The Peculiar Life of Justin Case. [short story] (Part 1)

He worked as a lawyer, highly educated and astute in his line of work, yet nobody seemed to give him a chance. Many men in the office thought of him as pretentious and aloof, while the women, well, thought of him as a tall, handsome man with good intentions. Yet, nobody really knew who he was.

His name is Justin Case. He graduated top of his class in Law School. Finding work, he had impressed his bosses, but rarely his colleagues. Nobody believed that anybody would have a name like this unless it was a pseudonym. One of the reasons why he has difficulty making friends, and introducing himself has been this very problem. He has argued cases in court, yet his own name and personality was the hardest one to prove as legitimate.

In the Case family, everybody is highly educated. He has two younger siblings who are both science majors. Carey, 25, works as a Chemical Engineer but secretly aspires to be a comedian, and Melanie, 21, studies in her last year of University hoping to be a Nuclear Physicist. Meanwhile, Justin’s parents both teach in University. His mother, Lauren, teaches English Literature, and his father Gerald teaches Psychology.

One of the last things Justin’s parents thought of or even cared about was the repercussions of naming him Justin. They were not worried, particularly Mr. Case, who believed that a strong and supportive family dynamic with love and affection would counter any outside forces that threaten their son’s self-esteem. And they were right, to a certain degree, as Justin became an accomplished student all throughout his school years with relatively high motivation.

Justin had a problem separate from all that as today, his boss walked into his room and asked if he could “come to my office in a half an hour, I have to talk to you”. His boss was one of the name partners, Mr. Robert Goldfinder. When Justin had applied to this firm and conducted his first meeting, in order to make Justin feel more comfortable, he said: “Don’t worry, people get my name wrong, too. The “i” in my last name doesn’t sound itself. Like the word hinder, it’s Goldfinder.”

Right before Justin was going to leave his office to meet with Mr. Goldfinder, his colleague Rebecca walked in. She had a keen interest in his life and his style. However, she also liked to toy with him, to gauge his reactions. “Did you hear about the merger?” she asked. “No, I didn’t. But, I kind of have a meeting to get to.” Justin didn’t mean to be rude, but he was now even more interested in knowing what Mr. Goldfinder was planning to discuss. “Well, as long as you have a bit of time, you can spare a few moments. I have heard that some of the guys are plotting against you, to get you fired. And, I think, with me coming and telling you this, that you’d maybe wanna have dinner sometime?”

Justin took one look and said: “We’ll see”, then walked hurriedly to Mr. Goldfinder’s office, whom he’d worked for, for three years. Thinking his days were numbered at the firm, Justin knocked on the door fairly worried and confused. “Come in…Alright, sit down.” Mr. Goldfinder ordered. He paused and took a good look at Justin as though he was studying an art sculpture, with his right hand over his chin and mouth. He was clearly thinking about something, which Justin was dying to know.

Then he began, “you know I think you’re clearly an asset to this company. One of the best lawyers we have. Yet, you are consistently uncooperative, unaccommodating, and unfriendly, and I’m not talking about your relation with me. I’m talking about your relation with your colleagues.

Justin didn’t know how to react. He didn’t think his job would be on the line because he wasn’t social enough. It sounded like an elaborate joke. But he still responded, with a monotone voice, proclaiming that “I’m here to do my job. Nothing else.”

Then, Mr. Goldfinder took his seat looked straight into Justin’s eyes, and said: “Look, I know you’re new here, and everyone thinks you’re some kind of hot shot, but you have got to be more accommodating, how else am I to give you a promotion? I mean, this is to stay just between you and me, but for now, I can’t even consider it if you don’t get your act together. This is not something I don’t think I’ve ever done, but I’m going to assign less cases to you and ask that you go out with your friends and colleagues more. Ever been to a bar? Just keep your mouth shut, don’t say your full name, just say: ‘Hi, my name is Justin, I’m a lawyer’ and you’ll wake up beside her the next morning, guaranteed”.

Thinking Justin would never go out on his own volition, Mr. Goldfinder called in Tommy Jacobs, the craziest lawyer in the firm for assistance. He was one of those lawyers who was social and enjoyed the bar scene, and was not a very good lawyer, but good enough. However, on this day, at this moment, he was called in to be Justin’s wingman for a night around town. Like Justin, Tommy also thought it was strange for a boss to get this far into the private lives of his employees. To be clear, Tommy wasn’t too fond of Justin either, but he didn’t care, as long as he could impress the boss he worshipped.

With enormous reluctance and trepidation, Justin accepted the offer to work less and go out. The plan was to meet with Tommy on the coming Friday night.

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