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Authors: Kelly Rey

Motion for Malice

BOOK: Motion for Malice
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MOTION FOR MALICE

 

by

 

KELLY REY

 

 

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Copyright © 2015 by Kelly Rey

Cover design by Yocola Designs

Gemma Halliday Publishing

http://www.gemmahallidaypublishing.com

 

 

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

 

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CHAPTER ONE

 

Some people are as subtle as spoiled milk and about as pleasant. Dorcas Beeber was one of those people. One and a quarter, if you counted her killer Bossi-Poo, Chandler. Both of them showed up at my desk at the law firm formerly known as Parker, Dennis & Heath before the untimely expiration of Heath, early on an overcast Thursday morning in January. Dorcas's husband Weaver trailed behind like a wisp of smoke. The office policy was no animals allowed, but Dorcas made her own rules, and Chandler had no respect for authority. He yapped nonstop from his Gucci carrier, sounding madder by the minute, probably because the other Bossi-Poos made fun of his little velvet sweater on the way over. Weaver stood off to the side, a trim, tidy, bright little man in his plaid cardigan and khakis, his hair short and neat, his nails clipped and clean.

Dorcas glared down at me through contact lenses the startling color of tiger's eyes. Nothing about Dorcas was subtle. She was in your face in every way. Rings on nearly every finger, big, chunky necklace, broad neon peach headband. She had acres of overly tanned skin draped over large bones. And she was holding a crystal ball.

Some people might have wondered what a crystal ball was doing in a law office. I wasn't one of them. I'd worked at the newly rebirthed Parker, Dennis long enough to expect anything. In fact, I was surprised the crystal ball hadn't shown up sooner. We could have used it. The place had been going downhill since one of its founding partners, Doug Heath, had joined the bar association in the great beyond six months earlier. The problem wasn't necessarily that Doug had died. The problem was that his lowbrow but successful advertising spots had died along with him, and now that his files were lurching to a close without being replaced by new ones, the firm was running out of money. Which meant it took every flea-riddled stray dog of a case that wandered in off the street.

With a sigh, I turned away from the plaintiff's request for admissions I'd been typing for the firm's associate, Wally Randall. Requests for admissions were part of the legal discovery process that began after the filing of a complaint, where the plaintiff tried to get the defendant to admit to such incriminating statements as
The defendant was born on or about October 1, 1960,
which invariably would be denied in the defendant's Response. It seemed like a waste of printer toner to me, but then I had to have something to do between breakfast and dinner.

I smiled at Weaver, frowned at Chandler, and looked at Dorcas.

She plunked the crystal ball down on my desk. "I want to see Howard."

"He's unavailable," I said, which is what I always said when Dorcas showed up. No one was available when Dorcas showed up. Including Dorcas. As far as I could tell, she spent her days drifting in the middle distance of consciousness with her crystals, visions, and Chandler to keep her company. "Wally's here if you want to see him," I added. I tried to push the crystal ball aside, off of my papers, but it refused to move.

She actually drew back in horror, a reaction I completely understood. "Certainly not. I won't have that imbecile pawing through my file."

Currently, she didn't have a file. From what I could tell, she didn't even have a life. But she had a hobby, and that hobby was filing ridiculous lawsuits. About fifteen months ago, with Dougie's help, she'd raked a company called Miss Clara, Incorporated over the coals to the tune of a hundred thousand bucks. Turned out Miss Clara, Incorporated was a phone bank of slow-talking Bahamian fortune tellers who, for $3.95 a minute, had taken their time predicting a fatal shopping cart accident that turned out to be nothing more than a ding in her car door at the local Aldi's. She'd never seen a dime of that money, since Miss Clara, Incorporated had folded up shop after the verdict. Ever since then, Wally and Howard had treated her as if she were a few tarot cards short of a deck.

"Dear," Weaver said, "maybe it would be best if we talk to Wally."

She blew out an impatient sigh. "I don't
want
to talk to Wally. I want to talk to Howard." She glowered at me. Chandler glowered at me.

