Mark held Linda’s elbow firmly, steering her through the holiday shoppers flowing through the center corridor of Ridgemar Mall. Navigating across the stream of humanity Mark stopped and dropped his black lawyer’s briefcase on a polished oak bench, staking his claim.
“Okay love, go find that party dress. I’ll be here whenever you return and you don’t have to warn me again – I’ll buy lunch over there if necessary.”
Linda raised her eyebrows, her blue eyes sparkling. “You’re crazy, you know. You didn’t have to come.”
Taking off his overcoat, Mark threw it over the arm of the bench. “I can’t make any mistakes next week in voir dire. The only hope Carlucca has of staying out of prison is getting at least one juror on his side.”
Kissing Mark on the cheek Linda hugged him briefly. “Good luck Counselor. From what I’ve read you will have to be Houdini to pull that off. I’ll see you later.”
Mark’s voice chased Linda as she turned and merged into the stream of people. “He’s innocent Linda.” Mark moved his briefcase to the floor, sat down and took out a yellow tablet and a pen. This is a perfect opportunity to refresh myself on the nuances of body language. Okay eyes, go to work.
Almost immediately Mark spotted a man, thirtyish maybe, dressed in blue sweats leaning against a center column. He was partially obscured by a large green plant. Something about the man registered subconsciously. From time to time the man ducked his head toward the bunched up hoodie on his shoulder. Mark could see his lips moving. He seemed to be looking into a sporting goods store.
Undercover security. Good. Uh, maybe not. Too scraggly looking. What then? Farther down a girl in western garb and red pointy-toed boots sat on a bench looking at a magazine. Her lips were moving. Reading to herself? What did she come to the mall for? Or, could she be talking to Sweats? Strange. What’s the odds?
A little girl with curly brown-hair, about six years old, passed by tugging her mother along. A twin-looking sister held the woman’s other hand, being drug behind the mother like an anchor. The lead girl broke free and raced to the ice cream counter opposite Mark. Dancing up and down and clapping her hands, her face aglow in excitement, she stitched a finger at her favorite flavor.
Her mother smiled, nodding approval. The other girl jerked her head away, shaking it from side to side, sticking out her tongue. If those two are sisters, one’s a happy camper and one’s not. Mom’s got a balancing act on her hands.
Come on Mark, focus. The juror that will be sympathetic to Carlucca will be a female, probably large breasted and big, but not overweight. Check the shoes – that’s always the best indicator of personality types. They will be comfortable, wide toed, probably not leather and not highly polished. You’re looking for an open minded person that can’t be confined. Pay attention, she will be wearing loose fitting clothes. If you can’t recognize one here you won’t find one next week.
Several hours passed and it seemed every size, ethnic race, dress style and personality type had cruised by. Mark had spotted several women passing his screening test. He’d also written notes about his opening remarks when jury selection started and some posture pitfalls to avoid. A good performance was crucial to getting jurors on his side.
Sweats was gone and so was Western Chick. He had about decided they were casing the sporting goods store but if so, he hadn’t noticed them when they left. A uniformed security guard strolled past giving Mark the once-over before continuing on.
The smell from a nearby stir-fry place was tempting him when Linda came hurrying toward him, her high heels clicking musically on the tiles. An emerald-green garment bag was draped over her shoulder.
“Hey! Record time. How’d you accomplish that?”
“Luck of the Irish, my love. And it was twenty percent off. I’d say you owe me dinner at El Chico’s. I’ve saved you a bundle.”
“Well, doll” Mark said, standing, “I’d never pick you for Carlucca’s jury. You’re the wrong dress size. But dinner it is if we can remember where I parked the car.”
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