Disclaimer: All rights belong to Wolf Films.
Author's Note: Here is the November project I cited in "Stardust." Due to the story's behind-the-scenes, an elaborate Author's Note is required.
In 2006, I had attempted a collaboration with Moonbeamdancer over a "Punk" coda. We managed to write 4 pages on Word before placing it on the backburner (busy lives tend to do that). I still thought on the premise, with the idea of writing my own version. Since I did not devise the idea without the collaboration, proper story credit goes to Moonbeamdancer.
My take will be considerably different, whilst possessing the same spirit. Should demand warrant it, I may do an Abbie version of "Stardust" (or even this story). Let me know on that. Regardless, Nov. 25th is "Punk"'s 10th anniversary (11/25/98), so celebrate the episode in any way you can.
If the majority of you don't care for the story's experimental format, I can re-edit into the traditional 1st POV. In addition, if I'm so off in such character/personality dynamics, I certainly can re-edit on that, as well. After all, I'm no expert on the discussed subject matter within (rape, or the survivors thereof).
Dedication: I dedicate this to both Moonbeamdancer and the next chapter of my life.
Nota bene: I did three extensive proofreading sessions, yet didn't have time to perform additional ones. So, if I'm off on the usual (i.e., grammar, syntax, etc), I'll work on it whenever I have a chance.
There goes my old record of only three hours of shuteye. Sorry, Discipline Committee, but you are now trumped. It's a shame, for the bad boy in me loved the insomnia you brought. Except, I can't be the bad boy today.
My notes are written and memorized, so I'm ready. It doesn't mean it will fly, although, it gives me fallback positions. I know I shouldn't think of this as a lawyer, yet it's my natural impulse. What is it about this woman that drives out this behavior in me?
Jamie was the closest of my previous assistants, often serving as my impetus. With Abbie, I just do it to myself. Hell, Adam was right — it's because she's a younger version of myself. Moreover, I don't want her to share my fate, as per our shouting match over Bergstrom. Again, thank you, Adam.
Where is that alarm clock I bought? Oh, it's on the floor, of course. I might as well get ready for work.
I always hate this part: the long march to the bathroom. God, I look like Hell, which makes sense, because I feel like Hell. Alright, my trusty, rusty razor, let's do our morning dance. Abbie, I hope you'll appreciate my mental and — ouch — physical anguish.
Pray this doesn't bleed, for toilet paper band-aids are so dignified on me. Great, I'm now thinking like her. You've weaved your spell on me, haven't you, Ms. Carmichael?
I already have her in my mind, so you don't need to go there with 'Brown-Eyed Girl,' Elevator muzak. Technically, it's two of them, if I care to throw Claire into the mix. Now, that's an interesting thought.
I'll have to speak to maintenance about this. Maybe I can donate my Clash CDs — can't go wrong with them. If I'm ever in charge, I know the first thing I'm overhauling. Yeah, right — me as D.A. Speaking of D.A.s, there is ours at the end of the corridor. "Hi, Adam."
"You're earlier than usual."
"Busy day ahead."
I don't like the way those eyes are zeroing in on me. "You have rings under your eyes — haven't been sleeping?"
"Can't fool you, huh?"
"I've had my share of sleepless nights. Anything I should know about?"
Just shrug the shoulders. "I double checked my caseload, and I missed a few things."
Up goes his chin and his taking the high ground. "It has nothing to do with what we talked about last night?"
"Still can't fool you. All I'll disclose is that it's something I need to ask Abbie about the Simonelli case."
"If you have to engage into a debate with her, try your best not to do it on my dime."
"Now, you tell me." Back into our old patterns: his grumpiness and my flippancy.
"I have a budget, you know. Have a good day at work, Jack." There are times where I envy his exits to his fancy office. Likewise, I should follow suit, and get dressed.
This hiding behind the door to change into my work clothes is now borderline ridiculous. If I could prove it, I'd prosecute all those peeping secretaries. I'm sure it would be amusing to one and all, given my age. If nothing else, it would grant new meaning to 'legal briefs.'
