The Life & Hard Times of
Law Office of Rooker Feldman
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Rocky is a modest little solo practitioner in a modest little town. His practice consists largely of bankruptcy, taxes, divorce, international commerce, and horse law.
Rocky's firm is what is called a "Boutique" law firm, consisting of one lawyer, Rooker Feldman, Mable, over 50, a reliable, sensible office manager who is the only one in the office who can spot grammatical mistakes, Rooker's hot dingbat front-desk girl, Bling, and Rooker's old but loyal paralegal, Lou, in early senility.
"Reasonable Doubt for a Reasonable Fee"
THE MASTER OF HIS FATE
Rooker ("Rocky") Feldman, Attorney at Law, was rushed to the local Our Insolvent Lady of Mercy Hospital, over bumpy roads un - repaired for 20 years by the City and County of We Done Gone Broke, after his hot, front-desk girl, Bling, the office dingbat, found him sitting at his desk mumbling nonsense.
"How much debt could Claudette forget If Claudette could forget debt?"
"How much lasagne could Tanya put on ya If Tanya put lasagne on ya?"
That was the normal part.
But then the gibberish began . . .
"He-settin, I-settin, you-settin, we-settin. Deed-a-bye, deed-a-bye, deed-a-bye die!"
He stared at Bling. Bling stared back, her eyes bulging, and glanced at the door, estimating her chances to escape, if it came to that.
Bling yelled to Mable, the old office battle-wagon, “Mable! Call 911, quick!”
Oh, how, you may ask, had it all come to this?
Rocky's day started out OK. Then . . .
He was told by the court clerk that e-filing was now mandatory. So, he cheerfully went to work setting his computer up for e-filing, only to find out that his old reliable, familiar MS-DOS 386 with Wordstar was obsolete.
"When did that happen?" he muttered to himself.
So, he shelled out some moola and bought a new computer.
Then, he discovered that his old programs wouldn't work on the new computer. He was told his outmoded apps were incompatible with the new, state-of-the-art technology, and he would have to install all updated apps.
"Of course" he muttered to himself, his voice dripping with scepticism.
Finally he was ready.
His printer wouldn't work with the new computer. So, Rocky forked over some more moola for a new printer.
And, he was strongly advised to get a new monitor, as well. More moola.
Finally, he sat at his desk, nursing a cup of coffee (with a little Brandy thrown in), and proudly contemplated his state- of-the-art systems.
He was content and at peace with himself as he commenced to upload and e-file his first document. He smiled slightly, and puffed gently on a Macanudo Prince Phillip Especial.
He watched in anticipation as a message appeared on the screen.
"Parsing error," it said, "File could not upload."
"Parsing error?" he muttered to himself, jamming his cigar into an ashtray.
"What the hell is a parsing error? Mable! Get someone on the line who can tell me what a parsing error is."
"What?" Mable yelled back from her desk.
A few moments passed, and Mable opened the door and stuck her head in.
"Excuse me, Mr. Feldman. Did you say Parsing Error? What the hell is a parsing error?"
"Mable! That's what I want you to tell ME!"
A few hours later the parsing error message suddenly disappeared.
Rooker took this as a good sign, but worried that the parsing error hadn't really gone away ... but was just ... waiting ... waiting ...
Rocky poured himself a nice cup of brandy (with a little coffee thrown in), and settled contentedly in his chair.
In triumph, he pressed "send" to upload his first document.
"Error" said his monitor. "You have filed this document under the category "Affidavit." This document is not an affidavit. Please re-upload into folder for "Declaration.""
Rocky and the mysterious non-human presence on the other end began to play a cat and mouse game, about whether there was a difference between an affidavit and a declaration, with little progress being made.
And then the mystery presence threw in a new monkey wrench.
"Due to errors you have made attempting to upload improper affidavits, you can no longer upload these documents. Please re-file them but do not upload them."
Rooker stared at the screen.
"How the hell do I re-file without re-uploading?" he murmured.
Rooker e-mailed the judge's law-clerk:
"Clerk, how does one re-file without uploading?"
The answer came back:
"The judge does not accept ex parte communications by email. Please upload your question."
