Don’t use the credit card, he tells himself. It’s a refrain he's been repeating over and over like a song stuck in his head, a mantra that makes him turn inward despite the brilliant sunshine reflecting off the hood of his car, the beauty of the wildflowers in full bloom along the highway.
Don’t use the credit card, he tells himself again. They’ll find you if you do. Why are you even carrying the credit card? Sure, you can use it for cash advances, but it’s stupid. Stupid! They’re on your trail. One more cash advance and you’re a goner.
To be honest, the cash advances aren’t the half of it. There was another mistake, even more profound: he’s driving a stolen car. He didn’t want it that way. But this is real life, goddamn it, not some kid’s video game, and he has to stay alive. So he stole a car. Sure, it wasn’t the best choice, but it was the only one he could find with the keys in the ignition: a bright purple VW Beetle. It was just another fuck-up in a long string of fuck-ups. At least he threw those goddamn daisies out the window.
And if he keeps ahead of his pursuers, maybe—maybe—he won’t die.
He wonders how long he has. A week? Two weeks? Off to his left, he catches the first sight of the Rocky Mountains far in the distance. It’s progress, but he’s still a beaten man. The irony, that it’s all happened to him, a lawyer who belongs to not just one, but two, country clubs. And who has a summer place on the Carolina coast! And a houseboat! And a wine collection!
How fickle and uncaring are the winds of fate. All it took was one ill-considered deal. That, and a single foolish bribe. And then there was the fact that he tried to double-cross his partner, and one thing led to another, and then the gun went off accidentally . . . What a shock that was, seeing the judge lying dead on the floor. Although there wasn’t as much blood as he’d expected . . .
But enough of the judge! Now he’s flying onward, onward. Now he’s the lawyer-on-the-run. One false move in his stolen VW Beetle and they’ll find him. Not the police, not the FBI. The police and the FBI are patsies compared to the people who really scare him.
Who’s he worried about? It’s the judge’s friends, the judge’s hired thugs—they’re killers, butchers. If they find him, it won’t be pretty. They’ll cut him up into a hundred pieces. A thousand pieces!
Just outside of Cheyenne, a long black car follows him for three miles. Sweat runs down his forehead and drips into his shirt. But then in his rear-view mirror, he sees the car exit off the highway, and he breathes easy again. For now, he’s safe.
But for how long? It’s been weeks since he talked to his wife—his third wife, to be factually accurate—and a month since he said goodnight to their seven-year-old daughter. Only John Grisham could get him out of this. Wait, wait: who’s he kidding? John Grisham’s last three books all sucked! If the lawyer-on-the-run is going to live—if he’s going to see his daughter again, not to mention his third wife—it will take a Scott Turow, maybe even a Richard Dooling, to extricate him from this mess. . . Hell, it may even take a Bellow or an Updike!
Driving down the highway, the lawyer-on-the-run lets out a moan. Oh, God, he thinks, I’m going to die. I’m fucking going to die . . . And I’m only forty-three, and I haven’t even had a chance to win an argument before the U.S. Supreme Court!
[Like this post? It's one of many included in my book How to Feed a Lawyer (And Other Irreverent Oberservations from the Legal Underground). Details here.]
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