Dream of: 16 April 1995 (2) "Stolen Sword"

the power to create beauty is subservient to moral law

While I was sitting in the back seat of a public-transportation vehicle, on my way to work, a man sitting directly in front of me turned around and addressed me. Probably in his 30s, he was neatly dressed in suit and tie. I immediately recognized him as a boresome attorney with whom I had dealt once or twice in the past. I certainly had no desire to talk with him now, but since there was no way out of it, I listened to what he had to say.

He represented an auto company in a case in which I was the attorney for a black woman in bankruptcy. When I had filed the woman's bankruptcy, I had formulated a plan for the woman to pay some of her debts through the bankruptcy court, including the debt to the auto company to which she owed money for her car. I was aware that subsequent to my having formulated the plan, her car had been impounded for some unrelated matter. Since I thought the woman had subsequently decided to surrender her car to the auto company, the issue now was whether the woman would have to pay the storage charges for the approximately two months during which her car had been impounded. The attorney was particularly concerned that such storage charges be paid, because apparently his legal fees would derive from those storage charges.

The attorney pointed out that a law now existed which required the debtor to pay a fee of between six and seven dollars a day in cases such as this one. The attorney also stated that he had complied with the law by having sent a notice to me about the matter. Forwarding the notice on to my client was then supposed to be my duty. I couldn't remember the specific notice which the attorney claimed to have sent me, but I assured him that I always sent all such notices on to my clients. (In my mind, however, I was wondering whether I had done everything exactly right in this case, and whether I might have some liability exposure.)

I told the attorney that my problem with the matter was that the law to which he was referring had only been passed a few months ago, long after my client had initially filed bankruptcy. Therefore, at the time my client had filed bankruptcy, I had never advised her of any potential liability which she might have if her car were to be impounded. Although I argued that any fee for impoundment was unfair, the attorney seemed unmoved.

***

I finally arrived at the building in which my office was located. While walking through the hall along which several doors led to several different offices, I stopped in another attorney's office and visited for a while. As we talked, I picked up a decorative sword which the attorney had placed on display. Comfortable to the hand, the sword was entirely fabricated of a metal which had been had been painted green so the sword would look as if it were corroded. When I finally exited the office, I absent-mindedly carried the sword out with me, not realizing what I had done until I was in my office.

At first I thought I would return the sword, but then another thought occurred to me: Why not keep it? No one would ever suspect me of having stolen the sword; too many people had access to the other attorney's office to figure out who had taken it. As I looked around for a place to hide the sword, I began thinking that I could steal many different things from different offices. I had just noticed a small statue about 15 centimeters high in the office where I had been. It was carved from blue stone and resembled an Aztec god sitting with his legs crossed. I might like to steal that. In fact, reflecting that I might have already stolen something else,  and I recalled that a quart of apple juice which I had purloined from someone was sitting in a refrigerator in my office.

I finally hid the sword behind a file cabinet in my office.

When I turned back around, a man was standing there in my office. I quickly learned that he was the father of a female client who was coming to confer with me that morning, and since she was supposed to arrive at any moment, I realized I needed to turn on my computer to review her case, but I recalled that I had stored my computer over night in the refrigerator in my office. Since I needed to first remove my computer from the refrigerator, I opened the refrigerator door and asked the man if he could help me. I pulled my computer out of the refrigerator, handed it to the man, then grabbed some other attachments which were connected to my computer. We carried my computer over to my cluttered desk, set it down and turned it on.

We were in a rather large room, and a woman who was my secretary was sitting at a nearby desk. She began talking with the man, whom she obviously knew. Only then did I realized that he might be embarrassed to see someone he recognized in my office, especially if the person could overhear what we were saying. I asked him if he would prefer to go to another room, but he said he was satisfied where we were.

As soon as the man and I had sat down, his daughter (a black woman about 30 years old) arrived. I was uncertain whether she was the same client about whom I had been talking earlier with the attorney on the public transportation vehicle, but I at least knew that she had a similar problem: she was trying to retrieve a car which had been impounded.

When I asked her if she had any papers, she pulled out one and handed it to me. I also looked at her file and was surprised by what I was seeing. This lady's car hadn't been impounded; it had been repossessed by the very auto company which she had been paying through the bankruptcy court. Since I knew that such a repossession was a violation of her bankruptcy protection, I asked, "Do you want the car back?"

I figured I could retrieve her car without much problem, especially since I saw that the paper which she had handed me was actually a bill for the balance owed on the car only $90.90. When I looked at her bankruptcy plan, I saw that $90.90 was the exact amount which the auto company was being paid each month. Apparently, therefore, the auto company was only owed for one more month. Conferring further with the woman, I learned that the car had been repossessed almost two years ago, which meant that the auto company had been accepting payments for two years while illegally possessing the woman's car.

I asked her why she hadn't come to me sooner. What she told me was a bit confusing and I had trouble making sense out of it, but apparently she had been at a race track with the car about two years before. The congressman Newt Gingrich had been in the race, and during the race, Gingrich had crashed into the car of another black woman who had died as a result of the collision. It was possible that Gingrich had also hit my client's car.

By now an older attorney who worked with me was sitting at my desk and listening to the story. He and I both immediately realized that my client had an excellent case against Gingrich (although I wasn't exactly sure of the basis for the case). I was sure that Gingrich had never told anyone about the accident nor of his responsibility for it. If Gingrich were sued, I figured he would be desperate to quickly settle. A law suit against New Gingrich might prove profitable.

After I discussed the matter further with my client, she asked me what would happen if we reached a settlement which provided that she couldn't tell anyone about the details of the crash. The older attorney assured her that she need not worry about that, that there would be a way to get around it.

My main concern was whether she had waited too long. If the wreck had been more than two years ago, the statute of limitations would have run and it would be too late to sue Gingrich.

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