I Don’t: Chapter Four

– 2003 –

He left the courtroom with the widest smile on his face. It was genuine and heart-felt and he was glowing with pride. He’d done what everyone had thought impossible.

She was waiting for him by his car. She watched him disappearing into the crowd of reporters and laughed silently to herself – it was as though they had swallowed him whole. She no longer saw him, only heard his name being screamed over and over, being questioned by the media and applauded by fans and admirers.

She leaned back on the car and enjoyed the scene. She could see him clearly now, he was standing by Edward James and giving an official statement to the press. The cameramen and loud reporters had backed away and quieted down now, they all stood silently listening to his speech. She watched his expression and could see the childish glee behind his professional posture. He’d always look like this after he’d won a case he truly believed in, one he’d poured his heart and soul into. She felt a tingling sense of pride.

” – I knew the jury would see what I believed if I presented them with the right evidence. Mr.Edward James is a free man now, and justice has been restored. I take great pride in knowing I kept this innocent man out of an undeserved fate. He deserves to live and breathe freely as you all do.”

He shook Edward James’s hand and introduced him to the press so he could speak to them directly – they’d spoken about this before and Edward said he’d be willing to answer the press himself. He stood behind Edward and watched the crowd explode with questions and was impressed by how Edward took charge of the situation.

Edward James answered every question with dignity and confidence, even the ones meant to demean and insult. He stood tall and firm, ready to take on the world. His speech was steady and articulate and he had everyone hanging on to his every word.

Leo spotted her in the crowd; notepad clutched in one hand, pen furiously writing with the other. Her eyebrows were forced to meet because of her intense concentration, and her lower lip – he could only assume – was almost all bitten out. He stared at her, trying to catch her eye as she looked back and forth at her notepad and Edward James, but she never seemed to notice the staring contest he was hoping to have with her.

As the press conference wrapped up, Leo placed Edward James in a cab and rushed back to the scene to find her standing there.

“Mister Darque! We meet again.” She smiled warmly, “Congratulations.”

“Thank you. And we talked about this! It’s Leo, remember?”

“Right. Leo. Congratulations, Leo. I really am very impressed.”

“Thank you, Miss King – ”

She stared at him with a warning smirk.

“I mean Allison. Thank you, Allison!”

She laughed out loud, “That’s a lot better! You’re learning!”

“Yes, yes, I am. I’m a very fast learner, too. I learned the Macarena in five minutes. True story!”

She faked a gasp, “Oh, I find that hard to believe! You must be some kind of God!”

“I’ve been called that… several times.” He winked at her. “So, Allison. Got any more interviews for me? And by interviews, I mean bizarre ten-minute interrogations, of course.” He grinned.

“Actually, the magazine wanted me to interview you again after they heard about this. I just wasn’t sure how you’d feel about that.”

“I’ll do it. Definitely. You have my number, just give me a call whenever you want to do it. Now that this whole thing is over, I’m gonna be free most of the time. So… just let me know.”

He shook her hand and said goodbye. He walked over to his car. “Baby, who was that?” She asked.

“That’s the journalist from The Law I told you about, babe. She says they wanna do another interview.”

He grabbed her from her waist and pulled her to him.

“Congratulations on your win, baby.” She whispered, staring into his eyes.

He kissed her tenderly.

“Thank you, my beautiful wife-to-be.”

© Copyright 7ala Abdullah

I Don’t: Chapter Three

– Present –

It was almost two summers ago when she asked. At first, I didn’t think of the gravity of the whole situation.

I remember her coming home to me, crying. Her mascara had left trails of black disbelief down her cheeks – her eyes were overflowing with pain. She ran to me to seek comfort and I held her, not really knowing what I was supposed to do.

She trembled in my arms and I could barely make out what she was trying to say to me. “On the news!” I made out from her incomprehensible speech. “Innocent” was another word I heard, and right after that she whispered “You do believe me, right?” pleadingly. She stared at me with eyes full of hurt and hope.

I couldn’t understand what was going on. I tried, but her sobbing was too loud for me and I couldn’t connect the dots. I nodded yes to comfort her.

She smiled at me – a broken smile, but it was a smile nonetheless – and freed herself from my grip. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She grabbed a napkin from the table and wiped her tears and running nose. “We’ll be okay, right?” She asked. She was so composed now (it took her only a matter of seconds to regain her posture) and I heard her perfectly.

“Yes, baby. We will be just fine. Trust me.”

“And you’ll fix this, right? You’ll fix it, won’t you?”

I smiled warmly at her and held both her hands in mine. “I will, baby. Please, just stop worrying. Now, tell you what… You go to bed and get some sleep, alright? I’ll deal with this. Don’t you worry.”

She leaned over and gave me a soft kiss. “Thank you. I know you’re the best lawyer out there, Leo. I know you can help him.” She then proceeded to walk up the stairs and into our bedroom.

I remember standing there, confused, wondering what it was exactly that I had signed up for. I had decided that calling her mother was probably the best shot I had of finding out exactly what had happened. I dialled her number.

Mrs.King answered me weeping. I asked her what was wrong.

“It’s George, Leo.” She’d said.

“He’s been arrested for murder.”

© Copyright 7ala Abdullah

I Don’t: Chapter Two

2003

“Miss King?” He inquired.

“Please, call me Allison.” She extended her arm and shook his hand enthusiastically. He nodded and ushered her into the apartment.

“I’m sorry, what newspaper did you say you worked for again?”

