Monday, April 30, 2012

Resurrection -- Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Richard laid low all summer. He longed to be far away, anywhere, but feared the suspicions he would arouse were he gone. So instead he hunkered down. He threw himself headlong into law books, and did not emerge from his house for days at a time. When he did venture out he slinked around unseen, going to libraries for books, and stores for supplies, and then quickly back home. That was his routine through July and August. He followed the news closely, in the papers and on the television. The chemicals in the water had been identified, and verified as present in the fish Fredo and the Jarno brothers had consumed, but beyond that authorities remained clueless as to how they had entered the water supply. The whole event began to dissipate into mystery as the investigation went cold. Richard never felt at ease, but he did become less anxious as the summer wore on.

As September approached he grew restless. Still no one seemed to suspect him of anything, so he thought it best to blend back into the outside world, which he decided to do by enrolling in a few classes. He browsed the university’s fall catalog in advance, chose out a few, then went to the campus on sign up day. He was in a hallway between two buildings when he ran into Paddy. There was an awkward pause, then Richard shook his hand and said: “What’s up, mate?”

“Hey man,” Paddy replied. “It looks like we’re here for the same reason.”

“So what did you do all summer?” Richard asked. “I haven’t seen you at all.”

“I took a couple classes, and worked with my father at the courthouse.”

“Your father…still pretty mad at me, is he?”

“He’d be mad at me if he just saw me here with you,” Paddy replied.

“I see,” Richard said softly.

“So what did you do all summer?” Paddy asked.

“I studied law, as many as fifteen hours a day,” he answered. “I’m prepping for the bar exam. What classes have you decided to take?”

“Just prerequisites,” Paddy said. “Nothing exciting. You?”

“Pretty much the same,” Richard explained. “Although—did you notice this course they’re offering, in Morse code? It sounds like a hoot. I’m thinking of taking it as an elective.”

“That would be an interesting history to learn and skill to acquire, though not very useful.”

“One never knows,” Richard said; “war can strike at any time, and then we’ll be in demand, the Code Transmitters. Come on, let’s take it together,” he suggested.

Paddy balked.

“What? Your father?” Richard asked.

“I’ve never seen him this angry at anyone in all my life.”

“Just don’t tell him, and if he discovers you’re in a class with me, tell him it was unintentional, that you’d had no idea I was taking it too. What happened doesn’t have to end our friendship.”

Paddy thought it over for a few moments, then agreed. They signed up for their classes, including Morse Code, then went to the campus center for coffee. Richard never volunteered to bring up what Paddy dared not broach, and the poisoning of the lake went unspoken. After an hour or so they parted ways.

The class started the following Tuesday evening. Afterwards they agreed to meet before or after every class to study and practice. And that’s what they did through the fall. Aside from a couple of random parties they didn’t see each other at all outside of Morse Code class. Nonetheless they both became quite adept. Ostensibly for fun, but with an ulterior motive, Richard had fashioned a portable transmission/reception harness that strapped to the leg, and which functioned by feel rather than sound. Paddy was amazed at the ingenuity of the device, and all too willing to practice and perfect its use.

The final exam for the course was one hundred multiple choice questions. Each wore Richard’s leg harness, and in thus manner they were able to double check with each other the questions whereon either had any doubts. In returning the exams during the final class, the professor made note that Richard and Paddy had tied for the highest mark, but never noticed that both had gotten the same three questions wrong.

Following the Christmas holiday they didn’t see each other anymore. The annual bar exam in their region was being offered in February. Richard intended to take it, and started preparing. He withdrew from university for the semester and focused his every waking moment on law. One Saturday afternoon he went to the university law library, and there bumped into Paddy again, who was running an errand for his father.

“What are you doing here?” Paddy asked.

“Studying for the bar,” Richard answered. “It’s in three weeks. I’ve already registered and paid.”


“I’m ready,” he said confidently, “and if not, let the test show.” But he was becoming increasingly nervous about the exam, and something that had been at the back of his mind all the while he and Paddy learned Morse Code came to the fore, and after a pause, he added: “Say, remember how we aced the Morse code final…?”

Paddy considered the dilemma of academic ethics, and how much his father detested Richard, and that Richard might well be a criminal, but adrenalized by the thought of the rush of the thrill, he agreed to help Richard cheat.

“Excellent,” Richard said, then explained what he had in mind. “The exam is being administered here on campus, and our homemade device has a range of one thousand feet, so that’s no issue, as I’ll be well within reach of the law library. The bar is a three day exam. The first day is the Multistate Bar Exam, or MBE; the second two days are writing. I foresee no trouble with the essays, it’s the MBE that worries me. MBE stands for ‘Multistate Bar Exam.’ It’s two hundred questions covering six major topics: Contracts and Sales, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property and Torts. So what we do is station you here at a table with a few choice books laid out in advance. I’ll transmit the problem questions and you can find the answers and send them back. It’ll be child’s play; we’ve worked it to perfection already.”

And that’s just what they did. On the day of the exam Richard met Paddy at the library where he had a number of books picked out and waiting. He briefly showed Paddy through them, then went on and sat down for the exam. As he went through the day Richard counted eleven questions where Paddy had provided him with a correct answer. In the end he passed the MBE section of the exam by seven questions. He aced all the writing sections with his own abilities, and soon thereafter was referring to himself as Attorney Sleitzer.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7

Friday, April 27, 2012

Resurrection -- Chapter 5

Resurrection Chapter 5

Richard settled in patiently to wait, and prepared himself for the worst--that the legal process would painstakingly grind his dreams to a halt. Meanwhile he continued studying eminent domain while attending his classes. About a week later, on Friday morning, Paddy approached him on campus, to inform and invite him to another party at his family’s house that night. “My father said he’s expecting you.”