Rooker heaved a long sigh, and typed in his question to upload it.
"OK, Little Miss Upload," he murmured. "UPLOAD THIS!"
But when he hit the "upload" key, a little sign came on asking for his user name and password.
"OH, CRAP!" he shouted. "Does this EVER END?"
Out in the front office, Bling and Mable looked with concern at his door.
He eventually found the sticky-note with his user name and password laying on the floor under his desk. He entered them and hit the "send" key.
"Your user name and password do not match" came the message. "Please pick a new password."
By this time Feldman was perspiring heavily, but he was not going to give up.
Quoting from Invictus, he whispered "I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul."
He entered a new password, and hit the key.
"You have picked a user name that is already taken," came the message. "Please call your service provider."
He stared in disbelief. "Of course the user name is already taken. IT'S MINE!" he shouted at the monitor.
That was the moment Rooker encountered what in science is known as "The Singularity," the moment when one's soul comes so close to a black hole of technology it can't avoid falling right into it. The gravity is so strong nothing comes out. Certainly nothing that could possibly answer Rooker's questions.
A few moments later Bling, Mable, Lou, and two guys in doctory-looking coats rushed into his office, grabbed him, and tied him to a stretcher.
And so we leave our friend Rocky at the psychiatric unit of Our Insolvent Lady, where he is resting comfortably.
Later, in the middle of the night, back at Rooker's darkened office, the computer monitor suddenly flickered back on.
"Parsing error!" it said. "File could not upload."
World without end.
The first client of the morning had arrived.
Rooker and his new client settled in to their respective chairs, and Rocky opened his checklist for new cases.
As the discussion advanced, Rocky got to question no. 52 on his checklist.
"So, have you sold, given away, or otherwise disposed of any valuable assets?"
Lost in thought, the client scratched his chin briefly.
"Does that include stuff stolen from me?"
Rooker penciled in a note to himself to add to the checklist, have you lost, had stolen, burned up in a fire, destroyed by an ex-spouse, or abducted by aliens, any valuable assets?
"I had six tractors, but they disappeared from the lot where they were supposed to be. I have no idea where they are!"
Rocky was suspicious about this likely story about why the estate can't grab the tractors ... they were stolen!
But Rocky figured the client didn't have to tell him about the six so-called stolen tractors. He could have just kept his mouth closed. Besides, the client told him he had reported the theft to the police, so Rocky could offer the police report if the trustee questioned it.
Rocky scribbled a note to add to his checklist, are you trying to hide anything?
Client no. 2
A week later another new client was sitting across Rocky's desk.
Rooker went down his list of questions for new clients.
When he got to question no. 52, the client denied having transferred, given away, or sold anything of value. The insisted he was not trying to hide anything.
Then the client paused, looking vaguely out the window into the distance.
"Oh oh!" whispered Rocky to himself.
"But," the client said, "there are the six tractors."
Rooker wasn't sure he heard correctly.
"What's that about six actors?"
"I have six tractors. T - R - A - C - T - O ..."
"You mean you have six tractors? Do you own them?"
"I don't know. I found them parked at a closed gas station, and took 'em. I guess I stole them."
Suddenly, it dawned on Rocky that these must be the same six tractors that last week's client said he had stolen from him. Then it dawned on him, as well, that he now had a conflict of interest (or something). He would like to call client no. 1 and tell him there is good news ... he found the tractors!
But did the rules of ethics prevent him from telling on his other client?
Obviously, he couldn't tell the first client anything, because he had a duty to preserve the second client's attorney-client privilege.
At the same time, he couldn't tell the second client about the first client's lost tractors because the first client, as well, had an attorney-client privilege.
The word conundrum crossed his mind.
Rooker had to notify both clients that he could not represent either of them. He gave them their files and refunded their retainer fees (after deducting a lot of it to cover the time already expended on the cases. Most of it, in fact).
So, it was out of Rooker's hands. No longer his responsibility!
But still he worried, did he have a duty to appear at the 341 hearings and disclose to the trustee what he knew about the six tractors?
He lit up his favorite cigar, a Macanudo Prince Philippe to be exact ... and leaned back, gazing out his office window . . . the portal to his spirit cave.
