Attorney Zack Jericho leaned back in his chair, quite content. His mahogany desk shone. The new leather couch filled the office with its rich smell. He picked up the next case from his desk. It was a private civil case regarding a Henry Stephens who wasn’t satisfied with a major company’s product.
Too easy. Hellooooo, new Ferrari.
Mr. Stephens was ushered in, and Zack told him to take a seat. After going over several details, court dates and such, Mr. Stephens stood and offered his hand. “Thank you, Mr. Jericho. I know I’ll have the best lawyer backing me up.”
Once the man left, Zack broke for lunch and rose from his desk. He opened his office door a crack when he heard his secretary, Miss Rhett, speak. She sat in her little work space just outside his door. He heard every word.
“I wouldn’t hire Mr. Jericho if I were you.”
He heard Mr. Stephen reply. “Wow, you must really hate your boss.”
He heard Miss Rhett’s chair creak as she leaned forward. “No, everyone hates him. I’m quitting as of next week. He cheats his employees out of their paychecks, he scams his clients, and no one can touch him with all his power–”
“Oh, he can’t be like that.” Mr. Stephens interrupted. “I’ve heard good things about him.”
“From whom, his mother? Oh wait, can’t be. He ripped her off, too.”
Zack retreated into his office. Wow…that’s a shame. Miss Rhett was very useful. Second secretary this month. He made his way toward his wooden desk to fill out a pink slip. Can’t quit if I fire you first.
He almost couldn’t hear Mr. Stephen’s final comment. “Well, I have my faith in Zack Jericho. I think he’s the the best lawyer this city has to offer.”
A couple of weeks later, one Wednesday evening, it was late and everyone had gone home. Zach was left alone in the office. The week had been tough, and he couldn’t shake a heaviness that had been pressing him for a few days.
Maybe I should call it quits— His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a new email. It was from Mr. Stephens. Zach usually deleted emails from previous clients. But something compelled him to read it.
It began with no formality. “You overcharged me $20,000, you selfish–” Zach skimmed through the description. It was typical hate mail which he usually did not read, but he continued. The last line caught his eye.
“I trusted you, Mr. Jericho, I heard bad things about you and decided to give you a chance. You may be the best lawyer this town has to offer, but you’re the most despicable man in it.”
Zach stared at the text. His stomach twisted into knots, and his heart began to pound. He leaned back, trying to forget the names Mr. Stephens called him…but he knew the man was right. He was the first man to trust him in a long time, and he took advantage of him.
Glancing down to where his hands hung limply in his lap, he noted the diamond cuff links he had bought for himself two years ago. He got them because of the Bradley Case. Remembering Mr. Bradley’s devastated look when he was forced to sell his house to pay him back, Zack suddenly didn’t feel very comfortable wearing them.
He ripped the cuff links off and threw them across the room; they plinked against the new leather couch. Zach looked at everything in his office. The things he owned were bought with money from an angry customer or broken life.
Zach stood. His head pounded along with his heart. Flashbacks of all the people he had cheated and all their angry words came back to him like a flood.
Coward…worthless creep…back-stabbing liar…selfish pig…everyone hates you….
“No! Leave me alone!” His eyes darted over all the valuables in his office. He could barely stand. “I hate this office, I hate it.” He noticed his costly paperweight resting on his desk he had acquired after overcharging a single mother. Her pained, begging expression floated like a ghost in his mind. Zach screamed.
“No! Stop!” He took the paperweight and chucked it at his floor to ceiling window. The glass shattered. Wind kicked up his papers.
Zach dashed over to the broken window, and looked several stories down onto the pavement. He snatched his Rolex watch from his wrist and threw it as hard he could.
“I hate this!” He dug through his suit pocket and pulled out the keys to his Ferrari, he let his arm fly, “I hate all of it!”
The wind and heights made him dizzy and he leaned against the crumbling pane. He breathed deeply as he felt tears begin forming.
“I…I hate myself.” He glanced out the window and down at the pavement. “Oh, God. I hate myself.”
Suddenly, the wind slammed into him and pushed him backward. Landing on his back, he crawled, and leaned against his desk, arms wrapped around his knees like a child. His breaths came in short gasps. Tears streamed from his eyes. “Oh, God. Everyone hates me….”
To be continued…
Copyright 2013 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.