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Anonymous Tip: Gwen Gets Rescued

Anonymous Tip: Gwen Gets Rescued April 10, 2015

A Review Series of Anonymous Tip, by Michael Farris 

Last week, we left Gwen running into the parking lot crying after skeezy lawyer Bill Walinski attempted to coerce her into a “cozy” relationship with him. One reader rewrote the exchange in a way that gave Gwen a backbone, and the difference between book Gwen and backbone Gwen was startling. Backbone Gwen would file a complaint against Bill and then look into legal assistance or start thinking about ways to raise money to hire a new lawyer. But no, this is book Gwen, and book Gwen needs rescuing.

She ran out the door toward the parking lot behind the courthouse complex. After running, panting and crying, she turned the corner of the Public Safety building just to see her father’s car half a block away pulling steadily away from her.

Gwen steadied herself on a white Ford Explorer that was parked in the first row of the lot, her panting gradually waning, while her sobs were gaining by the moment.

Suddenly she felt a presence behind her. She started and whipped around in momentary fright, thinking Walinksi had followed her. It was a lawyer, she thought, but—thank God—it wasn’t Walinski. He was tall, with black hair that fell slightly over his ears, and piercing blue eyes.

“Ma’am, is something wrong?” he queried after ten seconds of being stared at by a distraught, beautiful woman.

Behold, a rescuer!

Gwen tells him nothing’s wrong, he asks if she’s sure, she says it’s not his problem, and he says actually it kind of is his problem because she’s leaning on his car. Awww . . . sweet, right?

The man asks Gwen if she needs a lawyer, and this exchange occurs:

“Who’s your lawyer, anyway?”

“Bill Walinski.”

“What did he say that upset you so much?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“Walinski? He has a reputation . . . . ” The lawyer stopped himself, thinking better of telling a stranger of Walinski’s scurrilous reputation. “Let’s say I’d believe just about anything you might tell me.”

I’m thinking that people’s unwillingness to tell strangers about Walinski’s scurrilous reputation might have something to do with now Walinski is able to keep doing the scurrilous things he does, but maybe that’s just me.

Also, what’s with this “the lawyer stopped himself” stuff? Can we just have his already name and dispense with this awkward writing?

“Listen,” he said. “Let me be a bit more professional. My name is Peter Barron.”

Thank you.

“I’m an attorney as you may have guessed.”

Well yes. Yes we did.

“My office is just five minutes away over in the Paulsen Building, across the street from the Old National Bank Building.”

I don’t think we, the readers, needed to know all of that, but okay.

“If you would like, why don’t I meet you in my office in ten minutes and let me see if I can help you. Lawyers have an ethical obligation to take cases for free from time to time. I won’t charge you to just come talk. OK?”

Gwen was torn. She would be needing another lawyer. He seemed forthright. But another lawyer offering free services?

I have to say, I have to give Farris some points for recognizing that Gwen might be suspicious of Peter’s offer.

Gwen says she doesn’t have a car, because she was supposed to stay there and meet her father when he came back at 1:30, so Peter suggests they walk to a nearby restaurant instead. It’s at moments like this that I feel the lack of cell phones. This book was written in the 1990s. I suppose she could have waited until her parents would be back at the house, and then called them from a pay phone, but that’s about it.

Feeling both relief and apprehension, Gwen goes to lunch with Peter.

Actually, wow. A cell phone!

Peter unlocked his Explorer. “Just let me call my secretary to tell her I won’t be back to the office right away.” He reached in, pulled out the phone while still standing in the parking lot and punched in the speed-dial code for his office.

“Sally, something’s come up. I’ll be back around one-thirty or a bit after . . . . Oh, that’s right. Well, put them in the conference room and have them read all the papers and tell them I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

He threw in his briefcase after taking out a clean yellow pad, and relocked his car, explaining, “Some people coming in at 1:30 to sign some wills. This’ll work fine. Come on, let’s go find some place to talk.”

How common were cell phones in 1996? Was Farris trying to make some sort of point here—that Peter is cutting edge, perhaps? Or maybe cell phones were more common in the mid-1990s than I thought.

Also, maybe it’s just me, but Peter loses points for being willing to send scheduled clients to the conference room so he can have lunch with a woman he met in the parking lot.

Sadly, I think I need to end today’s section here, because we’re about to skip to a Donna section for a bit. I hope you’re on the edge of your seat!

"Lol I’m trying to convince her."

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