Please Be Advised

The flash fiction anthology Rose City Sisters, run by my friend Paula Johnson, accepted another story of mine. It’s titled “Please Be Advised.” You can read it below, or on the Rose City Sisters blog. The story features John Laughlin of San Andreas Fault. I created this story from an excerpt of a novel I’d started while still practicing law . . . in what seems a lifetime ago.  In any case, here it is.





John Laughlin sat in his 43rd floor office, staring at the blinking cursor on his computer screen.  He had started a memo and had typed, “Please be advised, my last day with the firm will be . . .” But he only got that far.  He was a fourth year associate hard on the partnership track at a corporate law firm.  He could see his future and didn’t like what he saw.  It was pointless to work, he thought, defending corporations.  At the same time, he worried that might just be an excuse, a way of not admitting that he just wasn’t tough enough to succeed. This wasn’t the first time he’d started this memo.

He was interrupted by a knock on his door.  He put his computer to sleep as Patrick Gillis, a first-year associate, slipped inside without a word or even a glance in his direction.  Gillis immediately turned around and pressed the door closed behind him.  In one hand he clutched some documents so tightly that they had become creased.  After the door was shut he turned to John.

“Do you have a minute?”  Gillis stood with his neck stretched forward and his tortoise-shell glasses perched on the end of his nose.  Over the last six months he had lost ten pounds due to stress.  His forehead was as creased as the documents.  Suspenders held his loose pants.  John used to feel sorry for Gillis; he had since come to see him as just a big pain in the ass.

John shook his head.  “I’ve got —”

“This will only take a second.”  Gillis drilled John with an intense, beseeching stare.  “What do you know about real estate?”

John sighed.  “Nothing.”

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