By mid-afternoon, on the subject of my past boss at ABC TV, Mortimer (in-house Counsel for MTA, my former employer) began to resemble a broken record stuck in a groove (especially, as he’d interrogated me about this subject during my first deposition).
"Had you complained about your boss at ABC prior to being laid off?"
"Did you complain formally after he laid you off?"
"Answered MILLISECONDS ago."
"And this complaint was in writing?"
I turned to look at my attorney, Chris, who met my gaze with uncharacteristically melting sympathy. Undaunted, Mortimer continued.
"What was the name of your boss at ABC?"
"Asked and answered three times now, in detail."
"Who was your boss?"
"Counsel, really!!!" Chris finally exploded, outraged, "you’re --"
"He speaks," I exclaimed with subdued awe.
On the brink of chastising Mortimer, Chris leveled a quick glare at me before turning back to him.
"It’s becoming apparent that you’re slightly changing your questions and she has to give the same answer over and over. That’s the frustration she’s been feeling and it’s starting to be mine too, so please limit it!!"
"She can answer," Mortimer said, as if Chris’ entire argument had gone over his head.
"Yes, she can answer but it’s pointless when it only triggers a repeat question," I said.
"I’ve never asked you this question before. But I’m not going to belabor it with you."
"You already have," I said.
* * *
It was now late in the day and everyone’s tempers were frayed except Mortimer, who, due to his robot ancestry, seemed to have no sense of time, emotion or fatigue, those annoying, utterly human incidentals.
"Upon completion of your therapy in 1994, had you resolved the MTA incident?"
"Do you think it’s resolved?"
"What would fully resolve the situation for you?"
I felt Chris’ stare and looked at him. One eyebrow was arched and his expression was cautionary. I turned back to Mortimer.
Mortimer looked pissed.
"How do you define ‘resolution’?"
"Closure," I smiled.
"Does closure mean offering you a job here again?"
"No. I made many efforts to avoid a suit and to be transferred within MTA and MTA slammed the door resoundingly shut on every attempt."
"Have you ever fought with your stepmother?"
I said nothing.
"Is there a problem," he asked, with a look of injured innocence over my refusal to answer.
"Chris, he asked that very question this morning and I answered him, clearly. He also asked it, as it appears to be a favorite, at my last deposition. Obviously, there was no point in answering it at the last deposition since he’s asking me again now. Just as there’s no point in answering it again now because he’ll ask me yet again before the deposition’s ended. He’ll say I’m being uncooperative, so I’ll say in advance I don’t mind answering questions. I mind answering questions more than four times each."
"I can’t speak to her first deposition because I wasn’t her attorney at that time, but Counsel, she’s right. You did ask it this morning," Chris warned, which Mortimer would have done well to heed.
Mortimer, however, was Mortimer, so heed it he didn’t, replying, "I’ll submit to you that you’re wrong. I have not asked her that question before."
"YOU’RE WRONG!," Chris and I yelled in unison.
Oh, God, we agree! That couldn’t be good, could it?
"All right," Chris turned to me, angrily, like an overtaxed mother trying to pacify two cranky, warring children, "so just answer him now and this will be the last time."
"Oh come on, Chris, that’s the junkie’s manifesto. If it was the last time, I would answer him but my answers don’t allay his curiosity, they fan its flames into a roaring conflagration. Repeated answers merely stimulate his compulsion. Can’t I opt not to be his enabler? Years from now, he’ll thank me, although only mentally I hope."
"Just answer him," Chris said in a tone I recognized as one step away from an irrevocable explosion.
"All right, " I said angrily, "as I said April 4th, 1996 at my first deposition and this morning and, as I’m answering now, and will once again, consistently answer seventeen and a half minutes from now when you ask me for the fourth time -- I never fought with my stepmother."
Mortimer pressed his lips together with a brief, satisfied nod, as if he were finally clutching a small but dense, rich section of the Holy Grail that had long eluded him.
He probably saved his personal favorite for the end.
"Has your UTTER failure to establish a successful acting career distressed and traumatized you?"
"Umm -- according to all of you at MTA," I explained, patiently, attempting to be helpful, "I’m a chronic schizophrenic and therefore probably laboring under the confirmed delusion that my four personalities already are famous."
Chris laughed, without bothering to hide it, while Mortimer studiously noted my answer.