Disclaimer: Usually, I'm the most nitpicky person about realism and details. That being said, I'd like to explain why I chose to do the epilogue the way I did. There's something so charming and timeless about the island of Manhattan. The architecture, the people, the taxis, the sounds of the City… they're all amazing and integral parts of fundamental American culture. Maybe in the year 2036, things will have changed completely. Maybe we'll have spaceships and robots… But, for now, I'd like to think that it wouldn't be too different from the way it is here in 2012.
25 years later…
DANY Legal Hiring Unit
100 Centre Street
Monday, September 8
"Mr. Case? We're ready for you."
A tall, slim, and striking young man emerged from the row of applicants seated in cushioned metal chairs against a gray wall. He followed the secretary into a large utilitarian room, where a panel of interviewers sat behind an equally practical desk. He felt their eyes watching his every move, and nervously, he tightened his grip on his portfolio. He was instructed to take a seat at the antediluvian wooden table that hovered ominously at the center of the room. Fluorescent lighting emphasized the contrast of his dark hair to his pale complexion.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Case. My name is Lisa Arthur; I'm an Assistant District Attorney, as are my colleagues," she signaled toward the two men sitting, respectively, on each side of her, "Mr. Chan and Mr. Edwards. Are you familiar at all with our hiring process?"
He nodded curtly, flourishing an endearing smile. "I did a little research."
"Good," she smiled in return. "We're just going to ask you a little about yourself and your qualifications… and I see you've given us copies of a writing sample, so we're going to take a look at that as well. Do you have any questions for us?"
"No. I think it's pretty straight forward."
"Alright, then. Let's begin."
Manhattan Supreme Courthouse
60 Centre Street
Wednesday, September 10
"Lisa, I've got a meeting in 15 minutes. I really don't have time for this, but I'll take a look," Mike brusquely took the file from the insistent ADA's grip. He scanned the contents quickly. The résumé inside was impressive, to say the least: Julian M. Case, Hudson Law School graduate with honors, 4.0 student and top five of his class, a member of several honor societies, undergraduate degree obtained in three years, and extensive volunteer work. Mike turned his attention toward the LSAT transcripts. "Other than the disturbing fact that his kid chose Hudson with a score like 171, what's the problem?"
"Well, his background, Mike," Lisa explained, trotting to keep up with her boss. The celerity of his gate was surprising to her—the guy had to be approaching 70. "The Bar's Character and Fitness Committee had a few issues with him, and frankly, I think they were warranted."
"Clearly they got over them, otherwise I wouldn't be holding his résumé. But, for argument's sake, what kind of issues are we talking about?"
"He was in and out of foster care as a child, and there were a couple of infractions on his record from when he was a teenager. It seems like he's been on the straight and narrow since then, but I don't know if we should take the risk. I've only got one spot open, and three other candidates could easily take his place."
"Why are you here, then?" Mike's patience was stretched to a gossamer width.
"Because…" Lisa stammered, "I really would like to hire him, but I also want to cover my ass in case something goes wrong."
Mike sighed decisively. "Have him come to my office tomorrow, and I'll let you know what I think."
Lisa grinned. "Thanks, Mike!"
Office of Manhattan District Attorney Michael Cutter
One Hogan Place
Thursday, September 11
Mike stared at his laptop screen, his eyes burning with a plea for reprieve. He pulled off his thin wiry glasses and took a deep breath. A knock at his door reminded him that it was nearly 4:00 in the afternoon. "Come in!"
A diffident figure appeared in the doorway. "Mr. Cutter? Julian Case… You requested to see me?"
Upon taking a second look at the visitor, Mike faltered with a strange sense of déjà vu. He stood and moved gingerly toward the young man, extending his hand. "Right… Mr. Case. Have a seat."
Julian followed the invitation to the couch, his youth accentuated by a boyish haircut and an athletic sway to his movements. Mike pulled an armchair over to the sofa and sat across from the prospective hire. "I've heard a lot about you. Your reputation and aptitude certainly precede you."
"Thank you, Mr. Cutter," Julian flattened his tie self-consciously. He cleared this throat and cast his gaze to the floor, where he nervously tapped his foot. "I'm going to take a guess that a one-on-one interview with the DA for an entry-level position isn't common practice around here."
"You'd be right," Mike smirked. Sapient blue eyes met bright blue eyes, locking in an uncomfortable moment of cognition and scrutiny. Mike couldn't shake the feeling of familiarity. "I'm sorry, have we met before? I've done a few lectures at Hudson…"
"I don't think so… I'd remember. This is probably going to sound awkward and slightly sycophantic, but I studied a lot of your work in my third year Psychology of Litigation class. I'm a big fan."
