A Clean Exchange
It was supposed to be a clean exchange. They were to pay him after he helped them settle their case.
They should have known something was up when he asked for all the cash before accompanying them to court.
He scammed them, and they wanted revenge. They didn’t think it would come to this.
They Need A Win
But things were supposed to go differently for James and Linda Drake. They had been having a challenging year.
Their crops were failing in the field due to pests, their grandson was hospitalized after a gruesome accident in high school, and their pregnant daughter got laid off from work.
They needed a win and would’ve fought hard to secure it. They didn’t know that the only person meant to help them would rip them off.
Where It Started
The issue at hand was simple enough. James and Linda, small-town farmers from North Carolina, discovered that their immediate neighbor, Mr. Murray, was digging into their land.
They had known each other for decades, and in each of those years, they had never quite seen eye to eye.
It was only a matter of time before they butted heads.
Does This Look Smaller To You?
The Drake farm bordering the Murray farm was the smaller of the two. So small was it that it could’ve fit into the Murray farm five times.
But in recent years, James noticed that his ten-acre piece of land was getting smaller as the months passed.
He decided to survey the property and was left speechless at what he discovered.
A Big Mistake
Mr. Murray had been inching into his property with every planting season.
Being neighbors for so long, James had never really considered fencing the end that connected his farm to the Murrays.
He didn’t think they’d do such a thing to him and his family. But when he saw it, he knew he could do only one thing.
Going To Them
After a long conversation with Linda, James went to the Murrays to discuss the matter.
But the Murrays were adamant that they didn’t encroach on his land.
But instead of being civil, they insulted James, citing his advancing years as the reason he believed the Murrays were taking land from him. James was past furious.
What To Do
With all the problems plaguing the Drake farm, James couldn’t afford to have his property taken from him while he watched.
The farm was their everything, feeding and clothing their family, paying their bills, and putting their grandson through school.
He sat in the living room that day, wondering what he could do. Linda, who had never left his side even after thirty years of marriage, sat with him, ready to offer counsel to any solution he devised. They had no clue how all of this would end.
This Is Your Last Chance
James and Linda decided to lawyer up, seeing that the Murrays had acted uncivilized.
But before taking the issue to court, they visited the Murrays again, warning them about what would happen if they didn’t settle this as long-time neighbors.
The Murrays didn’t care. In fact, they told the Drakes to meet them in court. There was no going back now.
A Perfect Fit
James scoured the internet for a good lawyer. He knew cheaper was always expensive and was ready to break the bank for the best in the field.
After a week of searching, he found a lawyer he thought was a great fit.
The man worked in a small agency in the city but had an extensive list of satisfied clients. But that wasn’t all.
A Good Lawyer
Most of the lawyer’s clients had issues involving land disputes. They left very enticing reviews that made James feel warm inside.
If the lawyer had helped all these different people claim their land back, he would definitely assist James in thwarting the Murrays.
He should have known that not all that glitters is gold.
A Bubbly Fellow
James and Linda booked an appointment with the lawyer. Their visit was short and to the point, and afterward, the lawyer even took them to lunch.
He was a bubbly fellow, very easy to talk to. He had something interesting to say about every topic James brought up and even had Linda laughing her lungs out with his jokes.
The Drakes thought this was the man for them.
Settled Land Issues
The lawyer, Mr. Johnson, assured them they’d win the case. He brought out endless piles of files labeled ‘Settled Land Issues’ and plopped them before James and Linda.
“These are all the land disputes I’ve handled in my career,” he said, dusting off the top file. “You can see that I’m quite a veteran.”
With a sly smile, he added, “Now, on the payment issue.”
Rules And Regulations
The agency Mr. Johnson worked at had its policy regarding payment of services.
There was the standard consultation fee followed by the actual amount, which was to be cleared after the case was settled.
It even had rates based on whether its lawyers won the case. But Mr. Johnson had his own layout planned, and it wasn’t abiding by his agency’s rules.
He informed the Drakes that he had this case all solved. They need not worry about court proceedings as long as they have their title deed.
Since winning the case was a sure thing, he asked James to clear the payment upfront so all parties could focus on the case.
He was easy about the whole request, swinging in his office chair with a smile.
James was ready to cough up the cash. But Linda didn’t like this one bit. She suggested they leave the agency and never return.
But James had seen all those ‘land settlement’ files on Mr. Johnson’s table. He’d read the reviews on his website.
As far as he saw it, Mr. Johnson was the real deal. Would they ever find someone like him to represent them? He had to agree to his request.
Sending The Cash
James and Linda called their bank, digging into their savings to pay Mr. Johnson. But as soon as they transferred the money, everything changed.
