Cary Agos feels as though something is amiss. It’s not the usual weight he feels working at Lockhart, Agos, and Lee, but something feels different. Perhaps it’s not weight he feels, but more the opposite. He feels a certain lightness in his comings and goings. Seeing as he was just recently made partner, that lightness would be interpreted by some as a good thing. It wasn’t. Cary doesn’t feel grounded anymore, he feels like a man that is fading away, and it terrifies him.
Getting up to walk out of his office for no particular reasons, Cary begins to wonder the halls of his law firm. He seemed to be doing that a lot lately, and not in the metaphorical ‘finding himself’ sense, but in the actual walking around like an lost child sense. He catches a glimpse of Diane who seems to be walking in a hurry while looking through some case files, but he stops to talk to her anyways. He doesn’t particularly like Diane, hell, in the past 7 years they’ve known each other, their relationship has been defined by her preference for literally any other attorney but him. Cary briefly thinks about how if his life were a serialized television show, his interactions with Diane would hold no weight what so ever at this point, that their relationship and office hijinks would be of no consequence and that this would be irritatingly clear to a hypothetical viewing audience.
“Yes?” Diane says with her usual impatience when it came to Cary. God, she was so condescending he thought.
“Just – ah, just making conversation. How is- uh- how is your day going Diane?” Cary knew that was a stupid question. Around these parts, a question like that would only be met with paranoia and intense glares through office windows at a later point.
“Cary, I don’t have time for small talk, I’m with an important client and we’re discussing strategy for an upcoming trial.” That’s what she says all the time Cary realized. There’s always an important client and an upcoming trial. Diane stopped bothering to meet Cary’s eyes half-way through her response – she was already preparing to leave, Cary thought bitterly.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize-”
“There’s your problem Cary, you were trying to ‘realize’, when you should have just assumed. Assume I’m always busy with client, and assume that also means I don’t have time for idle chit-chat.”
Cary blinked at Diane’s words, he was expecting that kind of harsh response, but it still stung. He had to salvage the situation.
“You know what they say about assumptions Diane, they make an ass outta you…” it was then when Cary realized Diane had already gone, “… and me.”
Gone in a flash, Cary thought. It was almost as though Diane walked straight through him. At this thought, Cary was suddenly overcome with the need to cry. He choked back his tears and went straight to his office bathroom. Perks of being a partner, Cary thought, you get to be all alone when you need to cry.
Later that afternoon, Cary made the decision to call Alicia Florrick, his old rival and sadly enough, his former best friend. Cary didn’t have many friends, which was strange to him. He was young, white, and attractive, so why couldn’t he make relationships with anyone besides the Florricks work? He remembers a time when he dated his firm’s former investigator Kalinda Sharma, there were certainly good times between them, but he could never shake off the horrible feeling he had when he discovered that he’d been cuckolded by a woman who worked for the FBI. Shuddering at the thought, Cary pulled up his phone and made the call to Alicia.
As the phone was ringing, he thought of the worlds they lived in, and how they drifted so far apart over the years. Between him getting arrested for a crime he didn’t commit (and almost going to jail for it), and her failed campaign to be State’s Attorney, it felt as though they were from different planets, or to use the analogy he thought of earlier, different shows. The fact that the phone was still ringing penetrated Cary’s thoughts, and he realized that something was wrong. It often felt as though something was always wrong these days, but something as subtle as a continuously ringing phone suddenly caused Cary to panic. He clutched the phone tightly to his ear, but all he felt was the infinite ringing penetrating his skull.
It wouldn’t stop. Why wouldn’t it stop? Cary felt the sudden urge to leave the building. He dashed down to the lobby, ran straight for the door, stopped short of the opening, and then promptly went to the elevator which took him back to the floor he was just on.
“Wait, what?” Cary said in bewilderment. Why did that happen? Why did he feel compelled to go back to his office instead of leaving like he planned? So Cary tried to leave again and the same thing happened. And he tried once more and got the same result. Again, and again, and again, and again, Cary tried and tried but it just kept happening. At this point he was openly blubbering, with big wet tears streaming down his face, his snot oozing from his nostrils and splashing on his expensive suit. His excessive sweating (which further ruined his once pristine suit with very pronounced pit stains) didn’t do anything to lighten his appearance either. He was a mess.
He then blindly ran into an office, hoping to talk to anybody, anybody, in order to receive some assistance. He saw his fellow partner David Lee scowling up at him from his desk and considered that “anybody” may have been a bit of a stretch. He definitely hated having to deal with this human garbage disposal while working, so he certainly doesn’t want to deal with him now that he’s in peril.
“What is it that you want Cary, I’m busy. Ok, no, I’m lying, I’m playing Solitaire on my computer, but I still don’t want to have to deal with you, especially while you look like that. What happened Cary, did your dad call to remind you of how much of disappointment you are to everyone?” ever the law firm mean girl, David Lee never fails to fulfill the expectation that he is in fact a piece crap.
“No David, this is serious!” Cary thought that he had to let someone know, and even if that someone happens to be this muck stain, it’s better than being alone.
“What is it?” Lee asks, turning serious at Cary’s panicked tone.