“And I will be there,” Richard replied.

“Great! Until then,” Paddy said, then went off.

Richard was home preening himself for the party when a knock came on the door. It was Fredo. Fredo tried to appear relaxed, but his impatience with the process quickly became evident. He noticed Richard’s sharp attire and fresh scent, and said: “Why are you dressed up?”

Richard didn’t want to invite him along, and lied: “I have a date.”

“Who is she?” he asked.

“Just a girl,” he answered, “and I have to be off to meet her right now. I’m already running late. We won’t hear anything for a few more weeks at least.”

“I understand that,” Fredo said. “But I’m still pushing forward with my plans. This past week I incorporated a construction company called Gromelli Contracting. All aspects of the business will filter through that. I’ve got several blueprints of house designs to use, and wholesalers lined up to supply all building materials. We just need to get in there.”

“And we will, just not yet. There won’t be any word from the court until next month, and that may well be just to schedule a hearing, a hearing which could easily be delayed at a later date. It might be a couple years before all the lines are signed and we can get out there. You do understand that, yes? I do appreciate what you’re doing on your end, and would love to hear more details when I have more time.”

“Right. Well, then,” Fredo answered abruptly. “I’ll be out there all weekend if you need me for anything.”

The moment darkness had fallen Richard hurried off to the party. He arrived full of anticipation and hope for a great night. It was not to be.

There were less than half the people there than at the first event, and while they were drinking and mingling, it was much more low key and somber. There were no players and instruments, just background music, and Rory was nowhere to be seen. Nor was Fiona. He was on the lookout for either when he ran into Paddy, who informed him that his cousin would not be coming, and that his father had requested a meeting with Richard in five minutes. Richard and Paddy were chatting about school when Rory came upon them and took Richard aside. The judge didn’t offer him a seat, but led him out a side door and said: “The case is going forward, and soon.”

“That’s fantastic,” Richard said.

The judge’s demeanor was markedly different than on either of the two previous occasions they’d met. He was very curt and pointed. “Judge Meyers is going to schedule a public hearing this week. I’m going to be very direct. He is a friend of mine, and if he recuses himself from the case it reverts to me. Five thousand is his fee for recusal. Just reckon it the cost of creating a necessary conflict of interest. The first ruling is scheduled to be handed down Thursday afternoon. If you could bring it—‘it’ being the money--to my office before then, it would make all the difference.

Richard didn’t want to protest, and wanted to measure his words before he spoke them, and so paused.

“It was you who flashed the cash and talked the talk,” the judge reminded him.

“That won’t be a problem,” Richard answered, then asked: “is there anything else?”

“No, did you have any legal questions you’d like me to address?” Rory replied. Richard thought best not pursue any further conversation, and shook his head. “Very well, enjoy the party,” the judge said. “I’ll see you downtown this coming week?”

Richard replied that he would then returned indoors and had a beer and a chat with Paddy. He felt no cheer, and could force none with beer, and so discreetly slinked away from the party.

Richard dreaded approaching Fredo for the money, but decided that sooner was better should more time be needed to come by it. He went out to Candlerock first thing the next day. Fredo was nowhere by the water, so he searched and found him at a picnic table reading.

“There was a development last night,” Richard said.

“Which was?” Fredo answered.

Richard proceeded to tell him everything exactly. He had a notion to say six thousand dollars, to give himself an extra grand to play with, but considered and thought the deceit could trip him later, and so was level with everything.

“So, to sum it up,” Fredo said, “Your friend’s father will be the judge, he’s announcing the date of a public hearing on Thursday, and he needs a five thousand dollar bribe by Wednesday.”

“There’s no other way forward.”

“I’d like to pay the judge with my own hand,” Fredo declared.

“That won’t be possible, for obvious reasons,” Richard answered.

Fredo pondered, then said: “Very well. You haven’t yet done or said anything to raise suspicion, and a public hearing will be published in the newspaper. I’ll bring the cash out to your house Monday or Tuesday evening.”

“That’s fine, I’ll be there,” Richard replied. “You haven’t found any more gold yet, have you?”

“I haven’t been looking, I’m waiting to use the big shovel, the one at the business end of a gas powered payloader,” Fredo answered. “Have you?”

“I’m going to have another look about right now,” he stated. “I’ll let you know if I do when I see you this week.”

He waved with three fingers and went off toward the stream.

Richard received the money from Fredo and brought it the next day to Rory. Following that a public hearing was scheduled for a month later. With weeks in between events in the case, each in their own way settled in to wait as the legal process continued its arduous plod. Richard breezed through his classes while obsessing over every eminent domain case he could root out. He also periodically met with Fredo, both as a way of reassuring him and to discuss their developing plans for Candlerock, which meetings were made increasingly tense by their each becoming gradually becoming subject to all devouring greed.

