The Alpha and the Omega
(Authors note: From this stage forward and to avoid liabilty the name of the zoo that captured Vincent has been altered to Halcyon Days. This is a fabricated name on my part and I do not intend any infringement or offence to any other place or names of characters in the world that might bear anything similar or the same name. I should also like to give thanks to the following websites for their information in providing help with court terms - namely:
The New York Criminal Jury Instructions – Second Edition
Bricker & Eckler LLP – Attorneys at Law
A reporters guide to legal and court terminology
The courtroom, filled now with a sea of faces waiting in hushed expectation for events to unfold.
Vincent, immaculately dressed poised and looking for all the world to be confident while awaiting the prosecutor’s first questions.
Catherine, holding her breath her eyes never leaving Vincent, hardly daring to hope that he had some way of getting her out of this mess without convicting himself for the murder and assault charges that would definitely be awaiting him.
The zoo personnel, hearts in mouth, sweating, wishing the ground would open up and swallow them as they realised that the very presentation of this strange person would call to account them holding a human being behind bars and crediting him with the title The Alpha and the Omega as they prepared to reveal him naked to the world. They would be ruined when he was awarded compensation, not to mention the embarrassment and slander that would surround their establishment.
Joe, hoping against hope, that he could somehow prevent the charges that would certainly befall Vincent the moment Catherine’s charges would be dropped.
Elliot, shocked that before him was the man that had stolen Catherine’s heart.
The jury, wondering how on earth they would be expected to handle this one and hoping that whatever they decided would be a just and fair charge.
And Father, as news spread like wildfire below from the few tunnel folk present in court at Catherine’s hearing had sent word to him, fuming and feeling sick to the pit of his stomach that Vincent could do such a foolhardy thing without even consulting him beforehand. And believing that this would mean the end of the tunnel world for sure even as his anger against Catherine knew no bounds.
“Members of the jury,” the prosecutor turned to the twelve men and women and then to the Judge presiding over the courtroom, “Your honour, you see before you what is commonly known as a ruse.” The courtroom was filled with angry voices as he spoke but undeterred he went on, “no man could look like this and it is folly that we should be expected to accept this…this…trick…” he finished with obvious distaste.
Commotion was followed by silence as his words sank in. Was it possible? Was this simply before them a man dressed in drag? After all the news bulletins had shown footage of ‘Alpha’ as he was being referred, so it was possible that anyone could copy him. In fact it could well be a ploy of Miss Chandler’s to have this occur for after all wasn’t Joe Maxwell her boss and colleague?
“We should strip him!” Someone yelled from the back. This was challenged by others who depending how they felt replied with “NO!” Or “He’s a fake, get him out of here!”
Even Joe was left to wonder and feeling awkward as he had not thought to consider at the outset that someone in disguise was a possibility. Maybe he too had been sucked in.
Only one person in that courtroom and one group of zoo personnel knew without a doubt that what they had before them was the real thing but neither would be forthcoming in revealing that fact.
Catherine, for reasons of her own, her mind racing ahead of her, knowing what Vincent had got into even though his intentions had been praiseworthy. The only thing that mattered now was that he should be fined for ‘dressing up’ as The Alpha and let go, but nothing else should befall him. Catherine would do anything to have the court believe that this was not the creature she had set free from the zoo but doubted that the zoo personnel would back her in this.
If only she had known, her heart might not have hammered quite so painfully. The zoo personnel wanted this thing, this person, this strange creature out of that courtroom faster than anyone could blink. They could not, would not confirm that he was the one that they had held in a cage filled with straw and fed raw meat on the bone. To do so would have them up to their necks in it.
Vincent, on the other hand was nodding and shaking his head as each accusation sailed his way, either agreeing or disagreeing with what was being slung around the room.
“Order, Order” the Judge banged the gavel down hard upon the bench and issued orders to police officers desperately trying to bring control to the courtroom.
