The Alpha and the Omega
Back in California, Carl and Stephanie Windsor were deep in conversation. Carl had returned the day before having stayed in New York to see the start of the trial against Vincent Wells and the Belmont family. His wife, of nervous disposition was showing her true self when she started to tremble and ask her husband if they should continue with their game. He told her, “Its not exactly a game, you do have some genuine information regarding where he came from.”
“Its only speculation though. It was only something I’d read and I shouldn’t even have read that. You know how nutty Dominic was, I told you enough about him when we first met. Half of the stuff he jotted down was pure daydreaming. And at the time, I didn’t know if it was one of his pie eye ideas or if he had literally carried out such an experiment. At any rate the only reference to the cat man was the entry in his diary of January 12th 1954, when he’d written that he had left the infant in the grounds of St Vincent’s hospital in the hope that if the weather conditions didn’t kill him then someone would find and rear him. But if the weather conditions did kill him then the hospital personnel would use the body for experimentation. What he had achieved apparently had terrified him, but he knew that someone somewhere could recreate what he’d begun, if only they had a blue print to go on.”
“But why experiment in the first place? That’s what I could never understand.”
“I don’t know Carl. I couldn’t let him know I’d snooped and read the entry, so I couldn’t ask him any questions. But I spent half my life wondering about that infant and what Dominic had referred to. It wasn’t until that guy appeared and they gave his birth date that I put two and two together. I may be completely off the mark Carl, and this is going to be hard to carry off. And what if Dominic is still alive and he comes forward?”
“Then it’s your word against his. Think of it Steph, the papers would pay us a fortune for this story. We would have enough to feed the children and move to a better place. You wouldn’t need to work and I’d need only one job to help make ends meet. We’d have more time together then and more time for the children. It will work I know it, you just have to stick to the story and not let anything budge you from it. After all no one else has come forward claiming responsibility for him have they and I doubt they will, Dominic was what? In his late fifties when you worked for him, that would make him in his nineties by now, he’s hardly likely to be alive even if he could travel to New York and stake his claim.”
“If he’s died its possible his diaries would have fallen into the hands of his family, and they might suss what he had worked on, after all he worked on the plight of the Asiatic Lion for decades.”
“But they have to make the connection Steph, same way as you did. An entry in a diary among hundreds of entries wouldn’t stand out as much as an entry in a diary read the day after it was written and remembered for thirty odd years by his assistant would it?”
“I don’t know.” Stephanie worried. “You may be right, but I still don’t want to do this.”
“You want a nice home and money coming in don’t you?”
“Then we have to try Steph. Chances like this don’t grow on trees. This may be our only chance to make something of ourselves. Come on Steph it’ll be a cinch and you don’t have to tell them everything, it was years ago you might have forgooten how you did it.”
“Get real Carl. Do you seriously think if I’d done that to myself I would have forgotten? It would have stayed in my mind till I died. When you think of it Dominic was a genius to have performed such an experiment and had it pay off. Not only that but it was a miracle that the lioness didn’t kill the infant as it was.”
“Arh but you are assuming that just because Nell had a litter round about the same time, that she gave birth to the infant. It may have come from quite a different source. Dominic might have planned to make it look as though it came from the lioness in case he had to explain it away.”
“Carl, you’re as nutty as he is you know that?” She laughed showing no malice intended. He laughed too. That she was seeing the humorous side showed he was half way there. Just a little more encouragement and he’d have her eating out of his hand. They couldn’t lose, not on this, and with no one else coming forward to accept responsibility they’d have it made. Yep for sure, his wife could pertain to being the mother of the cat man and no one would ever doubt it. Next stop New York, he whispered under his breath, stand aside, here we come.
*** *** ***
Vincent’s Trial – Day Two – am.
Richard Rawlings called his first witness of the day with some apprehension. After his earlier thoughts he wasn’t looking forward to this and as the woman made her way to the stand, he found it difficult to meet her eye as he asked for her name.
“Patricia Belmont.” She replied proudly.
“Mrs Belmont, you are asked here today to provide a character reference for your late husband Martin Belmont. Would you tell the court in your own time what kind of man your husband was?”
“Martin was everything, everything.” She spoke softly, deliberately pausing for emphasis. “He was a good man, a fine father and an adoring husband. He worked hard, long hours but much of that time we spent together. We ran the agency together.”
