[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 128
Chapter 20 (5 of 8): Trial – Phase Two
You’re from Sandakan?”
“Are you rich?”
“And you can afford to fly all the way here and back?”
“No. I am a stewardess for Asean Airlines and I fly for 5% of standard fare wherever I want. My round trip costs me one hundred U.S. dollars.”
Kerzy knows he’s walked head first into a serious strategic blunder. He must recoup!
“And your hotel bills?”
“I stay in a hotel associated with my airline, at the same premium. My two nights in the city cost me thirty U.S. dollars.”
“I see,” the D.A. says, now considerably chastened. The jury can see the wind petering out of his once taut sails.
“Why would you come ten-thousand miles to tell these lies about Ms. Darling?”
“First, they are not lies, sir. Second, this woman is dangerous, and I do not believe that the defendant committed …”
“… Your Honor, please advise the witness to be more responsive.” Kerzy rushes the words out before the witness can cause more damage than she already has.
“Ms. Rahman, you are not allowed to wander off the path. Please just answer the question and stick to that.” She fixes her gaze on Kerzy. “And you, sir, should make your cross-examination less broad in scope.”
Su Lien nods in obedient acquiescence.
“No more questions for this witness.” Kerzy is surly, and the jurors, like everybody else, knows he’s gotten a short end of a very long stick. They do not admire his sour attitude.
The judge gives the nod to Natalie, who recalls Yukiko to the stand.
“Let me remind you, Ms. Darling, that you are still under oath.”
Yukiko says nothing but inclines her head in the judge’s direction. She takes the stand once more, and Mazarine can tell that the woman’s supercilious condescension this time is more a matter of conscious contrivance than innate conviction. Yukiko, to Mazarine’s trained eye, is booth angry and scared. The soft languor on display during her previous appearance had now changed into a brittle edginess. But if she behaves according to cool pattern, she will tough it out and perhaps not leave doubts in the minds of some on the jury as to the veracity of her former testimony. All it takes, however, is one disbeliever to discredit her prevaricating characterization of Mazarine.
Natalie has, in effect, only one question for the witness.
“Ms. Darling, would like to amend any of your previous testimony regarding the defendant now?”
“I would not,” she say defiantly, sits back, and throws her arms around her chest in a classic display of hostility. She packages the answer in a sneer sufficiently snide that few could have missed it. Like most liars when caught out, Yukiko is her own worst advertisement, and the incredulous faces of the jury members telegraph their revised opinions of this haughty woman and, by implication, the defendant.
“Of course,” Natalie quips. “We have no further use for this witness,” she says curtly and waves her hand dismissively.
Yukiko is dismissed and marches rapidly out of the courtroom, head held high and eyes glittering with rage.
“The people rest, Your Honor,” Natalie announces.
“Any rebuttal witnesses, Mr. Kerzy?” the judge asks.
“No, Your Honor.”
“Very well,” Lombard-Golde announces, we will have closing arguments first thing tomorrow morning. This court is now adjourned.” And once more she bangs her gavel and the courtroom is in motion.
In the corridor pool cameras and stringers from near and far try to get something out of Natalie and the defendant for an evening sound bite, but they walk tight-lipped and blank-faced to their room, all the while protected by a flanking rhomboid of courthouse security personnel.
Once inside this shelter from the media mob both Natalie and Danny high-five each other with demonstrative proclamations of ‘Yesss!’ Their enthusiasm rubs off on Mazarine, and she allows herself the first relaxed smile since her private nightmare began last January.
“So,” she queries, “what’s the story?”
“The story, my dear,” Natalie says triumphantly, “is looking very good now, with a better than even chance of a happy ending. You have to understand that the prosecution has based its case on two foundations, the theory of your jealousy and violent temper, and the hair samples found on the body. In the case of the latter, there is enough reasonable doubt to drive a Greyhound through. The prosecution’s own expert witness pretty much demolished any trustworthiness in the accuracy of microscopic hair analysis – as far as the jury is concerned, they have to conclude that hair could have come from anybody. And Su Lien’s testimony did a very satisfactory job of putting period to Yukiko’s fabrications about you. I don’t think there was a person in the courtroom who believed her after that, and her own demeanor on recall didn’t do her any favors, that’s for sure.
“Between now and tomorrow morning, Danny and I are going to be working on our closing statement, and I’m hoping the jury will see it our way and you will be free by this time tomorrow. No promises, but I have to admit I am confident here.”
“Piece of cake,” Danny chimes in fervently.
“And now, we’ve got the limousine waiting outside the courthouse to take us back to the office. We’ll swing by your apartment and drop you off so you can get a good night’s rest. Sound O.K. to you?” Natalie is cranked up.
“Sounds just fine,” Mazarine counters. She’s feeling pretty high herself.
That night she has trouble falling asleep. She is tired but not sleepy. For dinner she simply heated some soup and ate a few crackers with cheese, and then drank two cups of decaf. She turns the lights out around eleven, but after trying fifty-eleven different positions in the next two hours she finally gets up, drapes herself in a bathrobe, and goes out into the sitting room. The apartment is quiet but for the low insistent hum of air conditioning noises coming up through the heating ducts. She pours herself a double shot of Grand Marnier in her favorite snifter and sits warming the liqueur in her hand, sloshing it back and forth slowly. The familiar aroma soothes her, and she takes a sip, savoring the slight smoldering as it slips down smoothly and spreads a warmth in her belly. The lights of the silent city below her twinkle in the night, and she lets her mind drift.
She floats back through the years and recalls games with dolls she and Valerie used to play, her best friend Nora from the third grade who was killed in a motorcycle accident in high school, an eight-armed boyfriend she’d had – for a short while — as a freshman in college, long walks with her grandfather in the forest behind their home, favorite books and favorite characters, stupid escapades she’d gotten involved in, some of the men she saw on a regular basis – in short, emotive vignettes from the earlier life of Mazarine Cape as recalled by same on a hot night in July before the day on which she might be convicted of first degree murder – or acquitted of all charges.
Après moi, le déluge. An aleatory day, her Rubicon. Et cetera.
TO BE CONTINUED