Tony Caswell somehow reached his car, bent at the waist and gasping, fearing each step would be his last. This posture helped keep the jewels from being jostled. Kristen’s blood-chilling martial arts scream echoed in his head, only matched by reverberations of his wail. He leaned against the Targa door, trying to breathe.His normal hand fumbled inside his pants for the key. Even this small movement reinforced the agony. He wasn’t sure he should -- or could -- drive, but didn’t want to collapse in the street.He caught his reflection in the window glass. His face looked purple, and it frightened him. Am I going to fucking die in front of this whore’s house?He realized the blow to his crotch may have hit the vagus, the cranial nerve that wandered all the way to the gut. It was sensitive enough that bowels, lungs, everything could shut down.The courtyard around Kristen’s townhouse swirled.He had to get a grip.Breathe.After a minute, Tony opened the door and tried to sit in his Porsche without his balls touching the seat. That proved impossible. The pain shot from his groin into his belly. He feared he might throw up all over the beautiful leather, so he faced his head out the window.His throat threatened to close. The spit he tried to swallow stayed mostly in his mouth. While his good hand held up his smashed balls, his bad one searched around his Adam’s apple. The worst pain seemed left of dead-on. He probably wouldn’t die. Probably. Some air reached his lungs, but the distress made him retch. He coughed out something disgusting, but somehow managed to start the car with his left claw.As he did often when he had to use his left arm, he cursed his parents, in Jakarta chasing oil deals when Tony was born, leaving the delivery in the hands of an incompetent Indonesian obstetrician. Erb’s Palsy they called it, meaning the shoulder got stuck in delivery. Pulling his head out of the birth canal had ripped nerves from his spine. He hid his atrophied hand, when he could, and blamed his greedy parents, too busy to fly to Australia for a real doctor.More retching carried a disgusting mix of booze, gastric juice, and coffee. He spat, tried not to swallow, but feared he could aspirate crap into his lungs. A pulmonary arrest outside a hospital would be fatal. Even if he didn’t quit breathing, he could get a nasty pneumonia. With his luck it would be resistant staph and he’d die of sepsis next week. At this point, almost something to look forward to.After a few more breaths of dry Texas winter air, his brain cleared enough to weigh his options. Crawl back to Kristen’s door and beg for help? More likely she’d hammer him again just because he’d seen her tits. Or find an emergency room? Methodist Hospital wasn’t far, but they would ask questions. Lots of questions.The truth could eventually get him charged with attempted rape. She had said “No.” And he sure didn’t want to complain about getting beat up by a girl. If that got out, he’d be a laughing stock for years.The ER would call the police, regardless of the story he invented. Even if he claimed to have been mugged in some random parking lot, the cops might press him for details, where he’d been, who he had been with. A hospital sounded like a bad idea.He could drive home, ice his nuts, and hope tomorrow would bring some relief. If she hadn't called the police and they showed up at his door. Her torn bra and the scratch on her ear might be enough to get him arrested or at least questioned. Again not good for the rep.One more alternative. His sister, a nurse at Texas Medical Center. She might have a drug stash. She lived way up the Central Tollway, north of the LBJ. It would take half an hour, but she’d be with him, if things got worse.Jennifer was the only reason he stayed in Texas. Whenever her brother got knocked down, she was there to pick him up. His mom chased gigolos in exotic lands. Dad had returned to Britain after churning money in Houston. England had been the low point of Tony’s life. Boys at Harrow, sons of earls and MPs, had teased him without mercy about his hand and ineptitude at sports. More than one had pulled his pants down and bent him over. College in Houston was better only because he knew nobody and kept to himself.He managed to hit the number for Jennifer on his phone. Voice mail. More crap burbled up into his throat, scaring him. He wasn't able to choke out a message. He could drive there anyway, but if she wasn't home it would be a waste of time.The downstairs lights went off in Kristen’s townhouse. She was going to bed while he flirted with death. The thought of hiring some gangbangers to rape her in a parking garage floated by. Squeezing off a clip from the Beretta he kept in the glove box sounded like fun. Right through her living room window, but he would be suspect number one, since he’d flapped about his hot date to everyone in the firm. Too bad.He tapped the gear paddle into drive, still unsure what to do, where to go. Sometime between blows he had figured out she was just using him to get info -- likely been told by Pete McGee to go out with him. Polite rejection would not have been