Chapter Nine

 

I’ve made it through the first year of law school! The feeling of relief is indescribable. It's like the weight of the world’s been lifted from my shoulders. I've more than passed; actually done better than I’d hoped, which was gaining a place in the top five percent of One L graduates. That, I thought, would help me secure one of the few but highly coveted summer internship positions the DA’s office offered each year  I  graduated in the top one percent, an achievement, I hope, will give me an edge, if not in the DA's office, then at one of the district courts, or clerking for a judge. Anything that will get me courtroom experience.

 

Waiting for my results had been nerve-wracking; the suspense and self-doubt had been almost crippling. I hadn’t been the only one on tenterhooks, though. It seemed that, in that time, everywhere around me, conversations would inevitably start with, “Have you heard?” 

 

Two days ago, we were put out of our misery, and judging from the almost immediate lifting of the pall of tension that hung in the air, the majority of One L’s were satisfied with their results. In section three, nearly all of my fellow students received a pass mark. The small number who failed had been and remain understandably devastated. I genuinely sympathize. The thought of having to repeat the ordeal of the last year is just too daunting to contemplate. At least they’ll know what to expect, I told those I had the opportunity to commiserate with. Empty platitudes, I know, but what the hell else is there to say?

 

Justin also ranked among the top students, and Tom received what he deemed an acceptable passing grade. So, on the night we received our results, we celebrated—hard. Festivities started in our dorm lounge, where we met up with a bunch of fellow students. From there, at Tom’s suggestion, we moved on to the apartment of a friend of his, George. George, a second-year MBA student, has a seemingly endless supply of money, which he throws around liberally, and a reputation for being a party animal. “There’ll be lots of willing women there,” Tom promised the guys he invited. I'd always avoided George's parties, which I'd heard could get pretty wild. But, free from studying for a while, I decided to indulge myself.

 

And I did. That night, for the first time in a long while, I drank more than I had in ages, and when I left the party with a young woman, Crystal, we overindulged in sex. At some ungodly hour, I flagged down a cab and, at home, tore my clothes off and fell into bed. It felt like my head had only just hit the pillow when I woke to a loud, incessant banging.

 

“What the hell…” I muttered irritably as, clumsily clutching a bed sheet around my waist, I stumbled to the door.  A very irate Cait confronted me.

 

“We were supposed to meet over an hour ago,” she accused, pushing past me. 

 

“I said I’d meet you at one,” I snapped, equally annoyed.

 

“It’s after two, Adam!” she shot back.

 

“It can’t be—“ I said, cut off by a snort from the doorway. Only then did I notice Tom, wearing the clothes he’d worn the night before. I glared at him but spoke to Cait.

 

“What the hell are you doing with him?” I demanded, the visual of him last night—the last I’d seen—groping the breast of one girl while another, also naked, knelt between his legs instantly springing to mind. I’d mistakenly wandered into the wrong room when looking for a bathroom.  The girl on her knees appeared drunk as she smiled at me lopsidedly. Tom had been unabashed. In fact, he'd blatantly challenged me when he asked whether I wanted to join the fun. “Rachel sucks like a Hoover, “ he crassly added while bunching her hair in his fist.

 

“Are you okay," I asked the girl who's breast he was still tugging at, the one still able to speak.  She nodded and, satisfied that they weren't there under duress, I glared at him. "Lock the fucking door,” I snapped before slamming it shut behind me. I’m not  a prude. I mean, I love a blowjob as much as any man. I’ve even, at times, been demanding—with the woman's consent, and if it's what she wanted, of course. But what the hell?  Being sexually uninhibited is one thing; being so blatantly demeaning to women is quite another.   

 

I’d tried to rid myself of that memory when he spoke from his position outside my door. “Relax; I was just making sure your sister got in safely,” he said before, with a wink at Cait, he sauntered off in the direction of his room.

 

I wanted to race after him to physically warn him against messing around with my sister. I wanted to interrogate Cait and demand she never speak to him again, but I was practically naked, and she turned on me first.

 

“You stink like a brewery and woman,” she said her face scrunched in distaste.  “Shower!  I’ll make coffee, then I’ll help you to pack, so we can get out of here.”

 

I chose not to argue. I felt guilty and ashamed—for having stood her up and, mostly, for having her find me in the state I was in. I had not set the best example; especially after the conversation we’d had about my sexual habits.

 

That was a week and a half ago. I spent some of the intervening time catching up with my family and friends. Libby, hearing that I was around, called, and I invited her to join us at the pub one evening. I drove her home but declined her invitation to go up. “I’m not expecting anything from you, Adam,” she assured me.

 

“I’m glad because nothing’s changed since we spoke. I’ll call you next week, and if you’re not busy, we’ll get together,” I said. 

 

Most of my time, as I’d intended, was spent seeking opportunities and then applying for summer internships. I managed to line up several appointments. One is with Judge Benton’s senior clerk, who, I’d been informed by one of my professors, may be looking for an intern. Clerking for a judge is a great opportunity because it provides a chance to see trials or appellate actions from the other side of the bench. Something, which, unless appointed to the bench, one may never otherwise experience. I have two more opportunities lined up; one, interning at a trial court, and the other, at an appeals court.