“And by the agency you mean The Mayfair Escort Agency?”
“Yesterday we heard from some people who are convinced that your husband had certain sexual perversions and when these were not met he would kill as punishment. How do you view those allegations?”
“How do you expect? Those allegations were lies, all of them vicious, vicious lies!” Mrs Belmont shrieked. “My husband would never do such things. He was a good Christian man.”
“Yet, against the testimony of so many, do you not agree that perhaps there was a side of your husband that you did not know?”
“Never! Most of those people know one another, they will have concocted this story between them, and as for him!” Mrs Belmont looked directly at Vincent sitting beside Joe and Catherine, “He’s the only beast in this city. If you are looking to point the finger its to him you want to point it. He killed my dear husband!”
Strange that word ‘dear’ so emphasised and out of context with an outburst of that kind. It was not missed on the jury, or the judge.
Patricia Belmont looked around her, hoping for the pity of the court. Some people seemed to have been sucked in while others had not and she planned to turn them about with her next statement. “Martin was a good man. Some of those people that worked for us were young people, impressionable people and Martin would take them under his wing and encourage them to become good escorts. But if he felt that they were too nervous, and believe me some were scared of their own shadow then he would not just refuse them employment at the agency, but he would find them work in one of his other enterprises.”
“Yeah like prostitution!” Some joker from the back yelled.
Patricia Belmont’s face contorted with anger, “How dare you!” She spat and looking toward the judge cried, “Sir, I demand that you remove that man.”
The judge cautioned him, but it was hard not to grin when he did so. He’d been thinking exactly the same thing. He’d heard about the exploits of the Belmont’s for decades.
“We have one or two of your employees with us today prepared to back your evidence Mrs Belmont, but I must advise you that the court is aware that you may have possibly paid for their evidence. If that is ever proven in the future you must be aware that this will be considered as perverting the course of justice and you could be jailed do you understand?” The Judge told her.
“And what about the people that gave evidence yesterday? Huh, what of them? Were they paid to slander the name of my husband? He’s dead for God sake, and its unwise to speak ill of the dead.”
“Yeah well we wouldn’t have dared when he was alive, or we’d have beat him to the grave!” The joker from the back cried out.
The judge had no choice. He might well agree but he couldn’t allow such disturbances in court. He motioned for the fellow to be removed from the court with the warning that he was not to return on the morrow if he couldn’t keep a still tongue.
Patricia Belmont was fuming. And it didn’t surprise her when after the joker was ushered from the court one of her son’s discreetly followed him out. She smiled to herself knowingly, for whether the fellow had intended to keep a still tongue or not on the morrow, he would never have the chance to speak about anything ever again after today. No one slandered her husband’s name like that, no one! And there were a few that had appeared in court the day before that would be getting their comeuppance before long too.
“Thank you Mrs Belmont, I have no further questions.” Rawlings were happy to hand her over to Joe Maxwell who rose with a malicious glint in his eye as he regarded the woman coolly.
“Mrs Belmont, I expect you are aware that I am Joe Maxwell, assistant District Attorney for this city?”
How dare he, make presumptions to his status and reputation like that! Mrs Belmont decided to show him just how important he was. “No sorry, I’ve never heard of you, young man.”
Joe fumed. So, she liked to play games did she? “Well I am. And you I take it are the housewife of the late Martin Belmont?” The judge smiled to himself, oh he did so like a game of cat and mouse among the attorneys and the witnesses. He leaned back in his seat prepared for entertainment.
Patricia Belmont refused to reply. She glared at Joe her eyes speaking volumes. If looks could kill, he’d be dead.
“Please answer the question.” The judge admonished her with hidden glee.
Turning to Joe Mrs Belmont shrieked, “You know full well I am not, you stupid bastard!” Those that had begun to believe her earlier comments were quickly being swayed away from that idea. This woman was as slippery as a snake, and just as cunning. Deception dripped off her tongue like venom. She sounded anything but the dutiful wife of a Christian man now.
“So, your husband and your good self ran the Mayfair Escort Agency, did you not?” Joe asked her.
“Yes!” She snapped, tossing her head and signifying by the action that she thought Joe was dumb to even question the fact.
“And you would be where, when your husband had Catherine Chandler abducted?”
“He didn’t do that, and you know it!” She fumed.
