Excerpt from Power of Attorney: The Novel

“Okay, nobody panic!” Mindy said, sounding panicky. “I’ll handle this. You just go along with whatever I say.” She walked over to the door and swung it open with a smile. “Mindy Margolis, FOX News. What can I do for you, officer?”

“I’m Patrolman Douglas. We’ve received some reports of strange activity in your building. Can I come in for a moment to ask you some questions?”

“Of course,” Mindy said standing aside as the cop walked into the room. “But I can’t believe that there would be any strange activity in this building.”

“Right,” Douglas said eyes resting first on Trog’s bloody nostril plugs and then moving on to my plastic-encased head.

“We’re having a costume party,” Mindy explained.

“And what are you dressed as?” the cop asked looking at her.

“A reporter,” she said as if it were obvious.

“Right.” He removed a small notepad from his pocket. “A few of the neighbors reported some strangers in the building; maybe it was your … guests but they said they were visiting someone named Vivian.”

“That’s my middle name,” Mindy explained.

“Your name is Mindy Vivian Smith-Jones Margolis?” he asked.

“Yes. That’s right. It’s a family name.”

“And they’re here for a party?”

“Yes, it’s my birthday.”

“I thought you said it’s a costume party.”

“It is. It’s a costume birthday party.”

“Your neighbor, Mr. Fleischman in 3C says that he found them in his apartment.”

“They got the wrong address.”

“Hiding in his bedroom.”

“It’s a surprise costume birthday party.”

“You threw yourself a surprise party?”

“Yeah, well, I’ve never had one before.”

“Mr. Fleischman also said that someone kicked him.”

“Well, they thought he was a burglar.”

“He was dressed in his underwear at the time.”

“And a flasher.”

“Okay then,” Patrolman Douglas said resignedly. He had obviously decided that whatever was going on, he didn’t really want to know. “Can’t wait to write this one up,” he added under his breath as he turned and walked back out the door.

New Teaser Tuesday Excerpt from Power of Attorney: The Novel

I followed him into an empty conference room and we took seats across from each other. I laid my file down the table in front of me and silently ordered myself to focus. He sat back in his chair and studied me for a moment. The tension in the room was thick.

“So, you want me to make you an offer, huh,” he said finally.

“Only if it’s a good one. She’s an elderly woman and a sympathetic defendant.”

“Not too elderly to lie in wait in the bushes.”

“Don’t you mean the shrubbery?” I asked and his eyes narrowed.

“You do realize that you lost your Motion, right?”

“I can always appeal,” I said calmly.

“Well, then I feel it’s my duty to the federal court system to resolve this,” he said and turned to look out the window. “Besides, you fought hard; I guess you earned it.”

“Thanks. You’re not so bad yourself. Keep working on it and you might have a future at this,” I replied and he turned back to me with look in his eyes that said he wasn’t sure whether he was annoyed, amused or turned on. It might have been all three.

“Just out of curiosity, are there more of you Roths out there or is it just you two?”

“We have two older sisters, but they aren’t attorneys.”

“What a shame.”

“And there’s my sister-in-law of course. I believe you know her intimately.”

“Briefly. Like six years ago,” he said. “I have no lingering desire for your brother’s wife, I assure you.”

“Duly noted. Getting back to Agnes …”

“Okay, you want a deal, I’ll give you a deal. If you can convince Ms. Fishbein to give up her life of crime, I’ll withdraw the charge.”

“You’ll actually withdraw it all-together?”

“That’s what I said, isn’t it?”

“Okay, I’ll agree.”

“That’s very generous of you.”

“I figure I’ll go easy on you. This time.”

Excerpt from Power of Attorney: The Novel, Coming Feb. 14, 2017

Just then the phone rang and Rosalie picked it up. “Jacob Sachs on line one!” she shrieked even though she was only ten feet away.

“What does he want now?” Dana asked, furrowing her brow.

“Not for you, for Abby!”

All of them looked at me expectantly. I stood there for a moment feeling a little stunned, but I don’t know if it was more that Sachs wanted to talk to me or that Rosalie knew that the phone had more than one line.

