Page 11 of The Firm

Saturday morning he slept in and didn't get to the office until seven. He didn't shave, wore jeans, an old button-down, no socks and Bass loafers. Law school attire.

The Capps agreement had been printed and reprinted late Friday. He made some further revisions, and Nina ran it again at eight Friday night. He assumed she had little or no social life, so he didn't hesitate to ask her to work late. She said she didn't mind overtime, so he asked her to work Saturday morning.

She arrived at nine, wearing a pair of jeans that would fit a nose guard. He handed her the agreement, all two hundred and six pages, with his latest changes, and asked her to run it for the fourth time. He was to meet with Avery at ten.

The office changed on Saturday. All of the associates were there, as well as most of the partners and a few of the secretaries. There were no clients, thus no dress code. There was enough denim to launch a cattle drive. No ties. Some of the preppier ones wore their finest starched Duckheads with heavily starched button-downs and seemed to crackle when they walked.

But the pressure was there, at least for Mitchell Y. McDeere, the newest associate. He had canceled his bar review meetings on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and the fifteen notebooks sat on the shelf, gathering dust and reminding him that he would indeed become the first member to flunk the bar exam.

At ten the fourth revision was complete, and Nina ceremoniously laid it on Mitch's desk and left for the coffee room. It had grown to two hundred and nineteen pages. He had read every word four times and researched the tax code provisions until they were memorized. He marched down the hall to his partner's office and laid it on the desk. A secretary was packing a mammoth briefcase while the boss talked on the phone.

"How many pages?" Avery asked when he hung up.

"Over two hundred."

"This is quite impressive. How rough is it?"

"Not very. That's the fourth revision since yesterday morning. It's almost perfect."

"We'll see. I'll read it on the plane, then Capps will read it with a magnifying glass. If he finds one mistake he'll raise hell for an hour and threaten not to pay. How many hours are in this?"

"Fifty-four and a half, since Wednesday."

"I know I've pushed, and I apologize. You've had a tough first week. But our clients sometimes push hard, and this won't be the last time we break our necks for someone who pays us two hundred dollars an hour. It's part of the business."

"I don't mind it. I'm behind on the bar review, but I can catch up."

"Is that little Hudson twerp giving you a hard time?"

"No."

"If he does, let me know. He's only a five-year man, and he enjoys playing professor. Thinks he's a real academic. I don't particularly like him."

"He's no problem."

Avery placed the agreement in the briefcase. "Where are the prospectus and other documents?"

"I've done a very rough draft of each. You said we had twenty days."

"We do, but let's get it done. Capps starts demanding things long before their deadlines. Are you working tomorrow?"

"I hadn't planned on it. In fact, my wife has sort of insisted we go to church."

Avery shook his head. "Wives can really get in the way, can't they?" He said this without expecting a reply.

Mitch did not respond.

"Let's have Capps finished by next Saturday."

"Fine. No problem," Mitch said.

"Have we discussed Koker-Hanks?" Avery asked while rummaging through a file.

"No."

"Here it is. Koker-Hanks is a big general contractor out of Kansas City. Keeps about a hundred million under contract, all over the country. An outfit out of Denver called Holloway Brothers has offered to buy Koker-Hanks. They want to swap some stock, some assets, some contracts, and throw in some cash. Pretty complicated deal. Familiarize yourself with the file, and we'll discuss it Tuesday morning when I get back."

"How much time do we have?"

"Thirty days."

It was not quite as thick as the Capps file, but just as imposing. "Thirty days," Mitch mumbled.

"The deal is worth eighty million, and we'll rake off two hundred grand in fees. Not a bad deal. Every time you look at that file, charge it for an hour. Work on it whenever you can. In fact, if the name Koker-Hanks crosses your mind while you're driving to work, stick it for an hour. The sky's the limit on this one."

Avery relished the thought of a client who would pay regardless of the charges. Mitch said goodbye and returned to his office.