As he turned his conundrum over and over in his mind, a wisp of undulating pinkish whitish Macanudo smoke filtered lightly from his mouth.
World without end.
How Rocky Lost his Mojo
Rocky was in his office cleaning up Area 51 (his desk) when the new client stepped in for the appointment.
After the usual introductory pleasantries Rooker began his checklist of questions that he asked in every potential bankruptcy case.
"So, how much do you think you owe, not counting mortgages? A rough estimate will do."
"Oh, I don't know. A lot."
"Give me an estimate."
"Well" he said, laughing, "... let's just say it's bigger than a bread box."
"Ok. Let's go on. Do you owe any taxes"?
(laughing again) "No. as long as I'm not audited," with a snicker and a knowing look at Rooker.
"Ok. Any spousal support?"
(also with a snicker) "Only when the "ex" is being a bitch, know what I mean?" He winked at Rooker.
"How about fines or restitution?"
The client glanced quickly at the door that was part way open.
"Can we close the door?"
"BLING, PLEASE CLOSE THE DOOR ALL THE WAY? THANKS!
The client leaned in.
"I may be fined for a little Ponzi stuff. But let's just not go there," he said with another snicker in his voice and another wink.
Rocky sat back a bit in his chair.
"Well, the reason I ask is that we have to list everything you owe, or probably owe. And also all your financial circumstances."
Leaning in more toward Rocky, and in a whisper, "But, how would the judge ever find out?"
With a sigh, "Ok. Let's talk about assets."
He went to a question that he always asked as a joke, since he knew none of his bankruptcy clients were rich enough to own a yacht.
Rocky, with a gentle, sardonic chuckle, "Where is your million-dollar yacht tied up?"
Again, in a whisper and a knowing look, "I don't really own the yacht, exactly."
"Exactly? What do you mean?"
"It's not in my name anymore. Also, it's tied up in Texas. It would be hard to find."
"To whom did you transfer title to?"
"Did you transfer title to a family member?"
"And what did he do with it?"
"Nothing. He's only 4 years old."
Rocky, putting his pen down and leaning back further.
"I need to know the details" replied Rocky.
The client paused before replying. Then, also leaning back a bit, "Well ... there is an attorney-client privilege, right?"
Now Rocky gazed wistfully out his Forgive Them Their Trespasses window.
"Please understand," Rocky said, " ... we have to disclose everything in good faith, honestly and in good faith."
Abruptly the client stood up and, turning toward the door, muttered "Ok. I think I've come to the wrong lawyer." Whereupon he marched out the door and past Bling without a glance.
Bling leaned over her desk a bit and looked into the door where she could see Mr. Feldman's at his desk.
"Wow! What was that all about?" she asked.
Rocky sighed deeply and sauntered over to the window. He lit up a Macanudo and puffed a big, slow, contemplative puff.
World without end.
Over the years, Rooker has tried various marketing methods to promote his practice. And, among those methods, he has made some mistakes.
At one time his office was in an urban area that had a fairly large section of town occupied by Asian minorities, including Chinese. In fact, the city had its own "Little Chinatown," its own Chinese newspaper, and a Chinese radio station.
He realized he would be making a big mistake not to take advantage of this.
So, thinking smart, he placed an ad in the Chinese Yellow Pages, advertising bankruptcy services.
Immediately after the phone book came out, a call came in to the office. Bling, the hot dingbat front desk girl, took the call and buzzed Rooker.
"Mr. Feldman, we have a potential new client calling. Do you want to take the call?"
"Why don't you take a message, I'm in the middle of something."
"OkayFine," replied Bling, with her typical little huff.
An hour later Rooker walked out to the front desk and picked up Bling's note on the call. As he looked at it, he realized he couldn't read Bling's handwriting.
"Bling, I can't read your handwriting!"
"I did the best I could."
"What do you mean? Where's the name and phone number?"
"I have no clue," replied Bling. "I couldn't understand a word he said!"
"Bling - for goodness sake, you could have asked him to speak slower!"
"It wouldn't have made any difference."
"Because he was speaking in Chinese!"
In an instant Rocky realized that his entire investment in the Chinese Yellow Pages was a huge mistake. He shrugged his shoulders and returned to his office.
