The Alpha and the Omega
Outside the journalists were waiting. Joe arriving late at court, found it almost impossible to walk one step ahead as they surged around him and thrust microphones under his chin, cameras flashing and smarting his eyes.
“Mr Maxwell, Mr Maxwell, can you tell us if the creature has to be cross examined this morning?” That question made Joe see red, “He’s not a creature!” He snapped. “He’s a human being, just like you and I. Different maybe but human nonetheless.” He tried to barge past them, but all too soon realised that he had entrapped himself as that same person questioned, “So you would agree would you not that Mr Wells is deemed fit and sane to stand trial for murder?” Joe groaned he’d known it would start but somehow he just hoped they’d give him breathing space. “No comment.” He told them gruffly, causing much merriment among the journalists who were vigorously writing whatever they wanted from that reply. Joe wanted so much to tell them all he knew, to tell them of the sort of person he knew Vincent to be, even though he’d not known him long, but he knew that he was not able to do so and he had to almost bite his tongue to stop himself from retorting things in Vincent’s defence. That Vincent only killed in self-defence or to protect the ones he loved made no difference here, not when the families of the slain ones were vying for justice.
This was going to be his toughest case yet. In all probability, there was no such law that could either convict or acquit Vincent of his crimes. He was one on his own, and there would be various contradictions. Joe knew that his work would be cut out but in some delightful way he felt proud that he would be the one to represent Vincent, and of course, it helped that he believed in him. He admired him too. He didn’t think for one moment that given the circumstances he would have been quite so forthcoming in agreeing to stand trial for the murders. Joe knew that Vincent hadn’t much choice but he didn’t doubt that had Vincent been against a trial that by his strength alone he could escape and disappear to wherever it was he resided and that would have been that. Okay so he would be a wanted person, but then he was already. And okay so he would never be able to venture into the city again, though Joe did wonder whether that would keep him away. But upon reflection, escape would have been better for Vincent than what he possibly faced now. And what, what if they did convict him of murder, what if they sentenced him to life imprisonment, or the death penalty where he'd be confined on death row indefinitely? He couldn’t mix with normal prisoners, neither could he be caged like an animal. This one was going to be very tricky. Joe had no thoughts as to what the outcome would be or where the blame should be apportioned and then suddenly with that thought in mind Joe had a brilliant idea. He’d found his trump card!
*** *** ***
“The count is kidnapping in the second degree. Under our law, a person is guilty of kidnapping in the second degree when he or she abducts another person. Abduct means to restrain a person with intent to prevent that person’s liberation either by secreting them or holding them in a place where he or she is not likely to be found, or by using or threatening to use deadly physical force.
Restrain means to restrict a person’s movements intentionally and unlawfully in such manner as to interfere substantially with his or her liberty by moving him or her from one place to another. Or by confining him or her either in the place where the restriction commences or in a place to which he or she has been moved, without consent and with knowledge that the restriction is unlawful.
A person restricts another’s movements intentionally when his or her conscious objective is to restrict that person’s movements.” The judge paused to look at the jury to check he had their rapt attention, before continuing with his narrative.
“Under our law, with certain exceptions not applicable here, a person is not authorised to restrict another’s movements.
Intent means conscious objective or purpose. Thus a person acts with intent to prevent another’s liberation either by secreting or holding him or her in a place where he or she is not likely to be found or by using or threatening to use deadly physical force when that person’s conscious objective or purpose is to do so.
In order for you to find the defendant guilty of this crime, the People are required to prove, from all the evidence in the case, beyond a reasonable doubt, to prove the following:
That on or about October 11th 1989 in the County of Manhattan the defendant, Halcyon Days Zoo restricted the plaintiff's Vincent Wells’ movements in such a manner as to interfere substantially with his liberty by moving him from one place to another and by confining him to a place to which he had been moved.
That the defendant did so without the consent of Vincent Wells.
