A DAy in the Life
By Karen Howard-Joly
He sits on the sofa clad in charcoal slacks and a slightly wrinkled white dress shirt unbuttoned at the collar. A subtle maroon and black striped tie hangs loosened around his neck. Left leg crossed over right, he rests a yellow legal pad on his left knee. He scribbles furiously.
As he writes, his face betrays overwhelming fatigue. His soft brown eyes, bleary and bloodshot, strain over each word on the page. It is not yet noon; however, the dark stubble of a stubborn five o'clock shadow already creeps its way along his hollow cheeks. This gives him the appearance of a desperate man.
Sleep has been out of the question for almost a fortnight. The trial has seen to that. The trial. To him, it has quickly become a farce -- turning into one granted Defense motion after another. Crucial evidence suppressed, prosecution witnesses excluded. He's been left with a bare-bones case that Adam Schiff, naturally, expects him to win. Mustn't waste those tax dollars. He scribbles on.
Abbie Carmichael lightly taps on the door, then pokes her head into his office. He motions her inside and keeps on writing. She crosses the room to the sofa, choosing to sit at the end opposite him.
"Jack," she states his name matter-of-factly, brushing a stray strand of long dark hair away from her incredibly attractive face. "Lunch," she smiles.
He holds up his left hand, index finger indicating "one minute."
She waits. As she does, Abbie observes his more-disheveled-than-usual appearance.
Finally, he punctuates the end of his last sentence with an animated stabbing of his Bic pen against the paper. He sighs heavily, and his hoarse voice declares, "Done."
"Your summation?" she asks.
"Uh-huh," he confirms absentmindedly, looking back briefly over what he's written.
"God, you look awful," she observes bluntly. She leans forward and peers at him, her elbows resting on her knees, her hands clasped in front of her, fingers entwined.
He looks up at her sharply. "Thanks," he says sarcastically. "But you should've seen me at six o'clock this morning. I look a damn sight better now." He leans back and yawns, his head resting against the soft, worn leather.
She shakes her head and chides him playfully, "Hard to believe."
"Not so hard if you consider the insomnia this trial has given me." He speaks to her with his eyes closed.
Abbie nods knowingly. She understands the pressure he faces with this murder trial. The publicity surrounding the sensational case has been overwhelming. Reporters from news agencies around the world are encamped outside the Supreme Court building. Every day for the past three weeks she and Jack have been subjected to a frenzy of flashing lights, video cams and microphones -- all thrust in their faces. All for the sake of just one more sound bite, one more tidbit to feed a hungry public. By the time the two of them get into the courtroom, their stress level is already stretched to the limit.
Then, there is the trial itself. She stops herself in mid-thought. No. She's not going to think about that right now. She looks at Jack, who remains comfortably resting on the sofa, his eyes shut.
"You awake?" she asks.
"Uh-huh," he whispers lazily. "Just resting my eyes."
Abbie smiles, "Well, I just came in to let ya know that I've ordered Chinese for lunch. Figured you wouldn't mind. Should be here in fifteen minutes or so."
"Fine," says Jack. He opens his eyes, turns to look at her and adds, "Thanks." He rolls his head back, looking toward the ceiling, before once more closing his eyes.
"No problem," she says brightly. She pushes herself up from the sofa and adds, "So -- why don't you just relax for a while, and I'll let ya now when the chow arrives." She gets no response. "Jack?" she calls quietly. She shakes her head, smiling ruefully.
Abbie tiptoes back across the room and out the door, closing it gently behind her. As she does, Adam passes, sees her expression and stops.
"Everything okay?" he asks, looking through Jack's open blinds. He raises his eyebrows as he notices the sleeping figure of his Executive Assistant.
"Yeah," she remarks, peering back through the window over Adam's shoulder. "But it'll be better if the food's late." She turns and walks casually toward her office. Adam gives a little grunt of understanding and smiles as he continues down the hallway.