It was the spring, and the public hearing was scheduled for the Monday evening after Richard’s final exams. He and Fredo agreed to attend together, and to neither speak a word. Twenty or so locals gathered at the town hall to discuss the Candlerock land proposal. A surprising number in attendance actually supported the plan, and the concerned and dissenting voices weren’t particularly loud. There were a few who still made use of the park, but their objections were blunted by the plan’s intention to keep it open to the public, and in much improved upkeep. Many of the rest were more interested in how they might obtain a parcel. The hearing concluded with the scheduling of a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting two weeks later.

Upon discussing and assessing the meeting afterwards, Richard and Fredo came away cautiously optimistic with the seeming lack of objection; but then Richard talked to the judge a few days later, who warned him that there was still a potentially more rigorous planning and zoning commission hearing, and a necessary study and clarification of various points of law, and that after his ruling the strong potential for a prolonged appeal, and to temper their enthusiasm with continued patience.

Fredo kept close tabs on Richard, and as the weeks wore on they grew impatient--with the whole matter, and each other. Neither had given the other reason for mistrust, yet both found cause.

The appointed hour for the next Planning and Zoning meeting arrived. Richard and Fredo again went together and again said nothing. It lasted for over two hours, and focused mostly on legalities regarding the rights of the owners of all adjacent properties. It concluded with the board’s agreement to verify all names and records and reconvene in two weeks.

Standing out front of the town hall afterward, Fredo said: “I didn’t like any of that.”

“It’s too early to start worrying,” Richard replied. “There’s no need to fret prematurely. We do have the judge.”

“Well, we could use one or two of those board members. Why don’t you try and get to know one of them, size them up?” Fredo suggested.

“There’s one right there,” Richard said, pointing out a woman walking to her car. “I recognize her from the meeting. I’ll just go introduce myself, point out you, my associate, and explain that we’re trying to buy influence in the Candlerock matter, and if she’s interested, to name her price; and if not, could she recommend another board member who might be susceptible to corruption while promising to keep her mouth shut.”

He mockingly took a step in her direction. Fredo said, “Okay, that’s stupid, I apologize. This whole thing is starting to stress me.”

“And you’re starting to stress me. We’re holding a powerful hand, and there’s nothing we can do in the meantime, so just relax and let it play out and we’ll be victorious. I’m going home. I’ll see you soon.”

Fredo said good night and departed into the darkness. Richard muttered: “I’ve just about had enough of this fool.”

Beneath his outward self confidence, Richard was also suffering with anxiety and doubt. He longed for the judgment to be rendered and finalized, and phase two of the master plan entered and begun. He determined to start pondering for ways to more quickly advance their cause.

The next morning when he awoke, Fiona came to his mind, whom he hadn’t seen her in some time. He wondered if in her travels around the courthouse she might have access to the Hall of Records. He decided to call on her, and that the call should be social. Then he realized it was Friday of the Fourth of July weekend, a legal holiday, and that he would have to wait until Monday. So he fixed some coffee and sat down with a seventy five page ruling of an early twentieth century British eminent domain case he’d found in the law library.

It was standard interpretation of law until a certain detail jumped out at him. One man involved in the case had been tried and convicted of contaminating a large pond with a toxic solution. He had used a compound called Sodium Bromalide, which he’d mixed himself using ingredients purchased from a hardware store and an apothecary. The chemical concoction contaminated the waters for roughly a year, then dissipated naturally and left it clean.

Richard took inspiration from the pages of the case study. He reasoned that all the people who currently voiced objections to the project would be less likely to maintain them if the water was unfit for humans. And after a year, when he and Fredo were ready to build, the water would become conveniently clean for them.

He went to the Science library and researched Sodium Bromalide, and after a couple hours managed to locate a similar recipe made with common ingredients. They were readily available at local stores and he assembled them that Saturday. He stirred together a five gallon batch, then set it aside while deciding what to do with it.

The weather forecast was for heavy rain starting Sunday afternoon and continuing into the night. He reasoned that dumping it following the rainfall might be best, when the lake waters were still after being agitated. He thought it over then resolved to do just that, and so Sunday morning he strapped his tent on his back, along with a small pack of necessaries, picked up the bucket and started walking toward Candlerock. It was a beautiful day, and when he arrived, several hours later, it was to find the park bustling. There were people in the water, families on the beach, and stragglers wandering in the trees. He stopped and stared and took the scene in.

He put them out of mind and went to the upstream place where he had planned to pitch his tent. When that was done he returned to the lake and walked among the people. At every moment his eyes were on the lookout for Fredo, but never saw him. He did see the faces of the people who were unknowingly in the park for the last time that summer. About four thirty the sky darkened suddenly. Raindrops began to dot the lake, then to pound it. The people hastily packed up and fled while Richard dashed into the trees. He crawled into his tent and zipped himself in for the storm. It poured for hours, late into the night. Then about three it halted. Richard peered out and saw the moon high in the dry sky. The forest around him was calm, though scattered insects were beginning to chirrup. He climbed out and stood up, then picked up the bucket and carried it to the rushing stream. It was bulged with rain and moving fast. He took a seat on a rock beside the water, and using an old coffee cup ladled a few drops out of the bucket and into the stream. He was in no hurry, and was more concerned with making certain it mixed in thoroughly.

In this manner it took him about an hour to empty the bucket. Then he rinsed it in the stream and took it back to his campsite. He put himself back to bed, but couldn’t get to sleep—not from any guilty conscience, but from discomfort and insomnia. He broke camp, packed his things, and started walking home by the moonlight. He trekked through the rest of the night and into the morning, when he finally climbed into the comfort of his own bed and slept all afternoon. His plan to visit Fiona had to wait another day.

