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Category Archives: Legal Theft Project

Fiction: Legal Theft– The Truth (812 words)

“Hey, AM.”

Marta looked up from the book she was reading cross legged on her bed to see Arthur—now sixteen years old and taller than both her and her sister, leaning against the doorframe to her room. He looked conflicted, and Marta wondered if he was going to try to pull that Since you’re my real mother can you tell Mom to let me… crap again. “Hey-o Kiddo, what’s up?”

“I wanted to ask you a question. Mom says I shouldn’t ask it, but—I don’t know. I kind of feel like I have to.”  Marta furrowed her eyebrows and considered him.

Technically, yes, he was her son, but Marta had never had that easy understanding of him that Avery did. They were a perfect case study of a genetic connection versus sixteen years of love, care, and direct devotion. That’s why he never got away with any of that real mother crap. They all knew that Avery was his mother, no ifs ands or buts.

“Yeah. Come in. You know you can ask me anything.”  Arthur crossed the room in two long strides, sitting himself down in Marta’s computer chair, spinning it so he faced the bed.  He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, and Marta started to be able to see just how really worried he was. “Kiddo, what’s wrong?”

“I want—um—it’s just,” Arthur took a deep breath. “Mom says that you won’t tell me no matter what, and that I shouldn’t even ask because it will just upset you, but it’s not just that I want to ask, I feel like I need to ask whether you answer me or not I’ll go crazy if I don’t ask.” All the words came spilling out of his mouth in rush, like if he paused he would lose his nerve.

Marta was starting feel anxious now. She knew that this moment was going to come eventually, but the older and older Arthur got, she started to believe that she was going to manage avoid it. “What did you want to ask me, then?”

“I wanted to know,” Arthur smiled weakly at her, “Do you know who my father is?”

Marta smiled wildly, “Of course Kiddo. You do, too. Tall guy, dark hair, sometimes talks in an annoying accent, always looks at your Mom with those sappy eyes that makes us want to gag.”

Arthur shook his head, looking down at his feet. “No, A.M., I know who my Dad is. Obviously, Dad is my Dad, but—who is my father, I mean, my biological father?”

Marta’s smiled faded away now. “I do, Arthur. I’ve never had a doubt about who your biological father is. But—The truth of the matter is, Kiddo, he wanted nothing to do with us. He called me a whore, telling me that I’d probably had sex with so many men I couldn’t be sure it was his, and then offered me four hundred dollars to never talk to him about it again. I didn’t take his money, but I never spoke to him again. And I never spoke about him again until now. If you really feel that you must know, that your life cannot be complete without knowing his name, then I will tell you, and only you, on the condition that you never tell Avery or Bradley, because they are both still Very angry about things that happened around the time you were born, but I’m telling you now—your Mom and Dad are better than that boy I ever could have done raising you, and I’ve always believed it’s not worth wasting time on people who aren’t willing to give their time to you, so…”

Marta had spoken a lot faster than she met to.  Perhaps Arthur’s rushed speaking from earlier was a family trait. He looked a bit stunned. She realized she’d never been so stern with him, and he never saw her properly angry, like she got whenever she thought about that stupid teenage boy who had insulted her character for a mistake that was equal parts both of their fault. It did take two to tango, as the cliché said.

“I don’t want to talk to him. I don’t want anyone in my life who doesn’t want to be in mine. But—I was going through Mom’s year book the other day and I looked at every single face to see if there were traits of mine. I need to know his name so I can stop wondering. I think I deserve that.” Arthur answered.

“It’s a secret you will have to keep from your Mom and Dad.  Until you die or I die, whichever comes first, you understand?” Marta insisted.

“Yes, I promise,” Arthur insisted, leaning a little bit closer.

“Okay,” Marta smiled, “Yeah. Okay. Then I’ll tell you who your biological father is.”

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project– Unhealthy

There was no hiding from sleep. I could avoid it for a little while—with a steady diet of coffee, sodas, and on the more extreme days, Kroger brand “Stay Awake” caffeine pills. But in the end, sleep always got me. Which is probably for the best, I guess, because they tell me that if you don’t sleep you die.

