Today’s very special edition of The Stage Mirror is the result of an earnest and erotic collaboration between myself and Christina Grace Tucker, a beloved friend from the internet whom I admire with such ferocity that it seems implausible we have never met in person. You remember when Nicole did the whole “which of your Twitter mutuals do you have a crush on” thing? Yeah, that. Anyway, we started talking on Twitter the other day about the possibility of a lesbian legal procedural that we might pitch to CBS, and the conversation got very thrilling. So, we have taken it to the next level. Here is the pitch for ELWORD LAW. The show being named after the law firm at which it is set, and the firm is named after its Founder and Senior Partner, HANNAH ELWORD (Jane Lynch) - who only occupies a supporting role in the show itself, which mostly focuses on two junior lawyers negotiating lesbian-themed cases-of-the-week. What follows is a plot treatment for the pilot episode, in which the new recruit, CHRISTINA, gets her first case, and a little bit of tension emerges with GRACE, the junior partner who recruited her. Producers, we are ready to receive your opening bids.
Grace Elisabeth Lavery: “You must be new here at Elword Law,” I joke, as you struggle to carry a whole pile of folders to your desk. We haven’t seen each other since the interview, but we’ve spoken on the phone a couple of times since then. I stoop to pick up one of your folders, my pencil skirt tightening as I do. “Word of advice: relax. Nobody here’s gonna eat you. Not on your first day, anyway.”
Christina Grace Tucker: I heave the folders on my desk, blowing an errant curl out of my face. Taking the proffered folder from you, I smile widely, sizing you up. "Well that's a shame," I chirp. "I was hoping for big appetites."
GEL: I stand and address a dimly lit but elegantly appointed conference room. Three or four young men, and an older, tight-lipped woman named DIANA (played by Mariska Hargitay from five years in the future, but with dyed black hair) in the middle, wearing dark red lipstick the color of the 2008 Haut-Medoc - a good vintage, not a great one; the flattening effects of a damp growing season only rescued by an unexpected Indian summer. “Our firm offers a range of services to cover every aspect of your business, from tax law through to patent protection. We’ve identified four major areas in which we think we can add value to SoftDicks.org: first, our specialists in intellectual property can protect—“ you walk in, late but holding yourself with impressive calm and swagger—“ah, Christina, glad you decided to join us. Let me introduce you to Diana Pinchneck, the CEO of SoftDicks.org- Diana, this is Christina Grace, our newest recruit, specializing in homosexual law.” Your eyes meet hers, and I feel it, briefly but sharply, in my chest.
CGT: I swallow, trying to quell the spark that leaps between Diana and I as our eyes meet.
“Diana, so good to meet you. Sorry to keep you waiting Grace; please continue.” I take the seat across from Diana, and find myself impressed with the ease in which you take her through the ways the firm can help SoftDicks.orgreach new heights.
As you wrap up, Diana turns to me. “Christina, what can your firm bring to my company?”
I don’t miss a beat and lean towards her for emphasis. “Honestly Diana? A company like yours needs a firm like ours. How many other firms have you been to this week? Four? Five? Can any of those firms even say ‘SoftDicks.org’ out loud without wincing? The Elword Law firm doesn’t shy away from this kind of work - we revel in it.”
GEL: I walk into the bathroom smiling. We landed it. She’s as good as I thought she was. I put my hands on the sink and exhale, before pulling out my make-up bag, which spills all over the surface. I laugh - a strange, spontaneous joy, whose provenance isn’t immediately clear to me. A flush. Shit! Out walks Diana, smiling at my reflection. “Your new colleague certainly makes a good first impression!” I agree, with a silent nod, but I want to make sure that I’m not giving too much away, so I pause and add, “she had some of the strongest letters of recommendation I’ve ever read. So not just a firstimpression.” Diana says quietly, “no ring, either.” My mouth opens in shock but before I can squeeze a sound out, you walk in.
CGT: I sense that I’ve interrupted something—the room crackles with tension—but I’m not sure what. I chuckle at the make-up spread across the counter. “What an arsenal! Glad to know I’m among fellow make up fanatics.”
Diana catches my eye as she touches up her lipstick. Her eyes sparkle, and I feel myself smiling reflexively, nervously. A beat of silence grows to something larger, something quivering beneath the surface.
Your voice startles me. “Christina, could you swing my by office when you’re done in here? I’ll get you up to speed on the rest of the week’s work.” You turn to Diana, neatly tucking the last of your make up into your bag. “Diana, so looking forward to working together.”
She shakes your hand and smiles warmly. “Thank you for all your hard work today Grace.”
The door swings silently shut behind you, and Diana turns to me. “Well,” she says “I should get back to my office.” Silence falls again, thick as honey. “I should...” I trail off— she knows why I’m here. “It was lovely meeting you,” I finish lamely.
“You too.” Diana takes a few steps toward me as she speaks, and I feel the lightest pressure of her fingertip on my cheek. “An eyelash,” she explains, holding up her perfectly manicured finger. “Make a wish.”
