I met the other day with my good friend, trusted adviser, and part-time oenophile, E. Hobart Calhoun, Esquire, (“Call me E.”), trial attorney nonpareil, in his sumptuous office high atop One Walgreen Square. E. has made a fortune in mass tort cases, including his magnum opus, the landmark Drano international class action litigation.
In the Drano trial at The Hague, E. proved that A MORE VIVID WRITTEN WARNING IN TWO DOZEN LANGUAGES, and a RED skull and crossbones instead of the BLACK skeleton head on the label would have prevented millions of the plaintiffs from drinking the Drano and burning a hole through the center of their torsos, a process E. elegantly described to the Court as “creating a brand new one or re-grooving the old one.”
His expert witness from the University of Toulouse Lautrec, Dr. Herbert Hebert, showed clips from Alien to demonstrate how the Drano acted on the human body like the creature’s yellow green “blood” as it ate through several steel floors of Sigourney Weaver’s spacecraft, while she looked on in her bikini-style tighty-whities.
Unfortunately, I never took Fen-Phen nor have I had vaginal mesh surgically implanted, so I didn’t go see the famous attorney to sue one of the many evil manufacturers who are busy designing and hawking products intended to kill or maim. I met with him because E. is the only “one percenter” I know. I’ve heard politicians and demonstrators from the “Preoccupy Wall Street” movement lash out and say awful things about the “one percenters.” I wanted to get E’s side of the story. For those of you who have been lost in the desert the last six years, the “one percenters” are the rich bastards and bastardettes who have accumulated most of the assets and income in this great country, having taken it by brute force, guile, or gunpoint from the other ninety-nine percent, a.k.a., “the people.”
“We get a bum rap,” E. said. “I don’t mind telling you, things are not as easy for us as the people on the T.V. make it out to be.” “How so?” I asked E. I felt I could handle the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God. “Well, for one thing, do you know how hard it is to find a decent chalet on a bona fide alp these days? I ain’t talking some rinky-dink Hollywood Hills-type house on stilts hanging off the side of a puny little butte in the foothills. I’m talking architectural construction with faux beams in a gated community on the Matterhorn or Eiger, one of the decent neighborhoods.” “I had no idea,” I said. “Why do you own so many houses?” “One for each season on each continent, plus a spare in case of a disaster where FEMA or the U.N. is called in to make it worse.”
E. shook his head, confiding that the bugs in the USCIS E-Verify system give him fits when he hires temps off street corners to pilot his Gulfstream G650 to his homes around the world. “And no one seems to care. The Lamborghini I’m driving is going on six months old. I’m on a waiting list for my new one. Turns out every Swinging Ricardo out there thinks he ought to have one, so the rest of us have to suffer. I’ve never seen such selfishness.”
He described the lobbying effort he is financing to establish a $500 an hour minimum wage for one-percenters, and the opposition to the bill from the Congressmen who don’t understand the plight of the rich. “Oh, E.,” I said, tears welling up, my heart aching as I realized for the first time the depth of E.’s suffering. “Is there some support group out there for you, someone to talk to who understands?” E.’s phone buzzed. He held up one finger, the “hold that thought” gesture. With a heavy heart I stood and mouthed “I have to go,” and walked out with a new appreciation for E and the hardships the “one percenters” endure daily—struggles the rest of us cannot fathom. As I shambled outside, I looked to the heavens. The deeply profound words of Neo-Nietzschean philosopher J. Alfred Prufrock leapt into my consciousness:
“If all of our troubles were hung on a line, you would take yours, and I would take mine.” Indeed.
Michael Henry is a writer in Oxford. A graduate of Tulane and Virginia Law School, Henry published his seventh novel, Finding Ishmael, in April 2014.