the attorney line up to the clerkâs desk. âHow are you? Howâs your hubby feeling? I heard half of Probation is down with the flu. And itâs almost
. Whatâs with that?â
Harmony, the clerk with the name befitting either a stripper or a Life Coach, stared blankly at Daria as if she were a total stranger, not a Division Chief whoâd appeared in her courtroom dozens of times before. And with whom sheâd had dozens of â obviously meaningless â conversations. Her bulging eyes, which were lined like a dead body at a TV crime scene with black liner, blinked twice. Finally it clicked â at least that she had a husband. âGood, heâs good, thank God! Wow! No, no flu. What page you on, hon?â
So much for charm and chit-chat. âTwenty-two. Lunders. Talbot Lunders. Has the defense checked in yet?â
Harmony leafed through her master calendar. âOh yeah. A while ago. But I got a lot ahead of you now, State; I canât let you be cutting the line. So youâre gonna be number thirteen, hon.â She frowned and wagged a black talon to stop the words she knew were coming. âAnd yes, that is the best I can do, even though, I know, I know, itâs an unlucky number, but somebodyâs gotta be it.â Harmony finished with a dismissive sigh, before turning her head to address the lawyer behind Daria. âWhat page you on, hon?â
It was like getting served slop on a school lunch line. Daria begrudgingly waded into the pack of prosecutors. Thirteen was better than forty-four, but it still meant a long afternoon, although, she thought, as she surveyed the courtroom, her detective didnât appear to be on time anyway. This was her first case with City of Miami Detective Manny Alvarez. Last week heâd been forty-five minutes late for his pre-file without offering up so much as a lame excuse why. Although he had brought her a
cafÃ© con leche
and some weird pastry that oozed pink goo, along with a stack of reports that heâd already actually written â something most cops didnât get around to doing before the third discovery demand, and only after you screamed at them â she was still ticked off. And she was going to be
mad if he pulled the same stunt today, even if he did wind up beating the judge to the bench.
She peered at the degenerates that filled the jury box to see if her defendant had been brought out yet. He hadnât. Based on the mug shot clipped to the top of her file, she could expect the ladies in the courtroom to collectively start panting when Corrections ushered him through the door. She wondered if heâd be as striking in person, having fermented in a jail cell for the past couple of weeks.
Standing up against the wall on the prosecutorial side of the courtroom was her friend Lizette, a Domestics prosecutor, who was waving her over as if she were hailing a cab in rush hour. âSo what happened to you yesterday,
?â Lizette demanded when Daria squeezed in next to her.
âDonât start,â Daria replied. Most of the young, single prosecutors in the office had spent Mondayâs unofficial start to summer sipping mojitos and sangria by the pool at the Clevelander on South Beach. Judging by the comments sheâd fielded all morning, she was the only one whoâd missed it. âI was at my brotherâs all weekend. Dang, youâre tan. Did you fall asleep on a tanning bed or something, Liz? You look like Snooki.â
Lizette waved a hand in front of her face. âIâm Columbian. I got this on the walk across the parking lot,â she shot back with a Spanish accent that became more pronounced whenever she got flustered or was in front of a Hispanic judge. âYou missed a good time, girl.â
âDonât envy me. I spent the past three days babysitting triplets.â
Lizette curled her lip like sheâd smelled two-day-old fish.