March 13, 1906
Law Offices of Van Sant & Wilson
When I returned to Sterling later that evening, I went right to the office. Miss Delp had already left for the day.
I was still somewhat panicked — obviously, I couldn’t tell Nick about what happened. I didn’t know if any of the other attorneys who had been with me at the whore house knew if I had been robbed or not. They might be comparing notes now — what a joke I was to the Illinois Bar….
I willed myself to stop the paranoid thoughts, and to be practical: Somehow, I had to make up $250 to the firm’s cash receipts.
I started looked through the accounting books — we had money set aside in the firm’s operating accounts, and a generous amount in a special client account, set aside for whatever expenses may come up related to our cases. Nick always believed in top quality client services, and was willing to provide for any client’s particular request. There was enough here that would cover the $250 discrepancy, at least for now. I could temporarily borrow from the account, and make notes that the money would be billed later to the clients — that wouldn’t seem unusual to Nick, should he take a look at the books. And eventually, I would cover the difference from my own pocket. It would just mean fixing receipts.
I jotted down a few notes — I should be able to fix this in about three weeks, I thought.
I breathed a sigh of relief. All was not entirely lost.
But as I stared at the books, I had what I would call a spiritual awakening of sorts.
What I was doing was illegal. And stupid. What I was doing could lead to disbarment, even — and there would be no way to correct that.
For a moment, I saw my father’s face before me. The shame and embarrassment he’d endure because of my stupidity — and his ultimate rejection of me. I closed my eyes. That was what was at stake. It was too high a price.
I vowed to myself that I’d had enough. I valued my law career, and my father’s pride in me, more than a drink.
I went over to the bookcase, and took down my copies of Florida Reports, where I hid my liquor.
I removed the bottle of Scotch, went into the bathroom, and emptied the entire bottle into the washbasin.
No more. I promise.
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