“A whistle!” Cried Mr. Craig “I had to blow a whistle, as if it were a school yard!”
“No wonder this feels like detention” Paige whispered to herself.
“What?” Asked her boss, exasperated.
“Seriously, Paige. You were in a fist fight with a co-worker. What can you say in your defence?”
“He started it!”
“And we are in school, yet again”.
“You wouldn’t believe the rumours he spread! He deserved it”.
“I don’t care! Listen, you are good at what you do, but your bad temper kills me. That’s why, from now on,” he said, reaching inside a drawer, “you’re required to use this”.
In disbelief, Paige held on her hand a plaque that read:
“BE PATIENT; I’M A MENTAL PATIENT”.
“You’ve got to be kidding!”
“I’m afraid not. If you want to keep your job, and since you seem unable to control your moodiness, wear this whenever you’re in the building. You can go back to work now”.
* * *
A few days passed by. The plaque became an inside joke. A joke that Paige didn’t find particularly funny. Next thing she knew, she was required at her boss’ office once again.
“You wanted to see me, Mr. Craig?”
“Yes, Paige, come in. I want you to meet Mark Cassidy. He is a lawyer for Breston & Thompson. Mark, this is Paige Murray, one of my best journalists”.
“Nice to meet you”
Paige remained standing, not really understanding what was required from her.
“Mark’s father went to college with me,” Mr. Craig went on “we were great buddies”.
“Cool” she said, a little confused.
Mr. Craig took a deep breath, realizing he could no longer postpone the inevitable… a tantrum.
“He will be your legal advisor in the P.G. case” he said, finally.
“Your legal advisor”
“There must be a misunderstanding; I don’t do teamwork” she said.
“You will now”.
“Don’t worry”, Mark reassured “I won’t get in your way”.
“Listen, Mark is it? I’m sure you’re a great lawyer and everything. But I don’t do teamwork. Period”.
“Paige, you don’t know a thing about law, do you?” Mr. Craig asked, a little louder than he intended to. “You will work with Mark, you will listen to his ideas and take them into account. And that’s the end of the story. You are in no position to negotiate. Now, both of you, get out of my office!”
Paige stared at the door, already closed.
“What did he mean you are not in a position to negotiate?” Mark asked.
Paige rolled her eyes and pointed at the plaque, hanging on her neck.
“Meaning I’m… irritable. No big deal… Just… Never mind”, she sighted. “You shouldn’t take this personal…”
“Really? I’m a person. How am I supposed to take this, if not personal?”
“Good point. Let’s go. The trial starts in half an hour”.
* * *
The judge declared that the trial would go on the next day. Everybody got up and started to leave the room.
“He’s so guilty” Paige told Mark.
“What are you talking about?”
“Look at this” she said, pointing at her laptop. “It’s his birth chart. Guilty-guilty-guilty”
“So, you’re basing the decision regarding someone’s freedom on astrology? Ass-trology?”
“Wait, you mean you aren’t familiar with my methods?”
“What are you talking about? That stuff is all made up”.
“No, it’s all here!”
“Look, if he was abused, like he confessed, he can claim that he is not mentally sane, therefore not-guilty. End of the matter”.
“Oh, I get it. You’re a cynic. That’s fine. But let me remind you that we have to write a report together, and my opinion also counts”.
“There is physical evidence that he was abused!”
“Didn’t it occur to you that maybe he consented to sex?”
Paige looked at her feet. “I can’t. But he is. And he should go to jail, so he will never again do what he did”.
* * *
Weeks went by. The trial ended just like Mark predicted: due to mental insanity, the accused was declared not guilty and set free.
It was a full moon night in the city, and everyone was out. Everyone except for Marcia, a teenager that was preparing her SAT. She had been studying hard for two weeks now, and she was planning to continue until the exam.
But a stranger got into Marcia’s house trough the back door, which was unlocked. He climbed the stairs right into her bedroom. That stranger was the accused. He planned to do terrible things to her. So terrible, she would be grateful when he finally got to murder her. He opened the bedroom door, and startled her. She screamed loudly. Too bad her parents were out. He covered her mouth and proceeded to tie her up, smiled with wide open eyes, and was about to-
“Police, don’t move!” A policeman entered the room and saved the day.
* * *
“You knew!” Mark told Paige, accusingly.
“Of course I knew! I told you so from the very beginning. He was guilty. And, if it was so easy for him to get away with it, there was no doubt he was going to do it again. It was me who called the police”.
“Duh! The full moon. Crazy people get crazier. Trust me; I know crazy. Remember the plaque?”
“Come on! Now you’re gonna say it was all in the stars”.
“But of course, my sweet. I know you don’t believe in this stuff but-
“You know, given the evidence, I’ll give you the benefit of doubt”.
“Great. It’s more than most people do” Paige said, realizing she was smiling. “Another thing. I didn’t send your report to Mr. Craig”
“I sent the right one, you know? The one who says he was guilty”.
“And if you had been wrong?”
“But I wasn’t”
“But what if you had?”
“Relax! This is a happy ending. The girl is safe, the bad guy will be behind bars and we both get to keep our jobs”.
“I guess you’re right…”
“There’s one tiny detail. Mr. Craig happened to love our report. I mean real L.O.V.E. So, from now on, we will be working together in all legal affairs”.
“I thought you hated teamwork”.
“I do. But, with you, it wasn’t that bad”.
“What are you talking about? You went behind my back and did exactly what you wanted to!”
“Exactly” Paige said with a satisfied smile. “Look, plaques asides, I’m not that much of a pain in the ass”.
“Really?” He said sceptically.
“Come on! Work with me. You won’t regret it”.
“I’m regretting it already”.
Thank you for reading!