No Controlling Legal Authority Ch. 28...byTheScribe©
No Controlling Legal Authority Ch. 28: Courtroom Christmas Part 2
Courtship Caleb Style, or Anne Pleads Her Case
Caleb allowed her to lead him from his office into the courtroom adjoining his office. The door closed behind them, and she paused while her eyes adjusted to the light. He reached for the light-switch, but she stopped him saying, "Don't, please, we'll be able to see well enough in a minute," so he stood quietly in the muted light, listening to her breathing, and wondered if she could feel the weight of the room's history on her shoulders as he always did.
"Oh, my," she whispered in awe when the details of the vast space revealed themselves. Light from the Christmas decorations and lamps on the street below shown through an array of stained glass windows along the room's outer wall and, though dim, gave sufficient illumination for her to make out the intricate architectural embellishments.
"How high is that?" she gasped in amazement as she gazed up toward the barrel vaulted ceiling.
"Thirty nine and a half feet in the middle where the United States seal is; a little less at the ends."
"What's that?" she asked, pointing to another medallion on the ceiling nearly directly overhead.
"Tennessee State seal," he said matter of factly. "And, that one at the far end is the county seal."
"Those windows are unbelievable; are they…?" she asked in wonder as she glided away soundlessly on the thick carpet, drawn toward the beauty of the stained glass mosaics.
"Tiffany," he interjected finishing her sentence, while her face turned into the rays of colored light that were radiating through the multi-hued panes. "Six original panels by Louis Comfort Tiffany himself."
"My God," she gasped. "They're exquisite."
"I always thought they were the most beautiful things I had ever seen," he replied.
"You 'thought?'" she asked, turning toward him inquisitively. "What changed your mind?"
"Seeing you standing there with the light in your hair," he answered so softly his voice almost didn't carry to where she was standing. "The comparison takes away their luster."
"Oh, Caleb," she gasped, and he thought he glimpsed the glitter of tears in her eyes as she looked toward him. "That's the sweetest thing anyone's ever said to me."
"Even better than that thing Maurice said about you?" he asked defensively. He was still stinging from having been bested.
"Much better," she said smiling warmly. "I think you mean it; all that pretentious bastard wanted was for me to let him come by Kate's after he closed up last night, and he wasn't even a little subtle about what he wanted."
"I knew it; I was right," he exclaimed with relief.
"Yes, you were," she said, smirking cunningly.
"You gave me a pretty hard time, though, for being right about the 'pretentious bastard,' didn't you?" he complained, and he sounded like a little boy pouting about an unjust scolding.
"Sure, but your not calling me for a week gave me a pretty hard time, too," she said righteously.
"I see," he said, and he gravely pondered her explanation for a moment before teasing her by asking, "Do you always stomp on someone when they let you down?"
"Always," she assured him, grinning at the reminder of her earlier remonstration.
"I'll remember that."
"I know you will."
"You're pretty sure of yourself," he observed without rancor.
"Most of the time," she nodded.
"You know what you want and go after it, don't you?" he said, thinking aloud with a measure of envy.
She was turned, partly, toward him and was outlined against the fragmented glass panels, so he could see the jutting profile of her breasts as he spoke, and she detected a slight catch in his voice.
"Usually," she said smiling at him with lips that lingered seductively on the rim of her glass while his eyes drank from her D cups.
"I wish I had your self-confidence," he muttered.
"You don't?" she questioned doubtfully despite her keen perception of his weaknesses. After all, she reminded herself as she watched him struggling to reveal himself, he hadn't once attempted to kiss her, even after all the wine and the romantic, candle-lit dinners they had shared. "I would think being a judge was a confidence building job if ever there was one."
"I don't mean in here," he replied, indicating the courtroom with a sweeping gesture that reminded her of her Billy. "This is the easiest part; all I have to do in here is learn a few rules and follow them."
"Which explains the books all over your office and your disappearance for the last week."
"But outside this room, there aren't any rules that are so easy to learn and follow, are there?"
"I haven't found any," he sighed wistfully.
"So, you see something you want, but you're not sure that you can get it because there aren't any rules to follow that guarantee the result you want, and that lack of certainty paralyzes you?"
