No good deed goes unpunished...
"Dad, what is this about?" Cressida stormed into his office and threw the files onto his desk.
Although on the phone with a client, Charleston took one look at his daughter’s face and knew the conversation with his celebrity client would have to be placed on the back burner. "Yes, something just came up. I will have to call you back. No, I promise you everything is going to work in our favor. Okay, take care now." He set the receiver down and picked up the file his daughter had so dramatically thrust before him.
"Cressida, I gave you this case because I thought you would be the perfect person to handle it." He spoke like the self-confident businessman that he was.
"What? Are you kidding me? Dad, this is the same man Mom said broke into our home and attacked her!" Cressida’s shrill voice echoed across the walls of her father’s office. She was furious at her father’s carefree demeanor.
"Pudding, your mom is not in any position to talk. She has lost her mind. You can't listen to her," Charleston replied. He made his way over to the bar to pour himself a drink.
Cressida regretted the harsh words. She knew the topic of her mother always led him to a drink. "Daddy, I'm sorry. It's just that… this man is pure evil. I can't defend someone like this. Daddy, Blake Carter, raped and killed over 23, young girls and boys." She went to stand behind her father. A tear rolled down her cheek as she pictured the faces of the innocent children who’d been hurt by this man. "Only a fool would take this case. His guilt is obvious."
Charleston set his glass back on the bar and turned to face his daughter. "Cressida, had I had another option, I wouldn't have asked you. Nobody will take this case. I would take it myself, but my workload is already overflowing, and with your mother's illness, I can't afford to lose anymore cases. Look, honey, it truly is a done deal for Blake Carter. It's an easy case. No jury in their right mind is going to let him off." He placed his arm around his daughter’s shoulder and pulled her closer to plant a kiss on her temple.
"Please, for Daddy? I have no one else."
Cressida crumbled under her father's embrace. "Okay, Daddy. I’ll take it." She felt as if a part of her had just died.
"That's my girl. Hey, we can't always have the good cases. We have to sometimes defend filth. At the end of the day all you need is a shot of rum and a piece of a..."
"Daddy!" Cressida cut him off before he could finish.
Charleston let out a hearty laugh as he walked back to his desk. "Well, you know what I mean." He smiled and settled into his chair.
"Dad, you’re a pirate." Cressida remarked as she made her way to the door.
"Hey!" Her father called out holding up the file for the Blake Carter case.
She walked back and hesitated a moment before snatching the file out of her father’s hand.
"Ar, ar, ar," he snorted in his lame attempt at a pirate.
Cressida nervously smiled. She had a bad feeling about this case. She looked at her watch. Five o' clock had finally rolled around. She rushed to her office, shoved the file into her briefcase, and grabbed her coat. With a quick flick of her wrist, she locked her office door and headed out.
As she walked, Cressida pulled her hair out of its tight bun and shook it loose. One of her friends had set her up on a blind date. The timing was great; she needed something to distract her thoughts from this upcoming case. She made her way to the local gourmet restaurant and headed for the bar where they’d agreed to meet. All Cressida knew about Joshua Smith was that he was a local realtor in his mid-forties who was divorced and had five kids.
She made herself comfortable at the bar and ordered a rum and coke, thinking about the last statement her father had made, only moments earlier. Occasionally checking her watch, Cressida waited and ordered another drink. She looked around at the other patrons wondering if there’d been a mix up. Was she in the right place? Yes; this was exactly where he’d said to wait for him. She waited another half hour, but her date never showed. Feeling lower than dirt, she ordered three, straight shots of vodka. She quickly swallowed them down and kept ordering more as if each one held the power to make her forget about her miserable life. The bartender ended up cutting her off. Beyond drunk, Cressida was unable to get off of the barstool.
Meanwhile, Maxwell sat in the dining room, having coffee with a business associate when he noticed Cressida at the bar. "So are we done here? I can see a friend of mine is in trouble at the bar." He took the napkin off of his lap and placed it on the table.
"Yeah, sure. It was nice doing business with you," Hank Williams replied, putting his hand out for Maxwell to shake.
Maxwell shook his hand, threw down some money for the meal and stood. "I'm sorry for cutting this short, but it appears that my friend is about ready to fall off that stool. Call me later so we can finalize everything. It was good meeting you, Hank," Maxwell said before hastily making his way over to Cressida.
He reached her just as employees were beginning to slide her off the barstool. Maxwell held her as her head rolled backwards.
"How much did she have to drink?" he asked the bartender.
"She had eight shots of vodka and two rum and cokes," he replied. "Lucky for her it's early, and the place isn’t too busy. I was able to keep track of her. Any busier, and I would have let her drink herself into oblivion."
"I understand." Maxwell grabbed her things. "Cressida, it's Maxwell. I'm going to help you out, okay?"
No response came from her.
He picked her up and carried her out the door. On his way he passed a short, plump, and bald, middle-aged man, standing there bewildered as he held a bouquet of flowers.