“Have a seat,” District Attorney Doug Fleming directed the quartet of assistant district attorneys filing into his office. He pointed to the conference table and chairs across from the desk where he was sitting and said, “I’m just checking out a few things on the calendar. We’ll begin the meeting when Pete comes. He went downstairs to get us some donuts.”
“Sounds good, boss,” one of the guys said. “Food for thought. Sure am glad you hired Pete.” Fleming nodded. You can say that again, he was thinking as the group of lawyers chatting across from him helped themselves to coffee from the machine in the corner. Pete Cassidy, the forty-something ‘donut guy,’ wasn’t a lawyer; in fact, he hadn’t gone to college. But he was the best administrative assistant he’d ever had. A hard worker and super organized. He had served in combat in the Gulf War and then had been in a variety of administrative positions in the army before leaving the service last year.
The DA’s office had never been as organized as it was today, 10 months after Pete had arrived. He kept the files in perfect order, and he kept Doug in perfect order. No longer did he have to be concerned about getting his administrative act together before a meeting. Pete always collected all the stuff his boss would need for the meeting. Nice! He did everything he was asked to do and did it well. He didn’t even mind picking up the donuts. What more could you want in an assistant?
Doug looked up when he noticed that the ADAs, having gotten their coffee, had now moved on to discussing the subject of the formal meeting that was to come: the case against 36-year-old Tony Moffat, accused of shooting his girlfriend, 28-year-old Allison Drake, to death with a Derringer in her downtown luxury apartment two months ago.
Of the four ADAs, there was one he could barely drag his eyes from. Young, blond, gorgeous Carla Razzetto. About the same age as murder victim Allison Drake, and just as beautiful. He figured it would be nice to look only at Carla, but he didn’t want to be too conspicuous. Her soft blond hair, her elegant good looks, her large breasts straining against the confines of her white silk blouse made looking away difficult. At 29 years old she was at the peak of her beauty and confidence, unlike his wife who peaked about 20 years ago. And even her peak was nothing to rave about.
He smiled to himself, thinking of the instructions the nuns always gave before a test: “Keep your eyes to yourself.” He reluctantly pulled his eyes away from her and back to his calendar. Her colleagues had no particular interest for him. Three fairly newly-minted attorneys. Two young guys. And then a “girl” who had postponed going to law school for about 25 years. He knew it wasn’t politically correct to label her a “girl.” But he figured that he could think of her any way he wanted to, right? Thought police are the stuff of science fiction, at least at this point. She probably wouldn’t mind being called a girl anyway. He found that, with her and her contemporaries, the greater the distance they were from actual “girlhood,” the less they seemed to mind being called girls.
Just last night he was at a restaurant; and at the next table, there was a group of fifty-something women. The waiter came and said, “Are you girls ready to order?” When the waiter left, there were giggles all around, and one woman said, “Let’s give that guy a good tip.” More giggles. He didn’t get it. If he had the audacity to call a group like that “girls,” he knew he would have received a few swift kicks to the crotch. Either that or a sexual harassment suit. Or both.
He was jarred from his musings when he heard the old girl say that she thought the motive was jealousy in the Allison Drake case. “He probably discovered that she had another lover. Remember her best friend said she was seeing someone else, in addition to Moffat, in the months before she died. A respectable boyfriend, was what she said, but she didn’t know his name.”
One of the guys snickered. “I guess Tony Moffat’s mom didn’t teach him to share,” he said, continuing, “but you have to own something before you share it. And I have the feeling he didn’t own her.”
Carla Razzetto agreed. “No, he just thought he did. That was the problem.”
The guy who recently spoke answered, “Well, he has a problem all right. Explaining that Derringer. The one that showed up in his garage with his prints and her blood spatter. And with his record, well…”
The other guy added his two cents’ worth: “So that takes care of motive and means. And the opportunity thing? With no alibi, well, that clinches it, right? Moffat definitely dug his own grave. I guess he was, like, what that song says, Crazy in Love. Poor sap.”
His words reminded the DA of meeting his former girlfriend a year ago. Love at first sight. She had testified as a witness at a robbery trial out of his office. When the trial was over, there was still so much to keep them together. Her beauty, energy, sexiness, and sense of fun kept him coming back. And staying there. Crazy in Love. Yep, that was him.
Oh his wife was nice enough, but she was always busy, with her job and all. And anyway, he was thinking, she’s gone to fat and has started to look just plain old. Like himself. But he felt that he was at the top of his game and had no reason to settle. It was bad enough to be flabby and getting old. Who wants a partner in the same condition? No, it had been time to move on and order a little side dish for himself. The main course just didn’t do it for him anymore.
“Reinforcements are here,” said the cheerful voice of Pete Cassidy, as he strolled into the room. He was holding a notebook and two boxes of donuts. Pete, Doug was thinking, as he got up from his desk and walked over to the conference table, was still quite youthful looking. You’d never know he was in his forties. Probably the crew cut and trim figure. Doug watched Pete sitting down, whipping a pen out of his pocket, and opening his notebook to a fresh page. Always prepared.
There was silence for a few minutes, as the group attacked the donuts. Then one of the guy attorneys said, “I see only one fly in the ointment. That tiny little sliver of skin forensics found on the gun. It didn’t belong to either the victim or the perp. I mean, they don’t know who it belongs to. That could be a problem. Hopefully not, but it’s a possibility.”
Carla snorted and said, “What? You sound like Moffat’s attorney. Listen, it would be great to have a match. Maybe by the time this goes to trial, the investigators will have discovered who the skin belongs to. But really, it could have come from anyone. Maybe someone working for Moffat or visiting him. Could even be from someone working at a place where the gun was serviced. Whatever.”
The older female lawyer spoke up. “Well, I guess no prosecution case is perfect, but this one seems pretty close, at least to me.” The other ADAs nodded their agreement.
“You’re right,” Doug said. “We just have to be sure to deal with what we know, not with what we don’t. Let’s move on to strategy.”
And so they did and stayed there for the next few hours.
END – Part I
For Pete’s Sake – Part II <br> By GAIL FARRELLY will unfurl next Wednesday, July 12, 2017th at 9am DST
Original publication by Kings River Life Magazine.