Finally, a merit of silence descended upon the people, be it all they could do to keep silent, and the Judge addressed them.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, members of the jury, we are presented with possibly something that will never been seen again in the history of the courtroom but I ask you please to refrain from causing such a further disturbance. If you would therefore be silent while Mr Wells is cross-examined this would be appreciated. Any person not prepared to do this will be asked to leave the courtroom.”
With that he turned to the prosecutor and the plaintiff with the words “You are now free to ask your questions of the witness.”
“Thank you Sir.” The prosecutor came forth, his eyes never leaving Vincent’s face almost as though he wished to unveil him there and then for all to see.
“So, you are the said Mr Wells?”
Vincent said nothing and the Judge admonished him, “You may answer the question Mr Wells.”
With that Vincent replied, “Yes. I am he.”
“And do you know the defendant?”
“Yes. I know her well.”
While the prosecutor worked on his next question Catherine’s heart was in her mouth. Finally he went on, “How long have you known Miss Chandler, Mr Wells?”
“Since April 12th 1987.”
“You seem definite about that, would you care to tell the court how the two of you met?”
“Objection!” Joe cut in. Though he was surprised for by his calculations, April 12th was the day that Catherine had been slashed and left for dead in the park, yet he had been led to believe by Catherine herself that she had met Vincent prior to this.
“Overruled” the judge told them, and he addressed Vincent, “As I believe that the question is relevant in this case you may answer the question Mr Wells.”
Joe sat back down and waited with bated breath for Vincent’s answer. How would it differ from Catherine’s he wondered? He soon found out.
“Catherine and I met after she had been left for dead in Central Park. I was there when her abductors threw her from the van as if she were no more than a rag doll. Had I not of been in the park that night, there is a good possibility that she would have died from her injuries.”
From before him the Judge gathered up and passed some photographs to the jury. These photographs depicted Catherine with her face slashed and stitched after she had re-appeared some ten days after the abduction and assault.
“And you took her where? Isn’t it true that Miss Chandler was missing for some ten days and turned up at her apartment stitched, albeit grotesquely done, and in need of urgent medical attention?”
Vincent said nothing, not quite sure how to answer, or if indeed the question was applicable to him. He was right as the prosecutor went on sarcastically, “Mr Wells would you care to tell the court why you did not simply call for an ambulance when you found her lying in a pool of blood at the scene?”
“There was no time. She would have died.” Vincent hoped this line of questioning would soon be over his answers were sailing too close to the wind for his liking. How he would answer truthfully and not bring the tunnels into it beat him? Catherine too, was beginning to feel more uncomfortable than she had earlier as she saw along which lines the questioning was heading, and through the bond pleaded with Vincent that come what may, he directed his answers away from further questions that would be impossible to lie about.
“So you took her where?” Vincent and Catherine’s heart’s sank.
Vincent could not answer ‘to my home’, neither could he say ‘to my father who is a doctor.’ In fact he did not know what to say and almost sighed with relief as Catherine after appealing to Joe for help with her eyes heard Joe shout, “Objection” and could have fainted when the Judge was in favour of it with the explanation, “Mr Percival, Mr Wells is not on trial here. His reasons for doing anything or doing nothing as regards Miss Chandler’s attack are not at question here. We must keep to the facts at hand and the reasons the plaintiff has called the defendant to trial. Shall I remind you of what that is? I feel that I should so that we do not lose sight of why we are here. Miss Chandler has been brought to this courtroom to establish why she felt it her duty to rescue from the zoo one whom we had all been led to believe was a rare exhibit of the animal kind. Whereas we now see before us a man, albeit different from the rest of us, but a man nonetheless” (there were hushed disagreements around the courtroom and the Judge eyed them critically before continuing) “Therefore in retrospect I believe that there is no such case pending.” Many were surprised when he said this, but could not disagree that it were true. “However, since we are here and since there are a great deal of answers to be sought we will continue as far as the law permits to question both Mr Wells and Miss Chandler but only as to the reason why Miss Chandler entered into the zoo and led Mr Wells away. Personally I can see no reason to condemn her for such an action, however since the plaintiff has brought this charge against Miss Chandler we should continue.”
