It was Labor Day again and I was laboring. At last. Or maybe not “laboring,” not really, all that sweat-of-the-brow exertion the word implied, to me – the kind of work my father once performed – but still, I was working. Shifting papers around with great intention and malice aforethought.
On Labor Day.
I had no desire to wait for Labor Day to work again. That was not something I would plan to do, like that. No. But my office closed for a week on account of Harvey and then I found myself sitting there, alone, trying to run through five days’ work in an eight-hour holiday.
My phone rang. The office one, I mean. It broke some Great Unwritten Rule, didn’t it?, probably unwritten, or at least a universal understanding that one does not call an office phone on Labor Day.
But I answered the phone and a voice came out sounding surprised. “Mister Hamid?” I stopped the shifting of my various papers. “This is Chip for XXY Corp., calling about the Banta matter.”
I told you about Banta. Before. I told you she died, maybe even a little because of me. O, I didn’t make her sick, it is true, nor did I send her off on that three-year bender. But I did my part. Always doing my part. I told you. What I failed to tell you either by design or oversight was this: I represented my dearly departed Banta – no, that’s too dramatic – my now late friend Banta. Defended her. In some civil matter, it doesn’t matter what.
Chip rattled on. Something to do with settling the case before he prepared requests for discovery and “These requests are, we’ll just say, extensive and ambitious, so I thought maybe you’d like a heads-up so you can avoid it.”
My office was musty with that smell of being closed up for too long. There was probably mold.
I said, “O Chip. Chip, I have some bad news. I should have called you.” I said, “I’m afraid my client died,” but even as I said it, I was not afraid. It was just something I said.
Chip said, “That’s okay. I’ll just proceed against her estate.” Poor guy. He probably believed he’d wind up as Atticus Finch once, long ago, and how he got to here was a sad story, I bet, but o well.
I thought and thought, rolling many possibilities around in my mind, all in accordance with that glorious training I had received so many years ago now. I said, “Great. Her estate, yes, Chip.”
I said, “Her estate is a backpack full of medications. It’s under my desk. Just tell me what time you’ll be by and I’ll give it to you.”
There was a silence followed by a click and then Chip was gone. Forever, I suppose.
I propped my foot up on Banta’s estate.