“I’ll take it in my office,” I said, trying to sound casual. I succeeded if you think that speaking in tones that only dogs can hear sounds casual. I vaulted to my office and closed the door, diving into my chair and waiting ten seconds to get myself together before picking up the phone. “Abby Roth.”

“Ah, Ms. Roth.” That familiar deep rich voice filled my ear. “It seems that we will be facing each other in court again soon.”

“We will?” I asked, mentally going through my cases and trying to figure out which one Sachs might be handling. Since he typically prosecuted organized crime figures, I was honestly at a loss.

“I had such an interesting time with Borelli matter, that I thought I might like to take on United States v. Agnes Fishbein.” My head hit my desk.

Pulling myself together, I sat up and took a deep breath. “Mr. Sachs, I was under the impression that a case involving an elderly woman charged with disorderly conduct would be beneath someone like you.”

“Someone like me?” he asked and I heard curiosity in his voice. I figured that buttering him up a little couldn’t hurt. This time, Agnes had mooned Councilman Jackson at the Liberty Bell, which made it a federal offense.

“You prosecuted one of the biggest mafia cases Philly has seen in a decade. You are toted as an up-and-coming legal superstar. They say that you’ll be the U.S. Attorney yourself someday.” I didn’t enjoy stroking his ego, but I would do what I had to do for my client.

“Do they now?” he asked. The curiosity was gone, replaced by a note of boredom.

The sudden change surprised me. It reminded me of the press conference when I blushed and he immediately lost interest. A light bulb went on in my head. He may be super confidant, but he’s not actually an egomaniac. It bores him when people fawn over him. He might give Agnes a decent deal if I kiss his ass, but he would likely give her a better one if I stood up and challenged him. That’s what he respects.

A smile crept across my lips and a little surge of warmth coursed from my tummy to parts south. The fact was that I liked challenging him. And if that was the way to best help my client, I was more than happy to oblige.

 

The Killer Whale Is My Spirit Animal

I used to think that if I had a spirit animal it would be the Giant Sloth but I read an article the other day that changed my mind. According to Smithsonian magazine, after menopause, female killer whales become leaders. I knew they were smart! I sobbed during Blackfish and I was already totally boycotting Sea World, but this seals it. No pun intended.

According to the article, “The researchers saw that post-reproductive females would swim at the heads of hunting groups with young male whales in close pursuit. They were almost always the matriarch’s sons.” Did you hear that? They get to be the boss and their sons stay close to them. That’s a Jewish mother’s dream come true! Give me moment; I’m getting verklempt.

Okay, I’m back.  So, here’s my question, why is it that if whales can figure that older women have plenty of strength and wisdom to offer, people can’t figure that out too? Whales have their older females leading the whole damned pod. I can’t get someone to take my order at Starbucks. I’m telling you right now, there is no way that a whale would make a big deal out of some lost emails. If Hillary were a whale, she would not have to put up with being called “as bad as” a giant Oompa Loompa who brags about grabbing women’s genitals without asking first.

So, to sum up, whales are intellectually superior creatures who love their mothers and vote Democrat in November.

 

Estrogen, Special Sauce and Beat Poetry.

I have never had the urge to write poetry. Truth be told, I don’t even like poetry. But lately, I have the urge to write and perform poetic monologues. I’m a humorist, not a Beatnik! I don’t even OWN bongos. Although, I do dress in black a lot … but it’s slimming and I’ve lived in New York. Anyway, I blame estrogen for this. I obviously have gone around the perimenopausal bend. The next thing you know, I’ll be dropping acid and driving cross-country.

Hey, it’s not like I wanted to get to this point. I’ve tried it all. I eat well. I’m so “Paleo”that I might as well hunt and kill my own mastodon. I exercise. I ride my stationary bike the length of the Appalachian Trail. I see a chiropractor and I take every vitamin that GNC sells. I have also mediated, been mindful and done yoga. There are benefits to all of this of course. I’m so healthy my doctor has begun asking me for ID and I don’t hyperventilate at the thought of trying on bathing-suits anymore.

