As promised, here is the first chapter of Requiem For A Casanova. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I am – Simon
Inside the law offices of Osborne Hope, Harrington and Willard
Emma stared at all the documents laid out in front of her.
“Do I have to read all this?” she asked her lawyer.
“You’re getting a mortgage in the year 2013; it would be a good idea to review them all,” advised her lawyer.
Emma looked at all the documents lying on the polished mahogany desk and wondered how much time it was going to take to read all the pages. She also couldn’t help but notice that no matter what lawyer’s office she was in – – the wooden desks that were in the offices were always super shiny. Staring at her own reflection, she wondered if the law firms in and around Boston hired a wood craftsman to come in every day to strip the wood and refinish it.
“It’s probably why their fees are so high,” she said to the piles of paper and the shiny desk, jealous that she never could get her own office desk or desk at home or any table at home, for that matter, as shiny as the law offices’ desks were, no matter how many times she tried.
“What did you say Emma?” her lawyer asked from a side room off the law firm’s big conference room. “Having second thoughts?”
“No, not at all. All these pages for such a small mortgage. You would think I’m borrowing millions,” she said sarcastically as she picked up the pile farthest to her left.
“It’s not just mortgage documents. There is the insurance policy, the inventory, the code requirements– if you change anything to the exterior of the property, the appraisal, some personal observations from Mr. Hanhart about the business, together with a lot of documents required by the federal, state, and local governments.”
“Are the government documents important?” she asked her attorney.
“Nothing but hocus–pocus,” the lawyer said.
“I have found one mistake,” Emma pointed out.
“With the mortgage?” the lawyer asked as he re-entered the main room.
“No, the letter from the city on the requirements of changing anything to the exterior,” Emma said.
“I don’t see anything wrong.”
“It’s addressed to ‘Emma Everly’. I am still Emma Everly Hancock,” she protested.
“Minor oversight. I’ll send them a letter after the papers are recorded. I thought that considering what happened to Mitchell, and all the controversy with your settlement, you would drop his last name,” the lawyer said.
“Because it is the last name of my children, I am keeping it.” she said, annoyed with that statement.
“Well, I’m into contract law, not family law,” he said with a shrug.
“Move on!” Emma demanded.
The lawyer cleared his throat and shrugged his shoulders. He knew he had been beat.
“Then please sum all this up for me, so I don’t have to read every word. After all, you’re on my side. So if you say it’s okay, then I don’t have to read every damn word,” she said.
“By chance, are you a fan of the Marx Brothers?” Emma’s lawyer asked. .
This better be good, because I’m paying him $350 per hour, she thought. “I have heard of them. The only old movie I recall my husband ever talking about was Arsenic and Old Lace. He might have liked them because he was 22 years older than I.”
“What does the age difference have to do with my question?” her lawyer asked.
Is it me, or do all lawyers just ask questions instead of having conversations, she thought? “Nothing,” she lied; but to her, that age difference had already answered a lot of questions in her own mind.
“The Marx Brothers made a movie called A Night at the Opera.”
“And what does opera have to do with law?” Emma asked her lawyer, wondering if being in the law office was making her start to ask too many questions.
“Besides a lot of back stabbing — why nothing. I am trying to answer your question about all the words and terms in the papers that you’re signing,” replied the lawyer.
“Could you please get to the point,” Emma said.
“In the movie, Groucho and Chico read a contract. It starts out with ‘the party of the first part shall be known as the party of the first part. The party of the second part shall be known as the party of the second part,’” her lawyer said.
“And?” Emma demanded.
“That’s all there is to know, Emma. You’re the party of the first part and the lender is the party of the second part. Everything else is legal voodoo that will only mean something if you or they fuck up,” her lawyer announced. “But the words and the terms are mostly on you.”
Emma couldn’t believe it –-not that the words in the document were not important, but that a lawyer actually just spoke to her in good-old-fashioned-easy-to-understand English. “Thank you,” she said.
“You’re very welcome. Besides, with all the fraud in mortgages nowadays, who knows how all the words and terms will play out in our court system over the next few decades,” her lawyer said. “Anyway most contracts are about both parties trusting each other until a problem crops up. Then, that trust turns into fuck you.”
“There are lenders committing fraud?” Emma asked astonished that she was asking more questions than the attorney and that banks would or could be unethical.
“I believe that lenders have committed a lot more fraud than the borrowers who also bailed them out and everything will come out in a court of law vindicating the homeowners and punishing the banks,” the lawyer stated.
“I heard from a law professor at Harvard that the courts are the great equalizer. From what you just told me, I hope she is right,” Emma said as she picked up a pen and affixed her signature.