“I didn’t say he did.” Joe told her. “We know that on that particular occasion your husband did not take an active role. My colleague’s abduction and assault was a case of mistaken identity Mrs Belmont. If you were aware of everything your husband was involved in, I ask you to tell the court how many other people were assaulted by mistake?”
Mrs Belmont glared at Richard Rawlings. Why wasn’t he shouting ‘Objection?’ She knew that one should not result to hearsay.
“None.” Patricia Belmont winced. That was no answer. And Joe grinned to himself picking up on that straight away.
“Do you so answer that none that you know of, or none at all?”
“None at all you stupid little man!”
“Mrs Belmont please try to control yourself. Such verbal assaults on Mr Maxwell do not help your evidence any.” The judge told her.
Mrs Belmont just fumed. Yet by her mannerism people began to grow uncomfortable. Vibes issued from her person that denoted the sort of person she really was, and they didn’t like it. If Patricia Belmont was anything to go by they could well see the sort of man her husband had been. Some refused to look her way, frightened that if they did they might not live to see another day. They didn’t doubt that such a woman would have connections to have them murdered. Joe was also beginning to feel the same way. He was messing with a dangerous woman here a dangerous woman with dangerous connections. He decided against asking her any further questions, and when announced the judge told her, “You may step down Mrs Belmont.” And to the bailiff, he said, “Please call Daniel Belmont to the stand.”
Daniel Belmont had been waiting outside in the corridor when his brother Robert had followed the joker from the court, but the bailiff was surprised when opening the door to call for the next witness he found both of them outside. “Did you want to come back inside?” He asked Robert.
“No. I’ll wait out here. Has my mother finished giving evidence?”
“Yes. She has returned to her seat. Did you want to speak with her?”
“Yes tell her I wish to see her out here will you?”
The bailiff nodded and ushered Daniel Belmont into the court where he took the stand and prepared for Richard Rawlings to ask his first questions.
After giving his name Daniel Belmont replied to the question of his position within the company.
“I took over where my father left off.”
“There are various speculations as to your father’s position within the company Mr Belmont. Would you please be more specific?”
“Sorry, well actually I didn’t quite fall into dad’s footsteps. My brother, Robert, he’s the eldest, and took over from dad. I just help my mother with the staff recruiting. Robert oversees the escort training and makes the bookings, and vets the clients. That sort of thing.”
“You are the youngest in your family is that correct, there are no other members beside yourself and your brother?”
“That is correct.” And thus the court proceedings continued. Outside in the waiting room Patricia Belmont was just consulting with her son. “I take it you took care of him?”
Her son did not need to question her. “Yes. And don’t worry, Butch has taken him well out of the city, there’ll be no connection to us.”
“The bastard.” Patricia Belmont fumed.
“Yes well, don’t fret so mother, the same will happen to all those that cross us. They know that. I don’t think they will allow our witnesses to speak though. You almost blew it in there mother!”
“Yes I know. But I couldn’t sit by and let that bastard walk all over us like that. Who the hell did he think he was?”
“Well you should have let it be and not lost your rag mother. You might have known he was as good as dead from the moment he first opened his mouth against you.”
“You’re a good son Robert, your dad would have been proud of you. I never saw you last night, did you arrange that little party we spoke of?”
They continued to speak, talking business, their kind of warped business, while inside the court Joe Maxwell was cross examining the witness.
“So let me get this straight, Mr Belmont, when your father ruled the business you were still at school?”
“Yes. I didn’t want to take further education like my brother. I was never going to do anything but the Escort Agency so it didn’t matter.”
“The agency must pay well?”
“Mr Belmont, would it be possible to tell us what kind of man your father was, in your honest opinion?”
There was a slight hesitation that people in the courtroom could only surmise at before Daniel Belmont replied, “my father was a calculated man, he knew what he wanted and he wouldn’t let anything stand in his way.”
“Does that include people that might not have been prepared to do as he wanted?” Joe asked.
Again Daniel thought carefully before replying, “Occasionally, but not in the way you are pertaining to. My father would never have killed anyone, and certainly not for something so ridiculous as an employee refusing to work with certain clients. We get it all the time Mr Maxwell, some of the escorts simply do not want to go with certain clients, its their prerogative. We don’t try to force them regardless or else.”
“What conclusion do you draw by the evidence heard that your father had certain sexual perversions that he killed for when they weren’t met?”
