Contrasts and Comparisons
By Elizabeth Cutright
(Excerpted from East Junction, a novel in progress)
It was the sort of exhaustion that takes over your entire body – wrapping you up in a gossamer web of steely threads. Gillian felt paralyzed, and she knew it had more to do with emotional exertions than anything overtly physical. She decided it was best to sit back and let the boys hash it out at this point. After all, they were the professionals.
She tried to hide her yawns as Greg went over what he felt could be definitive evidence at pretrial. Danny looked skeptical, and – not for the first time – Gillian wondered at the dichotomy of the two men. Greg always enthused about something: the salsa at Luann’s, last night’s sunset, the way his wife looked in her blue sundress. Danny, on the other hand, rarely expressed emotion about anything. He absorbed information watchfully, cynically – always on the look out for the scam. Digging out the lie or exposing the half truth. Always contemplating his attack. Qualities admirable in a lawyer, but tiring in a friend. But Gillian doubted Danny gave to much thought to friendships, or any other relationships. The only person ever able to disarm him completely had been Brenda. Thanks to her, the emotional, empathetic Danny now lay rotting in a jail cell of his own making – cast out by Brenda, but locked in by himself.
Even an outsider would be able to detect the opposite natures of the too men. There stood Danny, arms crossed over a wrinkled white shirt still tucked into his belted pants, tie lassoed around his neck, glaring at Greg with a look of disdain growing more powerful every second. Greg proceeded ponderously, laying out his thoughts in a clear, pedestrian manner. He continued despite the scowl, leaning back in the office chair, legs crossed casually, his jeans and t-shirt marking him more beach bum than defense attorney.
Gillian couldn’t help feeling that somewhere in all those dry words a key existed – the key to set their client free. But Danny did not look convinced, and Gillian began to doubt her instinct, shaded as it was by Danny’s genius.
There they stood, the three of them in a sort of philosophical stalemate. Strategy at a standstill. No one heard the knock on the door, but everyone felt the energy in the room shudder slightly. The men, of course, took longer to come around, but Gillian knew right away that the source of this current was female. This suspicion immediately was confirmed by the appearance of Diane Kitzwa in the doorway. Tailored suit, expensive shoes, sleek black hair impeccably styled; she was a vision of urban sophistication out of place in the small town office.
Gillian watched Danny take it all in, saw the light of his eyes alter just a bit, and suddenly knew that her battled had turned into a war on two fronts. Attack plans raced through her head, crowding out most of what Diane was saying about a “friend of the court” brief to be filed on behalf of a human rights watch organization. A possible request for substitution of counsel. Gillian could tell by Diane’s forced smile that this big city lawyer had expected to encounter a troop of toothless country bumpkin fumbling along on a capital murder case desperate for outside help.
It was clear that she had not expected Danny.