He said that he didn’t read all of the reports yet, but wanted to believe his
younger son would never harm a woman. He was visibly surprised when I told him
that his older son did not believe his younger son is innocent. I assured him that
the police report was inaccurate. My friend had four beers, not eight. I had one.
And I stressed that the woman was definitely not on the scene before 9:10 PM
when I left, but yet by 9:40 P.M. was already at the emergency room seven miles
away talking to police. Though possible, it seemed so unlikely to have happened
that way.

The old man looked puzzled when I asked him to get a private detective on the
case and not to tell his older son just yet. I think the old man already knew what I
suspected and was just surprised that anyone else might share his own gut feeling
about his older son’s possible greed and cruel plot. He shook his head yes and
said he would get a detective to look into things immediately.

My friend joined us outside and hugged his dad. “Dad, I didn’t do this. I
swear to God I didn’t.�
“I know,� the old man assured him. “We’ll fix it.�

After his dad went for a swim, I asked my friend if the secretary and his brother
were involved.

“No way!� He laughed when he answered. But I wasn’t laughing. I told
him that his brother thinks that he’s guilty and not to forget that.

“He thinks I�m guilty?� he asked. “You had to have misunderstood
him.� I shook my head no. I didn’t misunderstand. I also told him that two
other secretaries have said that they were aware of a sexual relationship between
him and the woman in question. He shook his head no. He repeated over and over
that he  never touched her at work and never saw her outside of work.

“Your brother’s part of this,� I told him as I hugged him and cried with
him. I had to leave but asked him to meet me later. I said goodnight to his dad
and left.

I didn’t make it out of the driveway when the lawyer sister stopped and got
out of her car to talk to me when she came through the gate. She just received the
message from her older brother to get home to help prepare a defense for the
younger brother. I brought her up to speed on discrepancies in the police report
and the older brother’s doubting that my friend is innocent. She had a hard
time believing me, but she appeared to let what I said sink in and shared my
concern that something horrible was happening between two brothers and might
just unfold without any of us being able to stop or disprove it.

I wasn’t so sure either that the sister wasn’t part of that conspiracy. Since
their mom died, there was some concern that if dad remarried, their inheritances
would not be as significant as they would be if he lived out the rest of his life
alone. My friend got very upset with his brother one day when his brother told
him not to encourage their dad to become involved with another woman. My
friend wanted his dad to have a girlfriend and companionship. Plus, my friend
had provided the only grandchild. She was the apple of her grandfather’s eyes.
She was starting college to become a lawyer too. On one of my two dates with the
older brother, he sarcastically mentioned something about his niece coming to
work over the summer as her grandfather’s aide. He had blown his own
brother out of the water over the years and gained the reputation in town as the
brother to go to for higher profile cases, whereas my friend was always second
chair. The granddaughter, however, was smarter than all of them and could easily
challenge her uncle and end up exactly where her grandfather would want her - -
running the show.

The detective that my friend’s dad hired was able to connect the older son to
the secretary outside work. They were at a hotel together the afternoon of the
supposed attack. The smarter older brother’s personal credit card paid for the
hotel. It was never determined whether my friend’s brother actually inflicted
the injuries to the woman’s face intentionally or for show or whether someone
else connected or not connected to the plot struck her. The secretaries at work still
maintained that they were embarrassed when they went into a locked conference
room and saw my friend and the secretary in question having sex. After
discussion, they concluded that they really didn’t get a good look at the man
and only took her word that it was my friend. They said it could have been his
brother or someone else.

The detective also tracked down the couple in the parking lot who said they saw
the secretary in question get into my friend’s car and leave with him. The
detective learned that the man was a former client of the firm. When pressed that
he could face perjury charges if he lied under oath, he admitted that he was paid
to provide false testimony. He said that all he saw was my friend asleep in his car.
He and his girlfriend were paid handsomely to lie. She was having second
thoughts about the arrangement. She caved under pressure while questioned when
she realized there would be a trial and it wasn't just an open and shut case. The
detective established that the older brother had paid them for their cooperation
and silence.

As for me, my friend became angry with me for not telling him that I went on two
dates with his brother, even though the older brother and I weren’t lovers.
Despite the fact that I set the wheels in motion to clear him by convincing his dad
to hire the detective when he was ready to write a check to cover up something
that my friend did not do but would shadow him permanently, I received the
shock of a lifetime when my friend said that he wondered if I weren’t also part
of the scheme of liars set out to frame him. He walked away from me and said heâ
€™d never talk to me again. His daughter told me he would come around. But I
wasn’t so sure. A year passed, then two more, and I hadn’t heard from
him.

The older brother never went to jail, but should have. The old man wouldn’t
let that happen. However, he did not allow him back to work any of the cases for
the firm anymore. Some clients did not care about his personal integrity and
followed him to his new practice. My friend stopped smoking pot and started
being a better lawyer than he had ever been. He got his edge back. He still hasnâ
€™t got the highest profile cases, but he became his dad’s second chair on
them and more confident in his own right.

The granddaughter decided that she didn’t want to be a high profile criminal
lawyer after all and broke both her grandfather and dad’s hearts in the
process. She wants to be a lawyer for poor people who are innocent instead of
wealthy people who are guilty. I like her a lot, and always have since I met her
when she was four. I have no doubt that she will still end up in charge of the firm,
though, one of these days.

When the old man died last spring, I went to pay my respects. I planned to go
inside, say a prayer and leave without talking to anyone except maybe my friendâ
€™s daughter. I felt someone take my hand in his and then hug me for dear life. I
had my friend back. He looked good. He had gained a little weight that he needed
and cut his hair. He beamed with happiness and pride when he introduced me to
his granddaughter and then to a woman his dad was seeing. He told her that I was
his good friend and the woman he let get away one hundred times.

The following day was the funeral. I hadn’t planned on attending but my
friend and I stayed up most of the night talking and he asked me to go with him.
His older brother was there as well. His practice grew bigger and bigger but he was
growing tired of representing the liars and the rich guilty people who made him
richer than he ever thought possible so quickly those three years on his own.  The
brothers were well on their way to healing their wounds and forgiving one
another. My friend told me that night that he and his brother would be OK
together because there was no more jealousy between them. Each grew up in his
40s to hope that he could be half the man his dad was.

My friend is now happy for the first time in his life since we were teenagers. We
stayed friends over the years because both of us are eternal optimists and
dreamers. That liars set out to destroy him out of jealousy and greed is a chapter
in his life that he closed hopefully for good. I eventually forgave his older brother,
but it will take an awful long time for me to be convinced that he is worthy of the
trust. I still don't trust him any further than I can throw him.

What I never told my friend to this day is that his older brother caused so much
more trouble for him than just lining up those liars among him a couple years
ago. The plot actually started years earlier when the older brother intentionally
lost important court papers that my friend was working on to discredit him in
their dad’s eyes as well as the courts’. I didn’t feel a need to tell my
friend all of that. Instead, I let the older brother know that I knew and that his
niece knew and that one of us would take the tape I made of his sister telling me
all of this to the nearest judge if anything suspect ever happened again to my
friend.

Something else that I never told my friend is that I did fall in love with him
somewhere along the line. That I will tell him today.

jc 9/16/06

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