I digress.

And really, the truth of the matter is going to sleep isn’t the problem. Asleep, I dream.  And when I’m dreaming, everything is fine. He’s not dead yet, I’m still making money, and everything is okay. It’s nice to be happy and okay again.

Waking up is the problem. Because no matter what, I do wake up, and always sooner than I’d like.  And I’m alone in bed again. And in ways that I cannot properly explain unless you’ve felt it too—that sucks.

I know it will get better with time. I know that every morning that I wake up I will miss him—but eventually, it will get to the point where I don’t hate laying down to sleep, eventually it will get to the point where waking up isn’t the worst part of my day. But for now…Well, I’ll run from sleep as best I can.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Early Bird

Sunrise was an acquired taste. At first it came as bitter, as Rachel pulled herself up out of bed to the blare of an alarm, got dressed in the semi-darkness of the first rays of sun filtering in through her window, eating breakfast as her kitchen got lighter, and sticking to a strict time for leaving to make sure that she was driving to work early enough that the sun was still behind the low buildings or late enough that the sun was high enough that she wasn’t burning her eyes out while she made her grumpy way to work.

But slowly, she started to notice the little things.

The first she noticed was traffic. Heading to work, she would see a car or two, and that’s about it. There was the occasional frustrating stop light that was on a timer instead of a sensor, that drove her mad, but other than that, the drive to work was so much more enjoyable. It took her less time to get to work, and she found herself in a better and a better mood when she got there.

Then she started to notice the stillness.  Since most sane jobs didn’t have start times until later—there were very few people moving around in the morning. She could look out her window while she was eating breakfast, and with the exception of the occasional bird, there was a stillness outside that made the whole view out her window look almost like a painting, one that just slightly changed every morning as the seasons went through their cycle.

Lastly, she noticed the quiet. She’d lived in apartment buildings her entire life, so she was used to hearing pipes and steps and people through walls. Her life was always surrounded by the busy through and through and other lives around her. But—when your alarm went off so god awful early, most people weren’t moving yet. No pipes, no footfalls, no annoying teenagers screaming at each other in the apartment next door. Walking down to her car, there wasn’t anyone banging on doors, or dropping things on the stairs, or any of that nonsense.

 

So, after months—they asked her if she wanted to move back to the normal schedule, the 9-5, and she answered without even thinking about it. She liked being up before sunrise.

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft–Sentencing (470 words)

He was not an innocent man. Even if he hadn’t come out and admitted to everything that he had done, the evidence was stacked high and far against him.  Everyone knew what he had done, even if they didn’t know the nitty gritty, they knew that he was not an innocent soul. They had no problem with him being locked away in the darkest tower for the rest of his life. Many of them even slept a bit easier with that knowledge.

He was not an innocent man. She knew that, even before this crime came to light. She knew the kinds of things he had done for himself and others in the past. She did know the nitty gritty of many of the crimes he committed in this city.  And she knew that if the orders came down from his boss, he could do horrible things to people she loved and held near and dear to her heart. And he would do it without hesitation because that was his job.

He was not an innocent man. But he had been an innocent boy. He was the boy who would come and find her during the storms, to make sure that she’d found some place with a roof over her head. He was the boy who would sneak leftovers to her, so she could eat a meal, even if it was cold and a little squished. Even when there wasn’t that much left over for him to spare. He had been the little boy who held her close in a dark alley with a hand over her mouth to keep her quiet while the gang he eventually joined came screaming down the streets, riding wild and ready to take it out on whoever they ran themselves into. And he was the boy later that held her as she sobbed in fear, and calmed her by kissing her gently on the lips.

He was not an innocent man. But there was so much more to him than the crimes he committed. She brought him food during his trial, and a blanket for his head when he was left chained out in the rain, and accepted the booing of the common folk who didn’t know her or what he had done for that scared lonely little girl.  She couldn’t feel the relief of his sentencing, or breathe easier with him locked away in the tower. She knew that the streets were safer now, for her and her daughter, but she couldn’t feel any joy in his being locked away.

