Ed. note: Welcome to ATL’s first foray into serial fiction. “My Job Is Murder,” a mystery set in a D.C. appellate boutique, will appear one chapter at a time, M-W-F, over the next few weeks. Prior installments appear here; please read them first.
Susanna Dokupil can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.
Back at the office, Tyler said goodnight to Katarina and returned to his desk. He checked his e-mail while he ate his sashimi. CLE presentation on electronic discovery. Maintenance on the air conditioners tonight. Recruiting event next week at Carol’s house. He marked his quest calendar accordingly. Post-lunch summer associate evaluation form from Mark. Tyler completed it perfunctorily.
Firmwide announcement regarding the death of Ken Thrax. Standard Corporatica chronicling his achievements, condolences to the family. Information on funeral services to be announced as it became available. No mention of cause of death
Tyler looked at the clock. 8:30 p.m. He sighed, pulled out his pile of cases on parol evidence, opened his document, and got to work.
Katarina returned to her office. Her voicemail light blinked. It was Dick Schlosh, wanting to discuss her research. Katarina’s heart pounded nervously. Her first evaluation. Was her work any good? Only one way to find out. She dialed his extension.
“Katarina! Still at the office? Ah, good. Come on by.” He hung up.
She grabbed her case file and headed down the hall. Schlosh’s tone had seemed friendly enough. Katarina hoped this was a good sign. She reached his office and rapped on the doorframe.
“Come in!” he said, smiling. She took the chair across from his desk. “Great memo,” he said. “Very thorough. Care for a drink?” He whipped out a bottle of single-malt scotch from his bottom drawer.
“Sure,” said Katarina. She thought Schlosh’s behavior was a bit unusual, but she didn’t see any harm in it.
“So, are you having a good experience at the firm?”
“Yes, I’m working on a fascinating Establishment Clause pro bono case. Are you a scotch connoisseur?”
“Scotch, wine, vodka, cigars…” He paused and gave her a playful smirk. “Anything that’s expensive and bad for me.”
“Your work is good. Have you thought much about judicial clerkships?”
“Of course! It’s difficult to be an appellate litigator without one.”
“True enough. Who are your recommendations when you apply next fall?”
“Well, I did some research for one of my professors last spring….”
“What you need is a rec from someone who actually knows judges. Now, I saw on your resume that you’re involved with the Lawyers for Liberty, so I assume you’re a libertarian?”
“What do you think of Judge Pyrrha?”
“Oh, she’s amazing!”
“We’ve been friends since law school. Keep up the good work, and I’ll see if she can join us for lunch one day. Another drink?”
Katarina, elated, accepted.
Tyler had written a few paragraphs, none of them spectacular. The banging sounds of the air conditioning maintenance work made it impossible for him to concentrate. He decided to walk down the hall to the soda machine.
As he passed the men’s room, he heard some odd shuffling inside. Tyler opened the door. He saw no one, but several ceiling tiles had been removed. Tyler walked over and looked up. The end of a rope ladder dangled from some point above.
Tyler couldn’t resist investigating. He stood on the edge of the toilet, climbed up to the top of the door, then stretched until he could just reach the ladder’s bottom rung. Tyler tugged gently to test its security, then, finding it sound, pulled himself up.
Schlosh had moved around the desk to sit next to Katarina.
“…. and one of the mosaics at Pompeii is this dog on a doorstep that reads ‘Cave Canem.’ ‘Beware of dog.’ Can you believe it? It’s so fascinating how technology has changed in the last two or three thousand years, but people haven’t,” finished Katarina.
“Fascinating,” said Schlosh, refilling her glass.
Susanna Dokupil is a former appellate lawyer who abandoned regular employment in favor of raising four kids. She wishes to emphasize that the resemblance of any character in “My Job Is Murder” to any actual person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. (Except for the geeky stuff. Appellate lawyers really are that geeky.)
Susanna can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Facebook.
Earlier: Prior installments of My Job Is Murder