[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 131
Chapter 20 (8 of 8): Trial – Phase Two
The judge now addresses herself to the jury and issues her instructions, including a definition of what reasonable doubt means. She asks them to appoint a foreperson and begin their deliberations after lunch, and to let her know through a court assistant when they have reached a unanimous verdict. She wishes them God’s speed and adjourns the morning session.
There is the usual stampede for the exit so that cell phones can come into play and reports be filed for the early afternoon editions. Hours of filmed reportage are sent to studios for editing into thirty-second sound bites to run every half hour between now and the time a verdict is announced.
The limousine from Wu, Hsien, Blair & Balthazar has picked the defense team up at a side-entrance to the court building so they could avoid all but the most persistently pesky reporters and TV crews, and they are whisked to the main office, where lunch awaits them in something less than the spartan surroundings of the dingy room they’ve had assigned to them in the court house. Both Natalie and Danny are rather upbeat during the ride, but Mazarine is numb. She realizes with a kind of panic choking her like a thick smoke about her heart that these could be her last hours of freedom for a great many years. She concentrates on the people, the traffic, the buildings that whiz by – how long until she will be free to enjoy such sights again? She feels queasy, and food, no matter how excellent, is the last thing on her mind. She wants closure on this living nightmare she has starred in for the last six months. Today she may get it.
She joins Danny and Natalie in a private dining room but only drinks Pepsi. She is content to watch the other two satisfy their undiminished appetites. Well, they are not the ones who’ll end up in an eight by ten cell if things don’t go right in the jury room. It is truly monstrous to her that she should even be in this position: she has done nothing, and certainly not murder. What kind of country is she living in? Will she be allowed to take any of the books from her library with her to prison? Is it true what they say about the savagery of prison life, where physical strength is all? She shudders as she goes down that path in her boiling imagination.
After lunch is cleared away Natalie and Danny invite her to relax in one of the easy chairs in the room while they go off to their offices to catch up on other matters. Natalie assures her they will let her know the minute they hear that the jury has reached a verdict. Natalie appears reasonably hopeful that it may come to that before the day is out.
At least she has the luxury of this plush waiting room, so to speak, whereas the others who attended the trial must perforce wait in the rowdy corridors of the court house, jostling with the media, avoiding the media, talking to the media. On the way back to the offices of her lawyers she had caught sight of some of her clients, including Dr. Hoacman, Walter, Len B. Hooper and Nathan Hoe. Michelle was there with some of her brood. Both her parents had been there today, her father having put his surgeries on hold in order to support his daughter. And, much to her surprise, Melissa Bee, the Latin professor she’d read Cicero with some ten years ago, had been in attendance and even flashed her a smile as she was leaving the courtroom. As she sinks down into the too comfortable chair she begins to drift off and make up for the lost sleep during the last few nights.
When she is gently shaken awake, the light in the room has turned a dimmer shade. Natalie is standing above her, her eyes aglitter. “The jury’s back, honey. The jury’s back!”
“That seems awfully fast, doesn’t it?”
“Yes. I agree. But by and large I believe it is good news for us.” Mazarine is getting up from her comfortable position and stretching. “Let’s go. The limo is waiting for us downstairs. The judge wants to wind this thing up before the weekend.”
Mazarine looks at her watch, and it is almost five o’clock. She has slept almost four hours and feels refreshed. And utterly terrified.
The stairs leading up to the entrance of the looming building is jammed with media, and it takes some time for a flying squadron of security people to escort the defense team through the screaming and pushing mob demanding attention. Mazarine looks straight ahead, and neither lawyer says anything, not even ‘No Comment’.
If possible, the corridor is even more chaotic, and the courtroom itself is already packed. In short order the doors are closed, the judge enters and all stand, she waves them down, and a bailiff announces that court is now in session. The tension crackles in the room, palpable. The air — indifferent to the slow whirring of fans in the ceiling — is heavy, oppressive, humid as if enveloping some tropical world.
But in the end, it is short and sweet.
“Madame Forewoman, has the jury reached a verdict?”
“We have, Your Honor.”
“And is your verdict unanimous?”
“It is, Your Honor.”
“Please hand the bailiff your verdict.”
The bailiff carries a folded piece of paper to the judge’s raised podium. It is as though people have stopped breathing, all effort gone into looking at the mystical talisman the judge reads, without change of expression.
“How say you all?” she asks the forewoman, who has remained standing.
“In the matter of the People versus Mazarine Cape on the charge of murder in the first degree, we the jury find the defendant Not Guilty.”
TO BE CONTINUED