Forbid Them Not: Confronted with His Deceptions, Cooper Phones a Friend

Forbid Them Not: Confronted with His Deceptions, Cooper Phones a Friend November 9, 2018

Forbid Them Not, pp. 310-317

This week, the other shoe drops. It’s June 30th.

His briefcase and file boxes were nearly ready to take to Richmond. Cooper was reviewing his checklist to make sure he had everything when Nancy buzzed in. “Rick Thomas on line 1.”

“Cooper, we need to talk. When are you headed for Richmond?”

Here it comes. Buckle up, everyone!

“I was leaving in about five minutes. Do you want to talk now or when we have dinner at the hotel tonight?”

They’re on their way to the next hearing for the case, remember. Rick doesn’t care. He really doesn’t care.

“We need to talk before you go. Just you and me.”

“Sure, Rick. Is something wrong?”

“Yeah, at least it appears to be.”

“Do you want to give me a clue?”

“I’ll be there in about five minutes—I’m calling you on my cell.” Rick’s voice sounded either scared or mad. Cooper couldn’t be sure.

Can you feel it?

Cooper couldn’t imagine what the problem might be that was so important on this day before the oral argument in Richmond. But it had to be something.

I wonder. It wouldn’t be that Cooper has withheld information from his clients. Surely not. The idea doesn’t even occur to our hapless hero.

“Cooper, I am really sorry to do this to you just before oral argument, but I need to show you something. Deanna opened it up when it arrived in the mail earlier today, and … before I say more, you take a look.”

He had a premonition that sent a hot wave of embarrassment through his body. He pulled open the silver clasps and removed a stack of photographs. The hot wave became an inferno. He thumbed quickly through the photos, nodding and muttering as he went. His face was bright red.

“That’s what I was afraid they were when I saw the envelope,” he said. “But I didn’t expect it to really happen.”

Cooper, you idiot. 

“You can guess how Deanna reacted when she saw this, can’t you? Our lawyer embracing the leading American proponent of the UN treaty. How do you think it made her feel? How do you think it made me feel?” With each word, his anger caused his voice to become louder and louder. “The Garvises got an identical envelope. Doug was so upset he couldn’t come with me.”

The chickens have come to roost.

What does Cooper say to all this?

“Would you like to hear my explanation, or do you just want to vent at me? Not that I blame you.”

“Sure, I would love to hear an explanation. I hope it is a good one. I hope it makes me believe that I can still trust my lawyer and my friend.”

Yeah no. Sorry Rick, but you can’t.

Cooper decides to let Peter do the heavy lifting. No really! He calls Peter—whom he describes as “my old boss in Spokane”—and hands the phone to Cooper.

“Peter, I need you to do me a very big favor. I want you to tell one of my clients about my activities in New York City after I left you and Gwen in the elevator.”

“Are you serious?” Peter asked.

Yes Peter. Yes he is. He’s completely serious.

So Peter tells Rick everything Cooper told him over the past few weeks.

“The bottom line, Mr. Thomas, is that Cooper is a human being, a man who made a mistake. Not the worst mistake in the world but clearly an error in judgement, and I guess we should say it is a sin. But there is no question in my mind that he is 100 percent loyally to you and your case.”

Here’s the thing though—there are also things Cooper hasn’t told Peter, like about meeting with Jody again two days before this. Anyway, Cooper leaves the room so Rick can talk to Peter privately. So Rick tells Peter about receiving the pictures—Peter hadn’t known there were pictures—in the mail.

“I’m sure that you are worrying about trusting him.”

“You should hear my wife,” Rick replied.

“I don’t even want to think about that,” Peter assured him.

Bitches be crazy, amirite?

Anyway … Peter says he would trust Cooper with his life. Rick is impressed. He calls Cooper back in and asks about something else Peter mentioned—that Jody gave him a note warning him that his email was being intercepted. Peter never told his clients about that, remember. He warned them not to use email, but when they asked why, he only said because email is never completely confidential.

I mean I guess he didn’t technically lie. But come on!

Cooper gets out the note and shows it to Rick.

After examining the note, Rick asked, “Why didn’t you tell us about this?”

“I didn’t want you all to freak out about espionage.” Cooper paused, strengthened his resolve, and continued. “Honestly, though, that is the lesser reason. The main reason was that I felt it would lead to questions hat would ultimately expose my behavior that you have now seen in these photos. I was embarrassed to tell you about that.”

