Authors: Brad Murray
By Brad Murray
© 2013 by Brad Murray. All
This book is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either
products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead,
is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this
publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, without written permission from
a lawyer?” asked the man in the gray pinstriped suit. The man in
the expensive dark blue suit sitting next to him at the bar looked
up from his drink, regarded him, and nodded.
“How’d you know?” asked the blue-suited
“I guess I just recognize my own kind,” he
said. He smiled and offered a hand, his teeth so white they were
practically blinding. “I’m Perry Tinker – contract law and torts
for McDonald, Wolff, & Howland.”
The man in the blue suit extended his hand
and offered a firm shake. “Geoffrey Winters,” he said glumly.
“Ahhh, the Judge’s son! I thought you looked
familiar,” he said. “It’s a real pleasure to meet you. Your dad’s
always been a bit of an idol of mine. He handles his business the
right way, and I’ve always respected that.”
“Yeah, my old man is…a real piece of work
“Yes he is. But let me ask you something. He
was on the bench during the trial of the ‘Dracula Killer’,
Geoffrey nodded his head.
“That guy was the worst of
the worst – drinking the blood of his victims and all. And I
remember your father on Court TV at the sentencing – I mean, you
the vitriol and hatred spewing from his lips as he cast that
son-of-a-bitch down with the Sodomites. But what I’m wondering is,
now that your father is in the defense business, would he take on
the case of this new serial killer – ‘The Surgeon’ – as the media
has started calling him.”
Geoffrey shrugged his shoulders. “Why
“Well, it’s just that the guy is so
damn…evil. I heard he cuts the victims’ guts out and makes them
watch. And all that carving out their organs and stuff…,” he paused
and shuddered. “It’s just so damn sickening…I would have a hard
time defending someone like that. Knowing in the back of your mind
what the guy did and that any one of the victims could have been
someone you knew or loved…”
Geoffrey shook his head and grinned.
“Everyone is entitled to a defense. And, if they ever catch the guy
and as long as he can afford the retainer, who gives a shit,
Perry the Tort Attorney laughed and clinked
glasses with Geoffrey. His cell phone rang. He looked at the number
on the screen and turned to Geoffrey.
“Gotta take this - paying customer,” he
winked. “Nice meeting you.” The man spun and walked away from the
bar, phone to his ear, words flowing a mile a minute.
Geoffrey L. Winters III took another sip of
his expensive scotch and checked his Rolex. He huffed impatiently
and slammed the glass on the bar top. The inconsiderate bastards
“Goddamn idiots,” he muttered.
“Time is money,” his father, Judge Geoffrey
L. Winters II, had always said. And at a billable rate of five
hundred dollars per hour for his legal expertise, “Three,” as his
family called him, considered his time more valuable than just
about anyone else’s.
“Everything alright sir?” asked the
barkeeper. He was a frail, elderly man; a kind looking man with
deep-set wrinkles around his eyes and lips that symbolized a
lifetime of smiles. He wore a tidy black vest over a crisp white
shirt topped by a black bowtie – the uniform of the swanky bar’s
employees. It was one of those places that offered $15 glasses of
whiskey and had the balls to charge an additional $2 for the rocks.
The menu was filled with stuff the average Joe had never heard of,
much less could pronounce. “Barcode” was a downtown after work
hotspot for the young, rich, and hip – a trifecta of superficial
qualities that Geoffrey considered to be paramount in life.
Geoffrey raised an unenthusiastic eyebrow at
the bartender. He huffed and took a sip of his scotch.
“Why wouldn’t everything be alright?”
The old man’s deeply wrinkled face sunk.
“I’m…I’m sorry sir. You appeared…agitated. Is…is there anything I
can do for you?” His old voice croaked annoyingly.
“Yeah,” said Geoffrey, leaning forward over
the bar. “You can shut your fuckin’ mouth unless I ask you for
The old man’s jaw dropped and the twinkle in
his eyes disappeared. His expression reflected an amalgamation of
emotions; of confused dumbfounded hurt. He wordlessly tossed the
white towel over his shoulder and ambled away, a slight limp in his
gait as he moved towards the opposite end of the bar.
“You can get me some pretzels though,”
Geoffrey shouted at his back.
The old man stopped and slowly turned to
face him. Geoffrey jangled the ice in his empty glass in the air
with a shit-eating grin. “And get me another scotch.”
Geoffrey chuckled to himself and pulled his
cell phone from his coat pocket. A new text message from Ben was
waiting for him.
Running late, Charlotte and I will be there
in a few.
, thought Geoffrey.
Ben wasn’t so much his friend as he was his
guardian. He had worked for Geoffrey’s father, the former prominent
district judge, for several years. The Judge had retired from the
bench years ago, and now ran his own defense firm downtown, with
Geoffrey as one of his fifteen attorneys.
Ben fulfilled any number of roles and
responsibilities for the Judge; essentially whatever the Judge
asked him to do, he did. And from time to time that included
babysitting – making sure the Judge’s brash, reckless son kept out
of trouble and away from the headlines that might be an
embarrassment to the Winters’ name.
The old man returned with a dish of pretzels
and a full glass of scotch.
“Will there be any…anything else sir?”
Geoffrey tossed a handful of pretzels into
his mouth and held up his index finger. The old man waited
patiently while Geoffrey finished chewing and then chased the
pretzels with a deep pull from the glass of scotch.
“Why do you work here?” said Geoffrey, the
same shit-eating grin filling his face. “I mean, look around this
place. Everyone in here is under the age of forty. And you’re what
– a hundred?”
The old man looked despondently down at his
feet. “Seventy two,” he muttered softly.
