By the time Diane Crosby got to Carmen’s downtown office, the storms had retreated, leaving the streets flooded. Some people had abandoned their vehicles right in the middle of the avenue, so that as the firefighters manned the pumps and the sun came out, too hot, and started to dry the pavement, traffic was snarled and slow.
“You made it,” said Carmen. “I thought you might get caught in that.” She gestured to her office window and to the street, four floors below, where steam was rising from the sidewalks, and pedestrians picked their way through the parked cars and fat firefighter hoses.
“Had to sell my car,” said Diane. “Took the bus and walked.”
“Well, looks like you may be able to buy a new one,” Carmen said, picking up a document from her desk. “The details are being worked out, but looks like a nice settlement is coming your way. How are you feeling?”
“Just fine, have been fine forever. What details? How much?”
“About a quarter of a million,” said the lawyer.
“Oh my eff god,” said Diane. Now, the food poisoning had been horrible, the sickest she had ever been. She’d contemplated the joys of dying and drifting off to stomach-pump-free heaven. She thought of the man she had escorted on the cruise that day, his oily face and sagging paunch, and what he wanted her to do, and how she would never again need to make ends meet by catering to people who were the opposite of friends, people who paid for her company, paid for her to be beautiful, sycophantic, and sometimes, naked.
The money would go towards tuition and debt. Then she would take a vacation; she was thinking of tackling the Bugaboo Ascents, or if funds permitted, hiking some of the Machu Picchu trails. She wanted fresh air, isolation, peace, space, and grace before she started her law career, possibly in the very practice in whose offices she sat. Perhaps Carmen had represented people like Diane Crosby before. Diane would represent people like Diane, when she passed the bar. People who worked hard and got screwed anyway, sometimes literally.
Meanwhile Carmen was putting on a Burberry raincoat and fishing out her keys. “I’ve got a Land Rover parked just around the corner,” she said. “It will get through this mess. I’ll give you a lift.”
“This is the best,” Diane said. It was the best. Chauffeured home through a storm by her lawyer, who had just won her a big settlement and changed her life forever, in a glossy silver Land Rover, which was the truck Diane Crosby would have when she was settled in practice, earning money helping people like Diane.