Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pro Bono 7

Chapter 7.

We went back to my place after the visit to Tomas' ex-employer to pick up
his backpack.

"Mr. James you kick me out?"

"No, Tomas, I'm taking you to a much nicer place than mine, and you could
stay there as long as you like"

"But I like you, I like here"

"I like you too, but the flat is too small for 2 persons" I was not ready
to change my living arrangement, not just yet. Tomas followed me down to
my car like a puppy dog, dejected, looking rather unhappy.

I took my car through Kings Cross, into Rushcutters' Bay Road, passed the
park where I received my very first blow job from Ben, uphill through Edge
Cliff, continued our journey passing Double Bay, Vaucluse, Point Piper,
then reached our destination Rose Bay. Parked my car outside a house with
two huge Morton Bay Fig trees adorning its front.

"Very beautiful house, Mr. James, your house?" He was duly impressed.

"Not mine, my parents'"

Mother opened the door, "Good morning James, nice to see you, and that must
be Tomas, welcome to our house, I'm Jennifer, call me Jenny if you like"

"Good morning Mrs. Jenny"

She planted kisses on my cheeks, then grabbed Tomas's hand and did the
same, she hung on to Tomas and guided him through the hallway into the
family room. I was surprised to see the whole family, except Matt, was
there. I dutifully exchanged kisses and handshake with each of the family
member while mother was doing the introduction.

"This is Tomas, everybody, you probably recognise him by his photo in
today's paper" So thats what the family gathering was for, me and Tomas
became the minor celebrities, our 3 minutes of fame.

"James' grand father Edmund, grand mother Susan, father Lionel, sister
Jessica, or Jess, her husband Vincent, and of course me his mother Jenny,
the only person missing here today is James' brother Matt, who is overseas
in God knows where" I hoped Tomas remembered all those names. Tomas kissed
and hugged each of them, I had to warn him to take it easy on my grands on
the hugging, so not to crack their bones.

Mother disappeared after we sat down, then returned holding a tray with
glasses and bottle of champagne resting in a wine cooler. I was totally
embarrassed by now, I could feel a deep blush spreading my cheeks.

"Mother, no need for the fuss!"

"Well, James, not everyday you child appeared in the national paper for the
right reason, and you must admit, it was a marvellous defense. We are also
here to celebrate Tomas' well deserved freedom" Crystal clinked and
bubblies sipped. I noticed Tomas suddenly went all quiet, our family could
be overwhelming. Then unexpectedly, Tomas covered his face with both hands
and started sobbing, mother was alarmed, "Oh Tomas, did I say something
wrong?" She went over and embraced him, then, she knew. It turned out our
family reminded him of his losses. He was condemned by war, all his family
members perished in it, and Tomas orphaned by it. When he finished his
story, minus the bits relating to Captain Mueller, and at my flat, there
was not a dry eye in the house, mother, and the rest of my family, took a
shine to Tomas from that moment on. They adopted him on the spot, Tomas
Ancic-Menzie was born. He was in good hands when I left him.

I received regularly progress reports from mother, how she took on the duty
of helping Tomas to improve his English, and his daily job hunting
disappointment etc. Few weeks later, came the good news, he found work in
a gas station in Rose Bay, man Friday kind of job, refilling, cleaning, and
cashier duties. The pay wasn't that much less than a junior law firm
associate, I deserved a raise. Tomas and I never slept together again, not
that I didn't enjoy the sex we had, but in my heart I knew he was more
attracted to the opposite sex. Besides, I still had to sort out my
relationship with Marrion.

I met Marrion at the airport, she came out of the arrival gate looking
radiant, that holidays did her good. I kissed her on her cheeks, then
suddenly I realized someone was standing right next to us. A thirty
something guy in glasses, Marrion did the introduction.

"Oh, I like to introduce you guys, this is James and this is Bradley, we
met at the Bangkok Conference" We shaked hands, something was going on
between those two, when I saw Marrion kissed that Bradley guy, on the lips,
well well well, and said "I'll ring you later tonight Brad". He left me
and Marrion behind. We went to pick up my car, We were quiet all the way
from airport to Marrion's home in Bellevue Hill.

"Coming in James? I think we need to talk" I knew whats on offer.

"It's about you and Bradley?" "Yes"

"Our relationship is heading nowhere, we both want different thing. You
are not prepared to commit yourself, and I want to get married and bring up
a family. I still love you, but in my heart I know we are not in love" She
made things so easy for me.

"I met Bradley at the Bangkok Conference, we hit off straight away, and it
was love at first sight, I'm sorry James, I hope I haven't upset you too
much" No, sweetheart.