At that there was a hustle and bustle from one corner of the room as the plaintiff called the prosecutor over and the prosecutor in turn asked to be excused while he went to sort out the problem.
Silence thus ensued as the members of the court watched and waited until finally the prosecutor handed the Judge a message that he read in silence smiled and then read out loud to the courtroom.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I have been notified that the plaintiff wish all charges against Miss Chandler to be dropped, and a verdict of not guilty be applied to the charge of grand theft of their main exhibit, however…” He smiled and directed his next statement to the zoo personnel, “I wonder if before we terminate this hearing if the plaintiff would indeed select a representative to stand before us and tell the courtroom why they do not wish to pursue this matter? Could it be perhaps because they believe that Mr Wells is authentic and is as we see him, that is not in costume, and that would call into question the fact that they held against his will a man who as we can see is different true, but a man nonetheless? My question is this; If they accept that Mr Wells is none other than the one they referred to as The Alpha and the Omega then how can they be so sure? While the rest of us deliberate that what we see before us could be as the prosecutor so rightly referred to as a ruse, how can we be certain that Miss Chandler’s case should be dropped? What I would like to know and I am certain that all the intelligent people here would also like this answered is how can they be so sure it is he? And if they can be sure it is he then that calls into question the fact that they are frightened that Mr Wells will ask for compensation for the degrading things he was subjected to while held at the zoo.”
There was silence as people who had wondered about these things nodded enthusiastically and those to whom it had not crossed their minds now wanted to know the answer more than anything. But one thing bothered them, without stripping, or attempting to strip Mr Wells how would they know? How would it be proven that he was who he said he was, and why had the Judge made such a big thing of it? His tone had implied that the answers to such questions were very important, but everyone got the distinct impression that he was not asking them for the benefit of this trial but possibly for one or more that might spring up from it.
Vincent remained silent. At first believing that he had succeeded, he now grew worried again. What would they do to prove he was who he said he was? And whatever they did would it be in public?
Catherine was frightened. Vincent could see that in her eyes. She had hoped with all her might that the question of authenticity remained a mystery. For while it remained so Vincent could not be arrested for the crimes he had committed. And while he could be set about outside the courtroom no one would physically molest him to see if he wore a costume or not. They would at least grant him that privilege. But with the Judge now bringing up the question Catherine had hoped Vincent could evade, the problems were mounting and fast.
The prosecutor thus turned back to the plaintiff, “I think the Judge has asked a very reasonable question. In fact one that requires answering and it is clear that every one here has realised that the zoo will be called into question as to why they held a man in a cage against his will. So I see no reason why you cannot put us all out of our misery and provide some answers and therefore I hand you over to Mr Maxwell to ask these of you.”
Joe was surprised, he had sat listening his mind in a whirl, everything had gone disastrously wrong, and nothing was probable. He still felt that Vincent would be arrested though some doubt was in his mind as to when that would occur now. And it was highly likely that the Judge would ask Vincent if he would like to bring the zoo to trial and if he would seek compensation for his entrapment and the degrading way in which he had been held. But the one thing Joe did not want to do was seek proof from Vincent to show that he was real, or to ask questions from the plaintiff to prove that it was so.
Unsure as to how to approach the matter a sudden shout from the back of the courtroom diverted everyone’s attention away from him.
“They tattooed him!” A man stood from his seat and directed a finger at the zoo personnel, “They tattooed him!” he pointed next at Vincent. “If he is the Alpha that they caged then he will have the tattoo they gave him.”
Joe got his lead, “Is this true?” He asked the plaintiff.
Their representative consulted the other members, his cheeks reddening, as angry faces turned toward the man who had made the outlandish comment.
After some deliberation the reply came back “No!”
“They’re lying!” The fellow had now left the row that housed his seat entirely and was making his way to the front. “He’s tattooed, I know he is.”
Using the gavel once more the Judge begged for silence, “Sir you are in contempt of court, one more outburst like that and you will be removed is that understood?”
