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Face Value, part 1/2

Posted 1 October 2003, 8.49 am by clank-o-tron

My name is Clive Metrano. You may recognize my surname as the latter portion of Smith, Anderton and Metrano and indeed, I was once the younger partner in this illustrious firm. For those of you who don't run in the business circles, the firm to which I belonged is one of the most recommended, non-retained civil representation firms on the eastern seaboard. Sadly, it is far more likely that you recognize my name from the latest headlines in the press - the ones that hail me as a murderer. I write this journal with the hope that I can inform the world of the true events of "the Kline murder" as the press has dubbed it. Let me begin by saying that I am innocent - Robert Kline did not perish at my hands nor by my devices. The press would have you believe that I eviscerated a man with my bare hands and a pocketknife!

The first elements of this event that I can place began on the second of May. That was the day I was first introduced to Robert Kline. Kline was an amiable enough man, portly and jolly. Had I known what the fates had deigned for our two fortunes I would have washed my hands of the situation wholly, but sadly foresight is not as infallible as hindsight. Kline was a new employee of Barton Pharmeceuticals - a client we had many dealings with. Being a non-retained firm we, from time to time, find ourselves facing a company we have represented in the past, and they fear our presence on the opposition as much as they favor our representation. The advantage of this is that a company understands that business is business - we offer our services to the highest bidder, and carry no grudges or alliances between cases. Our most recent dealings with Barton Pharmeceuticals had them arguing their case against ours - or rather that of Anderton Medical (a coincidence of names, I assure you). Anderton Medical had recently dismissed their Assistant Director of Technology, one Albert Grayson. Grayson was offered an identical position with Barton Pharmeceuticals almost immediately after his dismissal from Anderton Medical, and was suspected by them of sharing confidential financial information with his new employers. Based on our research and expertise, Anderton Medical won the case and Grayson was summarily dismissed from Barton Pharmeceuticals and was, through virtue of the case's public nature, effectively blackballed for future employment in the medical industry.

Robert Kline was Grayson's replacement at Barton Pharmeceuticals. He approached us now with the company of his constituants and employers to ask for our assistance with some patent conflicts. They requested that I manage the case, after seeing my work used against them in the case I recalled above. Smith and Anderton were equally impressed with my ability to find details that had eluded all other researchers on both sides of Anderton v. Barton and said they would allow me full control over the case. I was quite excited, as this was the first case where my senior partners bore no weight upon their shoulders. Lately, I had grown bored of having half involvement in simple but high profile cases so I was making an effort to learn elements of criminal defense with the secret hope that I may one day begin my own firm without having to worry about jealous competition from my associates. Much to my chagrin, my current situation has made it quite apparent that my desires will never come to fruition. In the midst of my excitement, something struck me as curious - it was clear that Kline had initated the request for my management, for I recall that the meeting brought no words from anyone at Barton aside from him. Why was Kline insistent upon my services? The legal matter at hand was not of such complexity that it needed the investigative skills I had been recently praised for - was Kline simply extending gratitude for creating the opening at Barton Pharmeceuticals he currently enjoyed? Throughout the run of the events leading up to my incarceration, I would formulate various theories regarding that matter, but those revelation are better revealed as I reached them.

It was at this point that Kline extended an invitation to a business luncheon to discuss the particulars of the case. The restaurant of Kline's choice was "Etienne's Bistro" a well-known establishment, coming highly recommended by various members of both the state and local government, several clients and almost every wealthy family in the Boston area. Despite it also being frequented by the other partners in my firm I had never dined there, for their foremost dishes were all differing preparations of mushrooms (of which I am not fond). I ordered a small steak - not topped with sauteed mushrooms, much to the dismay of the wait-staff - and Kline ordered a dish I later found out to be some kind of mushroom mixture. I did not understand the language he used to order the dish, and a cursory glance at the menu did not reveal an item corresponding to that name. During the wait for the meal, we spoke of the case specifics. I shan't bore you with needless details, but suffice it to say that the schematics for a certain piece of technology were most certainly stolen from Barton before they could be filed with the patent office. Upon arrival of our meals, we mutually agreed to hold the business talk and become more familiar with each other. Kline spoke endlessly and amiably, allowing me to ponder the questions I politely declined to ask. I watched Kline glup down his unpleasant dish, chewing briefly and mechanically, as though he was unaccustomed to polite company. I pondered the nationality of the dish he ordered; the owner, Etienne, was a French immigrant yet the word used to order the dish sounded far more gutteral while still posessing some of the vowel use commonly associated with the Franc language. I tried to recall the exact word he used and repeat it in my mind, but as I tried I felt a terrible headache assailing me. My brow ached as it sometimes does when one concentrates too intently or tries for too long to remember something long forgotten. Abruptly, something about my current surroundings made me feel suddenly terrified and quite ill. I excused myself to the restroom where splashed some cold water onto my face and tried to shake the inexplicable feeling in my chest. The only experience I could compare the sensation to is an incident in my childhood.