And, with that out of my system, I can psyche myself up for the big event. In honor of it and Abbie, I'll go with my rarely worn black slacks and jacket. I never sport this color combination much — the ostensible pattern of black and white — but it is a special occasion. Secure the knot in my tie, and I'm ready to conquer the legal world for the day.
She doesn't arrive until 8:30, so I have an hour to review my notes. In the meantime, I'll continue my paperwork. I really have to act busy this time, as I don't want to rouse Adam's suspicions.
Where is that Grand Jury form? Good, I can resume from last night. I just have to sign my name, and it's complete, at last. I may have my work cut out, if I have to do her caseload. I don't mind extra work — the more I do, the more justice is done.
Ironically, work is the safest topic, until I can steer it into one of our famous debates. Problem is, she's too smart for such an obvious approach. On the other hand, directness would solve the problem, but what if she isn't for it? She is unquestionably a direct person, so I guess I'll just play off her lead.
While I do have a clue on her emotional range, it's best not to test the waters until I'm damn sure. Not that I'm an expert on emotional range. I could always get one, as it would be the right thing to do. However, I don't like it whenever that's pulled on me, and I'm sure she's in that camp, too.
I suppose I could suggest it, yet it wouldn't be proper. I wish I knew what was proper; maybe I am over my head on this. No, she specifically confided in me, therefore, she had a damn good reason.
Maybe I should tend to my arrest warrants, as I could use the distraction. Wait, I hear someone approaching, and, oh, she's here. Remember to treat her as the same as you have before. "Hey, Abbie."
"You're up awfully early, and look it with those rings underneath your eyes. Nice suit, though."
"Thank you. As they say, there's no rest for the wicked. Your timing is good, for I was about to part forth the red tape." Waggle your eyebrows to disarm her.
Great, she's pausing and scanning me with her eyes. Either way, it served me right. "If you want a Moses joke, Jack, ask me in an hour. For now, I'll take you up on your offer."
"I'm better off if we forego the age jokes."
"It cuts both ways. I don't have to go into my office, yet, so I'll stay here." I wonder if she knew Ben Stone, since he had the exact same beige coat. That's an ironic thought — her as Ben's assistant. Wonder how he would have handled this.
"Wonderful. And, apparently, we are of one mind, or our fashion sense is." A black pantsuit with a white blouse? Maybe she peeked into my thoughts without my knowing it. In either case, it certainly accentuates her model-esque body.
"Call it a change of pace from my standard color scheme. I have to admit, there is a reason why these two colors mesh so well."
"True. You also can integrate them and go gray, like the color of our justice system."
I love it when she has a good smirk. "You got me, there, Jack."
"What's life, or a job, without a little poking? You were mentioning the Dyckman Street murder in your last memo?" It's time for my mighty hand motions. Besides, I'm sick of looking at these documents by myself.
"Sure. We can start with that; I think that kid's guilty as sin." I don't know what's more distracting: the blinding volume of her black hair, her fingers waving through the strands or the reoccupying of her seat, as if everything is normal. I best be careful, before she unleashes my inner male.
"So do I, but we can't prove he intentionally murdered that girl. The blueback was on my desk this morning; he's claiming Extreme Emotional Disturbance."
Cue her tightened neckline and the rant. "Is everyone going to claim E.E.D. whenever something goes wrong? My girlfriend broke up with me, so I shot her — bang — E.E.D. My boss fired me, so I bludgeoned his skull — boom — E.E.D. My cat died, so I mowed down twenty people. Now, can we guess what defense I'll use?"
"It appears to be the trend. Unfortunately, we drew Judge Wright, so that's it for Murder Two. I'm thinking Manslaughter One as our best bet."
"Jack, the kid may have wet himself, but he knew what he was doing with the gun."
"Yes, though, the ballistics espouse otherwise. Briscoe and Curtis are still on his story, and we may be able to break him that way. If not, I'll go for the max."
Her nostrils flare anymore, flames will be shooting out. "That's not much of a compromise."
"Abbie, I already informed you of Wright's idiocy, so it's not worth the indignation. Look, I'm just not stupid into playing a rigged game."
