Nicky straightened her skirt as she closed the door of her car behind her. It was a
gray skirt, a little long in the tooth but she’d was already planning her first of many
shopping sprees. Fairly soon the old model car would be replaced by something sportier.
Maybe something German.
     She stared for a moment at the little sign in the window: Ross, Keller & Childs, LLC. A
strip mall law firm, it was just like Bernie. She slid the shades off her head and onto her
eyes and opened the door, breathing in her future.
     The wait was short once she mentioned her name. The lawyer, Ellis Dickey, came out
to the lobby in a fast trot.
     “Ms. Fox.”
     “That’s me.”
     “Good, good, you’re right on time. if you’ll come with me you’ve got some papers to
sign and then we’ll see if we can get you on your way. Sound good?” He looked a bit
nervous, and for a second it spread to Nicky, but she quelled it at her thought of Bernie.
     Taking the lead, she followed him back down hall pasty white wall broken up by a
series of closed doors. When he reached the right one, he opened the door and let her
past, then followed her though. He had to check himself, and artfully attempted to  dodge
around her into the space because she’d stepped through the door Nicky had  stopped.
     “What the ...” the expletive on her lips trailed off.
     “If you’ll just have a seat Ms. Fox, I’ll explain everything.” The attorney had stumbled
into the room and now looked disdainfully at the scuff mark he’d left on the cheaply
painted, cheaply constructed wall. He gestured towards one of the chairs around the
table in the bland room.
     Nicky’s face passed from confusion to realization to anger in all of three seconds.
She eased her temper back and turned to face the taller Ellis.
     “What is he doing here?”
     “If you’ll have a seat Ms. Fox, I’ll explain everything and we’ll get started.” Ellis smiled
a middling smile and glared at him through slitted eyes.
     “What is he doing here?”
     “Please have a seat Ms. Fox.”
     They stood there a moment, him smiling and her glaring, until he finally backed off
and took a seat. He opened the first of several folders on the desk, gestured for her to
take seat once more, then started reading.
     “In return for your cooperation and complete confidentiality in perpetuity regarding
the matters, attributes and dealings of Joseph Lawrence Letterman a.k.a. Joey Black,  
Bokken Records, a subsidiary of the Heard Music Group has agreed to pay Bernard T.
Webber, William Clifford and  Ms. Nicole L. Fox, known collectively as the Pit Jacks, the
sum of thirty million dollars.” He paused and looked up at his client, then gestured to the
seats once again.
     Nicky edged up the desk, never taking her eye off the other man in the room, and
slid into a seat leaving an empty chair between her and the lawyer.
     Ellis continued. “Split evenly among the three of you, the share of the money for Ms.
Fox is ten million. You can follow me along on this.” He slid a sheet of paper across the
desk from his stack towards her but she let it lie there. He tapped it to get her attention,
but she kept her face focused on the figure.
     “Your portion of the legal fees is three million...” Ellis started.
     “Whoa, three million? Bernie said you only had two meetings with these people?”
She looked at him for the first time since she’d sat down. “It was an out of court
settlement! You barely did anything! Bernie brought me the confidentiality agreement!
Three fucking million?”
     “Three million, seven hundred forty five thousand.” He said it with a finality that
indicated the figure was currently not open for discussion. She split glaring, heaping
equal disdain on both parties. Ellis looked back at her for moment, emotionless, then
kept reading.  
     He parted out the reason for the fees, including the acquisition of the services of  a
sound lab and the cost of having the tracks examined by two independent experts. Nicky
sniffed loudly and intentionally as went over that, explained the taxes and her obligations

     “ The exact figure to the penny is noted at the bottom of your sheet. Which brings us
to Mr. Wityz. “ He  finished, joining the attention for the first time in the man who’d been
sitting on the far side of the table from Ms. Fox, grinning throughout the entire process.
     “Why is he here?” Nicky had to force the words through gritted teeth this time.
     “In the letter I sent you Next Day, I clearly spelled out Mr. Wityz’s intention’s. I
included a copy of his lien..”
     “That’s what was in that? I didn’t read it! Why didn’t you call me?” She on the verge
of shrieking.
     “Your phone is currently disconnected.” Ellis said quietly.
     “Oh, right.” Nicky paused for a second.
     “Hey baby, long time no see.” Orville Wityz finally spoke, darting into the momentary
loss of emotion on the other side of the table. “ Did you miss me?”