If memory serves, I was around the age of eight or nine at the time in question. My father, or I should say, my adoptive father, was a great criminal defense attorney and I idolised him, as many boys do their fathers. Ever since I knew my father's profession I sought to follow in his footsteps so that one day I may be as great as he was. Fortunately, the merciful Lord took my father from this mortal coil long before he could bear witness to my piteous state today. As I was saying, I was quite young and very interested in the business that so often kept my father locked in his study. My father's study was an enigmatic place, and (save for once) I had never set foot in it prior to his death. On most days, my father would emerge from his study looking puzzled and determined - though he never failed to smile when I caught his gaze. He would immediately turn and lock the door behind him with an oddly-shaped key, but one day he was in a great haste and did not notice that the latch had not properly set. I waited until I was sure he had gotten into his motorcar and left the house and I stealthily crept into the study. I carefully and silently sealed the portal behind me and slowly turned around to face the interior of the largest mystery in my small world. The study was enormous - it appeared to be larger than the available space in the house would allow it to be. Curiously, while my father was a very organized person with the rest of his affairs and the house, the contents of the study were in a shambles. Each of the walls were lined with thick, musty books on various subjects - mysteries of the native religions, christian ecclesiastical myths, studies on demon posession and reports of encounters with "blasphemous creatures" - obviously research for various clients with insanity pleas. I clambered up onto the chair at his desk and glanced over the items on his desk. Amidst the clutter strewn about the desk, there was a one foot by two foot rectangular section of the desk where the blotter beneath was depressed - presumably where a large tome routinely rested. Glancing about the room, I did not see a book that was large enough to leave those impressions over that size of an area. I did, however, happen to spy a large filing cabinet closed and locked in the same fashion as the door to the study - hastily and incomplete. It took both hands and my full body-weight to open the ponderous drawer for inside was a large, leatherbound book. Upon setting my gaze upon the tome, I immediately wanted to know what wealth of knowledge was contained within it. I had just glanced momentarily at a randomly chosen page when I heard the door behind me begin to open, whereupon I spun on my heel and tried to shut the drawer before the door opened. Before the drawer had even begun to slide, I caught my father's gaze. He said nothing, but glared at me disapprovingly as he stood next to the doorway and held the door open. I hung my head and left the room, and neither of us spoke of it again. After his death many years later, I entered the room to collect his personal effects and found everything essentially as I had left it so many years ago. I perused his collection of books and added many of them to my collection, including the large leatherbound one that had captured my interest as a child. Of that particular book I shall speak more later.

Eventually, my uneasienss subsided and I returned to the table where Kline and I had dined only to find him absent. In his place was payment for the meal as well as his apologies for leaving during my absence. Feeling hungry once again, I had the kitchen warm my meal, and I ate the remaining portion while trying to keep the events of the past few minutes out of my mind. Over the course of several days I was able to draw a nigh-irrefutable correlation between the schematics and it's origin at Barton Pharmeceuticals - many sub-components had shorthand names derived from the names of the lead designer's family. Questioning the purported designer from the rival that claimed to have designed it could easily expose him as the fraud he is. I presented this to Kline at his sparsely-decorated office, and he was quite pleased by the simplicity of the solution and requested that I gather further information on the matter to further steel the case against possible assault. As I began to take my leave, he also requested to be kept informed of my progress. I halted uncomfortably when he asked this, not that it was singularly unusual, but the manner in which he asked it was. I again recalled that I had not spoken nor seen Kline's constituants since our first meeting, and even then they only spoke their names and answered questions in simple, disjointed sentences. Even when directly addressed they used great brevity with their answers, and any vital information left out was supplied by Kline. I asked if I should report my findings to his superiors as well, and Kline insisted that the matter was entirely his, and his superiors were far too busy with other matters to be bothered.

I debated with myself at some length over this course of events. I suppose it is my nature as an advocate to find the truth - the police need only rely on "gut instincts" and circumstancial evidence to arrest a suspect, while the lawyer must find and interpret the facts of the events. I wondered perhaps if Kline was attempting to misrepresent the evidence I had gathered, or if he was trying to claim my discoveries as his own. At the time, I dismissed my suspiscions as common paranoia - but later I would come to wish that I had heeded my own warning! Regardless of my inaction, my own thoughts intrigued me. Eager to find the truth, I began to spend researching deeper into the case; the function of the product in question, the products' research timeine and the staff of both companies at the time - particularly the backgrounds of Albert Grayson and Robert Kline. The information I found was truly unusual, to say the least - and more unusual was the methods I undertook in obtaining the information.