 

But it’s my first interview, the one I’m just about to walk into, that excites me most. It’s also the one I’m most anxious about. From the day I decided to become a prosecutor, I’ve dreamed of working in this building, Number One Bullfinch Place is home to the biggest and busiest district attorney’s offices in Massachusetts. As a first-year law graduate, if I’m lucky enough to be accepted, I’d be assigned to one or more of the superior court trial and appellate units to assist in legal research, writing, and case preparation. I’ll be able to visit the courthouse and observe criminal trials and motions. I may even have the opportunity, if granted, to argue in court. Nothing crucial, naturally, but first-year graduate interns often get the chance to present precedent or other points of law.  The very thought has me tingling with both anticipation and apprehension. 

 

Once I’ve completed my second year, and if  I get in and invited back next summer, I’ll be able to work in any of the district courts as a student prosecutor. I'd have to qualify under the special Judicial Court ruling that gives approval to upper-year law students of an accredited law school or one authorized to grant juris doctor or bachelor of laws degrees to appear on behalf of the government or defendants in criminal proceedings. Supervised, of course, and I'd have to keep doing well because only those who continue to do well academically and maintain an exemplary conduct record are approved. There is no payment, but students who need financial assistance can apply for a grant.  The experience is invaluable to any would-be prosecutor, so competition to gain an internship in the DA's office, despite financial pressure, is fierce. Money isn’t an issue for me, but it doesn’t mean I can take anything for granted. Applications are bound to outnumber the positions on offer. So, it’s crucial that I perform well at today's interview.

 

I’m meeting with Assistant DA Tara Nichols, and I learned, beforehand like all candidates that, should I make it through this interview, I’d be asked to meet Chief ADA Bill Watts. He, I guess, will make the final decision. 

 

An hour later, I leave the building, thankful that the interview went well. At least, that’s what I think. Tara had been easy to talk to. She reminded me a lot of Jenna; a younger version, but just as sharp and forthright. I believe I answered her questions thoroughly, and our discussion, at times, felt a lot like Jenna's and my debates. Her parting words, “We’ll be in touch,” didn’t give any indication of how well she thought I'd done, but I refuse to give in to doubt. I’m still in with a chance, I tell myself as I get into my car.

 

I waited nervously for the call, vacillating between hope and trying to preparing myself for the worse. "You have other options, and there’s always next year,’ were phrases that ran through my head like an overplayed music track. The next day, Bill Watt’s assistant called to arrange a meeting for the following day—today. It’s now four hours since that interview, and I’m waiting once again. I’ve comforted myself with the thought that he, at least, had said, “I’ll call you later today.”

 

I felt that meeting had also gone well. A former HLS graduate, Mr. Watts asked about my experience as a One L and smiled and nodded, sometimes laughed, at my account of how, particularly in the first few months, I’d struggled. He congratulated me on what he called ‘excellent results’ and showed particular interest in my reasons for wanting to become a prosecutor. Without divulging personal details, I explained that I’d had an experience that proved the premise that the law is there to serve everyone equally. He seemed satisfied, pleased almost, with my response.

 

Late in the afternoon, he calls back himself to say the DA’s office would be delighted to have me as an intern. I’ll be assigned to Tara Nichol’s team, and she’ll provide details of my duties and supervise me, he informed me. I start at eight-thirty on Monday morning. 

 

Mom, home at the time, decides the family should go out for a celebratory dinner. The next morning, I call Judge Benton’s chambers and each of the court clerks, thanking them for the opportunity to interview and advising them that I’ve been offered and accepted an internship with the DA’s office. Next, I call Matt to arrange to meet him and the gang at the pub that night.

 

On Saturday morning, I call Libby and, given that she’s free, invite her out to dinner. We enjoy each other’s company just as we did before, and, after dinner, we spend hours in her bedroom, enjoying ourselves some more.

 

On Monday morning, I arrive at the DA’s office nearly half an hour before the expected time. I feel a bit sheepish when admitting to the receptionist just how early I am. “I’ll just sit and wait,” I tell her. “Tara’s already in; I’ll let her know you’ve arrived,” she insists. I’m grateful when Tara greets me warmly and tells me she likes an early starter.  "I’m usually in at seven or seven-thirty," she says, and I resolve to get in at that time each morning too.

 

The rest of my summer break passes quickly; almost too fast. I spend quality time with my family, most often at mealtimes, and see my friends frequently. I invite Libby out a couple more times, and sometimes, when I join the gang at the pub, she’s there with Lana. I make a point, no matter how tempting, not to sleep with her on each occasion. She’s disappointed, I can tell, but I’m determined not to fall into a dating pattern.

 

My work at the DA’s office remains my focus, and I love every second. Even the tedious research and reams of reading material, so reminiscent of the many hours, in the past year, I spent doing the same thing, fail to dampen my enthusiasm. And then, exceeding all my expectations, Tara invites me to observe a trial, which she’s second-chairing for Bill Watts. It's a case I’d done a lot of research for. The defendants, a husband and wife, are charged with embezzling money and property from the mentally impaired man they were meant to care for and protect. I’m spellbound, watching Bill examine and then cross-examine witnesses and, finally, the defendants. I find myself anticipating his questions, ecstatic whenever I’m proven correct.

 

When, nearly two weeks later, both defendants are found guilty, I’m elated. One could be forgiven for thinking I’d prosecuted the case. When I congratulate Bill, he thanks me and says I played a role in securing the verdict. “Your research strengthened our case,” he assures me.  He’s being polite and exaggerating, I know. Still, I’m pleased and replay his comment over and over in my mind throughout the day. 

 

Then, at the sentencing hearing a week later, when the judge orders the defendants to pay restitution to the victim and imposes the harshest penalties allowable under the law, my decision to become a prosecutor is solidified. Nothing can sway me from my course, I decide.  This is what I want to do; what I’m meant to do.