A minute went by as he let the long-awaited dawn rise up over the city. He could hear high heels in the stairwell now, so he hurriedly fumbled the friendly bottle amongst the chaotic slew of box files, safely out of Rita’s sight.
He’d have to conquer the single malt habit eventually, but Monday never was a good day to start that struggle.
‘The crime on these streets, you’d just never believe it, Rita,’ he half-whispered, half silently mouthed as his busty blonde assistant breezed a slug of cheap perfume into the stale office air. But he was wasting his breath, he knew.
She’d been distracted every morning for a week now. Must be those long after-dark assignments with that sleek-looking cop, Sallonikis. He’d kill the bastard eventually, if only he could find the way.
A cold rush of solitude poured through his guts, chilling the pits of his stomach with the lust of an increasingly acknowledged longing. He glanced grimly at the long legs folded around the desk behind the half-open door. Reluctantly, he dragged his eyes away.
How did she keep those black strappy shoes so shiny on her muddy walk back from the trailer park ? he wondered, staring miserably across the puddles of the flooded Des Moines parking lot.
Under the awning of the 7/11 across the street, a lanky and uncouth young man in threadbare jeans and an ancient and faded Nirvana sweatshirt was dodging a torrent of raindrops as he struggled with the keys to open up the store to the straggling line of the city’s downtrodden poor, waiting patiently in the rain.
Soon, thought Joel, these same sorry people would be traipsing their way over to his office. Some he would help, and some he would have to turn away. That was how it was, and simply how it had to be.
He was the most ruthless, sleep-deprived and sex-starved lawyer in Iowa, but, just as importantly, he was the best goddamn’ pro bono defence attornery that Chief Prosecutor Kellerhals had ever had the misfortune to meet.
It’s a meek and unsatisfactory kind of justice, thought Joel, but I’ll do what I can to keep those folks out of the Sweetcorn County Penitentiary for as long as there’s alcohol-enriched blood left still cruising through these veins.
The rusty hinge of the office door squealed open and he could hear those heels again, tapping out the desolate rhythm of his loneliness once more.
‘Hey Rita,’ he called into the half-lit and humid void of the hallway. ‘Grab me an extra couple ‘shots in my mochaccino, honey.’
‘It’s gonna be another hell of a day.’