“Seventy two?” laughed Geoffrey. “You don’t
look a day under ninety! Hell old timer, you’ve spent too much time
tending bar. Cigarette smoke, the booze, the late hours – I guess
it can really wear a man down, huh?”
“I…I just started working here a month ago.
I never…this is my first barkeep job.”
“Making friends as usual?” a woman’s voice
broke in from behind him. Charlotte flopped her purse on the
countertop and took a seat on the barstool next to him. She was
Ben’s recently announced fiancée and everyone in the firm had
celebrated the announcement - led most enthusiastically by the
She was gorgeous; her golden locks cascaded
down her neck and ended just below the shoulder blades. She wore a
white blouse that was cut just low enough to give Geoffrey a tease
of her cleavage, and her grey pencil skirt and high-heels screamed
“dirty school girl” in Geoffrey’s sex-starved mind.
“Well, don’t you look the slut?” said
Geoffrey enthusiastically. He eyeballed her from top to bottom,
stopping revoltingly at all the good parts. Charlotte rolled her
eyes and scoffed.
“Don’t get any ideas. You’re repulsive.”
“You say I’m repulsive because you don’t
want to be attracted to me but deep down you just can’t help
yourself,” said Geoffrey, his hot scotch-drenched breath on her
shoulder. “I’m the bad boy with the Devil’s tongue your mama warned
you about. Except I’m a bad boy with more money and power than the
Devil himself. And that scares you. Yet, at the same time it
mesmerizes you. Doesn’t it?”
Charlotte stared emptily at him for a moment
and reached for his glass. She downed his remaining scotch, set the
glass back on the counter, and leaned towards him. Her eyes burned
with an intense loathing as she leaned intoxicatingly close to
Geoffrey’s face. The hint of her perfume danced seductively into
his nostrils, the heat of her breath warmed his cheek. It was
almost too much for him to take – he wanted her in the worst way;
in that moment more than anything he had ever wanted in his
“Geoffrey,” she whispered into his ear. The
sensual sound of her voice enunciating his name softly into his ear
took his breath away and sent electrifying chills throughout his
“Geoffrey, I think you’re nothing but an
insecure, pretentious ass who would have failed law school had his
powerful daddy not fixed things. I think everything you have has
been given to you and that deep down you know you’ve never really
accomplished anything on your own in your entire life. You have no
friends, no one who truly loves you. And for that, I am sad. And
there’s nothing remotely mesmerizing about you. Not one. Single.
“You just keep telling yourself that,” he
said, looking down at his now empty glass. “But I know what you
really think. You’re just like every bitch I ever met. You love
that money – all hookers do.”
Charlotte gasped and her mouth hung agape.
Geoffrey had outdone himself in terms of offensiveness. She wanted
to offer a retort but thought the better of it as her eyes caught
Ben’s athletic silhouette entering the bar. Now that Ben was here,
Geoffrey wouldn’t be so bold.
“Hey Gorgeous!” said Ben, softly kissing
Charlotte’s forehead. “What’s up Three?”
“Don’t call me that,” said Geoffrey, still
staring down at his glass and refusing to make eye contact.
“Oh, don’t be so sensitive,” laughed Ben,
slapping him on the back. He motioned for Charlotte to move down a
seat so that he could act as a blockade between his fiancée and his
“You two getting along?”
“Like a pimp with his ho,” said Geoffrey
Ben chuckled hollowly. “Let’s celebrate.
Your father told me this morning that he’s considering you for
partner. That’s great, man!”
“Yeah, with his daddy pulling the strings…”
“Screw you,” Geoffrey reacted. “That
partnership has nothing to do with the Judge. I’ve earned it!”
“Hey, hey. Can’t we all just get along?” Ben
chuckled. “Let’s get some drinks. Looks like you’re running on
empty anyway.” Ben leaned over the counter and motioned to get the
old man’s attention.
“Excuse me sir?” he said. The old man didn’t
hear him and was busy fidgeting with one of the buttons on his
“Yo, Methuselah!” yelled Geoffrey. “Turn
your hearing aids up!”
The old man looked up, confused. The sight
of Geoffrey sucked the twinkle from his eyes, and he lowered his
head liked a whipped dog. He crept slowly towards them, his back
curved from scoliosis. The closer the old man got, the harder
“Who the hell hired you?” said Geoffrey.
“Somebody needs to put you out to pasture.”
“Shut up Three!” said Ben. “Don’t mind him
sir, he doesn’t mean anything by it. Can you get me and my friend
here a scotch on the rocks and a vodka tonic for the lady?”
“Sure…sure thing,” said the old man. “Comin’
right up.” He smiled politely and turned to the absurdly vast
collection of high-end liquor bottles, considering nearly each one
before carefully reaching for the one he needed.
“Jesus, we’ll be lucky to get our drinks
this week,” snarled Geoffrey.
“Relax,” said Ben. “You should try being
nice for once.”
Geoffrey said nothing. Instead he sat
silently, arms crossed, his inner furnace boiling. The combination
of the annoyingly slow old man and the outright insolence of
Charlotte had really pissed him off. But it was Ben who set him off
the most. He had never respected Geoffrey - that much was clear. He
had always regarded him as if he were an annoying little brother,
tasked by his parents with keeping the troublemaker out of
Geoffrey wanted more than anything to knock
him down a peg or two. After all, Ben had been born poor,
white-trash. He hadn’t even gone to college for Christ’s sake. He
was from Bumblefuck, Texas where he had starred as quarterback in
the who-gives-a-shit high school football league. Sure, he was hot
shit in that little middle-of-nowhere town, but that meant nothing
here. In the big city, family name, flash, and swagger were
currency. Ben had none of that. In Geoffrey’s mind, on the
scoreboard of life that mattered, it was Geoffrey one-hundred
forty, Ben zero.