That the defendant did so intentionally;
That the restriction of Vincent Wells’ movements was unlawful and the defendant knew that the restriction was unlawful.” Joe grimaced here. This last part might be the fly in the ointment. If the jury was to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the zoo was guilty of all counts then that last part could throw them. Because the zoo did not know that what they did was unlawful, since they thought that they were capturing a wild animal. What Joe had to prove was that this was not so, that in actuality Vincent had an owner that is someone that looked out for him and was therefore constituted responsible for him, but the only problem there would arise at Vincent’s own trial, when those responsible were guilty for his actions and should be tried also. Still Joe still held his own trump card difficult though it had been to turn up any evidence so far.
Throughout Joe’s own thoughts the judge was continuing; “That the defendant restrained Vincent Wells with intent to prevent Vincent Wells’ liberation either by secreting or holding him in a place where he was not likely to be found or by using or threatening to use physical force.
Therefore, if you find that the People have proven each of those elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you must find the defendant guilty of the crime of kidnapping in the second degree as charged by the court.
However, if on the other hand you find that the People have not proven any one or more of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt you must find the defendant not guilty of the crime of kidnapping in the second degree as charged by the court. Is that understood?”
With nods of affirmation and a uniform yes of agreement the judge surveyed the courtroom, and then all was quiet as each waited for the trail to begin. Finally sure that everyone was ready the judge signalled to the bailiff to announce commencement and as an appointed member of the zoo personnel took the stand Joe prepared to ask his opening questions.
“Your name please?” Joe asked the appointed member.
“And your position in the zoo?”
“Managing director, Sir.”
“And were you or were you not aware of the kidnap of Vincent…”
“Objection!” The defendant attorney cried.
“Mr Maxwell, you must direct your questions correctly. At this stage, the subject of kidnapping is yet to be proven. Please be careful.” The judge told Joe.
“I apologise.” Joe thought a few seconds trying to think of the best way to ask the question he needed an answer to and finally came up with, “Mr Osborne, were you in your position as managing director of Halcyon Days aware that the plaintiff Mr Wells, had been brought into the zoo?”
“When were you made aware of this fact?”
“The following day, that is, after he was brought in.”
“And in what condition would you say you found Mr Wells to be in at that stage?”
“He was unconscious.”
“Unconscious? Why was that?”
“He had been darted.”
“Would you please tell the court in which manner it was deemed necessary to dart Mr Wells to render him unconscious.”
Mr Osborne looked uncomfortable, and he appealed to the judge for guidance. The judge told him to answer the question.
“It was deemed at that stage that Mr Wells was a wild animal and therefore dangerous.”
“Yet as I am led to believe by this time Mr Wells was confined to an area where lions had been kept secure for years. Why then was it deemed necessary to have him unconscious as well?”
Looking decidedly uncomfortable now, Mr Osborne shifted from foot to foot and turned appealing eyes to his attorney who gratefully came to his defence. “Overruled. The question is unnecessary and does not pertain to the case.”
“Mr Maxwell would you care to enlighten me as to your line of reasoning?” The judge asked him. “On what bearing does your question have in relation to the charge?”
“If you would permit me to continue with this line of questioning, Sir all will be revealed. The definition is in fact in direct relation to the case.”
“You have my permission to proceed Mr Maxwell. The defendant will answer the question.”
“Thank you Sir.” Joe told him gratefully. “I shall repeat the question.” And to Mr Osborne he reiterated in part, “Why then was it deemed necessary to have Mr Wells unconscious as well caged?”
The defendant mumbled his reply and was asked to repeat it so that those at the back of the court could hear. “So that we could examine him.”
Bingo! Just what Joe had wanted, thus his next question surprised the court, “And those examinations constituted sexual assault did they not?”
The people in court gasped. Some of the tunnel community were present and had not known of this.
“No, the examination was carried out respectfully. At this stage we were trying to establish whether or not the creature was fertile or sterile in order to presume whether or not he was one of a kind.”
Joe had expected the defendant to argue. Still what he said was an admonition of fact and he could use it. “Was this before or after you had examined Mr Wells to see if he was intellectual and could converse with you?”
There was no reply.
“Let me rephrase that, was this before or after you had verified the fact that Mr Wells would not object to the examination?”
Still no reply and the judge intervened. “Please answer the question Mr Osborne.”
“The creature’s ability to speak was never verified.”
“Would you please elaborate, on that answer Mr Osborne?”
