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lunes, agosto 25, 2008

A Rumor Defies My Comprehension

On Sunday morning I went into town to gas up my car. While I was pondering the blue sky and the ridiculous price of gasoline, a man I know, a one-time client of mine, approached me and asked me if I had heard the bad news. I hadn't. He told me that on Saturday, a friend of mine, another lawyer, a colleague in the public defender's office, had died of a brain aneurism. I was shocked. My friend is about 25 years younger than I. I told my former client that I hadn't read about this in the paper or heard about it. He said he was sure it was true, that he was sorry, and he called his sister on his cell phone. Yes, she said, it was true. Four people had called her to tell her the news.

I went home and called our mutual, public defender boss. I think I woke her up. She said my friend was as alive as alive could be, that nothing was the matter, but that she, too, had received several calls about his having died. To put it mildly, reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated. They were, in fact, false. I called him up. He answered the phone.

It seems that on Friday he was playing in a golf tournament. Through a bureaucratic error, no lawyer showed up to cover his cases in City Court, where he was supposed to be. The judge said in words or substance that my friend wouldn't be representing his clients, and he sent various people back to the jail or to home. Apparently, the rumor started after that.

This morning I spoke again to the dead man on the phone. He was fine. He'd received phone calls for two days about what had happened to him. He had visits from the police, the troopers and the deputies. His office had received numerous calls from his clients and friends. The funeral home next door to his office had received more than a dozen inquiries about what the arrangements were. A few people pulled into his driveway, some with tears streaming down their faces, to express their condolences. A few friends of his had called the house from as far away as Florida. A neighbor spoke to his father-- his father was leaving a child's birthday party at his home on Saturday-- to express his condolences.

Today is Monday. The rumor goes on, undeterred by the fact that the supposed dead guy is at his office, doing what he always does, and that the story is completely false.

Today I heard the story that his family was forced to pull the plug on him yesterday.

Meanwhile, he's agreed to call a few reporters he knows to see if he can stop this before somebody on a playground tells his young boys how sorry they are that their dad died.

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