I was unfazed, as long as the dog carrier remained latched. "I understand, but he just isn't here right now." I gave the crystal ball another subtle push. Nothing. "Is there something I can help you with?" I asked.

"This
thing
has become completely unmanageable," she said, flicking a purple-painted fingernail at the crystal ball. It trembled slightly. Strange. "Lately it's giving me nothing but dark visions. Not like my honey baby Chandler. Isn't that right, honey baby? He's such a good boy." She pressed her lips to the carrier and made kissy sounds. Chandler touched his nose to her chin. Then I swear he smirked at Weaver. "My clients are very unhappy with their readings," she said after she'd unpeeled her lips from the mesh. "One of them claims she's gone on antidepressants because of me. Some of them are actually refusing to pay me. Can you imagine that?"

I didn't have to imagine it. It was the story of my life. I got paid in single digits, and I still sped to the bank on Fridays to make sure the check didn't bounce.

"Dear," Weaver said, "I think you should simply sue them for not paying."

"But they're my
clients,"
she said. "Where would I be without them?"

Weaver gave a tiny resigned shrug.

"The money's not the point," she whined. "This thing" —another flick at the crystal ball, another blink-and-you-missed-it tremble—"is costing me business. I have bills to pay, too. Do you know how expensive it is to run Destinies with Dorcas?"

I had an idea. I'd passed the Destinies with Dorcas storefront once or twice. It was above a shuttered hardware store in the dilapidated business district of Oak Grove that had surrendered to the march of time and the modern office park near the interstate. It was probably all she could afford. Dorcas used to be a cashier at a local Walmart until an unfortunate incident involving a crate of Grape Nuts falling on her head, at which point she apparently saw a vision of dollar signs and began calling herself a psychic.

I glanced down at the crystal ball. For a plain hunk of glass, it wasn't bad looking. If you stared at it long enough, you could actually see swirls of color and subtle movement deep inside—no, wait. That was Dorcas behind it, impatiently swishing around her flowing robes.
That
was a relief.

"I'm not sure—" I began.

"I'm getting a vision." Her gaze drifted to the crystal ball and lingered there, unblinking, for a few seconds. "You have an undesirable in your life. Someone you seek to be rid of. A man."

I ran down the list of men in my life. It was a short list, with only Curt Emerson on it, and I definitely didn't want to be rid of Curt. Curt was a keeper.

"I can't quite see him clearly…" She frowned at the crystal ball. "He's dark haired. No, no, he's a blonde."

Good grief.

"His name begins with a
D,
" she said. "Or perhaps an
M?
"

I glanced at Weaver and got another shrug.

"Well." She looked away, blinking several times. "In time, all will be made clear."

"Isn't she astounding?" Weaver said.

"I'm usually very accurate." Dorcas shrugged. "But my crystal ball has a crack in it."

She could say that again.

I heard the back door open, and my heart lifted. Salvation. Or the Grim Reaper. Either way.

"It's obviously defective," she went on. "I intend to sue the manufacturer. It even broke my toe this morning while I was carrying it into my séance room. Isn't that right, honey baby?" She kissed the mesh carrier some more. Chandler was starting to look embarrassed.
I wondered if
séance room
was psycho-speak for bathroom. "I'm sorry to hear that," I said, "but if you slipped—"

"I didn't slip," she snapped. "It dove right onto my foot after I chastised it for showing me a black vision. I won't have black visions." She gave a brisk nod of confirmation. "It's a very winnable lawsuit," she added.

Chandler let out a sharp yap as if to say,
She's right.
Or maybe,
I smell toast.

The door to the kitchen inched open, and Missy's eye pressed to the crack. Missy was another secretary at the firm, but she looked more movie starlet than computer jockey. Missy was almost six feet of legs with a knockout body, a Barbie doll face, and enough smarts to stay in the kitchen when Dorcas was around.