With a sigh of resignation Mr Osborne replied, “ You must understand that while we considered the creature to be the missing link between Neanderthal and modern man we focused primarily on the side that was feline. It was thought that the possibility of speech was negative and therefore never examined.”
“An oversight would you not agree? Surely if you considered him the missing link between ancient and modern man the very first thought would be to analyse his speech efficiency if only to understand him better. Would it be in all fairness to say therefore that by keeping him anaesthetised you could carry out the various examinations without the knowledge of his human conceptions preventing the carrying out of such examinations, so that at no time could the zoo’s actions be brought into question?”
Reluctantly Mr Osborne replied, “Yes.” Then hurried to explain, “But you must understand that…”
However, Joe had had enough and cut in with. “There is nothing to understand Mr Osborne. The zoo was closing was it not? Lack of funds and considerable debts entailed the drafting of animals to other zoos and ultimately the closure of Halcyon Days. Therefore, when came along an unexpected attraction the origin of the creature was not foremost in the minds of the zoo personnel but rather the fact of his existence and the title apportioned to him of Alpha and the Omega.
This alone brings rapt attention and in fact, we have seen by the extensive news coverage and the new book which you yourself wrote and had published that the name represented something that was the first and last of its kind. And as proof of this fact, you were forced to extract sperm from Mr Wells without his consent or his knowledge, in order to satisfy your own curiosity and establish that the name apportioned to him was authentic. Therefore, you were in fact sexually abusing Mr Wells and I would like the court to consider this fact in their final analysis.”
The judge nodded, he saw no reason for this not to be so, and leaning forward announced to the jury that they should take the issue of sexual abuse along with their deliberation when they came to recess.
“Have you any further questions Mr Maxwell?” The judge asked. Joe shook his head then affirmed with, “No, that is all, Sir.” And prepared to return to his seat.
“Have you any questions Mr Richards?” The judge asked the defendant’s attorney. When he replied that he hadn’t the judge turned to the zoo representative and told him, “You may step down now Mr Osborne.” and then after directing a question at the bailiff, the latter announced, “Call Mr Wells to the stand.”
At this, there was a hustle and bustle from the audience and all eyes were riveted to the door from where Vincent would enter. Some had not seen him in weeks, others in days, and others never at all before, so that when he finally emerged into the court wearing his designer suit and blue silk tie varying degrees of gasps and sighs were heard.
“Please take the stand, Mr Wells.” The judge admonished him. Vincent did as asked then with the bailiff handing him a Bible repeated after him, “I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God.”
From his seat Joe rose and coming to stand in front of Vincent he smiled, hoping to convey feeling and sympathy to his witness. Vincent smiled back, something that was not lost on the members of the court, and especially those at the front that gasped at the sight of a glint of deadly white fangs.
“Would you care to tell the court your name, date of birth and address Sir?” Joe asked politely.
“My name is Vincent Wells. I was born January 12th 1954. I have no fixed abode.” That bit stuck in Vincent’s throat, especially as he had sworn on the Bible and he hoped that God would forgive him, after all he wasn’t doing it for himself, but rather for all the tunnel dwellers whose home had to remain a secret.
“Thank you Mr Wells. Would you now tell the court in which manner you found yourself captured and held against your will at Halcyon Days Zoo.”
Vincent had thought about this long and hard. There were so many aspects that he had to leave out and he hoped that what he said would run smoothly enough to be believed. “Yes. It was the evening of October 11th. I was walking through Central Park when I felt a sharp pain in my left leg. I knew nothing more until I woke up in a lying naked in a cell littered with fresh straw.”
“What were your first thoughts Mr Wells, can you remember?”
“Yes, I was disorientated. At first thought I was dreaming, and then I realised that the brightness around me was from overhead lights something I am not accustomed to, and knew that someone had captured me.”
“And how was that apparent, have you ever been captured before?”
“Yes, a year ago. I was held at a laboratory by a man named Hughes.”
“And how did you escape that time?”
“Catherine, that is Miss Chandler rescued me.”
“And it was Miss Chandler was it not that rescued you this time?”
“In your own terms how would you describe your treatment at Halcyon Days?”
