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The Solicitor

He heard the dog first: the short, high, bark followed by the low, sultry sound of a woman’s voice and the scrabble of claws as the animal was lifted up off the floor in the lobby. 

He was at the door before she knocked, preparing to greet her properly when one look from her silenced all thoughts of ‘hello.’

“Mr. Berkhart?” She glanced behind him into his office. 

“Yes, Mrs. Underby, correct? do, um, come…” But she brushed past him into the office, letting the little corgi puppy she was carrying down onto the carpet and surveying the room.  Though he strove to keep it at least tidy he suddenly was aware of how long it had been since he’d dusted or cleaned the windows. She perched with delicate distaste at the edge of a chair and waited for him. 

He sat, rifling with the papers on his desk, “How can I help you, Mrs. Underby?” 

“I understand that you sometimes handle divorces?”

“Divorces, yes. Naturally, not a terribly common occurrence.” He cleared his throat, “I should tell you though that I’ve yet to see a case where the woman has managed to win and prevent the divorce from being finalized.” 

She stared at him for a long moment, as if he were a frog who had suddenly learned to speak, “You misunderstand me, Mr. Berkhart, I wish to initiate a divorce.”

“You…wish to initiate a..divorce?” His surprise was enough that he dropped the pen he was holding. 

“Yes, is there a problem?” The dog was sniffing around the edge of the carpet and seized a corner of it in her mouth.

“No, it’s just, highly unusual for the woman, to, ah, initiate the proceedings.”

“Missy, no.” Phaedra snapped her fingers and the dog immediately dropped the carpet and galloped to heel. Phaedra returned her attention to the solicitor, “Then I suppose you may say that I am unusual.” 

Mr. Berkhart flushed, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Underby, I didn’t mean to imply…I, ah, so you wish to divorce Mr. Underby?”

She sighed heavily, “No, I wish to divorce my other husband.” 

“Your…your other husband?” 

She scooped the dog up, “Yes, I wish to divorce Mr. Underby. Are you quite sure you’re capable of handling this?” 

Mr. Berkhart attempted to re-compose himself, picking up his pen studiously and dipping it into the ink pot, “We’ve handled divorce cases quite capably in the past, Mrs. Underby, let me assure you.”

She gave him a long, cold, appraising look, “Good, so what is to be done?”

“We will draw up the papers and present them to your husband to be signed, file a petition with city hall. The two of you will need to appear before a judge if he wishes to contest it, if he doesn’t then myself and his solicitor will take care of the legalities. It’s really very simple.” By the time he reached the end of his little speech, Mr. Berkhart sounded his usual confident self again. 

“Is it?” Phaedra bent her head to kiss the top of Missy’s head. 

“Pardon?”

“Is it so very simple?” 

“I…yes, usually, is there a problem?” 

She turned her head to look out the window, the city was a sooty smudge through the dirty windows, “No.  I should like to take the papers to Mr. Underby myself.” 

Berkhart coughed in surprised, “You wish to take him the papers yourself?” 

“Will that be a problem?” She set Missy down and pulled a small clamshell mirror from her pocket, flicking it open with her thumb and holding it up to regard her reflection. 

“No, it’s just…”

“Unusual?” She tucked a bit of hair that had come loose back into its pin, “Mr. Berkhart, my husband and I have been married for many years, well over half my life.  The least that I can do for him is to present him with the papers for our separation in person.” She flicked the mirror shut. 

“Oh, I see. Quite right, Mrs. Underby.  Would that all had your, erm, morals. I suppose. I could have the papers for you by friday, would that do?” 

She nodded, standing, “That would do quite well.” 

He stood as she did and hurried around the desk to get the door for her, “We haven’t discussed payment yet,” he said, anxiously. 

“I’m not concerned about that. Whatever your fee is, I can afford it.  There are factions of my family that will be quite pleased to be done with Yoyo.” She clapped her hand against her hip and Missy dashed across the floor after her and out the door. 

“Then, friday. I shall have them ready on friday.” He held his hand out at her.  

She gave it a long look, “Thank you, Mr. Berkhart, I shall be by on friday.” She turned and swept down the hall, the little orange dog pattering after her, pausing only once to turn and growl softly at Berkhart

 

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44 Comments

  1. Grendel Footman Grendel Footman May 12, 2011

    for a moment reading this, I thought her other husband was the dog.

    • Tepic Harlequin Tepic Harlequin May 12, 2011

      nope, that’s lunch!

      Tepic ducks quickly back round a corner…..

  2. Kristos Sonnerstein Kristos Sonnerstein May 12, 2011

    ::sighs:: Ah, if only I had taken steps to catch the lovely lily’s attentions before.

    • Giles Berithos Giles Berithos May 12, 2011

      You snooze, you lose, my friend. 

      • G. Baroque G. Baroque May 12, 2011

        You’re more than welcome to her, sir. 

        • Jedburgh30 Dagger Jedburgh30 Dagger May 12, 2011

          Trading one GB for another.  I suppose it saves on having new towels embroidered…

          • Sky Melnik Sky Melnik May 12, 2011

            She’s obviously a practical sort.

          • Giles Berithos Giles Berithos May 12, 2011

            I’m obviously in the dark about something here.

            • Jedburgh30 Dagger Jedburgh30 Dagger May 12, 2011

              Come by the office.  The whiskey is on me.

            • G. Baroque G. Baroque May 12, 2011

              The woman is a shrew. I witnessed her tossing items belonging to Miss MacBain in the Gangplank into the fire, with no sense of remorse at all. 

              • Phaedra Underby Phaedra Underby May 12, 2011

                This, Mr. Baroque, is quite why it did not work out between us. You are just so terribly dull.

