Faces

            

 

         

By Heidi Tassone

FACES

 

Chris Pierson hurried downstairs to the judge’s chambers knowing he’d gone too far. Judge Wilson was going to erupt like Chernobyl. She’d already warned him about his antics in court, but he didn’t have a choice. Ralph Wyden was as guilty as Ted Bundy, and Chris was paid to make him look as innocent as a newborn puppy. Well, no one was that innocent. He had to pull out all the stops.

“Have you no conscience, Mr. Pierson? I understand it’s your job as a defense attorney to prove the innocence of your client, but that stunt out there was outrageous. And that young lady is just a child. Was that necessary?” Judge Wilson’s face turned crimson.
 

After pleading his case to the judge in her chambers, Chris continued his cross-examination in court, and eventually won the freedom of his client, who was wrongfully accused of beating and molesting children.
 

Chris made his way downtown and entered a coffee shop where he picked up a double espresso and a honey-glazed donut. He sat by the window overlooking Third Avenue and sipped his coffee. He opened his laptop and searched the files. His next client was Timothy Franklyn, accused of murdering six prostitutes, and then cutting off their breasts and mutilating their genitals. Chris brought up the photos and didn’t even cringe at the sight of the horrific murders. His cell phone rang. He checked the message and immediately answered. “Hello, sweetie.”
 

“Hi, Daddy,” his seven-year-old daughter, Sophie said.
 

“What’s going on?”
 

“Daddy, you didn’t forget about the fair tonight, right?”
 

“Of course not, I wouldn’t forget that.” He glanced at his watch.
 

“Okay. You promise to take me.”
 

“I promise, sweetie. I love you, baby.”
 

“I love you too, Daddy.”
 

At least that part wasn’t a lie. He loved his baby, but he had forgotten about taking her to the fair. He shut his lap-top, swallowed the last of his donut, and hurried back to the courthouse.
 

*****************
 

“Look, Daddy. It’s a fortune teller. Can we go in?” Sophie tugged on Chris’s arm.
 

‘Well, wouldn’t you rather go on the merry-go-round, Sophie?”
 

She shook her head intensely back and forth. “NO, I want to see a fortune teller, Daddy.”
 

“Oh, take her in,” Melanie, his wife said. “I’m going to sit down over there for a few minutes. My feet are killing me.” She pointed to a bench beside a cotton candy vendor.
 

“All right, I guess we’ll have our fortunes read. Come on, sweet pea.” Chris held out his hand and Sophie took it. He pulled open the red curtain leading into the gypsy’s tent.
 

Madam Delia sat at a table adorned with a red, green and gold trimmed tablecloth. In front of her sat a large crystal ball, much like the ones seen in all fortuneteller’s lairs. Chris rolled his eyes. She wore a red and gold cape and a long black dress. Her head was wrapped in matching fabric.
 

“Look, Daddy, she has those funny cards,” Sophie said as she pointed to the large colorful cards set out in a row in front of the woman.
 

“Okay.” Chris hated throwing his hard-earned money out on something so obviously fake, but the look on his daughter’s face was enough to make him give in. He would sit through the nonsense, pay the bitch and move onto something else, like the tilt-a-whirl.
 

He pulled out the chair on the other side of the table for Sophie. She sat, and he put out his hand to the gypsy.
 

Madam Delia raised both hands in the air, a dozen golden bracelets clanging. “I feel a strong presence. Two very different forces in this room.”
 

Chris sighed. “Oh, really?”
 

The gypsy closed her eyes and gripped his hand tight. Her body stiffened and she started mumbling in some language unknown to Chris.
 

“Hey lady, I realize you need to make a big show at this, but you’re kinda hurting my hand.” He tried to pull away, but her grasp only tightened.
 

Chris glanced at his daughter who sat still and stared curiously at them. He looked back at Madam Delia who still mumbled, her eyes closed. Abruptly her eyes flew open and her stare was so intense, Chris nearly fell off his chair.
 

“You have the wicked one inside,” she said in a thick Romanian accent.
 

 “Daddy?”
 

Chris heard his daughter’s voice as if it were coming from a different room. He stared at the old woman and for some reason couldn’t look away. Her eyes were deep pools of green. He could see movement behind them as if something were alive. It both intrigued and terrified him.
 

“Christopher Robert Pierson. The wicked come to you and you do not see. You know, but do not care. If you do not see, they will take you with them. You must SEE what’s inside. LOOK !” Delia’s eyes cleared, she let go of his hand and lowered her head.
 

As soon as she broke her gaze from his, the reality of it all set in. “What the hell, lady? What was that? You know my kid is sitting right here?” He looked over at Sophie, but the little girl sat quietly as if nothing had just happened. “You all right, sweetie?” he asked.
 

She tilted her head. “Yes, Daddy. Is the lady going to tell your fortune?” 

She didn’t hear that. What is going on? How’d she know my name? He looked back at the gypsy who was adjusting cards on her table.
 

