Day In Court: From The Pop Culture Dead Letter Office

By: David Jaggard

November 12, 1955

Philips and Son
Attorneys at Law
1-2-1234 Charter Heights
Memphis, Tenn.

Mr. Carlton Perkins
c/o Cash
28301-016 Folsom Towers
Nashville, Tenn.

Dear Mr. Perkins,

Enclosed is a copy of the proposed settlement agreement drafted by your wife’s lawyers. Please review it carefully. In particular, I would like to draw your attention to the following sections:

1.4 The money
She’s asking for $550 per month in alimony. Since you have no dependent children and the burden of fault is entirely on her shoulders, I think we can get this down below $300.

2.4 The show
Apparently the two of you purchased expensive front row balcony tickets for the Grand Ole Opry Christmas Gala prior to your separation. Your wife wants to keep these as part of the settlement. I would suggest conceding this point as a “bargaining chip” — a sign of good faith.

3.2 Getting Reddy
Your wife is asking for custody of your dog Reddy, but she’s willing to let the cat go. We can fight this if you want, but if you are satisfied taking Ruff I think we can agree on this one.

As for the episode of domestic violence that triggered your decision to file for divorce, I can assure you that we have sufficient legal and medical evidence to prove her culpability. To wit:

1) Medical records from Handy Memorial Hospital certifying that you were admitted to Emergency Services on September 12, 1955, with contusions on the hands, knees and right shoulder that are consistent with being knocked down with violent force, as you have claimed.

2) Photos of the injury to your left cheek, which have been examined by a forensic apparel expert who confirms that the bruise pattern corresponds to the sole of a size 7 Florsheim pump (left) that perfectly matches the shoes your wife was wearing on the night in question.

3) Affidavits from 34 (thirty-four) neutral parties declaring that, both before and after your separation, your wife did knowingly and maliciously make false defamatory allegations about you and slurs upon your character in a great many different locations.

4) Insurance inspectors’ reports indicating that the fire that destroyed your former place of residence on September 14, one day after you moved out, was caused by your wife’s negligence (see below).

5) Testimony from Wayne at Wayne and Dwayne’s Used Kar Kingdom attesting that on September 15, the day after the fire, your wife attempted to sell them a white 1953 Plymouth Fury registered in your name.

However, we will not be able to press for possession of the rare hickory-aged bourbon you mentioned at our last meeting, which was lost in the fire. When the sheriff and I inspected the remains of your house, I looked for the whisky in the garage as per your instructions, but all I could find was an empty jug lying on its side and a worn and chipped glass jar with a faded label bearing the hand-written inscription “Peach Preserves 1943.”

Apparently, after your departure your wife had been consuming the spirits and at one point left a lit cigarette next to an open jug, which ignited, causing the other containers to explode and setting the entire house on fire.

One of your neighbors, a Mr. Gerald L. Lewis, reported seeing “huge spheres of flame” billowing from the garage side of your house, whereupon he ran to the scene and found your wife standing in the driveway in an advanced state of intoxication. Mr. Lewis used the phrase “a great deal of trembling taking place.” This impression was corroborated by one of the attending firemen, Levi S. Presley, who described your wife as “totally shaken up,” as though realizing the gravity of her actions.

So I am confident that we have a strong case. But as your attorney I must advise you that your wife’s lawyers are mounting a compelling counter-argument. I had lunch yesterday with a friend who occasionally works as a consultant with the opposing counsel’s office, and he confided to me that they plan to attest in court that you have made, and continue to make, repeated high-volume public declarations that Mrs. Perkins “can do anything that she wants to do” on the sole condition that she refrain from scuffing or otherwise vandalizing your footwear (!).

A wild and absurd allegation to be sure, but apparently they are building their case on the premise that these assertions of yours constitute a de facto and binding verbal contract, thus exculpating your wife on every point. Nonetheless, given the extent and gravity of her misconduct and the lack of a precedent for this line of legal reasoning, I am fairly certain that we will carry the day.

The hearing is scheduled for 10:00 am on November 30th at the Shelby County Courthouse, 101 Beale Street, Room 9. My assistant will meet you in the lobby at 9:30. Please don’t be late, and wear a nice suit and tie.

Sincerely yours,
Samuel R.B. Phillips, Esq.

PS: Whatever you do, don’t wear those God-awful fuzzy turquoise oxfords you had on the last time we met. We don’t want the judge thinking you’re one of those amoral teenybopper “rockabilly” fiends.


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