Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Edward Strand

Along the Meridian

After Mr. Canaan was dead, his widow and her lawyer opened his safety deposit boxes and inside discovered over two million dollars and a few Tai Chi videotapes.
The lawyer claimed Mr. Canaan was a gambler and had won the money in Atlantic City over a period of years and had stowed it away. He said one of the bundles was bound by a tape with the insignia from one of the casinos. Mrs. Canaan said she was unaware that her husband had been such a heavy gambler, but it must have been so because on finding the money she saw several casino binders. She mentioned the names of several.
Sherri Palatnik, a chronic junior executive, said she was not surprised. She had always thought something was amiss but she wouldn’t elaborate. Later under oath in front of a grand jury, she denied having any knowledge whatsoever. In fact she denied having implied that rumors had reached her ears.
None of the partners of the law firm would give the goods on any other. Even those who had retired and were granted immunity refused to implicate any former coworkers. Each who came to testify fidgeted and appeared uncomfortable when the employee expense accounts were read out once again.
The Union had changed leaders a couple of times since Mr. Canaan’s tenure, so none of the officers who came to speak could say much with any conviction.
The only thing that was a certainty was that after the election in which Mr. Canaan had lost his position, the law firm handling the Union’s legal requirements was dropped in favor of another, not entirely different, firm. Many of the lawyers moved to the new firm. They were familiar with the Union members’ needs.
In the end, the district attorney’s assistant failed to make his case so it was a moot point as to how the money arrived in the safety deposit boxes. Mrs. Canaan was two million dollars richer, minus her attorney’s fees of course.
And the old law firm which was paying a pension to the retired partner who had been a long-time friend of the deceased? They walked away quietly licking their wounds and hoped to rebuild their good name. They really did not need the bad publicity a trial would have brought them.
Those were rough times. Everyone said the stock market was due for a correction, in which case even privately held companies would suffer. Buying Union contracts proved prohibitive under the new economy.
Mrs. Canaan became a celebrity whose every move for well into six months was reported by the tabloids until she spent a goodly sum from her mysterious windfall on plastic surgery that healed badly. Looking ordinary, she was treated ordinarily, and stargazers eventually lost interest in her exploits. Most of what they had wanted to know was demystified in gleaning Sherri Palatnik’s book for the juicy parts. Tell-alls sell well even in hard times, though she had waxed heavily on the symbolism underpinning the Tai Chi tapes.
Six years later, when Mrs. Canaan, on a shopping trip in London, stepped in front of a double-decker bus and was killed, a writer for the Village Voice tried to revive her celebrity without success. The New York Times gave her a scant sixteen line obituary in which her ex-lawyer then riding a career highpoint said he had lost touch with her and was quoted in an off-color remark about the results of her surgery and other unwise investments. Elsewhere he commented that fifteen minutes was hardly enough time to do the right thing, and unless one was prepared to take advantage of their moment, they could easily lose their way along the meridian.

© Edward V. Strand 2012

Ed Strand has written on the Six Sentence Social Network and Thinking Ten, and also tried his hand at blogging a semi-journal called Stranded Online, for which he has not written in several months. He describes Along the Meridian as a comeback piece.

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