Publish Novellas 16 February 2022
EPISODE 4 – RETAINERS
Protection comes at a cost. The family must learn to prioritize expenses when hiring an attorney and psychotherapist.
⚠️ Use Discretion: Mature dialogue. Begin story here.
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Pam is the wife…
Within the lobby of the psychotherapist, Dr. Alison, Pam asks, “How did it go?”
“Not here. Let’s talk in the car.” In the front seats, Marcus says, “She told me to talk to this attorney before coming back in three days.”
“Okay, let’s do it. You are off to a good start.”
“Stay positive. And no more drinking. It makes you look guilty.”
“Guilty of what?”
“Whatever anyone might charge you with,” Pam concludes.
Attorneys are always willing to see new clients. So the next day, Marcus gets a free consultation. After sharing his predicament, the attorney, Rob Lancaster, says, “I have good news and bad news.”
“What’s the good news?”
“In this state, we are beyond the statute of limitations for criminal charges.”
“Whew! That is good news. What’s the bad news.”
“Depending upon how these women feel after forty years, you may be a target for civil charges. With DNA, they can prove a relationship. But it will be difficult to prove intent. They may also have children by others prior to or after your encounters. Lastly, they may have marriages and careers that they do not wish to tarnish with a public trial.”
“So in your opinion, is it something I should worry about?”
“Given the time that has elapsed, it is something that may never come up. But it still requires preparation to protect your assets. If you hire me on retainer and provide as much information that you have about the underage women, I can dig into their past for a better picture of what might take place in a courtroom.”
“Are you going to bleed me dry with your retainer?”
“Whatever you pay me is a drop in the bucket compared to your liability if multiple women file cases against you. Think about a certain comedian whose case is not funny.”
“I hear what you’re saying. Okay, you’re hired—just to gather background information for now and be my one phone call to post bail if things go sideways.”
“My first piece of advice as your attorney is to remove your DNA account from that website if possible. Before doing so, however, get me your login credentials so I can view what the other people involved see.
🧬 Law enforcement agencies increasingly using consumer DNA test profiles from sites like 23AndMe to solve crime raises ethical and privacy concerns. 
“My second piece of advice is not to say anything if asked about this by police, other attorneys, or reporters. Let me handle all the talking if and when necessary.”
“How much do I owe you for today?”
“Your first consultation is free. My regular fees are $300 per hour. I estimate initial research will take 20 hours. Thereafter, my retainer can be payment for anywhere from one to five hours per month.”
“Let me talk about this with my wife.”
“Of course,” agrees the attorney.
In the lobby, Marcus, who is out of work, nervously tells Pam that the lawyer wants $6000 for initial research and at least $300 per month retainer.
Wanting to pull her hair out but trying to remain calm, she hands Marcus a credit card and says, “Tell him all we can pay is $5000 for research. It might take me three years to pay off this debit. He needs to stop when he reaches that limit.”
The attorney agrees to the reduction. Then Marcus and Pam drive home.
“I am really sorry for everything. But the attorney needs access to your DNA website before we shut it down.”
“Actually… it’s Aaron’s account. He is the one that submitted his DNA to discover his siblings. You should talk to him about it when we get home.”
Sons and Daughters
At home, Marcus looks for Aaron in his bedroom. There, he confronts him about the DNA test.
“Aaron, you didn’t tell me you mailed your DNA to some website! Do you know how dangerous that is… how much money it is costing this family to try and rectify this?”
“I was just trying to learn about my relatives,” Aaron replies.
“It is best to ask me about my family instead of trusting the internet.”
“I learned more from this website than 18 years of asking you.”
“Give me login access to your account. I’m going to shut it down.”
“I can cancel the account.”
“You don’t understand. Your DNA is already out there. Yours is related to mine and your mother’s. So you are exposing others without their consent. There are steps I need to take before cancelling the account.”
“Okay. My login name is
LonelyHunter and my password is
NotMy1stBirthday. When are we going to talk about my siblings?”
“Not now. Maybe next week.”
Marcus leaves to tell Pam he has the account info for the attorney. Since she is paying for the research, she will give the login credentials to the lawyer in the morning.
When Marcus goes to the kitchen to pour himself a whiskey, Pam follows.
“You need to stay sober through this ordeal, Marcus.”
“It’s just one drink.”
Reaching for the glass in his hand, she says, “It always starts with one drink,” she replies.
As Marcus pulls away, the whiskey spills on the floor. So he sets the glass on the counter, grabs the bottle, and heads to his recliner. Pam wipes up the spill and goes to bed.
Two days later, Pam drives Marcus to his psychotherapist appointment with Dr. Alison. Because of his frequent drinking, he rarely drives himself.
Dr. Alison asks, “How have things been going the past couple of days?”
“We made some… expensive progress,” says Marcus.
“So you spoke to the attorney?”
“Yes, we are following his advice.”
“Good. What about your drinking? Did you phone the number to the addiction group I gave you?”
“Why do you think that is?”
“You know, I went once before to a group like that,” admits Marcus.
“No, I didn’t. What happened back then?”
“I felt out of place. Everyone there seemed worse off than me. They were drunkards.”
“There are different degrees of alcohol addiction. From what you’ve told me, you’re in a pretty bad place now. Do you want me to make an appointment for you?”
“Not really. Everything is happening too fast. But, I may try it… if they have good snacks.”
“Great, they meet on Wednesday and Saturday mornings at 10 o’clock so you can go tomorrow. I promise, the donuts will not be more than three days old.”
“That’s too much meeting for one week. I’ve seen you twice and also the lawyer. Every time I leave the house, it costs hundreds or thousands of dollars.”
“It probably feels like you are moving from zero to one hundred miles per hour in an instant. Emergency room physicians move quickly when trauma patients come from an ambulance.
“You are having your own mental and physical emergency. I am making life-saving recommendations. The addiction meetings are government-funded so you don’t need to pay. Make decisions that make you feel better, not worse.”
“All right, all right. I’ll go. But I’m not going to sit in a circle holding hands and chanting kumbaya.”
“Good. You’re making progress already. When we left off on Tuesday, you were mentioning past events that cause nightmares. What more can you tell me about that?”
“Well, in one recurring nightmare, I am molesting a sibling.”
“Really? Do you think it happened in real life?”
“I don’t know. He never brought it up.”
“When was the last time you two have spoken?”
“Maybe ten or fifteen years ago.”
“Why do you feel it’s been so long.”
“He’s always busy… and negative.”
“Is that the only reason?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is this the only sibling you have?”
“No, I have others. Some dead; some alive.”
“Tell me more about the dream,” Dr. Alison probes.
“We are kids in my dream. I walk into the room and jerk him off.”
“How does he react?”
“His shouts to stop get fainter and fainter. Then I walk away before he climaxes. It could be why I never let my son spend the night with his uncles.
“Does this shock you?”
“Is that what you are trying to do?” asks the therapist.
“What? Jerk you off?”
“No, shock me?”
Marcus just smiles in a manner that is inappropriate for the circumstance. One of the most difficult aspects of being a psychiatrist is remaining objective—no matter how shocking the revelation.