The problem is that all of this healthy living doesn’t regulate my wonky hormones. PMS is bad enough when you get it a few days per month; getting a few days per month without it is like a whole new ring of Hell. No matter what I do, I still have an emotional breakdown whenever yet ANOTHER team decides to make a bar cart on Flea Market Flip. Really? Is there nothing else they could make from that 19th Century hay sorter? I know what you’re thinking. Just for the record, I’ve tried all the traditional things too. Prozac anyone? Let’s just say that while I may not do much with my libido, I do like having one.

So, before I become romantic comedy’s answer to Allen Ginsberg, I have decided to go see  *insert ominous music* the menopause doctor. I know what this means.  It means that 1) I need to finally make the call and cancel my subscription to Seventeen magazine, like NOW 2) I’m contemplating playing around with my hormones which is really scary! Let’s face it, no one has ever said, “You’re in such a fun mood! You must be getting your period!”

What if they give me the wrong mix and I fall in love with a fire hydrant? Or vote for Donald Trump? Or start writing and performing Beat poetry? So many things could go wrong.  If my boobs get any bigger, I’ll tip over!  I could get cravings. What if I get them for things like “special sauce” or wine in a box? No! Not that!

Okay, it’s time to woman up and be brave.  The sad truth is that even being a Big Mac eating bongo player would be better than hot flashes and mood swings. Wish me luck with the menopause doctor. Actually, wish us all luck, honey.

Roughing It

Roughing It will be a novella in the Happy Endings Resort multi-author project. It will be released Aug. 29 and sell for .99.

Chapter One

“Team! You know that Bender Advertising is a place where expression is free and uninhibited … but there have to be some limits. Burning Arnie in effigy is just taking it a little too far,” Stewart Bender, our esteemed leader, said as he paced back and forth slowly at the front of the conference room. At least he was finally showing some concern. He paused and gave us a stern look. “Come on, people. Fire codes?”

Next to Stewart, Arnie sat glaring through his thick glasses. The tension was palpable on the side of the room where those of us in Marketing sat. Arnie was one of us. As the senior member of the department, I felt that I had somehow failed my people but they had assured me that I was not to blame. No, it wasn’t my fault that this company was in a constant state of internal conflict.

I leveled my gaze across the aisle, where rather than appearing chastised, I noted that the members of the Creative Department actually had the nerve to look amused! This was their doing of course. All of it was their doing … the flaky artistic types over there who wanted to do whatever they pleased and didn’t like listening to the voice of reason.

“Now I know that there are bound to be differences in opinion,” Stewart droned on. “It’s expected. You guys come at things from different angles.” He paused and looked from one side of the battle line to the other. “Jack and his team in Creative come up with their little drawings and ditties and Rachel and her Marketing people study their little charts.” Stewart had inherited the company from his father. He had no clear idea what any of us did.

“We do more …,” I began, but Stewart cut me off.

“And I’m sure you are great at it. Whatever it is. But that’s not the point here. The point is that despite our differences, we are on the same team, people. The same team.” He clutched his hands together in front of his heart for emphasis.

I heard the sound of a throat clearing and I tensed up because I knew to whom that throat belonged. It held up the head of Jack Malloy, senior member of the Creative Department. Admittedly, it was an attractive head, with perpetually rumpled sandy-colored hair and blue eyes that were often sparkling with laughter. Unfortunately, it was also a head swollen by an out-sized ego and the laughter was often aimed at me.

“I’m not excusing the Arnie thing, Stew,” Jack said. “But you gotta understand, we focus on finding that Big Idea that will make our clients memorable. We can’t do that with a bunch of number crunchers …”

“Number crunchers?” I sputtered angrily. “For you information, we focus on making our clients money! And when your ‘Big Idea’ looks like a big loser…”

“Loser?” he shot back, indignantly.

“Okay! Okay, kids, break it up,” Stewart took back control. “Here’s a perfect example of what I mean. And that is why I have come up with a plan.” The room was immediately engulfed in silence. After a long moment Jack spoke up.

“Ha! For a second there, I almost thought you said you had a plan.” The room exhaled.

“I do,” Stewart repeated with a smile. The room inhaled again. It was my turn.

“You can’t have a plan, Stewart. You don’t plan things. Well, other than an occasional round of golf anyway.”

“I know! I was more surprised than anyone!” Stewart said looking gleeful. “But I actually came up with one. Rachel and Jack, I’m sending you two to a corporate teambuilding retreat.” I felt my mouth go dry.