“As lies. Fabrication. There are a great many people that are/were envious of my father, Mr Maxwell. He built up a good reputation as a fair and honest man, and the business grew in leaps and bounds and because of my father’s hard work we are the leading escort agency in New York.”
“Yes I know you are. Some might say that much of that was due to fear and corruption.”
“Objection!” It was the first time that Richard Rawlings had objected since the morning’s trial had begun.
“Yes I apologise, but we have seen by the evidence given that a great deal of people were frightened of your father Mr Belmont. How do you feel about knowing that?”
“Knowing my father as I did I find it hard to believe. Naturally, none of us truly know what others are capable of, but since you ask my opinion, I can only give you an answer as I know it. My father was always there for me. He encouraged me to do well in life and he encouraged me to do it honestly and gain respect from people. My mother loved him dearly and so did I, and I find it abhorrent that so many people can come here and give so called evidence that denies that fact.”
“Thank you, Mr Belmont. No further questions.” Joe knew what to think about the whole farce, but it was probable that Daniel Belmont had only ever seen the good side to his father. Interviewing Robert Belmont would be interesting for Joe had heard that he was a tough nut to crack just like his mother.
“You may step down Mr Belmont, and the court will adjourn for lunch until 1 p.m.” The judge told everyone present.
Returning to his seat, Joe placed a hand on Vincent’s shoulder and squeezed it. “After Robert Belmont gives his evidence,” He told him, “It will be you and Cathy’s turn, are you ready?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be. But what about the people that you told me about, Carl and Stephanie Windsor?”
“Still in California. Carl returned yesterday. His wife is due to fly out tomorrow, so we will have to wait till then. But we might not call her until we have heard all the other cases against you. Martin Belmont was just the tip of the iceberg I’m afraid.”
“Yes, I know.”
“But surely intelligent people can see that all is not as it appears there. Patricia Belmont is one evil woman.” Catherine shuddered, “And if I can see that surely they all can?”
“Maybe but we have to remember Cathy, that in our business we meet these sort of people all the time. The jury might be in ignorance of people like that. And at the end of the day, it’s the jury that have to be convinced, however, I think they believed the evidence from the witnesses of yesterday and your photographs of course.” He smiled apologetically. He hated having to bring that up, especially when he’d noticed Catherine shudder at the mention of it.
“Well I need some air.” Catherine told him, “Do you think we can go and sit in the courtyard?”
“I’ll make some enquiries. That would be a good idea. Give Vincent a chance to sit out in the sunshine.”
Vincent smiled, looking from one to the other in question. “It’s a courtyard in the centre of the building Vincent. All the walls of the court border it and no one can see in from outside. Its not terribly big, just enough room for a bench and some flowers, but it’s a marvellous sun trap. I always like to sit out their between sessions. Your’ll love it.”
It sounded divine. And when Joe returned to say he’d acquired permission to take Vincent out there Catherine was so happy. She had worried so about Vincent these last few days. He appeared to be bearing up and since he had gone back to the tunnels under the pretence of staying with Greg, he had looked even more worried than normal. Catherine supposed a lot was to do with Father and other tunnel members. They’d be putting the pressure on him to go to ground and never rise but Vincent would insist that would have Greg in trouble. Father would argue that Greg was not his keeper but Vincent knowing right from wrong would insist that he do what he set out to do come what may and that would have caused an argument, which was all telling by the tired and weary look upon her truelove’s face.
So, out in the courtyard it was a pleasure to see some of that worry ease away. Vincent sat with his face to the sun lapping every delicious ray up. Even Joe was enthralled at such a sight. He hoped he could get Vincent acquitted now more than ever. A guy denied the sunlight? It was all wrong. Such a simple act should be available to all. Never would he take such a thing for granted again. And if he could have Vincent acquitted he would surely be able to walk free in the city as well in the daylight as he was used to doing at night, and such pleasures as turning his face to the sun would be something he would be able to do any time that he chose. Joe smiled, yep that would be great. He almost felt grand about that, almost…for suddenly he frowned as the picture of Patricia Belmont’s face swam before his eyes. And Joe who didn’t believe in visions suddenly wondered whether he’d just received one, for he knew without a doubt that Vincent would never walk free in the sunlight, not with people like Patricia Belmont around. It would be far too dangerous. So he sighed, and unwrapping his sandwiches began to eat, but it may have well been sawdust, because he tasted not a single bite.
