A friend suggested that I post some fiction. So without further adieu, here's a smaller segment that might turn into a bigger segment. It doesn't have a title yet. Any suggestions would be appreciated :)
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Court was adjourned. Colin sat casually in the fat black chair, legs splayed wide, hands resting on his knees. His face was always so damn calm! And I twittered on a bench on the opposite side of the office like a pigeon, shaky, cold, my fluttery hair poking at my eyes. The chatter in the courtroom behind us grew into a high-pitched whine, and oh, laughing, too. Nothing was funny! I wanted to shout, and I just about flew out the iron-barred window into the blue beyond where lawyers could be angels, perfect, sinless.
Colin didn’t look at me. His eyes were focused on a twisty green paperweight. Intestines? Bent muffler? My head after Judge Anderson finished off my legal career? His office was filled with layers of bookshelves and I wouldn’t have been surprised if one of them opened into a secret storage room where he kept the decaying corpses of delinquent prosecutors. I could almost smell the bodies. Or maybe it was the stench of my own career, rotting away into nothing. If lucky I would survive the Judge, outlive prison and work as a secretary at CU’s Environmental Center. Of course they would be overjoyed to see me, the brainy college girl who had served them loyally as a research assistant thirteen years ago. They would be impressed with my high-powered lawyer status and pay me well beyond the $5/hour salary of an undergrad (unless they asked why I wasn’t practicing law anymore and inquired about my criminal record.)
Why was Anderson taking so long?
I tried to imagine how it would go. He would walk into the office, smooth his robe in that distracting habit of his, and chide us as he looked down his pimply nose: “Mr. Jefferson, Ms. Rivers, I’m extremely disappointed with you . . .“ And I could feel my knees weaken.
No! I wouldn’t allow myself to crumble. After all, what could Anderson do to me? I was a renowned attorney, respected not only in Boulder but also in the state of Colorado. Regardless of Anderson’s decision I would leave this office with my dignity intact. I would remain professional. Colin would go into a rage or argue his punishment, of course. He was no different—driven by his pride just like every other man I’d ever known and would ever meet. But I had presented the evidence. Maybe it wasn’t exactly every piece of evidence per say, but I was acting on behalf of the client. Wasn’t I? I didn’t accept a bribe like Colin. As if his massive mansion and stocks weren’t enough.
Maybe Anderson was discussing my increased salary and Colin’s misconduct with Judge Keller right now. That was it.
Suddenly the door creaked open. I sat up straight.
Judge Anderson entered the room. He walked to his desk, ignored both of us and began penciling something on a notepad. His head was down. I couldn’t tell what kind of mood he was in. The dignified clock ticked in rhythm with his punctuated marks like they were conspiring against us. He wrote for what seemed like an hour. Finally he spoke.
“The O’Neill-Marks case has been extremely difficult. You two know that better than anyone.” He met Colin’s eyes. I couldn’t see Colin’s face, couldn’t see if he was stoic or concerned or relaxed. “You’re a couple of Boulder’s best attorneys. Mr. Jefferson, your career is particularly astonishing. One of the most talented, ambitious lawyers I’ve been privileged to know.”
He paused. Then he turned to me. “Frankly, I’m embarrassed. To see you two turn the courtroom into a mockery, to see lawyers of your caliber jeopardizing not only your career, but also the fragile future of the companies involved . . . and seemingly for your own pride? I have no choice but to penalize both of you. Mr. Jefferson, your misconduct is unforgivable. The State of Colorado has revoked your license and fined you $10,000, an amount you should find fair since it was what you accepted from Greg Marks. Ms. Rivers, your license is suspended beginning today and will last for a term of two full years. If at the end of the suspension term you decide you are equipped to practice again, you will need to contact me and the State will reissue your license. Any questions?”
This was good news.
I could have had much worse, like . . .
But Colin—? Surely I hadn’t really wanted him to lose his license? But what had I expected? Something far less severe, like a fine or a suspension or anything but a revoked license. Suddenly I was fighting back tears and I heard strange words rushing out of my mouth. “Your honor, I feel that my penalty should match the severity of Mr. Anderson’s.”
Anderson looked at me in disbelief. “You mean to tell me that you wish your license to be revoked as well?”
Of course I didn’t want my license revoked! It was asinine and for what purpose? “Yes.”
Colin coughed fitfully; he was as shocked as I was. After all my years of hard work? A few minutes ago I had convinced myself that Colin deserved the worst—and I had imagined Judge Anderson upping my salary. But now Anderson had revoked Colin’s license, the colleague that I had competed and fought and argued with for the last year, and I felt sick. Colin was the better attorney. He didn’t deserve it.
“Well, I’m sorry Ms. Rivers but the verdict stands. Any other questions?”
The courtroom was empty now. I had waited for Colin, but when he didn’t immediately follow I shut the office door and left the building. Was he talking to the Judge? He wouldn’t yell like I had once hoped. He wouldn’t put up a fight.
Outside I buried my face in my hands, completely ashamed.
I’m not sure how long I leaned against the cold cement column, but when the glass door opened Colin stepped outside, squinting in the sunlight. It was too soon because he saw my tear streaked face and I didn’t attempt to hide it. “I’m so sorry, Colin,” I whispered.
He looked at me for a moment. His gray eyes were tired, not fiery like I had seen so many times. His cheeks were pale. I grew painfully aware of our caged status, birds that had been cooped up without the warmth of the sun for too many years.
Then, unexpectedly, there was a spreading of the edges. I heard a jogger pounce past. A dog barked. Cars raced by. I looked just beyond Colin’s ear and saw that in an increasing rush of noise and smell and warmth the world was becoming more pronounced, bigger and livelier. And then I felt the wind blow. It was a cool mountain wind from the west.
“We never did have time to try that new Mexican place on Pearl.” Colin looked at his watch. “But I seem to have an open schedule at the moment. Want to?”