March 13, 1906
It was a fancy dinner at an exclusive club; fine food and vintage wines were served. I was not the only one drinking wine with the group; initially, I had declined. But the other fellows pressed me, as it was part of the celebration.
“How will be able to do a decent toast otherwise, Wilson?” they said. I acquiesced. I wanted to belong to this group; not continue to feel or seem like an outsider.
The dinner reminded me of my senior law days at Stetson where we students would sit around a dining room table in a restaurant with established lawyers and senior judges, and talk; we would take turns giving speeches and the men around the table would laugh loudly, shout ‘hear, hear’ at some of the exclamations of the speakers. Then, as now, we were smoking fine cigars, drinking expensive wine, then hard liquor. I remember that everyone was having a wonderful time; I was complimented several times, and one or two of the lawyers present said they were pleased to have spent the evening getting to know me.
The speeches, dinner and drinking went on until about 1 am.
I don’t remember how much I drank; I recall that after the dinner party broke up, three or four of us went to a house not far from the hotel we were staying at and were entertained by young women — I remember a blonde woman coming up to me, taking my hand, and seating me in a parlor chair.
She handed me a glass of what I thought was brandy — at least it tasted like it — and she sat rather close to me, on the arm of the chair, and leaning so that the white skin of her neck and bosom were right in my face. I could smell her perfume it was pungent, had almost a metallic scent as it wafted from her skin — mixed with the slightly stale scent perspiration. She didn’t say much; she just sat there, leaning close. Then she started to touch my arm, the back of my neck — and I remember recoiling from her touch. I said I don’t like to be touched — then there was much laughter — and a joke about how I’d change my tune later after spending a few hours with these women.
That’s the last thing I remember.
I must have passed out after that moment.
The next thing I remembered was waking up in my room at the Whiteside Hotel, with the worst headache of my life. When I sat up and tried to get out of bed, the room tilted, and spun. I made it to the water closet on all fours, where I managed to throw up mostly into the toilet.
I had no idea how I got into the room. But, somehow I had gotten into bed, mostly dressed. My suit jacket was on the floor, though. My shoes were unlaced and on the floor next to the closet.
Somehow, head still throbbing, I managed to clean myself up, and get dressed.
I discovered my wallet — which was still in my coat pocket — was empty. I felt my stomach drop again, this time from dread. There had been about $250 in there — fees collected from the Morrison clients whose cases I had represented just the day before.
I couldn’t go back to that house, wherever it was — and I couldn’t ask my new friends from last night about this, or how I back to the hotel — I barely knew them! Worse, the Morrison lawyers were just getting to know me….
I’m going to be sick again.
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