The total for the novel now stands at ~35,500 words. I stubbornly remain 3000 words short of where I should be in order to finish in time. This will be down to the wire.
Since I left off in the middle of a scene last night, I provide a slight repeat at the beginning of tonight's installment.
Katie blew her nose thoroughly, wiped her eyes, and pulled Kristy’s arm around her more tightly, then began. “You remember that I went out with Abby and Myra from work, and I met a guy named Brian?”
“Well, we’d all been drinking a lot. And then, after a while, Abby and Myra went home, so it was just me and Brian. I had had a lot to drink, and we were going to go over to his place, or maybe he was taking me back here— Okay, to be honest, I don’t really remember where we were going. We got in his car, and he said he could still drive, and we took off. But the cops pulled us over. They were making him do a breathalyzer, and they were both being real assholes. Well, okay, I mean, I think they were. To be honest, I was really drunk. I was telling them that they should leave us alone, and that we were just trying to get home, and they should be out protecting people, and… You know. Like I said, I was really drunk. And I guess I was yelling at them a lot or something after they told me to stop, because the next thing is they handcuffed me and they took us both to the police station. And I think I kind of passed out or fell asleep for a while or something. But when they let me go the next morning they gave me a ticket for $500 for ‘interfering with an officer at a crime scene’. And I didn’t have the money, so I filled out the paper saying I wanted a court date instead and mailed it back, so I’d have some time. But now they keep sending me court dates, and the papers say that I owe $500 plus costs or else I’ll go to jail for 6-10 days. And it doesn’t say what the costs are, and I don’t now how much longer I can keep delaying the court date, but I don’t know what to do and it says if I leave the state they’ll issue a warrant for my arrest and— Oh, Kristy, I’m sorry!”
After having gradually increased in energy and speed her explanation finally devolved, upon this apology, into tears.
“Katie. Katie, it’s okay,” Kristy comforted, stroking her hair.
“It’s not okay. I know it was stupid of me to get drunk and yell at police officers, but I don’t want to go to jail.”
“Don’t be silly. You won’t go to jail. Katie, this is easy. Let me call up my friend Dan, who’s a lawyer, and we’ll get this all sorted out. No one is going to jail. It’ll be fine. Why didn’t you tell me about this back when it happened?”
“I guess… I didn’t want to admit it. Lots of people hook up at bars and have one night stands. It’s not like spending the night in jail.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I know a lot of people who’ve landed in the drunk tank for a night. This is not that big a deal, Katie. I wish you’d told me the truth and not left me thinking that you’d slept with some guy you’d never met before.”
“Have you ever spent the night in jail?” Katie demanded, shrugging her sister’s arm off her shoulders.
“And have you ever hooked up with a guy you didn’t know?”
“Well… Sort of. Once or twice. That was a long time ago.”
“Then why are you being all judgmental with me?”
“I’m not judging you, Katie.”
“Yes you are! You’re glad to hear I ended up in jail instead of sleeping with Brian. How is it not judging me to want me in jail instead of sleeping with a guy?”
“Katie, look—” Kristy paused. “We should have this conversation, but I need a drink. Do you want anything?”
“No,” Katie responded sulkily.
Kristy went into the kitchen and poured herself a generous tumbler of bourbon, then returned to the living room. She had a momentary instinct to sit on the easy chair, across from Katie, but instead sat back down next to her on the couch and pulled her sister close.
“Here’s the thing. You get drunk, you yell at a cop, you spend the night in jail. That’s humiliating and upsetting. I understand that. But look, all we have to do is put on some nice clothes, go to court, pay your fine, and it goes away. You don’t have any ties to it. This just becomes a good story to tell people about the kind of dumb things that we’ve all done when we’re drinking. If you’d slept with this Brian guy, where would you be now?”
Katie tried to turn away from her sister, but Kristy kept her arms around her.
“No, really. Like you said, I’ve tried hooking up. What do you get afterwards? You still would have dragged yourself home all hung over, but every time your phone rang for weeks you would have been wondering if he was calling you back, and wondering what was wrong with you when he never did.”
“How do you know he wouldn’t call?” Katie asked.
“Has he called you?”
“No, but that night was so bad… Maybe if we’d had that connection something would have happened.”
“Katie, do you know of any good relationships that started with a hook up with a stranger in a bar?”