"I respect your decision Marrion, I wish things turn out differently
between us, cie la vie" I was acting out a forced smile on my face, I was
the victim here, had to play the part of the deeply hurt. I wasn't brave
enough to reveal to her the true James Menzie.

"Friends still?" "You bet" Ironically, in actual fact, we had been friends
instead of lovers all that time we were together, I was fooling myself, and
taking Marrion on the way, and I was pleased that things started to work
out well for her. No need to face that burden of guilt. We kissed and said
our goodbyes.

"I'll call you soon James" "Don't forget the invitation to your wedding"
Did I fool her?

At work things turned out well for me, I was given more cases to handle,
but I was still waiting for that promotion and raise. Perhaps Johann would
like to wait until the Olympic Opening Ceremony to tell me face to face?
Then I got the call from his secretary.

"Hi James, Mr. Long's secretary Veronica here" Husky and sexy.

"Oh, hi, Veronica, whats up"

"Just to remind you don't forget this Saturday night. the Olympic Opening
Ceremony, I'll send over the ticket later on, and dinner will be served at
the box. Dress code Polo and jeans, and we'll see you there"

I arrived at the Homebush Olympic Stadium 8pm sharp, Johann and Veronica
hadn't turned up yet. I knew the traffic would be horrible, so I took the
train instead. I bet those two held up in the traffic jam. The VIP
corporate box not only had a fantastic view but the catering services were
phenomenal. By 8.30, while I was nursing my warm glass of beer, Johann and
Veronica, together with 3 other couples entered the box. I recognized the
three guys, they were well known underworld god fathers, if there were any
truth in the rumors, the three guys here would have control over half of
Australia's illicit business, I won't be surprised it the box was
wiretapped. The chicks with them were too young and beautiful to be their
wives. Employees? the Veronicas of the underworld.

Drinks flowing freely, canap'e, cray fish, oyster, roast beef kept coming.
Johann was in his element, dirty jokes, jokes at the expense of the
prosecutors, I was enjoying myself. Being the only unattached, I received
full attention from those four female employees. They flirted with me all
night and it didn't seem to bother their employers, not even Johann. As a
matter of fact, I found Johann was a bit too friendly on some occasions,
having his arm around me and his hand slapping on my knees, could he be?
No, he was well known being a skirt chaser. And Veronica, several times
she leaned over and planted kisses on my cheeks, ruffled my hair, resting
her hand on my knees, looking at me with those false long eye lashes
flapping like the wings of butterfly, with her juicy red lips forming the
occasional "O", I wondered if I might be the dessert for the night? Alarm
bell started ringing, I better took my drinks slowly.

The Opening Ceremony was spectacular, Cathy Freeman, the firework, the
crowd, I enjoyed the night as all the others. When we were leaving, Johann
said the night was still young, why didn't I join him and Veronica for a
nightcap? I declined, too tired, early morning tomorrow to visit my
parents, etc etc, lame excuses, not good at giving excuses, not since the
morning after that night at the park. I could detect a hint of displeasure
on Johann's face, but as my grand father often reminded me "James, whatever
you do in you life, never shit on your own doorstep" I wasn't going to do
it for Johann, I was not desparate, I was not Tomas in Hamburg with no
other alternative, I wasn't ready to exchange sex for promotion, I didn't
need a Cpatain Mueller at this point of my life. Not that Johann and
Veronica were ugly, in contrary, they were chic and exceptionally good
looking, but not on my own doorstep. However, I did wonder what would it
be like to have a threesome with that couple, well, I'm a man of principle,
so I never found out.

The next day, I decided to act, after days of pondering, I picked up the
phone and dialed the number. A female voice answered the phone.


"Hi, is that Mrs. Miller? This is James, James Menzie, Benjamin's high
school classmate"

"Oh, hello Jamie, it's been a long time, I was thinking of you the other
day, I saw you photo on the Saturday paper, well done Jamie, are you Ok,
and how's your family? and that girlfriend of your, what's her name?
Marrion?" My 3 minutes of fame.

"I apologize for not keeping in touch, Mrs. Miller. Everyone is fine,
mother and father are still lecturing at the Uni, Jessica got married a
couple of years ago, no kids yet, my grands still happily retired, and I'm
still happily single"

"Well, so is Ben, but if you are looking for him, he's not home at the
moment, as a matter of fact, you probably know he'd joined the army after
high school and currently he is in East Timor. I can give you his mailing
and email address. But because of the nature of his deployment, his
replies could take weeks if not months. I was told the duty of his unit
could be rather hazardous, with the fightings going on with the Indonisian
militias over there, I worry sick over his safety, sometimes I asked myself
why couldn't he just be a regular soldier instead of joining the Special
Unit" Because Ben was special. I wrote down the mailing and email address.

