Read an Excerpt
Legal Days, Lonely Nights
by William Fredrick Cooper
When Kyle entered the office of Stephen Cohen, principal partner of the firm Cohen, Schindler and Brody, he spied a gangly figure pacing the plush carpet, staring down on Manhattan through the window. Cohen was seated on an adjacent sofa, along with a bald man whose eyes sagged at the corners.
"I'm sure we can have this resolved by the time the season starts," he heard his boss finish.
Rising from his seat as he turned his attention to Kyle, Cohen gestured toward the pacing figure. One who needed no introduction. "Kyle, I want you to meet Stanton Curry of the Orlando Magic and his agent, Mark Rabinowitz." To the balding figure who remained seated, he said, "Kyle Watson is one of my brightest senior associates. I'm going to let him take the lead on this case."
Kyle received a dead fish handshake from Rabinowitz, who eyed him with skepticism. "No offense, Kyle, butŠ" The agent turned back to Cohen and continued. "Are you sure we...Do you think this is the best way to go?"
Cohen nodded and then responded, "I know what you're getting at. But Kyle's the best trial lawyer we have. Stan is your go-to-guy, Kyle is ours. Isn't that right, Watson?"
"I wouldn't be too concerned with appearances," Kyle retorted, eyeing Rabinowitz without a blink. "You might want to focus some of your concern on repelling the media attention this thing is receiving, unless you want Stan to get tried on the front page of every periodical in the city."Rabinowitz, slightly rattled by Kyle's confident tone, downplayed his own aggression. "Look," he stated, "I just want what's best for my client."
"Our client," Cohen corrected. "And Kyle is the best."
Kyle didn't let on that he and Stanton were former rivals on the court...Keeping his greeting strictly professional, he offered his hand and said, "How are you, Stanton? I've been following your progress since your career started."
Cueing on Kyle's lead, Stanton was cordial..."Nice to see you, man...Hope I haven't disappointed you."
With a sly smile, Kyle stated, "No way, man...You've been holding your own."
Rabinowitz squirmed in his seat. Kyle could sense his level of discomfort at their familiar tones and casual speech.
"Kyle, why don't you take Stanton to your office where he can give you all the particulars so we can get started on his defense as soon as possible," Cohen stated.
"Sure thing. Stanton, why don't you follow me." As they moved from Cohen's office into the brightly lit hallway, the sight and strides of two handsome African-American brothers dressed for business commanded everyone's attention. Each step from the statuesque duo seemed like a synchronized lesson in self-confidence to the Black clerks pushing mail carts; the message without words powerfully stating, "Go to school, get your degree and do something with your life." Secretaries in search of Black super men -- those drop dead gorgeous hunks only found in Ebony -- were peeking up from piles of work, whispering and batting eyelashes, seemingly under an alluring spell...
Before entering his office, Kyle introduced his well-known client to Trudy, his administrative assistant. His demeanor never wavered from corporate protocol as he requested a six-pack of Perrier with lemon from the employee lounge. Only after escorting Stanton into his office and closing his door did the veneer come down. And it did so with a process bred in the joy of knowing someone from around the way: a brotherly hug, a soulful handshake complete with a finger-popping finish and an inquiry, "Stan the man. What up, dawg?!"
"Man, nothin' but drama," Stanton announced, admiring Kyle's place of business. The old rivals spent a few moments getting caught up. Kyle knew Stan's story; Lincoln High, St. John's University, Orlando's first pick in the draft and seven first-team All-NBA selections in as many years. They discussed the whereabouts of a few mutual friends and acquaintances shared from their days as arch-rival basketball players in high school. Noticing the undergraduate and juris doctorate degrees from Georgetown University, the MVP plaques Kyle had accrued from intramural and lawyers' basketball leagues left Stanton shaking his head. "I see you still got game."
Kyle smiled. "Brooklyn point guards never lose their skills. You know that."
"You could've been breakin' ankles in the 'L', like I am."
"Different people take different roads in life, Stan. Though B-ball is still in my blood, I was born to be a trial attorney." They seated themselves in unison; Kyle behind his desk, Stan in his guest chair equipped with an ottoman. "Speaking of which, why didn't you play in the Rucker Tournament this year? Kobe Bryant came down, so did Stephon Marbury, Tracy McGrady and some of the old school players like Clyde Frazier and Tiny Archibald for a legends game. What's up with that?"
"Superstars improve their game in solitude. Got no time to showboat in the summer leagues. I want a ring next year."