“It’s understood. But if I could be permitted to take the witness stand?” He pleaded his eyes sincere, “Please your honour, what I say is true…”
“SILENCE!” The gavel came down onto the bench with a loud and shuddering bang. “Remove this man!”
“It’s true, its true…” He hollered as the officers made a grab for him and he was cornered to be led away, “I know its true cos I did it! They made me do it, he’s tattooed, marked as zoo property, and I can prove it!”
Horrified Catherine and Vincent stared at one another and as the officers made to drag the disruptive fellow from the courtroom the Judge banged on the bench once more with the words “WAIT!”
Then turning to the court who was by that time flustered and excited both, he told them, “This court is adjourned until nine o’clock tomorrow morning. If Mr Maxwell and Mr Percival would care to join me in my Chambers, there are things that I wish to discuss. So too, Miss Chandler and Mr Wells if you would please join me also.” Next he directed his attention to the young fellow who had just caused the sudden commotion, “And you sir, I’m sorry I do not know your name?”
“Robert. Robert Davy Sir.”
“Well then Mr Davy if you would also join us, I hope that we can get this matter sorted out. But let me tell you, you had better of been telling the truth.” He eyed the young man critically noticing that he did not even waver under his glare.
“I am telling the truth.” He told the judge sincerely, “And I would be glad to prove that to you.” He then glared at the zoo personnel who glared back.
If looks could kill, he’d be dead.
*** *** ***
The State versus Halcyon Days Zoo
Day One - a.m.
The following morning the courtroom was packed. Some people, having waited outside since seven o’clock in the morning others having actually slept outside all night in order to get what they termed ‘a good seat’.
In hopeful expectation news crews had arrived but were not permitted to enter however after much deliberation an artist was allowed in who would sketch pictures of the ‘ strange man’ and generally assist the media in knowing what was taking place therein.
However, it was a complete and utter surprise to all when the bailiff arrived and addressed the court with the words, “The State versus Central park Zoo” rather than “The state versus Catherine Chandler, assistant deputy district attorney” as had been announced the day before.
A pin could have been heard to drop it was that quiet as all watched the Judge arrive and after begging that they sit back down, he began to explain. “Ladies and Gentlemen. Members of the Jury, I am sure that you will be eager to know why this trial is now between the State and Central Park Zoo rather than between the State and Miss Catherine Chandler.” He shuffled a few papers and had a photograph delivered to the jury before continuing, “Some of you are permitted to see the evidence that has brought about the change in circumstances. Others of you are aware that at the end of yesterday’s hearing Central Park Zoo dropped its charges against Miss Chandler, and that posed a question that required answering. Soon after this a young man stood up in court and announced that he had positive proof that Mr Wells was the said Alpha and the Omega that the zoo had been holding as their new and main exhibit and he was later taken to my Chambers to prove that fact.
At Mr Wells permission both myself, and Miss Chandler were present when Mr Davy revealed to us the tattoo that had been brandished upon Mr Wells both without his consent or knowledge and thus proved that Mr Wells is not only who he says he is, but is also most definitely NOT in costume.”
Hushed whispers raced through the courtroom at his words and died down as he continued. “Therefore, in view of the fact that Central Park Zoo both captured and held a man against his will as if he were an animal and then proceeded to degrade him by tattooing him with the words ‘The Alpha and the Omega property of Central Park Zoo, New York City,’ it was felt appropriate that the zoo’s behaviour be brought into judgement rather than that of Miss Chandler’s. To that end the trial continues afresh, the jury have been notified that all of yesterday’s hearing should be dismissed as irrelevant, and today’s hearing be used in conjunction with the photograph that has been passed among them. This being the photographed proof of the tattoo placed upon Mr Wells and constituted the property of the court. It is not for public display and no member of the jury should either for payment or any other reason divulge what they see before them to any other person, ever.” He emphasised the last word making it clearly obvious of the seriousness of the matter and not one member of the jury took his threat lightly. What they saw before them, a tattoo of the words read out by the judge very clearly showed the proof that Mr Wells was whom he claimed to be, although for some that led to shivers up the spine. Some had been so sure that it was a hoax and had been prepared for nothing less. Yet these photographs spoiled that illusion as the words very neatly and very carefully tattooed along the crease of Mr Well’s bottom where it would not usually be seen, attested to.
