فصل 02

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فصل 02

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  • زمان مطالعه 7 دقیقه
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CHAPTER TWO

DeVon Hardy

“Who did the eviction?” Mister had asked. But I guess he already knew the answer to that.

A policeman led me to the first Floor of the building, where friends and family and doctors were waiting. The doctors crowded around, but where was my wife? Six hours in a room with a gunman, and she hadn’t come to see me. It was funny really because my wife, Claire, was a doctor herself, at one of the biggest hospitals in Washington.

I lay on a table for ten minutes while doctors examined me to make sure I was all right. Then my secretary, Polly, arrived. There were tears in her eyes as she put her arms around me.

“Where’s Claire?” I asked her.

“I called the hospital. She’s working.”

Polly knew there wasn’t much left of the marriage.

“Are you OK?” she asked.

“I think so.”

“I’ll take you home.”

I was pleased someone was telling me what to do. My thoughts came into my head slowly. It was like I was under water.

We left the Drake and Sweeney building by a back door. There were police cars everywhere and ambulances and television vans, even a fire truck.

“I’m alive! I’m alive!” I realized, smiling for the first time. “I’m alive.” I looked up to heaven and said a very big “thank you.” When I got home to our apartment on P Street in Georgetown, Claire wasn’t there.

I sat in the empty apartment and thought about her. We had met the week after I moved to Washington. I was just out of Yale with a great job. She came from one of America’s oldest families. We were in love, we got married.

But Drake and Sweeney make you work very hard the first year. I worked fifteen hours a day, six days a week. I saw Claire on Sundays and we went out together when I wasn’t too tired.

For the last five years I had worked about 200 hours a month. That’s eight hours every day for six days with two or three hours on Sunday.

But young lawyers at Drake and Sweeney don’t complain about long hours. Fewer than one in ten become partners, and everybody wants to be that one in ten because you earn at least a million dollars a year.

Claire was good about it for the first few months, but then she got tired of having a husband who was never there and I didn’t blame her. There are a lot of divorces at Drake and Sweeney. Long hours at work, each hour paid for by a client, are more important than a happy wife.

By the end of our first year together, Claire was unhappy and we weren’t talking together very much. She decided to go to medical school and I thought that was a great idea. Drake and Sweeney were telling me that I was a possible future partner. I just had to work even harder. When Claire was studying, I didn’t feel so guilty about that.

But Claire didn’t just study. She worked unbelievably long hours. She had decided she wanted to be a great doctor. Soon we were playing a crazy game called “I-can-work-harder-than-you.” And another game called “my job is more important than your job because I’m a doctor and lawyer.”

My boss, Arthur Jacobs, of course, was on my team. He had become a partner in Drake and Sweeney at the age of thirty. The youngest ever partner. And he would soon be the oldest ever working partner. The law was his life. All three of his divorced wives could tell you that.

I woke up suddenly. I had fallen asleep in an armchair at the apartment and Claire was sitting in a chair next to me.

“Where were you today?” I said.

“At the hospital.”

“At the hospital? Nine of us are in a room with a crazy man and a gun for six hours. We get lucky and escape. Eight families come and see their relative because they’re interested in whether or not he’s alive. And how do I get home? My secretary drives me.”

“I couldn’t be there.”

“Oh, no! Of course you couldn’t be there. How silly of me!”

“I couldn’t be there because the police asked all doctors to stay at their hospitals until the situation at Drake and Sweeney ended. They always do that when there’s a possible shooting.”

“Oh. Did you call?”

“I tried. I guess there were a lot of people trying.”


Next morning we made breakfast together. We ate in the kitchen, watching the small television. The six o’clock news showed the Drake and Sweeney building, and you could see Mister looking out of the window.

The television news said the dynamite wasn’t real. The sticks were made of wood and Mister had painted them red. The gun was real enough, though. It was a .44, stolen. Mister’s real name was DeVon Hardy. He was forty-five. He had fought in Vietnam. He had been in prison a few times for stealing, but he wasn’t a big criminal. And he was homeless with no known family.

That morning’s Washington Post had more details.

According to someone called Mordecai Green, the Director of the 14th Street Law Center, DeVon Hardy had recently lost his job. Then he became homeless.

He was living in an old warehouse. This wasn’t unusual. A lot of homeless people move into empty buildings because they have no money for their own place.

DeVon Hardy had recently been evicted from the warehouse, as an illegal squatter. Lawyers are responsible for evictions. “Who did the eviction?” Mister had asked. But I guess he already knew the answer to that.

And now I knew it, too. Drake and Sweeney had thrown Mister into the streets.

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