The Case of the Velvet Clause
By Jeff Baker
“Hey! Watch your hand! That’s my crotch you’re squishing!”
It was an occupational hazard at the law firm of Musselman and Pearce. Their office was so cramped they couldn’t reach for a book without bumping into each other. Leaning over to grab a book from the shelves that lined the room was how they wound up in that clinch.
“Got it!” Pearce said, bracing himself against Musselman’s shoulder and pushing himself back into his chair.
“You know,” Musselman said, “we’re just a roll of toilet paper and a metal bar away from being a large restroom stall in here.”
“What about the toilet?” Pearce asked grinning.
“You mean like the one we’ll be going down if we don’t start getting some clients?” Musselman asked grinning back.
“Or even A Client,” Pearce said with a sigh.
In the three months since they had struck out on their own after leaving Brown, Foster and Kleiner most of their walk-in traffic had been traffic tickets and their only Facebook follower was Pearce’s Mother.
The office door suddenly opened and banged against the metal wastebasket.
“Is this the law firm?” said the young woman who stood in the doorway.
“Uh, yeah, Musselman and Pearce. I’m Musselman, he’s Pearce. Come in and sit down,” he said as they stood up.
“I’ll stand,” she said. “I’m Marjorie Arbothnott. I need someone to invalidate my great-uncle’s will.”
“What about the will?” Pearce said.
“Uncle Jasper left me all his money but he added a clause saying I had to get married by the time I’m twenty-six. I’m twenty-five right now and I’m not rushing into anything.”
“Any idea why he made his will out like that?” Musselman asked.
“He wanted me to be wrapped in velvet,” Arbothnott said. “All safe and alone.”
“About how much would you inherit?” Pearce asked.
“A hundred and fifty-five,” she said.
Pearce whistled. “A hundred fifty-five million dollars!”
“No, just a hundred fifty-five dollars,” she said. “And if I don’t get married in a couple of months the money goes to the United Chicken Liberation Fund.”
Musselman and Pearce looked at each other for a moment.
“My advice is to let the chickens have the money,” Pearce said, standing back up. “Hey, could you step out into the hall?”
“Are you hitting on me?” Arbothnott said with a smile.
“No, I’ve got to stretch my leg,” he said. “We’ve got to get a bigger office.”