PROLOGUE - The Forgotten Lawyer
-Please play the music while reading the story -
Thomas Merrison was a famous criminal lawyer in New Jersey. Everyone remember him well when he took up the greatest high profile case involving murder of a Russian woman that was secretly related to the US Government not to mention the future of the people of his country. However, something went wrong and fate had brought him to what he was today or some said it may be what he wanted all along. Having a simply life where nobody knows who he is or what he was. However, his personal assistant who was also his girlfriend, Jennifer Paddington, had a different perspective in life and knew that one day maybe one day he will rise up again and be powerful like he used to be 5 years ago. In her heart, she had been waiting patiently and quietly for him but on their 3rd Valentine celebration, it had taken its toll. She could no longer feel safe and secured with him like the way she felt for him when they first fell in love. Well at least not in her financial vocabulary and expectation of a partner in life. All she wanted was to see him become someone what he was before and not becoming someone that she hates. Like someone without hope and without aim in life. Someone with regrets and guilt and all he knows is to blame the past and not being able to live his life towards the future.
It was their 3rd Valentine dinner at Westin Hotel, Borkery Road and it was a place where they used to have their dinners together. What turned out to be a happy sumptuous dinner became a dinner with argument and sadness when each spoke of the truth of one and another.
Jennifer: Why don’t you get a job? How long are you going to go on like this?
Thomas: Honey, I had tried and still waiting for someone to call me for an interview.
Jennifer: Try harder. You know you got so much debt to pay and you just can’t go on like this. You said you tried but I can see your heart isn’t. You just can’t …..(sighed)….
Thomas: Can’t what?
Jennifer: You just can’t blame everything again!
Thomas: Here you go again…
Jennifer: NO! I have to say this again and again because you never seem to change. You always remember the past. You always do this in our special occasion. Why can’t we have a normal happy Valentine dinner? I just can’t be worrying about you again anymore. You are old enough to know what is best and what you should do Thomas! You…..
(Before Jennifer could finish her last words, Thomas hit the table with his fist so loud that everyone in the restaurant was staring at them. Then to avoid further embarrassment, Thomas stood up and walked towards the exit. Jennifer followed behind him thinking that their evening dinner will be the fastest they ever had. Outside the main entrance, Thomas suddenly stopped walking as he felt a slight pain on his chest. Jennifer was so worried and quickly ran to his aid but Thomas pushed her away. To her surprise, Jennifer saw tears in Thomas's eyes as he became emotional suddenly.)
Thomas: I…I am no longer the lawyer I used to be, Jenny.
Thomas: Can’t you accept that huh? I don’t deserve to be a lawyer anymore. Don’t you know all my clients committed suicide after I ceased practice 5 years ago. Don’t you know why? Huh? Don't you want to know? IT"S BECAUSE I ABANDONED THEM! THAT'S WHY! ....I abandoned all of them.....(began to sob)….
Jennifer: Tho…Thomas your heart. Are you alright?
(In Jennifer’s mind 7 years ago at Thomas’s legal office at Maryson Road, New York. Thomas was seen arguing with Jennifer about Thomas’s second murder case that he handled. It was Case No.3 – The cute little girl’s murder that angered the whole town.)
Jennifer: What is the point of going to Boston again?
Thomas: He called. He wanted to see me.
Jennifer: What for? He never paid your bill. He never listened to you and only trust his girlfriend. How many times do you need to go to Boston County Jail for this client? It’s not worth it.
Thomas: I know but this time after a long silence, he suddenly called. I know something is not right. I need to go and find out what’s wrong.
Jennifer: Thomas for God sake, You are no longer his lawyer. You had discharged yourself a month ago remember. Give it a rest. He probably has his own so called high fly lawyer recommended by his girlfriend by now.
Thomas: I know but he called and he needed my help he said.
Jennifer: Damn it! Thomas! When are you ever going to learn this. You got debts to pay and rent is due. Why are you concentrating your time and effort to such a loser who didn’t trust you despite all your effort to help. Do you know you have been used like a rag cloth. Can’t you just be like any other lawyers who only represent clients who pay. We need money to survive in this firm.
Thomas: Jenny! ….I am not like any other lawyers who only go for money.
