"Ms. Emily Patterson," a male doctor calls. "I think Tony is waking up now."
Tony cracks his eyes open a little wider at the sound of his sister's name. He feels groggy and disoriented and his back is killing him. His mind is slowly starting to clear, and he slowly remembers what happened. "I got hit," he says, still in shock.
"Yeah, big brother, you did," comes a familiar female voice. Emily comes into Tony's view and holds his hand. She's still young and radiant as ever, her brown eyes twinkling with warmth and compassion and her hair falling in luxurious spirals that even the prettiest models would die for. Tony's always had to protect her because of that. She's always getting used for her looks and generosity. Tony would never say it, but he's pretty sure she never would have become the journalist she is today if it hadn't been for her beauty.
Still, Tony thinks, I'm proud of my little sister. She's gotten so far, and she's already got renowned articles in newspapers. It feels like just yesterday we were playing hide-and-go-seek back at home.
Tony smiles at her and tries to sit up but collapses with back pain from the effort. He groans. How am I supposed to protect her if I can't even sit up? he wonders.
"Take it easy," Emily says. "The doctor says that, given your injury, you'll be in here for at least 6 weeks."
SIX WEEKS???? What about my novel? I guess I could bring it here. But what about the expenses? Sis has already helped me out so much financially getting started as an author. I can't imagine how hard it must be for her, and now she's going and helping me again. She never did care about herself. Despite the fact that I'm older, I feel like she's been the one protecting me, not the other way around. That's why I've had such a drive to protect her. I feel like I'm neglecting my responsibility as the older sibling.
Emily looks at me knowingly. "Don't worry so much, Tony, it'll all work itself out."
How am I supposed to not worry. I'm bedridden for 6 entire weeks. I suppose I'll get a lot of my novel done, but won't I get bored of this place? Plus, I won't get to see that lawyer Abigail again.
"Oh, by the way, someone's here to see you. Her name's Abigail. Your girlfriend, I presume?"
"Really? She's here?" Tony asks, not paying attention to the last question.
"Yeah, she's waiting outside. I'll go fetch her." She gives Tony a suspicious look, assuming Abigail was his girlfriend.
Tony is oblivious to that fact, so consumed in the fact that Abigail actually cares about him enough to visit him. Maybe his life won’t be forever single after all.
A moment later, Abigail enters shyly and sits in a chair next to Tony's bed. Tony turns his head to face her, wincing from the soreness in his skull. A minute passes, then Abigail finally speaks, "I'm going to be representing you as your lawyer again. I'm assuming you're going to sue, right?"
I hadn't even thought about that, Tony thinks. That probably isn't a bad idea. Maybe it can ease some of the costs off my sister's back. Yes, in that case, it's certainly a good idea. "Of course," Tony replies with a smile. Abigail smiles in return. "Was that all?" he asks, his eyelids pressing down on him like windows ready to fall shut.
She hesitates, not sure what to say, then settles with "I guess so."
"Kay. Bye." His eyes snap shut without warning and instantly he's pulled into a deep sleep.
Abigail waits a moment then whispers, "Sweet dreams." And she's gone.
The days pass by slowly. Sometimes Abigail visits to tell Tony about her progress in the case. He starts to wonder because she's been more uptight than usual ever since that first day in the hospital. He also begins to think he hallucinated all of those kind looks she gave. She probably just became more distant after the accident because he's caused her more trouble now, right? Right?
He begins to recover, and his sister is always cheering him on. She's like his own personal cheerleader, which he guesses makes sense since she was a cheerleader in school. Every day he struggles to get better faster so that he can stop being a burden to her sooner, so that he can be the one helping her. Every day he tries to improve twice as much as the last so that he can help Abigail run the case. And every day he works on a novel about an unfortunate guy who got in an accident, like himself, but tries to recover to get back to his wife and kids, unlike Tony. And secretly, every day Abigail drives by the hospital and watches Tony for a couple minutes in the doorway while he's sleeping, wanting to tell him how she feels but finding that she loses her courage every time she sees his debilitated condition. She doesn't want to cause him any more pain.
