[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 124
Chapter 20 (1 of 8): Trial – Phase Two
At dawn Mazarine readies herself and cabs it over to Natalie’s offices. Her lawyer wants them all to arrive at the court at the same time in a black, shining Wu, Hsien, Blair & Balthazar limousine. If it is possible to imagine, the crowds on the steps are even larger this morning and they are energized in a jittery way that alarms Mazarine. It is as though they can’t wait to hear all the prurient details of Yukiko’s testimony, and they are not willing to be disappointed. The headline in one of the sleazier dailies had trumpeted an invitation to today’s trial with the words, MISTRESS OF MISTRESS TO TESTIFY TODAY.
The court stalwarts escort the defense team up through the rowdy throng. Natalie no longer deigns even to say “No comment.”
“The prosecution,” Kerzy announces theatrically when asked by Lombard-Golde to call his next witness, “calls Yukiko Darling.”
Every head in the excited courtroom twists to the door in the back of the room. Yukiko makes a splash. She is a very attractive woman and she has done it up to the nines this morning. She saunters down the aisle toward the well of the courtroom, ostentatiously opens the swinging door in the balustrade just behind the lawyers, and sashays up to the witness box. She raises an immaculate hand and swears in a throaty voice Mazarine knows not to be natural that she will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In this story she makes herself, beyond any question, the central character, and she tacitly commands a commensurate attention. The latter is forthcoming from the audience before her.
Yukiko’s body language in the chair is laid-back, lounging, insouciant, and her face projects an indolent hauteur. She gazes lazily at the rapt spectators beholding her with undisguised interest. Mazarine marvels at the sheer theatricality of this woman she thought she knew so well, for whom she had once had – and perhaps still did have – passionate feelings. It is almost as though she does not even know this exquisite woman who is now the undisputed cynosure of the morning’s session and basking in the consequent adulation. Yes, the thought flashes ironically through Mazarine’s mind, a physically beautiful person can get away with just about anything and people will be eager to help her do it.
“Good morning, Ms. Darling,” Kerzy says expansively. It is embarrassingly obvious that he is enormously pleased to be even a minor moon circling in the orbit of this heavenly body as the pool cameras spin on and immortalize him. In his head he can already see the clip on that evening’s news.
Yukiko gives him an almost insolent nod but says nothing. She looks the jurors in the eye and then lets her gaze wander to the lawyers and the audience beyond. She is in full control of herself and utterly relaxed. For a second Mazarine wonders if she’s stoked up on valium or prozac or something like that. Possible, but, as Mazarine knows only too well, Yukiko can be iron encased in steel when she needs to be.
“Ms. Darling,” he begins, smiling broadly at Yukiko, “do you know the defendant,” he swivels on the spot and points at the defense table, “Mazarine Cape?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Can you please tell us in what capacity?”
Yukiko gets a snide look on her face. “We were lovers.”
Although every person in the room has read the furtive hints and sly insinuations in the press and is quite familiar with the nature of this relationship, the fulfillment of prurient expectations thrills. Natalie can sense Kerzy straining at the bit to hammer away at the defendant’s lesbian orientation. But she knows he realizes that if he goes after Mazarine he will also be impugning his own witness. Even a lawyer can’t heat just one side of a coin.
“Did you live together?”
“How … where … did you … when you …” Kerzy blushes as he stumbles around in foreign territory. A ripple of titters runs though the room. Lombard-Golde looks up and the chuckles die. Yukiko is enjoying herself, and after waiting a beat that nobody in the room could miss comes mercifully to his rescue.
“We met in a hotel.”
“Let me move on,” he says. He walks over to the prosecution table and is handed a yellow pad by Buzulethi. Placing himself in front of the witness again, he asks, “How many months were you … um … together?”
“So you would say that you know the defendant pretty well, then?”
“You talked about things?”
Natalie can tell that Kerzy is starting to get a bit rattled. He is having to work very hard to get anything out of his own witness, which does not look good to the jury. Natalie sits back and although she is tense she tries to look relaxed and quite unconcerned.
“Can you tell us what sorts of things?”
“Work, friends, ourselves. Girl stuff. That kind of thing.”
“I see.” He dons a thoughtful mien. “When you talked about yourselves, what kinds of things came up?”
“Parents. Schooling. Men. Pretty much what you’d expect.”
“You both dated men?”
“An exclusive relationship, then?”
“As far as women were concerned, yes.”
“But not as far as men were concerned?”
“Ms. Cape is an escort.”
“That didn’t bother you?”
“Didn’t your ex-husband see her?”
“And this didn’t bother you?”
“That’s a bit hard to understand. Why not?”
“It was a long time ago. Long before I met her. Years before. It was water over the dam as far as I was concerned.”
“Are you still … seeing Ms. Cape?”
“We broke up.”
“Why was that?”
“She became impossible.”
In spite of herself, Mazarine sits up straighter and goes rigid. Natalie puts a hand on her knee under the table and gives a gentle squeeze. “Show nothing,” she whispers out of the side of her mouth. “Stay cool.”
“Well, first there was the jealousy. By and by I discovered she was a very jealous type of person.”
“Phantoms?” Kerzy turns toward the jury.
“Yes, she got it into her head that I was seeing other women and would fly into a rage about it. Threaten me, threaten herself. Rant and rave.”
“How did she threaten you?”
“She said she’d get even with me. She said she’d kill herself and make it look like I had killed her. She would throw things – pillows, a Kleenex box, books, a cup once, ”
“What was your reaction?”
TO BE CONTINUED