"Four and a half years living here, and it's still insanity to me. Yes, I know I'm digging at the beach with a teaspoon, but it doesn't mean I have to like it, all the time."
"You're not alone, there. Frankly, I'd like to toss the bastard into the slammer, myself."
"And, frankly, I'm stunned anything is accomplished, at all."
"That's New York for you. To put your mind at ease, go ahead if you want to push for Murder Two. Just remember that it's not me you'll have to convince."
Interesting shoulder shrug she's doing. "If you're pushing for the max, I suppose that's enough. It just gets to me, every now and then."
"It's best not to think about it. To cheer you up, I have ten nonviolent drug offender cases." Hopefully, my open palms will seal the deal.
At least, she's not frowning. "Yeah, it's best to stick to your strengths. I know most of these, so the question is where to warehouse them. Assuming the judges don't kick them to the street."
"This time of year, I hear Sing-Sing is lovely. Of the ten, we can actually send four of them to prison."
"The heavy hitters. Of course, it doesn't help the other six in learning their lesson."
Damn itchy earlobe. Is it the work or the underlying tension getting to me? "No, and I don't know where to put them, either."
"Well, Jack, as long as you don't do a 'legalize drugs' debate, then I'm fine. I've heard it so many times in Narcotics; it just irritates me, to no end."
"Oh, definitely not. My only wish is to reform the drug laws, although, I don't see that happening anytime, soon."
"Yeah, the 'war on drugs.'" She actually did an air-quote. I don't believe anyone has ever done it around me. "We're just sinking in it, lower and lower."
Go slump on your chair, Jack. "I suppose we could be more creative. Mandatory rehab with counseling is an idea I've been toying with. If I want to do mandatory drug testing for non-prisoners, then I have to be a politician. Please, can you imagine me as one of them?"
She's widening her pupils; did I say the magic word? "No, and your idea has merit. It won't fly in New York, but the attempt should be made. Can I spearhead this?"
"Sure. Remember plausible deniability — credit me only if you succeed." Why is it I can sound like a jerk, yet it works because I have a killer grin? Let's pray it works, right now.
"You're too much of a lawyer, Jack, but I'll keep it in mind."
"Yes, wouldn't life be simpler without lawyers?"
"No, because we'd have no jobs."
"No, we're prosecutors, and I always split that difference."
"Yeah, well, I dare you to say that to a defense attorney." I could never tell the difference between her scoffs and her snorts.
"Don't tempt me. Anyway, sort out the hopheads at your leisure, but, should you be so gutsy, let me know. Last thing I want is to be in the dark, discovering your actions from the Ledger."
"At least, the Ledger provides the true story. So, who's next on the plate?"
"I finished doing the Grand Jury slip for Timothy Landfield. He's a real piece of work, as he murdered his whole family." Amazing how your voice slows down after uttering such a statement.
She rubs her temple any harder, and she will hit bone. "Sounds cut and dry to me. You have this notation here — 'F.A.'?
"It stands for 'family annihilator' — it's a psychological profile term. They appear to be perfectly rational, until the family falls apart. They only view the family as an extension of themselves. Naturally, it's never their fault, like any good narcissist will tell you."
"You've had some experience with them."
"I dealt with one, recently. Turns out, he didn't do it, but the daughter did. Evidently, she didn't like her mother too much."
"I thought I had seen them all. Then again, I'm too used to drug-related family destruction."
"Well, he did claim a blackout when it first happened. I was actually winning, until I failed to realize the true angle." I'll rub my fingers raw if I keep this up. What was I saying about her and her temple?
"You were going after a murderer — it happens."
"It's a little different when there's so much uncertainty. In hindsight, it served me right, as I rushed to judgment."
"You thought he murdered someone, thus you had to go with your best instincts." Actual sympathy in her voice; what a day this is turning out to be.
"The evidence pointed to him, and he wasn't clearing the record. All I had left were my instincts and my 'Hang 'Em High' McCoy trademark."
"Guess I'm 'Hang 'Em Higher' Carmichael, then."
That veering away of hers will stop any form of slouching. "Maybe. Abbie, you know that's the enforcement part of being a prosecutor — being cold-blooded and even handed. If you don't prosecute everyone, then what's the point?"
