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Innocence Game by Michael Harvey

Author: Michael Harvey

Publisher: Knopf


Publish Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN-10: 307961257

Pages: 256

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

I sat in the lawyer’s office and stared at a row of diplomas on the wall. The writing was impossible to read—a fitting introduction, I figured, to the practice of law. I was about to get up for a closer look at the goods when the man himself came in, small and dark, with soft whispers and greasy handshakes. He sat behind his desk and gestured for me to make myself comfortable. Not likely. He took out a thin blue file, placed it on his desk, and folded his hands over it.

“As you know, Ian, I’m handling your mother’s estate.”

“I didn’t know she had an estate.”

“Nearly everyone has an estate, Ian.”

“No kidding.”

He gave me a nod, like this lesson in and of itself was worth the L ride downtown. “She didn’t have a lot, your mother. The house, of course, a little less than five thousand dollars in a savings account, and a small insurance policy to cover her final expenses.”

I hadn’t thought about final expenses. I was surprised my mom had. As I was about to find out, my mom was full of surprises.

“She left you something else,” the lawyer said. “It’s the reason I’ve asked you down here.” He took an envelope out of the blue file and turned it over in his hands. “She insisted you read it alone. In this office. Once you’ve done that, I have an affidavit for you to sign. Then I can release the money.”

“Thanks, but you can keep the cash.”

The lawyer looked at me like I’d just punched the pope in the stomach. Or some such infallible being. “I can’t do that, Ian.”

“Have you read it?” I said, nodding at the letter.

“It’s sealed. No one’s read it but your mom. And now you.” He placed the envelope flat on the desk and lifted himself from his chair. “Take your time. When you’re done, we’ll fill out the paperwork and talk about funeral arrangements.”

The lawyer left. I stared at the envelope. I could see my name, hidden in the folds of my mom’s cursive, and crumbled a little inside. I pulled the envelope toward me. The paper was thick. Expensive. It felt like a single sheet. Maybe two. I slipped my finger under the edge of the flap and broke the seal. Then I took out the letter and began to read.

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