Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Visions of Joannah--Guest story, by Josie
I’m not a writer like most of you wonderful folks out there, so this story will probably sound very awkward. And it may or may not be a true story, and I may or may not be an observer in this story. And any relationship the characters bear to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
I grew up in a small town on the edge of a forest and my best friend, Helena, lived on the other side of the creek from our house. We spent all our time at each other’s houses, playing hopscotch, skipping, swimming, playing with dolls and doing all the other things girls do. Helena was a goof and she made me laugh. We went through elementary school together and we ate lunch together every day. We would often trade lunches, and I always looked forward to the days when Helena’s mother made her chocolate bar and banana sandwiches. Yes, they were delicious.
We grew apart as we got into high school and found we had different interests. Helena was very athletic and involved in girl’s basketball, where I was more involved with the school choir and painting. We went our separate ways and didn’t see each other again after graduation.
Helena became a teacher and moved to another city and I got married and moved to Vancouver. After my husband died it was necessary for me to go back to work very quickly, so I became a legal assistant with a large law firm. I worked for the senior partner and his junior assistant, a young articling student named Paul.
Paul was a very sweet young man and everyone liked him. He was dark, attractive and sort of self-effacing, but he was a very promising articling student. However, he had made one serious mistake in his personal life during his articles. He had been accused, but not convicted of a petty criminal offense, and there was a question as to whether he would be permitted to be called to the Bar and practice law. A hearing was held before the Benchers of the Law Society. When the hearing concluded it was agreed that Paul could take the Bar and practice law, but only on the condition that he secure a position in any other location, so he moved to a smaller city and found a position with a law firm there.
Re-enter Helena. Helena had been diagnosed with a condition that required surgery. The doctor who performed the surgery botched it, leaving Helena in chronic pain. Helena sued him but it is very difficult to win a case against a doctor and she lost. The firm she had retained to represent her was the same law firm where Paul now worked.
Helena was frustrated with the outcome of her case, and after exhausting all appeals she set out on a mission to take justice into her own hands. She went to the law firm looking for the lawyer who represented her with the intent to shoot and kill him, but she shot Paul instead, who just happened to get in the way. She was captured while she was on her way to shoot the doctor who had botched the surgery.
After a lengthy trial, Helena was found guilty of murder. Canada doesn’t have capital punishment so she was sentenced to life in prison. At the time that this happened, I was in anguish for both my friends. I could not believe that the little girl who had been my best friend could take someone’s life, and the life she took was someone I had met long after she and I had gone our separate ways. But even sadder was the fact that if Paul had not been required to relocate to another city, it would not have happened to him.
That lovely, sweet young man was in the wrong place at the wrong time, just one of those perverse times when something goes wrong in the universe.
And what, I wondered, had made my friend Helena become so desperate she decided to take someone else’s life.
My heart broke for both of them because I had known them both to be charming, kind, funny people. I think if they had met under different circumstances, they would have liked each other.Anyway, that’s my odd little story of how the universe can sometimes tilt on its axis and throw everything askew.
Editor's note: Island Grove Press takes full responsibility for the above "livier a clef".