Salvatore J. Harper, Attorney at Law. Licensed whip-cracker, and certified and bonded pain in the ass. The married father of two was earnest in his concern for his newest client, but at the moment he was wearing his “right now I’m not your friend, I’m your lawyer and I’m dead serious” face, anxiously fingering the much-abused tab of the “Lane, Bobbi E.” file folder.
He’d pulled that file from his cabinet close to a dozen times over the last eighty-some-odd days and slapped it down in front of her for dramatic effect. His patented, David E. Kelley legal-drama-worthy, “gotcha” performance. It was supposed to scare the young ‘uns, startle them out of their malaise. He got genuinely pissed off when she giggled at it, so she stopped doing that. When she could help it.
“Why do I bother giving you professional advice—damn solid advice I might add—when you completely ignore it? Am I an idiot or something?”
“I’ve often wondered that myself,” Bobbi said. She’d uttered that in jest. But when Sal glared up from her file, icy as an old nun, she hastily buried the emerging smirk under a mask of feigned guilt and deep contrition. “Um, in answer to your first question. I’m at a loss.”
Her late-night donuts in Potter’s cornfield last weekend left an impressive pattern of muddy crop circles, albeit ones not nearly up to the artistic standards that would lure UFOlogists from their far corners to rural Missou-rah with cameras and whatever-o-meters in tow. They did lure John Potter out of bed at three in the A.M. Which lured a slew of obscenities from his spittle-moistened, sleep-deprived mouth, and a loaded shotgun from his gun cabinet. The commotion in turn lured Deputy Clarence Jackson.
The strapping black rookie, a close neighbor of Potter’s, had singled out Bobbi for special attention on a couple of his sweeps through The Dive during his late-night rounds. He flirted blatantly and shamelessly, flashed that Rembrandt-white grin that was too cocky and too fetching to go unanswered. It was all totally unprofessional. And it totally got him laid. Repeatedly. ...
“I fail to see the humor in all of this, Bobbi.”
Sal had gone from supremely irritated to outright livid during her f*** down memory lane. She must have been smiling, because he was thumbing that dog-eared file tab, fully primed for another melodramatic display of lawerly indignation. This would have intimidated most clients. But Bobbi—who had produced his weekly hour of sports radio at KCRP and headed off with him afterward for drinks and karaoke more times than she could count—couldn’t look into that face, with the puppy-dog eyes and thin sliver of a mouth, without hearing the lawyer’s pitchy, drunken rendition of “Old Time Rock & Roll.”
“What part of ‘You cannot drive for ninety days’ do you not get? What part of ‘You cannot drink and drive at all, ever,’ do you not get?”
Sal’s ruddy face grew redder. He picked up “Lane, Bobbi E.” and peevishly tossed her onto the walnut desk. Bobbi snickered and then transitioned seamlessly into a fake sneeze. Sal handed her a tissue absentmindedly with almost the same flick of the wrist he’d used to fling her file.
“You’re lucky Potter didn’t want to pursue charges. And I don’t even want to know what kind of ‘agreement’ you worked out with Deputy Jackson to put, eh—let’s see here—the lovely Sherl Craft into the driver’s seat for your little Mud-Capades extravaganza. You’re lucky McInnery didn’t stop you. She was on duty that night, you know?”
“She would’ve given me a pass. We’re cool.”
“Ha!” Sal plopped back his in office chair, adjusting his already perfectly centered bowtie. It was a nervous habit. “Jane would have come down on you harder than anyone. She’s ‘cool’ alright—by-the-book cool. Give a green-eyed monster-menace a free pass? Shi—”
The man worked himself into a mildly apoplectic state in his rant. He poked his index finger into his desk, mussing his fine, side-parted hair. He was overdue for a cut and coif.
“If Jane had been the officer at Potter’s that night, your skinny ass would be in the county jail right now playing second-string bunk-bitch to some chick with a beard. And she’d have been doing you a favor, Shirley Muldowney. Judge MacQuoid going easy on you sure as hell didn’t straighten you out. You better hope Jane doesn’t get wind of this from someone Jackson blabbed to. She might still investigate you.”
Bobbi wasn’t smiling now. She was for-real straight-faced. And scared. She was oddly unafraid of dying but jail terrified the poo out of her. One night (and mourning) in the pokey was her limit. The bitches she bumped elbows with in that shit can the night she led the Sheriff’s Office all over The Lou on the hunt for Robbie were some seriously unhinged kooks. She’d Thelma and Louis the shit out of that Grand Prix before she’d share space with those butterfly catchers again.
“I guess it’s a good thing I have you, Sally,” she shrugged. Bravado. Her success at faking it was hit-and-miss.
“I’m an attorney, not a magician, and I’m not a time-traveler. But more important, I’m way bigger than you.” Sal stepped out from behind his giant desk and stood over Bobbi with his hand outstretched.
“No way, honcho.”
“I’m twice your size, Bobbi. I will use brute force. I will use legal force, if necessary. Fork ‘em over.”
Sal lunged and grabbed her around her shoulders in a crushing bear hug, rooting around her body for her handbag. Bobbi, pinned firmly as she was to the cushioned armchair, twisted the bag out of his reach but couldn’t break herself free. When she arched her back to create some wiggle room to slide off the seat, the maneuver pivoted her right tit directly into Sal’s hand.
That contact forced an instant pole reversal. They separated like two negatively charged magnets. Sal withdrew to the far corner of his office, shaking the inappropriate grope off his hands as he shuddered and paced, while Bobbi hunched over in the armchair pulling down her mini tee further than the fabric was designed to stretch. The lawyer planted his feet in a wide stance and squinted at her, considering his next move.
“You don’t have a spare, do you?”
“Pffffssshhh …,” she snorted unconvincingly. Shit. That hit-and-miss bravado again.
Sal grinned ear to ear. He could savor another Kelley gotcha.
“Unless you want me to fondle you again, hand it over, sweet cheeks,” he said. He worked his hands open and closed in a rapid lobster-claw motion.
“Ugh!” Bobbi slung the handbag at him, only half-trying to avoid his head.
“Front pocket, jerkface.”
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