Another tribute to David E. Kelley's genius… I just borrow these folks…

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Alan Shore was heading down the hallway of the law offices of Crane, Poole and Schmidt, Boston, when he was called into the office of his best friend and senior partner, Denny Crane. "Alan! Come on in; I want you to meet someone."

The forty-something lawyer paused in his step and complied. "Good morning, Denny," he said.

"Alan, this is Lorelei Medeiros," Denny said, indicating the stunning woman sitting across from him. "I used to shoot with her husband Manny at Walnut Hill. Lorelei—Alan Shore."

Alan offered a closed-mouth smile as his eyes studied her olive skin, her dark eyes, her glorious mane of dark hair. She was younger than Denny; about his own age, if he was reading her right. And she was beautiful, but not in the hooker way that so many of Denny's female friends were. More in the genuine way that made Alan himself take notice. "How do you do?" he asked, extending his hand.

"Lovely to meet you," Lorelei answered, placing her hand in his. "Denny's told me so much about you."

"Already?" Alan asked, glancing toward his friend.

Lorelei smiled, gave the tiniest laugh. "Well, mainly about your field trip to the rifle range."

"Ah." Alan savored the feeling of her smooth skin against his, then released her hand. "Not my best work, I'm afraid."

"Well, shooting isn't for everyone," she said kindly.

"Alan's… soft about guns," Denny piped up. "He's a Democrat."

Alan looked more pointedly at Denny. "I've just been on the wrong end of too many barrels to appreciate them the way Denny does," he said.

"Lorelei's here to sort out some issues with Manny's estate. He passed away earlier this year—heart attack. Only fifty years old. Tragic."

Alan looked back at Lorelei. "I'm so sorry," he said softly.

She smiled back at him. Her eyes held him fast; Alan couldn't read them. "Thank you," she said.

"I'm taking her out for lunch today. Thought you might want to come along. If you hear us talking about guns and shooting, you might learn something."

Alan broke eye contact. "I have an appointment at lunch time today, Denny; I'm afraid I won't be able to join you." He looked back at Lorelei. "But I'm sure I'll be able to… learn from you… another time."

Lorelei lowered her eyes and smiled. "Denny's so pro-gun, it makes Charlton Heston look like a mama's boy."

Alan grinned in delight.

"Don't worry, Mr. Shore; guns aren't for everyone. They weren't my 'thing' either, but Manny adored them. A good thing, too, I suppose," she said, "or we wouldn't have met Denny. And Denny is definitely a keeper."

Alan nodded. "That he is," he agreed. "Denny, I have to prepare for court this morning; I'll meet up with you later. Lorelei," he said, "I hope we see each other again."

"Thank you, Mr. Shore."

"Please: Alan. Any friend of Denny is a friend of mine."

"Only if I let you," Denny put in.

Alan smiled again. This Lorelei made Denny feel good. He approved. "Of course, Denny."

"Thank you, Alan," Lorelei amended.

Alan nodded and made his exit. As he headed back down the hall he was joined by another name partner, Shirley Schmidt. "Alan, just the man I was looking for."

"Shirley, I've longed to hear you say that, but I've promised Denny you're off limits."

"I'm sure somewhere in your world that statement has meaning. I'm happy to see you because I have something that needs just your kind of touch." Alan opened his mouth. "Don't say it. I mean it needs your brand of forcefulness." Alan just looked at her as they reached the kitchen. "Again, a poor choice of words. Alan, I'm assigning you a case because I can."

"Shirley, you take all the fun out of our little tête a têtes."

"I'm known for that," she said, heading to the coffee.

"What do you need me to do?" he asked as he reached for a bottle of orange juice.

"I need you to help a dog."

Alan laughed lightly. "What?"

"We've been assigned a case by the courts and I want you to handle it. A family is in violation of the city's laws regarding pit bulls, and you need to defend them."

Alan's light mood dropped. "Pit bulls?" he repeated.

"Yes. This family wants to bring their dog to obedience training in the Common, but to do so they have to have the dog in a muzzle and that inhibits the training, since it's usually enforced with food. They were fined but they're appealing and they need you to stand up for them."

