By the time the settlement hearing rolled around, it was quite clear neither side was close to reaching an agreement. Ms. Priggly, with her gang of associates and her two clients Brick House Pig and Stick House Pig, stared Counsel Boar down as they sat across the long wide table that seem to reflect the divide between the two sides. They collectively used their eyes to shoot darts and arrows at Counsel Boar whenever the Judge assigned to the conference, a tall gangly pig named Judge Arnold, was preoccupied with his law clerks. Noticeably absent was Straw House Pig. Judge Arnold was dressed in a plain blue suit and seemed quite bored as he announced the proceedings for the conference.
Ms. Priggly, dressed in a red cranberry two-piece pantsuit, appeared ready to do battle as her makeup danced like war paint before Counsel Boar’s eyes. Counsel Boar stared at Ms. Priggly and her team unblinkingly. His head was alive with busy thoughts as he watched this scene unfold before him. He was not going to let this pint-sized attorney and her minions intimidate him. This pig is half my size, he thought, watching his adversaries through half-closed eyes as if he were sleeping. Mr. Wolf, on the other hand, nervously watched the female lawyer and her associates as they tried to size him up. Brick House Pig and Stick House Pig avoided looking at Mr. Wolf. Instead, they busied themselves with pretend conversations.
Ms. Priggly smiled; she was about to put an end to this farce of a meeting. The trial was her exit plan, and it was then she would gobble up the wolf and his bloated attorney. Ms. Priggly smiled wickedly. Counsel Boar did not return the smile, seeing the loops turning in Ms. Priggly’s pretty head. The temperature in the room shot up rapidly as the parties flexed their legal muscles. Counsel Boar named a sum while Ms. Priggly nearly cackled. She muted her expression before she fixed her gaze on her opponents and said, “I must confer with my clients.” The two pigs and Ms. Priggly left the room, returning shortly. Their lips formed a collective no as they stared at Mr. Wolf and Counsel Boar.
The Judge sighed; it was going to be a long day. Both parties pretended they wanted to arrive at an agreement when everyone knew it was not going to happen today or ever. The lawyers had written the ending and settlement was not in the script. Counsel Boar sat on the other side of the long mahogany table in the small, faded, windowless room, quite certain no settlement would occur; but what the Judge wanted, he got, so both parties had to go through the motions in this case of legal chess. Hours later, as the day turned to night, the parties hurled insults at each other. The Judge was beside himself, hoping this conference would die a quick death. His head was pounding like an African drum while he listened to the two parties face off.
As the hours moved in a snail-like crawl, sweat poured down Counsel Boar’s face while Ms. Priggly appeared as dry as powder. The parties hardly left the room except to consult with their respective clients. Ten marathon-like hours later, as the Judge was about to stop the proceedings, Straw House Pig skipped into the now packed and sweat-drenched room as impatience hung in the air. Straw House Pig looked like a mass of confusion, decked out in a shiny pink suit and metallic pumps. A dozen pairs of eyes turned to gaze at her.
“And who might you be?” the Judge asked, his eyes popping out of his head as he gazed at Straw House Pig angrily.
“I am one of the defendants in this case,” Straw House Pig mumbled, trying to reflect cheerfulness she did not feel. She had forgotten about the settlement conference until she had accidently stepped on the yellow postcard in between her tangled clothes as she tried to locate her missing phone. That had been less than an hour ago, and she had hurriedly thrown on the only clean clothes she had left hanging in her closet—hence the pink dress. Both her sisters gazed at her resentfully. Straw House Pig’s lateness once again confirmed to them her lack of organization and lackadaisical attitude. Brick House Pig and Stick House Pig stared at each other, transmitting a silent message to each other before returning frostbite stares at their sister.
“You have got to be kidding me,” the Judge said as he fixed her with an incredulous stare. “It seems you think you are above the rules, since the timing of this conference was 9:00 a.m. sharp.”
He looked at his watch and then at the late pig. As Straw House Pig tried to sputter out a response, the Judge raised his hoof to silence her and said, “This settlement conference is over, and I am mighty glad I am not the Judge who will be dealing with this trial.”
The Judge gave all the parties a scathing look and waltzed out of the room, glad to be away from the highly intense drama. His law clerks followed close behind with their cart filled with files, giving the parties a sympathetic look before ducking through the door.
As soon as the clerks left, Ms. Priggly looked at Counsel Boar and said, “It will be a cold day in hell before I settle this case. I’ll see you boys in court.” She smirked as she and her party exited the conference room. Straw House Pig hurried out behind them even as they ignored her.
Counsel Boar looked at Mr. Wolf with a grimace before saying, “It went just like I thought. Let’s go get a bite to eat.”
Mr. Wolf nodded and followed Counsel Boar out of the room, hoping the ringing in his ears caused by the shouting he had endured over the past couple of hours would stop. It had definitely been a tiring day, and he knew Mrs. Wolf would not be the least bit sympathetic.
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