To wrap up the year…

A friend of mine asked me on a whim if I could write something for four girls, where everyone had a distinct voice an could be made on a nonexistent budget. After two years, four drafts and two edits, it’s finally done. I’ve learnt a lot from it and since it, but nothing beats the feeling of knowing you helped make something. I’m proud. Check it out!

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Procrastination

The library is almost empty. The lights to the left of me have long since gone out. To the right of me sits the only other person here, quietly turning over the pages of an old almanac. She has hair the colour of straw gently brushing her shoulders. She has a navy back pack unzipped, tipped over, spilling its contents into the aisle next to her. She has one of those fair-isle jumpers on, of blue and white and pink.

Very distracting.

Whenever I turn to stretch my neck, I get swept up in the print. It’s just a series of triangles and squares and arrows. What are you trying to tell me woollen jumper, I think, what is this code?

And then I catch myself.

I bow my head and hope that it helps me concentrate. Head down, pen firmly in hand, sheet of blank paper beckoning words, and images and ideas…I could almost fall asleep. The temperature is suitable. The radiator, below, warms my feet. The partially open window, above, ushers in a gentle breeze that could close my eyelids. It does close my eyelids. Once, twice. A third time. The sound of my pen falling from my hand wakes me.

I sit bolt upright.

My reflection looks guilty in the window opposite. It is late now. The sky is an awkward shade of blue, ushering in the night, and the moon peeks in from the other side of the building. Outside lights start to dwindle from the surrounding buildings. Doors open and close for the last time. Headlights roll down the street.

Madness Made Manifest

You wake up to the dawn light. You know the sun is well beyond the open window, but as you open your eyes, it is a sharp point within your head. You want to cower, to block the view, to just turn away, but something is stopping you. You look down and see that you are bound with lengths of rope to one of the wooden beams that holds the roof of your winter cabin up.

You are confused. You try to wriggle but the lower part of your body does not respond. In fact, you can’t feel it. You can’t even flex a toe. You only have use of your neck, and even that usually sturdy support is waning. You survey the room. It is in disarray, chairs are over turned. The widows are smashed. Somewhere the fire is crackling. And the rug. the rug your father bought you when you moved into the house, the wedding gift. It’s ruined. Someone’s soaked it in some red substance.

You manage to let out a groan. The once still rocking chair by the fire begins to creak. You look towards it. You make out someone’s legs. Dark corduroy trousers. Hiking boots. The person gets up and you see the aging face of your father turn towards you. His face is wet with tears, his eyes bloodshot. His grey beard is damp, straggly. He turns but does not approach you. He stands cautiously behind the rocking chair, the shirt under his flannel is red.

 

Just then a piercing pain rips through your frontal lobe. You wince from it and bow your head. You’re not just confused now, you’re beginning to feel sick. Sick with confusion, with how much you don’t understand. You remember coming to the summer house. You remember closing the car door and taking in the crisp mountain air. You remember lighting the fire. You remember your wife in the garden, your sons clinging to her skirt. You remember-

‘Heracles?’

You open your eyes and look at your father. There is something in his eyes, something you don’t recognise. So you blink and look from him to your bonds.

‘Heracles, is that you?’

‘of course it’s me’ you manage to say, bewildered.

‘Heracles, swear it. Swear it’s you before I untie you’

‘You did this?’

‘Heracles’ your father urges. ‘Look at me, son. Tell me, are you okay?’

You nod.

‘Apart from being tied to a beam, and this splitting head ache, I’m fine, dad’

He creeps towards you, his footsteps are light, frightful. He keeps glancing at the door, as if he is expecting someone, you turn to look but there is nothing but a plank of wood bolted shut. Wait, you can make out the feathered fletching of an arrow. Two. You go to say something but he is untying you. His hands are trembling, and his lip quivers as he looks into your face. He loosens the ropes and then retreats immediately to the other side of the room.

‘Dad, what is it?’ you ask, trying to straighten up. You wriggle a toe, then a foot. You lean your head back as you push out your chest, and feel a shooting pain as the back of your head connects with the wooden beam. Instinctively you reach for source. It is wet. When you look are your hand is damp, red. You’re bleeding.

Now you are confused, sick and scared.

 

The Pain You Feel Today

‘The pain you feel today is the strength you will feel tomorrow. In every challenge encountered there is opportunity for growth.’

