Jack Muller unpacked the last book and placed it, in height order, on the newly finished oak bookcase. This one was bigger than the shelves he had used in his previous office. Still, he had to get used to the idea that he was now a senior partner in ‘Abbot, van Heerden and Muller’ and would soon accumulate more case material that would fill the empty shelves. Empty shelves, empty life, he thought bitterly as the image of his wife in bed with his accountant flicked across his mind once more. That had been nearly a year ago and he had organised his own divorce and enforced the pre-nuptial agreement they had happily signed just 18 months previously.
He didn’t have time to dwell on his pathetic personal life however, because his phone interrupted his thoughts.
“Muller,” he announced as he pressed the silver ‘speak’ button.
“Jack, buddy,” came the cheerful voice of David, his friend from high school and now a successful dentist. “This weather is too good to waste. Besides, we both need to work off some of this extra Christmas weight. How about we get away for a couple of weeks before the New Year business picks up.”
“What did you have in mind?” Jack knew David well enough to know that his friend would already have made preparations, and probably bookings as well, before ringing him.
“Golf at Sun City. Remember how you enjoyed playing there in ’04?”
Jack thought back to the dry 32˚ heat, the days of endless sunshine and the many hours spent chasing a little white ball. He also thought about how he had felt more alive then than any other time he could remember.
That was before he had met Candice.
He knew he needed to get away. Christmas had been lonely and he was still feeling sorry for himself. In his 30 years of existence he could not remember a time when he had felt unsure of himself, weak. He despised weakness. And now that’s exactly what he was. He needed to clear his head and sort himself out. He wanted to show the other partners that their faith in him was not misplaced. He deserved this suite on the ground floor where he could entertain clients in the garden so they felt more relaxed. That was his style. He knew that many lawyers had a reputation of being sharks – circling their prey and seeming to take delight in extracting vast sums of money from them. Jack wanted his clients to trust him. When they were seated in a cane chair under a thatched gazebo and staring into his guileless green eyes, they would know he was on their side.
At 6’2 and a star player in the Johannesburg East water polo team, Jack prided himself on his physique. He had more than his fair share of women offer to dry him off after a game, but he wasn’t interested. He didn’t need a woman in his life. He had tried the ‘happily ever after’ thing and it hadn’t worked.
“When do we leave?” he expelled the words with the breath he now realised he had been holding, as he strolled over to the sliding door. His initial shock turned to amusement when he saw David just outside in his plaid trousers and ridiculous hat, leaning on a 9 iron. He must have been pretty persuasive for the security guard to let him in!