According to my uncle Ben, Lande Wolf is everything you could possibly want in a lawyer: cold-blooded and crooked as a snake. So it came as quite a surprise to find Lande wearing a thick gold necklace with the letters WWJD on it.
“Lande, did you buy a radio station?” Ben asks.
“WWJD stands for What Would Jesus Do,” Lande explains solemnly, fingers laced on top of his desk.
“Well, for starters,” Ben says, “Jesus probably wouldn’t wear that gaudy gold getup.”
If Ben is surprised by Lande’s transformation, Lande’s bewildered by Ben’s.
Ben, who once considered skipping a shave a mortal sin, is now bearded and sitting across from Lande’s mahogany desk with yellowing sweat rings on his T-shirt. He’s holding a racquetball in one hand and Gatorade in the other.
“Your cardiologist gave you permission to get back on the court?” Lande asks, watching a drip of perspiration run from Uncle Ben’s forehead onto the $10,000 Oriental rug Lande just had sent clear from India.
“Got to lose this gut before my next hike,” Ben says, thumping his belly like a watermelon.
“Have you considered a seven-day fast?” Lande asks reverently. “It cleanses the mind, body and soul.”
At $200 per hour, there’s nothing Lande would like more than an afternoon of small talk. But Lande’s no Jenny Craig, nor is he a preacher. He’s teeing off at 3:00 sharp, so he decides to cut to the chase.
“So, what can I do for you?” he asks, checking his watch.
“I want to change my will,” Ben says.
Nodding, Lande pulls out a pad and starts writing.
“I’ve decided to leave everything I own to the Nature Conservancy,” Ben says, combing his beard with his fingertips.
“Let me get this straight,” Lande asks, falling back in his leather chair in disbelief. “You want to leave your ENTIRE estate to a bunch of tree huggers and bird watchers?”
After warming a pew all of his life, my uncle Ben finally found God on a hike to a New Mexico mountaintop. There, short on oxygen, he fell to his knees and became a changed man.
On the other hand, Lande Wolf finally found God during an investigation by the Bar Association for unethical behavior. Lande’s little stay in the lion’s den didn’t so much bring him to his knees as cut him off at the knees. Still, you don’t see him leaving all his money to the Bar Association.
“Have you lost your mind?” Lande demands. “Maybe you should give this more time.”
The view from Lande’s office is a black paved parking lot. All the windows are tinted to keep sunlight from fading the furniture, and the only care the plastic plants in his waiting room need is an occasional dusting.
On the mountaintop, you can still drink ice-cold water straight from the river. You can see stars in the sky that never shine in the city. But how do you explain this to a man with artificial plants?
“Lande,” Ben explains, “suppose someone wanted to pave over your golf course?”
LAWSUIT pops into Lande’s head so fast that he jerks his fingertips to his temples to quell the brain freeze headache Ben’s question initiated.
“I’ve heard they want to build a burger hangout up on God’s mountaintop,” Ben says, jumping to his feet, his sour body odor swelling to the far corners of the room. “Now, ask yourself, what would Jesus do?”
“Hopefully take a bath,” Lande says, fanning his face with his notepad. “But I see your point.”
After an hour of discussion, my uncle Ben and Lande Wolf came to an agreement. Lande will rewrite Ben’s will as requested. And Lande will get paid double his hourly fee if he agrees to remove the necklace whenever Ben comes to see him.
In return, Ben agrees to never come to Lande’s office directly from a workout at the gym.
Gina Tiano is the author of Life in the Bike Lane, available at Amazon.com.