Mike shifted with surprise. "Is that so? Well, I'd only suspect sycophancy if you were to start reciting the Yankees' roster from the 1996 World Series."
"That… I can't do," Julian laughed. "I'd tell you that I'm a soccer fan, except I think you might kick me out of your office."
"On your first strike? I'm tough, but I'm not cruel. So, Julian, tell me about yourself…"
The Cutter Residence
Saturday, October 4
A leaning tower of cluttered boxes threatened to plow into Mike as he navigated through the garage. 18-year-old Andrea, his youngest, followed closely behind him. "Dad, be careful."
He shot her an I'm-not-dead-yet look, before shining a flashlight across the gritty, cob-web laden surfaces. "If you find one that says 'Apartment', let me know."
She nodded submissively and began scouring the pyramid. "Jeez, whoever you guys hired to help you move had really terrible handwriting."
"I labeled the boxes," Mike replied sharply. "Your mother was pregnant with you at the time. You know, I haven't mailed your tuition check for next semester, yet. Keep it up, and you're going to a city college for the next five years."
"That's not funny!" she exclaimed.
"Relax, Drea. I started out at a city college."
"That's so comforting. Here, I found it." Andrea moved two small boxes to free up a larger one.
Mike wiped the thick layer of dust from the top and unfolded the flaps. A synchronized ballet of particles floated all around them in the dim light of the overhead lamp. He handed the flashlight to his daughter and began rummaging through the box. He spotted a neatly folded burgundy jacquard tablecloth near the bottom and fished it out.
"That's it? That's the pièce de résistance that mom was talking about?"
"You know how she is about entertaining… Just take it to her—and don't say anything else." Andrea disappeared back into the house, leaving Mike alone with a cache of memories. Curiosity got the better of him, and he decided to take a brief trip through the land of nostalgia. He picked through the specimens that marked major events: marriage, births, promotions, loves, successes, and failures. His chest tightened when he noticed the worn tome that was Jack's notable report on a police riot from nearly 30 years before. He flipped through the pages and smirked. Old Jack: the crotchety, radical, and compassionate glue that had held the City together. Something—it looked to be a picture—slipped out from the pages and floated to the floor. Mike retrieved the photograph and held it closer to the light.
His blood froze.
A swollen and startled newborn was nestled against the backdrop of an incubator. He studied the image closely, recognizing the handwriting sprawled across the back. Julian Michael April 5 2011
If Mike hadn't recently been given a clean bill of health, he would've thought that the panic he felt was actually a heart attack. It simply wasn't possible. Connie would never keep something like that from him, would she? Maybe it was a coincidence—Greg Koehler had been an average looking, fair-haired, blue-eyed man too. No; Mike had felt that connection to the young man in his office. Had Connie known? She must have. The middle name was Michael. Then again, maybe it was just a form of homage. No, his gut told him that this kid was his blood, just as much as Andrea and Simon and Veronica. But, how was it possible? They hadn't…. no, they had. How could he forget? She'd told him that the events of that fateful May night could never happen again, yet they had, in July, after a rough case and a bottle of wine.
His confusion turned to anger. She had seemed so sure that the child was an aberration, the product of a vile act, and even threatened to end the pregnancy. Even more enraging was that he hadn't been able to protect her and keep her from being hauled off to another life and social security number. If only he had been there; maybe he could have convinced her to change her mind… The rational side that loved Connie unconditionally swooped in and argued that maybe she hadn't been sure. Maybe she'd made the grueling decision that he couldn't make. And, who was he to tell her that her feelings and choices were wrong? Even more clear was the fact that they wouldn't have been ready for a child at that point anyway.
He weighed his options carefully. He could go into the house, confront Connie, and risk destroying the family that he had. Or, he could put the picture back in its hiding place and forget the family that was never meant to be. What good would it do to dredge up the past—to march down to the Criminal Intake Bureau and announce, "Hey, Julian, I think I'm your father"? It was fortuitous enough that Julian was even in Manhattan, let alone employed at the District Attorney's office. His cavernous thoughts were interrupted.
"Dad, Aunt Isabel's here." He turned to see Simon framed by the light coming through the door. "Is everything okay?"
Mike hesitated, and then tucked the photograph away and placed the heavy book back into the box. He had once promised Connie that bygones would be bygones—for better or for worse. "Yeah… I'll be right there."