Jennifer: Then what! What are you? What kind of a lawyer are you, Thomas? I am sick and tired of you playing hero all the time and disregard what is best for your firm. I am just sicked and tired. You know what I think I am going quit! I can’t take this anymore. I can’t.
(Jennifer was so annoyed that Thomas was unable to see her point of view in the business of operating a legal firm particularly the sustenance part. She walked towards the exit and about to leave the room then Thomas quickly responded to what she had just said.)
Thomas: It’s justice.
(Jennifer stopped walking and turned around to look at Thomas. She began to listen to Thomas tentatively.)
Jennifer: What? What are you talking about?
Thomas: It’s justice. I want to help the innocent and find out the truth or to let the truth prevails. You may worry about money and month end commitment which I know I am lack of these concern and its not practical but what is so important than being practical when I can save an innocent life. It doesn’t matter whether he trusted me before or now as long I trust him and did my job honestly and sincerely as a lawyer. I am not just representing him as my client. Can’t you see I am also representing the victim. That little girl who was murdered. I am representing JUSTICE. What I want is the truth to get out and the world to know. What I want is justice for the murdered victim. And I know that he is innocent and why he didn’t trust me earlier is because he was brainwashed by his girlfriend whom I have evidence and reasons to suspect to be the actual murderer. Now! You tell me how could I just sit here and think about money or why he didn’t pay my bills when I am the only one in the world that he finally understood and trusted to help him now. What is justice and equality under the law when we have lawyers backed down just because his client never pays him. What kind of a lawyer would I be? Huh Jenny? Tell me! What kind of a lawyer would I be if I back down now. You kept comparing me with other lawyers who only work for clients who pay. Well these type of lawyers lack one thing in life and they don’t have what I have, Jenny!
Jennifer: And what’s that, Thomas?
Thomas: Honor, Jenny!. They got no honor. What is life without honor? I am born a fighter. Who makes things right from wrong. That’s what I am and I can’t change that, Jenny. I can’t. Damn it! I can't.
(There is a long silence between Jennifer and Thomas. Then suddenly Jennifer broke the silence by picking up the telephone and looked at Thomas.)
Jennifer: So which section in the County Jail do you want me to call? To book your appointment?
(Thomas started to smile a little and they both started to work again for that murder case. It was a memorable incident for Jennifer for she finally understood Thomas’s principle in his practice as a defence attorney who not only fights for his clients but also defends justice in the eyes of the world. Suddenly she was proud to work for him that day. Even prouder.)
(After remembering the past, it broke Jennifer's heart to see a different person in Thomas that night. He was no longer the fighter nor the person he used to be. All she saw was a broken man who was so lost from the pain of his terrible past.)
Thomas: I always stood up for them. You know that. I always fought for them. When I was representing them, I fought all my cases 200 percent even if they don’t pay me. When everyone in the world abandoned them, I was the only one who helped them. I was there when they needed me. I was there fighting for them and believed in my principle in life. I believe in justice. Now you tell me how can I move on when I read the newspapers from time to time seeing them all committed suicide after I left them. I was their only friend and I ab…aban…abandoned them, Jenny. What kind of a lawyer am I? I just don’t deserve to be a lawyer anymore….I…..I…just can’t anymore…(sobbed)….
Jennifer: Okay Tom! I understand but (sighed)…. you have your reasons and I know it's not your fault. Stop blaming yourself like this. Thomas! All I ever wanted now is for you to start a new life again. You don’t have to be a lawyer. Look! You were a good lawyer. A great lawyer and I was so proud of you. So damn proud but still you can get a normal job and we can still live normally like any ordinary couple. All I want from you is to get a job and lead a normal life again. I don’t want you to go back to what you were if this hurt you so much, okay? ……(began to sob)….. Okay, darling?
(Thomas just nodded and Jennifer held him tenderly by his shoulder and tried to hug him. Then quickly they both hugged each other for a while before turning towards their car parked near the main entrance of the hotel. That night, Jennifer made Thomas realized one thing in life. He has to stand up again not for his long forsaken clients anymore but for himself. He needed to stand up again to face the real world so that he can move on and live a happy life with her again. He needed to start over not from the beginning but from where he left off 5 years ago. He may have a lawyer’s heart that was instilled in him for life but in life he need not be that lawyer anymore in order to live again. Not anymore. That night with Jennifer’s love, he told himself not anymore.)