He is only human, right ? I bet he had these days.
Before reading this, think about that one little scene before Perry kisses Della on screen for the first and last time. It's on YouTube: PM is Past Midnight.
No storyline, four (short) chapters during the day before and on her birthday.
Happy, happy birthday to lady Barbara Hale!
- Atonement -
PM: Pretty Mad - Post Mortem
He sank down on the couch ungracefully and lay back again, grunting to himself, while throwing the evening news paper through the office.
He swore at his ego, even bigger than himself. True, he considered himself a winner by nature. But the winner he had been yesterday, had just been using his brilliance to have a client released from death penalty, exposing the real perpetrator along the way as usual. The problem was, that this client had been innocent of this particular crime, but he wasn't an innocent man. It was a known felon, suspected for getting away with crimes in disgusting ways. And so Perry Mason felt he was guilty. As a matter of fact, he believed he himself had to be charged with misconduct.
But justice had been served, right?
Having this client convicted for a crime he didn't commit had not been an option.
And innocence had been served as well.
But it made him sick.
He picked up the frontpage of the paper he had been throwing around. This frontpage, including an article about the trial along with his picture, had landed next to the couch on the floor, as if to remind him of the mistake that had not been a mistake, but certainly felt like one.
He sighed. Yes, this client was going to receive an impossibly high invoice, and he was probably going to pay it without thought, and move on as if nothing had happened. That invoice was probably already on its way. Perry had explicitly told Della to deposit all the turnover from this case to charity immediately. It was the only way something good could come from this. He didn't want this money.
And he didn't want this case on his curriculum.
' Move to strike, Your Honour. '
' No, Mr. Mason. Endure your ways. '
He tore the news paper to pieces, making the scraps very small, placing them on the coffee table next to him, to dispose of them later. According to the press, his winning ways impressed and surprised people. This had increased with the years that passed. It was said, age had been gentle to him and had added grace and creativity to his brilliance. But that wasn't even close to the truth, was it ?
Because at days like today, he considered age had not been gentle to him at all. The result of long days of hard working for years without paying too much attention to his own body, stared at him in the mirror every morning, and this morning it had been staring at him longer and harder. That was how he knew what kind of day this was going to be. Not kind at all. That was why he had sank down onto the couch this morning, and had gotten up only to go to the bathroom or to switch on lights now that it was also darkening outside again.
Somewhere today, he had swept the files and journals that had been waiting for him on his desk to the floor, in one big swipe of his larger than life arm.
The one news paper that had refused to fall to the floor with the rest, had been the one singing about his victory, the one he had just tore to pieces.
As if it was obliged to be read. As if he had to face it.
It was at times like this, he was hit by reality, confronted with himself in different ways, becoming so aware of his flaws, his wrongs, his weight, his inability to control himself. He felt tired, weary and empty. There was no blood running through his veins today but thick syrup, and it was draggingly slowing him down, reducing him to a self pitying, spoiled child. He had not gotten what he'd wanted, while everyone thought he had. And he knew, but couldn't help himself.
He felt extremely heavy in more ways than one, and extremely sorry, for himself mostly. The evil he was confronted with on a daily basis, agitated him, turned him inside out in all the wrong ways. Yesterday he had proven it again, he wasn't a saint, he wasn't brilliant, he could be a manipulating slick snake, concentrating so hard on his client, he was walking on the edge of what was legally and ethically possible, just to prove he was a winner. It was all about ego, wasn't it ? He just could not lose.
He had done that when he was younger and he still did it now. The difference was he threw his weight around more litterally now, being imposing by posture as age had added two Della Streets to his younger self. It was what she herself used to say. She had said he had eaten her twice in the eight years he had been without her. Added her to his life that way, without being aware of it.
There had only been one doctor he had trusted enough to talk about these dark days, and that man had told him very specifically to accept it while it happened and to just let it pass.
" Don't pay too much attention to it. Adrenaline needs to subside, cortisol needs to take over, and your system needs to be in balance. You have to allow that to take place at times, and it can make you feel like you do now. But it's just a feeling, and it's there to urge you to take your time, Mason. Rest. Do nothing for a day. You might think you are superior to the human species, but you're not, and you have to accept the fact that you have to rest and you have to accept the fact that you're human, as are all your clients. The only thing that is different between you and them, is the side of the table you're on."
These sentences had reassured him, but had kept him awake as well. No, he wasn't superior to the human species. And what if he'd be on the other side of the table? What if he had to convince someone of his innocence and knew his life would depend on the opinion and visions of a jury, a judge, another lawyer ? Would he be willing to depend on the other to walk the edges of what was legally and ethically possible ?
Even if he had killed. And he would be able to kill. He didn't just fear he would be, he actually knew he would be. Given the right circumstances and reasons. Given motive, means and opportunity, he would be. Anyone would be.
The common joke was, that he, being a criminal defense lawyer, would know exactly how to do it without being noticed and without getting caught. But that was the joke, a raw joke, but a joke. What was the truth? And was he the one to decide what the truth was? And was it important? Was he the one to handle it ? And how did he handle the truth? How guilty was he?
