فصل 03

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فصل 03

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  • زمان مطالعه 6 دقیقه
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CHAPTER THREE

Mordecai Green

Mordecai Green was a warm, caring man whose work was on the streets. He was a lawyer with a heart.

I had told Polly I would be at work today - the day after Mister came into the office. But for the first time ever, I didn’t go to work when I was well enough to go. Just as it started to snow, I got into my car, a Lexus, and drove through the streets of Washington. The snow came down harder and harder. I just drove.

Polly’s voice came over the car phone. She sounded worried. “Where are you?”

“Who wants to know?”

“A lot of people. Arthur Jacobs wants to see you. You have clients waiting for you.”

“I’m fine, Polly. Tell everybody I’m at the doctor’s office.”’

“Are you?”

“No, but I could be.”

I drove around Georgetown, not going anywhere, just driving. The clouds were dark. The snow would be heavy. People were hurrying through the snow on the sidewalks. I saw a homeless man and wondered if he knew DeVon Hardy. Where do street people go in a snowstorm?

I called the hospital. I wanted to ask Claire to meet me for lunch. But the hospital said Claire was busy and they couldn’t contact her. That was the end of our lunch together.

I turned and went northeast past Logan Circle, into the gang area of the city, and drove until I found the 14th Street Law Center. I parked at 14th and Q, certain that I would never see the expensive Lexus again.

The 14th Street Law Center was in an old, tall, red brick house that had seen better days. The windows on the top floor were protected by pieces of wood over the glass. The door wasn’t locked. I went in slowly, out of the snow, and entered another world.

It was a law office all right, but there was no expensive furniture here, not like at Drake and Sweeney. I stepped into a large room which had three metal desks, each covered in files. There were more files on old pieces of carpet on the floor. The computers and the only photocopier were ten years old. There was a large photograph of Martin Luther King on one wall. The office was busy and dusty and interesting.

“You looking for somebody?” asked a woman at a desk with the name Sofia Mendoza on it. She looked Mexican. She wasn’t smiling, but I did. It was funny. Nobody at Drake and Sweeney would talk to a visitor like that. They would lose their job. But I would soon lean how important Sofia was to the 14th Street Law Center.

“I’m looking for Mordecai Green,” I said. But just then he came out of his office. Sofia went back to her work.

Green was an enormous black man, at least two meters tall and very heavy. He was in his early fifties, with a gray beard and round red glasses. He shouted something about a file to Sofia and then turned to me.

“Can I help you?”

“I want to talk to you about DeVon Hardy,” I said and gave him my Drake and Sweeney card.

He looked at me for a few seconds and then looked quickly at Sofia, who was speaking in fast Spanish into the phone. Mordecai Green walked back into his office and I followed him in. The office was a small room with no windows and the desk and floor covered in files and law books.

“Sit down,” he said. “But you might get dirty. What do you want?”

I sat down. “I was in the room with DeVon Hardy when he was shot,” I said. “I couldn’t think this morning. I didn’t want to go to work. So I came here. Any idea why he did it?”

“Because of the eviction,” said Mordecai Green. “A few months ago he moved into an old warehouse at the corner of Florida Avenue. It wasn’t a bad place for a homeless person. It had a roof, some toilets, water.”

“Who owned the warehouse?”

Mordecai pulled a thin file from one of the piles on his desk. It was exactly the one he wanted. He looked at the file for a minute.

“The warehouse was owned by a company called RiverOaks.”

“And RiverOaks’s lawyers are Drake and Sweeney?”

“Probably.”

“Is that all?”

“No. I heard that DeVon Hardy and the others got no warning of the eviction.”

“But you can evict squatters with no warning.”

“Oh yes. You can’t evict tenants without a warning, though.”

“Was DeVon Hardy a squatter or a tenant?”

“I don’t know.”

I thought of another question. “How did DeVon Hardy know about Drake and Sweeney?”

“Who knows? He wasn’t stupid, though. Crazy, but not stupid.”

I had taken enough of his time. He looked at his watch, I looked at mine. We exchanged phone numbers and promised to stay in contact.

Mordecai Green was a warm, caring man whose work was on the streets, protecting hundreds of nameless clients. He was a lawyer with a heart.

On the way out, Sofia didn’t look up from her conversation on the phone. The Lexus was still there, covered by an inch of snow.

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