*** *** ***
Vincent’s Trial – Day two – pm.
“Your name please?” Joe smiled reassuringly.
After the last witness had given evidence and been cross examined Joe knew that the people were ready now to hear Vincent’s testimony. Well ready. They had awaited this moment for the past two days and Robert Belmont’s testimony just heard had been so much like his mother’s that a lot of people now wanted to hear what Vincent had to say.
“Vincent, may I call you Vincent?”
“Vincent, we have heard that Miss Chandler first met you when you saved her from death in the park on April 12th 1987, and that since she was so badly injured, there was no time to take her to a hospital, so you aided her yourself, is that correct?”
“In part. I took her to a friend who helped me to nurse her back to health.”
“I know that people will be questioning why you did not contact someone that knew her or take her to the hospital as soon as you were able. Would you please tell the court why you refrained from so doing?”
“Catherine…that is Miss Chandler…received broken ribs, we did not think it wise to move her, and neither did we know at that stage who she was. As soon as it was possible Miss chandler was given the option of leaving, but she made no fuss about remaining with us until ten days had lapsed, when I saw her home to her apartment.”
“You saw her home?” Joe was clearly surprised.
“To her apartment?”
“And no one saw you?”
“There were people in the vicinity but no one saw me. I am careful.” Vincent grinned warming the people at once toward him.
“Yes. Vincent, I have to ask. You made mention once to the fact that to see you would remind people of what they are most afraid of. Naturally, that must sadden you, but having seen you, I can understand how a first impression or sighting must be for anyone. I also know having come to appreciate the compassionate man that you are how this grieves you but I also wonder why you would knowingly place yourself in an area where you could so easily be spotted. Would you mind explaining why you do come into the city?”
“I have friends here. And I do not walk openly among people. As far as possible I frequent the rooftops, so that sighting of me is rare.”
“Is that so?” Joe was surprised. “So you know not to confront people with what you look like?”
“Yes. And just in case I did, I wear a cloak and hood, where I can hide my features within its folds.”
“Therefore, this shows how careful you are not to frighten anyone?”
“After Miss Chandler left your home, or rather your friend’s home, how long was it before you saw her again?”
Again, Joe was surprised. Some of these questions he was thinking of on the spur of the moment, he hadn’t thought to present them to Vincent before.
“And why was that?”
“Its probable that we would never have met again, but I had to know how she was. So I visited her at her apartment.”
“And she was pleased to see you?”
“I hadn’t planned on staying. But when I saw that she was delighted to see me, I stayed all night. We had so much to talk about, and it was a delight to be with someone that could accept me for what I am.”
“I understand that a special relationship was bonded between the two of you that night?”
“Before that night. From the moment I rescued Catherine in the park there was something between us. It is hard to explain but we became a part of one another, we are connected.”
“That’s a strong word. And does Miss Chandler feel the same way?”
“As I understand it, your relationship with Miss Chandler began before she started work at the D.A’s office, is that correct?”
“And not until that time did Miss Chandler’s line of work take her into dangerous assignments?”
“Even though she had been attacked the night you had met her?”
“I know that after that particular attack Miss Chandler took defence classes taught by Isaac Stubbs, so why did you feel the need to protect her further?”
Vincent considered the question but he couldn’t answer it without revealing the Bond.
“Let me rephrase that Vincent. Did you or did you not act as bodyguard to Miss chandler even though she had taken self defence classes and had shown her ability to be able to look after herself?”
“You weren’t her bodyguard?”
“No, not exactly. I wasn’t employed in that capacity.”
“So why did you set yourself up as such?”
“Catherine was just one of the people I would protect with my life if the need arose.”
“Yes, that’s as maybe, but you cannot deny that with the built in weapons at your disposal, not to mention the anger that would emit from anyone protecting the one that they cared for you could in all fairness do far more damage than say someone dishing out self defence. After all the main objective is to disarm an assailant is it not, that is to disarm in such a way as to make them either drop their weapon or cower away from further onslaught. Not disarm by disembodying them.”
Where are you going with this Joe, Catherine wondered, if she hadn’t known better she would have thought he was acting as the prosecution council rather than the defence council.