"That's about the size of it," he acknowledged sounding disheartened, as though the admission had sucked the wind out of him.
"I think it's all about 'finding the man within the robe,' like Kate said," she reminded him with an inscrutable smile.
"What the hell does that mean?" he implored raising his voice in distress at the opaqueness of the advice.
She smiled serenely and, looking at him all the while, she took a small sip of her drink and then lowered her glass. With her arms at her sides, she took a breath that almost imperceptibly lifted her breasts against her nearly transparent cashmere sweater. Dark circles with protuberant, erectile centers impressed the material, and, while his eyes fastened themselves hungrily to her nipples, she turned her head toward the windows.
"What do they show?" she asked, ignoring his question and abruptly returning to the subject of stained glass.
Fantastic nipples, he wanted to scream at her, but the finely woven web of his insecurity caught those words in his gut like herring in a fisherman's net, so, instead, he mechanically recited the answer as he had done for countless groups of school children on field trips to the courthouse.
"'Significant events in the evolution of the Law' is what the contract my great grandfather drew up said; the signing of the Magna Carta, that's the fourth one down, then there's the drafting of the Bill of Rights next to it coming this way, and beside that the Supreme Court deciding the case of Mabry versus Madison, and way down on the end, there's the Code of Hammurabi being scribed into clay tablets around 1950 BC and then, of course, Moses receiving the Ten Commandments."
"Five, that's only five," she said, puzzled and pointed to the sixth panel. "What's the other one."
"Oh, that one. It commemorates the Dred Scott decision; we don't talk about that one much anymore, but five out of six ain't bad."
"What's this?" she asked, turning her attention from the windows and pointing to a raised platform that projected from the wall near the doorway they had come through. "Is that what you call your bench?"
"Where you do your thing, huh?" she jived jokingly without intending any disrespect.
"That's the place," he answered laughing; her ebullience was infectious. "Go up there, then, and have a seat," she said, directing him toward the chair that was just visible behind the bench. "I want to see what you look like way up there."
While Caleb climbed the steps to the bench, Anne eased toward the center of the room, turning to face him just as he took his seat. It was impressive, she admitted, as he swiveled his chair around and looked down at her. The bench itself, which rose above her like a pulpit in a gothic cathedral, had the look of antiquity about its panels of hand-rubbed oak, and behind it, rising nearly to the ceiling was an immense slab of polished black marble upon which was embossed a greater than life sized figure of blindfolded Justice with the Book of Laws in one hand and the scales of justice uplifted in the other. Behind the bench, flags, unfurled and draping from poles that were canted toward each other, flanked the dark monolith and framed the bench like a pair of parted curtains.
"Gee," she half-whispered in awe of the extravagant architectural statement of authority.
"It's sort of overwhelming, isn't it?" he said, sounding apologetic. "This courthouse was built not long after the War Between the States," he continued, following the script his father had used when he was entertaining field tripping children, "To rebuild the one the Yankees burned down, so the style's a little more grandiose than they're allowing nowadays."
"You can say that again," she replied and her eyes swept the room again in amazement. "You look like some kind of king up there; all you're missing is the ermine collar and the palace guard, sire." As she said the word "sire," she bowed from the waist treating him to another glimpse of her cleavage.
She was closer now than before and, from his lofty vantage point, as she leaned toward him, he gazed down between the billowy mounds of her breasts and thought he could see the tiny dimple of her bellybutton. Fantasies of her breasts, like wraiths from the pages of Moon Dog's report, reached to embrace him with ethereal limbs, and he bit his lip to keep from groaning aloud.
"And, the crown," he reminded her laughing uneasily because he felt an unaccustomed warmth building under his robe. His fingers tugged at his collar to separate it from his neck and vent some heat
"Oh, that," she giggled, squinting playfully at him while he eyed her breasts. "I thought you were wearing one; I guess that's just your hair sticking up again."
"Oh, Christ," he grunted and smoothed his hair with his hands.
"What's that?" she asked, ignoring his eyes for the moment and pointing toward a box-like structure that was attached to the bench at a level slightly below where Caleb was sitting.
