"On the house."
"Why's that?" All other mornings, the barista made a point to eye his tip cup when handing Brad his change.
"In fact – "He pointed a finger to Brad's lapel as he switched to announcer mode, addressing his caffeine groupies in the small shop in the lobby of the firms building. " – you're not paying for another cup of coffee this year." A promotional smile tried to overshadow the fact there were only seven days remaining in his offer. "That kid you rescued. You're Charles Bronson, man. You're a hero. Hero's never pay. That'd be bad karma."
"Great. Thanks." Brad dropped the bills in the cup, unfazed, walked across the lobby and boarded the elevator.
Miss Hughes jumped in at the last minute, brushing at a significant wet spot on her coat. "I mean, this is ridiculous. Did he not see me on the corner? No, just go ahead and drive that stupid Mercedes through that huge puddle. Hello? Look at me!" Brad pursed his lips and looked at her coat. Silently.
"What? You think this is funny?"
"Nope. What d'ya want me to say?" She looked at him incredulously. Brad shrugged, matter-of-factly. "We live in Boston. It rains." He waited for her to get off the elevator first, then headed to his office, hearing Melissa sighing to no one in particular, “That man was busy writing mission statements when they were handing out the reaction gene."
He was hanging his trench coat when he heard Denny talking to a woman in the conference room.
"Brad’s the best."
"I want your assurance, Denny."
"The man served in the Gulf War. The one that turned out okay. He was top of his class at West Point and Harvard Law School. I’d put my own life in his hands."
Brad closed his office door and started going through the settlement documents in the Bridge divorce. It wasn’t that Denny’s words didn’t make him feel something. He nodded to himself, comfortably assured Denny was in his court when it came to partnership consideration. Denny’s loyalty was never in question. There’s no need to show emotions, though. What does it accomplish other than put a big fat target on you. Facts are facts. Simple as that. Brad wasn’t the most demonstrative litigator in practice. His crosses were more about reality than dramatics. The facts could not be in dispute and they served him well.
He did experience a sense of relief when the foreman read the verdict on his three felony counts. Denise had attempted to get him to express some kind of over-the-top alleviation. Her voice had an edge. "Are you always like this?" "Like what?" He’d gone back to work. Forward momentum. Next item of business.
There were times when he’d let someone in on his happiness. You couldn’t count out the occasional connection with the opposite sex, but those were hit and miss. Sally never got used to his stoicism. If the balance wasn’t right, if one had too much emotion, he’d take up residence to the opposite extreme. Not exactly the stuff erections are made of.
He'd been satisfied with the hand he'd had in Alan facing his clown aversion. It was less about happiness than about being squared. Not that anything needed to be squared with Alan. But if it did, then they were squared.
At the end of the day, Brad walked purposefully through the bitter cold, driving to his brownstone hours after dark. "Expect to see Father Time wearing his North Face Arctic Parka when he departs 2005. Boston's in for snow, with wind chill dipping temperatures to the low 20's..." Brad hated it when even the weatherman could be bought for product placement.
He climbed his steep icy steps, let himself in and dropped his briefcase next to the coat rack. He started a fire, twisted the top off a Sam Adams and picked up the Christmas gift Jamie Stringer had given him. For the first time that day, Brad felt happiness, the kind that took him back.
Brad slipped in the dvd and settled back on his couch in his sparse home. He drank half the Adams, a huge grin on his face, unseen by anyone but completely genuine, utterly Brad, as "The Inside Man", his favorite episode, began.
JOE: She's not the type to commit murder...
PEGGY: When it comes to love and murder there is no type.
JOE: Stop quoting some half-baked philosopher.
PEGGY: Joe, I'm quoting you.
Brad’s role model did a slow burn. He raised his bottle to the cliche-ridden dialogue that poked fun at itself. For the next hour, Brad lost himself in shootings, car chases, crashes, exploding Roadsters, fist fights and dead people, digging the adventures of the hard-boiled private eye - in the classical tradition - Joe Mannix. And he was unequivocally happy.
[Cross posted to Theatrical Muse: "What are you happy about right now?"]