“By the way, how come you are buying Moise Pipecks?”
“Are you writing a book?” Emma asked sarcastically. “Besides, The Union Oyster House is not for sale.”
The lawyer laughed. “No, I’m curious why a successful psychiatrist would be interested in running an out of date book store, especially when big book stores are closing and everyone seems to be purchasing eBooks to read,” the lawyer pointed out.
“When will Irving Hanhart get his money?” Emma asked.
“Changing the subject?”
“No, I will answer your question,” Emma said.
“As soon as the papers are recorded, Mr. Hanhart will receive his funds. They are in an escrow account and will be wired to the account he provided.”
“Good. Now to your question. I am buying Moise Pipecks, because it is the only place in greater Boston where I ever felt comfortable when I was looking to buy a book,” Emma said.
“You were a professor at Harvard. You mean to tell me that you never found a good bookstore in Cambridge?” her disbelieving lawyer asked her. “I bet that the worst bookstore in Cambridge is better than the best book store in Brookline.”
I have big plans for Moishe Pipecks that I could never ever get by the Nazis who make up the Cambridge Zoning Commission. Besides, Harvard lent a hand in killing my husband,” Emma pointed out.
“So what is your plan again with the place?” her lawyer asked.
“Make it my own. The inside will be gutted and some parking added in the back. One thing about Brookline and Cambridge is that whoever designed it, never imagined the popularity of the internal combustion engine,” Emma said.
“I’m lucky,” the lawyer pointed out.
“How so?” inquired Emma.
“I have been living in Boston since I graduated college and never had to own a car. I have saved a fortune on having no car payments, no parking fees, no car insurance and no maintenance costs,” the lawyer said with a huge grin.
Emma asked the question that everyone does of fellow human beings in Boston when the inevitable word of ‘college’ is put into play during a conversation. “Where did you go to college?”
“Funny, you don’t look Jewish,” Emma said.
“I’m not, “said the lawyer. “Why did you say that?”
“At Harvard you learn that ‘BU’ stands for ‘B-Jew’, for the amount of Jewish kids enrolled, and if you want to keep score, the Harvard boys always say ‘Lesley to bed and Wellesley to wed’,” Emma pointed out.
“I have never heard that, but then again, I didn’t go to Harvard Law School.”
“Good for you!”
“Where did you go to college?” the lawyer asked Emma.
“Wittenberg University for undergrad and Ohio State University for medical,” she said quietly, because in the capital of colleges and universities (Boston, Massachusetts), not going to college in the hub that had never been heard of was considered a sin (Williams College being the exception).
“Oh,” he said while yawning.
Not even a ‘where is that?’ she thought. “The first floor to the building is going to be very contemporary — TV sets always dialed in on sports, a small dance floor, and lots of video games to play.”
“In this town, we never get enough of our sport teams. That’s very smart Emma,” her lawyer said. “I still can’t believe how easy it was for you to get a liquor license.”
“Thank you. I had a very helpful friend who has incredible connections. The second floor is going to be a mid-level wine and liquor bar with a comfy setting. I want to attract authors both famous and not famous for the atmosphere and for book signings,” she said.
“That’s a good idea, too. Is this all original thought?” the lawyer asked her.
“No. Before my husband left to work for the Boston Red Sox, he had a few of his best students come up with a perfect idea for a bar that would pack them in football crazy Columbus. Basically I stole one of the student’s ideas. But the third floor idea is all mine and mine alone,” she pointed out.
“And that ties into the second floor, right?”
“The third floor will be a very select book store that will cater to having authors, who I hope are semi-regulars, come in and give a talk, read from their works, answer some questions, and sign their names and sell some of their works. I’m going to bring in famous authors and authors who no one has ever heard of on top of the local authors I intend to attract,” she said with a grin. “It’s perfect synergy between the second and third floors.”
“It’s going to cost you a fortune to keep that synergy flowing. I mean, look at what happened to Borders. Book stores are a dying breed in the year 2013,” the lawyer pointed out.
“Let me worry about that. I have a lot to lose,” she said with even a wider smile than before. Emma was never going to ever have to worry about the prospect of losing money, because she was the beneficiary of a gigantic windfall known as her settlement. She was one of the lucky ones; never experiencing financial stress growing up or during marriage. She was the daughter of hard working parents who invested
wisely and never lived beyond their means. As she wrote in her diary now I know why I am so terrible at helping my patients who are experiencing financial difficulties and cut them so much slack when they get behind in their bills – I can’t relate.
“I guess that is why I am a lawyer and you are bar/bookstore owner,” he said as he took the papers that Emma had executed and tucked them into his briefcase.
“You forgot a damn good psychiatrist!”