Blind Man's Alley
    Duncan shrugged. “My guess is the partners decided it wouldn’t look good to drop Rafael when he was on the ropes. Maybe they thought doing the case as pro bono would be good publicity.”
    “It’s got to be exciting, a murder. Compared to the shit we usually do.”
    Duncan glanced around before frowning at Neil. “You do realize that we’re at a firm event, right?”
    Neil grinned. “It’s not like I’m ever going to be up for partner here,” he said. “But I guess you need to keep up a good attitude.”
    They were summoned to dinner, the entire dining room reserved for the firm’s party. Duncan sat down next to Neil at one of the round tables, a summer associate from the corporate department sitting on his other side and locking Duncan into tedious small talk throughout much of the meal.
    After dinner Oliver Wolcott made a brief speech, the usual mix of stale jokes and platitudes about how the firm was a family. Duncan could feel Neil glancing over at him as Wolcott spoke, no doubt wanting to share a smirk, but Duncan ignored him. Wolcott had his name on the door because he had been the only other Davis Polk partner to leave with Blake, making him the firm’s cofounder, though he had nowhere near Blake’s profile. His value to the firm came less from his skills as a litigator (he had a solid but unspectacular niche in antitrust) than from the depths of his Rolodex—Wolcott’s family had long been entrenched in the East Coast elite. Duncan had worked on only one of Wolcott’s cases—defending against a class-action allegation of price collusion among airlines—and had found him to be a pompous jerk.
    After dinner was another round of cocktails, although most of the partners—many of whom lived in affluent suburbs outside the city—left right after Wolcott’s speech. There was always a lot of alcohol at summer associate outings, although the summers who had any sense avoided getting drunk. There was no better way to end up not getting an offer of permanent employment than getting shit-faced and acting out at a firm function.
    As he made his way back into the bar area Duncan spotted Blake, who had a half dozen summers and junior associates circled tightly around him, hanging on every word. No doubt Blake was relating one of his many war stories. Duncan thought he’d probably heard it before, and continued on until he was buttonholed by a summer associate who’d written a memo for him last month and whose name he was completely blanking on. Duncan chatted with the woman, trying to get through it without revealing he’d forgotten who she was.
    Duncan spotted Lily getting a glass of wine at the bar and excused himself to go say hello to her. Back when they were dating they’d kept it a secret at the firm, so Duncan had always been careful about how he interacted with her around coworkers. Even though they no longer had anything to hide, Duncan still felt instinctively on guard when talking with her in public view.
    As he greeted her, Duncan could tell that Lily was pissed about something. She wasn’t trying to let it show, and Duncan doubted anyone else would notice, but he knew her too well not to spot it. “Everything okay?” he said, getting another vodka from the bartender.
    Lily tilted her head in the direction of a secluded corner of the room, and Duncan followed her over. “It’s that prick Wolcott,” she said. “I was sitting next to him at dinner, and when my salmon came he made some crack about how he was sorry they’d cooked it, offered to see if they had any still raw for me. It was so fucking racist, and I just had to sit here and take it.”
    Duncan understood why Lily was offended, but he also knew Wolcott offended people on a pretty regular basis. “I don’t think he was being racist so much as, you know, stupid. He’s a not-funny person trying to be funny, and that’s what happens. And besides, it doesn’t even make sense—the Japanese cook fish. Remember that

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