‘Who said that?’

‘Anonymous.’

‘Of course, Anonymous. Some Unknown who is dead now. Cos pain Today is not strength Tomorrow when Tomorrow’s challenge is Death. Today’s pain is always just Today’s pain. I wish people wouldn’t keep acting like Tomorrow is everything. Tomorrow doesn’t exist for us. We will never be in Tomorrow.’

First Deposition II

CERTIFIED EXCERPT

Transcript of Rueben Z. Corazzo, Esq.

Date: May 27, 2012

Case: The Royal London Research Institute -v- European Court of Human Rights

ON BEHALF OF PLAINTIFF:

LAMIA GRAHAM, ESQUIRE

JAMES F. BROOKS, ESQUIRE

MICHAEL GEERHADT, ESQUIRE

ROMILY J. ORFANEDES, ESQUIRE

THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS

 

ON BEHALF OF DEFENDANT:

ILANA WILKINSON, ESQUIRE

RONAN BERMAN, ESQUIRE

STEVEN A. MYERS, ESQUIRE

LORNE NICOLS STERLING, ESQUIRE

ROGER ABRAMS, ESQUIRE

CARROLL NOBLE, ESQUIRE

THE ROYAL LONDON RESEARCH INSTITUTE

VIDEO SPECIALIST: The court reporter today is Brenda Huff. Would the reporter please swear in the witness?

RUEBEN Z. CORAZZO, ESQ. having been duly sworn, testified as follows:

EXAMINATION BY COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF BY MR. BROOKS:

Q: Good Afternoon, Mr Corazzo. I’d like to go back to you encounters with Ms. Eugene.

A: Okay.

Q: You’re a legal aide, in your own words, swamped with work and a woman is messaging you on a weekly basis. What do you do?

WILKINSON: Objection. Asked and answered.

HOLMES: Sustained.

BY MR. BROOKS:

Q: Did you tell your mentor at Welch and Fowler about the messages?

A: No.

Q: Did you tell any of the other lawyers that you worked with?

A: No.

Q: Did you tell the police?

A: No.

Q: Why not, Mr Corazzo?

A: I thought it was harmless.

Q: What about when Ms. Eugene approached you, did you tell anyone about that?

A: I told my girlfriend.

Q: But none of the senior staff at your workplace?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: I don’t know. I figured it was not a work matter.

Q: But you knew why Ms. Eugene was approaching you. According to you, it was to offer you a job. Why not tell your mentor so they could intercede on your behalf or provide the LRI with willing council?

A: I assumed if that was what Ms. Eugene wanted, she wouldn’t be pursuing me personally.

Q: So you knew that she was interested in you personally?

A: I assumed, given her dedication to the cause, there was something about me, in particular, yes.

Q: And had she let you know why she was interested in you personally?

A: Dr. Quentin liked my work.

Q: Just your work? Not your colleagues? Mr Davenport or Miss Shrewsbury for example.

A: (No audible response)

Q: Mr Corrazzo.

A: I don’t know.

Q: But you did talk to Mr Davenport and Miss Shrewsbury about the LRI approaching them.

A: (No audible response)

Q: Mr Corazzo, we have a copy of their sworn depositions where both of them claim to have spoken to you about the LRI and Ms Eugene in particular.

A: Right.

Q: So you knew that Ms. Eugene was actively pursuing all those who had worked the case that you met Dr. Quentin on?

A: Yes.

Q: And so you advised Mr Davenport and Ms Shrewsbury to go to HR about Ms Eugene’s attempts to get in contact with them. Is that true?

A:(No audible response)

Q: Mr Corazzo, it’s a simple yes or no answer.

A: I said if it was bothering them they should do something about it.

Q: But you made it apparent that by ‘do something’ you meant ‘let Welch and Fowler know what was going on’?

WILKINSON: Objection, leading the witness-

HOLMES: Overruled. Answer the questions Mr Corazzo.

BY MR CORAZZO:

A: I don’t remember what I said exactly. But I could have said that vaguely.

Q: And by going to HR, you knew that if anything happened in the future between Welch & Fowler and the LRI, you knew that Ms Shrewsbury and Ms Davenport would be exempt from working for them.

A: I didn’t know that.