     “No, how’s your mom?” Nicky said sarcastically, her brows suddenly knitting in
     “She died last year.” Orville drooped theatrically for a moment, then went back to his
     “That old bitch is dead? Good.”
     “How could you say that about mom, she loved you.”
     “She had me arrested three times! For breaking into my own fucking apartment.”
Nicky gave him a long look of disgust.
     “Our apartment, she was worried about me.” Orville drooped again, then resumed his
     “As your husband during that time period he has attached a lien for half the...” Ellis
cut in but was cut off.
     “MY WHAT?” Nicky shrieked this time, standing up and jumping away from the table
knocking over her chair in the process.
     “Your husband. “ Ellis watched her, the paper in his hand steady.
     ”He is not my husband. Was not my husband. No way, no form, no how.” The words
were sifting out of her mouth now, the emotion draining out.
     “Ms. Fox, “the attorney tried to regain control of the situation,”if you will please sit
back down, I will explain this all to you.”
     “Too bad that damn kid ain’t as talented as they say.” Orville chimed in.
     “Why are you saying you were my husband?” Nicky’s voice quavered as her mind
reached the conclusion with surprisingly rapid speed. “What is this lien.?”
     “As I tried to describe in the letter, your ex-husband has filed a lien for half of your
portion of the settlement, leaving you each with two million, roughly. This would be
payable as soon as you take possession of your settlement funds. Now as your attorney,
I understand this may come as shock to you. You do however have certain options.”
     “Half? Did you just say this bastard is entitled to half of my money?” The emotion
erupted again and she looked at the chair lying on it’s side on the floor and shoved it
with her foot into the wall.
     “Babe, I’m hurt.” Orville slipped in a comment again.
     “Oh, you’re gonna be hurt.” As she kicked off her heels and started for the table.
Ellis leapt from his seat and caught her as she vaulted onto the table. Wityz had recoiled
in real horror at the prospect and had climbed out of his seat backward and was now
pressed against the far pasty white wall. It took the attorney several moments to pin her
down and they lay pressed together on the meeting room breathing hard.
     “Ms. Fox! Control yourself.” Ellis finally raised his voice. She was shaking with fury,
but looked at the attorney and slid out from under him and eased back onto her side of
the tabletop. She found her pumps and slipped them back on as Ellis straightened his
jacket. “Mr. Wityz, as the accounting portion is done, if you will step outside to the
reception area while I confer with my client on her options for handling this matter.”
     Orville straightened his suit as well, then made his way over to the door, visibly
flinching when she made a step towards him. Ellis tensed as well, until the other man was
safely down the hall, and then picked up the chair and motioned for his client to seat
herself again. She stayed on her feet.
     “Why does he say he’s my husband? He’s not my husband!” She pleaded with the
     “Ma’am, if you’ll just have a seat we can discuss this...”
     “Okay, I live with him for a few months, okay maybe a year, but his mother made me
pay rent for his basement room! And we never slept together, never! His mother sold our
equipment, his mother sold our equipment after we paid her to store it! And we never
slept together!”
     “Calm down Ms. Fox. Just calm down. As I said, Mr. Wityz doesn’t receive his money
unless you do. His money is part of your money, and until you claim it his lien does not
take effect. Now if you’ll just sit down, I took the liberty of ...”
     “I’m sorry, I’m really sorry Mr. Dickey.”
     “It’s okay Ms. Fox, now if you’ll just have seat, there are many options that we can...”
     “I need to clean myself up, do you have a bathroom.” She cut him off again, then
flashed a smile and tilted her head to side just a touch.”
     “Of course,” he rose gracefully and guided her down the hall to another unmarked
door, and let her know he’d be waiting for her in the conference room.
     Nicky ran a little water in the sink and wiped her face, trying to let the anger ease
from her shoulders. She’d always been a hot tempered woman, and today she’d proved
it. She looked at herself in the mirror. No makeup, her hair cut short so it was quicker to
dry, still cute but now in a womanly sort of way. She took a deep breath and considered
her options.
     She could just give him half now, and be done with him. Or fight him in court, but
Orville would have spent the money or disappear before she could get him to court. A
single phrase came to mind : ‘until you claim your money, he doesn’t get his.’
     She stepped out the bathroom into a empty hallway. To her left the reception area
and the front door, but Orville was out there. Locking the bathroom door behind her, she
turned to her right and walked around the corner until she came to door marked exit,
then pushed through. She found herself behind the strip mall. She made her way around
the closer end, and walked back out to her car in the parking lot.
     “This will show him, I’ll get me a new lawyer.”