“As an animal it was probably fair and just. I was always clean, and despite being naked, I was warm and well fed, but as a human the conditions were abhorrent. I was fed meat on the bone, stripped naked, kept sedated and examined without consent. Only one man wondered if I might be able to speak coherently and was inclined enough to ask me.”
“And his name, do you know it Mr Wells?”
“I only know him as Barry. It was thanks to this man that I would have had some form of covering in which to face the world.”
“Then you must be sincerely grateful to him?”
“Yes. The world would be a better place if all people were as compassionate as Barry was to me. He showed fellow feeling, and as such gave me the dignity of being human rather than animal.”
“And how would you view yourself Mr Wells?”
“That is a question I have asked myself all my life. Various aspects show that I have the traits of a lion, others that I am human. If I am to speak percentages I would say that seventy five percent is human, but it is often that other twenty five percent that has the upper hand.”
“And is not the seventy five percent capable of controlling the twenty five?”
“No. The other is very strong. It overrides self control and sensibility but only when taunted.”
“And what would taunt it?”
“Seeing someone innocent suffering.”
“And for no other reason? You would not knowingly set yourself up as some kind of vigil anti and abuse that twenty five percent in order to clean up the city from crime?”
“But you do on occasion go into the city and help innocent victims if you should see them?”
“What other reasons do you come into the city Mr Wells?”
“To visit friends.”
“Of which Miss Chandler falls into that category?”
“Let’s go back to the fellow Barry. Do you know what his position was in the zoo?”
“Did he at any time tell any other personnel of your ability to speak?”
“Not in so many words. He told others that he suspected that I might be able to speak.”
“And they did what?”
“They did not want to believe him.”
The judge leaned forward, “I’m sorry Mr Wells, that answer was drawn on presumption. What they did or did not want is hearsay. Please try to refrain from making assumptions.”
“I apologise. Rather they did not appear to listen to him.” Vincent replied.
“When you first showed the fellow Barry that you could speak, what did you ask of him?”
“I asked that he free me. When he said he would be sacked for doing so, I asked if he would get word to a friend of my whereabouts. But he said he could not do that either.”
“Did Barry at any time enter your cage?”
“Not that I was aware of.”
“But you said he gave you some covering.”
“Yes, he did. He passed me some boxer shorts through the bars and told me to hide them beneath the straw and don them just before the panels were lifted that would reveal me to the outside world.”
“Why did he say this?”
“He told me that if I wore them any sooner, the zoo personnel would take them off of me, because they wanted me to appear naked.”
“And how did that make you feel, Mr Wells?”
“I felt ashamed. I would rather have died than have been exposed in this way.”
“Mr. Wells earlier you mentioned that you were not used to overhead lights. What of these in this courtroom, do they hurt your eyes?”
“Yes. My eyes become sore in daylight or artificial light.”
“Which is why you prefer to frequent the city after dark?”
“Yes, and because of my looks.”
“How does that concern you?”
“When people see me for the first time I remind them of what they are most afraid of. This is one of the reasons I wear a cloak and hood, to shield my looks from the people so that they are not frightened.”
“It must be such a relief when some people accept you for what you are and what you look like?”
“Yes a relief and a blessing.”
All the while Vincent was speaking the spectators in the public gallery were enthralled by his words. He showed compassion and tenderness in the way that he spoke and his mannerisms, but hearing how he felt about people seeing and being afraid of him made the spectators adhere to him even more. This man had the wonderful ability to place himself into the shoes of others and feel more for them than he did for himself. He could so easily have been a bitter man intent on scaring others but he was not. The people began to love and feel sympathy for him.
“I have one last question before I pass you over to my learned friend to ask you his questions. Would you prefer it if from tomorrow you are permitted to wear dark glasses to shield your eyes from these artificial lights, Mr Wells?”
“That would be most appreciated, thank you.”
Joe looked toward the judge who after a moment’s deliberation nodded and replied, “Yes I think that would be in order unless anyone has any objections?”