He was not an innocent man. But that couldn’t stop her from loving him. And only his flesh and blood could keep her from locking herself away with him.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft–Lies (505 words)

He laughed around the panic clogging his throat, but his gun never wavered from its target. Jared kept his hands relaxed at his shoulders, not even looking at the barrel trained at his chest. “Okay. I don’t want to hurt you. As a general rule, I try not to hurt anyone. But if someone doesn’t start explaining to me what is going on, I am going to start breaking rules really fast.”

Riley and Jared shared a look and came to some kind of understanding that Mark couldn’t even begin to fathom.  “Mark. Don’t freak out.” Riley’s voice was low and calm.

Mark laughed again. “Ri. That is not an explanation. And maybe we don’t use our patronizing voice on the man with a gun who has just found out he has been LIED to for a long time.”

“Okay,” Riley’s voice was still calm. “I’m not trying to be patronizing. I’m just overcompensating for the fact that I am terrified right now.  Considering that you have a gun and are very angry at me can we agree that I have every right to be scared.”

“And I have every right to be angry!” Mark countered.

“Yes. Yes, you do.” Jared answered this time, his voice a little less calm, “I understand that you’re angry but to be honest I don’t think that I will be able to think clearly with that gun aimed at me. I’ve seen what a shot you are, Mark, I know I wouldn’t live if your finger so much as twitched. Can we compromise?”

“What did you have in mind?” Mark asked.

“I won’t move. Not even a twitch. And if at any point, you don’t like what is going on, you can retrain that gun directly on my heart and I won’t even complain. But if you could please give me the chance to explain without a gun trained at my heart I would appreciate it greatly.” Jared rambled perhaps a little too fast. He wasn’t very good at the calm and low that seemed to come naturally to Riley.

Mark considered this for a while, before slowly bringing the gun down to point at the ground. “One false move, Jared, and I swear—You’ve seen my training, you know I can get you if you cross me.” Mark countered.

Jared let his hands come down slowly as well, watching Mark carefully to make sure that the movements were allowed, lowering them until his hands were just hanging limply at his sides. His eyes followed the gun now—finally looking at the danger he had been in. He didn’t make any other moves, though, making sure not to anger Mark any further.

“Okay then,” Riley tried to smile, looking between the two men, “What is it that you want to know?”

“Everything, Riley.” Mark’s hand twitched on the gun, but he didn’t raise it again. “Tell me absolutely everything that I don’t already know.”

Riley looked once more between Mark, Jared, and the gun before she sighed. “Okay. Everything.”

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2017 in Legal Theft Project

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Dinner (574 words)

The camp was busy with people getting ready for dinner. People were dragging benches into places around the smaller social fires, pulling pots and pans off the bigger cooking fires, and laying out stacks and stacks of bowls and towels for the people to come and get in a few minutes.  Three dozen people all moving around each other with ease. It was fascinating.  I was never going to be able to figure out how to fit in here.

“Stick with me,” Alexa laughed at my shocked face, “I’ll show you what to do for now, and I promise that you’ll pick it up faster than you think.” She wrapped an arm around my shoulders, carefully to avoid the bandage near my neck, and dragged me forward into the throng.

I mimicked her exactly, getting a bowl and spoon and a small square towel, and then letting one of the cooks fill it up with a potato stew of some kind.  “Make sure she drains that bowl, Alexa,” one of the cooks said, waving a ladle in my direction, “She looks like her skin is about to fall right off her bones.”

“Yes ma’am,” Alexa grinned, “We’ll make her a useful member yet.”

“Have a good night, Dearie,” the cook said to me, “And welcome to the group.”

“Thank you,” I muttered more to the bowl of soup then to her, and followed Alexa away from the food toward the many benches slowly filling with hungry people.  At some point, Alexa came to a stop, and I almost crashed into her with my bowl.   She dropped down unceremonially onto one of the benches and started shoveling stew into her face. I sat down next to her, trying to balance the bowl on my leg and keep my napkin away from the slightly grimy benches before I took my first bite.

