Never Enough

Submitted into Contest #159 in response to: Start your story with a character accepting a bribe.... view prompt

5 comments

Crime Fiction

What’s that you say? No amount of money could ever make you throw away your moral compass? That’s what I thought too. I’m a fair and impartial arbitrator. Nothing could make me take a bribe. I looked down my nose on all those other judges who traded dismissals for favors. They were the problem with the judicial system in this country and I was going to change things. Nothing could sway me. I would stick to my values. My ethics would not be tainted by the bribery that was rampant in this world. I was above all that.

But my ethics came unraveled when I met him. Everything I thought I knew about myself, what I would and wouldn’t do, was challenged and then rebutted. If you think there’s no amount of money, then you’ve never been desperate. If you believe that your morals will win out, then you’ve never hit rock bottom. And if you think you’re better than me, put yourself in my shoes.

I was born and raised into a middle-class family. I never knew the wealth that so many of my classmates in law-school came from. I worked my way through school fueled by my desire and intelligence, I worked hard to overcome the gap between myself and the rich kids whose parents paid their tuition. I came out on top. Since I never knew wealth before, I was ecstatic when I started making enough money to live comfortably. But I never saw a need in getting more. Wealthy clients would come to me when I was a lawyer and promise me the world if I would just represent them. That’s how good I was. But I never wavered and took on a client I didn’t believe in. That’s how I got to the position I occupied before my fall. I showed integrity. How many others can say that?

Then he came into my life. At first, it was small things. But the more I gave, the more he demanded. I found myself draining my bank account to give him the things he wanted. Everything… have you ever been in love? Love is overpowering. It muddles your brain. It changes you. What you think you’re capable of… everything you think you are… all that is lost to this overwhelming desire to please. He became my world. I gave him everything I had but it wasn’t enough. Even so, please do not blame him.

The first bribe I took was a small one. Inconsequential. Just a bit of money to dismiss a case as not being trial ready. It hardly even mattered, and it allowed me to give him more than my paycheck allowed. Then, word spread. Attorneys would fight one another to get their cases in my court. I never thought about getting caught. I never considered that it was a possibility. I felt guilty, but at the same time, I felt exhilarated. I could give him the life he dreamed of. Nothing he asked would be too much.

It was all for him. You have to understand that. If I could go back, perhaps I would have stayed in my position at the law firm. Perhaps then I wouldn’t have needed to accept bribes. I’d still be throwing away my moral compass, but it would be different, wouldn’t it? It would be different because it would be legal. I wouldn’t be risking it all. But isn’t the fact that I did something illegal for him proof of my love? Isn’t it romantic that I did it all for him? I gave him my everything, including the one thing I never thought I’d part with, my moral compass.

No. He wasn’t using me. He loved me too. He was just used to a certain lifestyle. You say that if he loved me, he would never have expected me to change for him. Make no mistake. I did what I did of my own volition. I wanted to give him everything. I wanted to change for him, even if it meant doing things I never thought I would. Even if it meant betraying people who were close to me.

I am not sorry I did it. I am sorry I got caught. I am sorry I can no longer give him what he wants. I am sorry his name is being dragged through the mud like this. I have involved him in my scandal. I never wanted that. If I could go back, I would do it again, but I would be more careful. I would not get caught. And we would still be inseparable. He visits me here, you know. He risks the judgement of others, the attention of the press, all of it, just to see me. We’re not allowed to touch, and I miss his touch so. He told me that they seized everything when I was caught. He fears that he may have to allow the attentions of another.

Don’t blame him. Don’t vilify him. I did everything for him, it’s true. But it was my decision to do it. I made the choices that led me here. I took the bribes, not him. He lost everything because I was too careless and now, we have to live apart. If I go down in infamy, please do not say he is the cause. I just wanted him to be happy. I still want him to be happy. Even if he is happy with another.

Write your piece. Tell of the judge who lost his way, but do not drag my lover’s name through the mud anymore. Do not call him a “gold-digger” as some of those tabloids have. Do not besmirch the name of my beloved, I implore you. You can focus on the fact that I have fallen from grace. You can write how I let a serial killer back out into the world all for a few thousand dollars, but please… do not make him suffer for my actions. He has already suffered enough.

August 13, 2022 17:24

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5 comments

Graham Kinross
14:11 Sep 18, 2022

Of all the cases to throw for a bribe, that’s not even some white collar crime stuff, which would be bad enough. Wow…

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Naomi Onyeanakwe
14:45 Aug 14, 2022

First, the opening sentence is killer. I can't think of a better way this story could have begun. I also like the monologue format, I think the voice of the narrator comes out so well. And it was really interesting to hear the narrator absolve their lover of any blame and put it all on themselves instead. Then this part, “No. He wasn’t using me. He loved me too. He was just used to a certain lifestyle...” was a bit sad to read. Like, honey, you're a lost cause at this point. And then there was that shocker at the end that the lover is a SE...

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L. E. Scott
15:08 Aug 14, 2022

Well it was not my intent that the lover be seen as a serial killer, just that the judge did something irredeemable in dismissing a serial killer's case.

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Naomi Onyeanakwe
15:13 Aug 14, 2022

Oh yeah, definitely irredeemable.

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Naomi Onyeanakwe
20:39 Aug 13, 2022

WOW. I need to collect my thoughts to form a coherent comment. I will be back, but for now, good job!

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