Several months later, he asked his loyal old paralegal, Lou, to place a large ad in the regular Yellow Pages, advertising for personal injury cases.
As the months went by, very few calls came in off the ad. Rooker had glanced at the ad after came it out, and it looked okay to him. It focused on "big rig" accidents, and announced "Rooker "Big Rig" Feldman. When You Need a Big Rig of a Lawyer!"
Rocky got curious about why there were so few calls off the ad. He opened the phone book and turned to his ad.
In large print, it blared "If you've been killed in an accident ..."
He stared briefly in disbelief, and muttered, "Oh, Lou!" and tossed the book in the trash bin.
But Rooker Feldman does not give up easily.
He invested a fair amount of money and time designing a lovely brochure advertising his services for small businesses. It advertised "Partnership Agreements, Incorporation, Small Business Bankruptcy, Tax Relief, Business Litigation, and Business Debt Defense."
But, few calls came in.
So, he did what he probably should have done first ... he hired some bright young folks to call and survey 200 local businesses and try to identify what they last used a lawyer for, and what legal services they thought they might need in the future.
After a week his callers typed up a nice, concise report on their findings, and left it on his desk. When he arrived the next morning, he eagerly studied the report. The results dismayed him.
None of the answers mentioned any of the services he was offering!
Rather, what they almost all needed was help collecting receivables! The last time most of them had hired a lawyer they did it to sue customers for unpaid bills.
Rooker realized it was just the opposite of what he was offering ... helping small businesses get out of debt!
Did he want to become a debt collector?
Wistfully, he tossed the report back on his desk, leaned back in his expensive leather chair, and gazed out the window ... the portal to his spirit cave, and sighed deeply.
World without end.
Mrs. Beelzebub's Meeting of Creditors
At the meeting of creditors Rooker's client, Mrs. Beelzebub, stepped forward to take the trustee's questions.
"So, Mrs. Beelzebub, do you own anything of value you haven't included in your schedules?"
"Everything is listed except some stuff to be kept out of the bankruptcy."
The trustee glanced at Feldman, then back to the debtor.
"What do you mean? Is there something you didn't list?
"Only a small vase."
"Why? What's so important about a vase?"
"I'm not sure."
The trustee raised his eyebrows and again looked at Rocky, this time with a slight hint of frown.
"Well, do you have any plants in it that you want to keep?"
"Oh, of course not. Don't be silly. You wouldn't plant something in a Ming Dynasty vase, for goodness sakes!"
Now, the trustee's mouth dropped open.
"A Ming Dynasty vase? What is it worth?
"Oh heavens, I don't know. She says about $30,000."
The trustee thought there was something a little off-kilter about her answer.
"What do you mean, 'she'?"
"And what does she have to do with your bankruptcy?"
"Oh, heavens! I'm not the one filing the bankruptcy."
The trustee and Rocky were both gasping with eyebrows in full elevation.
"It's my sister who's filing the bankruptcy. I'm only here because she couldn't find a baby-sitter."
"But it's okay, because I pretty well know everything so I can speak for her."
By now the trustee was standing up - smoke pouring out of his ears, eyes firmly fixed on Rooker Feldman, who had also jumped up with blood draining from his eyes.
World without end.
Rocky's Lost Password Stress Disorder!
Rooker's family, friends, and office staff had already done one intervention on him, to get him detoxified and withdrawn from post-online Internet e-Filing trauma stress syndrome. It had worked, at least for the last year from the intervention, and he had been happily handling e-filing ever since. Accordingly, he was surprised at this morning's events.
When he was about half-way through the morning mail, he decided to bring up an online news provider.
It asked for his user name and password. His user name was always the same ... rookerfeldmanesq, and his password had always been ... hmm ... what was it?
He had a Word document on his computer where he had saved all the user names and passwords he used. In fact, he had almost 100 user-name-password combinations for almost 100 Internet things. He had not realized how many passwords he had. Hence, his eyes grew wider as he scrolled down the pages.
"Where is that password"!?
He kept scrolling. Finally, he found it. The password was his horse's name, Rootbeer.
