[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 127
Chapter 20 (4 of 8): Trial – Phase Two
“Your Honor,” Kerzy is desperate, and everybody hears it in the increasing nasality of his whine. “You Honor, how is this kind of … of free-association narrative relevant testimony for the case at hand?”
“Sit down, Mr. Kerzy,” the judge says sternly. “That is exactly what we are about to find out.” She nods to the witness. “You may answer the question.”
Su Lien Rahman begins to speak. She has a low voice, but it carries in the courtroom.
“At first we were happy together. Yukiko was very solicitous, very kind, very loving. She made me feel wanted and I was comfortable with her. It was probably the happiest few months of my life.
“But things changed. She began to find fault with me, with everything I did. She criticized my dress, my pronunciation of Japanese, my ignorance of mathematics, my inability to use makeup properly, any friendships I tried to start up with other Japanese students at the university. She was even resentful of my association with other Malaysian students at Osaka University. It was as though any other contact was a threat to her, a threat to her control and hold over me. At first, she would merely comment on these involvements, no matter how innocent. She belittled the people involved – for their looks, their intelligence, their lack of sophistication. But when I persisted in seeing other people – again, all in innocence – Yukiko started ordering me not to see them. She would say things like, ‘I don’t want you to be anywhere near those idiots,’ and ‘Don’t come back here if you spend time with undesirables like that.’ It was very cruel.”
She stops and pulls out a small handkerchief that she dabs against her eyes. She takes a drink of water. And she has the courtroom eating out of her lovely hand.
“Do you need to take a short break, Ms. Rahman?” the judge asks with concern.
“No, thank you Your Honor, I believe I am prepared to continue.”
“Whenever you’re ready.”
“Thank you. She was very cruel. Sometimes she would misplace assignments I had, lie that she hadn’t seen them, and then when I was beside myself she would pull them out from some hiding place. And she laughed at my upset. She would insist that the courses I was taking were a waste of time, or too easy, and only for dumb foreigners.
“But it is so odd. After all, she was a foreigner, too. An American. It made her very mad if I pointed this out to her. More than once she would scream at me, ‘I am not American. I am Japanese. Just look at my face! Does it look Japanese or American to you?’ When she got into these moods it was impossible to argue with her. She was irrational.”
The witness has a habit of punctuating what she deems important material with a slight ducking of the head and coming to a brief pause. Most eloquent are her hands, elegant in their fluidity, with tapered tips of incarnadine nails and a graceful life of their own; they move sinuously in front of her, emphasizing, describing, underscoring, a running commentary on the words she speaks. One thinks of films about Balinese dancers performing traditional ballets.
“What brought you relationship to an end?” Natalie asks.
“She made a trip back to Los Angeles and stayed away for several months. It was a hard time for me. I missed her terribly. I thought about her behavior, but it seemed less awful when she was gone. Maybe I had been hasty, too judgmental. I wanted her back. And when she called and said she was returning, I moved right back together with her. A great mistake, of course. She was increasingly impossible, and nothing I did or said met with her approval. At the end of the academic year I needed to return to my job in Malaysia. I forced myself to pull away from her, and I think she did not care one way or the other at that point.”
She sighs loudly.
In the course of this recital Mazarine has snuck glances at Yukiko. The old arrogance is creeping back in her posture and facial expression. After all, here is just one more case of she-said-she-said. But – and Mazarine knows her signals well enough to discern what most people could not – there is also a glimmer of anxiety, maybe even fear, floating in her dark eyes. When their eyes make fleeting contact, she sees only icy hardness and an obdurate defiance in her face.
“She is not a nice person,” Su Lien concludes with an exasperated sigh.
“Objection, Your Honor. Foundation?”
“That’s what the witness has just been laying, Mr. Kerzy,” the judge says with some irritation. A few snickers are heard. “Overruled!”
“I have nothing more for Ms. Rahman,” Natalie concludes.
He can’t wait to jump into the breach and tear this witness to shreds, and in his undisciplined zeal runs into a passive-aggressive buzz saw. Natalie thought he would have realized this is not a witness that one should beat up on. At some level he is no doubt aware of this, but he is desperate to neutralize the extensive damage she has caused to his own star witness by creating a strong reasonable doubt about the veracity of her entire testimony and therefore the putatively murderous personality of the defendant. He thus commits the litigator’s cardinal sin of asking a question of the witness that he does not know the answer to.
“Yes, thank you, Your Honor.” He marches with determination up as close to the jury box as he is allowed. “Ms. Rahman, how much are you being paid to appear here?”
TO BE CONTINUED