He awoke early Tuesday morning and was preparing for a trip to the courthouse when he fetched the newspaper, which stopped him in his tracks. The headline read: Candlerock Fishkill. He brought it indoors and read the story. Several hundred fish, mostly bass and trout, had turned up mysteriously dead in the lake Monday evening. He canceled his plans for the day. He didn’t want to face anyone. He remained locked indoors, with his mind a racing dither of paranoia. He wondered if anyone who’d seen him over the weekend might be suspicious. He started rehearsing responses to the authorities, in the event that they for some reason knew and planned to pay him a call. His thoughts twisted a thousand possible turn, deep into the sleepless night.

He again arose early the next morning, and after setting the kettle on to boil, went straight to the step for the newspaper. He held it warily, unfolded it, and felt like it punched him in the gut. The headline read: Three Local Men Dead. He sat down on the stoop and read the story in shock. In two separate incidents three local men had been found dead in their homes. The symptoms appeared to be food poisoning, and authorities were investigating a possible link to the Candlerock Fishkill. A friend of one of the deceased, Fredo Gromelli, said that Gromelli had gone fishing there the night before, and always ate his catch fresh. One of the other two, brothers Jaime and Philip Jarno, was also seen walking away from Candlerock the previous day carrying fishing gear. Anyone with any information was to contact authorities immediately.

He staggered indoors and collapsed in a chair. His reeling mind began to process three counts of murder. He hadn’t thought things through thoroughly enough, and now they had gone way too far. At length he composed himself, ate some breakfast, and was able to string together some thoughts. He would add successful murder defense cases to his legal studies, in the event that he had to one day defend himself; but in the meantime would carry on innocently, assuming no one knew a thing, while continuing to push forward with the Candlerock development plan.

He had no intention of going out in public, and planned to spend the day reading. But in the early afternoon there came a knock. Preparing for it to be the police, he asked through the door: “Who is it?”

“It’s me, Paddy.”

Richard opened the door and invited him in. “What brings you out here?” he inquired.

“My father sent me,” he replied. “He wants to see you at our house, today.”

“What’s the occasion?” Richard asked hopefully.

“I don’t know,” Paddy answered, “but he’s in a terrible mood. You did hear about the fishkill at Candlerock, didn’t you?”

“Yes, I did,” Richard said, with all the feigned nonchalance he could muster.

“I think it has something to do with all that, but I’m not sure. Anyway, that’s why I’m here,” he explained. “Do you want to head back with me?”

“No, I’ll be along shortly,” Richard said; “and I will be right along.”

“Very well, see you then,” Paddy answered, and left.

Richard was at the O’Maddy house an hour later, arriving just a few minutes after Paddy. The judge was awaiting him, and took him at once alone into his office.

“Have you heard what’s going on?” the judge asked.

“About the fishkill?” Richard answered.

“And the president of your Candlerock Conservancy turning up dead. Did you have anything to do with either, or both?”

The judge stared with hard, cutting eyes.

Richard turned to ice. “Nothing,” he lied. “I’m learning the details as they emerge, just as the rest of the public, I’m sure.”

“And the eminent domain?” the judge asked. “What do you suggest I do on that?”

“Well, we have come this far….”

“And how would you finance it?” he inquired.

“I will,” Richard answered.

“The government attorney formally withdrew the request this morning,” the judge informed him. “Whether ill timing, bad luck or stupidity, the case is dead.”

Richard was shocked and speechless. “I don’t know what to say,” he yammered.

“Well, I know what to tell you,” the judge replied. “We must never be seen together-- ever again. And we should start this instant, with you departing my home.”

The judge abruptly left the room. Richard was stunned, and gripped by a terror of the unknown. He composed himself as best he could and hurried away unseen.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Resurrection -- Chapter 4

Resurrection -- Chapter 4

Richard lay most of the next day in bed hungover. Late in the afternoon he made a light meal then spent the evening reading. The following day he cycled out to Lake Candlerock. His desire to go was so strong he felt drawn. He decided to enter from the side opposite he and Fredo had been on one week earlier, and walked his bike in through some trees. As the water came into view he noted the man leaning against a tree trunk with a fish line in the water. He recognized Fredo, and went straightway and greeted him, saying: “Hey amigo. What are you doing on this side? Did the fish swim across this week?”

“Hello Richard,” Fredo answered. “What are you doing out here? You didn’t come to fish, you didn’t bring a pole. Did you come out here to look for more gold?”

“No, not at all.” Richard stumbled on the words; “Actually, I was hoping to find you out here.”

“You found gold out here last weekend, didn’t you?” Fredo accused, backed by a cold, blank stare.

Richard was taken aback. “How did you know?” he finally answered.

“I didn’t. I guessed right and you confessed,” Fredo revealed. “You came to hunt gold.”

“I had some inspiration, and a dream, and have a feeling I’ll find more,” Richard explained. “I was hoping I’d find you here; I want to talk to you. Remember we talked eminent domain?”

Fredo eyed him with suspicion. “I remember,” he answered.

“I went to a party Friday night, and met Rory O’Maddy. He’s the father of an acquaintance. He’s also a high judge. We had some beers and got chummy. He confided in me that he’s down on his luck and fallen on hard financial times. I think money might influence his judgment.”