But when he entered it on the online news page, a message popped up that said "This password is already taken. Please enter another."
"What the ...?" he mumbled. But, he had been through this before. He knew it was hopeless to try to reason or argue with the Internet. That had already resulted in one intervention. He clicked the thing that said "Forgot your password?" This link announced, "Check your email to recover your password."
When he checked his email, a link came up saying "Enter your password." He typed in "Rootbeer." A message popped up saying "Already taken, stupid!" (or words to that effect).
So, he thought, he would just pick a new one.
"BeerRoot." He had to enter it twice.
Up came a message, "Your password entries don't match, idiot!" (or words to that effect). So, he tried the same password again, but again he was notified that his two entries of "BeerRoot" did not match. He hit the "refresh" link, and suddenly he couldn't get his email up at all!
His computer demanded a password in order to get his email! The computer told him to click the link "Retrieve Your Password." He clicked it and up came a message directing him to check his "in" folder on his email where he would find their message containing his password.
"Aha!" he mumbled. "Now we're cooking!"
Then, he realized he couldn't get that password, because he couldn't reach his email, because he needed that password to get to his email.
By this time his mind was reeling. He was already stressed when he realized how many passwords he had. He called it a day, went to his satellite office at "The Lawyers' Bar" down the street, and took up some therapeutic martinis.
The next morning, he looked for his list of passwords on the Word document, but couldn't find his list. His eyes glazed over as he moved the cursor around his desktop. Nope. The list of almost 100 passwords had been accidentally deleted. Banks, research services, news providers, his own web sites, several organizations to which he belonged, the Bar Association, his local Rose Flower Club, a subscription porn site ... gone!
"But," he thought, " ... those passwords are my whole life! It has taken me ten years to make them up!"
As the ramifications intruded into his consciousness, his blood pressure skyrocketed, and he began to perspire.
"WHAT," he yelled, " ... AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW?
He thought he had saved everything with a backup module on his desk, until he realized it had run out of memory months ago.
Then, be began talking nonsense.
"How much lasagna could Tanya put on ya if Tanya could put lasagna on ya?" Then he yelled it. "HOW MUCH LASAGNE COULD ..." That same thing had happened before, when he was detoxed the first time.
He paused. Then uttered, "Password Bassword Gasword Sassword Wassword Zassword!"
Then, he began to weep loud enough for Bling, Mable, and Lou (Rooker’s old faithful paralegal with early onset whatever) to hear him through the wall. Lou rushed out to the outer office. They all looked at each other with alarmed eyes. They remembered that they had heard him babbling the same thing the first time they had to do an intervention a year ago.
Mable picked up the phone and dialed 911.
In a few minutes strange men arrived with a straight-jacket, and they took him to the Bedlam Mental Health Institute for Desperate Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys ("BMHIDCBA," pronounced Bimdumbiba.
At the hospital the doctor diagnosed Blunt Force Trauma by Rude Anonymous Replies to Request For Passwords, aka Passwords That Don't Work Panic Disorder. He added, with a knowing look, "It's another form of Way Too Many Passwords Syndrome. It's a disability." And, worse, he had also suffered Lost Entire List of Passwords Rage Disorder.
His wife visited him here, but back home she found his wallet and removed all his credit cards. "Now," she mumbled, "let him try to register another domain name!"
There we leave him for now, parked in a wheelchair and looking out the window, at peace with the world.
World without end.
Rooker's (imagined) career as a trial attorney
This morning we find him at his desk, dreaming. He dreamed about a trial he had litigated some years back. (Or, maybe he didn't).
His client was charged with drug possession. This client had three prior convictions for the same thing!
All morning, Rooker and the deputy district attorney argued with the judge in chambers.
At last Rooker persuaded the judge to keep all mention of the prior convictions out of the jurors ears, on the grounds that it might prejudice the jurors.
It was time to break for lunch. Rooker, ecstatic, rush his client out of the courtroom and into the elevator. He waited for the door to close, then gave his client a big smile.
Rooker: I won the motion! The jury will never hear about your three prior convictions for drug possession!
The client smiled, not really understanding the significance.
Client: What about my conviction for selling heroin?