Q: You didn’t know Welch and Fowler’s Fit and Proper policy? I have a copy here that you signed that year, would you like to read it again?

A: (No audible reply)

Q: So I did you or did you not know the rules concerning relationships between clients and members of staff, Mr Corazzo?

A: I didn’t make them go to HR.

Q: Please answer the question addressed to Mr. Corazzo.

A: (No audible response)

HOLMES: Mr. Corazzo, may I remind you that you are under oath, and we are under time constraints. MR Brooks repeat the question, Mr. Corazzo answer it.

BY MR. BROOKS:

Q: Did you know, that by going to HR about Ms. Eugene and the LRI, Mr. Davenport and Ms. Shrewsbury would not be allowed to work with the LRI should they be made clients?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you tell Mr Davenport or Miss Shrewsbury about your interactions with Miss Eugene?

A: No.

Q: Did you tell HR about your relations with Ms. Eugene?

A: No.

WILKINSON: Excuse me. Can we go off the record for a minute and take a break?

BROOKS: Sure.

VIDEO SPECIALIST: We are off the record at 14:48.

(A recess was taken.)

VIDEO SPECIALIST: We are back on the record at 15:00.

BY MR. BROOKS:

Q: And then you got made partner after how long at the company?

A: A year and eight months.

Q: And in the thirty years Welch and Fowler had been around before you joined, how long roughly did it take a lawyer to become partner?

A: Anywhere between six and a half to thirteen years.

Q: But you made partner in a year and eight months. Did this strike you as odd at all?

A: Maybe.

Q: It either did or it didn’t, Mr. Corazzo.

A: I don’t think odd is the word I would use. It caught me by surprise.

Q: And why did it catch you by surprise?

A: (No audible response.)

Q: Mr Corazzo.

A: I didn’t expect it to be that quick.

Q: So we can say that your being made partner after a year was an unusual occurrence?

A: I suppose.

Q: At least to you and your practice.

A: Yes.

Q: And naturally, being a man of great intelligence-

WILKINSON: Objection. Speculation.

BROOKS: Speculation of what?

WILKINSON: Of my client’s intelligence.

BROOKS: He’s an Oxford graduate.

WILKINSON: Postgraduate. And that proves nothing. You’re an Oxford graduate. Boris Johnson is an Oxford graduate and he, as our mayor, got on, and then got stuck on, a zip wire. School is not an accurate measure of intelligence.

BROOKS: What would you consider to be an accurate measure of intelligence?

WILKINSON: Who knows? But the burden of proof is on you, Mr. Brooks, not me.

HOLMES: Mr. Brooks, please rephrase your question.

BY MR. BROOKS:

Q: Were you quizzical about your promotion?

A: No. Not really.

Q: So an unusual occurrence took place, involving you, and you had no questions about it, made no inquiries about it?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: Because I was taught not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Q: That’s a good saying. Have you heard the one about something seeming too good to be true?

WILKINSON: Objection. Relevance.

HOLMES: Mr Brooks-

BROOKS: I’ll rephrase it.

BY MR BROOKS:

Q: So you just took the job?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you wonder why they offered it to you?

A: I assumed I was their last resort.

Q: You assumed that in a company of how many- sixty seven lawyers- all of them turned down the chance to become partner apart from you?

A: No. my department knew that they were looking for a partner in our field. I assumed the other lawyers in my department had turned it down.

Q: And how many people would that be?

A: Seven.

Q: Seven senior lawyers-

A: Five seniors.

Q: You thought five senior lawyers turned down partner and the company didn’t consider a new hire, or sending some other senior off for more training?

A: I figured I was probably cheaper.

Q: Did you know before your promotion that LRI was about to become a client at Welch and Fowler?

A: No.

Q: Did you know once you got your promotion that you’d been a condition in Welch and Fowler winning LRI as a client?

A: No.

Q: So as far as you were concerned your relationship with LRI had nothing to do with your promotion to partner.

A: At the time, that is what I believed.

Q: despite how instrumental you had been in narrowing the pool of candidates.

WILKINSON: Objection. My client has already attested to the fact that he did not make anyone go to HR. This is irrelevant.

BROOKS: It is not irrelevant to my argument if you would let me finish making it.

HOLMES: Mr Brooks, please continue to the point.