Kyle nodded in agreement. "Tell me about it. I'm tryin' to be the first black partner here. With all the racist bullshit weakly disguised as politics, I often work alone on my cases." Sensing the opportunity to segue to the matter at hand, he wasted no time in capitalizing. "What's going on with you, man?"
Lowering his head with the query and then raising it suddenly in defiance, Stanton stated his case. "Man, some cat is goin' for a shakedown. I was at Perk's in Harlem about three weeks ago, and this guy, who appeared to have had one too many, was clownin' me over the fact that we got bumped by the Charlotte Hornets in the first round this year."
"I would've too, the way Jamal Mashburn ate y'all up," Kyle quipped.
"Counselor's got jokes, I see."
"Just kidding, Stan. Go on."
"So anyway, I could tell this guy was drunk. His speech was slurred, he was staggering and struggling to keep his balance and he's razzing me something bad. The taunting didn't bother me. But then he spilled beer on me. Swinging wildly in my direction, the mug of beer he held tipped over, and the froth of it sloshed on my shirt and lapel. I sidestepped his clumsiness 'cause I didn't want him all over me. Before I could blink he lost his balance, fell on his face, and grabbed his nose. Then the bouncer intervened and they escorted me outside.
"I never saw him again after that, so I figured it was just one of those things. Two weeks later he pressed battery charges against me. So I turned myself in, made bail, and now I need a good trial lawyer to clear my name of this madness."
Kyle scribbled on a blank legal pad in the ensuing silence. "Is that all that happened?"
"So you never hit him?"
Stan sucked his teeth. "Look man, I ain't into throwin' cats through windows and shit. I was just trying to have some dinner and a good time."
Kyle sighed and then raised his hand to indicate his understanding. "I have to ask you these things, man, because this guy and his ambulance chaser are going to do everything in their power to prove that you assaulted him. They're creating an image; he'll be an unwitting, undeserving victim. So I need to know if you're leaving anything out, otherwise we'll be going to the theatre of the unexpected."
"You know everything." Stan nodded as he leaned back in his seat, brooding...
"Stan, personally, I'd be honored to clear your name. But know this, I'm a professional, and from this point forward I must treat you like a client. You might not agree with some of my actions, and you may even dislike my suggestions, but trust me, they're in your best interest. Because this is such a high profile case, until it's over, I want you to keep a low profile, meaningŠ"
"Stay away from the women, the bars, and the club scene," Stan finished, sighing.
"Exactly. Your visibility in these places can go a long way in the judge's final ruling." With those words, Kyle came from behind his desk, and in a moment of spiritual weakness, gave his brother in the struggle a loving embrace. "I got your back, dawg. Believe that."
I got your back, dawg...Those five words were a motivating tool for Kyle Watson as he labored from dusk to dawn preparing Stanton's defense. Additional incentive came in knowing that in October, some eight weeks away, Cohen, Schindler and Brody's fiscal cycle would end with the announcement of the firm's new partners. Having already established his brilliance by defending clients with the tenacity of a pitbull, emerging victorious in a case of this magnitude would go a long way in proving he merited strong consideration.
Winning a case of such importance entailed great sacrifice as well. Heeding Cohen's orders to concentrate solely on Curry's exoneration, every case that had been worked on prior to his assignment to Stanton was either compartmentalized or delegated to junior associates.
"Grunt work," Kyle mumbled from his home office a week into his prep work. Inundated with the task of preparing interrogatories, finding credible witnesses and conversing and consulting with his defense team via e-mail, his social and romantic life had taken a turn for the worse ever since his goal of partnership by thirty-three became an obsession. Recalling the words of his former fiancée, Anita Browne, had said to him when she broke off the engagement two years ago by moving out of their Riverdale condo, "Being with you is like being alone," Kyle was briefly saddened once again. The devastation that rose through him upon hearing those words compelled him to numb his pain with work. Assuaging his hurt with an inordinately large case load served as therapy.
Not on this night, however. Finally taking a break from the task at hand, Kyle the Recluse succumbed to his loneliness. Sipping white zinfandel after a hot shower, he tried to ignore the stiff feeling at his groin telling him it had been too long since he'd had sex, but his efforts were futile. Too wound up to go to sleep, yet too tired to step out and mingle at a local watering hole, too late for jumpers at a nearby gym, and too far removed from the dating scene to consider a booty call, the Internet would be a catharsis that evening...
