Authors: Andrew Neiderman
Tags: #Fiction, #General
The Devil's Advocate
A novel by
DEFENDER OF THE DAMNED...
When Kevin Taylor joins the Manhattan criminal law firm of John Milton and Associates, he's hit the big time. At last, he and his wife can enjoy the luxuries they've so desired-a chauffeur-driven limo, a stunning home in the very building that Mr. Milton himself lives in. Little does Kevin realize that he's joined
A BROTHERHOOD OF BLOOD
John Milton assigns Kevin one of the most notorious cases of the year, along with a file that had been put together prior to the crime. Throwing himself into his work, Kevin begins to see a pattern of evil emerging from behind the plush facade of his firm. As he watches them win every courtroom battle, and sees every criminal walk free, his mounting suspicions give way to all-out terror. For Kevin has become
THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE
and there's no turning back from the world of the damned...
"THE CHILD WAS FOUND THE NEXT DAY IN THE BATHTUB. DEAD."
"Jesus," said Kevin.
"After you're with us for a while, Kevin, you'll stop saying that," Mr. Milton said. Kevin looked confused. "It shouldn't surprise you that the world is full of pain and suffering. And Jesus doesn't seem to be doing much about it," Mr.
"But I just don't see how you can get used to it."
"You do, or at least you get hard enough to do your job well," Mr. Milton said.
Mr. Milton slid a folder across the table to Dave who passed it on to Kevin.
Despite his desire to get started on something exciting, Kevin felt icicles slide down his back. All eyes were on him now, so he smiled quickly.
"It's going to be an exciting case, Kevin; you will be baptized in fire," Mr. Milton said. "But there isn't a man here who hasn't been, and just look at them now."
Kevin looked around the room to see the other associates gazing at him. Each had a brilliant, eager intensity. He felt as if he were joining more than a law firm; he was joining some kind of brotherhood of blood ...
Richard Jaffee hurried down the steps of the court building in New York's Federal Plaza more like an attorney who had just lost a case than an attorney who had just won. Strands of his thin raven-black hair broke loose and danced about his head as he raced down the stone steps. Passersby took only casual notice of him. People in New York were always rushing to make a train, to make a cab, to beat out a changing light. Often they were just being carried along by the momentum moving through Manhattan's arteries, pumped by the invisible yet omnipresent giant heart that made the city pulsate like no other city in the world.
Jaffee's client, Robert Fundi, lingered behind to absorb the attention of reporters who clustered around him with the mindless energy of worker bees.
They were all shouting similar questions: What did the owner of a major private sanitation firm in the Lower East Side think of his being declared innocent of all charges of extortion? Was the trial just political because there had been talk of him running for borough president? Why didn't the prosecution's key witness tell all that he had allegedly told the prosecution?
"Ladies . .. gentlemen . . ." Fundi said, pulling a Cuban cigar from his top pocket. The reporters waited as he puffed life into it. He looked up and smiled.
"You'll hafta direct all questions to my attorney. That's why I paid him all that money," Fundi said and laughed.
As if all their heads were tied together, the pack of reporters turned in Jaffee's direction just as Richard stepped into the back of the John Milton and Associates limousine. One of the younger and more determined interviewers rushed down the steps, shouting, "Mr. Jaffee! Just a moment, please. Mr. Jaffee!" The small crowd of attending reporters and friends all laughed as the limousine door was closed and the chauffeur went around the car to get behind the wheel. In moments the vehicle pulled away from the curb.
Richard Jaffee sat back and stared ahead.
"To the office, sir?" the chauffeur inquired.
"No, Charon. Take me home, please."
The tall, olive-skinned Egyptian with almond-shaped eyes peered into the rearview mirror as if he were looking into a crystal ball. His butter-smooth face wrinkled at the corners of his eyes. There was a nearly indistinguishable nod, confirming what he saw, what he knew.
"Very good, sir," Charon replied. He sat back and drove on with the stoical presence of an undertaker's assistant driving a hearse.
Richard Jaffee didn't change position, didn't shift his posture, didn't turn to his right or left to look at anything on the streets. The thirty-three-year-old man seemed to be aging every passing minute. His complexion paled; his light blue eyes became dull gray, and the creases in his forehead deepened. He brought his hands to his cheeks and patted them gently as if to be sure he had not already decomposed.
And then he finally sat back and closed his eyes. Almost immediately, he pictured Gloria the way she had been before they had moved to Manhattan. He saw her as she was when they had first met—bright, innocent, bubbly but gentle, and very trusting. Her optimism and faith had been so refreshing and so stimulating. It filled him with a driving desire to give her everything, to work hard to make the world as soft and as happy as she saw it, to protect and to cherish her until death did them part.
Which it had, less than a month ago, in a delivery room of the Manhattan Memorial Hospital, even though she had had the best care and what had seemed like a perfectly healthy and normal pregnancy. She had given birth to a beautiful son, his features perfect, his health excellent, but the effort inexplicably took her life. The doctors couldn't explain it. Her heart simply gave out, they told him, as if her heart had grimaced, sighed, and lost its breath.
But he knew why she had died. He had confirmed his suspicions, and he had placed the blame solely on himself, for he had brought Gloria here. She had trusted him, and he had delivered her as though she were a sacrificial lamb.