"None. All you can do is peg them and mete out the fitting punishment. Except, should a prosecutor care about the why?"
"No, because they murdered someone; what more do I need to know?"
Okay, she's leaning forward, so we're now set. Whatever occurs next, don't blow it, McCoy. "Nice to know we're again on the same page. Some of my Narcotics colleagues had that 'Oprahification' mentality, yet you didn't. If you had, I might have transferred."
"I guess I'm just behind the times."
"Maybe. Either way, you're not hung up on the 'why,' only the 'what.' I've been with you for a while, and I still can't discern the behavior of these defendants. With Narcotics, it was easy — get high to escape the pain of life. I'll spare you the rest of the rhetoric, since you probably heard it all."
"Your overall point is still valid. I've been doing this for nearly twenty five years, and I can't completely explain what makes criminals or people tick — that's why we employ Skoda."
"And, I certainly can't figure them out, either."
Maybe my head cocking will assuage her, body language-wise. "Abbie, you know they're not worth agonizing in detail. Otherwise, they win."
"We're talking about them, right now, aren't we?" Where is she going? Oh. Good idea shutting the doors, as I'd wouldn't desire audience participation, either. "I know I've put you into an awkward position, and we still don't know each other that well. Today was to either have it out in the open, immediately, or go about our day. To my surprise, you chose the latter."
Hope she doesn't catch my Adam's apple bouncing around. "I figured the latter was my best opening. You're the most direct woman I know, so you would have said something beforehand. Therefore, my only recourses were to follow your lead and/or engage in our usual debating. It's clear our work is our shared passion, hence my choice."
Good, she's nodding in agreement, which means I can soon collapse in relief. "You definitely maintained your regular beat, you acted as normal as possible and you were sincere. If you conceded everything and froze on me, then I would have been angry. Undoubtedly, I did the same thing you did — that's what you get when you have two prosecutors gauging each other."
"You got me, there, as I didn't want to act any less around you. To be honest, Abbie, I'm not the best man for emotions, epiphanies, self-awareness or anything profound, really."
"You sell yourself short. I was going to wait until tonight to talk about this, since I didn't want it to interrupt our workload. Even so, I let the genie out of the bottle for a reason, as I'm sure I've left you twisting. Judging from the circles under your eyes, I must have given you good insomnia."
I nearly hit the wall, for I never expected that. "I was hoping it would come off as a by-product of my being a workaholic. You wanted space, so I left you be — that is what I would want, if I were in your position. I know I can never be in your position, thus I had to retool my approach, and pray it wasn't going to be half-assed."
Man, her swaying and fidgeting are almost hypnotic. "I truly appreciate that, for it demonstrates respect toward me. I spent the past several nights thinking about my life. What stuck in my mind was what you said about Simonelli and how impossible it was for me to empathize with her. I finally saw how… hardened I was becoming, and did my 180."
"You have been incredibly self-aware, lately — far better than I could be. Abbie, I'm not empathic to criminals; however, some of them do give me pause before I send them on their way."
"She just pissed me off so much, Jack. It was her attitude, which probably spoke to my own. Hell, maybe I have beenovercompensating too much." Her gesticulation has never been so tense.
"While I don't always care for your need of sarcasm, I know your heart is in the right place. To most of them, empathy is weakness, so you have to go at it differently." I have to guide ourselves to the couch, so we'd be somewhat out of view. Right now, I don't want any outside interference on this.
"No, my heart isn't in the right place, for all I have are my defense mechanisms and my vendettas. Simonelli proved every single negative I have, which I didn't think was possible. However, she wasn't why I disclosed my rape to you. There's something about you — a rapport I never had with any other person. I do not know what trauma there was in your past, but you seem to know the feeling a little too well.
"Subsequent to our fight over Bergstrom, I racked up all the similarities, as you've been doing in our conversation today. You have stirred so many epiphanies within me that I just can't stop. I'm not sure what induced the revelation more: the notion of expressing myself to such a like-minded person, or finally admitting to someone that I was raped. The rest you can place on my indulgence and the timing of the moment."