"Pit bulls," Alan said again flatly.

Shirley pulled milk from the refrigerator to pour into the now-steaming cup. "I'm sensing reticence on your part," she said.

"Well, can't Clarence, or Jerry—?"

"Beneath you, Alan?"

"No," Alan denied forcefully. "It's just that…"

"Just that what?" Shirley asked.

Alan changed tack. "Shirley, you've known me for more than three years now. I can't imagine that you'd have missed my many… quirks and eccentricities," Alan began.

"Makes you fit right in here," she countered.

"Dogs are… something I'm reluctant to get close to."

"The dog won't be wearing a clown suit." Alan didn't answer. "I'm sorry. That was probably unfair. Alan, are you afraid of dogs?"

"Not… really…" he replied. "I just…" He stopped.

"Alan," Shirley said, "dogs are like lawyers. They sense fear. Go in like a strong lawyer and you'll be fine." No positive response. "Really." Nothing. "Be a good boy and I'll give you some kibble."

"Usually, a dog wants a bone," Alan replied glibly.

"I'm not helping you with that one," Shirley answered. "I'll get you the file this morning."

"Party pooper."

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"A dog?" Denny questioned Alan later that day.

"A pit bull," Alan clarified.

"A pit bull is a dog, right?" Denny said.

"Of course it is, Denny," Alan answered, sitting across from Denny on the name partner's sofa in his office.

"And you're afraid of dogs?"

Alan shrugged. "Not so much afraid, as…"

Denny shook his head. "Dogs are supposed to be one of the joys of childhood!" he observed. "They're great, Alan! They worship the ground you walk on, they never talk back, they hunt with you, they follow you to the ends of the earth…. Didn't your family ever have a dog?"

"Once, when I was… little," Alan said uncomfortably.

"Well, didn't you like it?" Denny probed.

"I really can't remember," Alan said evasively. "And anyway, Denny, this isn't just any dog; it's a pit bull."

"A dog is a dog," Denny said dismissively. "A dog is only as good or nasty as its owner."

"I have to meet these people this afternoon. I'm going out to their home, so I can observe the animal in its natural environment. Will you come with me?"

Denny looked at his friend for a moment, trying to comprehend yet another of his insecurities. "Sure," he said finally. "Why not?" Then, sensing Alan's increasing discomfort, he changed the subject. "So, what did you think of Lorelei?"

Alan was relieved to fall into step. "She seems to make you happy, Denny. For that, I like her already."

"She's beautiful, intelligent, everything I love in a woman. Always was. Sexy."

"I thought you also loved them promiscuous," Alan noted.

"That, too." Denny nodded. "I wanted her for twenty years."

"Have you slept with her, Denny?" Alan asked.

The senior partner frowned and shook his head. "She was a good Catholic girl," he complained. "She wouldn't do a thing while she was married to Manny."

"There's no accounting for some people's morals," Alan deadpanned.

"I can't understand how she could always resist," Denny wondered. "A will of iron. But she always wanted me. And now, she's ready."

Alan's eyes widened slightly in surprise. "Did she say that, Denny?"

"Manny was a son of a bitch. She wasn't in love with him. Had to be me. I'm the first person she came to after he died six months ago. I'm the person she came to today. She's telling me loud and clear, now," Denny said, waving away the question. Then he suddenly focused intently on his friend. "Do you want to sleep with her, Alan?"

Alan just blinked. "I hadn't really thought about it."

Denny smiled a sly grin. "You're slipping."

"Denny, I only met her this morning."

"See what I mean? If you were Denny Crane, you'd have had your hand up her skirt by now," he said proudly.

"I'll never be as quick as you," Alan lamented, not quite serious.

"Six months, Alan. It's been six months. She'll be ready to make her move soon."

"On you," Alan predicted skeptically.

"Of course!" Denny declared, not offended. "We're having dinner tomorrow night. Come with us. I want you to get to know her."

"I'd be delighted."

"Good. But don't touch her. She's mine."

"Dibs again, Denny?"

"You bet your ass, dibs," Denny answered. "Come get me when you're ready to go see this dog."