I exhale gently, holding her gaze as heat expands through my body. Stepping towards one of the stalls, I try to regain my composure. Diana flashes me one last lovely smile, her black hair shining under the tasteful light as she turns to the door. “I’ll be in touch,” she says, pulling the oranate door handle. Am I imagining the throaty purr in her voice? Then she’s gone, a trace of her Yves Saint Laurent perfume still swirling around me. I exhale shakily and look at my reflection in the mirror. Fuck.
GEL: The late afternoon sun is streaming into my office, sideways and orange. I run my hands through my hair and puff one last time before opening the door to let you in, assuming my previously suave manner, and smiling broadly. “Christina, hi, thanks for stopping by. Quite a first day!” I gesture towards a chair. “Nothing I wasn’t expecting,” you respond insouciantly, and I am briefly and hotly overwhelmed by the idea of taking you right then and there, an idea it takes me a second, but no more, to quell.
“You made quite an impression on our new client.”
“I read the room. It’s why you hired me.”
“That’s true. Word of advice. You need to make sure you’re not getting ahead of yourself. I hope I didn’t hire a liability.”
“Excuse me, Grace, but may I say something candid?”
“Bitch, when are we getting off here? You took one look at me and you thought you knew exactly who I was - some oversexed superdyke you could use to bait your clients. Well, guess what? You were right. It worked. Which means you’re good at your job, and I’m good at mine. And now you want to punish me for it? Or maybe you just want to punish me.”
A pause hangs in the air. My chest is gently puffing.
“Are you done?,” I ask.
You nod triumphantly.
“Okay, then it’s my turn. You think you’re the first person like you we’ve had here? You need to do your homework. This city has dozens - hundreds - of well trained lawyers with the same pretty smile, the same pretty swagger, the same kill rate. I should know, I’ve hired half of them and fired the other half. It’s always the same story - you’re always in the groove, and always reading the room, until one day you’re not. Then we lose the client. Then the senior partners call me, and I give you your marching orders. We’ve got a good, respectable company here at Elword Law. It would be nice if just once it didn’t blow up in our faces.”
“You’re just trying to warn me for my own good?”
“I’m not the enemy here, Christina.”
“What, you like me? Thanks, Grace, you’re a real sweetheart too. But you’re gonna have to work a bit harder if you want me to trust you. Until you do, I know where I’m placing my trust.”
You stand up and march to the door. I step in. And I soften, slightly desperately. “Okay, Christina. I just want you to remember that my door is always open to you. For you.”
We’re standing so close we can smell each other, and for the first time it feels like this wave might break. You smile warmly. “And I appreciate that. I do. I’ll see you in the bar?” “Downstairs, yes. Just give me a few minutes.” You leave, and I can breathe again. But this is going to be a long summer.
CGT: I punch the lobby button in the oak paneled elevator with my fist, exhaling sharply. I expected this, the dyke-on-dyke chest puffery and the matching of wits. This is why I wanted this firm, why I wanted to work under Grace. She was a shark, a well-heeled, high femme shark, and working for her was going to take my career to the next level. I just hadn’t prepared for the constant, simmering sexual tension, and if I was being honest, that encounter with Diana had knocked me off kilter. You get one day to act to like you’ve never seen a hot woman before, and then you need to get it the fuck together, I tell myself as the elevator slides noiselessly to a stop. It opens directly into the sumptuous lobby, outfitted with subtly homoerotic art and tasteful flower arrangements.
The long, dark bar is quiet at this hour, and I slip quietly onto one the comfortable leather stools. The bartender places a glass of sparkling water in front of me. Her short, brown and grey streaked hair is falling in her eyes; she is lovely. “First day? Looks like you need a stiff one.” I don’t miss her meaning, and laugh throatily, feeling some of the tension ease from my jaw.
“God yes, I’d love a tequila gimlet. Lots of lime.”
“You want the good stuff? Or you okay with well?”
I remember Diana’s fingertip on my cheek; the flush that crept up Grace’s chest as we stood in her doorway. “The good stuff.”
I’m less than three sips in and just starting to get to know Hannah, the bartender, when I sense your presence behind me. You elegantly slip into the chair beside me, nodding familiarly at Hannah, who winks in response. She sets down a glass of sparkling water for you and scurries off, giving us a moment together.
“I’m glad we got that out of our systems,” you say lightly. “I like to know where my people stand, and if you couldn’t handle that conversation, best to know sooner rather than later.”
“I can’t imagine anyone getting into business with you who wouldn’t expect that kind of directness,” I respond, uncrossing and recrossing my legs. My skirt rises on my thigh and I see your eyes darken.
“You’d be surprised what people think they can handle,” you murmur.
My phone lights up on the bar; and the spell is momentarily broken. Hannah saunters back over take your order, and I check my phone as unobtrusively as possible.
I have a few questions about the contract language from this morning’s meeting. Are you free for a late drink tonight?
Your earlier words echo in my head “...you’re always in the groove, and always reading the room, until one day you’re not.” I glance sidelong at you as you chat comfortably with Hannah. I tap respond and compose a quick reply, chewing the inside of my lip.
I’d love to. Madison at 11?
I hit send before I have time to rethink it. You glance at my nearly empty drink and raise an eyebrow. “Another?”
FRIENDS, STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT EDITION OF THE ELWORD LAW FIRM, COMING TO YOU SOON BUT PROBABLY NOT SOON ENOUGH!!