked over it for a minute.
“I don’t see what the problem is. It looks pretty typical to me.”
Benjamin grabbed the paper from Zach and glanced at it. “Oh.”