Mr. Johnson, who had always been available to meet them, was suddenly ever busy.
All the calls the Drakes made would go to the agency’s secretary instead of him. But that wasn’t half of it.
What’s Going On
His cell, which he had graciously given the Drakes on one of their informative lunches, went straight to voicemail. James was beyond stunned.
He hoped Mr. Johnson was actually busy and wasn’t avoiding him and Linda.
Standing on the porch of his house, he analyzed everything that had gone wrong that year. He really needed this win.
It Gets Worse
The court date was swiftly coming up. But Mr. Johnson had not communicated much about how he would handle the case.
He invited James for lunch but didn’t show up, claiming that his boss needed him in New York for a new merger, whatever that meant.
He would bombard James with all these big words whenever James’ calls slipped through the many wards he’d put in place. Something was terribly wrong.
The court date finally came, and James and Linda went to court with their fantastic lawyer, Mr. Johnson.
Opposite them sat the Murrays, dressed in expensive suits that James and Linda couldn’t dream of buying.
The proceedings started, and Mr. Johnson fell into gear. James smiled inwardly as he saw the man work, glad he hadn’t duped him and Linda. If only he knew what was truly happening.
These Things Happen
Mr. Johnson had withheld several pieces of information from James and Linda, misleading them throughout the three months they’d known each other.
So it didn’t come as a surprise that they lost the case. But Mr. Johnson didn’t look bothered in the least.
When James confronted him, he responded with a shrug and a simple, “These things happen. It is what it is.”
James and Linda went home dejected. Not only had they lost part of their land to the Murrays, but they had also lost a hefty sum of cash to Mr. Johnson.
James sat silently on his porch, watching the sun set over his property.
The orange-bronze light bathed everything before him, from the tilled land to the oak and hickory trees lining the farm. It was then that Linda approached him.
The Reality Of Things
Linda laid the facts before James. She told him he’d been blinded by Mr. Johnson’s sweet words and had fallen prey to his tactics.
To her, Mr. Johnson saw them as old vulnerable country folks he could swindle. What made matters worse was that James had made everything easy for him.
But Linda didn’t come out here to kick James while he was down. She had an excellent way of getting back at Mr. Johnson.
Before Linda laid out her plan, she told James they might have lost the case, but they were still alive and breathing.
She pointed at their beautiful property, dunked in the setting sun’s light.
She reminded James that they were lucky. Even though their crops had failed, their grandson was in the hospital, and their daughter had lost her job, they were all still here. Shouldn’t they be thankful?
A Tight Hug
But she also told James that they had never taken a beating while lying down. She reminded him of all the fights they’d won over the years.
James’ eyes blurred with tears as he listened. But not a single drop slid down his face.
He stood up and gave Linda the tightest and longest hug he’d ever given her. “What did you have in mind?” he asked.
Time For Revenge
Smirking, Linda hurried into the house, coming out with their laptop.
She opened Mr. Johnson’s agent website and went to the reviews section.
With her smirk turning into a grimace, she said, “Most of his clients leave reviews here after his services. The way I see it, we are his clients. How about we leave the most colorful review and show him how thankful we are?”
The One-Star Review
She wrote down what Mr. Johnson had done to them, including his response after James confronted him. She clicked on one star out of five and pressed send.
Seeing the one-star review float over the hundreds of five-star reviews made James smile.
It stood out so much that he started giggling like a child. But then something unexpected happened.
The review got an upvote. James didn’t know what that meant, but he hoped it was good.
He was about to point it out when the number alongside the upvote sprung from one to seven.
Linda tilted her head. She’d seen it too. “What’s happening?” James asked. “People like our review,” Linda answered. The two had no idea what they’d just started.
A Different Side Of Him
The review kept getting upvotes as the night went by, and by morning, the number was in the thousands. James’ phone started ringing insistently. Thinking it was one of the farm’s clients, he picked up.
Mr. Johnson’s voice came through the phone. But it wasn’t laced with honey like usual. He was furious, calling the Drakes names and threatening them.
He demanded they take down the review, or he’d sue them for defamation.
James, who had been reading about how to get back at fraudulent lawyers, only smiled. “Go ahead,” he said and cut the phone.
He told Linda about the call, and they agreed that the next step was to seek recourse in court.
He asked Linda to get the laptop. He needed to update their review.
James added more words to the review, stating that Mr. Johnson had called to threaten him. He didn’t reveal that he had recorded the call. He’d do that in court while thwarting Mr. Johnson.
A humble farmer, James only wanted to save his little land. But now everything had devolved to this. If Mr. Johnson wanted war, he and Linda would give him one he’d never forget.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.