"The witness box," he answered directly. "Witnesses testify there so both the jury, over there, and I can see them."
He spoke of the jury gesturing toward a double row of leather armchairs along the wall opposite the windows. A low, oak-paneled railing surrounded the chairs, and the back row was elevated a step or two above the front row.
"The jury box?" she asked following his pointing finger with her eyes.
"That's right," he confirmed.
"Who are they?" she asked, indicating a series of four imposing oil portraits that were hanging at carefully spaced intervals on the wall above the jury box.
"My distinguished ancestors."
"Really?" she asked glancing up at him with increased interest.
"Yep. The furthest one down there is my great, great grandfather."
"What was his name?" she asked, turning toward the distant portrait.
"Hiram Augustus Montcastle," he responded in a grave tone that dramatically sounded out each syllable.
"Boy, that's a mouthful," she grinned arching her eyebrows, "and the others?"
"Well, there's Hiram, Jr., my great, granddaddy; he was on the bench, this bench, in fact, for fifty years, and next to him's Hiram Augustus, III, my grandfather. And then, there's my father, the last one. Hiram Augustus, IV."
"Your grandfather looks tough," she observed as she approached the railing fronting the jury box for a closer look.
"He was tough, without a doubt; hard as flint when he thought he had the right side of an argument, which, I hear, was his usual manner of thinking."
"Your father looks just like him, doesn't he?" she remarked, shifting her attention to his more recent ancestry.
Her back was to him and she was leaning on the rail with both hands like a lawyer delivering a fervent summation to the jury, but, he thought, she surely didn't look like any of the lawyers he was used to seeing. The narrow band of fabric clinging to her rounded hips looked nearly black in the poor light on that side of the courtroom, but her toned, tapered legs glowed against the darkened background in gloriously bronzed contrast. While she scrutinized the stern countenances of his predecessors, she shifted her weight to one foot and lifted the other, hooking it behind her ankle in a bit of seemingly distracted posturing that at once drew his attention to her shapely calves and also accentuated the sensuous curves of her buttocks. God, he thought as she absent-mindedly caressed the back of her leg with the toe of her shoe, she'd make one hell of a lawyer; if she was in the courtroom, nobody would see or hear any thing but her.
"They were cut from the same cloth; the resemblance, I'm told, was remarkable, both physically and psychically," he muttered from beneath his mantle of pervasive distraction.
"You were told?" she questioned, glancing toward him over her shoulder.
"I was too young to know my grandfather, and my father, well, he wasn't around much either."
"So, there's Hiram one, two, three and four; how come you aren't Hiram Augustus, the fifth?" she asked tracing his family tree to the present as she turned to face him.
"My brother beat me to it by ten years or so; he got Hiram Augustus and I got stuck with Caleb Ulysses.
"I think your name suits you very…" she began reassuringly, but when the acronym suddenly gelled in her mind, she was unable to finish and gasped, "Oh!" and looked away to conceal her grin.
"They called him the Hamster, get it?" he asked in total seriousness. "You know, H.A.M.?"
"I get it all right, Caleb," she assured him while chewing her lip. "I just didn't know you have a brother."
"It's not 'have,' it's had," he explained. "He's dead. He was the darling of the family, though, when he was alive; the one everybody had the high expectations for. Our father was grooming him to take over for him up here on the bench. He was sent to all the right schools, the Naval Academy, Yale law, and he was near the top of his class every where he went. Everybody said he was going to be governor or senator someday, but he went and got himself killed."
"After Annapolis, he joined the SEALs. Judge Montcastle convinced him it would look good on his resume, but I guess he never figured on combat being involved. When Reagan called up the reserves to invade Grenada, Ham's unit went in first, and they ran smack into a company of Cuban regular army. He was killed in a firefight on the airport runway. Judge never was the same after that, either; it was like all the starch went out of him."
"But he still had you, didn't he? Looks to me like you stepped up pretty well."
"Yeah, well, thanks, but I don't think having me around to take Ham's place was much of a comfort to the Judge. He never thought too highly of my prospects to begin with, I'm afraid. He always said it was because I took after the Posey side of the family, and it would take a miracle for me to amount to anything."