“Do tell,” Fredo urged, listening intently.

“I’ve been studying eminent domain, and working up a petition to file in court. It would delineate the many reasons why the state would be better off parceling this land privately. I could even file it this week to find out what happens—if I had cash for the filing fee.”

“How much is that?” Fredo asked.

“Only fifty to a hundred bucks, but I don’t even have that, I’m that broke,” Richard answered.

“I see,” Fredo said ponderously. “And the judge?”

“Judge O’Maddy is interested in my fledgling law career, and invited me to call on him at the courthouse any time. I thought I’d stop by for a visit when I file the petition.”

“Do you think you can interest him?” Fredo asked.

“Very much,” Richard confidently answered. “I suspect there is a reasonable price wherewith he might be bought. That’s why I wish I had a little money to offer when I see him. To test the water, so to speak.”

Fredo paused and thought hard for a long while. “How much do you think, to start? What if I ponied up a few hundred?”

Richard looked at him squarely. “I was thinking a grand. We’re going to have to cut the judge in anyway, and for a lot more than that to corrupt him, so there’s little point starting with small potatoes. Let’s show him a piece of the pie or keep our hand hidden.”

Fredo reeled in and re-cast his bait. “I’ll tell you what,” he began slowly. “I’m camping out here for a few days.” He motioned to the tent camouflaged in the brush, that Richard hadn’t noticed. “You bring me out a copy of the brief or petition you plan on filing, and if I like it I’ll bankroll some exploratory funding.”

“Really?” Richard replied. “That would definitely start things rolling. I have a number of thoughts and know exactly how to articulate them. Do you have the cash handy here?”

“Show me a brief,” Fredo answered with a severe look.

Richard moved to leave. “Let me go get my thoughts together, and I’ll be back, maybe even tomorrow. I’m going to take another wander back upstream.”

“To look for gold?” Fredo suggested.

“Always,” Richard answered. “And to think things through. This all may be ours someday soon, so don’t worry--anything I find I’m sharing equally with you here on out. I’ll try and be back tomorrow.”

He hastened to get away before Fredo could change his mind, or alter the offer with stipulations. He took slow steps alongside the stream while staring hard into the water, but saw not the least glimmer nor gleam. He circled around two miles or so through the trees and back to where he’d left his bike, which he pushed to the road and pedaled home.

He made a pot of tea, fetched pen and paper, organized his books and immersed himself in eminent domain. For a night, a day and another night he studied dozens of case files and pondered many decisions. Then he cleared his head with a twelve mile walk, returned home, sat down and wrote:

A Petition To Develop Candlerock Lake Park.

May it please the court to present a detailed plan for the rejuvenation of Candlerock Lake Park, and the preservation thereafter. In recent years the park has seen a steady decline in use, in part as it suffers under budget constraints. It is overrun with weeds of neglect, and in the eyes of many is become a burdensome sore. The lawns are deep and shaggy, and the inlet become swampy from the silt clogged stream that empties in. Murk, decay, disorder and disrepair rule the grounds.

Therefore does the newly formed Candlerock Conservancy hope the court finds its proposal acceptable. The revitalization of the Candlerock land will be a two pronged project. First will be a complete renewal of the landscape. This will include but not be limited to pruning trees and planting new ones, replacing weeds with flowers, and mowing the grass, as well as polishing and painting the existing facilities. These improvements will be done on the west side, where the picnic area and other public grounds are currently situated. Additionally, once the heavy equipment has been located out there to dredge the inlet stream, that the lake may be sweetened with clean water and a freer flow, the plan proposes to move the equipment one hundred yards down the west shore to excavate a beach, which will be blanketed by an importation of silky white sand.

To fund such an endeavor, the Candlerock Conservancy proposes to establish a fund by opening the east shore for the building of private homes. If zoned for five acre building lots, the two mile stretch of the east shore would accommodate approximately twenty homes, which if tastefully adapted to the land, would be more complement than corruption. Much like monthly condominium fees, the home buyers would be obligated to join a Candlerock Association, and their fees would fund the maintenance of the whole lake, including the public areas. Being prime real estate, the naturally high property values would provide a much needed and healthy infusion of tax dollars to the town.

When taking this petition under consideration it is also of import to consider the Monhauk casino, situated precisely 19.5 miles northeast of Candlerock. When it first opened eleven years ago, traffic spiked by 27 percent along the Interstate 97 corridor in the first year, and has increased an average of nine percent every year since. That is unsustainable; the highway was not designed for the capacity it is rapidly approaching, wherefore also is quickly approaching a time when some measure will have to be taken to alleviate the flow of motor vehicles. The proposals to widen the interstate are unrealistic. To close the roadway is impossible, to shrink it to two and three lanes while making the necessary improvements would take too many years to complete. The alternative that has been suggested, and which is receiving the most support because it seems most viable, is to construct an arterial connector between Interstates 97 and 89. Being ten miles apart and running roughly parallel, the most logical and effective place to install such a road would be to lay it through what is now the Candlerock Park lands.