A rumble of no went through the courtroom and the judge went on, “Then please after today you may wear the dark glasses to protect your eyes, unless someone has any on them that Mr Wells could borrow now?” The judge looked around the courtroom hopefully, glad when a few people raised their hands and searching bags or pockets brought out a case and offered them up for the bailiff to take to Vincent. With thanks, he tried several on, until finding a pair that he favoured stuck with those and thanked the owner and the judge most sincerely. His eyes had indeed hurt him terribly, and this act of kindness almost made him weep.
“No more questions. Thank you Mr Wells.” Joe returned to his seat and the defendant attorney took up his recently vacated position.
Vincent had been warned about the defendant attorney by Catherine and he knew that while Joe would have been kindness itself this man would be the one if any to rake him over the hot coals, and if he wasn’t careful could bring the dark one to the fore. It would take every ounce of strength he possessed to answer the questions minimally and be aware that he could so easily be entrapped if he wasn’t careful. So taking a deep breath Vincent drew himself to his fullest height and waited for the new line of questioning to begin.
*** *** ***
“Mr Wells, my name is Richard Rawlings and I have been appointed by Halcyon Days Zoo and would like to ask you some questions. First of all you told the court that you are of no fixed abode, is this correct?”
Vincent’s heart hammered painfully and he hoped he sounded convincing, when he replied, “Yes.”
“I find that a little hard to believe Mr Wells. Are you telling the court that from the time you were born you have had no one looking out for you?”
“Objection!” Joe cried.
“Overruled Mr Maxwell, the plaintiff may answer the question.” The judge told him.
“I have friends.” Vincent replied “And over the years those friends have fed and clothed me.”
“And did they not teach you good behaviour?”
“Objection!” Joe shouted.
“Mr Rawlings, please rephrase that question.” The judge told him.
“I apologise, what I meant to ask was, were you at any time taught the rights and wrongs of behaviour, so that you would know that killing in any guise is unlawful?”
“Objection!” Joe cried.
“Sustained. Mr Rawlings, I must remind you that Mr Wells is not on trial here. Any actions caused by Mr Wells and brought into question will have to come to light at another trial, and I think it is worth mentioning here that the plaintiff is well aware that there are other trials pending as to his behaviour and reasons for that behaviour. But first and foremost at this moment in time is this trial where we are trying to establish if Halcyon Days Zoo are guilty of capturing and holding Mr Wells against his consent, or if the blame should be apportioned elsewhere. Please proceed Mr Rawlings and direct your questions accordingly.”
“I apologise Mr Wells.” Rawlings was quiet for a moment pondering his next question. He hoped that someone would hire him to defend them in a case against Vincent Wells, for he hated the sight of the fellow and really wanted to drag him over the hot coals. But now was not the time. However, as far as it depended on him he aimed to see that the jury could not vote beyond all reasonable doubt, because there was one thing that could be called into question and he asked it of Vincent now. “If then, you are of no fixed abode, and you have already pointed out that twenty five percent of you is in fact animal, then in all fairness the zoo can be acquitted by their innocence that they were acting in accordance with what they saw and knew of you. How do you so answer?”
Joe groaned, he’d feared this would be brought up. But in actuality, he had never foreseen that the zoo would be ruled as guilty. This case was a stepping-stone to something grander. Vincent’s appearance in the limelight so to speak was priming the way for greater things. Everyone knew it. This case was in itself immaterial and the sooner it was over the better. It was preliminary to that which would come and it was that to which he held his trump card and was eager to display it. However, he also knew that the evidence would take a considerable length of time to unearth and the case might well last months. It was a colossal, mountainous task he had set before himself, and he looked forward to it with mixed feelings as he awaited Vincent’s answer to the last question.
“I can see this from both sides of the coin.” Vincent replied.
“That is no answer.” The lawyer began, but Vincent cut in with, “If the zoo did in fact sincerely believe that I was a wild creature then in all fairness they had every right to entrap me. But if they considered me to be a missing link between Neanderthal and Modern man then upon that entrapment they should have established whether those things were so by examining my ability to converse with them. I believe that they acted selfishly and did not care to know who I really was, or whether I might have people worried about why I had gone missing.”
“So you are saying that the zoo kidnapped you, Mr Wells?”
