I knew I was just hiding from the reality of my life, but I felt like an injured bird that could only sit in a safe place, out of sight. At thirty-one years of age, I had been through law school and entered the wars of criminal law. From the outside, it had appeared to me as an exciting, lucrative career to follow. I had failed to allow for the vicious, greedy, desperate, aggressive philosophy of those who became my colleagues, and I soon found I wasn’t made of the right stuff. I gave it up after one year. My co-workers and opposing lawyers had attacked my clients and me, and usually won for their clients. Not necessarily because their case had more merit… I’m ashamed to say it was because I lacked the killer instinct to go for the throat, as they say, to win my clients’ cases.
I kept my legal credentials after I went home to Chicago, just in case. My parents, my sister and her husband, and my cousins still live there. I needed to be in the womb of my family, to gain the comfort of supportive people. I was really a mess from my brief career in the line of fire. I was only home for a week before I got a job… a nice, simple job. I didn’t need much, because I was living in my old room at my parents’ house. So I became the receptionist/typist at a law office. It was a good little office with the two partners and a paralegal the only staff other than me. Sometimes I would get snowed under if I had documents to prepare for all three of them at the same time. That didn’t happen often, and when it did, I just stayed late to get it done. I enjoyed the work, it was easy, and I had nobody to run home to anyway, so I was just as happy to be at work.
On the occasions when I did stay late to complete an overload of work, I had to have the completed copied and collated documents delivered to the lawyers and their clients. I would call Rifleman Couriers ‘cause we had a contract with them, and it was always the same courier who came to pick the stuff up and deliver it the same night. He was a good-looking Afro-American guy who’s skin is almost coal black. He was maybe forty-five or fifty, but one of those mature men who still has a youthful energy about him. His body appeared to be lean and firm, and he moved with rapid smoothness like a big cat. The third time he came to make the pickup, I asked why he was the only driver who came for these late pickups.
“Do you have to take these late runs,” I asked while he filled out the bill of lading.
“No,” he said. “I like it. I can use the extra money, and I like to be out and around at night. I have nobody to run home to anyway, so I’m just as happy to be at work.”
“I know what you mean,” I said. “I’m in the same situation.” The guy took the document envelopes and went to the elevator door. Suddenly he turned to me.
“If you’re done here,” he said, “you can come along for the ride.” He gestured with the documents.
“I’d like to be able to see my bosses’ houses,” I said. “That might be fun.”
“And when we’re done, I’ll take you for supper,” he smiled. A row of bright, white, even teeth lit up the room with their gleam.
“Sounds too good to miss,” I said. “My name’s Annette… Annette Dunlevy.” I held my hand out to him. He took it in his warm, dry grasp.
“I’m Nick Clark,” he said. “Better get yourself together if you’re coming. I have deliveries to make.” We both laughed and I got my jacket and handbag before we went down in the elevator together.