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The door opened and a uniformed officer walked in and handed an agent a note. “It appears that confidentiality no longer applies. Jassim Ali was just pronounced dead; he was stabbed by an inmate.”
He Didn't Pass Me By
Photo by Clarisse Meyer / Unsplash

Leaning On the Everlasting Arms

Rebecca’s intellect and engaging personality became her worst enemies. She had a strong relationship with God throughout college and law school, but now her career consumed her. She enjoyed a successful practice in a prestigious law firm until…

“Becca, you’re wanted in the Board Room.” Her clerk was always looking out for her.

Breathing a labored sigh, “I hear. You coming?”

“No, just you—Goldstein was specific.”

She walked down the mahogany corridor, careful not to disturb the daunting, if not sacred, presence of partners many years her senior.

“Come in, have a seat.”

Suddenly, she began to feel nauseous. The presence in the room was threatening. Two visitors in black suits introduced themselves, flashing badges.

“I have to admit, this is a little unnerving. What’s this about?” Rebecca wasn’t one to mince words.

“Ok.” Glancing at Mr. Goldstein, an FBI agent continued. “We don’t have time to waste. We know you’ve been representing the Ali family. Last night Jassim Ali was arrested; you have evidence that will secure a conviction.”

A few weeks earlier Ali asked Rebecca to put some papers in the firm’s safe. It was late so she didn’t take time to inventory them—she just locked the safe and left.

“Gentlemen, I’ll answer what I can. But, I remind you my conversations with Ali are protected by attorney-client privilege.”

“Ma’am, please come with us.” Motioning to the door the men got up and escorted Rebecca down the corridor and out the door where a car was waiting. Without a word, they opened the car door motioning for her to get in.

The ride to FBI headquarters was intimidating; silence was one thing Rebecca hated. She was masterful with words, but the overwhelming sound of nothing allowed her conscience to speak clearly, something she worked hard to avoid. Not a word was spoken and, for once, Rebecca dared not utter a word.

Lord, forgive me. I need You!

It had been a long time since she last prayed, but she knew He was near.

“Please come with me, ma’am.”

Consumed in her thoughts, she didn’t notice the car stopped. Following the men into the building, two detectives met them and led them to a conference room.

“This is a matter of national security. You’ve been brought here because you’re the attorney of record for Jassim Ali. We know he gave you a package. What was in it?”

“I never opened it—I just put it in the safe.”

There was a knock at the door; Mr. Goldstein and another agent entered with the package. As they opened it, Rebecca gasped.

The diagrams emptied out onto the table confirming everything. There, in black and white, was proof.

Oh, dear God, help!

“Listen, we need to know what Ali told you. And, think before you answer—you’re already in serious trouble.”

Mr. Goldstein shook his head. “Why didn’t you follow procedure? You’ve now implicated our firm.”

Her mind was bombarded with conversations, recollections, emotions, and then out of nowhere a song from her childhood:

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.(1)

“I admit I didn’t inventory the package, but I assure you I had no idea. There isn’t much I can say that doesn’t breech Mr. Ali’s constitutional right to privacy. I know he spent time overseas, but as for dates or circumstances, I cannot say.”

Savior, Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.(2)

The door opened and a uniformed officer walked in and handed an agent a note.

“It appears that confidentiality no longer applies. Jassim Ali was just pronounced dead; he was stabbed by an inmate.”

Rebecca and Mr. Goldstein returned to the office. She followed him into his office where she was confronted with her negligence.

“Rebecca, I don’t need to tell you that this situation could have cost this firm our flawless reputation. I’m sorry, but I am putting you on disciplinary leave without pay indefinitely. Give your calendar to Mr. Silverman, gather your personal items, and go home. You must appear before the senior board members before being considered for reinstatement.”

Stunned, Rebecca got up to leave and turned to Mr. Goldstein. “I was wrong, sir. But now I know He didn’t pass me by.”

With a puzzled look, Mr. Goldstein glanced over top of his glasses. “What’s that?”

“Nothing, sir. Goodbye.”

(1) Leaning On the Everlasting Arms, by Elisha A. Hoffman
(2) Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior, by Fanny Crosby

Originally submitted to the Weekly Writing Challenge at Faithwriters.com