My whole body is paralyzed, while her hands are waving everywhere. Do something, Jack. "There's no contest with me, as you've had it much worse. Any platitude won't do either of us any good, and I won't insult your intelligence, otherwise."
"I'm not looking for the instant bromide, Jack. You made the point quite clear earlier — have a human moment. The first one was letting up on Simonelli, the second one was informing you about my rape and this is the third. Hell, let's call them for what they are — leaps of faith.
"In your case, I simply wasn't prepared. Before I could have done anything else, I had to reorganize and restructure myself. If I caused you any worry, then I apologize. I ought to stop before Adam screams, 'Get back to work.'"
I almost forgot about Adam, so I best check our surroundings. There's nothing, so far. "Abbie, it's fine. If that's the case, he can yell at me."
"Don't be chivalrous because of me, Jack."
"I'm not, but I don't want to lose a good assistant, and, with any luck, a good friend. What's one more reprimand on me, anyway?"
She has a downright charming smile. "You're positively insane, Jack McCoy. I must have made the right decision, because this could have easily turned into a shouting match."
"I've been there, and I hope I can live up to your decision. You won't be the only one making the 'human moments,' as I have to do my share."
"Oh, I've heard all the stories of 'Hang 'Em High' McCoy. When you jumped on your nickname earlier, that was it for me. It confirmed how you are not the same man that slept through all those assistants, acting so damn mighty. I wouldn't have exposed myself to a man that arrogant."
I might as well enjoy the carpet pattern, since I do feel a little ashamed. "I certainly wouldn't blame you. My life had to change, because I couldn't be that 'arrogant' son of a bitch anymore."
I sense her coming closer, but then, we are right next to each other. "What changed?"
"I lost someone important to me, but it's a very long story, and I don't want to take away from your moment. I'm not going anywhere, so there will be plenty of time to ask me."
"Oh, I will. Once I open the floodgates, I'll probably be asking too much."
I think she can take a light-yet-firm shoulder pat, now. "Be careful, Abbie, for Irish folk don't know how to shut up."
Good thing she laughed, or that would have been awkward. "You never cease to amaze me, Jack. I imagine Adam will be breathing down our necks in a minute, so we better wrap up our 'teatime.'"
I'll bring it home with a steeple gesture, which fits the memory she's evoking. "Actually, there is something you must be informed about. You had stated on 'vendettas,' which reminded me about a paroled rapist I knew. Having my suspicions of his re-offending, I exercised every prosecutor tool I had.
"Maybe I was too obsessed, yet I had to stop him. It was akin to how you attempted to use that federal charge against Bergstrom. I stopped you because I remembered sinking into the same quicksand, myself. In the end, the rapist did re-offend, and I never knew if it was his predilections or my pressuring him. There is remorse for him, even though, it's a drop in the bucket. On some nights, I'm not sure what that makes me as a person."
She's cute with her fingertips on her lips. "It makes you a person that would have gone the distance. I was correct — we really are alike."
"At least, I know how it feels to pursue a rapist; nevertheless, you have the better motivation. If you ever want to talk about it or anything else, I'm more than willing to listen." It's ironic, because I'm not the typical go-to guy on these matters. I don't think there will be better proof of my ability to change.
"I'm not sure when I'll take you up on all of this, but I, most assuredly, will. Now, I don't know what to say."
"That makes two of us." There you are in the background, Adam, walking the other way. It's another good display on why you are the wisest man, east of the Missouri. "Ready?"
"Ready as I'll ever be. Still, I clearly underestimated you, as, for a second, I thought you would use rape cases to elicit the truth."
"Give me some credit, Abbie. I'm not the boor or manipulative bastard that people think I am." When in doubt, stick to the old, reliable extended pose.
"That's why I used, 'For a second.' And, Jack?"
"Remind me to ask you for your home number whenever we have a break."
A pity she's returning to her papers, for I have one hell of a beam for her. Jamie, Claire, I promise to impart your combined wisdom to Abbie, as we both have our ways to go. I didn't even utilize my notes, so there is hope for me, yet.
Leave me a review, and see you in the funny papers.