Chapter Thirty-One: A New Life

‘Somewhere…beyond the sea…’
The man who was formerly known as Simon Liberthine sang enthusiastically along to the record as he turned the seats over. Over the past fourteen months, he had grown accustomed to life in America. But now and then he would be reminded of the past, of the friends he had lost in Europe, and he would grow quiet. Lauren tried her hardest to cheer him up, but sometimes he was inconsolable. Occasionally he would smile sadly to himself as he remembered the days long past, when Councillor Thomas rescued him from his burning village and trained him in the arts of sorcery, as well as helping him achieve his mortal disguise as a missionary in the English Church. Thomas had taught him everything; he had even been responsible for Simon’s professional demeanour and sometimes icy exterior. But he had cared; he had vouched for Liberthine to succeed the treacherous Macellan as Arbiter and despite all his cynicism and dry wit, Simon missed Thomas most of all. He stopped quite still and his brow darkened.
‘Jack? You okay?’
Lauren tenderly laid her hand on his arm, but he did not respond.
‘You can tell me you know? I’m always right here.’ Still he did not respond.
‘You know what, you need cheering up, and I know just what’ll do it.’ She changed the record and took him by the hand.
‘When marimba rhythm starts to play…’
‘Come on… let’s have a bit of fun.’
She walked towards him, her hips swaying and arms outstretched, inviting him to dance.
‘Lauren, I really don’t feel like…’
‘Hey, I’m your landlady, and I say you’re gonna dance.’
Sighing, Simon complied, taking her hand and leaning in, having to stoop a little to facilitate his partner’s slight stature. Surprisingly, he soon found himself getting into the moment, in spite of his former solemnity. The life he had here wasn’t so bad; he could easily have had it worse. He moved his feet in a languorous rhythm with the melody.
‘You’ve got quite a skill considering you’re so damn uptight all the time.’
‘Well, I don’t like to boast.’
Simon had become so embroiled in the dance that he made no attempt to resist when the song reached the end and Lauren kissed him quite gently on the lips.

‘Sorry…erm… I’m just getting off now.’
Simon quickly moved away from his dance partner as Jason Fortuno slowly made his way down through the bar and out into the nightclub. He was dressed in a smart white shirt and black jacket, ready for another day as an intern down at the office of Blakely, Cranham and Bolt, solicitors. He had managed to gain the job after Lauren had almost intimidated the manager into giving him a place. She could be quite formidable when she wanted to be.
‘Well, if it isn’t Tom Cruise himself.’
She grinned, looking up at Jason, who blinked in confusion.
Lauren sighed, exasperated.
‘It’s a joke, it means you look handsome. Don’t you go to the movies? Honestly you guys, sometimes it’s like talking to a wall.’ She brushed his hair out of his eyes and smiled.
‘There you go. Knock ‘em dead hun.’
‘See you later Jason’ Simon called from the tables at the back of the club, which he had swiftly retreated to. Jason walked out; raising his eyebrows at the situation he had interrupted.
‘Erm… Jack…sorry if I seemed kinda…’
‘Forget about it.’

Because of the brisk wind and pleasant atmosphere, Jason decided to avoid the subway and walk into work that day, his Walkman turned right up as he half-sang to himself.
‘Oh, you’re the best friend that I ever had…’
He managed to make it into the office in about three quarters of an hour. The perky receptionist smiled as he came in.
‘Good morning Jason.’
‘Morning Karen.’
He enjoyed his internship, even if it was somewhat monotonous, he managed to fill most of his time engaged in idle conversation with the solicitor’s young son Leonard, whose father wanted him to go into the family business, but he had his heart set on a career in politics. They would converse about everything and nothing, and occasionally drive the staff insane by humming the latest pop hit around the office until it became stuck in everyone’s head.
‘Ah, TGIF eh Jason?’
Jason turned to find his friend sitting in a revolving chair with his feet up on the desk.
‘Makes no difference to you Len. When was the last time you actually did a days work?’
Leonard laughed and took his feet down.
‘Hey, the world doesn’t need another lawyer. I’ve got bigger plans.’
Jason, who had heard this sort of talk from his friend before, smiled and turned on his computer, which whirred with energy as it slowly fired up.
‘Hey Jason, do you fancy joining us for a game of soccer in the park tomorrow afternoon? It’ll be the guys from the office, Roger Darning, you remember him… Oh, and it’s sort of a father and son thing if you want to…’
‘What you Brits call football.’
‘Hey, our game came first; you give your one a new name. Yours is just…rugby in padded suits.’
‘Oh, you crack me up Jason. So can we count on you joining us?’
‘Well, I’ll have to check with my… my dad.’ It still felt strange referring to Simon as such, but deception was necessary if they were to survive in this city.
‘Call him now, Dad won’t mind.’
‘Won’t mind what?’ came the voice of Israel Bolt. The man himself followed shortly afterwards. He was in his early fifties, and every aspect of his appearance was neat and professional, dressed in a pinstriped suit, red tie and thick reading glasses. ‘No personal calls during work hours Leonard.’ He wagged his finger at his son.
‘But Dad…’
‘No exceptions.’ He turned away and added mischievously: ‘At least… not while I’m within earshot.’

He walked off to join Mr. Blakely and Mr. Cranham, his partners in the firm, who stood by the door to the boardroom. They were all the sons of Irish or Jewish immigrants, like so many others in the city, but had managed to work their way up through the world until they ran one of the most prestigious law firms in the state.
‘Hey Israel, you figured how we’re gonna whip Callahan at the murder hearing next week?’ asked Blakely, a tall, stern faced man with dark eyes.
‘I’m only a humble solicitor; I leave all the courtroom stuff to you and Liam.’
‘Is that wise?’
‘Eh, Callahan’s an ass…’ piped up Cranham, a small round man with thinning red hair.

When the men had left, Leonard eagerly handed Jason the phone handset.
‘Hello… err hi its Jason… is my dad in? Thanks.’ He paused and waited until the mellow tones of Simon Liberthine sounded down the receiver.
‘Hello, Jason?’
‘Hi, yeah, is it alright if I go and play football with some of my friends from work tomorrow?’
‘Yeah, sure, bonding. Don’t see why not.’
‘Oh, and… it’s a father and son game.’
There was a long pause on the other end of the line.
‘Oh. Ah.’