Finally! Today the doctors finally let me out of the hospital. It's only been 4 weeks since that day because I've been persistent, but they want me to stay in my apartment for now and have my sister bring me food and such. I can finally move my back without much pain, and the soreness from the accident is almost gone. In a couple of weeks, I'll be free to go where I please again.
It's so nice to be back at home. I've missed my cozy couches and wonderful old TV. I've missed even being able to eat normal food. Now I get why they call it "Home sweet home."
Emily accompanies Tony to his apartment and keeps watch over him. Abigail had won the court case for Tony. Despite how hard he tried to improve, court cases like that take very little time at all. He hasn't seen her since that day that she came in and congratulated him. She was so excited. All of the distance she had built up was gone. But now it was the same as before, and he was getting worried again.
Despite that, Tony's excitement at being home exceeded his worry about Abigail. However, in his excitement, he jumped up and down and twisted his back. It was back to the hospital, and this time, he wouldn't be so lucky.
The grandfather clock tick-tocks to the beat of the minute, the hour, the day. The gears spin round and round, as do the hands on the face. They spin and spin and spin. There’s nothing to stop them. The pendulum in the center swings back and forth and back and forth, its weight propelling the gears to keep turning, keep spinning endlessly. The clock reads 3:15.
Tony turns away, needing a better distraction to pass the time away in Mr. Gregory Howell’s office. Watching a clock doesn’t seem to do him any good; it only makes him even more impatient.
What should I do? he wonders. Who knows when he’ll get here, and I’ve already been waiting for minutes. Tony stares down at his thumbs and decides to twiddle them. Unfortunately, that only makes him even more impatient and anxious, so he stuffs his hands in his pockets.
Gregory is Tony’s defense lawyer. Tony has known him ever since high school, and they’ve been best friends since sophomore year. Tony honestly doesn’t know what he’d do without Gregory. Whenever Tony is accused of anything, be it true or false, Gregory always rushes to his aid, but where is Gregory now? Why isn’t he here this time of all times, this time when Tony really needs his help.
Tony got into a car accident just under an hour ago, and the victim is suing him for the damage. But it wasn’t Tony’s fault. The victim, Marie Folksworth, didn’t see who it was and assumed it was Tony since Tony’s car was right behind hers. However, it had really been an aggressive driver in the lane on their left that had hit Marie by accident and drove off, not stopping to admit their mistake.
Luckily for Tony, he’d barely caught the license plate in the quick moment that it happened. ACM5763. He had repeated it to himself the entire way to Gregory’s law firm, Angel Law. He knows, he knows, it’s a ridiculous name, but it’s named that way since they see their clients as angels, that they were innocent, or something like that. That’s what Gregory had told Tony anyway.
Where is Gregory? Tony thinks. Shouldn’t he be here by now? Has he gotten caught up in something? His assistant said he’d be right here. Was she lying or do we have different interpretations of “right here”? Does he have another case to tend to? If so, I’d think I would be first priority, wouldn’t I? But if I am, then why isn’t he here yet? Is he even coming at all?
Tony sees Gregory’s assistant come off a call looking worried. She turns to him. “I’m afraid Mr. Howell won’t be defending you, Mr. Rudolph,” she tells him.
“Why not?” Tony asks, his heart sinking.
“He is representing Ms. Folksworth in the case.” Tony looks at her, shocked beyond belief. Why would Gregory do that to me? he wonders. To clear his confusion, Mr. Howell’s assistant adds, “She’s his fiancee. Hadn’t you heard?”
“No,” Tony breathes. “I hadn’t.” This was such a hard blow for Tony to handle. Gregory had been his friend for ages, but now? He’s supporting her when she doesn’t even know what really happened. My own friend is betraying me and accusing me of something I didn’t do. He sinks back into his chair. He’d only now realized he’d been standing when he had heard the news. What am I going to do now, he wondered, defeated. How am I going to defend myself with no lawyer against my friend, who’s the best lawyer in this entire town?
This can’t be happening. He closes his eyes shut and pinches the bridge of his nose. How am I going to prove myself innocent? I don’t have the resources to track down the guilty man, and I don’t know any other good lawyers.