Legally this could be easily achieved using an eminent domain seizure. Therefore the Candlerock Conservancy suggests that the court preemptively exert eminent domain law now against a future employment of eminent domain law. That is to say, to utilize eminent domain now, to open the Candlerock land to development as outlined herein, to prevent the inevitable eminent domain seizure in the near future. With homes on the land, and high property values yielding proportionately high tax revenue, along with public grounds restored to their former vibrant glory, any court would be more reluctant and thoughtful before approving an eminent domain seizure for highway construction; and if such were to be approved, the sale to the state would be at a much higher rate than if the land were taken as it stands this moment.

May it please the court, this petition is submitted by the Candlerock Conservancy this twentieth day of November, 20--. Fredo Gromelli, president; Richard Sleitzer, vice president.

The next afternoon he folded a copy of the petition into a pocket and rode his bike out to Candlewood Park. He started for the spot where Fredo’s tent was pitched, and was almost there when he heard a voice from above say: “Have you got a petition for me?”

He stopped and turned back and up and saw Fredo sitting on a lower limb. “I didn’t even see you up there. Yes I do.”

Fredo grasped the branch and swung himself down, landing directly before Richard. “Let’s have a look.”

Richard handed him the petition, and as Fredo began to read it, said: “What were you doing up that tree?”

I just came down from the top. It’s the highest tree out here. I was studying the area from above.”

He said no more, and gestured Richard to be quiet till he’d finished reading it. When done, he read it again. Then he smiled and said: “Fredo, President. I like that. It’s very interesting, and seems well written to me. If we developed the idea, we might sell the courts on it.”

“Or buy them,” Richard remarked. “Did you notice the mention of dredging the inlet?” he asked.

“I did, but what of it?” Fredo answered.

“That’s a cover. When we bring the heavy equipment out here to start dredging, we’ll actually use it to start digging up the land looking for veins of gold. If we keep it parked near the water, no one will suspect what we’re really doing.”

“I like that too,” Fredo replied. “That’s very clever. So what do you do now?”

“Pay a visit to the judge,” Richard answered. He said nothing more, and there was a pause.

“And that’s where I come in,” Fredo suggested.

“We discussed it yesterday,” Richard said.

“That we did.” Fredo looked at Richard, then around at the trees, then back at Richard. “Okay, we’ll do it. Will a grand do to get things going?”

“I’ll go see him in the morning,” Richard replied. “And if he turns it down, I’ll bring it back to you here tomorrow afternoon. If not, I’ll come to tell you about my meeting.”

“Go to the stream and look for your gold and I’ll catch up with you there within an hour,” Fredo said.

He went as instructed, and Fredo met him there soon thereafter. He handed Richard the cash without reservation, and said: “I do want to know how much you think you should get.”

“Like I said, share it equally,” he answered. “If this place turns into even half my dream we’ll both have more than we could ever spend.”

“And one more thing: I’d like to meet you at your house tomorrow,” Fredo instructed. “I’d like to know where you live.”

“But of course,” Richard replied. “I live at Seven Millcrest Road. You’re welcome to follow me home and see it now, if you like,” he offered.

Fredo thought it over a moment, then answered: “I’ll come by tomorrow.”

“I’ll be there from four on.”

“I’ll see you then,” Fredo said, and turned and headed back toward him encampment.

Richard thumbed through the money, pocketed it, and rode home.

He spent the evening refining his petition, woke up early and revised it one last time, then took it downtown to the courthouse. He debated whether to submit the petition to the clerk, or to visit Judge O’Maddy first. He settled on the latter course of action, and went to his office. He was greeted by Fiona, who was minding her uncle’s secretary’s desk for the day.

“What a pleasant surprise,” Richard said with a smile. “How are you today?”

Her delight was undisguised, and she smiled and replied: “I’m great, and it’s great to see you. Are you here for me or my uncle?”

“I’m glad to find you both here,” he answered. “Your uncle is here, yes?”

“Yes, I’ll get him for you right now.” She opened the door, got her uncle’s attention, then showed Richard in.

Upon seeing him the judge said: “Welcome lad! Come in, come in! To what do I owe this honor? I hope it’s both social and some point of law. I have a light day.”

Richard grasped the brown envelope from under his shoulder with one hand and shook the judge’s with his other. “I’m glad to see you, and that you’re glad to see me. First let me thank you again for the marvelous party. You must throw another soon, and I’d be happy to pitch in any way I can.”

“Hopefully soon,” the judge answered. “I was a few pints deep, but I still remember telling you my situation. It hasn’t changed in just these few days. What’s in the envelope?”

“I’ve been thinking more about eminent domain, and wrote some thoughts down,” Richard replied. The moment of truth had presented itself, and he faced it boldly. “Take a look and tell me what you think.”

The judge took the envelope, told Richard to help himself from the teapot, then sat down at his desk and read Richard’s petition. “That’s very interesting,” he said, when finished. “Very…indeed. But what is it? Is it some hypothetical case you’re contemplating?”

Richard eyed him squarely and replied: “No, I’d like to submit it to the courts, win a decision and develop the land. That’s why I came here today. I’d like to file this afternoon. I even brought cash for the filing fee.” He removed the hundred dollar bills from his pocket and let them be seen.

“I see,” the judge said slowly. “Well, you wouldn’t just hand it over to a clerk with a fee to initiate a case. The papers on eminent domain cases are normally filed by the government’s attorney.”

Richard noticed that the judge kept returning his glance to the money, and seized the moment. He flipped through the bills and asked: “What’s the fee to file with him?”

