Today's Reading

Farrell didn't want to intimidate clients. He wanted them to feel at
home. He always made it a point to show each of them one of his
nearly trademark goofy/funny/rude T-shirts that he infallibly wore
underneath his white button-down shirt. (Today's message: Qualified
to Give Urine Samples.) 

Okay, not really that funny; he'd admit it. But they all spoke to him
in one way or another and he wasn't about to abandon an approach that
had served him so well for so long.

Closing the door behind him, he absently picked up one of the Nerf
basketballs from the Ping-Pong table and shot it toward the hoop
across the room, missing by about three feet. 

It was all the encouragement he needed to cross to the nearest couch,
take off his suit coat, and get horizontal, hands behind his head.
His eyes hadn't been closed even for a minute when the natural law of
the universe kicked in and his telephone rang. 

With a deep sigh, he forced himself up. He was a slave to his landline
and probably always would be (although he was getting better and
better at ignoring his cell phone when it rang or buzzed or strummed
or whatever the h ell else it could do). But the landline was an
imperative going all the way back to his childhood. Ignore it at your
own great peril. He picked it up before the second ring, said his
name into the mouthpiece, and was rewarded by Gina's voice.

“You're there.”

“I am.”

“You wanted to talk to me?”

“I did. Still do. I would have called you in a couple more minutes. I
just got in from the Hall. But since you called me, I intuit that
this might be a good time.”

“You intuit that, do you?”

“I do.”

“If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times—intuition rules.”
She sighed. “I'll come up. I could use the exercise.”

They each took one of the comfortable brown leather chairs and
rearranged them so that they faced each other. Gina settled herself
and spent a couple of seconds looking around the room, finally coming
back to Wes and making a face. “You know,” she said, “I haven't been
up here in a while and, no offense, but it could use a little
freshening up. You ever think about getting an interior designer up
here and turning it into a real office?”

Wes didn't have to consider even for a second. “Never not once. This
is a real office, my dear. It's just a different kind of real. Less
intimidating, user-friendly and all that. My clients love it up here.
Besides, I don't want them thinking that my fees are going to
interior decorating. That would send the wrong message.”

“Which would be what?”

“That I'm doing it for the money, and not for love and justice.”

Gina chuckled. “Oh yes. God forbid they think that. I know for me and
my clients, it's all about the love. I don't think they really notice
the office decor downstairs. At least in a negative way. They
probably even want me to have a nice office so they know they're
dealing with a professional person.”

“Actually,” Wes said, coming forward in his chair, “that's kind of
what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Being a professional person?”

“Well... ” Wes remained silent, his face closing down. He let out a
heavy, perhaps angst-laden breath.

Gina took a quick beat at the abrupt one-word change in tone. She
looked over to meet his eyes and then, reaching out, laid a hand on
his knee. “Hey,” she whispered, with real concern. “Are you all
right?” 

Wes took another deep breath, again let it out heavily. Scratching at
one side of his mouth, then the other, he finally shook his head. “I
don't know. Not so good, I think. I feel like I'm in the middle
of... maybe an existential crisis, if that's not too fancy a term for
it. I just don't know if I'm going to be able to go on doing what I'm
doing.” He broke a small smile. “Sorry.”

She waved off his apology. “Did something happen?”

“Not one something, I'm afraid. Several of them.” He sat back and put
an ankle on his knee. “I went down to the Hall this morning because
it was my day to take conflict cases.” These were usually cases with
more than one defendant, so both of them couldn't be represented by
the same attorney (or by lawyers from the public defender's office)
because of conflict of interest rules. “Lots of business, right?”

“Bread and butter,” she said.
...

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