You Never Know
by Jim Harrington
entered the conference room where the retirement party for Mr. Williams was
being held. Across the room, she spied Jason. He was a paralegal for Albert,
Raintree and Williams and one of the few people she knew by name. She grabbed a
flute of champagne off a credenza and meandered through the crowd, ending next
to Mr. Williams.
Sir,” she said. “I only hope my career is half as successful as yours.”
thank you. . . Um . . .Addison. Correct?” His smile grew as he stepped closer. “From what I’ve been
told by the other
partners you should be an excellent asset to the Litigation group.”
you,” she replied, feeling her cheeks warm. “Being my first job out of law
school, I just hope I don’t screw it up,” she said with a nervous chuckle.
Before he could reply, a man Addison didn’t know interrupted them. She stepped
away, grateful for the intrusion.
continued wandering through the assembled group. She smiled, nodded, and hoped
she wouldn’t be expected to remember all the names being thrown her
way. Attempting that would be more difficult than passing the Bar exam. She
eventually found herself standing next to Jason.
again,” she said. They’d first met in the seventh floor break room. “Remember
me?” She held out her hand and shook his in what she thought was a proper
lawyerly manner. His limp hand barely responded.
you. . .you’re Addison,” he replied, looking down.
you’re Jason,” she said. “If I remember correctly, you’re a paralegal in the
Taxes and Estates group.”
replied, almost too soft for her to hear.
have you been working there?”
like it,” she said, realizing they were similar in age.
what to say next, Addison excused herself and mingled with the other
partygoers. Occasionally, she noticed Jason watching her. She began to feel
uneasy and wondered what he was thinking.
noticed him a number of times during her first week—eating lunch at the same
time, bumping into each other in the break room multiple times during the day,
sharing an awkward smile but never speaking. He even worked late on the nights
she did research in the library. She thought he might have followed her home on
one occasion but decided she was being paranoid.
ten, the crowd had dwindled to the point Addison felt comfortable leaving. Back
in her cubicle, she grabbed her coat and briefcase. She turned to leave and saw
Mr. Williams standing in the aisle.
have work to do for tomorrow’s meeting with a client,” she said, lifting her
briefcase for him to see.
nodded. “We do tend to work our junior lawyers, don’t we.” It
wasn’t a question. “May I walk you home? I believe the firm put you up in those
new apartments a few blocks away until you find something suitable.”
they did,” she replied. “But it’s not necessary for you to walk me home. The
streets are well lit.” She wouldn’t mind an escort, but was uncomfortable with
the over-friendly smile on Mr. William’s face. He appeared harmless, but. . .
insist.’” He reached out and took the briefcase from her. “It simply isn’t safe
for a young lady to walk alone at night.”
relented and headed toward the elevator.
arrived at her apartment building, and as she reached out for her briefcase,
Mr. Williams bent down and kissed her. She pushed herself away just as someone
wearing a hoodie jumped between them and pushed Mr. Williams down a short
flight of stairs to a beauty salon entrance. She heard punches and moaning.
Then the attacker raced up the stairs
and down the street. As he passed her, she saw his face. It was Jason.
called 911 and went to check on Mr. Williams. He was breathing, his face
bloodied. She sat next to him, waiting, preparing her story. Someone accosted
Mr. Williams for no apparent reason. She didn’t know if
anything was taken. She didn’t know why the attacker left her alone. No, she
didn’t see a face or any identifying features that would help in the search.
Jim Harrington began writing fiction in
2007 and has agonized over the form ever since. His stories have appeared
in Short-story.me, Near to the
Knuckle, The Story Shack, Yellow
Mama, Liquid Imagination, and others. Jim's Six Questions For . . . blog (http://sixquestionsfor.blogspot.com/)
provides editors and publishers a place to
“tell it like it is.” You can read more of his stories at http://jpharrington.blogspot.com.