Judge O’Maddy couldn’t tear his eyes away from the money. “There is no fee. The government doesn’t pay itself to file a case.”

“Then take it and throw another party,” Richard encouraged, thrusting the cash. “I’d love another one soon, and to be the first invitee. Or do whatever you like with it. Keep the house if that’s enough to do anything to help.”

The judge did not take the money, but neither did he pull his hand away, nor avert his eyes. “I’ve been going to Candlerock since I was a boy. I used to fantasize about one day having a house out there.”

“And maybe one day you shall,” Richard suggested. “C’mon. Let’s have another party, my treat.”

The judge lightly touched the money, then received it. “I have a couple weeks vacation starting Saturday. I’ll have the government attorney slip the filing in as the last order of business Friday afternoon. That’ll give it a couple weeks to simmer, and to gauge what reaction might come. I’ll be out of town for a few days, but there may be time for a party. You’ll be sure to know. You’re a sharp kid, pointed upward. Let me look this over more closely, and give it some thought, and peruse some other eminent domain decisions. Paddy knows how to contact you.”

“He does,” he answered.

“I’ll be in touch soon,” the judge promised. “Very soon.”

Richard returned to the reception area where Fiona was putting on her coat.

“Where are you getting off to?” he asked.

“Lunch,” she answered. “Care to join me?”

“I was about to ask.” He offered his arm; she took it and they went.


After lunch he walked her back to the courthouse and was home by three. Fredo showed up just after four. “Well?” he asked.

“He took it.”

“How do things look?” Fredo asked. “What’s next?”

“It looks very good,” Richard answered. “It will be filed late this Friday, then we have to wait at least a couple weeks before there’s any further action.”

“And in the meantime?”

“I continue studying and working the legalities, and we start on preliminary plans for the excavation and development of Candlerock.” He flashed Fredo a sinister smile.”And I know you know precisely where the gold is buried.”

“Indeed I do,’ he replied, “as do you.” He turned to leave. “I’ll see you soon—if not out there, then back here.”

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Resurrection -- Chapter 3

Resurrection -- Chapter 3

He awoke early the next morning and went straight to campus. He walked by the building where his Cognitive Thinking class was in session and went to the library, where he withdrew a couple of books about the Reformation and the Middle Ages. From there he went on to the student center, where he sat down with a cup of coffee and commenced reading. He became engrossed, and an hour passed in a moment. Then he sensed someone standing over him, and heard a familiar voice say: “How was the party? You never called. Did you go?”

“Ah, Paddy. I did go,” he confessed; “and I did call,” he lied. “I left you a message with my number and the time and address of the party, then haven’t heard from you till this moment.”

“That message was never left on my machine,” Paddy protested. “I would have gone.”

“Maybe I did dial the number you gave me wrong,” Richard speculated. “It sounded like your voice, but I couldn’t really tell. It was an inadvertent oversight and I apologize. You didn’t miss much of any rally, and I spent most of the night outside having beers with this guy I met. There are plenty more parties and gatherings coming, and we’ll go. Keep me in mind if you hear of anything.”

“Actually, my father is hosting a little shindig this Friday night.” Richard’s eyes lit up and his ears perked. “You’d be more than welcome,” Paddy invited.

“Maybe I just will,” Richard replied. “What’s the occasion?”

“It’s a birthday bash for several family members,” Paddy explained. “Our parties are a blast. My father plays the baritone with his brass band and we drink a lot of wine and sing and dance and have a ball.”



“Then count me in. How was your cognitive thinking class?” Richard asked.

“The only thing you missed was getting your grade dropped to a B,” Paddy quipped, thinking himself clever.

“Hm,” Richard murmured. His mind drifted off in thought, and there was an awkward lull. Finally he realized that Paddy was staring at him, and said: “Well, I’m going to return to my reading. You’re welcome to get some coffee and sit with me, but I want to get through this book.”

Paddy bought himself a coffee, and another for Richard, then sat down. He was hoping more conversation would arise, but Richard was intent on his pages. Paddy wasn’t able to concentrate on his own work, and after a while reaffirmed the invitation, wrote down his number for Richard and vanished into the day.

They ran into each other after Paddy’s class again on Wednesday and Friday, the morning of the party, when Richard assured him he’d be there. Paddy was noticeably pleased.

Later that evening, Richard rode his bicycle out to the address. The O’Maddys lived in a very large, stately home, as imposing as it was impeccably maintained. But Paddy was by the door awaiting his arrival, put him at ease from the outset, and led him into the friendly indoors.

“Will you have beer or whiskey?” Paddy asked. “We are Irish, you know.”

“I’ll start with a stout to knock myself out,” Richard jested.

Paddy fetched them two bottles and began introducing him to his family and friends.

“I can’t wait to meet the judge,” Richard remarked.

“I can’t wait to introduce you, and he’s right in here,” Paddy eagerly answered. He brought Richard into the parlor where his father was holding forth to an engaged audience. But before the introduction could be made, his father and some fellow musicians picked up their horns and broke into a song. There was booze in the air as the blues filled their ears. Then they exploded into a livelier song, and the crowd started dancing and shouting along. Richard got carried away with excitement, and after washing down a whiskey with beer, he seized two empty hors d’oevre platters and began smashing them together like cymbals. Everyone gradually began to stare as he began belting out improvised lyrics.