Now, back in their apartment, his son slept peacefully, fed hungrily, and grew normally, unaware that he was entering the world without his mother, that his fee for life included her death. Richard knew that psychiatrists would tell him it was natural to resent the child, but psychiatrists didn't know. They just didn't know.
Of course, it was difficult, if not impossible, to really hate the infant. He looked so helpless and so innocent. Richard tried talking himself out of resenting him, first using logic and then using his memory of Gloria and her wonderfully effervescent approach to life to light his way back to sanity.
But none of it had worked. He had turned his child over to the live-in nurse, rarely asking after him and only occasionally looking in on him. Richard never questioned why his son cried or inquired about his health. He simply had gone on with his work, letting it consume him so he wouldn't think so much; he wouldn't remember, he wouldn't spend most of his time suffering the guilt.
The work had served as a dam holding back the reality of his personal tragedy.
Now it came rushing in over him in the memory of Gloria's smiles, Gloria's kisses, Gloria's excitement when she had discovered she was pregnant. Behind his closed lids, he replayed dozens of moments, dozens of images. It was as though he were in his living room watching home movies.
"We're here, sir," Charon said.
They were here? Richard opened his eyes. Charon had opened the door and was standing on the sidewalk. Richard gripped his briefcase tightly and stepped out of the limousine. He looked at Charon. At six feet four, the chauffeur was a good five inches taller than Richard, but his broader shoulders and piercing eyes made him seem even taller, a veritable giant.
Richard stared at him a moment and saw knowledge in the chauffeur's eyes. He was a silent man, but he absorbed what went on around him and looked like he had lived for centuries.
Richard nodded slightly, and Charon closed the door and went back to the driver's seat. He watched the limousine go off, then turned and entered the apartment building. Philip, the retired New York City policeman who served as daytime security, peered over his newspaper and then snapped to attention, springing up from the stool behind the counter in the lobby.
"Congratulations, Mr. Jaffee. I heard the news bulletin. I'm sure it felt good to win another case."
Richard smiled. "Thank you, Philip. Everything all right?"
"Oh, just fine and dandy, Mr. Jaffee. Just like always," Philip said. "A man can grow old working here," he added, as he always did.
"Yes," Richard said. "Yes."
He went to the elevator and stood back stiffly as the doors closed. When he closed his eyes, he recalled the first time he and Gloria had driven up to the building, recalled her excitement, the way she squealed with delight when they looked at the apartment.
"What have I done?" he muttered.
His eyes snapped open as the elevator doors opened on his floor. Richard stood there for a moment and then walked out and to his apartment door. As soon as he entered, Mrs. Longchamp came out of the nursery to greet him.
"Oh, Mr. Jaffee." The nurse was only fifty, but she looked like everyone's grandmother—completely gray-haired, chunky, with soft brown eyes and a chubby face. "Congratulations. I just saw the news bulletin. They interrupted the soaps!"
"Thank you, Mrs. Longchamp."
"You haven't lost a case since you started with Mr. Milton's firm, have you?"
"No, Mrs. Longchamp. I haven't."
"You must be very proud of yourself."
"Yes," he said.
"Everything's all right with Brad," she offered, even though he hadn't asked. He nodded. "I was just getting ready to give him a bottle."
"Go on with it, by all means," Richard said.
She smiled again and returned to the nursery.
He put his briefcase down, looked around the apartment, and then strode slowly through the living room to the patio that afforded him one of the nicest views of the Hudson River. He didn't stop to admire it, however. He walked with the intent of someone who had always known exactly where he was going. He stepped onto the lounge chair so he could get his left foot securely on the wall, pulling himself up by grabbing hold of the cast-iron railings. Then, in one swift and graceful move, he reached down as if grabbing for the hand of someone to pull up and went head over heels fifteen flights to the pavement below.
Twenty-eight-year-old Kevin Taylor looked up from the papers spread out over the long chestnut-brown table before him and paused, pretending to think deeply about something before cross-examining the witness. These little dramatic gestures came naturally to him. It was a combination of his histrionics and his knowledge of psychology. The dramatic pause between asking questions and looking at documents usually unnerved a witness. In this case he was trying to intimidate the principal of an elementary school, Philip Cornbleau, a slim, dark-haired, pale-skinned, fifty-four-year-old, nearly bald man. He sat impatiently, his hands clasped over his chest, his long fingers jerking up and down against each other.
Kevin glanced quickly at the audience. The old expression, "You could cut the air with a knife," seemed appropriate. The anticipation was that thick. It was as if everyone were holding his or her breath. The room suddenly brightened as sunshine poured through the large windows in Blithedale's courthouse. It was as if a lighting technician had thrown a switch. All that was left was for the director to shout, "Action!"
The courtroom was packed, but Kevin's gaze settled on a distinguished-looking, handsome man in the rear who was staring at him with the kind of loving, proud smile Kevin would have expected from his father, not that this man was old enough to be his father. He was probably in his early forties, Kevin thought, and he had a very successful air about him. Conscious of wealth and style, Kevin recognized the Giorgio Armani charcoal-gray pin-striped suit. He had looked at that suit covetously before buying the one he wore today, a double-breasted dark blue wool. He'd bought it at a discount store for half the price of the Armani.