“It’s more of a weekly magazine, really. It’s called “The Law”. Basically, we focus on crime cases and what-not. The case you were assigned caught our attention from the start.”

“Ah, yes. I’ve heard of it.” He smiled without really looking at her.

“So, Mister Darque… do you believe that your client is really innocent?” She asked, handing him her coat.

He chuckled loudly. “So you’re the get-right-to-it kind of person!” He hung her coat on the coat rack and lead her into the living room. “Please, have a seat. Would you like some tea, coffee? Some wine, perhaps?”

She settled into his black leather couch and took out her notepad. “Red wine would be nice, thanks.”

“Red wine it is. Be back in a second.” He said, walking to his kitchen.

She examined his living room. It was elegant and sophisticated but it still had that boyish touch to it. Among the expensive-looking decorations she observed subtle touches of a young soul. On his modern shelves – amidst all his awards – stood a signed baseball. On his table, next to the photos of his family, there was a photo of him about to (she presumed) bungee jump off a cliff.

He walked back into the living room with two wine glasses in hand, smiling. His smile was warm and welcoming. Honest. It was rare, she thought, to see a lawyer exert such honesty. Such charm. In her line of work, she had almost always only met the sleazy ones. The ones who lie for the money. She decided to test him again.

“So, Mister Darque. I know your client intends to plead not guilty. Do you believe him, or are you just supporting him because he pays you to?”

His smile vanished.

“Miss King, I only take on cases when I know for sure the person I am defending is not guilty and simply falsely accused.”

“Yes, all lawyers would like to believe that, I suppose.”

He handed her a glass of wine and took a seat in front of her. “Miss King –”

“It’s Allison.”

“Miss King,” He smiled politely, “Edward James is as innocent as a child and I know that to be a fact. I have chosen to defend him because, as a lawyer, what I hate the most is seeing innocent people thrown away into prison to rot when they deserve to be out there living the life they earned.”

She smirked challengingly; “Yes, Mister Darque… but how can you be one hundred percent sure that your client; Mister Edward James, really did not kill his step-daughter?”

“So this is what I do before I take on any case, Miss King, yeah?” He moved to the edge of his chair, “I must meet the client, and I must have a picture of his or her victims…”

“Why is that?” She asked, intrigued.

“Because when I put the picture in their face, their reaction always tells me everything I need to know. I can read faces pretty well, Miss King. And yours is telling me that you think everything I’m saying is pure bullshit.”

“No, I wouldn’t say “bullshit”. I would say, perhaps… “entertaining”.”

“Well, Miss King, then be it. I guess my  gift to “entertain” is what has made me so successful.” He took a sip of his wine and sat back contentedly in his chair.

She stared at him quietly. She could tell from his face that he was a man with a code he strictly lived by. In his case, she knew what his code was – to never defend guilty people. She could tell, there was a certain sincerity in his words, a certain determination.

She looked back at her notepad, “Mister Darque, your client was found at the crime scene. He had the weapon in his hands. He was standing over the victim with fucking blood on his hands! He wasn’t crying or screaming, Mister Darque, he was standing there just looking at his dead six year-old step-daughter. Even his wife is certain he murdered her, why aren’t you?”

He had a frown on his face. It wasn’t a frown of anger or annoyance, it was a frown of genuine sadness. He stood up and walked to his window. He placed one hand on the cold glass. “Miss King,” He sighed. “Do you know what Edward James did when I showed him a picture of little Cassie?”

She shook her head and then realized he wasn’t looking at her. “No, I don’t.”

“He cried and then proceeded to tell me exactly how he felt the moment his soon-to-be ex-wife had introduced him to her. He said she was the sweetest and smartest little child he had ever met. He said she made him a mud pie.”

“He could have easily been trying to fool you, Mister Darque.”

“Oh, no, it was real, Miss King.”

“Allison.”

“Allison. He truly loved that child and he is grieving just as much as her mother is grieving.”

“So why was he holding the weapon that killed her, Mister Darque? Why was he standing over her with a knife and blood all over his hands?”

“Because she was his baby girl, and he found her dead. Because she was his baby girl, and he was in shock.”

“And you believe him, Mister Darque?”

“I really do, Allison. And I will do what I can to keep this innocent man out of jail.”

“Very well.” She gulped down her wine. “I guess I should get going then.”

He turned around, startled. “Wait, that’s it? That’s all you have to ask?”

“I know the facts, Mister Darque –”

“Leo. Please.”

She chuckled sweetly. “I know the facts, Leo, I just came to get the icing on the cake. Now I have. You believe you are defending an innocent man. Not a lot of lawyers could say the same.” She stood up, placed her notepad in her bag and walked to the door. “I admire you for that.”

He placed his wine glass on the table and raced after her. “So you don’t want to know anything about Edward James? Anything about little Cassie Yale?” He asked, surprised.

“Like I said, Mister Darque…”

“Leo. Please.”

“Like I said, Leo. I have everything I need.”

She grabbed her coat from the coat rack, thanked him, and walked out.

He wandered back into his living room shaking his head over that bizarre interview – his shortest interview so far. He heard his phone ring and it was that sweet ring tone that she had chosen just for herself. He answered.

“Hi, baby!” He heard her chirp excitedly.

“So I just had a hot woman over. She stripped but I told her I already had a very beautiful girlfriend. She said she could work with couples, is that okay, baby?” He joked.

© Copyright 7ala Abdullah