To save or not to save?

Some days, Andy just hated being a lawyer.

Today was one of those days. He peeked over the files he cradled in his left arm to check the time on his newly acquired leather strap watch. Judge Caiaphas hated any lawyer who came into his courtroom late.

“I should have gotten off the sofa when my alarm rang, instead of hitting the snooze button.” He said to himself, his thick brows knitting into a frown. He tried quickening his pace but the huge black briefcase in his right hand seemed intent on pulling him down the courthouse steps.

“Why the heck did I even bother bringing all this paperwork?” He cursed under his breath.

The briefcase was filled with precedents and sundry papers that would help him form his argument in court. He had sat down to read them the night before, with one of Mozart’s compositions streaming out softly from his home theatre set. He had just gone through roughly a dozen papers when his stomach reminded him with an angry growl that he had not paid attention to its needs. If that sweet new intern, Nkiru hadn’t brought him two donuts with his mid-morning cup of coffee, he’d probably have not remembered to eat anything at all. All these her little acts of “kindness” needed to be rewarded with some fancy dinner or a trip to the cinemas when he was less busy. And maybe then he could find out what she really wanted.

He smiled He opened the fridge, eyed the two-day old bag of bread rolls that sat there, wondering if anything decent could be made of it, when he heard the half full bottle of Jack Daniel’s whispering his name seductively. Seconds later, he headed back to his reading table with the bottle nestling in the crook of his arm and a can of Coke and a glass in each hand.

The next thing he remembered after that was jumping off the sofa like he’d been stung by a bee when he realized the alarm had gone off earlier and he’d hit the snooze button.

Finally! Courtroom 53. He set the briefcase down and his arm heaved a sigh of relief. He reached into his suit pocket and fished out his wig and bib, straightened them out and put them on. He adjusted his glasses on his nose,hoping they hid his bloodshot eyes, squared his shoulders and opened the courtroom door with a flourish.

“Let’s do this!” he said out loud. A few heads turned in his direction. He nodded in greeting to a couple of familiar faces.

This should be easy, he thought. The accused was undoubtedly guilty. Young woman, late twenties, hits her 60-something year old husband on the head with the back of a pan, claiming self-defense. Being on the prosecution, his argument was going to be hinged on her bankruptcy just before her marriage to the old man, whom she obviously saw as a treasure chest. And then again, this was her third marriage in five years. Slam! Bam! She would be locked up, probably for life and he could move on to the next case.

Judge Caiaphas was a strict time keeper, and court proceedings started at 9am sharp. The defense had the first go and they called up a couple of witnesses. He had no questions for them. The accused was then called to the stand, and he was to have the first shot. He busied himself with looking through some papers with a frown on his face to look serious and intimidating. He stood up, put his hands in his pockets and looked up. And froze.

“Barrister Ekanem, is there a problem? Please proceed!” Judge Caiaphas’ bass voice boomed at his transfixed form.

His brain pleaded with his tongue to move but it just stayed stuck to the roof of his mouth. She peeked out at him from under her long curvy eyelashes, teary eyed and her lower lip quivering. She wrung her delicate hands together in grief. His first instinct was to reach out, wipe those tears and wrap his callused palms over the softness of hers.

He had never seen anyone or anything so beautiful…..or maybe he had. But, that was a long time ago.

“Barrister Ekanem, please!” The judge bellowed. “We don’t have all day! For the last time, please proceed!”

He went through the motions of cross examining her and missed a lot of key points in her answers as his mind kept wandering. He was imagining her warm, soft skin against the crumpled sheets on his bed when the judge dragged my mind back into the courtroom.

“Barrister Ekanem, you’re going round in circles, if you have no further questions, I would like to call on the defense.”

“Em, yes, Your Honor. No further questions.”

All through the remainder of the proceedings, he sat there fantasizing and thinking of how he could save the woman he was being paid to prosecute. He looked at where she sat in the witness box and caught her staring at him as the defense questioned her. He could have sworn he saw her smile at him. He wasn’t sure whether he should smile back.

Andrew Ekanem, you’re falling in love with a murderer! You really should ease off on the alcohol; it’s beginning to cloud your common sense.

Lawumi Philips couldn’t stop staring at the young lawyer across the courtroom. There was something about him that connected with something inside her. It was in his eyes and the way he looked at her.

Why didn’t I meet this kind of man before Maami introduced me to that horrible Chief Philips? Why does he look oddly familiar?

She had to find a way to get to this lawyer. He might be the one to save her from this hot mess she’d gotten herself into.

Andrew rubbed the week-old stubble on his chin in deep thought. He had to save her. He had to find…a way. Seated in the witness box was Lawumi Philips née Aderemi. His childhood crush and adult fantasy.

Some days, he hated being a lawyer. Today was one of those days.


25 thoughts on “To save or not to save?

  1. Emmmmm… Barrister Ekanem, love doesn’t pay bills, oh. A word is enough for the love struck.

    Ma soeur, you do something I’ve still not been able to learn, you describe the scene and the mood so well. Well done

    • This my soeur! I’m laughing silly here. Love no dey put money for bank o, as someone said to me once.
      Your style of writing? Don’t let me reveal how we need to fan ourselves o when you take us on those journeys.
      Thank you. Again and again.
      You started this, you know!

    • Thank you, Hard. The use of me and him at some places slipped past me while editing. Thanks for pointing it out. I’ve fixed it.
      Please come by again and again.
      There isn’t a continuation, though. Sorry!

  2. Her third marriage in five years yet this lawyer is still trying to be a saviour?! He must really be in love! Well written Nneka.

  3. Her third marriage in five years and this lawyer still wants to be a saviour?! He must be in love/ a joker!

  4. Nkiru, the intern, is seated beside Oga Ekanem hoping her two Donuts and cup of coffee sent the right message yet Barrister’s attention took a U-turn towards the accused but not guilty Lawumi. Crush at the mercy of the Crushed One, this piece is WHIZBANG!

  5. Sweet…the curveball that life throws at us ehn…
    So I see you have mastered the art of suspenseful endings…leave the readers remembering the story for a long time…ruminating and plotting their own endings based on their inner fantasies… brilliant! terrific!

  6. Soo this love refused to consider Bar. Ekanem’s client self. Haba love is indeed blind even unable to recognise a murderer.

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