Dorcas cocked her head to the right and froze. Her eyes rolled up into her head. Her mouth fell open. Weaver took a tiny step backward. Chandler stopped trying to chew his way out of his carrier and watched her.

"Death!" she shrieked. Weaver jumped a little. Chandler cowered for a tenth of a second then resumed gnawing on the mesh door. "Death is in the air! The place reeks of it!"

Well, that was a bit of an exaggeration. Howard had hired the best cleaners after Dougie had filed his final brief in the kitchen.

She swayed back and forth, muttering. Chandler looked a little green around the whiskers. "Death is in the foyer," she moaned. I leaned to the left to take a look. Table, lamp, cheap throw rug. Looked okay to me. "It must be stopped. You!" She stabbed her finger at me. "You must stop it!"

Chandler rolled his eyes. For once I knew how he felt. "I don't know if I can do that," I told her.

"You can! You must! You will!"

Oh, for Pete's sake. I sighed. "Fine."
Dorcas shook her head. "Foolish girl. You mock the things you don't understand."

She was wrong there. I also mocked the things I did understand. And I understood she was a gold-plated kook. Not for the first time, I found myself wishing Dougie was still around. He'd known how to handle clients like her. He'd spoken their language. I just wanted to drop the crystal ball onto her other foot. If I could move the damn thing. I gave it one more try. Nothing.

I sat back, defeated. "How exactly do I go about stopping death?" I asked, since that kind of information might come in handy someday.

"At the source, of course."

"Yap!" Chandler said, now having a respectable hole in his mesh door and a different perspective.

"Is there a dog in this office?" the intercom squawked. Unfortunately, the intercom sounded a lot like Howard. I went still. Dorcas stared at it for a good ten seconds, nodding thoughtfully as if receiving instruction from the mother ship, which was almost scarier than her screaming about death. Weaver stayed put watching her. Chandler's expression morphed from triumph to
Uh-oh.

Finally, Dorcas looked back to me.

"How about I take you to see Howard now?" I said.

 

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There are a lot of lawyers in the world. And because of firms like Parker, Dennis, there are a lot of lawyer jokes. The office itself was nice enough, decorated in navy, burgundy, and soft cream, with lots of expensive wood and thick law books. It was the lawyers in it that provided the punch lines.

One of them, Wally Randall, showed up about an hour later. I heard him before I saw him, because his knees sounded like maracas thanks to an unsuccessful semester of college football. Unsuccessful because he'd spent that semester on the bench and had still wound up injured. Anyway, now Wally was his own early warning system, which was useful if we were, say, eating Butterscotch Krimpets at our desks when we should have been typing groundless complaints. Wally's latest opus was a laugher involving Darius Snodgrass, a genius who'd been trying to change a flat tire on a steep hill when the tire had predictably rolled away on him, stopping at the bottom of the hill thanks to a brand new Mercedes convertible, whose owner had been immediately motivated to drive right up the hill to beat the stupidity out of Darius. It hadn't worked—I'd met Darius—but it had given Wally fodder for a civil case for damages. His unemployed, trailer-dwelling, 1968 Ford Fairlane-owning client was now suing for a million bucks.

Wally clicked into the secretarial area where I was now hard at work hiding my Krimpets on my lap while typing away. Missy had come out of hiding in the kitchen the minute the Beeber party had floated off upstairs to see Howard, and she was busy looking gorgeous in front of the copier, reeling off a half dozen notices of deposition for Howard.

What happened in civil cases was that after the complaint was filed by the plaintiff and an answer filed on behalf of the defendant, a period of discovery began where all parties exchanged information such as written questions called interrogatories and in-person Q&A sessions called depositions that took place in front of a court reporter. It took a lot of work to corral a bunch of lawyers and witnesses into one room at the same time, and it involved a lot of phone calls. Missy had a way of making it work, mostly because she knew everyone in the legal community and had dated most of the males, so she scheduled the majority of the depositions. Which left me more time to bask in the genius of Wally's pleadings.

BOOK: Motion for Malice
3.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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