“Yes.” Vincent agreed but could add nothing further. He too was wondering why Joe was bringing this up. He would have expected it from the prosecutor but not Joe. But Joe had known that this question would, without fail, be brought up by the prosecutor, and he was just smoothing the way toward it. And there was one other thing, but he was the only one that knew of that and he wasn’t about to reveal it, and that was the fact of Catherine calling Vincent to the scene by way of cell phone. For if that were known then Vincent would have known in advance that Catherine was in trouble and he would have gone to the scene with the intent to harm, maim or kill an assailant which would in turn be a premeditated crime.
“So you were aware that you could do distinctive harm to anyone attacking Miss Chandler?”
“Yes, just as they could do to her.”
“Vincent, are you not aware that people should not take matters into their own hands, but rather the police should deal with such things?”
“Yes I’m aware of it, but let me ask you Mr Maxwell, if you were present at such a scene and saw one of your colleagues and a female at that being assaulted by a thug or thugs brandishing knives would you stand by do nothing and wait for the police or do something yourself?”
“I’d do both, Vincent.” Joe told him.
“And in the absence of a radio or a phone, you would do what?”
Ah thought Joe, but you did have a phone, how else would Cathy have been able to call you, you of no fixed address, how would she have known where to locate you without a cell phone? But of course Joe could not bring that up, so he answered Vincent’s question, “ I would do all I could to help her.”
“And so would I.” Vincent replied.
“Thank you Vincent, no further questions.” There was a lot more Joe could ask, but somehow he hadn’t the stomach for it. He knew a bit about Vincent, thought he knew a lot about Cathy, but he got the distinct impression there was something they were keeping hidden from him. How Vincent knew where to find Catherine and arrive in the nick of time beat him. Even with advance warning, when would Cathy have made such a call? When would she have sussed that she would need assistance? How had Vincent arrived in time, always in the nick of time? There was something missing Joe knew it and perhaps Richard Rawlings could find out what it was. Or perhaps he would gloss over it and assume Joe had asked enough pertaining to the matter and it would never be questioned. Whatever, Joe was aware of Cathy looking at him daggers as he returned to his seat, furious that he had brought up the topic at all. And if Joe knew one thing, anyone annoyed like that had something worth hiding. But what, what was it? And why was it so important that they not tell him?
Two weeks ago, Richard Rawlings would have given his high teeth to be able to cross examine Vincent Wells. Now he wasn’t so enthusiastic about that. He’d heard the evidence pertaining to Martin Belmont and had drawn his own conclusions and though they were yet to hear other cases where Vincent wells had caused the death of someone, and it wasn’t over not by a long chalk, he couldn’t help but feel respect for the cat man. So it was with surprising calmness that he asked his first question. Surprising that was to all who knew the type of prosecutor that his reputation spoke of.
“Mr Wells, my learned friend has asked you many questions which I had in mind to ask of you, so I will not go over old ground. However, I will not beat about the bush either. It is fact is it not that on September 25th 1987, you killed Martin Belmont by mutilation? “
“Objection!” Joe cried, “My client has not been asked to plead his innocence.”
“Sustained. Mr Rawlings at this stage the defendant has not been asked to plead guilty or not guilty therefore, please rephrase your question.” The judge told him.
“I apologise. Mr Wells, did you or did you not assist Miss Chandler on the day in question when after discovering the body of Carol Stabler she was attacked by two thugs one of whom was Martin Belmont?”
“I wasn’t aware of who they were, but yes I did assist her.”
“And did you or did you not act in the capacity of her protector against these men with intent to…” he hesitated, choosing his words carefully, “to frighten them into leaving her alone?”
“So then could you explain why both men were found dead at the scene with wounds that could only have been applied by a large animal?”
“Objection!” Joe cried.
“Sustained.” The judge glared at Richard Rawlings who redirected his question. However Vincent surprised them all by answering, “The question is irrelevant, I think we all know how those words were sustained. And I know you mean well Joe, by objecting to certain questions but in all fairness Mr Rawlings is only asking what is logical to presume. I do have claws rather than fingernails and these hands can rent a man in two, I have immense physical power and I do get angry when someone I love is threatened…”
“Vincent!” Catherine cried. She knew he meant well, but there were some things that one just didn’t admit to in court. It wasn’t for the defendant to prove his guilt but rather for the jury to do so. But Vincent shook his head surprising everyone when he told them, “We can drag this out as much as we like. We can spend weeks cross examining witnesses, Joe can do his utmost to have me acquitted but at the end of the day you all know what I am, you can all see what I would be capable of. We are only prolonging the inevitable, and the jury have their own lives to lead, families that rely on them, and the longer it goes on the more people will suffer. I know that the argument is innocent until proven guilty, but I would like to the chance to plead for myself.” He looked toward the judge deliberately ignoring Catherine and Joe, who were motioning for him to shut up quite frantically by now.
