By: The Saleswoman
I felt horrible; my stomach was churning and my head was pounding. I knew I should’ve stayed home, but I had important things I needed to get done at work today. I’d already missed two full days and I couldn’t risk missing any more, but that didn’t make my head hurt any less. I felt as though I was atlas holding up the sky, although instead of carrying the world on my back, it was all on my head. I searched through my bag to try and find advil or tylenol to ease the pain. For a moment I was worried I had left them at home, but was glad when I grasped onto the familiar round tube of a travel size advil container. I pulled it out, twisted the cap off and sunk my shoulders to the ground when I saw that it was filled with vitamins. I had re-used the container and put in my vitamins. It wouldn’t have been as disappointing if I hadn’t already taken my vitamins for the day. “Your client is here”. My assistant’s voice came through my phone intercom and I pressed it down and responded, “send her in”.
“Hi Serena, how are you?”, I asked my client. She had a Gucci bag in hand, Michael Kors shoes on and a gorgeously expensive outfit that I could only assume was from a high-end shop.
“Well, actually I’m in a bit of trouble,” Serena paused and looked at me guiltily. I’d
heard this line many times before from my clients, all having problems that needed my legal ability to fix. The worst I’d had was a murder — the girl was guilty and lied to me about being drunk at the incident. I braced myself for what I was about to hear; I was hoping it wasn’t another murder.
“I’ve done something horrible”, Serena’s voice drifted. “I stole a diamond necklace from my jeweller”.
“Was it an accident? Or intentional?”, I asked not moving a muscle; my head was pounding.
“Accident, of course! I would never steal on purpose.”
“And how did the accident happen?”.
“Well, I was going to pick up a necklace the jeweler was repairing for me. I talked to the clerk I knew, but then a different clerk came back, handed me a box and said my necklace was all fixed. I wondered whether it was mine, but the clerk insisted it was. I took the box and walked away, not knowing it contained…”, Serena’s voice faltered.
“What was in the box Serena?” I asked quietly.
“A stunning diamond necklace. It must be worth at least two million dollars! It was gorgeous!”. I widened my eyes. If my client was telling the truth, there’s no way that any judge or jury would believe this had been a mistake. I didn’t know what to do. I could easily let her go and not take the case. Given the possibility of how this case could go, ruining my and the firm’s reputation.. However, she was a loyal client and we already lost three clients this week. I sighed and continued to ask Serena questions to see just how difficult this case was going to be.
“Where’s the necklace now?”
“It’s in my car”. I tried to contain my anger when she told me this.
“You left a necklace worth two million dollars inside your car? Do you have any idea how easy and common it is for people to break into cars and steal things! Imagine what someone would do if they realized there was a diamond necklace worth two million dollars in your car!” I said raising my voice on the last sentence. Serena looked embarrassed.
“I didn’t …”, Serena stopped and gulped, “I didn’t think about that.” I shook my head and motioned for her to go check her car. I followed her to her car, and to my annoyance, she had parked on the busiest street. The sound of all the cars driving by made me shiver and my head felt worse than before. The sidewalk was packed. I looked at one man with a black leather jacket on. He looked suspicious and seemed like the kind of person that would break into someone’s car. I looked at a woman with a business suit on. She looked like someone who would steal and try to hide it. I knew it was just me being suspicious. But the idea that someone would steal a two million dollar necklace and that I would either take the case or be a witness made my stomach churn even more. I didn’t need this hassle.
Serena opened the passenger door to her car and went inside. I looked up at the sky. It was a beautiful day. The clouds looked like fluffy cotton balls floating in the sky, and the sun rays were reflecting onto the city. The temperature was ideal for a fall day. Moderately warm with a nice cool breeze that picked up a few fallen leaves. It was my favorite time of the year in New York. The colours of all the leaves atop the trees was beautiful: red, orange, yellow, green and a light brown. I imagined the way the leaves were placed was like sprinkles from a container. You start out slow on the road and then let out too much on the sidewalk, but in the end it turns out nicely.
I came back to reality and looked at Serena who was still shuffling in her car trying to find the box with the necklace. I realized if it was taking her this long to find it, it only meant one thing: it had already been stolen. My heart rate began to increase because I did not want to be involved in something like this. I had handled so many cases before and I didn’t understand why this was such a big deal to me. I could easily fix this – I’ve done it plenty times before.
But something about this was different. This time more was on the line for me. My boss had warned me if I slipped up again or got in any kind of trouble again, I would be fired. He gave me his word that if I took on another questionable case, he’d let me go. I knew I had no choice. This case was already looking dubious. I turned around and began to walk up the stairs to my firm but was stopped by Serena’s voice.
“Wait, where are you going?” Serena asked looking confused.
“I can’t take on this case, I’m sorry Serena. This is something you’re going to need to solve on your own”. As I walked away I could hear Serena’s protests. I went back inside and went straight to my boss. He said I did the right thing and I was not going to be fired. I was immensely relieved. I went back into my office. I sat down in my chair by my desk and read the notes I had written down in front of me. It was from Serena’s case. I threw them to the side of my desk and focussed on my work, still wishing I had some advil for my head.
The next day I was feeling better. I was working on a boring file when my mind wandered back to the previous day about Serena. I felt guilty for abandoning her. Had I done the right thing? Did I jump to a conclusion too soon because I felt too lousy? I thought about how bad she must be feeling. She was probably trying to find another attorney to take her case. I thought back to that moment in front of the office, when I was looking at the leaves and trees and then realized something. Everything fell silent and all I could hear was the sound of my breathing.
Serena always took the subway because she didn’t have a car. It always bothered her. She was a teacher and didn’t make enough money to afford a car that she liked, and last time I saw her she really complained about it. She told me how she’d
always wanted a Mercedes Benz car and yesterday she had one. Those cars weren’t cheap. She’d need a lot of money but buy one, not to mention paying for insurance. I thought about this some more. She used to come in wearing very ordinary clothing that looked like she had gotten from a thrift store. But yesterday, her outfit was all new and from high-end stores. Then it struck me – Serena stealing the necklace was no accident. She did it on purpose to get everything she wanted. She was tired of being poor. She didn’t want to get caught so that’s why she came to me and made up that story. I was shocked. I looked down at my notes and threw them in the garbage…