“There-there’s something wrong with this place. I felt it for a while, things haven’t been quite right around here. I- ever since I got off on my drug charges things have been wrong around here David and you know it. It’s like this place has taken us over, it’s like we were devoured by it David.” Cary grew more and more panicked as he continued his speech.
“Cary, what the hell are you going on-”
“David! Listen to me! We can’t leave this building! We’re trapped! Don’t you get it? Something is wrong. Something happened to us.”
Cary fully expected David to call him an idiot or a crazy person, but what he did instead chilled him to his core. Slowly, and deliberately, David Lee smiled a big wide smile at Cary from behind his desk. He leaned forward and spoke in a tone that was both pleasant and firm, “Go see Diane, she’ll know what to do.”
Almost as if he were in a trance, Cary nodded and began walking towards Diane’s office when he bumped into her at the exact spot where they spoke earlier.
“Yes?” Diane says with her usual impatience when it came to Cary. God, she was so condescending he thought, once again.
“Just – ah, just making conversation. How is- uh- how is your day going Diane?” Cary knew that was a stupid question. It was a stupid question the first time he asked it, so why was he asking again?
“Cary, I don’t have time for small talk, I’m with an important client and we’re discussing strategy for an upcoming trial.” That’s when Cary realized it. “The important client”, that’s what he needs to ask her about. He doesn’t know how or why he came to that conclusion, but he can feel it in his bones. He needs to ask about that client, and so he did.
“The client Cary? You want to know about my client?”
“Yes, with every fiber of my being, yes.”
“… Okay then. Here you go Cary.” Diane smiles and hands Cary the case files. “Take your time Cary, this one’s got a great story to it.”
Cary ignored Diane’s uncharacteristically tender tone and pored through the files. Their client here was Lemond Bishop, he discovered, Chicago’s top drug dealer. On top of drug charges, he is being accused of murdering a witness at a trial. Continuing his scan of the files, Cary paused and felt his blood go cold when he saw a certain name.
It couldn’t be.
It was simply impossible.
Printed there in bold letters, the name of the witness that was murdered.
“Cary Agos”, Cary read out loud, unable to keep the disbelief out of his voice. “What, how? I-I don’t understand.” This had to be a prank he thought, “But I, I didn’t testify against him, I was willing to take the fall, but Alicia and Kalinda and you… You guys saved me didn’t you?” Diane was grinning wildly at this point.
“No, they didn’t”, approaching from behind, Howard Lyman suddenly appeared. Howard is a repulsive old pervert who frequently butted heads with Cary, so he was about the last person he wanted to see. Unfortunately for Cary, he was here, and he didn’t waste any time (a specialty of his) as he began to explain the situation.
“They didn’t save you Cary. That’s not what happened at all. What, did you honestly think there’d be this big Hail Mary? Last minute bull that we could pull out of our asses to save you? Even if that were possible, which it isn’t by the way, why the hell do you think we’d go through so much trouble just for you? David, Diane, and I don’t even like you, and Alicia was busy crashing her campaign remember?”
“No, no, no, nonononono this can’t be! This can’t be happening!” Cary screamed into Howard’s face.
“It did Cary. And you wanna know what the most pathetic part about your little self-delusion was? That you would imagine yourself as the kind of man with the smarts and guts not to rat out Lemond Bishop to save your sorry ass. Because the truth is, you did squeal on him Cary, you squealed good, and since you were too dumb to get yourself out of dodge, his men found you, took you into an alley, and made you squeal and squeal and squeal for a whole lot of other reasons. And when they finished, they gutted you like a pig and let you bleed out a slow and painful death.”
“N-no…. no…” Cary said weakly, but it was too late. He couldn’t deny it anymore. He started to remember everything. How he ratted out Lemond Bishop. How he was confident he wouldn’t need to relocate. How he died. Oh God, how he died. It was about as inglorious a death as one could get. The humiliation he received at the hands of the men who killed him outweighed the actual pain of his very painful death greatly.
“Ahhh, so you’re finally beginning to get it huh Cary?” Howard Lyman said in response to the look of absolute despair on Cary’s face.
Diane approached Cary from behind and took her chain necklace off to wrap around Cary’s throat. “I’m sorry Cary, but I’m placing one of my MANY chain necklaces on you to make you forget. When you come to, you’ll be a young law school graduate competing for a position at this firm against the disgraced wife of the State’s Attorney. Years later, we’ll be back here doing this once again, just like before.”
“B-before?” Cary choked out, dreading the implication and knowing it was about to be explained anyways.
“Yes Cary, before. You’ve been here for the past 462 years, and this has happened several times already. Every 7 years to be exact. You live, you figure out what happens, you taste the ultimate despair, and I use one of my MANY chain necklaces to make you forget so we can start all over.” Diane explains smugly. Through all of his shock, it is only now that Cary was begins to doubt if anyone here was who they said they were.
“W-why? How? Is this place… is this place… hell?” Cary whispered, with tears streaming down his face, his energy draining.
Both ‘Diane’ and ‘Howard’ laugh at this question. Right before Cary loses consciousness, he clearly hears Diane ask him a question in response.
“What do you think?”