Lawyer for the Cat

Lawyer for the Cat by Lee Robinson

Book: Lawyer for the Cat by Lee Robinson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lee Robinson
himself despite having all the advantages, but he’s not stupid. Remember, if he challenges the trust and he loses, he forfeits what she left him. You know the law on testamentary capacity, I assume?”
    â€œI’ve been reviewing it.”
    â€œHe’d have the burden of proving incompetence at the time she signed the trust. Mind you, the legal test isn’t that she must have had a reasonable basis for what she did, but that she had the capacity to understand what she did. Look at Gaddy vs. Douglass : ‘Even an insane person may execute a will if it is done during a sane interval.’ So once Randall consults a lawyer, he should come to his senses. Of course, I can’t guarantee that. He might just be angry enough to … But look here,” he says, “if you can’t handle this, I’ll find someone else. Probably plenty of starving young lawyers out there who’d be happy to take it on, black cat and all.”
    He hardly knows me, has no inkling of how the words “you can’t handle this” bring back the Sally Baynard who’d stay up all night preparing for a trial, who would stand before the jury the next day making her opening argument, fighting exhaustion, fending off the judge who made a pass at her at lunchtime, battling a paternalistic prosecutor, dealing with the ungrateful and almost certainly guilty client. But when Sally Baynard took a bathroom break, she’d stand in the stall for an extra minute and silently repeat her mantra: You can handle this.
    *   *   *
    On the way back to the office I stop in Washington Park. It’s a mild day, the air heavy with humidity. I need this five-minute respite, this brief anonymity. These tourists don’t know me, hardly notice the middle-aged woman in the gray suit sitting on the bench under the giant live oak. The tour guide tells them about the earthquake of 1886, after which Charlestonians who’d lost their houses set up a tent city here. Some even brought their oriental rugs and silverware from home.
    I try to imagine living in a tent with my mother. She would definitely insist on bringing her silverware. I’m lost in this thought when my cell phone rings.
    â€œYou still at the Probate Court?” asks Gina.
    â€œJust left.”
    â€œJoe Baynard called. Said he needs to talk to you. I told him you had the deposition at ten thirty. He said it would just take a minute.”
    â€œWhat about?”
    â€œHe wouldn’t say. For God’s sake don’t let him stick you with another bizarre pro bono … No, nothing much going on here except that Natalie Carter’s husband—the judge—made an appointment for four thirty.”
    â€œI was going to try to leave a little early.”
    â€œHe was pretty insistent. Said he wants to talk to you about the offer. He sounded kinda nice.”
    â€œThat’s a ruse.”
    â€œAnyway, I told him you could give him half an hour.”
    â€œHow’s Beatrice?”
    â€œFine. Curled up back there on your sofa, sleeping. She was playing with a big palmetto bug and that must have exhausted her.”
    â€œShe chased it around the office, caught it once and batted it around a little, then it got away.… You know how one minute those things are running around the floor and then all of a sudden they fly? It was a huge one. I’ve already called the exterminator.”
    *   *   *
    My relationship with Joe is an ongoing drama for the Family Court set, the story line based loosely on fact but routinely spiced with fiction, which in the telling and retelling reinvents itself, acquiring new details, such as: (1) we split up because I wouldn’t join the Junior League (true that Joe’s mother wanted me to, but that had nothing to do with my leaving), and (2) that his father and uncle forced me out of the family firm (false). The drama experienced a revival

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