She'll Be Back
By Erin McDuff
Gordon and Gordon Law Offices
SLAM! A tall woman with short dark brown hair stalks out of an office at the Gordon And Gordon Law Office building.
"Mrs. Gordon, you have some messages," a haired secretary calls to the enraged woman.
The woman turns on her heals and marches up to the secretary's desk, "It's not Mrs. Gordon any more!"
Just then a man with slicked back brown hair runs into view and upon seeing the woman slows up, "Jamie! Jamie, wait! Let me explain!"
"I think you've made everything very plain to me, Neal."
"No, Jamie. You don't understand. That thing with that other woman, that was nothing. Nothing compared to what we've got! Jamie, don't leave!"
"I'll have my stuff cleaned out by Friday, Neal."
Neal looks dumb-founded as he watches Jamie walk out of the building.
"What should I do with these messages, Mr. Gordon?" asks the secretary, nervously.
"Keep 'em. She'll be back. By tomorrow, she'll be begging to be let back in. You just wait and see," Neal answers, arrogantly.
Home of Neal, Jamie and Katie Gordon
That Same Day
Jamie stomped into the home that she had shared with Neal for so many years. All those years had been a lie. She thought she could trust him. Boy, had she been wrong. To be awakened by a woman leaving a message on the answering machine asking Neal if was free tonight, seemed to have that uncanny ability to destroy a little thing called marriage. And to find out that this had been going on for years! Years! Well, at least all that over-time Neal had done over the years had been well spent.
"Katie?" Jamie called into the house.
A little child's giggle comes from upstairs. Jamie follows the giggle to a bedroom, where the nanny is busy amusing a little girl with funny faces.
"Mrs. Gordon --" stammers the nanny.
"Come on, Katie. We're going out."
"Mr. Gordon called me a few minutes ago..."
"Oh did he? And what did Mr. Gordon have to say?"
"He said that you were mad and that I was not to let you take Katie."
"Katie is my daughter. I have the right to take her out. You just try and stop me." growls Jamie as she takes Katie by her right hand and leads her out of the room and out of the house.
Ten Months Later
Apartment of Jamie Ross and Katie Gordon
The former Mrs. Gordon sits at the kitchen table in the apartment she and her daughter now occupy. Jamie scans that day's newspaper, looking for anything about a possible job opening for a lawyer in the New York City area.
"It figures. I have to go job hunting in a city in which you can't walk down the street without having lawyers cling to you like leeches in a pond," she grumbles to herself.
The divorce had been a difficult one. Neal still couldn't believe that Jamie had left him. No one could leave The Great Neal Gordon. Yeah, right.
Jamie had no problem leaving Neal. In fact, she couldn't get away from him fast enough. The real problem had been the fight for custody of their little girl, Katie. Jamie wasn't about to let Neal take her daughter and Neal wasn't about to let Jamie win easily.
Neal loved their daughter, yes. But it wasn't above him to use his own daughter to inflict pain on the one woman who had found the will to walk away from him. Keeping Katie away from Jamie would have killed his ex-wife and he certainly would have welcomed that. But the judge had seen the way Neal was trying to use the child and awarded custody to Jamie. Neal got visits every other weekend. Thank God for smart judges.
But now Jamie was in a bit of a spot. Before the divorce, she had never had to worry about a job. But now, of course, she was out of the law firm she and her husband had worked so hard to build up. She had to find a new job to support her and her daughter. The child support she received from Neal was enough to get them by but Jamie wanted to work. She was sick of sitting around the house, everyday, day in and day out. She wanted to get back to being a lawyer again. She had to. As Neal had once observed, "You can take the lawyer out of the courtroom, but you can't take the courtroom out of the lawyer." This was proving to be very true.
Jamie had been sending out her résumé for the past four months to no avail. No one seemed to need a partner at any of the city's law firms. She had gotten so desperate that she had applied for a position at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. As a zealous former criminal defense attorney, it seemed like sacrilege to try and get a job with 'the enemy' but she was hard up for a job so she was forced to swallow her pride and smile through it all.
She had to keep smiling, for Katie's sake. Even though they were getting by with Neal's child support, they were still just making ends neat. She had been trying to get the support increased but Neal was claiming that he didn't have enough assets to pay what Jamie wanted and that she could get support from her wealthy family. What a bunch of crap! Neal was rolling in cash- he could meet Jamie's asking price. And as for the family money- there wasn't much support coming from the family of a woman who was going through a high-profile divorce from a famous New York lawyer, a divorce they were all against. It was mucking up the family name. Jamie was a disgrace, in her family's opinion.
"Mommy, what are you doing?"
Jamie looked up to see Katie standing next to her.
"Just thinking, Honey. Just thinking."
"Oh, a lot of stuff."
"You thinking about not having a job?"
"Yeah, a little bit."
"Mommy, what's going to happen to us if you can't find a job?"
Jamie looked at her daughter. She could see the fright in the child's face. The fear of the unknown- their future.
"Katie, don't you worry about any of that stuff. You let Mommy worry about that, okay?"
"But what if you don't get a job. What if I can't stay with you any more?"