Dimming the lights to his work study, Kyle refilled his glass of wine, placed a CD in the PC drive and instantly the case-related tension gave way to physical longing. Keith Washington and Chanté Moore serenaded him with "Candlelight and You" as he lit a match to the wick of a lavender-scented votive. After searching the usual websites devoted to sports and leisure, he came across a rectangular icon flashing in white letters amidst a red background advertising Sistergirls.com, a bachelorette website.
As the music drifted to R. Kelly's "Strip for You," Kyle let his mind wander a bit while contemplating his next move. Growing weary of cooking dinner for one and of the sleepless seasons passing him by in a lonely bed, the blend of wine and melody heightened masculine cravings and lowered his inhibitions. Desires now running rampant, he wished some seductive siren would knock three times at his door, drop her coat to the floor and help him release pent-up sexual tension. Masturbation can only do so much, he mused.
Clicking onto the link, the artistic portrait of three attractive ladies was a precursor to the numerous images of desirable, available women, each accompanied by biographical profiles, personality narratives and ideal match descriptions for potential suitors. There was something for every man: hotties and hoochies wearing daisy dukes and large earrings for thugs who coveted the around-the-way type; the conservative, debutante sort for professional men in search of eye candy; a couple even arched Kyle's eyebrows with brazen sexual demands and enticing photos.
Sifting though the diverse, yet delectable assortment of Nubian queens with cute and clever profiles, he was about to exit the site when he noticed the title, CHOCOLATE KITTY IS DREAMING ABOUT YOU, next to a picture-less bio. That she was faceless intrigued him. Her bio had better be something, Kyle thought as he scanned the page.
Though I could write a lot of starry-eyed platitudes regarding love and the quest thereof, I do not covet that at this point in my life.
Then what in the hell is she looking for? Kyle pondered. I want lust before love. Are you man enough to play this game of on-line foreplay with me? Mmmm, I sure hope so...I love the chemistry between male and female, and what we can create in our sensuous, seductive cyber world of two...I love exploring the world of erotic fantasy and thoroughly enjoy the
differences between the sexes; your thoughts, my thoughts and our dreams and desires in the throes of passion...
I have a hunger to meet you on-line in a string bikini and be folded into your arms on a moonlit night along a foreign beach, sipping a cool Merlot and listening to hot jazz. I want to dance forbidden dances with you as we travel the world together in fantasy: Brazil, Argentina, Barcelona and Cancun all await our long walks and steamy nights in cyberland...Can we try every position imaginable, both in your place and mine? Can I satisfy your every desire and craving, your every need, in our virtual land of ecstasy? I sure hope so. This Chocolate Kitty wants to purr. I'll be waiting.
Chocolate Kitty - ChocKitty@sg.com
Upon completing his perusal of her profile, a mysterious mixture of heat and intrigue passed through Kyle as her flavor preference piqued his curiosity. Is she as fond of chocolate as I am? Collapsing back in his chair as he read her invitation once more, the throbbing at his lower body matched the intensity of his strong pumping heart. Drifting into fantasy, the thought of running a lively tongue along her bronze skin...But is her skin bronze, caramel, or some other earthly shade? Envisioning their full lips melding to one...Are her petals full, or small and sweet? he asked himself. Are her kisses tender and teasing, or plundering and passionate? Was her kitty in need of the warm milk that threatened to spurt from his pulsing masculinity? Only one way to find out, Kyle thought as he removed his hand from his protruding member. He would play her game of seduction.
The woman is witty and intelligent, he thought while reaching for a quart of chocolate milk in his portable refrigerator, so my nickname and title must be catchy. As he drank from the plastic carton he pondered this, but when he pulled the spout from his mouth and his eyes landed on the container's labeling, it came to him. Placing the milk on top of the fridge, Kyle's gaze moved from the quart to his groin, then back to the quart. A mischievous smile crossed his face as he clicked on the reply button and began to type. CHOC-A-LOT WILL MAKE YOUR KITTY PURR...
Taking his time as the sounds of Kenny Lattimore filled both mood and soul, Kyle wrote and rewrote the message he would send to this tempting tart.
Breathing heavily as he finished his response to his hopeful kitten, the eight inches between Kyle's legs stood as solid as an oak. Sighing with regret, oh, how he wished this mystery lady were there to relieve his aching sensation. Another night with Miss Palmer and her five fingers, he thought as he shut his workstation down.
Copyright © 2003 by William Fredrick Cooper