I’m Not Exactly a ‘Traditional’ Lawyer

The Story of Ghost Law | Chapter II

r.j. kushner
4 min readJan 7, 2021
Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash

My journey back to the font steps of my childhood home began seriously taking shape about three years ago at my law firm.

Now, I’m not exactly a traditional “lawyer” in the Webster’s Dictionary definition sense, but I am the next best thing: a huge fan of JAG. And also a seasoned personal assistant to actual lawyers.

My parents had great expectations for me, you see. They’d built their careers up from nothing. My father, Elgin Fairchild, managed “iSaveElectric,” a service where he would call clients and yell at them to turn the lamps off in rooms they weren’t using. It didn’t pay much, but it was his passion.

My mother, Enid (née Unfairchild), on the other hand, wore many hats — a profitable endeavor until she caught lice and was forced to retire.

But when times were tough and new shoes were needed all around (Fairchild feet grow “upward”), my father would occasionally take to gambling. I do Elgin Fairchild no injustice when I say he was a poor gambler. Not only did he have no luck, but the horse racing track he’d attended for 30 years turned out to be a “very convincing” merry-go-round. A forgivable misunderstanding, perhaps — although it remains unclear why he persisted in placing his money on the big flamingo.

Ultimately it was this kind of determination and manic energy from my kin that pushed me into the loving arms of law.

By the age of 17 I was an understudy for J. Berger and Freys and Associates, a respected local law firm know for subpoenaing children to testify about which parent they liked better, regardless what the case was about.

J. Berger was a lion of a man in the sense that no matter where he was, he inevitably seemed to step on a thorn. It was rare that I entered his office and didn’t find him writhing around on the floor holding his foot. I learned a lot from him, including how to get on a judge’s good side by complimenting the robes.

I worked mostly with Berger, but would also run the occasional errand for Freys on the side. She had an encyclopedic mind and thus all of her sentences began with “Aardvark.” It was hard to understand her, but she still taught me a great deal, including how to avoid tipping by looking bewildered and saying, “I don’t carry cash.”

Some of the most optimistic years of my life were spent in that firm, learning about land disputes, contract negotiations, and the real reason they’re called “legal pads” (only lawyers know).

I’d just begun to gain the confidence to inquire about ghost law — a controversial subject in the legal world, but one I knew I needed to understand if I was to win my childhood home back — when the firm was disbanded after it was discovered no one there actually knew how to spell “subpoena.” The embarrassing truth was revealed through a leaked court document, in which the firm asked a district judge for “soup peanuts.”

I arrived at the office the morning after the press’s field day to discover it had been looted and abandoned. And looking at the strewn papers and overturned cocaine bins, I began to feel strewn about and overturned myself. I allowed myself to feel an overwhelming rush of self-pity — was my life to be an endless series of rugs swept out from under me? First the ghosts, now this. Was I always to be the powerless hermit crab scuttling from pillaged home to pillaged home? Were there really only two metaphors I could think of at the moment? My confidence in a successful future of justice was shaken like a broken vending machine by a hungry Twinkie enthusiast.

Enraged, I donned my Hulk Hands and began to “Smash.” In my whirlwind of destruction, I hurled a chair against a wall in Berger’s office. As it burst into splinters and crashed to the thorn-covered ground, a thick wad of cash flew from its upholstered seat like a pilot parachuting from a burning plane.

I gazed at the money for a long time. I was just a lad, barely 34 by now, and still forming thoughts and opinions of myself. Was I a thief? Was this even thievery? It was a quandary I decided warranted further consideration in a new Rolls-Royce.

The haunting continues…



r.j. kushner

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