"Katie, no one's ever going to take you away from me. You aren't going anywhere. And I'm not going to leave you, ever. Do you understand me?"
Katie nods her head but still her face tells Jamie that she doesn't believe her. Jamie doesn't know what to do to reassure the young child. All she can do is give Katie a hug and a kiss and send her to bed.
After tucking in Katie, Jamie comes back into the kitchen. For the first time she notices that day's mail, untouched, unopened. Most of it is bills but then one letter catches her attention. She reads the return addressee -- Neal Gordon.
"Great. Okay, Neal, what do you want now?" she asks herself as she opens the letter.
She reads the first few lines and then sets down the letter in complete shock. It was a notice from Neal. He was planning on filing a motion to get custody of Katie. He contended that Jamie was an unfit mother because she couldn't get a job to support her daughter and herself with.
It was a nightmare. She had nearly lost Katie once to Neal. Now she was about to fight for her daughter again and this time she was likely to lose. Not only was she about to lose a case, she going to lose what she lived for -- Katie.
All of her life Jamie had never been much for prayer and that kind of stuff but that night she prayed for something she never thought she'd need -- a miracle.
The Next Day
Jamie came into the kitchen at around 7am. She had to make Katie's lunch for the day at school.
"Katie, are you up yet?" she yelled toward the back of the apartment.
"I'm up, I'm up," grumbled a sleepy voice.
"The bus will be here in about 45 minutes, so hurry up, okay?"
Jamie knew she'd probably go and have to drag her child out of bed. Aren't school days great? Yeah, sure.
As she made up Katie's lunch, she turned on the TV in the kitchen. It was on one of the local stations and they were in a feeding frenzy over some new, great terrible event.
"It is a sad day in the city, John. We expect Manhattan District Attorney Adam Schiff to start the news conference anytime now."
"Yes, it certainly is a sad day. We'll check back in with you as soon as that news conference starts, thank you Ann. Once again, for those of you who have just tuned in, we are waiting for Manhattan District Attorney Adam Schiff to start a news conference regarding the death of one of his Assistant District Attorneys, Claire Kincaid. We will switch over the news conference the moment it starts so stay tuned as we continue our coverage of this breaking story."
The station went to a commercial break. Jamie sat there, sort of shocked. An ADA was dead. That was something that made news. She had seen Claire Kincaid on TV only a few days before, during a news story covering a death penalty case. The woman had been quite young, so Jamie knew it wasn't old age that the ADA had died of.
"And we're back. We have just gotten word that DA Adam Schiff is about to start the news conference. We're going to switch over to that right now."
Jamie watched the screen as a man in his late 60's walked to the front of the conference room.
"Hello," the man said.
The whole room went silent as they waited for his next words.
"It is with a heavy heart that I come to you today. Early this morning one of New York's most promising young lawyers, Claire Kincaid, was killed in a drunk-driving accident."
Adam paused to regain his composure- this was one of the hardest things he had ever had to do. Finally, he was able to continue, "She was driving a friend home when a man driving under the influence ran a stop light and hit the driver's side of her car. From what the medical examiner has told me thus far, she was killed instantly."
Jamie continued to watch and saw something she never thought she'd see the tough old DA do -- he was tearing up.
"Her death is a terrible loss for the Manhattan District Attorney's office and the city as a whole. She will be greatly missed."
Reporters shouted questions to the DA but he declined to answer any of them and quickly left the room. The news coverage was going to continue but Jamie switched off the TV after the news conference was over. She sat silent in her kitchen for several minutes, digesting what she had just heard. Finally, she snapped back to reality.
"Katie, are you ready to go yet?"
"Well, hurry up!"
"I'm hurrying! I'm hurrying!"
Three Weeks Later
Jamie walked in the apartment, with Katie right behind her. Katie is now sporting a cast on her left arm.
"Now tell me again, Katie- how did this happen?"
"Steve said I couldn't do a jack-knife off the monkey bars. I said I could. He said prove it. So I tried to but I fell. I got up and my arm hurt a lot."
"Katie, you could have been killed trying to do that. You could have broken your neck!"
"If you ever do anything that stupid again, Katie..." Jamie stops herself short and glances at Katie. The girl was staring at her, tears of regret forming in her eyes.
"I'm sorry Mommy."
Jamie knelt down next to her daughter and looked her in the eye, "Honey, I'm not mad at you. I'm mad at the way you acted. I love you so much. I don't know what I would have done if this had been more than just a broken arm. Now come on. How about we get some ice cream?"
Katie wipes her eyes and nods her head, a smile creeping across her face, "Yeah."
"Okay, just let me check the answering machine," Jamie walks over the table in the hallway on which her answering machine sits. It said she had one message, "God, please don't let it be Neal again." she thinks to herself as she presses the 'PLAY' button.
"This is a message for Jamie Ross from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office," a male voice said, "Ms. Ross, you sent in your résumé to us a few weeks ago. District Attorney Adam Schiff would like to schedule an interview with you. Please call us back and we'll try and set up a time that works for you and Mr. Schiff. Thank you and we hope to hear from you soon."