Rooker continued beaming his grin to the client for a few moments.
Rooker: Yes! The jury will never know!
Then, he noticed the elevator was jammed with people. He gave them all a smile, and then noticed that they were all wearing big buttons that said "Jury."
It took a moment for Rocky to let it sink in. Then the smile left Rooker's face. Later, he had to advise the judge of what happened. The judge was furious.
"You realize we have to release that whole panel and call in another 30 people for the jury!"
Continuing ... this reminded the judge of the time in closing argument you spilled cocaine all over the jurors right in the courtroom!
Rooker: You still remember that, judge?
Back in his office, Rooker took a brief "power nap" at his desk. He began to dream about being in trial again.
Addressing the witness on the stand
Rooker: So, you admit it was hunky, yet still insist it was not dory, as well?
Witness (perspiring and wiping his forehead with a tissue): That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.
Rooker: And even after this mountain of evidence is in, you admit she was riding six horses, yet still insist they were not white?
Witness: Well, she never came round the mountain when she came round the mountain.
Later, his client was on the stand, being cross-examined by the D.A.
Client: I can't be guilty. I wasn't even there! She can't identify me!
D.A. So, you deny ever meeting her, and she can't know what you looked like, so how could she sit in this courtroom today and identify you as the perp?
Client: Right! She can't say she got a good look at my face!
D.A.: Why is that?
Client: Because my head was turned away from her at that moment, all she could see was the back of my head!
World without end.
AREA 51 AND THE BLACK HOLE
The staff referred to Rooker's desk as "Area 51." They had seen things on that desk that they couldn't identify. Some of them caused great controversy in the office. Other documents simply vanished.
But nothing beat the desktop of a terminated former attorney-employee for inexplicable stuff on the desk.
Among other things were found, buried under a fistful of half-ass legal pleadings, a pair of red panties, a list of every whore-house in Nevada, several peeled banana skins, the spare office key that had been missing for over 10 years, and an unused contraceptive packet labeled "Zeus."
Ever afterwards that office was called "Area 52."
But for mystery and controversy nothing beat The Black Hole.
This was also called the Utility Room. The staff joked that nothing that went in to that room ever came out. One day the lights went out in there. Mable, Lou, and Bling shared knowing glances. Not even light came out, they joked.
It was also the room with a desk drawer holding Rocky's cigars. Rocky had convinced himself that it was a secret drawer that the staff didn't know about. The staff smiled at his little delusion and let him think they didn't know all about it.
This room is where the Beelzebub file had been last seen. But that was not the weirdest case. One day the 4th Trustee of the Apocalypse called about the Parker matter.
The office had been receiving mail for over a year for a "Mrs. Parker." Her complete medical records had been received at the office, as well as her unsigned tax return for last year.
A call to the U.S. Trustee's office elicited that Feldman's firm had no such case, yet a 341 had been scheduled. The Chapter 13 Trustee said they didn't have such a case and had no idea why there was a 341 scheduled, or what it was about.
Eventually, Bling, Rooker's hot dingbat front desk girl, started calling it the "Mrs. Parker Ghost."
So, the firm was haunted.
"Why am I not surprised? mumbled Rocky.
He lit a cigar and went over to his office window, which looked out into his Spirit Cave. He took a long, smoky, satisfying puff on a Macanudo Prince Philip.
Mable, scrunching her nose, quietly closed his office door.
World without end.
THE URGENT CALL FROM MABLE
After Rooker left the meeting of creditors, shaken his client's hand, and wished him a long and not-too-much-in-debt-life, he received an urgent call on his cell phone.
"Mr. Feldman!" gasped his reliable, overweight, competent secretary Mable, "You've got to get back to the office fast!"
Rocky was alarmed."Why? What's going on?" he asked. "Can't talk now. Get back here quick!"
As he drove in a hurry back to the office, he went over in his mind what it could be. A fire? Rocky's old office had, in fact, burned down, but the new office seemed less likely to burn. The new office had also survived the '89 earthquake, but did not recall feeling any shaking today.
Is his faithful old early-stages-dementia paralegal, Lew, having a heart attack? He seemed okay this morning.