            • Mr Underby Mr Underby May 12, 2011

              It’s those dark spectacles sir.  The last gentleman in town wearing those was banished to his room for being naughty.

        • Stargirl Macbain Stargirl Macbain May 12, 2011

          Hang on…this means Baroque is out from under her thumb!

          *sends a note to a few of the ladies in town* 

  3. Jedburgh30 Dagger Jedburgh30 Dagger May 12, 2011

    Hmmm. I’d volunteer to serve the papers.

  4. Mr Underby Mr Underby May 12, 2011

    Underby whistled as he entered the Bucket of Blood.  Maggie nodded sharply as he walked past her.  “Off ter finally see that slag wife today, Mr Underby?”

    Underby paused for a moment.  “Ha, no, I think not.  I’ve only recently begun to feel well again, no need to ruin that so soon.  She’ll find me if she wants something, bad pennies always turn up eventually.”

    Maggie nodded, smirking. “There’s rumours about.”

    “Hm?”

    “That she’s divorcin ye fer some quack.”

    Underby smiled thinly. “Impossible.” he said. “I haven’t the luck for that to occur.  Coffee?”

    “Love some.” Maggie smiled.

     

     

  5. Sky Melnik Sky Melnik May 12, 2011

    I would pay to be on the front row to see this go down… No, wait, I’d sell tickets! I’m pretty sure this could be a big event. *rubs hands together, grinning*

    • Arconus Arkright Arconus Arkright May 12, 2011

      The front row? I’m thinking more along the lines of a steel reinforced bunker surrounded by a moat of holy water on the far side of town in case deliberations about the division of marital assets become… uncivil.

      • Sky Melnik Sky Melnik May 12, 2011

        Aw, come now, Arkright. Doesn’t the term “cagematch” thrill you?

  6. Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox May 12, 2011

    *wonders who in the world would want to marry Mrs. Underpants and follows Tepic around the corner*

    You don’t think dat mean dat Mr. Underpants gonna try to marry Miz Maggie, do you?  *looks worried*

    • Odnar Halberstadt Odnar Halberstadt May 12, 2011

      *Spits out his coffee* “What?”

    • Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox May 12, 2011

      Miz Maggie too good for you, *looks relieved and tosses in as she skips off, *  besides I wants Miz Maggie to marry Mr. Tenk!

      • Maggie Lynwood Maggie Lynwood May 12, 2011

        *gapes in horror after Zaida, remembering something Pocket said to her once, and looks back at Underby warily* Girl dunno wot she’s talkin’ about boss…

        • Mara Razor Mara Razor May 12, 2011

          I hate to tell you this, Mag, but Zaida’s got your whole wedding to Tenk planned.  She’s got these little dolls that she plays Maggie and Tenk Wedding with on the floor of the mill.  It’s possitively – nause – adorable.  Yeah.  That’s it.  Adorable.  *laughs*

          • Maggie Lynwood Maggie Lynwood May 12, 2011

            ‘fink carefully about wot she’s implyin’, Miss Razor, an’ about who I serve. An about who those bound ter me would be forced to serve…

          • Mr Tenk Mr Tenk May 12, 2011

            Mr. String and I once stood on the pier of the Underbridge Cottage, and swore to stand as husbands to the Lynwood sisters if they would but come out of the house. She has already rejected me.

            • Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox May 13, 2011

              It is a woman’s perrogative to change her mind….  Hope springs eternal!

              • Maggie Lynwood Maggie Lynwood May 13, 2011

                Th’ year an’ a day rule tis in effect. Second offer’s much more complicated than th’ first. Third’s worse’n that. I wouldna hope too hard.

        • Maggie Lynwood Maggie Lynwood May 12, 2011

          *pulls a hanky from her hat and holds it out at Odnar* Alright there, ducky? 

          • Odnar Halberstadt Odnar Halberstadt May 12, 2011

            *Takes the hanky and blushes* “um… Thank you Miss Maggie.”

  7. Mr Underby Mr Underby May 12, 2011

    Pay no heed to the child, Maggie.  I realized she had nothing worthwhile to say long ago… which makes her little different than all the other children in the world.

    • Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox May 12, 2011

      *blows a raspberry at Mr. Underby*  Yea, but you be takin’ my Moonpop when I roll a barrell through your door….

      • Mr Underby Mr Underby May 12, 2011

        Of course.  That’s business.  Your mind might be flawed, but your money is just fine.

        • Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox May 13, 2011

          Now, who’s got a flawed mind.  I takes your money.  You takes my booze.

  8. Mr Tenk Mr Tenk May 12, 2011

    *sends a crew of bully boys to start nailing down the landscape, and puts in an order for 50 pounds of the finest american popcorn*

    • Jedburgh30 Dagger Jedburgh30 Dagger May 12, 2011

      *starts setting out chairs on top of the workshop*

  9. Victor1st Mornington Victor1st Mornington May 12, 2011

    So…Mrs Underby will be back on the prowl again then?

    *hides*

  10. Heliotrope Lionheart Heliotrope Lionheart May 12, 2011

    /me spritzes himself with brimstone cologne and prepares for a house call.

  11. LoPxie Artful LoPxie Artful May 13, 2011

    eyes go rounder and rounder… covers her ears, then her face, then darts away, rather as quickly as her legs may carry her!…

  12. Grendel Footman Grendel Footman May 13, 2011

    *sees all the other men of the city hide at the news Mrs. Underby’s single again, shrugs, and goes back to work, up to his elbows in an ex-zombie, and giving off the odor of formaldahyde mixed with a skunk past it’s prime, and ex-zombie.*

     

     

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