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Home > Rage of Angels(9)

Rage of Angels(9)
Author: Sidney Sheldon

JENNIFER PARKER
ATTORNEY AT LAW
Jennifer studied the sign with mixed feelings. In her deepest depressions it had never occurred to her that she would have her name under that of a private investigator and a bill collector. Yet, as she looked at the faintly crooked sign, she could not help feeling a sense of pride. She was an attorney. The sign on the door proved it.

Now that Jennifer had office space, the only thing she lacked was clients.

Jennifer could no longer afford even the Steak & Brew. She made herself a breakfast of toast and coffee on the hot plate she had set up over the radiator in her tiny bathroom. She ate no lunch and had dinner at Chock Full O’Nuts or Zum Zum, where they served large pieces of wurst, slabs of bread and hot potato salad.

She arrived at her desk promptly at nine o’clock every morning, but there was nothing for her to do except listen to Ken Bailey and Otto Wenzel talking on the telephone.

Ken Bailey’s cases seemed to consist mostly of finding runaway spouses and children, and at first Jennifer was convinced that he was a con man, making extravagant promises and collecting large advances. But Jennifer quickly learned that Ken Bailey worked hard and delivered often. He was bright and he was clever.

Otto Wenzel was an enigma. His telephone rang constantly. He would pick it up, mutter a few words into it, write something on a piece of paper and disappear for a few hours.

“Oscar does repo’s,” Ken Bailey explained to Jennifer one day.

“Repo’s?”

“Yeah. Collection companies use him to get back automobiles, television sets, washing machines—you name it.”

He looked at Jennifer curiously. “You got any clients?”

“I have some things coming up,” Jennifer said evasively.

He nodded. “Don’t let it get you down. Anyone can make a mistake.”

Jennifer felt herself flushing. So he knew about her.

Ken Bailey was unwrapping a large, thick roast-beef sandwich. “Like some?”

It looked delicious. “No, thanks,” Jennifer said firmly. “I never eat lunch.”

“Okay.”

She watched him bite into the juicy sandwich. He saw her expression and said, “You sure you—?”

“No, thank you. I—I have an appointment.”

Ken Bailey watched Jennifer walk out of the office and his face was thoughtful. He prided himself on his ability to read character, but Jennifer Parker puzzled him. From the television and newspaper accounts he had been sure someone had paid this girl to destroy the case against Michael Moretti. After meeting Jennifer, Ken was less certain. He had been married once and had gone through hell, and he held women in low esteem. But something told him that this one was special. She was beautiful, bright and very proud. Jesus! he said to himself. Don’t be a fool! One murder on your conscience is enough.

Emma Lazarus was a sentimental idiot, Jennifer thought. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…Send these, the homeless, tempesttossed, to me.” Indeed! Anyone manufacturing welcome mats in New York would have gone out of business in an hour. In New York no one cared whether you lived or died. Stop feeling sorry for yourself! Jennifer told herself. But it was difficult. Her resources had dwindled to eighteen dollars, the rent on her apartment was overdue, and her share of the office rent was due in two days. She did not have enough money to stay in New York any longer, and she did not have enough money to leave.

Jennifer had gone through the Yellow Pages, calling law offices alphabetically, trying to get a job. She made the calls from telephone booths because she was too embarrassed to let Ken Bailey and Otto Wenzel hear her conversations. The results were always the same. No one was interested in hiring her. She would have to return to Kelso and get a job as a legal aide or as a secretary to one of her father’s friends. How he would have hated that! It was a bitter defeat, but there were no choices left. She would be returning home a failure. The immediate problem facing her was transportation. She looked through the afternoon New York Post and found an ad for someone to share driving expenses to Seattle. There was a telephone number and Jennifer called it. There was no answer. She decided she would try again in the morning.

The following day, Jennifer went to her office for the last time. Otto Wenzel was out, but Ken Bailey was there, on the telephone, as usual. He was wearing blue jeans and a veeneck cashmere sweater.

“I found your wife,” he was saying. “The only problem, pal, is that she doesn’t want to go home…I know. Who can figure women out?…Okay. I’ll tell you where she’s staying and you can try to sweet-talk her into coming back.” He gave the address of a midtown hotel. “My pleasure.” He hung up and swung around to face Jennifer. “You’re late this morning.”

“Mr. Bailey, I—I’m afraid I’m going to have to be leaving. I’ll send you the rent money I owe you as soon as I’m able to.”

Ken Bailey leaned back in his chair and studied her. His look made Jennifer uncomfortable.

“Will that be all right?” she asked.

“Going back to Washington?”

Jennifer nodded.

Ken Bailey said, “Before you leave, would you do me a little favor? A lawyer friend’s been bugging me to serve some subpoenas for him, and I haven’t got time. He pays twelve-fifty for each subpoena plus mileage. Would you help me out?”

One hour later Jennifer Parker found herself in the plush law offices of Peabody & Peabody. This was the kind of firm she had visualized working in one day, a full partner with a beautiful corner suite. She was escorted to a small back room where a harassed secretary handed her a stack of subpoenas.

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