Monday, April 30, 2012
Resurrection -- 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.
“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.