Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tales of the Misbegotten: Coming Out

Coming Out
Written by Katherine Tomlinson
Illustrated by Mark Satchwill

Gerard knew that John Torville hated him with a passion that was both professional and personal but he was still surprised by the lengths the other attorney was willing to go in order to ruin his life and dismantle his practice.
“John Torville wants to out me,” Gerard told Lee as they ate a late dinner on the patio of their Brentwood home.
“Maybe that would be a relief,” Lee replied neutrally.
Gerard’s insistence on living a double life was an issue between them.
Gerard hated being in the closet. Lee didn’t really understand why he didn’t just own his reality.
They’d had an argument on the subject as recently as the week before when Gerard first mentioned John Torville and his evil machinations.

Illustration by Mark Satchwill
Lee had told him he was being a drama queen, though not in so many words.
What Lee had actually said was, “Get over yourself. It’s not that big a deal.”
“It is to my clients,” Gerard had replied. Half his firm’s income came from work he did for Caroline Espinoza-Chang, who was a notorious para-phobe. If she found out he was a werewolf, he’d be back working at We the People.
He could not let that happen.
And he could not imagine how John Torville had found out.
Gerard had always gone to great pains to camouflage his true origins. He’d changed his last name from Banáček to Banner because his family name was too closely allied to a notorious clan of Czech werewolves. His father had been furious.
His mother, who had crossed species lines to marry his father, was more sympathetic. Against the strong advice of both her new husband and their parish priest, she had insisted on telling her parents that hers was a mixed marriage. This announcement came during an already tense Christmas dinner. Her father’s response to the revelation had been an attempt to stab his son-in-law with a silver-handled carving knife.
Fortunately only the handle was made of silver.
Gerard had never met his maternal grandparents.
Lee, who’d been born into a clan almost as famous as his own, wore her surname proudly. She’d never really encountered the same kind of bigotry Gerard had, her beauty acting as a buffer against the world’s disapproval.
Gerard had erected another kind of barrier and was skilled at deception and misdirection. There was a photograph of Lee on his desk, framed ornately in antique silver. He made certain that his clients noticed when he adjusted its placement, squaring it up so that it was perfectly parallel to the leather-bound legal pad that he always kept at his elbow.
Gerard signed his name to contracts with a flourish and a silver Montblanc pen.
He proudly wore silver and turquoise cufflinks crafted by a Zuni artist whose prices had skyrocketed after Angelina Jolie wore a pair of his earrings on the cover of Vanity Fair.
What no one knew was that the toxic metal was covered with a clear coating that kept it from burning Gerard’s skin. In that way, Gerard could pass for normal among the pure humans.
But somehow…John Torville had guessed his secret.
Somehow, John Torville knew.
He knew and he was going to use his knowledge to destroy Gerard.
And he was going to do it in plain sight.
Gerard had not been prepared when Judge Leo had asked to see him about a “personal” matter.
He hadn’t expected to find John Torville sitting in the judge’s chambers, looking quite at home in one of the judge’s overstuffed leather club chair.
What really blind-sided Gerard was the reason for the summons.
Judge Leo wanted to give him a heads up that the local chapter of the American Bar Association had voted to honor him as “Lawyer of the Year.”
“We’re having the dinner at the Sportsman’s Lodge,” Judge Leo announced. “On the 25th.”
“The 25th?” Gerard asked, thinking fast. “I’m not sure I can make it on the 25th.” Judge Leo looked at him with a little frown.
“Why not?”
“I might be going to trial that day.” Even as he said it, Gerard knew he sounded lame.
“All work and no play make Gerry a dull boy,” Torville said.
Gerard looked at the shit-eating grin on John Torville’s smug face, wondering how he’d managed to orchestrate the coming disaster.
“I’m humbled,” Gerard said, knowing there was no possibility he could blow the awards dinner off, not if Judge Leo was involved. She had been something of a mentor to him, and the rumor was that she was suffering from ovarian cancer and would soon be retiring from the bench.
“I can’t think of a more deserving recipient,” Torville said, smiling like he meant it. “You’re an inspiration to us all.”
Judge Leo beamed at both of them like they were a pair of playful puppies, totally oblivious to the enormous tension in the room.
“And I hope your wife will join us,” she said to Gerard. “I so enjoyed her company at the last Christmas party.”
Lee was very fond of Judge Leo; Gerard wouldn’t have to strong-arm her to get her to come.
“Yes, you must bring Lee,” John Torville said. “There will be dancing on the deck after dinner.”
Gerard heard the gloating in John Torville’s voice, trying to see the trap.
“Hal and I celebrated our anniversary at the Sportsman’s Lodge last year,” the Judge said dreamily, the memory of it softening her gaunt face. “It was lovely out on the deck with the moonlight on the water and the swans swimming around.”
“All women are beautiful in the moonlight,” John Torville said without looking at Gerard. “I looked it up. There’ll a full moon on the night of the 25th.”
He turned to look at Gerard then. “It’ll be a very special night.”
Gerard bared his teeth at his rival.
“I look forward to it.”

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