“Well… I don’t know. I guess not.” After being sullenly passive since the topic had come up Katie suddenly shifted to the conversational offensive. “Look, it’s easy for you to be all righteous about this stuff. You had your hook ups when you were young, and now you’re older and successful and have everything you want. What am I supposed to do? Just sit around wishing I was like you?”
“Katie, what are you talking about? I don’t have everything I want. I haven’t found a boyfriend or had sex since Kevin and I broke up three years ago. Do you think that’s what I want? To be alone at thirty-three and not know if I’ll ever find anyone again?”
“But you’ve got your job, and this place, and… You have everything so together.”
“Yeah, I’ve done okay with my career. I dunno. Maybe I’ve done great. So what? I got to call myself a director for two months while I was stuck in China getting hit on by some married forty-year-old freak of a senior vice president. Is that so great? I mean, yeah, I’ve been lucky. If I’m going to be lonely I’d rather be lonely with a nice condo and a BMW. But I don’t have everything I want.”
“Yes. And you know what?” She pulled Katie closer. “One of the best things about the last three months has been having you here and starting to feel like a little bit of a family. I didn’t realize I’d been missing out on that until after you came.”
Katie leaned back into her sister’s hug. “Thanks,” she said.
The next morning Kristy printed off the offer letter from Schneider & Sons, signed it, scanned it in, and emailed it to their HR department. Then she looked up Dan’s law office number and called it.
“Fischer & Plumm. Can I help you?”
“Good morning. May I speak to Dan Fischer?”
“Who may I say is calling?”
“Just a moment.” Kristy waited, reflecting that once again she had not called Dan until she needed something. The secretary’s voice returned, “Thank you for holding, Ms. Nilsson. He’ll speak to you now. I’ll put you through.”
Dan’s voice greeted her. “Kristy, what’s up? Why are you calling on the office phone? You’ve got my cell.”
“Hey, Dan. I know, I just— This is a professional call, and I want you to go ahead and bill me, so I figured I should call on the business phone.”
“Oh, come on, Kristy. If you need a hand with something, you don’t have to pay me. What’s the problem?”
“No, Dan, seriously: I want you to bill me for this just like you would anyone else. Okay?”
“Kristy, is everything okay? This doesn’t have anything to do with that newspaper article, does it?”
“Oh, you saw that? No. Nothing to do with that. Here’s the deal: My sister Katie needs to go to court. She was out at a bar a couple months ago and drove home with a guy who got pulled over on a DUI. She got in an altercation with the cops, spent the night in jail, and she’s got a ticket for ‘interfering with a police officer at a crime scene’. She’d filed for a court date in order to put off paying the ticket, so she’s up for $500 plus costs and she’s got a court date coming up. I figured you would know how to deal with this so that she keeps her record clean and doesn’t pay any more than she has to. Let me pay whatever your normal rate would be plus any fines or expenses. I just want to make this go away for her.”
“Okay, well honestly, this should be pretty easy. Basically, she just comes into court — I’ll go with her and bill you for a couple hours, email me the date and I’ll put it on my calendar — and we explain that she’s really sorry, she’s never been in trouble with the law before, and we ask them to suspend the prosecution. If the judge is in a good mood, and thinks she looks like a nice girl, the judge suspends the case and so long as she stays out of trouble for the next three years the whole thing just goes away. If she does end up in legal trouble again, she has to deal with both charges. Now, if that’s not working, we offer to plead guilty in exchange for having the charge reduced to something harmless (jaywalking would be good). Then we just pay the fine and she’s good. Either way, it’s not a problem.”
“You mean, chances are we just ask them to drop it and they do, and we don’t even have to pay a fine?”
“That, my friend, is the unfair advantage of having legal representation. And knowing what to ask.” Dan now shifted audibly from business voice to chit-chat. “So how’re things at Aspire? You’re back from China, I discern?”
“Uh, yeah. We haven’t talked in a while. Well, actually, it’s only been a few days, but— I quit Aspire as soon as I got back last Thursday. It was… It’s was just bad. I had to get out.”
“Wow. Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Yeah, actually… I just got back from central Illinois where I had an interview, and they offered me a job.”
“Illinois?” Dan sounded taken aback. “That’s far from home. Are you thinking of taking it?”
“It seems like a good company and it’s near my parents and— You know, what we need is to have dinner. When are you free?”
“How about Saturday?”
“That would be great.”
38 minutes ago