One Week Later
Jamie sat nervously in the office of District Attorney, Adam Schiff. The wise but weary looking DA read through her résumé in silence. Jamie glanced around the office she was sitting in, not daring to look at the man. Finally, he set down the résumé and looked at Jamie, thoughtfully.
"You worked with Neal Gordon?"
"Yes. I was his wife in fact. We were partners at the Gordon and Gordon law firm."
"Bit strange finding you looking for work at the District Attorney's Office, you being such a strong defense attorney and all."
"When Neal Gordon and myself parted company, I, of course, was out of a job. I hold the DA's Office in high regard and I would be honored to be able to work here."
Adam smiled. He knew she was laying it on a little thick, but hey, don't most people do that when they're being interviewed for a job?
"You know this office has recently suffered a terrible tragedy?"
"Yes. The death of Claire Kincaid was quite a shock."
"You knew Ms. Kincaid?"
"Not very well, but I was acquainted with her. I got to see her in court a few times. She was a good lawyer. It must have been a great loss for your office."
"It was a great loss, but life goes on...And so must this office."
Jamie nods her agreement to this fact.
"The reason I brought up the death of Ms. Kincaid is because if you get this position you well be, in a sense, taking her place. Do you understand this?"
"I realized this when your office called asking for me to come in to see you, Sir."
"Good. And do you realize that if you get this position you may have to deal with some of the former colleagues of Claire Kincaid, who may not take so kindly to me trying to replace her so soon?"
"I do realize this, and I am willing to deal with it. I can understand that they may not like me at this time. I'm taking over for someone they worked very close with and who they respected. That's a hard thing to get used to, I know. But I think in time I will be able to find my own place here and, hopefully, I'll gain respect."
Adam smiles again. He likes this young woman. She's very professional and very thoughtful.
"Ms. Ross, I have interviewed many young lawyers for this position, but none of them have impressed me as much as you have today. You are highly qualified for the job and seem to have the mental strength to over-come the shadow of a formidable predecessor. I would be very happy if you would come and work here at the DA office as an assistant district attorney."
Jamie is floored by this. She thought she had a decent chance at the job, but she never thought she'd get the job before she even left the interview.
"Thank you, Mr. Schiff. I will do the best job I possibly can."
"I know you will Ms. Ross. I won't keep you much longer. We just have to fill out some paperwork and then its official."
Jamie and Adam spent the next 20 minutes going over and filling out paperwork. Finally, when they had finished, Jamie breathed a sigh of relief. She really had the job. No more doubts about it.
"And we're done. You're an ADA, Ms. Ross," Adam states with another smile.
"Thank you again, Mr. Schiff."
"You'll start work next Monday, 9am."
"Who should I report to?"
"Me, first day, and after that you are to report to my executive assistant district attorney, John J. McCoy. He is who you will be second-chairing for, most of the time."
Jamie heard the last part as she reached for the doorknob. John J. McCoy? Sounded like she was going to be working with ol' High'em High Jack McCoy. This was going to be fun, she could tell that already.
Three Days Later
Jamie sat in civil court, awaiting the judges decision on custody and increasing the child support. She had managed to have the judge take into consideration the fact that she had gotten a job, family problems, and that Neal was head of a top New York law firm. Now she could only hope.
"This has been a difficult case to rule on," began the judge, "Two parents who both love their daughter and want the best for her. Unfortunately, only one parent can have main custody. In the best interest of the minor involved and in light of new facts, I hereby rule that the minor should remain with her mother, Jamie Ross, provided visits are allowed to her father, Neal Gordon."
For the second time that week, Jamie was reassured there was a God. Someone had heard and answered her prayers. As the courtroom began to clear out, Jamie noticed Neal looking at her. She walks up to him, wearing a victorious grin.
"Congratulations, Jamie. You win again," Neal remarked as she came to stand next to him.
"Thank you, Neal. Glad to see you're not a sore loser."
"Me? A sore loser? Come now, Jamie. I've never been a sore loser. I thought you knew me better than that."
"That's just it, Neal -- I've come to realize in the past months that I don't know you. I don't think I ever really did, and now I know I never will."
"That's very deep, Jamie. Very insightful. And speaking of insightful -- a little bird told me you've taken a job with the enemy."
"If, by that slam, you mean the DA's Office, your little bird is correct."
"I was hoping my little bird was wrong. It's certainly a dark day when a Gordon goes and works for the State."
"Well, yes, Neal, it would be a dark day when a Gordon goes to work for the State, but here's another one of those annoying little details I always told you to watch out for- I'm not a Gordon. I'm me, Jamie Ross, and I do whatever I damn well please and I don't need a last name or you, for that matter, to make it in this city. Now if you and your little bird will excuse me- I've got some shopping and organizing to do before Monday."
Jamie strides, triumphantly, out of the courtroom, leaving Neal with his haired secretary standing at his side. The secretary had heard the whole thing.
"I guess now would be a good time to start forwarding Ms. Ross' messages to the District Attorney's Office," the secretary points out.
Neal Gordon turns to the secretary and flashes her a dark look.
"I just was trying to make small talk, I mean, seeing as how she won't be coming back and all..."
"Just shut up," Neal growled as he stalked out of the courtroom.