Rocky tensed up as he wondered if the IRS was there seizing office furniture for his own delinquent taxes. Naw! He was sure he would have heard something before they did that.
Even worse, maybe the U.S. Trustee has dropped in! Criminy!
"Oh, God!" he thought, "did Mable's hard drive crash?"
He shot out of his car and leapt up the stairs to the office. Rushing through the door, he looked frantically around, but saw nothing out of order!
Then he noticed Bling's dog, Washington (Washy for short), laying on the floor in the waiting area. Washy raised his head and glanced at Rocky's noisy entrance, then laid his head down and went back to his nap.
"Mable!" yelled Rocky, "What's happened? Did Washy bite somebody? I told Bling not to bring that damn dog to the office!"
But he noticed that neither Bling nor Mable were at their desks. Where were they?
Then, from the utility room with the copier, postage machine, bond paper, and letterhead, came Mable's anguished shout, "Mr. Feldman, help!"
At almost the same instant Rocky heard Bling's anguished shriek blasting from deep in the utility room.
"Oh, my God!" thought Rocky. "She's being raped!"
He rushed to the door of the utility room half expecting to see Bling in a life-or-death struggle with an ex-client. But he paused and just cautiously poked his head in the door.
After all, Rocky may be dumb, but he's not stupid!
There, in the far corner of the room stood Bling, pressed as far back against the walls as possible, her face contorted in horror. Mable stood a few feet away holding the large stapler as though she were going to use it to as a weapon.
Bling's terrified gaze was firmly fixed at something very small on the floor in front of her.
The office's little 4-inch tall parakeet, Dr. Watson, had trapped Bling in the corner. Watson was just standing there on the carpet looking with extreme curiosity at the terrified woman. Each time Bling screamed, Watson did his best imitation of it.
This in turn triggered another shriek from Bling. Rocky bent down and lifted Snappy up on his finger. He pursed his lips against Watson's head and murmured "What's wrong little guy? Is Bling scaring you? Well, it's all over now, my precious, back in the cage you go."
King Law Letter # 26 February 20 2017 © Morgan D. King. All Rights Reserved. TheLawLetter.com
As he gently put Snappy back in his cage, he gave Bling a sarcastic look. Bling was calming down but looking really embarrassed, and Mable was already back at her desk blocking the whole episode out of her mind.
Rocky went into his office and paused at the window that opened out into his spirit cave. He looked out the window and inhaled the honeysuckle fragrance, and sighed deeply.
World without end.
DON'T LET THEM DIP ME IN THE CHOCOLATE
Rooker Feldman's office paradigm explains his somewhat unorthodox law office, an office that is sometimes a bit much to ask of his clients.
Oh, they can usually overlook having to step carefully over the huge, slightly smelly hound that lays snoozing on the floor in front of Bling's desk.
They can more or less ignore Rooker's canary, Dylan (after that crooner, Bobby Dylan), who emerges from his cage-that-has-no-door and flies about the office unrestrained, chirping cheerfully while defecating on office furniture and files.
And yes, they can overlook the clock on the wall that actually has a wooden bird that jumps out on the quarter hour blurting, "Cuckoo! Cuckoo!"
Because they can sense the humanity in Rocky's eyes, his voice, his understanding, centered manner. And, this humanity is genuine, because Rocky has realized, over a long career of law practice, that every client who walks into his office, every trustee who hassles him over a case, every employee in his office, is a Walking Novel, with a story to tell if someone would only take the time.
Then there's faithful old Lew.
Because Lew, the paralegal, has the disconcerting habit of falling asleep at his desk, and, in his sleep, saying things. Odd things. Sometimes alarming things. And saying them loudly. Then suddenly waking up, totally unaware that he has uttered anything at all.
The first time a client heard, blurted through the wall from the next office, "Well, if I had a palm tree in front of my desk, I'd probably feel the same way!" she simply raised her eyebrows, cast a fleeting, concerned glance at Rocky, and then shrugged it off. After, all, Rocky didn't seem perturbed, so it couldn't be anything serious.
Then, when the next client heard the muffled but audible, "Please don't let them dip me in the chocolate!," that client, as well, seemed to take it in stride, especially as Mr. Feldman had not appeared alarmed.