BY MR. BROOKS:

Q: Mr Corazzo, you never reported the emails. You never reported the gifts. You never reported meeting Ms. Eugene. You encouraged other potential candidates to go to HR with their complaints and then you got made partner because of it. You benefited entirely from LRI being a client of Welch & Fowler and you used that same shrewd and ambitious acumen once you started working directly for the Facility, didn’t you?

A: No. No-

Q: You knew what was going on and you were there to help them cut corners.

A: No! No. I did not know about the kids. I did not know about the kids in East Block!

HOLMES: Mr Corazzo, calm down.

CORAZZO: I did not know! You have to understand that I did not know that was happening in that house.

WILKINSON: Excuse me. Can we- Can we-

CORAZZO: I told them-

HOLMES: We’ll hold you in contempt, Mr. Corazzo.

WILKINSON: Can we take a break?

BROOKS: I’m fine with that.

VIDEO SPECIALIST: We are off the record at 15:28.

(A recess was taken.)

 

 

First Deposition

CERTIFIED EXCERPT

Transcript of Rueben Z. Corazzo, Esq.

Date: May 27, 2012

Case: The Royal London Research Institute -v- European Court of Human Rights

ON BEHALF OF PLAINTIFF:

LAMIA GRAHAM, ESQUIRE

JAMES F. BROOKS, ESQUIRE

MICHAEL GEERHADT, ESQUIRE

ROMILY J. ORFANEDES, ESQUIRE

THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS

 

13 ON BEHALF OF DEFENDANT:

ILANA WILKINSON, ESQUIRE

RONAN BERMAN, ESQUIRE

STEVEN A. MYERS, ESQUIRE

LORNE NICOLS STERLING, ESQUIRE

ROGER ABRAMS, ESQUIRE

CARROLL NOBLE, ESQUIRE

THE ROYAL LONDON RESEARCH INSTITUTE

 

VIDEO SPECIALIST: The court reporter today is Brenda Huff. Would the reporter please swear in the witness.

RUEBEN Z. CORAZZO, ESQ. having been duly sworn, testified as follows:

EXAMINATION BY COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF BY MS. GRAHAM:

Q: Good morning, Mr. Corazzo.

A: Good Morning.

Q: I know you’re a lawyer, and we’re days into the deposition, so I’m sure you’re familiar with the rules.

A: Yes.

Q: I just want to go briefly over your history. If you can just tell me about your education background, college and law school.

A: I went to the LSE for undergraduate, and then Oxford for Post.

Q: Okay. And when did you graduate from LSE?

A: 2002 and from Kings College in 2005.

Q: Thank you. And in 2005 you went to a law firm. Is that right?

A:  I did. I went to work at Welch & Fowler, which is a law firm here in London.

Q: And what did you do for them, practice as a litigator?

A: I represented health facilities that were being investigated for unexplained deaths.

Q: Okay. Is that litigation?

A: It was an array of activities that also included litigation.

Q: And how long were you there for?

A: From 2005-2008.

Q: And that’s when you started working for LRI?

A: I was working for LRI while at Welch too.

Q: How does that work?

A: I was headhunted and subsequently offered a job at LRI.

Q: When you say headhunted, what exactly did that entail, and how did it come about?

A: Doctor Quentin attended a hearing that I was counsel for in 2006. After the verdict, he approached all of us on the bench.

Q: All of you being

WILKINSON: Objection. I’m going to object because it’s beyond the scope and is not really relevant to what the four corners of the – I mean, general background, but it doesn’t relate to the case-

GRAHAM: I don’t — we don’t need to go over everything that was done in the courtroom, but, rather, with respect to the background of Mr. Corazzo and why he was chosen by the LRI, I believe this line of questioning is relevant to the scope.

HOLMES: Overruled. Ms. Graham, please continue. Pointedly.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

BY MS. GRAHAM:

Q: What did Dr. Quentin say when he approached you and your colleagues?

A: He commended us on a job well done. He explained that he was from the LRI and that they could use counsel like us for an upcoming operation. My colleague, the lead defence, advised him to contact the practice but Dr. Quentin explained that, given the size of the operation, they would need ongoing in house counsel. He asked if any of us were looking for ‘career growth’. My other colleague, who was second chair, displayed an interest. Dr Quentin then asked for all of our business cards. I didn’t have one at the time so I just told him my name. He then asked who wrote the closing argument and I replied that it was me. Then we went our separate ways.

