CHAPTER NINE

 

I’ve made it through the first year of law school! The feeling of relief is indescribable, like the weight of the world’s been lifted from my shoulders. I've actually done better than I’d hoped, which was to gain a place in the top five percent of One Ls. 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 made it into the top one percent, an achievement, I hope, will give me an edge— if not into the DA's office, then at one of the district courts or clerking for a judge. Anything, really, that will get me courtroom experience.

 

Waiting for my results had been nerve-wracking; the suspense and self-doubt, almost crippling. I hadn’t been the only one on tenterhooks, though. It seemed, 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. Nearly all of my fellow students in section three 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 last year is just too daunting to contemplate. At least they’ll know what to expect, I told those I commiserated 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.

 

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 I clutched a bed sheet around my waist clumsily and 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 back, 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, still wearing the clothes he’d worn the night before. I glared at him but addressed Cait.

 

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

“Are you okay," I asked the girl whose breast he was still tugging at, the one who still seemed able to speak. She nodded and, satisfied that they weren't there under duress, I glared at Tom. "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 behind Cait. “Relax; I was just making sure your sister got in safely,” he said before, winking at Cait, he sauntered off.

 

I wanted to race after him, to physically warn him against messing 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 scrunched her face in distaste. “Shower! I’ll make coffee, then I’ll help you pack,so we can get out of here.”

 

I chose not to argue. I felt guilty and ashamed—for standing her up and, mostly, for her finding 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. Hearing that I was around, Libby 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. 

 

As I’d intended, I spent most of my time 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 schools 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 in today's interview.

 

I’m meeting with Assistant DA Tara Nichols, and like all candidates, I learned 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 direct. 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 indicate 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 unlock my car.

 

I waited nervously for the call, vacillating between hope and 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 song 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 get back to 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 that afternoon, he calls himself to say the DA’s office would be delighted to have me as an intern. I’ll be assigned to Tara Nichols' 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 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 time. I feel a bit sheepish when admitting to the receptionist just how early I am. “I’ll just sit here and wait,” I tell her. “Tara’s already in; I’ll let her know you’ve arrived,” she tells me, and I’m grateful when Tara greets me warmly and informs me that she likes an early starter.  "I’m usually in at seven or seven-thirty," she adds, 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. Not 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 excused 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 tells me. He’s being polite and exaggerating, I know. Still, I’m thrilled and replay his comment over and over in my head throughout the day. 

 

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. That trial and the judge's sentencing—just, in my view—solidifies my decision to become a prosecutor. Nothing can sway me from my course, I decide.  This is what I want to do; what I’m meant to do.

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