IN THE MENS REA ROOM
"Twenty minute recess." Judge Reese banged his gavel.
going to call the grandfather." Alan flipped open his cell
statement contradicts the second to last witness's testimony in several
places. The discrepancy may give us reasonable
"Fine. I'm going to take a dump." At least he hoped that he was. Denny stood with his goal set on the nearest men's room. His doctor had warned him away from egg yolks and red meat, but it was the recent large amounts of cheese and the fact that he considered prunes to be strictly for ancient old geezers that was playing havoc with his constitution today.
With two cups of coffee and a raisin bran muffin under his belt, he closed the stall door to try again for the fourth time this morning.
He dropped his britches and waited in eager anticipation, but nothing happened.
He tried tapping his foot to the theme from Gunsmoke. He found that sometimes a little rhythmic wiggle could get the wagon train up and moving again.
With the jiggling, a calling card flipped out of his trouser pocket and glided across the tile. The one he'd put there in the coffee shop. What was her name? Penny? Pam? Pat. She'd served him his muffin and asked if he wanted butter or honey on the side. When he said he liked his honey flat on her back with her ankles tucked behind her ears, she hadn't flinched but had passed him the card and said if he liked to eat muffins that much he should give her a call at home.
Dammit, he needed that card. Women who could hook their ankles behind their ears didn't cross his path every day.
He spread his feet wider for stability and leaned down to peer along the tiled floor. The card had fluttered most of the way across the next stall.
He reached across for it, but his knuckles bumped the side of a black Rockport and didn't come anywhere near the card. He turned his palm up and waved his fingers under the divider. "Hey, Sport, come put it in my hand."
Denny saw a hand reach down to pick up the card, so he waited. He flexed his fingers again. "Right here."
"Pat Tilson?" a voice asked.
"Yup. Put her here." Denny waggled a third time.
There was a flush, a zip, and a click of the stall door and Rockports left.
Dammit. He wasn't about to loose his brand new muffin to some other man.
His main business remained unfinished, but Denny Crane was a man who knew where his priorities lay. He pulled up his britches, adjusted his shirt and suspenders and shrugged his jacket back on, his imagination churning over the possible delights of Pat's goodie basket all the while.
"Okay, Sailor, you've got something I want, and I'm coming to get it." Ready for confrontation, Denny pushed open the door of the stall and stepped into the barrel of a Glock 9mm.
"Police! Freeze! Up against the wall!" Three courthouse security officers faced him, with weapons drawn.
His heart skipped and then sped up to double. Staring down the wrong end of a gun barrel stirred up enough adrenaline to do what Phillips Gentle Overnight Relief could only dream of.
"Hey, that's Denny Crane!" one of them said.
"This is going to have to wait," said Denny. He backed into the stall and slammed the door. He yanked down his trousers and hit the seat just barely in time.
"Ah! Anchors away!" he sighed.
By the time he emerged, was cuffed and Mirandized, a crowd of reporters had gathered outside the men's room.
"Denny Crane. I did not have sex with that man. Denny Crane. Fruity for Froot Loops. Denny Crane. Follow your nose, wherever it goes. Denny Crane…."
The officers hustled him through the frenzy or reporters and towards the elevator.
At the other end of the hallway Alan stood and gaped. He flipped open his cell and dialed Judge Reese's clerk. "Andrea, Alan Shore. I'm going to need an emergency continuance on the Mosher case. Co-counsel has apparently been taken into custody." He hurried down to booking.
Melissa knocked tentatively on the library doorway casement. "Ms. Schmidt?"
Paul Lewiston turned around from where he had been conferring with Shirley and glared over his glasses. "Miss…Hughes isn't it? You are interrupting."
She tugged on a strand of her hair, then pushed it away. "Yes, sir. Ma'am. I know, but I think it's important. Alan Shore just called. He says he may need your help. He and Mr. Crane are supposed to be in trial right now, but he's been arrested and taken into custody." She elected to leave off the "again."
"I told you--" Paul began ominously in Shirley's direction.
Shirley cut him off. "Did he say what the charges were?"
"Intention to commit sodomy, gross indecency, public lewdness, soliciting sex--"
"It sounds like mistaken identity is out," Paul mumbled.
"--and failing to wash his hands. But I think that last was a joke."
"A joke?" said Paul.
Melissa twiddled her hair again. "Apparently this took place in a men's room."