Cooper’s first instinct is still to lie—to go on lying. It’s like it’s gotten to be a habit for him. It’s natural. More natural than being honest or telling the truth, in fact.

How does Rick respond to Cooper’s statement that he didn’t tell them about the note because he didn’t want them to find out that he kissed the leading proponent of the treaty they’re fighting? And that the reason he didn’t want them to find out is that—his words—he was embarrassed?

Rick responds like this:

“I guess I can understand that. Doesn’t make it right. But I can understand.”

I … can’t. Sorry, but I can’t.

Cooper is a professional. Rick is his client. This isn’t just some friend-level bullshit. Cooper is—quite frankly—risking his profession because he doesn’t want Rick to find out that he did things he shouldn’t have. And here’s the thing—the moment he even suspected that Jody did what she did in an attempt to blackmail him, he should have realized that he had to immediately tell Rick and the others.

Hiding something unethical you did that you know the opposition plans to use to blackmail you seems like the height of stupidity.

But I mean. Rick would have done the same thing, amirite?

Oh, but we’re not done. Because even here—even now—Cooper hasn’t told Rick everything. Even now he is hiding something.

“So are you promising me that the only thing you did with this woman—with Miss Easler—is this one kiss?”

“It’s not the only thing, but it was the worst thing. I held her hand, but I didn’t do anything worse than what you have seen.”

“Nothing is going on between you and her?”

“That’s right.”

“So why were you having dinner with her at Al’s Pizza a few nights ago?”

Cooper felt like he had been kicked in the gut. “Man, ‘be sure your sin will find you out,'” Cooper said.

Fire his ass, Rick. Fire his ass. 

Let’s be real here—Rick gave Cooper an opportunity to come clean, and he didn’t. Rick knew this whole time that Cooper and Jody met at Al’s two days before this. He used this information as a test, to see whether Cooper was being fully honest. Cooper failed the test, and he failed bad.

Rick explains how he knew:

“[O]ne of the girls on the softball team that was in the restaurant is a friend of Emily Garvis. The friend’s mom had watched the Today Show, and when she came to pick up her daughter she saw you both. She called Jeanne to ask her about it. Jeanne called Deanna. They both fired that it must have been someone else and couldn’t have been the ambassador. But after seeing these pictures, both women concluded that she had been with you at Al’s.”

Cooper, Cooper, Cooper.

So Cooper tells the whole story about Jody calling him and meeting with her, “including how grateful she had seemed when he prayed for her” and also—importantly—“how he had later left the Lansdowne without getting out fo the car.” As though that somehow proves he’s being an upright and straight-shooting person, despite, you know, all the deception and lies.

How does Rick respond to all of this?

“Please tell me there are no more surprises,” Rick pleaded.

“I’ve told you everything there is to tell.”

“All right, Cooper. I believe you, and I trust you.”

Seriously, is everyone in Farris’ world this gullible??

Oh wait! Rick says he has one more question!

“But I have just one more question.”

“Yeah?”

“How do you feel about Jody Easler now? If she is secretly on our side, then the need tos tay away from her is far less.”

“Maybe, but that’s not a certainty, and, more importantly, she’s not a Christian.”

“But it sounds like she is starting to open up to the things of God.”

“Yeah, and I am really glad about that. But still—” Cooper hesitated.

“Let me ask you this way, Coop. If she became a Christian, what would be your intentions toward her?”

What the hell is with this line of questioning??

“I would be thrilled if she became a Christian. But even though I find her very attractive … maybe in a weak moment, too attractive … the fact is that I’m in love with Laura.”

“Bummer.”

“Bummer? Why do you say ‘bummer’?”

“Because Deanna called Laura in Florida and told her about the photos.”

These people are way too involved in each other’s personal lives to be involved with each other professionally. I mean for god’s sake, Rick is now trying to set Cooper up with Jody, the ambassador responsible for securing the ratification of the very treaty he and Cooper are now fighting.

Basically, the moment Jody became ambiguously aligned and maybe open to things of God she went from being That Evil Feminist Ambassador Lady to being potential marriage fodder. It’s like simply existing as a human being, with a successful professional career and her own social life, is not an option. She’s either evil, or she needs setting up with a good, stable, godly man.

Cool.

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