Q: Why did you not have a business card?

A: I was still a legal aide at the time. At Welch and Fowler, legal aides do not have business cards.

Q: Was it normal for a legal aide to write the closing arguments for a case?

A: No, but at the time we were juggling a lot of cases. I wrote something for each and every one, just so we could keep our heads above water. Welch & Fowler were a fledgling practice during the recession. Without people like me, it wouldn’t still exist now.

Q: So out of all three people approached, you were the least qualified?

  1. WILKINSON: Objection-
  2. GRAHAM: least senior, then?

A: Yes.

BY MS. GRAHAM:

Q: Was that the last time you spoke to Dr. Quentin?

A: For a while, yes.

Q: and in the interim, you had no dealings with the LRI?

A: Not exactly. I was contacted that week and subsequently every week by the Head of HR at the LRI.

Q: Can you identify this person by name?

A: Constance Eugene.

Q: And what form did this contact take?

A: A host. Emails, phonecalls, letters. Invites to LRI Events. Gifts.

Q: To your place of work?

A: To my place of work, my flat, my childhood home, my then girlfriend’s tenement in Buenos Aires where she was volunteering at the time.

Q: I’m sorry?

A: Ms. Eugene had found out that I was visiting my girlfriend in Buenos Aires for 2 weeks and sent us tickets to the opera.

Q: How did she find this out?

A: I don’t know. I don’t know how she managed any of what she did, to be honest. If you ask me, it wasn’t natural.

WILKISON: Objection. That last bit was irrelevant, unadmissable. He answered the question with ‘I don’t know.’ Everything following is unnecessary.

GRAHAM: Are you saying that your client’s testimony is unnecessary?

WILKINSON: I’m saying he answered the question and you paused to allow him to implicate himself.

GRAHAM: Unfounded.

HOLMES: Ms Wilkinson, are you accusing Ms. Graham of leading the witness?

WILKINSON: I am asking that only Mr Corazzo’s first answer be admissible.

HOLMES: Sustained.

BY MS. GRAHAM:

Q: Back to this contact, was it a back and forth between you and Ms. Eugene?

A: I missed the first couple of calls. I replied to an email inviting me to LRI for a chat, and explained I was swamped with work and would not have the time, that I appreciated the interest but I was happy at Welch. There were more calls and emails after that that I did not reply to. Then Ms Eugene intercepted me on my way back from court to Welch.

Q: How long after your first encounter with Dr. Quentin did this happen?

A: About a month. Just over a month.

  1. Were the other people who met with Dr. Quentin also being pursued in this way?

A: If they were, it wasn’t for very long.

  1. So would you say Ms. Eugene and the LRI were focused on you?

A: Out of everyone in my circle, yes. I can only speak to that.

Q: And were the gifts sent during this time?

A: No. After.

Q: What was the nature of your fist encounter with Ms Eugene?

A: She had understood that I was too busy to talk at the LRI, so she brought the chat to me. We shared a cab back to the office.

Q: What was discussed at this meeting?

A: Mostly me.

Q: Can you go into any more detail?

A: She asked me about school, about Welch and Fowler.

Q: Did she tell you why the LRI wanted in house counsel?

A: Not until I asked.

Q: What was her reply?

A: That the LRI had been tasked with investigating an existing condition in its early stages and that the experiment would be quite large, involving multiple subjects, and spanning a couple of years. They needed someone to keep an eye on the ethics of the experiment.

Q: Were those her exact words?

A: She probably used more words, but it was to that effect.

Q: That the LRI had been tasked? As in asked to undertake this research?

A: Yes. That was what was communicated to me.

Q: What was the outcome of this meeting?

A: Much like before, I thanked her for her interest in me, but I assured her that I wanted to make partner at Welch and I wasn’t interested in anything else until then.

Q: And what was Ms Eugene’s reply?

A: She was cordial.

Q: And after this, your contact ended?

A: No, it ramped up. This is when the gifts started, when we went to the Opera in Buenos Aires.

Q: And how long did this period last?

A: Until I was made partner.

Q: And when roughly was that?

A: (No verbal response.)

Q: Mr Corazzo?

A: Three months later.