At last they all ran out of steam. The band took a break and Paddy took Richard straightway to his father. “Father, this is my friend Richard that I told you about. Richard, this is the Honorable Rory O’Maddy.”

“A great pleasure to me,” Richard gushed. “Your band is fantastic. I’m sorry if my banging those platters upset you. I was in the moment, and something I sensed in you said that you wouldn’t mind. Was I right?”

“Indeed, lad,” Rory replied. “I don’t. But don’t start smashing my crystal.”

“No, sir, not now,” Richard said. “I got it all out of my system, thanks to you.”

“Paddy tells me you finished high school in three years on your own. That’s very impressive,” the judge said.

“I’m strongly considering law school,” Richard added. “Maybe some day I could pick your brain.”

“Maybe later tonight,” Rory answered. “For now I’ve a houseful of guests to attend. Continue to enjoy yourself.”

He wandered off, and Richard and Paddy mixed in with the crowd.

At a punch bowl Richard reached for the ladle at the same moment as a gorgeous lass. He filled her glass while she introduced herself. “Fiona Cleough.”

She explained that Paddy was her cousin and Rory her uncle, and that she was a clerk at the court house, where she did some filing and other such desk work. He poured out more punch and they sat down nearby. They had been talking for a while when Richard revealed his growing dream of becoming a lawyer.

“Well, you are very articulate,” she complimented. “I like that.”

“Why thank you,” he replied. “You speak with a lovely tongue as well.”

She giggled and blushed. A firm hand landed on Richard’s shoulder, and he looked up to see the judge.

“Richard was just telling me about his plans for law school,” she explained.

“I know, that’s just what I came over to ask him about,” her uncle answered. He was clearly inebriated.

“I’m considering it” he said to the judge. “I’m also contemplating studying for the bar on my own.”

“High school in three years is a great achievement, but don’t get ahead of yourself, lad,” the judge chidingly said.

“Maybe I am, but I wouldn’t be the first,” he replied.

Fiona looked at her watch, and announced: “I really must be going. Mother said to be out front at eleven thirty; it’s eleven forty five now. I’m certain she’s waiting.”

“That she is,” Rory confirmed. “I just said good night to her.”

She looked at Richard and said: “I greatly enjoyed meeting you, and hope to see you again.”

“I’ll make sure of it,” Richard answered, standing up to show her off.

She left.

“She’s a lovely girl, my niece,” the judge said.

“That she is,” Richard answered.

“Now where were we?” the judge asked.

“You were warning me against trying to teach myself law,” Richard answered. “This morning in my reading I came across eminent domain. Have you ever encountered it from the bench?”

“Not directly—no one’s ever offered me enough cash,” the judge said with a chuckle. “Sorry, it’s a judicial joke. Eminent domain is one of the more ambiguous points of law, and upon which many a loophole has been expanded and explored. It is a necessary aspect of progress that leaves occasional collateral damage, and is exploited easily, and often. It widens government’s reach while strengthening its grip. Do you have some land in mind to grab?”

“No, not necessarily…I’m just curious about the points of law,” he answered.

“Well, if you phrased it prettily and properly, you could make almost any argument augment any ruling. You can use the law to pave way through a house for a bridge, or to trample more paradise.”

Richard felt the last three words. The judge perceived, and stared back curiously. They pulled away slowly from each other, then the judge fetched an Irish whisky bottle and two glasses and poured drinks.

“This is a magnificent house,” Richard observed. “Brilliant. A most suitable setting for a fabulous party.”

“Well, thank you,” Rory answered, then suddenly became morose. He appeared to be choking up.

“Are you all right?” Richard asked.

“I’m fine, fine…I’m alright,” he assured. He gulped more whisky. “That’ll do me.” He composed himself. “You said the party was fantastic, but the party may have been the last.”

“Howso? Why is that?”

Rory was pointedly direct. “I have a weakness for wagers, and five years ago I had to remortgage the place, and my continued weakness for wagers has pushed it perilously close to default.”

“I understand,” Richard said. “Isn’t there anything that can be done?”

“Sure, find me some money to pay the mortgage and I’ll find the money to throw another party. Short of that, not much.”

Paddy suddenly joined them. At seeing his son, Rory immediately shed the sullen visage and feigned to be of good cheer. “Well, lad, another party another rousing success, I’d say.”

“It was,” Paddy concurred.

“Let me leave you two now,” Rory said, standing up. “Richard, it was a pleasure, and if you have any more legal questions feel free to drop by my office in the courthouse.”

“I just may do that,” he replied. “And thank you again for having me.” Rory left and Richard turned to Paddy. “Your family knows fun. So where did you get off to, anyway?”

“I had a couple of beers with some mates. You do know that Fiona is my cousin,” Paddy said defensively.

“I did know that, yes. Why, is there some problem?” Richard asked.

“No, I just noticed you talking to her.”

“Are you being protective?” Richard asked. “Or jealous?”

“No,” he mumbled, “I didn’t mean that at all.”

“All I did was say hello to her, and if I hadn’t, and had ignored her, you’d have accused me of being rude, so tell me what you want me to do.”

Paddy was flustered.

“Sorry, mate, I don’t mean to browbeat you,” Richard said. “I spend more and more time thinking like a lawyer.” He shook Paddy’s hand then faced the door. “It’s late, I’m drunk and tired, and it’s time I staggered home. Thanks so much for inviting me. I’ll see you at school Monday.”

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4