Title: “The Secretary”
Summary: A legal secretary, his boss / girlfriend, and the superheroes that protect the city
Written in 2014
She had her legs up on the desk when I walked into the room. Don’t know if I fell in love with her then, but she definitely made an impression.
“What’s that?” she asked, putting her feet down.
“Um… the Sherridan case files.”
“Oh. Give ’em here,” she said, yanking them out of my hands as soon as I was close enough.
I stood there, shifting my weight on uneasy feet. Eventually, her busy eyes lifted to me.
“… Who are you?”
“I’m… David. David Finch. I applied for the secretarial position, on probationary status for the next month, according to Mister Lewis.”
She looked me up and down, smiling sceptically at my plain brown suit. “You look like the grown-up version of sweetheart retail model boys, forced into an ill-fitting three-piece. Kind of adorable, kind of sad.”
What could anyone say to that, really? I cleared my throat and smoothed the front of my jacket down nervously.
“Legal secretary, huh? Why not lawyer?”
“I’m… I’m not good at arguing.”
“Ah! Perfect secretary material, then. Tell Harry I’m taking you off probationary status. You’re hired.”
I looked at her, brow furrowed in confusion. “Really?”
“No, not really,” she said shortly. “Come on, probie. Help me look over these files.”
Whether or not it was protocol for legal secretaries to sit in front of a lawyer’s table while her feet were lifted back onto the desk, helping her finish evaluating cases five hours before her partner did, it was definitely interesting.
Her name was right up on the door: Marissa Harriet Hayworth, Attorney at Law, plastered on articles and unassuming ads all over the city. Criminal cases? Marissa Hayworth was the one to call.
For all I’d heard about this super-lawyer, she was far from what I’d expected, and further away as the months passed and she eventually stopped calling me probie.
In this city, you had vigilantes. Heroes, villains, supers that gave a lot of insurance lawyers something to sing about when it came to property damage, among other grievances.
Some notable heroes were Y-Man, your typical flying strongman, supposedly developed from the DNA of ten different men (Marissa called him ‘motherless’ during our discussions); Gritta, a woman of Amazonian strength and fighting skill who was famous for her charitable contributions; Weatherer, a boy who could fly around and take villains down with a lightning strike or fog; and Wraith, a woman without powers, but the fighting proficiency of martial arts masters.
I saw them on the news, mostly, apart from Wraith. Wraith, I saw jumping rooftops on my way home. My side of town was her haunt—the bad part of town, one that had me carrying a gun in a lunch bag and keeping 911 on speed dial. Since she’d surfaced ten years back, it had gotten a lot better. Not great, but enough that you could see kids playing outside when they used to stay in.
Every night, I’d be out on the fire escape, waiting for Wraith to pass over me. For a while, I was convinced I was in love.
Then I started it up with Marissa, and admiration replaced delusions of romance whenever I saw the super.
For all that Marissa was an unusual boss, she was a typical girlfriend—generous with her affection, sometimes buying me gifts I often needed more than I cared to admit.
“My salary’s bigger than yours,” she’d say, and whenever I wore or used whatever fancy beyond-my-means gifts she left at my table, I caught her smiling.
I worried her generosity stemmed from the fact that she never had time to go out. Every night, when we closed office, she always had some prior engagement I wasn’t privy to.
“It’s important,” she’d say, and even when found time for dinner, she never came home with me. Not that I was eager to have her see my side of town, let alone my tiny flat (which was a decent place, though not exactly desirable real estate), but my unfulfilled dreams of cuddling with my girlfriend on a cold night were still just that—unfulfilled.
It was, incidentally, on a cold night that I found out why.
I nearly forewent my nightly fire escape-ades, as I liked to call them, that night. Good thing I didn’t, or I would have missed a familiar figure falling off the roof and crashing into piles of trashbags below.
“Oh my god.”
I made my way down fast, jumping the last flight.
There lay Wraith, crumpled but breathing. Her limbs didn’t seem broken, her pulse racing, but she flinched away when I accidentally brushed her ribs. Bruised or broken, she was in bad shape. I was about to call 911 when she grabbed my hand, glassy mask eyes hiding real ones.
“No cops. Help me,” she croaked, and when I helped her limp up to my flat and saw her in the light, I realized who she was.
Marissa Hayworth, my girlfriend, a criminal lawyer by day and vigilante hero by night.
Besides my shock, it was almost laughable.
“Come on sweetheart,” I murmured, laying her on the bed. I gently pressed my fingers to her side and she groaned. “Broken or bruised?” I asked.
“Bruised. Might be cracked, but… everything’s in place,” she said. “Help me get this off.”
Under the black material, she wore a sports bra and shorts, so mundane that it didn’t seem real. The mask went last, and I wiped the sweat from under her eyes when she looked at me.
“You know, this is the first time you’ve been to my place,” I joked.
If her ribs weren’t banged up, I knew she’d be laughing. She smiled, all the same.
That cold night, I cuddled with my girlfriend in front of the space heater.
It was the first time, but was good to know it wouldn’t be the last.
“The Secretary” (c) Motzie Dapul 2014