At that moment in time, neither Vincent nor Catherine were in court, waiting as it were for their turn to stand as witnesses when called, and having spent most of the night verifying the truth now found themselves quite alone in the same room for the first time in weeks.
“I feel I should know but why did you do it Vincent?” Catherine launched her attack that Vincent had known was to come as surely as eggs were eggs.
“You needed me. Without my appearance in court you would have gone to prison. The evidence was clearly stacked against you, and I couldn’t let you go to jail, Catherine.”
Catherine had expected this answer, still she challenged, “But to show yourself! Vincent do you realise what you have started?” Her green eyes flashed with anger and sorrow.
“Yes, Joe explained that to me. I know that I could very well, most probably end up in prison myself, but Catherine there was no other way!”
“Very probably…no other way…Vincent! I would have found a way! Joe could have done something.”
“Are you certain of that? As an exhibit and a rare one at that, you had stolen from the world not just Central Park Zoo. Catherine had you of been acquitted for this then some other geographical society would have had you on trial for some other misdemeanour. I was assumed to be the missing link in the evolutionary field and then there was the fact of what you had done with me. The only way to defend you was to come out of hiding and show the world that I might be different, but I am no animal. Though part of me may be, but I can speak and live as a man and so that brings into question that I am not an animal.”
“Well you’ve certainly changed your tune!” Catherine snapped sarcastically, “And who told you that huh? I tried for years to have you believe it and someone comes along and has you accepting it without preamble overnight!”
“No one but you changed that thought process Catherine. When we made love, when you first gave yourself to me, that’s when I stopped believing that I was an animal. “ He spoke softly and Catherine felt her heart contract.
“I’m sorry Vincent, I never realised. Please forgive me.”
“There is nothing to forgive. You set me free from enslavement Catherine, not just once but more times than I care to admit. Some of those times I fought against, but could not deny deep down that you were right. Like the time you showed me that my hands were beautiful and said that they were your hands. Nothing moved me more or since my love, except perhaps our love making.” He winked and caused Catherine’s limbs to become as jelly.
Still she had to make him understand the seriousness of all of this, “Vincent you do realise that they could have you executed don’t you?”
“A risk I was prepared to undertake, my love. Besides I am guilty of those crimes, I should be judged, and in a strange kind of way feel relief that it will be so.”
“Relief! Vincent! Most of those crimes were due to self defence, or to protect me, you should not feel guilty because of what you were forced to do.”
“No matter, I do. To have to kill in order to put an end to killing, that is no answer Catherine and you know it. It makes me no better than those that came after you or I.”
Catherine didn’t seem to hear him, her mind was racing ahead as she went on, “I’ll have to testify against you, you did realise that didn’t you? Vincent how can I testify against you?” Her eyes were wounded, pleading for an answer that would satisfy while knowing such a thing was impossible.
“You could marry me. As I am led to believe wives are not allowed to testify against their husbands.”
The silence that followed was loud to her ears. Marry him! Now? When all the world would be watching! “Its impossible Vincent. Below it was possible, but not here not in my world. We would find ourselves in serious trouble with another trial pending. Human or not, the fact that you look like a lion would call into question the act of bestiality. I could go to prison for that and then where would we be, back to square one and for what?”
Vincent had no answers and after some time of deliberating for one, held open his arms, “Catherine come to me. I need to hold you close.”
There was no arguing with that plea, Catherine went into his arms willingly and as she felt them close around her decided that she had come home. Nothing was more important than being right where she was right now, and though doom hung over the two of them for whatever might come to pass, they could not think on it a moment longer. Now was their time, whatever would be would be and no amount of deliberating upon it would decide the outcome. They would just have to wait and hope and pray that whatever came whatever happened – their dream would endure.
*** *** ***
To be continued in part seven.