This time, he felt guilty as Hell for a crime he didn't commit.
Sometimes, as frustration gradually threatened to take over from reason, and his need for an acceptable truth rose above human capacity, his anger, fear and insecurity started to seep through.
And an insecure Perry Mason being angry and scared resulted in his unreasonable yelling and fuming. Philosophical truths and clichés didn't suffice to tame him at these moments, he needed to let off steam. There was calm appearance on the outside, seemingly effortlessly, but he needed yelling. He needed fuming.
And that would always be directed to the only one who knew how to handle it, the only one who had practised enduring his ways, the only one who was seemingly numb to his swearing.
The one he would kill for.
The moments he had taken it out on her swirled through his office, together with the scraps of the news paper he swept of the coffee table now, and he swore because they were raining down to the floor too damn slowly.
" Today, please, Della ! "
" I'm working on it. "
" I don't see you working on it. "
" Just be patient. "
" No, there is a client waiting damn it, and I can not be patient. Get a move on! "
" Where are the copies, Della ? "
" I haven't got them yet. "
" You get down to the damn courtroom to get these copies and hope they are still there. "
" Damn it! I need the information now. The trial starts tomorrow at 9.30 … "
" Will 6.00 a.m. be okay? "
" No! "
" I still think you shouldn't do that, Perry. "
" Then what the Hell would you want me to do, Della? You do it yourself if you think you can do it better. "
" I didn't say that I can do it better. "
" Then what are you saying? "
" I just want to help you."
" Well, you're not helping. And we're doing it my way. "
" Your way … "
" I'm the boss … "
" Yes, you're the boss … "
He sighed. He swung his legs from the couch to the floor. No, that was what he would have liked to have done. That was what he would have done had he been his younger self. But he was old now, wasn't he? So, one by one, he consciously placed his feet on the deep-pile carpet, wincing at the jolt of pain coming from his right knee. Swearing under his breath, he took a moment to allow the pain to subside. He looked down at his feet.
Black socks on a dark blue surface, 'walking on water' is what she used to call it. 'We do sometimes perform miracles here in this office, Perry. '
Where was she now? The clock had ticked the day away into the evening already. It had been very quiet the last hour. There had been no phonecalls all day, she'd probably unplugged the phones.
His hands went through his hair. Once, a long time ago, he had felt thick wavy locks there, and now he felt thin, soft down. Inversely to how his body had developed, from light to heavy. It was what age did, irreversably.
Age. He sighed again, swore, realized he had left her present at home.
Then he grinned and shook his head, realizing he had been dwelling on the couch, doing nothing as he was told to do, all day. He was an idiot, able to worry about nothing, able to do nothing, coming from nothing and he was going back to nothing.
And so would all the lying and cheating men and women on the face of this earth disappear gradually too. Post mortem, everybody looked the same. He grinned again. Maybe things shouldn't be taken so very serious all the time.
He lay back on the couch again, not ready to stand up just yet.
Just a few more moments. Humour was surfacing. The feel in his fingers came back, it was blood that was running through his veins again, instead of syrup. He felt it. In a few minutes, he would be able to pick up the scraps of paper from the floor next to him, and dispose of them.
He closed his eyes, placed one hand on his massive chest to feel his heart beat its normal rhythm, and placed the other hand beneath his head.
He pretended to be sleeping still as he heard her walking into his office, her kissable stockinged feet silently brushing the carpet. She moved around his desk, she was searching for something, he heard some muttering. The rustle of her skirt around her caressable long silken stockinged legs approached him, made his breathing deep and even. She sat down next to him on the couch. He dwelled in the touch of her thigh against his and her soft fingers on the creases on his forehead.
Then two elegant, cool fingers slipped inside the sleeve of his shirt, playing with the soft hairs she found there.
" Perry … " she whispered, not to wake him up, she probably didn't want him to be awake yet, was probably and rightfully angry with him. She just said it to reassure herself.
She stood up, and he almost moaned out loud to protest at the loss of physical contact. From the sounds he heard he understood she was picking up the pieces of the news paper he had thrown on the floor earlier, she was once again cleaning his mess.
She left his office in the silent way she had entered it before.
At the end of the day, she was his most important clue.
She could handle him, partly because she had been on the other side of the table -'the bad side of the table, Mason'-, and partly because time had been gentle to her.
Hadn't time been gentle to him? Gentle enough to etch careful, but impressively deep wrinkles next to his eyes. And weren't they caused by smiling? At her and with her? At and with two Paul Drakes, and one Ken Malansky. At and with hundreds of people that were living happily ever after because he had set them free, because he was able to face human evil and catalyse confusion into truth and justice. And wasn't part of the reason he could do that, the fact that she was able to handle him?
Where was she?
God, how he loved her.
It was time to find her. Time to tell her he was sorry for his ways. Time to do penance until very deep into the night, and continue it tomorrow morning, after just some hours of much more needed sleep. Celebrate her birthday. Time to nurture her, cherish her, love her, spoil her. Ravish her.
Time to throw his weight around in more ways than one.
Because he was the boss, right ?