Love, Las Vegas and Moral Triage
The best stories we keep to ourselves. It’s the law’s way. You hang a shingle asking people to come to tell you their troubles. Good lawyers often lose a taste for fiction as a form of entertainment. We don’t need to make things up. Just be alert. Pay attention. Try not to be overwhelmed by it all. And remember, always, the attorney-client privilege. We lawyers are, after all, the low-priests of chaos.
But still, the stories; they need to be told. Herewith this week’s gems, sanitized to protect confidences, but all true. Call them dispatches from the lawyer’s emergency room, a place where moral triage is required.
She offered the man love for a price. He paid willingly, and often. He could not get enough of her, in fact. He persuaded himself what they shared was true love. He wanted her all to himself. Why was she playing so hard to get? Didn’t she realize money was tight?
So he called her. First daily. Then many times a day. Then hundreds of times a day. He was an avalanche, need and desire crashing down on her. She wanted him out of her life. So she called me.
"Can I get a restraining order?"
She was not in near risk of physical harm. I told her the courts would not issue an order.
"What he’s doing is harassing you. You can go to the police. Complain that the man won’t leave you alone. They will tell him to stop calling. If he keeps calling, record his messages and give them to the police. They will arrest him."
"But if they knew I was an escort, they’d arrest me," she replied.
Difficult choices lay just around the bend. She was young, a working girl in a rural area.
A dilemma to be sure, and then the solution was obvious.
"Go the police. Complain. When they ask how you met him or about the nature of your relationship, plead the Fifth Amendment. They can’t hold your invocation of that right against you. Let the caller accuse you of prostitution. How credible will he look, calling the woman who won’t return his calls a whore?"
She thanked me for my advice. I have no idea whether she followed it.
I am a trial lawyer. I earn my living on my feet in open court. Nights belong to my wife. So I was grumbling as I drove to a dinner meeting with a client and their spouse. I’d lose an evening reading in bed with my wife, the passion sport of we geriatric lovers.
"We’d like to do something special for you and your wife," the client said as dinner ended. "How about a ‘rock star’ weekend at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas?"
I explained that my wife and I are retiring sorts. We’ve never been to Vegas. I suspect the same will be said of us when we are dead.
"That’s kind," I said, "but I am afraid it’s just not us."
"Well what if we send you on a weekend all by yourself? You can tell your wife it’s business," my client said with a co-conspirator’s twinkle in the eye.
I did not need to tell Satan to get behind me. I felt my wife huddled against me, sharing me with the book she is reading, giving herself to both the author and to me without reservation.
"See this," I said, holding up my left hand and pointing toward my ring finger. "I am married, a happily married fool who freely admits to being pussy-whipped. No deal, but thanks."
On the drive home I called my wife.
"You wouldn’t believe what I was offered tonight, a ‘rock star’ weekend with or without you. Where were these clients when I was young and restless?"
My wife laughed. The laugh was an embrace called trust. It is the most valuable thing I possess.
Reprinted courtesy of the Connecticut Law Tribune.