Grayson and Kline seemed to be no more aware of each other than any other two people who had chosen similar careers in the same town. Indeed, when questioned regarding their knowledge of each other, both professed to have heard of their colleague, but had no formal knowledge of them. However, there were a curious number of similarities in their lives. Both were born in Boston, in the same year and month. Both were educated for their careers at The Popil Institute of Medicine in Rhode Island and graduated in the same year, and both had secured prosperous jobs in prestigious companies mere days after receiving their degrees. Upon first glance, this does not seem aberrant - after all, Boston is a large city and for every parallel drawn between two people there may be a thousand perpendiculars. Consider, however, a knit wool sweater: when viewed from afar, you see the pattern intended by the seamstress. Move closer, and you see the pattern of stitches that comprise the sweater. Examine the sweater beneath a microscope, and you see that the threads themselves are hundreds upon hundreds of twisted strands, no bigger than a hair's breadth. Patterns - like mysteries - are often more complex than they appear... and as one uncovers more one realizes that the pattern is much more complex than suspected.

Unfamiliar with the university jointly attended by Grayson and Kline, I sought to know more about it. Why had it never been mentioned in the medical journals I had perused in so many medical offices, when clearly it's graduates are held in such high esteem that they attain lucrative jobs immediately after graduation? Why would someone born in Boston desire to attend a pestigious out of state medical school, with Harvard so nearby? I utilized some of my contacts from the firm to try and gain insight regarding The Popil Institute from companies that had hired it's graduates, however each person I spoke to told me that the decision to hire the recent graduate was not theirs - either they were not working for the company at the time, or the decision was handed down through the channels of management. Using the information found in the employee files (which were acquired through no small feat of personality), I acquired a small amount of contact information for the educational facility in question - merely the phone number was given in each instance, for the purpose of attendance and graduation verification.

I returned home excitedly and attempted to telephone this enigmatic institute under the pretences that I was a prospective student and eager to take a tour of the facilities. My charade was cut quite short and I was informed that an appointment was required - and the one man capable of granting me an appointment was on vacation and would not return for quite some time (never, I suspected). I thanked the woman, and after hanging up my telephone I made haste to the 72nd police precinct to enlist the assistance of a long-time associate of mine, Detective Eric Reid. After waiting in the foyer for a few minutes I was admitted entry into Detective Reid's office.

Reid was a quiet man. He smelled vaguely of apricots, of which he often had one on his desk for a mid-day snack. His regularly-starched shirt was always buttoned up to the top button, even on hot summer days when his constituents were seen tugging uncomfortably at their ties. Paperwork was piled upon his desk in what would appear to be a haphazard manner, but when pressed to recover a document from his office it never failed to be within arm's reach of wherever Reid happened to be standing. I entered his office, we exchanged pleasantries and he motioned for me to take a seat. We spoke at length about various subjects, and I gained his aid in retrieving an address from the phone number given to me for Popil Insitute of Medicine in Rhode Island. He estimated that he would have a result in a week.

Needless to say, the follwing week was long with anticipation. Additionally, we were to begin trial on the coming Friday, so my efforts and time were divided - I could not forget my obligation to my client, nor could I dismiss the curiosity of the facts I had unearthed during the course of my investigaion. Fortunately, Reid's research was quite expedious, and came the day prior to the beginning of the trial. The trial went quite swiftly, as I had accumulated a great deal of favorable evidence for Barton Pharmeceuticals. That night, with the proceedings behind me, I eagerly studied my maps and plotted a course to the supposed address of the mythic Popil Institute of Medicine. The arrival of a weekend was fortuitous with my plans, as my expidition would be unnoticed and unquestioned by my clients as well as my senior partners at the firm.

As my motorcar rumbled across the border into Rhode Island, a thought struck me: this was no longer within the requirements of my job. I had thoroughly researched and won the case. Barton Pharmeceuticals successfully established ownership of the device. The backgrounds of Grayson and Kline were no longer my professional concern, yet I still progressed undaunted towards my destination. I did not know then and I still cannot say what my impetus was, only that it was preternatually strong. Some unknown force was driving me to discover these facts, as though the universe itself was crying for their unearthing. I continued to ponder this quandry until my vehicle seemed to come to a stop of it's own volition. Noting the building's address and comparing it to Reid's scratchy writing, I surmised that I had arrived at The Popil Institute of Medicine.

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They were done for an exhibition a couple of years ago . They asked for something to so with the summer. They are mixed media and oil paint on metal advertising boards - for ice cream.


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Hmph

80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!

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