"You proved him wrong, though, didn't you, Caleb?" Her voice was low and husky, as though her recognition of his ascension was having an aphrodisiac effect.
"Ask somebody else to answer that. They'll probably tell you the jury's still out."
"I don't have to ask anybody else, do I, Caleb? Kate's given me all the answers to that question that I need." She was looking at him with frank, determined interest, like a woman who knew where she wanted to be and how to get there, but her self-assurance only served to remind him of his own limitations.
" I dunno," he fretted. "Maybe she was just worried that she'd die, and it would fall into the wrong hands."
"I told you already that wasn't the reason, didn't I?" she reminded him throatily. The scotch and cognac were blending nicely in the crucible of her libido.
"Yeah, but I just wish I could be sure I've earned it."
"Find the man within the robe and then you'll know," she responded, mischievously answering his misgivings with deepening mystery, but the sultriness of her voice hinted where his search might begin.
"Damn, there you go again; I still don't know what she means by that," he grumbled.
"Is that why there's a blank spot on the wall next to your father?" she questioned in the method Socrates favored to nudge his students toward independent analysis. "Tell me, how come your portrait's not up there?"
"That spot was reserved for Hiram V," he replied a little somberly and somewhat irritated by the persistent riddling.
"It's yours now."
"I know. I just haven't gotten used to the idea yet. Maybe in a few years, after I've turned hard looking like the rest of them, I won't feel so out of place up there with them."
"I hate to tell you, Caleb, but you're never going to look as austere as they do," she laughed turning away from the portraits with a flourish, and, displaying fluid, feline grace, she walked slowly to the podium, which was centered in the room directly in front of the bench. It was flanked by a pair of conference tables, and behind each table, facing the bench, were leather-upholstered armchairs.
Reaching the podium, she paused, looking up at him and asked, "Where do the defendants sit during trials?"
"Over there, to your right," he said pointing toward the table nearest the windows. "We put them there so the jury can watch their reactions."
She moved from the podium to the front of the defense table and sat on the edge. It wasn't really sitting because she just rested one cheek and part of a thigh on it but the position took most of the weight off her feet. One leg dangled from the table and the other was outstretched to the front for stability. It was, to say the least, a provocative pose because it caused her skirt to ride up her thighs to a breathtaking altitude. She studied her surroundings with wide-eyed innocence, attempting to appreciate a defendant's perspective of the imposing space.
Caleb leaned forward across the desktop, stretching to see her fully. Her back was turned to the light and her features were mostly in shadow, but he could see clearly the soft sheen on her shapely skin from the light coming through the stained glass. His eyes were drawn to the movement of a swinging foot and the shoe that dangled haphazardly from her toes. The rhythmic motion held his gaze, and he stared at her hypnotically.
"I imagine your defendants feel pretty vulnerable sitting here with a room full of people watching every move," she said empathetically, although she, despite the weight of his eyes on her exposed limbs, was feeling anything but vulnerable at the moment.
"They ought to," he countered. "'Cause most of them are guilty as sin."
"I know just how they feel, then," she smiled suggestively, and the dangling shoe slipped off her toes and dropped to the carpet with a soft plop that sounded in the stillness like the distant pop of a starter's pistol.
"Guilty as sin, huh?" he cracked, modulating his voice to sound light, but the long, sensuous sweep of her calf, down to her ankle and on to the arch of her foot and her wiggling toes captured his attention and sent his heart leaping into his throat.
"Guilty OF sin, Your Honor," she replied, correcting him with a playful, flirting look, and she began plucking imaginary pieces of lint from the hem of her skirt where it was stretched across her thighs as tautly as a banjo string.
"Harrumph," he intoned judicially to indicate his willingness to join in her game for a while. "Exactly which sin are you guilty of, young lady?"
Caleb had picked up his gavel and was rotating the head with his fingers like he was trying to screw the handle through his fist. It was the sort of mannerism that a judge would likely pick up after a few years on the bench, she rationalized, but Danny, ever vigilant for outward manifestations of the mind's inner workings, chimed excitedly, "Not hard to tell what's on his mind, babe; get a load of the guy fucking his hand with the handle on that hammer. You got him leanin,' why doncha give him a shove?"