The assistant’s soft, sweet voice floods his ears as she says, “Would you like me to be your lawyer?”
Tony looks up at her, debating his options. He could run around town trying to find a good defense lawyer, he could defend himself, or he could take this kind lady’s offer. I would bet that, in being the lady behind the scenes for some of my hardest cases with Gregory, she’s probably my best option. She can’t be too much worse than Gregory, and she probably knows at least a handful of his tricks, which will be useful. I’m so lucky she offered to help. Naturally, after this thought process, he chooses the last option. A smile spreads on his worried face as he states, “I would, thank you.”
She smiles back, and they hop to building their case. They’ve got a lot of work to do: figuring out who was in the guilty car, finding evidence to prove their guilt and Tony’s innocence, making opening and closing statements to back their argument up. It really was the full deal. Since the assistant doesn’t have an assistant of her own, Tony helps her with everything so they don’t run behind on time. The trial starts tomorrow, and they’ve got a lot of work to do.
Throughout going through online databases and searching for the owner of the license plate, Tony learns a lot about Gregory’s assistant. Her name is Abigail Florence. She actually is good at law, like he predicted. She is a little shy, but he can tell that she cares enough about law to be passionate about it and become extroverted at times. He knows that she’ll do a good job defending him, and is glad he made the right choice. She listens to him more than Gregory ever would, and for that he’s grateful. Plus, she’s not concerned about the fact that she’s going up against her boss. She doesn’t care that she’s betraying him in that sense. She’s upholding her position in the Angel Law Firm, and that matters more to her than the possibility of getting fired. She’s sure that if Gregory fires her, his superior, Mr. Anderson, will want to hire her back again.
She’s never liked Gregory. Sure, she’s done her work for him on time and never complained, but she never did like his personality. It wasn’t until now that Tony had realized how selfish Gregory was. He only cares about himself and his close, tiny circle of friends. Plus, on top of that, he’s got them all ranked in his head as to who’s top priority. No wonder he ended up betraying Tony. He’s almost glad now that Gregory left him. Abigail is a much nicer alternative to have as a friend and lawyer. Yet a tiny part of him feels guilty at having replaced his best friend so easily.
They finally finish everything as the grandfather clock strikes 10. Abigail had ordered pizza, so they hadn’t left the office to eat. They had just kept on working. It was a lot to get done in one night, but they did it nonetheless.
Abigail and Tony walk out of the building, and they part ways. Tony to his car, Abigail to her cab. Though he’d love to keep working and preparing for tomorrow, he’s too tired. They’ve got to wake up early tomorrow to get ready for the trial. It starts at 8:00, and they’ve planned to meet to go over it an hour beforehand. Hopefully that hour will be enough time.
Tony wakes up at 6:00. He knows he should feel tired, but he doesn’t. He must not have woken up during deep sleep. He picks himself up out of bed, showers, and gets dressed in the suit he wore a month ago when he had to go to court to testify for his younger sister. It’s a long story.
He opens the door to the bathroom and walks out. He goes to the kitchen and cooks himself a scrambled egg and toast. He eats it hurriedly and brushes his teeth. It’s 6:45 now. Time to go since it takes fifteen minutes to get there.
The car ride runs smoothly. There’s not too much traffic since most people aren’t up yet. It’s not like he lives in New York. That would be awful. No, he lives in Arizona. And, no, it’s not a giant city or anything, but, contrary to what some may think, it’s not all country and desert out here. Plants can sustain life. It may be hot, but civilization lives in comfort in fall, winter, and spring.
He stops at the courthouse and walks in to find Abigail already sitting on a bench outside the courtroom, sipping some coffee. Her blonde hair is swept up in a formal bun, and she’s got all of the evidence in a folder on her lap. She’s ready to go, that’s for sure.
She looks up as she hears Tony’s dressy shoes clacking on the floor. “Ready?” she asks.
“I hope so,” Tony replies.
She gives him a comforting smile and says, “Well, we better get started.”
“Yes, I suppose, we should.”
