On elusive public defenders

I passed through the thronging petitioners and wandered unchallenged up the wide empty staircase. At the entrance of one of several deserted-looking offices, the name of the Public Defender appeared on a small typed label that appeared to be trying to merge quietly into the woodwork. There was no-one inside, but there were signs of working life about the threadbare dusty room. I took the open door as an invitation.   

A few moments later, a small, angry man burst in from a side-door. He glared at me and demanded my business. Clearly preoccupied with more weighty matters, he marched back and forward in a harassed manner answering half my questions bad-temperedly between staring aghast at several precarious towers of paper in an agony of indecision. I felt like I’d entered the circumlocution room from Dickens’ Bleak House.

He testily admitted that he shared the office with the Public Defender, but was neither able nor willing to aid me concerning her current whereabouts or movements. He begrudgingly conceded that the other desk in the office belonged to her. I left my business card on it with a note to call or email me, explaining I was a journalist, and friend of Angela.

I never heard from her. More importantly, neither did Angela.

But someone picked up my card. A few days later, I received an anonymous email.