Paul raised his eyes.
"It's breaking news on channel seven and five if you want to see," Melissa offered.
"I'll hold out for the recap at eleven," said Shirley. "Where is he now?"
"At the Brooke Courthouse. That's where their trial is. And I guess the bathroom too. Alan's trying to get him out of the mess, but--"
"Pardon?" Paul and Shirley both said it at once.
"Mr. Shore said he can try to get him out, but he's due back in Judge Reese's court. He can't be in two places at once, so he says he's going to need some backup."
Paul shot a confused look to Shirley.
"Melissa, just who is it who was arrested?" Shirley asked slowly.
"Denny Crane…was arrested for soliciting sex in a men's restroom?" said Paul.
"There must be some mistake," said Shirley. "I've been in bed with Denny and another man. Denny Crane wouldn't know what to do with a penis that wasn't his if he fell on top of it--which I believe he did at least once that night."
"It's on the news," said Melissa with a shrug. She pointed to a TV on in the next office. It was split screen stills of Denny on the left and a gray haired man in a security uniform on the right.
"Denny Crane of the international law firm Crane, Poole and Schmidt was arrested just a few minutes ago for soliciting sex in a Boston Courthouse men's room. Says Officer Brian O'Donnell, Mr. Crane--using an assumed identity--accosted him in a bathroom stall and asked him to ejaculate into his hand.
Denny Crane is expected to make a statement shortly."
"Dear God, no," said Paul.
"Call Alan back," said Shirley. "Tell him I'm on my way and no matter what, do not let Denny open his mouth." She spun for the elevator.
"I think it was just a hand job," Melissa called after her.
Paul looked at her in disgust.
"What is this poopycock?" Judge Sanders asked, flipping through the arrest report.
"Surely not, that your Honor. Whatever did occur, all parties agree that there was no consummation." Alan looked smug.
"Jibber-jabber." Alan said the words with him in unison. "Yes, quite. As is this case. The facts support my client's statement. The wording, as agreed upon by both parties, was ambiguous. The only indecency was in this officer's mind. Shame on you, Sir. Who thought you to think such things? Does you mother know?"
O'Donnell rolled his eyes to the other side of the room.
"In fact," Alan continued, "my client was engaging in the respected, timeworn tradition of the all-American man of orchestrating a sexual coupling with much younger woman whom he just met and with whom he has absolutely nothing in common. This is all a Greek comedy of errors--which is, of course, neither unexpected nor malapropos in our contemporary justice system--
"--but is incommoding my client nonetheless."
Sanders laid down the report. "Officer O'Donnell, I am forced to agree. Nothing in this report is explicit and Mr. Crane's alternative explanation is plausible. Given that, I am going to summarily dismiss these charges."
"Thank you, your Honor." Denny stood and extended a hand.
Sanders peered at it skeptically. "Did you wash that?"
"Been meaning to. On my way back to the men's room now. Alan, you coming?" Denny turned to him.
Alan gathered up his briefcase. "Right with you, Dumpling."
But, of course, there was no dodging the reporters. Not that Denny ever tried.
"I am not, nor have I ever been gay," said Denny as the video rolled. "There are women on all seven continents who can testify to that. As can many of you here: Janice, Kellie, Mary Beth." Several women in the crowd of media waved back.
And one man. Cameras flashed.
"Michael, you don't count," said Denny. "That was before the surgery and hormones. My motto is that it's not what's up here that counts, but down here." He tapped his head with his left hand and grabbed his crotch with his right.
"In fact, if I've had sex with you, raise your hand."
At the side of the crowd, Alan's right arm twitched, but Shirley elbowed him hard in the gut.
"You could--" he began.
"Quiet," she said and turned her attention back to the fiasco in the spotlight.
"The charges today were the result of a misunderstanding and were dropped immediately. I have never had sex with a man. I have never solicited a sexual act from a man, today or any other time. Any woman that doesn't believe I am a full-bodied heterosexual, be at my house at ten o'clock tonight. Any man who doesn't believe it, send your wives and girlfriends with cameras, but don't be surprised if you don't get them back. Denny Crane." He grinned and raised his chin to his most photogenic angle before ushering Alan into the men's room.
"Ah." Side by side at the urinals, they unzipped their flies. Soon Alan had his task completed while Denny still fidgeted with something.