They pore through everything, making sure it’s all correct and valid, and not objectionable. They make sure it’s all correct, and they barely make it in time, finishing at 2 minutes until 8. They walk into the room and take their seats, heels clicking on the tile floor.
Abigail nervously drums her fingers on the table, anxious to get started. She’s got a lot to say, and she has to say it well so that Tony doesn’t end up having a large fine for something he had no control over - something that he didn’t do. Tony grabs her hand and calms it, trying to calm her. She looks at him and smiles, thankful for the distraction.
The judge enters the room, and everyone rises. They then sit back down, and the trial begins. Gregory goes through his opening statement, putting emphasis on some words to enhance his argument. He wavers ever so slightly when he notices Abigail sitting at the defense table. Her betrayal must have gotten to him, but Tony can’t be sure to what extent. You never can know with Gregory. He’s extremely good at hiding his emotions and controlling his countenance.
Then, before Tony knows it, Abigail leaves his side and stands up there, pleading with the jury to understand that I’m not guilty, that there’s no evidence to prove it, that, in fact, I witnessed the real culprit hit Ms. Folksworth, and that, in fact, she knows exactly who that culprit is. It is marvelous to see her passionate side up there fighting for me, Tony thinks. Soon enough, the jury will see that she’s right, that I’m innocent.
But, of course, Gregory drags me back down to Earth. He’s got witnesses that say they saw everything: that I was guilty. They must have misinterpreted it, too. This is not good, but I’m just hoping that Abigail has something up her sleeve to fix this.
And, indeed, she does. As she walks up to the stand and cross-examines the witness, she pokes holes in his argument, creates doubt that he saw it clearly, and proves to Tony, all the Jury, and her boss, Gregory, that she’s twice the lawyer he ever was. She proves that he’s fighting a losing battle, that Tony’s not the one to blame.
Tony has never seen a more beautiful argument than the one he helped her create and that she says so strongly. He can’t believe that he ever thought Gregory was a good lawyer. It was probably Abigail all along that was winning his cases. Plus, she’s doing all of this without making any deals with the opposition. When Gregory was my lawyer, Tony thinks, he would always convince me to settle with a compromise, which I always thought was the best deal I could get in the scenario. But Abigail has opened my eyes to the realm of law. You don’t always have to make a deal. You can win just purely based off of the evidence and argument you make.
It’s at that moment that Gregory asks the judge for a minute with his co-counsel. The judge accepts, and, after a moment, Gregory tells the judge that the prosecution is dropping the case. Tony is so shocked he can’t breathe, yet also happy. They’d won. They had won, and they had only gone through one witness. Wow, Tony thinks, I have never seen a faster case to be won.
After they get out into the hall, Gregory approaches them. He interrogates them, expecting an answer, “Who hit her?” When they show him confused faces, he clarifies, “Who crashed into Marie and then drove away?”
Tony looks at Abigail and decides that they shouldn’t keep such things from him, especially since it’s love for his soon-to-be-wife that compels him to ask this. Tony nods at her, and she tells Gregory, “Ronald Grey, 36 years old, a criminal that had just robbed a bank before hitting Ms. Folksworth’s car and driving off in his hurry. He was careless, and he’s in jail now for his actions. Thanks to figuring out who he was, the police have him in custody since they were able to find him once they knew what his vehicle looked like. I had my friend at the police find him since his license plate didn’t match up with anyone’s name. I knew he was a criminal, so I told my friend, and she found him and discovered that he was Ronald Grey. You’re welcome to sue him if you like, but he’s already in jail for his actions.”
Gregory looks shocked. He definitely was not expecting that as our answer. Still, the good side of him comes out as he thanks us and takes his fiancee to go do whatever they are going to do with Grey.
Tony is left standing with Abigail, and he high-fives her for doing the great job she did. He congratulates her, and she’s giddy with the pride of victory. He walks her to her car, and she drives off, back to work. Tony gets into his own car and drives back home to his apartment. He’s an author, so he has no need to work someplace besides home, and he’s got an interesting story to tell once he arrives.
But this time on the drive home, it’s not Ms. Folksworth who gets run into. It’s Tony.