Delia licked her cracked lips and spoke. “Mr. Pierson, your little one is fine. You are not. You need to open your eyes, sir.”
 

“Okay, lady, that’s enough. How much do I owe you?” Chris stood and reached for his wallet.
 

The old lady raised her hand. “You owe me nothing for this visit. However, when you return for my services there shall be a charge which we will discuss at that time.”
 

“What? I’m not coming back here, so you better tell me what I owe you or we’re just leaving, lady.”
 

“You may leave.” She waved her hand and gestured toward the open tent flap.
 

“Come on, Sophie. Let’s find Mommy.” Chris took his daughter’s hand and they left the gypsy’s tent without another word.
 

“There’s Mommy!” Sophie pointed to Melanie sitting on a bench rubbing her feet.
When they approached, Melanie looked up at him. “You look pale, Chris. Is everything all right?”
 

Chris stared at his wife’s face. It glowed with a radiance he’d never seen before. Her brown eyes were softer, her features more stunning than when they’d first met. She was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen and it left him speechless.
Her voice sang his name. “Chris, you want to sit down? You don’t look so good.” She reached up for his hand.
 

He slowly took it and her hand felt as soft as rose petals. He lowered himself beside her and saw Sophie standing in front of them looking confused. She radiated the same misty hue. It seemed his beautiful wife and daughter were glowing. What the hell is going on?
 

***********************************
 

Chris rushed up the stairs to the courthouse. He didn’t want to be late for the first day of trial. They’d picked the jury on Friday and he was pleased with his choices. He pushed open the door, adjusted his tie and made his way down the aisle. He sat in one of the empty seats at the defense table. They hadn’t brought his client out yet which was good. He wanted to prepare himself. He opened his briefcase and glanced over as the jury was led in. What the hell? Those weren’t the people I picked.
 

None of the jury looked like the same people he and the DA picked before the weekend. Except maybe the librarian. Her face appeared prettier than he remembered, but the rest of the jury all looked, older, worn, and some downright scary. Had they changed them without notifying him? They couldn’t do that.
 

The judge entered and made her way behind the bench. Judge Wilson’s face glowed red. Her eyes were black as onyx and her nose bulbous and blotchy, as if she’d been drinking all night. Chris always thought her to be a rather striking woman, but today she looked grotesque. I’m pretty sure that’s her, but what happened? He reached for the pitcher of water on the table, poured a glass and drank the whole thing in one long swallow.
 

People filtered slowly into the courtroom. When Chris looked around, the room filled with misty colors; some pale blue, but more varying degrees of red. The faces were all distorted in some shape or form. Chris shivered.
 

Michael Spectrum, the DA, waltzed into the court and took his seat on the opposite side of the room next to a weeping woman. Both were bathed in blue. Spectrum patted the woman’s hand, and when he glanced over in Chris’s direction, his face showed sadness, but he looked even more handsome than Chris remembered.
 

The door opened and Ralph, the bailiff, brought Timothy Franklyn in. Timothy stared down at the floor, his feet and hands shackled. The deep red aura surrounding him was so dark, it was nearly black. When he raised his head, Chris wanted to run out of the courtroom. A wild beast stared at him. His face a distorted mask of pain, suffering and evil. His eyes, pits of fire, and his mouth a gaping wound sporting yellowed fangs. His handcuffed hands were covered in welts and ended with dark claws. The creature sat down beside him, and the putrid stench made Chris turn his face and vomit into his briefcase.
 

The judge stood. “Mr. Pierson. Are you all right?”
 

When Chris looked up he didn’t speak. He felt weak and wanted to bolt out of the nightmare.
 

A deep growling voice boomed from his right. “Hey, you sick, man?”
 

Chris turned and the mangled face of his client glared back at him. Chris stood and steadied himself. “Ah, Judge. I call for a recess, I’m not feeling well,” he managed.
 

“I can see that, Mr. Pierson. Please clean yourself up and see me in my chambers in half an hour.” She turned to the jury. “This court is in recess for one hour.” She rose and left the courtroom.
 

Chris closed his briefcase, most of the papers and files ruined, and made his way to the men’s room. He could feel his stomach wanting to spew up yet another meal. What is happening? Why am I seeing all these weird and ugly faces. Melanie and Sophie glowed yesterday, the librarian in the jury glowed, as did the DA and his client. But most of the people in the courtroom are different degrees of ugly. Their faces distorted.
 

He heard the voice of the gypsy in his head. “Christopher Robert Pierson. The wicked come to you and you do not see. You know, but do not care. If you do not see they will take you with them. You must SEE what’s inside. LOOK !”
 

Was this her doing? He opened the door to the restroom and made his way to the sink. Chris turned on the faucet, cupped his hands under the cold water and splashed his face. He grabbed a towel, dried it and then looked in the mirror.
 

Chris Pierson screamed, and before he fainted, he heard the last words Madam Delia had said, “You owe me nothing for this visit. However, when you return for my services there shall be a charge which we will discuss at that time.”  

She’d known he’d pay anything to rid himself of this nightmare.
 

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