"Aside from the infamous Roto-Rooter procedure, I hear they make several good medications for that kind of prostatic hesitancy these days," said Alan as he zipped up.
"It's not that. I was in such a hurry last time, I think I caught my shorts in my zipper. I can't get it out." Denny tugged under his jacket hem.
"Let me see," Alan offered. He peered over and took a firm hold on the slider's pull tab.
"Not quite, but I think it's coming."
Alan put his other hand on Denny' hip for leverage.
"Oh, careful!" Denny said.
"Whoa!" Michael--the reporter--gasped as he came in. He whipped out his phone and made several rapid clicks with the camera.
Denny and Alan turned as he dashed out the door.
"I hope he got my good side," said Denny. He took hold of his penis and aimed for the urinal drain.
"Denny, I have to speak with you." Alan came into his office and closed the door.
"Don't worry if you can't get the grandfather on the stand. The doctor's the weak link. First time in court. I'll take her down on cross."
"It's not about the trial," said Alan looking at his hands. "I'm thinking of moving out. Back to my old hotel."
Denny blinked. "It's a free country if you're white, male, Protestant, have money and have never traveled to the Middle East. Do what you like."
Now Alan looked up and met his eyes. "My consideration is that our co-habitation may make things difficult for you in the aftermath of today's events."
"What is it with you and other people?" Denny griped. "You need to get it through your head that they don't matter. I tell myself there's only one person whose opinion matters, and that's Denny Crane. You need to tell yourself the same thing too. Screw the guys out there." He jabbed his thumb towards the window, and beyond that, to greater Boston.
"Which is precisely the complication: I have," said Alan. "And not only in the past but recently enough to paint an irresistibly salacious picture for the media if we are…tied.
"You mean Richard Clayton," said Denny.
"Nice boy." Denny rocked back in his chair. "I used to go sailing with his father years back. Not much with a sheet, though. Sissy hands. I can't believe you liked him better than me."
"I didn't," said Alan. "How do you know?"
Denny waved him off. "Don't ask me. I can't remember half of what I know, much less how I know it." He paused. "But it wasn't from you--my best friend."
Alan's voice stayed even. "I had thought it was something you would prefer not to hear."
"Because I'm a homophobe?"
The corner of Alan's mouth jerked into a half smile. "Among other things."
"Mm." Denny reached for a cigar and twirled it in his fingers. "We keep friends around for the things we have in common. We keep loved ones despite of the things we don't. I've got enough friends, Alan. Too many. They come with the money. People I love, well…" He opened the door to the balcony and wandered out.
Alan picked up the scotch and followed.
"Does it bother you, Denny?" he asked as he held out his glass.
"That people think we're having sex? Hell no. It's a good blind. The best lawyers always keep their true motivation hidden."
Alan sank back in his chair. "Does it bother you that I wish it were true?"
Denny shook his head. "Denny Crane. Goes with the territory. White man's burgeon."
"It would bother me if you didn't want me. That would be…weird." Denny puffed on his cigar.
It left an uneasy timbre in the air like a second shoe undropped…or more accurately like a pair of panties undropped, perhaps. It was an erotic tension of expectancy that ordinarily Alan found exhilarating, however, with Denny it seemed out of place and just set him on edge.
A good lawyer never lets the other party set the tone or frame the issue. That was Denny's own rule. He didn't break it in the courtroom, and he wouldn't break it here.
Alan studied his profile and rose out of his chair. At least if he was wrong he would be forgiven. Best friends were so much easier than lovers that way.
"Denny," he said and touched his hair.
He wasn't wrong.
He leaned in and kissed him.
It was a clumsy kiss, far from passionate. Denny didn't kiss back, although opened his mouth and didn't resist. Alan put a hand to Denny's crotch and massaged his tackle. It twitched and stretched a little, but remained soft and pliant under his palm.
"I'm not gay," Denny pronounced when Alan sat back down.
"I know." Alan closed his eyes and leaned back his head. "You said something about loving people despite, not because."
"Ah," Denny waved his cigar. "But I didn't say it was always fun. You still moving out?"
Alan shot him a sideways look. "For as long as it's a free country for white, Protestant males, and you don't change the locks, no."
Denny grunted. "Good."
"Keep them guessing on your motivation," Alan quoted.
"Damn straight." Denny held out his scotch glass for a toast, and they clinked.