* * *

About the time the cocktails were finished, while they studied the wine list and listened to Oliver Lambert's comparison of the nuances, the subtleties, the distinctions of each of the French wines, about the time Mitch and Abby realized they would much rather be home eating a pizza and watching TV, two men with the correct key entered the shiny black BMW in the parking lot of Justine's. They wore coats and ties and looked inconspicuous. They sped away innocently and drove across midtown to the new home of Mr. and Mrs. McDeere. They parked the BMW where it belonged, in the carport. The driver produced another key, and the two entered the house. Hearsay was locked in a closet in the washroom.

In the dark, a small leather attache case was placed on the dining table. Thin disposable rubber gloves were pulled and stretched over the hands, and each took a small flashlight.

"Do the phones first," one said.

They worked quickly, in the dark. The receiver from the kitchen phone was unplugged and laid on the table. The microphone was unscrewed and examined. A tiny drop-in transmitter, the size of a raisin, was glued in the cavity of the receiver and held firmly in place for ten seconds. When the glue became firm, the microphone was replaced and the receiver was plugged into the phone and hung on the kitchen wall. The voices, or signals, would be transmitted to a small receiver to be installed in the attic. A larger transmitter next to the receiver would send the signals across town to an antenna on top of the Bendini Building. Using the AC lines as a power source, the small bugs in the phones would transmit indefinitely.

"Get the one in the den."

The attache case was moved to a sofa. Above the recliner they drove a small nail into a ridge in the paneling, then removed it. A thin black cylinder, one twentieth of an inch by one inch, was carefully placed in the hole. It was cemented in place with a dab of black epoxy. The microphone was invisible. A wire, the thickness of a human hair, was gently fitted into the seam of the paneling and run to the ceiling. It would be connected to a receiver in the attic.

Identical mikes were hidden in the walls of each bedroom. The men found the retractable stairs in the main hallway and climbed into the attic. One removed the receiver and transmitter from the case while the other painstakingly pulled the tiny wires from the walls. When he gathered them, he wrapped them together and laid them under the insulation and ran them to a corner where his partner was placing the transmitter in an old cardboard box. An AC line was spliced and wired to the unit to provide power and transmission. A small antenna was raised to within an inch of the roof decking.

Their breathing became heavier in the sweltering heat of the dark attic. The small plastic casing of an old radio was fitted around the transmitter, and they scattered insulation and old clothing around it. It was in a remote corner and not likely to be noticed for months, maybe years. And if it was noticed, it would appear to be only worthless junk. It could be picked up and thrown away without suspicion. They admired their handiwork for a second, then descended the stairs.

They meticulously covered their tracks and were finished in ten minutes.

Hearsay was released from the closet, and the men crept into the carport. They backed quickly out the driveway and sped into the night.

As the baked pompano was served, the BMW parked quietly next to the restaurant. The driver fished through his pockets and found the key to a maroon Jaguar, property of Mr. Kendall Mahan, attorney-at-law. The two technicians locked the BMW and slid into the Jag. The Mahans lived much closer than the McDeeres, and judging from the floor plans, the job would be quicker.

* * *

On the fifth floor of the Bendini Building, Marcus stared at a panel of blinking lights and waited for some signal from 1231 East Meadowbrook. The dinner party had broken up thirty minutes earlier, and it was time to listen. A tiny yellow light flashed weakly, and he draped a headset over his ears. He pushed a button to record. He waited. A green light beside the code McD6 began flashing. It was the bedroom wall. The signals grew clearer, voices, at first faint, then very clear. He increased the volume. And listened.

"Jill Mahan is a bitch," the female, Mrs. McDeere, was saying. "The more she drank, the bitchier she got."

"I think she's a blue blood of some sort," Mr. McDeere replied.

"Her husband is okay, but she's a real snot," Mrs. McDeere said.

"Are you drunk?" asked Mr. McDeere.

"Almost. I'm ready for passionate sex."

Marcus increased the volume and leaned toward the blinking lights.

"Take your clothes off," demanded Mrs. McDeere.

"We haven't done this in a while," said Mr. McDeere.

Marcus stood and hovered above the switches and lights.

"And whose fault is that?" she asked.

"I haven't forgotten how. You're beautiful."

"Get in the bed," she said.

Marcus turned the dial marked Volume until it would go no further. He smiled at the lights and breathed heavily. He loved these associates, fresh from law school and full of energy. He smiled at the sounds of their lovemaking. He closed his eyes and watched them.

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