Tuesday, November 04, 2008

New Beginning 570

My heels smacked the courtroom's marble floor at the decibel of the gamelan gongs of my Indonesian childhood. I had never before opened my mouth in open court.

There was that time during the exploding nose case that Celeste permitted me to schlep her royal briefcase to the bar. But, I was a butt filling a seat, albeit an upscale derrière at two hundred dollars an hour. I was just one more attorney on Lord & Brooks' intimidating, not to mention attractive, team of legal beagles.

My bench-warming experience did nothing to prepare this trembling fourth year associate for my task today: I needed to convince the Honorable Anthony Williams to protect my client from the pimps and madams of Jakarta's red light district.

I glanced at Dewi, my pro bono client, who swiveled in the pleather chair beside me. She swirled the water in her cup with the fluid motion of a connoisseur. If she noticed the runoff over the sides of the Styrofoam, she did nothing about it. Neither Dewi's neatly manicured fingernails, nor her pinstriped suit provided a whiff of her past.

The judge cleared his throat, rustled through the papers one last time, and looked down at us over the top of his spectacles. "Well?" he said.

I touched Dewi's arm to get her to stop swiveling and pay attention. I could feel sweat beading my forehead as my pulse rate increased. This was it: my one chance to take care of Dewi and secure my own future in the legal profession. I stood with my legal pad in my hand and stared directly into Williams' eyes. "Your honor," I said, "dis ho is a sweetie and don't deserve no shiznit from de pimps. Take care of her, she'll blow you for free."

With a sigh, I sat down and smiled. I knew my argument was watertight.

Opening: Emily Laird.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

Some unchosen continuations:

Suddenly, I heard music. No, it couldn't be. Opposing counsel couldn't be that diabolical. My head swiveled around frantically, looking for its source.

"Lookin' for some hot stuff baby this evenin'," warbled Donna Summer.

I could see my client starting to twitch.

"I need some hot stuff baby tonight," Donna moaned.

My client slipped out of her jacket.

"I want some hot stuff baby this evenin'"

Before I knew it, she was doing a full-on striptease in front of God and the Honorable Anthony Williams.

I was finished at Lord and Brooks. I would never live this down. It was time to go out on my own.


But her garish makeup, the way she winked at the men in the room, and her overwhelming perfume gave her away.

That, and the fact that she was pregnant with the Judge's child.


Her perfume, contrariwise, struck my olfactory organs with the multifarious intensity of the fishmarket of my Indonesian apprenticeship. The Honorable Anthony Williams had escaped Celeste on the previous occasion, but once Dewi wafted her way to his bench, the exploding nose curse would claim its last victim.


The Honorable Anthony Williams sighed. "So, let me see if I have this straight? The pimps and madams of the red-light district have brought suit against Lord & Brooks, claiming that the law firm's practice of hiring unreasonably attractive and ceaselessly bed-hopping attorneys is unfair competition? Mr. David E. Kelley, what is your opening statement?"


It was unfortunate, however, that the same could not be said for the cheap scent she had evidently bathed in: that screamed Kramat Tunggak hooker all the way. I pried my gaze away from her neon lipstick that pulsated around a wad of gum and sighed as the judge entered the courtroom. My first case wasn't going to be easy.


Evil Editor said...

Overall, I like this as an opening.

Sentence two has nothing to do with sentence one. Move it to the front of paragraph 2.

I'd change "this trembling fourth year associate" to "me." It's clear she's nervous, and her year/position can be mentioned later.

Do you want legal beagle or legal eagle?

BuffySquirrel said...

I had the same thought as EE about sentence two. It doesn't logically follow from sentence one at all.

Dave F. said...

I like the opening sentence and I like what I think is being set up. It all holds together nicely. However, I think this opening is sedentary.

I want to point out one thing that does disturb me - there are five "b" sounds in one sentence in the second paragraph.
"...Celeste permitted me to schlep her royal briefcase to the bar. But, I was a butt filling a seat, albeit an upscale derrière..."

These B's combined with the plethora of "p" sounds reminded me of pork butts and chitlins. But that's another story about Butts. Replace but with "however" cures the humor problem.

If you want it humorous, then make it: ...Celeste permitted me to schlep her royal briefcase to the bar. However, I was but a butt filling a seat, albeit an upscale derrière at two hundred bucks an hour.
Now that makes the wordplay more fun and the alliterative b,b,b,b,b,b,b draws attention to itself.
One more thought, since you use "Schlep" you might want to replace the (oh so very french) derrière with the Yiddish - tuckus. There is a big difference between the two words and since I know so little about your character, you get to decide.

Anonymous said...

Not sure about the choice of "whiff" when referring to a history of sex work. Unless it is supposed to be funny. But still. Reads gross.

Anonymous said...

Nice opening.

But go sit in a courtroom one day. Rarely are lawyers attractive :)

talpianna said...

"My Indonesian childhood" makes it sound as though the narrator is now living somewhere else. Then we learn that she is in Jakarta. Needs fixing.

Jeb said...

Agreed about the first two sentences being disconnected, and that the Indonesian childhood is unimportant at this stage (as well as an awkward, tacked-on phrase). Find another way to show this is Jakarta up front.

Indonesia is such a visually colourful culture and lush tropical area; siting our first introduction to the narrator in a geographically inert courtroom seems an odd choice. Doubtless there's a reason for the courtroom, but I'd like to see a bit more local colour.

Unless there's a Jakarta, Illinois I don't know about, and this really is as Anglo-American a tale as the clothing, shoes, law firm and judge's name all indicate? In which case, I gotta say, you've just lost my attention completely.

Anonymous said...

I liked the continuation. Gave me a good laugh, which I always enjoy.

Emily & Eli said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

I guess I need to clarify:

The setting is a courtroom in the U.S. You learn in the next paragraph that the narrator is arguing Dewi's immigration case to avoid deportation.

batgirl said...

Very distinctive voice here. A nice job of setting up an intriguing situation and a nice word-picture of Dewi. I found the mingling of different slangs a bit disconcerting, so I'm probably not the target audience.