“He’s kidding. You’re kidding, right,” Jack said.

“Please be kidding,” I added weakly.

“See! You’re agreeing with each other already!”

I needed an idea – quickly! “Have you run the cost of this by Accounting, Stewart?” I asked desperately, hoping that perhaps they would put the kibosh on this little scheme of his.

“Yes and luckily there was one that fit our budget. It starts Monday at the Happy Endings Resort in beautiful rural North Carolina!”

“Oh my God, no,” Jack said in a strangled voice.

“It’s only a three-hour drive from D.C. It will be fun. They have a pool!”

“Stewart, you need to understand. I’m a lifelong urban dweller. To me roughing it is a hotel with no room service,” I explained.

“I’ve got to admit, Stew, I’ve never really been the outdoorsman type myself,” Jack added. “The closest I ever came was summer camp and other than the hot female counselors, I pretty much hated everything about that.”

“People, please! This isn’t The Hunger Games.” Stewart laughed. “It’s not like you won’t have indoor plumbing!”

“Well, thank God for that,” I mumbled.

“It won’t be in your actual cabins, but there are separate toilet and shower facility for men and women. It is North Carolina after all!” Stewart added with a wink.

“But there are cabins, not tents, right?” Jack asked. He was looking a bit pale.

“Of course,” Stewart assured him. “Except at the end of the week when each company’s representatives will need to spend a night out in the woods.”

I’m told that at that point I lost consciousness.

 

 

The Rewritten Power of Attorney – Chapter One

*No firm release date yet, but not too much longer.*

Chapter One

Philadelphia, Present Day

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Fishbein, but mooning Councilman Jackson is not Free Speech,” I shouted in the direction of her good ear. “Here, let me help you down over the curb with that walker.” I reached out to help my geriatric client and got my hand slapped as thanks.

Agnes Fishbein glared up at me with a face like a dried apple and I flinched as the image of how the other end must look popped unbidden into my head. Councilman Jackson would never be able to unsee that. I pictured golden sunsets and fluffy kittens as I tried to hail a cab for her. The first one sped past me, transferring an entire puddle from the gutter onto the suit I had so carefully picked out that morning. I gritted my teeth and turned back toward the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center.

Councilman Jackson exited the building at that moment, and seeing Agnes, understandably gave us a wide berth. Agnes grumbled something that I will generously say might have been “duck” and began lifting one hand into the air. Thinking quickly, I reached out again and took another slap for the team before she could extend a gesture that proved my duck theory wrong.

Ignoring the amused looks of fellow attorneys who had been in the courtroom enjoying the Agnes Fishbein show, I spun back toward the street and redoubled my cab hailing efforts. To my relief, the next taxi stopped and I immediately helped Agnes in to it.

As I watched them pull into traffic, I smiled with satisfaction. There had been a couple of tense moments, as Agnes could be a real pain in the … well, you know. But I had worked out a great deal for her in the end. No pun intended.

Although it had rained earlier, it was turning into gorgeous day and I looked up to feel the warm sunshine on my face. Just as I started to relax, I felt a sharp jolt in the middle of my back that sent me flying forward. Luckily, I managed to grab onto a street sign and catch myself before I became a traffic casualty.

Turning around, I saw what had hit me, a news camera being wielded by a big goofy-looking guy. As he was standing in profile, I could see that he had a belly that spoke of too many nights of pizza and beer. He also had a bad haircut and a clueless look that said that he was still unaware that he had just committed battery.

“Hey! Watch out!” I growled, tapping him on the shoulder hard enough to leave permanent indentations. “You almost knocked me into the street with that thing.”

“Huh?” he mumbled, turning toward me. He looked like he was about to apologize when a sound like a bark from an angry terrier made him spin around in the other direction, nearly hitting me again.

“Clyde! Get your ass over here!” the terrier bellowed from a location across the street by City Hall. I saw that “Clyde” was under the command of Mavis Walker, a reporter with the local FOX news affiliate. She covered the Philly crime beat and was known for having a “hard-hitting” style that was popular with a certain type of viewer. (Hint: Not my type).