I wasn’t as hungry as I had been the day before, they had fed me well since they found me, but it was still an amazing feeling to have proper food.  And the fact that this stew was properly warm and freshly cooked—I could have wept.

“You look like you want the stew to have your babies,” Alexa commented.  I didn’t even realize my eyes were closed until that moment, opening them to find Alexa studying my face carefully. “It’s just potato stew.”

“It’s the most food I’ve had to eat at one time in months,” I answered honestly.

Alexa’s face fell. “Right. Sorry. Right. Most people joining are running away from cities or have been turned out by families because there are too many kids or something.  None of us were overfed by any sense of the imagination, but a bowl of stew was easy to come by.”

I took a second and then shrugged. “It’s okay.  I…” I trailed off, unsure how to finish. It had been a long time since I had food or social interaction, and I was having a weird reaction to both.

“I am sorry. Feel free to eat your food like you want to have its babies.” Alexa turned back to her bowl for a second before looking back up at me. “But—Don’t start like—actually trying to have its babies. That’s where I think it crosses the line from reasonable to crazy.”

I didn’t know what to do with her joke, so I just ignored it and put another bite in my mouth. Delicious.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–News (581 words)

She blinked. She opened her mouth and closed it again without saying anything. She back hard in her chair. She blinked.

“Mrs. Jones? Are you feeling okay?”

She blinked hard this time, and her eyes seemed to actually focus on the room around her. “I am so sorry. I don’t think I quite heard that. Would you mind saying it again?”

Dr. Elizabeth Anderson smiled to herself, looking back down to the file. She’d seen this reaction before. It was one of the easier reactions to deal with. Far better than the times when women would attack at her and accuse her of ruining their lives—as if she actually had anything to do with it. But, worse than when the women lit up with joy and declared it the best news they had ever heard. It really was a diagnosis that ran all along the spectrum.

“Mrs. Jones. The blood work has come back, and the pregnancy test was positive. You are pregnant.” She held out the sheet for the woman to see, even those most of the page would be Greek to the layman.  Mrs. Jones blinked again, and Dr. Anderson wondered how many times she was going to have to repeat this, when a smile grew across Mrs. Jones’ face.

“That is great news,” she said calmly, but smiling from ear to ear. “Could you write that down, please? Sign it for me. I feel my husband is going to be even harder to convince it’s actually true, and a note from you would go a long way.”

“Of course,” Dr. Anderson smiled, “But before you leave we have just a few things to go over…”

Dr. Anderson slipped into her office and let out a long breath.

“How did it go, Lizzie?” Dr. Margaret Cooper, her officemate, asked. “Was she a jumping for joy one? Because I don’t think she’d be an attack you for the news kind of woman.”

“Not Jumping for joy, but a repeat it three times until it sinks in. But she left with a smile and half-formed ideas of how she was going to surprise her husband, so I think it will all work out.” Lizzie sank down in her chair, and rubbed at the back of her neck.

“That’s good. She’s a sweet woman. She deserves to be happy.” Margaret watched Lizzie carefully, an eyebrow raised, “Have you decided how you’re going to tell your boy yet?”

Almost subconsciously, Lizzie’s hand went to her still flat stomach, before returning to the paper work on her desk. “I really wish you wouldn’t call him ‘my boy.’ It makes me feel like I’m dating a child.”

Margaret laughed. “Okay, that’s fair.  Have you decided how you are going to tell your partner yet?”

She tried not to betray her nervousness as she smiled. “Not yet, Margaret. I want to make sure it’s a good plan.  It’s my first kid you know.”

Margaret rolled her eyes. “Very well, but if you don’t tell him soon, he’ll be able to see it with his own two eyes. I feel like you might start showing any day now, you’re leaving it so late.”

“It hasn’t been that long,” she protested weakly. But Margaret was right. Lizzie had known too long not to tell her boyfriend that she was pregnant. But every time she tried, she just couldn’t bring herself to do it.  After all, it was the kind of news that always brought very different reactions.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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