Alan twirled his thumb around his tie, willing the elevator to get stuck, or catch fire, or simply plummet down to his ultimate demise. They had to be better fates than the one assigned to him on the twelfth floor. The doors opened on the ninth floor and Jason French stepped in beside him.
“Alan! You look white as a sheet man, what’s shakin’?”
“Nah, nah, I’m good French. Just on my way to my next assignment.”
“Oh yeah? Who ya working under?”
“You’re on the cult case? No shit, man! You, ah.. How’re you gonna manage with, you know…?”
The elevator announce they had arrived at Floor Twelve, saving Justin from having to complete the thought. Alan straightened up and clenched his jaw. “I’ll be fine.”
Samantha Kordain was nervously straightening the last of her papers, glancing around her office with her meticulous eye. She had never worked with this particular junior partner and she was determined to keep her reputation for being a hard-ass bitch with an obsession regarding punctuality and order. Besides, it was going to be hard enough to hide her… ‘talents’ on this case. If she could keep him running circles out of sheer terror of never making full partner, the less likely he would be paying attention to any of her quirks.
A timid knock rapped on the door. Oh good, she smirked. He’s already scared.
“Come in!” She sank back into her plush designer chair and watched as Alan came in, trying to keep his posture up, and stood in front of her desk, staring straight ahead at the wall behind her. Sweat was starting to form on his brow.
“Mr. Duncan, do you understand why you have been assigned to work with me on this case?”
“Yes, ma’am!” Alan barked out quickly, then realizing he was much too loud, amended more quietly, “Yes, I do.” He clasped his hands behind his back and still stood straight ahead.
Is he ex-military? I probably should’ve read more of his file before this meeting. Samantha jotted a note to take a closer look at what exactly made Alan Duncan tick later on that day. Leaning forward she address him in an annoyed tone. ” Well? Would you care to expound upon your answer, Mr. Duncan?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Alan took a deep breath and told himself to pull it together. “As junior partner, in addition to my personal caseload I am to shadow a senior partner on high profile cases in order to learn from their expertise and see if I have what it takes to someday become full partner.”
“Good, Mr. Duncan.” Samantha’s voice dripped sarcasm. “You’re capable of memorizing the employee manual. Now let’s see how well you did with the brief you got this morning. Tell me about our client.”
“Mr. Nathaniel Ratheford. Forty-six year old President and CEO of Ratheford Textile Factory, Ratheford Mills, Ratheford Foods and Ratheford Farms, he stands accused of murder in the first degree of his wife and two daughters, and aggravated assault with intent to murder his son. He claims to have no memory of the night of the murders, but maintains that the guilty party is Stephen Chalk, head and self-proclaimed prophet of the Center for Eternal Light. Mr. Chalk is a person of interest in several murder and missing persons cases related to his followers and it is our belief that his conviction is the key to our client’s innocence.”
“Stop! You have proven you can memorize ad nauseum, but that last sentence is my belief, not yours. Now show me you can do more than recite the work of others.”
And this is it, Alan thought. What does she want to here? This could decide my future, why can’t I ever see when I need to? As if by command, Alan felt strangely disconnected from his body and for the briefest second saw into Ms. Kordain’s head. Options! She wants options!
Alan snapped his head to attention. “I wouldn’t say for certain without exploring the facts and the other cases further, but as far as I see, there are several scenarios we could use to our advantage. Best case, Chalk incapacitated Ratheford in some way while Chalk committed the crime alone. It is also possible Chalk was using some form of drug induced mind control to convince Ratheford to kill his family, or some other torture by which we may be able to claim a temporary insanity plea. We need to look at the other cases, talk to witnesses, get various psychological opinions. The one thing I am certain of, the murder of the Ratheford family fits the MO of all the other murders in which Chalk is a person of interest. In fact Chalk is the only common denominator. For that reason, I am sure we can get at least the capital murder charges against Ratheford dropped, if not clear him of all wrong doing.”
“Well you have a bit of brains. I suppose that’s a good start.” In fact, Samantha was pleased. He wasn’t over cocky, but had a good idea of where to start and was open to different possibilities. But what was up with that eye roll thing? For a split second, she thought he was gonna faint. Of course, when she felt a pull, she probably did something similar. Oh that is impossible! I really need to take a closer look at his file…
Alan interrupted her reverie. “So maybe we should start with the scene of the crime.”
“Actually,” Samantha met Alan in the eye for the first time. “I got a tip from… a source this morning. There’s been another murder. At the Ratheford warehouse on the other side of the river.”
“It’s connected, you think?”
Samantha shrugged. “We won’t know til we go find out. Come on Mr. Malcolm. And don’t forget that I am in charge.”
Alan watched her saunter out of the office. “Yes, ma’am.”
In response to She, He, The Law and Some Out of Control Magic.