Mavis had platinum blonde hair and a slightly sinister smile permanently etched into her “easy, breezy, beautiful” face. She was tiny, probably not even five-feet-tall, which made her look like “Crazy Eyes” Barbie.™ Although she tried to compensate for her lack of height by wearing heels that were a back injury waiting to happen, it was actually the size of her mouth that did it. I had to admire her balance though.

At that particular moment, those little legs were pumping like pistons, and she had a microphone thrust out in front of her like she was riding into a joust. I looked up ahead to see whom she was chasing. There were plenty of potentially newsworthy people milling around, including Councilman Jackson. I really hoped this had nothing to do with Agnes. Nobody needed to see that on the news.

Just then, a small group standing near an archway parted, and in the middle stood a tall, dark-haired figure. It was a like a scene from a movie and I half-expected a rainbow to form over him. Somehow, I knew immediately that he was her target. I was headed in that direction anyway, so I followed along with the flow of pedestrians trailing the sprinting Mavis and the lumbering Clyde.

As I got nearer, I saw that the dark haired guy looked young, probably only in his early thirties like me. Even at a distance, though, he radiated such an air of confidence that he seemed powerful and important, like someone worth interviewing.

I was quickly catching up to the news team, who had gotten stuck in a knot of tourists. As the gap between us got smaller, I realized that the closer I got to that guy, the more attractive he got. Wow, he was really good-looking … and also familiar looking. I recognized him from somewhere but I couldn’t place him. I stopped and squinted at him, thoughtfully.

“Clyde! Get my approach” Mavis called out, shoving a teenager taking a selfie out of the way. The cameraman emerged from the throng like a blubber tsunami and circled around to a position in front of me to the left.

The dark-haired guy turned in our direction, but he looked right past Clyde, who was filming him, and stared back at me instead. I saw him pause and a smirk slowly spread across his lips, not a smile mind you, a smirk. It dawned on me then; he thought I was checking him out! What an ego! He was sure I was staring, not because there was a news team stalking him, but because I thought he was hot, which I did, but that’s not the point! I was about to set him straight by giving him a good dismissive eye roll before walking off, but just then, Mavis finally arrived.

“I’m here in front of the City Hall with federal prosecutor Jacob Sachs,” she began, sounding out-of-breath, “who successfully convicted crime figure Carlo Moretti earlier this year. Rumor has it that Mr. Moretti’s counsel has filed a Motion alleging that there was prosecutorial misconduct involved.”

That was it! He had been the lead prosecutor in Moretti, the biggest mob trial Philly had seen in decades. Being an Assistant U.S. Attorney, he was normally at the federal courthouse rather than here. That was probably why I couldn’t place him. I had an interest in that case and I so decided to stick around and find out what was going on.

Sachs gave Mavis a look like a patient father listening to a rambling child. “This is just a desperate act on Mr. Moretti’s part,” he commented in a tone more dismissive than even my best eye roll. “He wants to get out of jail and he’s having his attorney pursue every strategy he can think of. There’s nothing more to it than that.” He glanced around as if looking for an excuse to leave.

“But this isn’t a typical line of appeal, is it?” Mavis followed up, undaunted. “Most defendants don’t claim that the prosecution actually did something illegal?”

“It’s not typical, but it’s not shocking. He’s a career criminal. Why wouldn’t he fabricate if necessary to try to get a new trial?” He glanced at his watch.

“So, you deny the allegations?” Mavis asked, as if he would actually admit it on camera if they were true. Sachs remained perfectly composed but the tightness around his eyes and the rigid line of his jaw suggested that that was tiring of this little tête-à-tête.

“Let’s just say that my record of convictions speaks for itself. I don’t need to break the law to win. I just win,” he answered and that smirk was back.

I just win. Listen to him. A simple “yes” would have sufficed. He was even cockier than my younger brother, and let me tell you, Adam was cocky. He had started off as a prosecutor too. Maybe it went with the job. Still, Sachs seemed to take it to a whole new level.

I shook my head and turned to leave. That was enough for me. As I started off down the sidewalk, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Sachs was watching me but the smirk was gone, replaced by a thoughtful look. Maybe he wasn’t used to women walking away from him.