[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
For §§ 1-110 (Chapters 1-18), see here.
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 111
Chapter 19 (1 of 13): Trial – Phase One
Since the nineteenth the adversaries in State vs. Mazarine Cape had fought sharply and at times bitterly to seat a jury that each could live with. Neither was entirely happy, but each had its triumphs. Twelve good citizens were now in for the ride of their lives and their fifteen minutes of global fame – seven women and five men, ages twenty-one to seventy-three, two Asians, two Blacks and eight Caucasians. The six alternates consisted of three men and three women, ages twenty-six to fifty-nine, one Asian, two Blacks and three Caucasians.
And now Wednesday the twenty-eighth of July dawned bright, brilliant and burning hot. Even before the sun rose over the court house roof at Algernon and Crest opposite police headquarters the press had begun to set up. All available parking meters on the whole block had been sequestered for the innumerable support vehicles servicing the equipment and power needs of television, radio, and print media. Shortly after the murder of Trinh Cao had been formally entered on the police blotter back in mid-January the case had begun to germinate a life of its own, and now, nurtured during these long months of winter and spring, it was reaching the end of its gestation period. An enterprising police reporter had scented something special about this one and started sniffing around. What otherwise would in all likelihood have remained just one more routine murder among the two-hundred or so other ones that the city took for granted each year had turned into an unstoppable juggernaut.
Several things had conspired to this end.
First, the globalization of media. Starting as a bit of local titillation, the Trinh Triangle Murder – as one clever phrase monger had dubbed it – had quickly gone national and, finally, international. With little evidence and compensatory dollops of imagination the ‘responsible’ press – the tabloid press was of course a different order of reality entirely – had mapped this sad death onto the age-old structure of the erotic triangle and added a few twists acknowledging modern sensibility. Thus, dark intimations of a lesbian apex somewhere on this triangle had inflamed popular passions for ‘more information’ and the ‘right of the people to know’, and all civic-minded media obligingly complied.
Second, assorted crews of enraged ideologues had, early on, coöpted Trinh’s murder for their own murky purposes: every whacko splinter group in the city’s rich mosaic of ethnic communities had made Trinh their private icon of oppression. Her murder was living proof of white racism, of white indifference to the aggrieved, of white arrogance towards the yellow and brown and black races, of white sexism, of white police brutality, in short, of whiteness as evil incarnate. They colonized the talk shows and sound bites on the news programs like marauding grasshoppers, their masticating stridency stripping all discourse down to drab husks of meaninglessness.
Third, the press from dozens of xenophobic European countries, conveniently oblivious to French hatred of Arabs and Swedish loathing for Kurds and British disgust with Pakistanis and Spanish dread of Africans, gloated happily over this concrete display of American racism. From the other side of the globe the Chinese Xinhua news agency gleefully reported on the sad mistreatment of fellow Asians, carefully eschewing any mention of centuries of Chinese repression of their Vietnamese neighbors, not to mention current Tibetan adventures. Japan, with its inimitable record of pro-Asian concerns, had sent a team of reporters from the Kyodo agency to broadcast back to the home island outraged commentary about American apathy towards people of ethnic Asia. Last but certainly not least the Thông Tän Xã new agency of Communist Vietnam lamented loudly and tediously about the dreadful treatment of Vietnamese in America, somehow glossing over fundamental reasons why so many Vietnamese were in America to begin with.
It was this international media circus that Jeff Kerzy was thinking about, not without some nervousness, as, shaved and showered, he stood naked in front of the mirror in his bedroom, psyching himself up for the trial of his life that now lay only a few hours away. It would, ultimately, make or break his career. At close to fifty-five, he had almost become resigned to the dreary reality that the political preferments he had once hoped would follow from his zealous devotion to the duties of city DA were not likely ever to materialize. Almost. This trial would be his final chance. Colleagues had warned him against personally leading the prosecution; it had been too many years since he had done battle in court. He should graciously cede, they urged him, to younger, more battle-hardened court warriors on his staff. “Let your assistant DAs do the field work.” But, no, the publicity on this case, now gone international and ballistic, is too valuable to hand over to others, too seductive for his own long-thwarted ambitions. It may be just the fillip he needs to impress the party stalwarts that he is ready for higher things, a state senator, AG, maybe even a leading rôle on the stage national politics. Moreover, that his long-time political nemesis, Roy Rany, the mayor, appears somehow to be involved on the fuzzy fringes of this case is additional incentive to stay the course. Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.
Kerzy, toweling off the last of the moisture, stares at himself staring back at himself. He is tall, in pretty good shape, if not exactly lean certainly not fat, and such adipose as pads the shiny convexity of his stomach his expensive suits will hide artfully. His face doesn’t look twenty, to be sure, but nor has the flesh started to sag. Indeed, its grooves and cross-scoring crevasses give him a certain craggy sexiness that women find irresistible. He will play to his strengths in the courtroom. Certainly this strategy worked twenty years ago when he strutted his stuff in front of the jury boxes of his youth and began building his enviable conviction record. He moisturizes his skin with aromatic emollients, dusts it with scented talcum powder, gels his still abundant hair that is now fringed with distinguished streaks of gray, and spritzes his face with a musky, masculine cologne.
It is time to dress.
TO BE CONTINUED