Sheila led me up the vacant and stale stairway leading to the attic file storage, pausing at the top, key pointed towards the lock in her shaky hand. She glanced towards me, somewhat casually. "Did Mr. Broward mention anything about Brad De Luca?"
Sheila and I were alone in the attic, a stuffy, hot room with rows and rows of file boxes. At my initial estimate, there seemed to be over 20 rows of boxes on each side. Each row was over 15 boxes deep, and 8 or 9 boxes high. Rows of fluorescent lights were above us, making it a well lit, but hot area. The fluorescent lights and Shelia's question made me feel like a prisoner being interrogated. What is everyone's obsession with this guy?
"Yes, Broward - Mr. Broward told me that their side of the office operates a little differently then ours, and that I show steer clear of it." I mumbled the words out like a schoolgirl reciting her daily duties.
Sheila's eyes gleamed with the excitement of gossip but also with warning.
"What Mr. Broward was probably too proper to say, is that Brad is incorrigible! He stopped getting female interns three years ago because he couldn't keep his hands off of them. He is divorced, due to another one of his…relationships, and is never without some young thing on his arm. He's Italian, you know how those men are." She pronounced the word "Italian" like it was some kind of diseased animal, and waved her hand like that should explain everything. "Bottom line," she fixed her steely gaze on me, "you are exactly his type. You need to stay as far away from Brad De Luca as you can get."
Sheesh. THIS is what everyone is worried about? That I am about to become one of a senior partner's latest conquests? First off, I am as un-promiscuous as…. probably Sheila! I am a 21-year-old college student who has had a total of 2 partners. In college terms, I'm practically a saint! Second, isn't De Luca like FORTY? In his late 30s at LEAST - who in their right mind would think I would be attracted to someone that old?! I was more than a little offended by the perception of my low standards.
I met Sheila's eyes firmly and confidently. "Sheila, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Trust me."
Her return look was less confident.
A bit awkwardly, we finished the tour, and 10 minutes later, I was in my car with the windows down and "Whatever" by Hot Chelle Rae blaring. It was hot as hell outside, but I didn't care. I needed wind filling my car and blaring music in order to get my funky mood to pass. I wanted to make an impression at my internship, but one as an intelligent hard worker. Not as the chick that everyone thinks Brad freaking De Luca is going to bang. My head was properly cleared but I was still a little bitchy when I returned to the office, Danko file in hand, along with a still steaming cup of Starbucks coffee with "light cream and Equal" in it. Starbucks, thankfully, seemed to know exactly what constituted as "light".
I gave the file to Sheila, and dropped the coffee off at Broward's desk - he was on another call, and waved distractedly to me. I went into my office and started where I had left off last night. Within three minutes, my office door banged open and Todd Appleton plopped his body into one of my open chairs. Really? Am I going to get any freaking work done today?
I looked up over my file with what I hoped was an "I'm busy, what the hell do you want?" look.
"Where have YOU been all day? We have been so busy on the East Side. This one case - the wife caught her husband doing his boss's daughter! And found out that…" his voice droned on and on and I began focusing on his beautiful features as opposed to his words. I snapped myself out of my mind fart and waved my hand in front of Todd.
"Todd, can't talk - I’m busy." I gestured to all of the "work" filling my desk and office.
He glanced around. "I know, but - you have been gone all morning."
"Exactly. Hence my heavy workload. I need to get some stuff done."
"Oh." His dejected face reminded me of when I told my 4-year old babysitting job that even though he had asked Santa for a REAL baby alien, it probably wasn't going to happen.
"Sorry, Todd. I'm just buried right now in super-exciting deposition review."
"Sure, no problem. Hey - we missed you last night - you'll have to come out with us soon." He grinned that smile at me, scratched the back of his head, and then stood up, 5 feet 10 inches of classic Abercrombie & Fitch beautiful good looks.
I flashed him a smile and returned to my depositions. It was 11am. Only 10 or 11 hours to go.
My first two weeks passed excruciatingly slowly. Other than learning office politics, I garnered few legal skills, other than filing, typing, and deposition review - most of which I had mastered already. My only solace was thinking about the upcoming week - when Broward would be in Fort Lauderdale. I had already corned Sheila to get the scoop on office hours during that time.
"9-5 workdays", she promised me - an understanding look in her eyes. "This week been rough on you?" Her voice had taken on a motherly concern, and I wanted to hug her for showing some compassion. Everyone else in this wing seemed to work with an unending supply of energy. It wouldn't have sucked so bad if I wasn't hearing about the party life in the East Wing.
East Wing had their own set of double doors - big dark walnut and leather doors that had no windows - the only glimpses you got of inside were when someone was entering or leaving. It was like a super-exclusive club that I couldn't get in to, so my mind created impossibly extravagant fantasies about the world inside. Following closely to the instructions/threats of Broward - I stayed away from the East Wing and all of its "activities", but drooled jealously from afar.
Often, as I passed their big black doors, I'd hear loud laughter and other sounds coming from inside. On Wednesday, there had been some kind of a party - at 5:30 Smith & Wollensky waiters had started unloading trays of lobsters, steaks, and carts of large silver dishes from our elevators. They were followed with five cases of chilled champagne and sumptuous dessert trays that made my mouth water. Muted music could be heard from behind their doors, and a thumping bass. The bass only lasted about three minutes before Broward screamed some form of profanity, opened his door, and stomped his way over to the East Wing. About a minute later, the music was turned down, and our floors stopped systematically vibrating. Sheila leaned backward in her chair until she could see into my office and winked at me.
The East Wing, unless they were partying, never stayed past 6pm. The North Wing, Clarke's domain, worked till about 8:30 most nights. We, the West Wingers, were the night owls. Most Broward paralegals stayed till about 9:30pm - I stayed till Broward stayed, which normally ended up being sometime between 10 and 11. It was better than manual work, but still mentally exhausting. I went straight home each night, showered, crawled into bed, and was asleep before my head hit the bed. Eat, sleep, and work had been the last two weeks of my life. I leaned my head on Sheila's shoulder and signed dramatically.