Thank you for all the wonderful comments about the other little tales I've been turning out recently.
Seems I do my best thinking walking the dog, so here's something completely different. I am working on a short about Mason child number 4 that's missing from the other one shots which I hope will turn up on here soon.
In the meantime, I have been catching up on the brilliant stories in this PM thread and this tale gathered momentum. It's set not just in a parallel universe, but another galaxy I think so I apologise if this line of thought offends anyone.
Disclaimer : I do not own the characters created by Erle Stanley Gardener or any that were created by CBS. It is purely thanks to the late great and exceptional talent, Jean Simmons we can enjoy the memorable Laura we love to hate from TCOT Lost Love. Any descriptions are based on the RB & BH Tv version.
Working for the Enemy
'Mr Sampson the jury has found you guilty of murder in the second degree. You will be remanded back into custody until sentencing which will be set for next Friday at 10am.' The gavel came down heavily as the courtroom buzzed with excitement. The great Perry Mason had finally lost a case or rather his new law partner had lost the case.
Della Street gathered the papers around her and shoved them into the briefcase. A large hand touched her elbow and she turned.
'Thank you Miss Street.' Tom Leopold the new Assistant District Attorney blazed a brilliant smile.
'For what Mr Leopold?' She gave a slightly puzzled expression.
'Our first case together, and a murder no less. You brought me luck.' Before she could answer, he nodded politely and turned to the gallery to where Hamilton Burger sat, his smile wider than ever. Della snapped the case closed and looked towards the defence table. The guilty party had already been taken from the room. Laura Simmons stood defiantly, eyes blazing with anger as she watched her client disappear through the far door to the cells. Perry Mason stood stony faced leaning against the railing. Catching Della's movement to leave her place the prosecutors table, he turned his head and watched her walk away, a heavy feeling of helplessness hit him in the pit of his stomach and it had nothing to do with the guilty verdict.
Two Months Earlier
'You're fired!' Laura Simmons tossed her head in the air, haughty arrogance dripping from every word.
'Only Mr Mason can fire me.' Della remained calm.
'Well Mr Mason isn't here to do it, I am.'
'Mr Mason owns this practice and I work for him, not you.'
'Well as of this weekend I am the future Mrs Mason,' Laura flashed a diamond the size of the Rock of Gibraltar from her left hand ring finger,' And as such, I will be confirmed a partner here when he gets back from his conference in San Francisco later in the week. But I thought I'd make start and my first decision is to bring in new, more competent staff. You're out. Pack your things and leave by lunchtime or I'll have security remove you.'
That Monday morning had gone from bad to worse. The more Della politely resisted her orders, the more despotic Laura became. Finally with great reluctance, Frank the head of security had arrived and in the face of an angry demanding woman, had quietly asked Della to leave with an assurance it would all calm down when Mr Mason arrived back.
Paul Drake literally exploded in anger when he had found out what happened having arrived to ask Della out for lunch only to find her carrying a small box of her personal belongings down the corridor to the elevator. Paul, Gertie and Frank had all assured her Perry would sort it on his return, only he hadn't.
Laura it transpired had bombarded him with complaints about his personal and confidential secretary, told him the replacement would be just as good, if not better, and that if they were to survive as a future married couple as well as law partners, he had to accept her decisions around the office or else. For a reason no-one all the way from the Brent Building to City Hall could fathom, he accepted his future wife's changes.
And that was how Della Street found herself working for the new Assistant D.A. Hamilton Burger had quickly got wind of the changes in the Mason law office when the lawyer attended a hearing the day after arriving home. He had made comment that Perry seemed out of sorts during the hearing and asked if it was down to the delightful Miss Street's absence. Perry Mason had glared at the D.A and informed him of the change in circumstances of his now former secretary. If Burger didn't know any different, he thought for a fleeting moment he'd seen a look of despair in those bright blue eyes. The decision after that was easy.
Della had been taking a few days to consider her circumstances, hoping it was all a bad dream, but when the call did come it was a contrite Perry Mason who assured her of her value and asked her to give him time to find a way around the situation.
'Time? It's your practice Perry, ergo your decision.'
'I know Della, but you know how Laura can be. I just need to calm her down and rationalise it with her. She'll come around…eventually.'
'And what am I supposed to do until she climbs from her high horse?'
'I'll pay you out of my own pocket. No-one needs to know.'
'No you will not. I don't want paying for work I haven't done. I'm not a kept woman.'
'I know you're not, I didn't mean it like that. I never meant for it to sound like that.'
'I'm, either back in the office tomorrow Perry or I start looking for other employment.'
The sigh at the other end of the line spoke volumes where words didn't. 'I need more time.'
'Goodbye Perry, good luck, I think you're going to need it.' Della against her better judgement cried herself to sleep that night.
The call the day after from Hamilton Burger went much better. By the following Monday morning, she was not back in the offices of Perry Mason but starting her first day assigned as personal secretary to the new ADA working for the prosecution.
'The jury are idiots!' Laura angrily slammed her papers into her briefcase.
'Keep your voice down Laura!' Perry hissed. 'There are journalists still milling about. No doubt they're ready to pounce when we leave here.'
'They didn't know what they were doing.'
'Yes they did. Your client was guilty, I know it and you know it. Any layman knew it. Two things you need to take away from your first real murder trial. First we defend everyone regardless of standing or ability to pay not just your friends from the country club.'
'And the second?'
'You listen to my strategy plans. I have more experience. You don't listen and then disregard everything I say like you did here.'
Laura opened her mouth to make a sarcastic retort but seeing Perry's angry face snapped her mouth shut before it came out.
'I did listen,' she complained, 'But with your Miss Street now working for the other side, I thought it best to change my approach. She knows all your tricks and will spill them to make herself more acceptable to her new boss. There should be some sort of ethics investigation…..'
'Stop it!' Perry had heard just about enough. 'Della is no longer my Miss Street thanks to you. And she's not the type to go blabbing and breach a confidence. You lost that case because of your inability to ignore social class and listen to an opinion that wasn't your own.'
Laura pouted. Perry held open the gate for her and indicated it was time to leave.
'Wipe that look off your face please, we have reporters to deal with.' Perry took her elbow politely but Laura tugged her arm away. 'And if you can't say anything remotely pleasant keep your mouth shut!'