surprising. She had every incentive to string him along, but why go raving nuts over a little tit-grabbing? "Little" certainly applied to the bitch. An A cup for sure, though she had nice erect nips. She had looked like a crazy Amazon warrior, all buff and topless. The image and the sound replayed in his head caused a shiver along his spine.He decided to head home. Call it a temporary setback. Two hundred bucks down the drain. He’d taken the bitch to the Mansion on Turtle Creek, had bragged to the guys at the firm about his anticipated conquest. And it had been quite a boast, since nobody he knew had had any luck with the standoffish, loner Kristen Kerry. Assuaging a twinge of guilt, he assured himself the lonely girl would’ve been disappointed if he hadn’t tried something.From his firm, Tony only got trash nobody wanted to do. Kristen had already made partner at McGee’s. She tried cases on her own. She was a rising star. But Caswell figured she had sucked her way to success and was too stupid to appreciate his sophistication. Tony doubted she’d even been to Paris, let alone lived on the Left Bank. Still, if things had sparked, it would have been a coup to have Kristen next to him in the bars frequented by lawyers after work.He loosed a half-smile. Had Tony seduced Kristen, the joke would have been on her. Although he was the senior assigned associate on the case, Tony had no idea about Stern’s plans on Layne. Stern treated him like a dog begging for scraps, blocking his partnership.Caswell had noticed Stern eyeballing Kristen at the first Layne hearing, licking his chops. That over-dressed redneck thought getting laid as important as winning the case. If Stern nailed Kristen, Tony would be humiliated. Glancing at his deformed hand, he wished he was Stern -- tall, rugged, and confident.He coughed up coffee and stomach acid he’d already aspirated. Crap, his chest hurt. Like somebody had performed an esophagus exam with barbed wire. Maybe he should get to a hospital.Tony pushed the car faster. He tried to concentrate on something other than his distress. Perhaps the Layne case offered the opportunity to hammer both Stern and Kristen without risk to him. A crushing loss would take the shine off their careers. Feed inside information to the plaintiff’s lawyer? Or he could even conduct his own investigation into the disastrous night Brook Layne spent at Adventist Hospital. Dr. Galway’s story made no sense, although obviously Kristen’s nurses were guilty. They had put Layne in a coma by their negligence. But he had practiced law long enough to know not to believe your own client.He made it another mile when the burn in his balls worsened. He hadn’t thought that possible. His bladder demanded relief. Tony pulled behind a dark Safeway. Unable to get out -- at least not quickly -- he rotated in the driver’s seat and eased the zipper down on his slacks. His crotch screamed. He aimed just outside the door frame. The first squirt felt like a red-hot nail driven up his urethra. To his horror, piss streamed a dull red.Shit. I could lose my testicles.Caswell hacked another blob of gunk, zipped up, swiveled back in, slammed the car door, and tapped the shifter. Despite the torment in his crotch -- or maybe because of it -- he jammed the accelerator and sped for Methodist.He’d read every Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie story. The perfect murder long intrigued him. He often thought he would’ve made a great detective, strolling the streets of 1930 L.A. or the villages of Devon.Every criminal makes a stupid mistake. One stupid mistake that gets him caught.But Tony was smart.
Lawyers say the world’s worst lies follow, “I do.” And we don’t mean the marriage vow. Although plenty of lies follow those words, too.We deal in tragedy and every tragedy has two tales. Which is true? Attorneys never know for sure. We’re paid to advocate for and “believe” our side. But that doesn’t mean we always sleep well.I left some of that uncertainty in the malpractice plot in Justice Is For the Lonely. Was Kristen really sure her client was lying? Was the widow, Betty’s diary true or had it been “improved” by her lawyer? Had Kristen been given the case to win or solely to seduce Stern? Each reader can decide.Good lawyers must have a common touch enabling them to identify and sympathize with even the guilty. A lawyer who doesn’t know anything about laying bricks or cutting sheetrock may be great on his feet, but won’t truly know people.Even the evil Leonard Marrs in Justice has a human side, a drug–addicted mother, impotence, and failed relationships. Lawyers see these conflicting forces in people everyday and they help us fashion our fictional characters.Trials are theater as Scott Turow’s novels show so well. Anyone in need of an idea for a story need only spend a day at a big city courthouse. Agony, tears, and misery abound. Even the victors are rarely satisfied.In the Kristen novels I can slip into her world easily, and escape bickering litigants. When I’m surrounded by the chaos of litigation, I relax and enjoy her presence almost like we are in love.Please don’t tell my wife.