"Don't worry too much, Mrs. Miller, the Australian Army, in particular, the
Special Unit, provides excellent training to our soldiers and our casualty
rate is almost zero. How's Blue Mountain these days?" She lived in a
little cottage in Blue Mountain.

"Oh, too many new houses being built here now, all those city folks having
their sea change. They are good folks, but Blue Mountain is slowly
becoming another big country town. Good for the value of properties though.
Please write to Ben, he will be very happy to hear from you. You were his
only friend at school, all the other boys looked down on him because he was
a scholarship kid. He always mention how kind you and your parents towards
him" I felt a little pain in my chest, I was the one who kicked the shit
out of him, who knived him with venomous words.

I wasn't sure if the Australia Army Service Corps would open my mail, I had
no knowledge what soldiers in the Special Unit's duties were, better be
safe. I kept my message simple, I told him how sorry I was for not writing
to him earlier and hoped to meet up when he returned to Australia. I
posted my mail and email. I was anxiously waiting for his reply the
following weeks, but none came. So many years passed, perhaps he no longer
wished to rekindle our friendship, or he had found someone special in his
life, or he discovered after all he wasn't even gay.

Business was normal at work in the few weeks after the Olympic, then I
noticed some of the cases that normally passed on to me for handling now
redirected to another junior associate Simon Jones. I observed that Simon
had been frequenting Johann's office and joining Johann's after work
drinking entourage more than anyone else in the office. It dawned on me
that Simon was their dessert. The catalyst came when Simon was promoted
ahead of me to a more senior job opening in the firm. I had no doubt about
the whole situation, Simon was a good looking bloke, nice body, friendly
smiles, and no doubt obliging, just by watching Johann putting his arm
around Simon while discussing matters on some cases. No loin, no
promotion, you wanted to be a star in my production, laid youself down on
the couch, or in our profession, the bench, first. Time for me to move on,
father was right, as usual.

I put my name down in several head hunting firms but nothing came out of
it. Long & Long wasn't highly regarded among its peers. Then, I noticed an
ad in the JobSearch web site, the Legal Aid NSW was looking for a lawyer
with criminal law background to fill a vacancy, it was a part-time 25 hours
job, and it allowed the applicant to do private consultant work on the
side. Pay was about 80% of what I was getting, but when you divided it by
25, it was lots more than what Loin & Loin paying me. I won the job with
hands down. When I told my parents and grand parents about my new job,
they were genuinely pleased.

"Well done James, never like Loin & Loin, too sleazy, that Johann Long" My
father Lionel said.

"Job satisfaction, James, money isn't everything" My grandpa Edmund said.

Knowing the political left leaning of my family, what the right wing
politicians classifed as "Elite Liberals", their response was
anticipated. With one exception, my brother in law, the conveyance guy, he
said I should go and work for a private firm, Legal Aid? I must be crazy.

When I tendered my resignation, Johann didn't even bother with the usual
"sorry to see you go, best of luck" crap, but Miss Tightfisted Yang was
very upset and tearful, and a few of the junior associates started to
evaluate their own future in the firm.

Next day the Saturday, I received a call from mother, she sounded strange,
that she wanted me to go home that evening for an urgent family meeting.

"Are you Ok, mom? is dad sick? something wrong? is susan pregnant?"

"I'll tell you face to face, James, 6.30 sharp" she hung up. I hated
suspense, shit, I hoped everything's ok with them, I loved them so much. I
was unsettled the whole day long, all kinds of speculation went through my

I rang the door bell on the dot 6.30. Mother opened the door, looking
serious. I followed her into the family room, it seemed dark in there, the
curtains must have been drawn. Suddenly the light went up, the whole gang
was there yelling "Happy Birthday James" I forgot, stupid me. A fucking
surprise party, my 28th.

Father came up and said "James, we are not only celebrating your birthday,
but also you new job at Legal Aid" Couldn't argue with the Elite Liberals.

Mother then put her arm around me and said "We have a nother surprise for
you, James" I was waiting for the present, then the family slowly stepped
aside, and a stranger stood right next to Tomas, grinning from ear to ear,
he could be Tomas' brother, except darker, with a short crew cut and a
tight fitted army uniform. My heart skipped a beat, my throat went dry, I
was feeling dizzy, I could see faces talking to me, but I couldn't hear a
thing said. I approached him slowly, robotic. He came forward and hugged
me. "Long time no see, Jamie". And I was 28, no longer a young fool.
Thanks mom.

(To be continued.......)

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