Then one day, in the middle of a conference with a new and uninitiated client, Lew's gruff voice came through the wall loud and clear.
"Put the gun down! PUT THE GUN DOWN NOW!"
The client turned pale, and then leaped from her chair and bolted out the door without looking back.
Rocky patiently watched the client race out the door. Then, with a long sigh,
the sigh of the stoic in the face of all-to-human humanity, leaned back in his
chair and pulled out one of his forbidden cigars. He contemplatively rolled it between his fingers for a moment, then lit it up.
In the background, Dylan chirped his carefree song. Mable got up and gently closed Lew's door. Bling's hound briefly raised his shaggy head to look around, then resumed his dreamless nap.
Rooker took a long puff, then slowly exhaled. The fine white smoke curled before him.
World without end.
DID HE THINK? DID HE EXIST?
Rooker was taking a short break in a busy day, kicking back with a cup of coffee and his well-worn copy of "The Philosophical Trustee," volume 3 of "The Four Trustees of The Apocalypse." Absent-mindedly flipping through it, he came across this famous phrase by René Descartes;
"I think, therefore I am."
This, thought Rooker to himself, was a comforting thought, as his eye wandered down the page.
Then he realized something he had never noticed before. This quote was taken out of context. The full quote was;
"I think, therefore I am. At least, I think I am. Maybe I'm not."
Rooker carefully set his cup of coffee down on the desk. He gaped at the words.
Now, a wave of anxiety swept over him.
"What?" he thought. "He thought he thought? Or is it, he thought, therefore he thought he was?"
His voice raised as rage began to take over.
"HE JUST THOUGHT HE WAS? HE MERELY THOUGHT HE THUNK? HE THUNK, BUT MAYBE HE WASN'T, AFTER ALL?"
"WHAT IS THIS CRAP!"
His voice could be heard in the outer office. Bling looked at Mable, and Mable looked at Bling. Then they both looked at the door to Rooker's office.
Rooker flung the book across the room. Bling and Mable heard a thunk from the other side of the door.
Then he went over and picked it up, and continued reading:
"But," continued Descartes, "I have convinced myself that there is absolutely nothing in the world, no sky, no earth, no minds, no bodies. Does it now follow that I too do not exist?
"No. If I convinced myself of something [or thought anything at all] then I certainly existed. But there is a deceiver of supreme power and cunning who is deliberately and constantly deceiving me. In that case I too undoubtedly exist, if he is deceiving me; and let him deceive me as much as he can, he will never bring it about that I am nothing so long as I think that I am something.
"So, after considering everything very thoroughly, I must finally conclude that the proposition, I am, I exist, is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me or conceived in my mind."
This had a calming effect on Rooker. He collected himself and went back to his desk, sat down, and took another sip from his coffee that was quickly getting cold.
Then, just as suddenly, he sat bolt upright, spitting the coffee back into the cup. Reading further, he came across these parting words;
"At least," continued Descarte, "that's what I think."
This time he threw the book hard enough against the door to really alarm Bling and Mable. Their eyes widened, and then they jumped up and ran out of the office.
As they stood on the sidewalk, they saw the window to Rooker's office fling open, and Rooker's head appeared.
His hair was frazzled, and his cheeks deep red. He opened his jaws to full capacity, and yelled ...
"OK, deceiver of supreme power and cunning who is deliberately and constantly deceiving me ..."
"I am Rooker Feldman, Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney!
"HEAR ME ROAR!"
He then bellowed the best imitation of a lion's roar that he could do.
This last was at the top of his voice, loud, angry, and defiant. The words echoed down the street.
Bling and Mable stared at Rooker. After a moment, the silhouettes of their figures huddled on the sidewalk caught his attention.
"What are you two doing out there?" he asked.
"Well, to be honest, Mr. Feldman," stuttered Bling, "we're a little concerned about you. I mean, we don't quite know what to think ... "
"DON'T . . ." shouted Rooker. " . . . even think about it!"
"Do you want to know what I think?" he asked; "I think you two should get back to work!"
After a moment he gently closed the window, and Bling and Mable went back in the office and resumed where they had left off.
World without end.
Will this never end?