The judge admired the man, and decided that a gross injustice would occur if he was sent to the electric chair. “As you wish Mr Wells. Would you prefer it if I read out the names and dates of the crimes in order of occurrence and allow you to return a verdict upon each one?”
“Yes.” Vincent told him. The sooner he got it over and done with the better.
“Then we will break for recess while I collect all the information together from my chambers.”
The court rose as the judge left the room and complete and utter silence descended over the courtroom, with everyone, save Catherine and Joe who at that stage were thinking him absolutely stupid were in full agreement. Vincent Wells, whatever he was, and whatever he’d done, was one sensible fellow.
*** *** ***
In his chambers the judge was consulting with both Joe Maxwell and Richard Rawlings, he understood fully what the defendant was getting at when he had made his request and he admired him but he wasn’t sure about the ethnics of it. All of them knew that Vincent was going to plead guilty to the charges presented before him but without the evidence how were the jury to establish whether that guilt was justified or not?
“There’s another thing,” Joe told the judge unhappy that the prosecutor had to hear it, but in the circumstances… “ I had been leading up to calling a witness that I deem the trump card in all of this. Look, we all know that the owner of a dangerous animal is liable when that animal kills, and I strongly believe that whomsoever created Vincent should take the blame for the person that he is. We know Vincent is a decent and compassionate individual. Had he not got the built in defences that he has he probably would not be standing trial for murder or manslaughter or assault even now. It’s doubtful that we would ever have known him, unless he rose to some other sort of fame. He’d live among us as a normal human being and no one would bat an eyelid. So my argument is the blame rests with those that created him, and they should pay.”
“I see your point of view Mr Maxwell, but were do we find such a person?”
“I’ve found them actually. Well that’s not strictly true, they found me. They live in California, well when I say they, that is the couple, it is the wife that was responsible for Vincent’s existence and the way that he is.”
The other two men were stunned into silence, and Joe went on, “I wish Richard and I to cross examine her and if you would agree Sir, that we apportion the blame of Vincent’s actions to her, and return a verdict of justifiable homicide to Mr Wells for the crimes he committed in being what he is.”
The judge nodded, “that seems acceptable Mr Maxwell. What of you Mr Rawlings do you have any objections?”
Rawlings shook his head. “He’s quite a guy isn’t he? Poor bugger. Tell me am I the only one to think it or have Mr Wells and Miss Chandler got more going for them then just friendship?”
“You thought that too?” the judge asked, “Joe? Do you know anything?”
“Well they wouldn’t want the world to know, but yes they are in love. I think they would like to marry but Catherine is afraid of the repercussions you know bestiality and all that?”
“I once offered Vincent Wells American Citizenship. He neither declined nor accepted it. I felt that he was thinking ahead and wondering how that would excuse or abuse his case being what he is, but if he would accept it, I see no reason as to why the pair could not be married. It would certainly be a wedding to go down in history would it not?”
Both Richard and Joe agreed that it would.
“Well this isn’t getting the baby a new bonnet, we have to return to the court and get this thing under way. So, this is what I’d like to do. I will announce the counts to Vincent and the jury, he will plead guilty or not guilty,” the judge gave a wry grimace here knowing for a certainty which it would be. “Then I’ll have Mr Wells tell the court the story pertaining to each case, Miss Chandler can give evidence if she so wishes, and then the pair of you ask him your questions. Finally and before the jury retire for their final evaluation I will allow you Joe, to bring in your other witness who claims to having created Mr Wells, and then we will let the jury decide the penalty. Is that acceptable?”
Both Joe and Rawlings signified it was and then rising the three made their way back to the courtroom where an uncanny sort of silence had settled over the people. The three felt it the moment that they walked in, and as the judge told them his outline for the rest of the afternoon, the silence was fuelled with a restless expectation as excitement flowed among the people. What would happen now was anyone’s guess.
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To be continued in part eleven.