"Well, we got to hire somebody. We've only got three choices. It's decision time, partner."
The law firm of Rodney Brown and Scott Franks needed to hire another attorney. The two man firm was located in the heart of the midwestern corn belt. Their town was dying but so were the old attorneys and their firm had picked up most of the clients of a couple of recently deceased fellow bar members and they had become overwhelmed with work.
The town was dying because people were leaving for the warmer states of the south and for states that had no state income tax. Not like here where winters got below zero and legislators just raised the state income tax rate.
No longer thriving was this small picturesque town founded in the 1850's with the courthouse in the center of the town square surrounded by old fashioned red brick buildings. No longer was it a farming community. The family farm was disappearing as corporate farms with offices all over the world took over. Now corporate employees worked the farm, not families.
No longer were there any manufacturing jobs left either as the only local manufacturer moved south to a right to work state rather that fight with the unions constantly.
The fact that it was the county seat kept the local attorneys still going. Despite the downturn, Brown and Franks needed help. Rodney Franks was getting old and wanted to slow down and retire, ie. move south, no winters, no state income taxes. Scott Brown wanted more time with his family as he had kids in grade and high school. He was afraid that life was passing him by with him working all the time.
"Look Rod. We've got to decide today. We're working our tails off here and for what? Just to pay more taxes. There's no time for the wife and kids anymore and I got a ball game, school activity, church activity, 4-H, brownies, cub scouts or something every night of the week."
"I know what you mean. Been there done that. Wait until your kids go to college. Try paying for that. You can't work enough hours to do so. No wonder everyone's stuck with a student loan. It's the only way to pay for college. Let's decide and call it a day. It's six o'clock, quitting time. Who do you want to discuss first?"
"Well, ladies first. What about that young woman. What's her name? I forget."
"Yah I see that she made an impression on you too. She seemed kind of dull and bland to me just like this town. She'd fit right in," chuckled Rod. "On the other hand she graduated cuma something from some law school back east."
"The way I see it Rod is that if we hire her one of two things happen. First she works here a couple of years to get some experience and then she leaves for a job in Peoria, better pay, chance to break the glass ceiling that all women these days just have to do. Or two she gets married, has her two kids, demands time off under one of these new god damn maternity leave laws and we're stuck paying her while she's off and paying for somebody else fill in for her. Then we can't lay off whoever replaces her when she comes back, which is her right, for fear of getting sued under some other inane employment law."
"I don't think that we have to worry about the later. She's gay. Didn't you notice how she was dressed?"
"I thought she dressed like a business professional. Nothing indicated gay to me Rod."
"I can tell just by looking at someone, and I'd bet the farm that she's gay."
"All right, what about that black kid from Chicago? I remember his name. How could you forget it, Willie Cotton. He'll fit right in this community alright, stick out like a sore thumb."
"Scott how many times do I have to tell you. They're not black anymore. They're Afro-Americans."
"Well, then we're not white anymore, we're Euro-Americans. All joking aside, you see how big he was, twice the size of her, too intimidating for this community. He should be playing for the Bears. Besides I think he was one of those affirmative action students. You know you could tell who they were when you were in law school."
"Yah, you mean just like I can tell gays you can tell affirmative action people. Anyway so what he if he is? He graduated and passed the bar just like the rest of us."
"Well, there's no way to know if he got to where he is on his own merit or because of his race is there? Besides, he probably won't like it here and he'll leave too after he gets some experience. He wanted to be a litigator remember, and that's not us. He'll go back to Chicago to a litigation firm first chance he gets. We'd be wasting our time and money investing in him and really we'd be doing him a favor by not hiring him if that's what he wants to do."
The partners paused and looked at the clock, quarter past six.
Rod spoke first, "It's the Johnson kid then. Agreed?"
"Yah he's local. His folks own the paint store downtown and are well known. He'd bring in business too. The other two won't do that. It's a no brainer. Where'd he go to law school anyway and what were his grades?"
"What difference does any of that make, Scott? We're not a big time law firm. We're just small town general practitioners. It doesn't take a lot of gray matter to do what we do."
"Well, let's hurry up and hire him then while we still can. Before they pass another god damn affirmative action law that says that we have to hire someone based on their gender or ethnicity".
B. Craig Grafton is a retired attorney whose stories have appeared recently in Romance Magazine, The Fable Online, The Zodiac Review and Heater and Frontier Tales.