“In effect, yes. In actuality I believe that they did not want to know that I was part human so that their actions regarding showing me to the world could not be called into question.” The judge was impressed. This man was certainly a thinker. He wondered how well that same ability would rescue him in trials to come.
“So let me get this straight. You believe that while the zoo did not act with your best interests at heart they did in all fairness act in such a way that they truly believed that you were a wild creature to be caged and put on display for all the world to see?”
“Yes, if that’s what they truly believed. But it wasn’t me that brought up the question of the link between Neanderthal and Modern Man, the zoo I believe were the first to mention this when they said that those facts were their primary feelings on the matter even though they decided that my feline side was more appealing.”
“Yes that is correct. But what we are trying to establish here, Mr Wells, is whether the zoo acted correctly in their presumption that you were a wild creature. And forgive me for saying so but having met you, I can quite understand how they reached that conclusion and I defy anyone here today to think the opposite, and so the zoo’s actions regarding you were blameless.”
Vincent sighed, “Put like that, yes.”
The attorney smiled a secret smile, “Thank you Mr Wells, no more questions.”
“Mr Maxwell have you any further questions?” The judge asked. Joe shook his head. No matter how much time was spent on the case they were never going to make it stick that the zoo had been unlawful. They had the presumption of innocence on their side. They had acted without forethought and no matter the obscenities that Vincent had suffered, it could not be called into question that as an animal in which capacity they had seen him he had been treated unfairly. Vincent had said as much himself.
At this, the judge turned to the jury and told them, “Members of the jury, you have heard the evidence pertaining to this case, that being whether or not the zoo acted professionally in their capacity to secure what they believed to be a wild animal. And as such whether or not they are innocent or guilty of capture and entrapment or whether they did indeed kidnap a human being and hold him without consent and degrade him by forcing him to lie naked in a cage on a bed of straw and feed him raw meat on the bone. You have seen the plaintiff and you have heard him speak, but you must view this case from the initial standpoint of the zoo’s first impressions of Mr Wells.
Therefore I remind you if you find that the People have proven each of those elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you must find the defendant guilty of the crime of kidnapping in the second degree as charged by the court.
However, if on the other hand you find that the People have not proven any one or more of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt you must find the defendant not guilty of the crime of kidnapping in the second degree as charged by the court.”
As the jury accepted the judge’s statement, the judge told the court, “We will break for recess until one o’clock.”
“Court rise.” The bailiff cried and as everyone rose from their seats the judge left the court for his chambers, while the jury filed out one by one, and a hush fell over the court room.
Joe checked his watch, it was half past eleven. It didn’t leave the jury much time to eat and decide but he knew as well as anyone else that there was only one way the case could go. He’d known that all along. It didn’t alter the contradiction though. While the zoo would be found not guilty of kidnapping in the second degree because that which they captured they deemed to be animal when it came to his own trial against the families of those he had slain, Vincent would be tried as a man with a vicious trait he had little control over. He’d said as much himself this day. Joe felt sick. It reminded him of the movie’s he had seen where an alien came to earth and the governments because of their incapability to understand such a one, would kill that alien for one of two reasons. Either they felt that one to be a threat to the human race or they wanted to cut it open and examine it extensively. Seldom would they befriend that one and ask it the questions that they had been dying to know. Well whether fact or fiction, this was a similar case. The zoo had not wanted to know whether Vincent could converse with them or not and neither would society in general. His actions rather than the person he was would be highlighted and called into question, and the world would remain in ignorance of someone that they could possibly learn a lot from, but would not care one iota about such a fact.
Joe could almost hear the people cheering and ranting hang him, or it would turn into a witch hunt that he had always thought ludicrous anyway to presume innocence if the witch drowned or guilt if they did not. Well when tied to a bloody great concrete slab how the hell could they do anything but drown? And this was the way it would be with Vincent Wells. Innocent until proven guilty? No, guilty until proven guilty. It was the way of human society, but it was all wrong. Sometimes Joe wished he’d chosen another profession, there were times when the tides were very firmly set against him and nothing could turn them aside. Well he’d try, it would be hard but he’d try anyway. A mountainous task, sure, but as was the way of things, and much to Joe’s surprise the mountain was just about to come to Mohammed.
*** *** ***
Day One - p.m.
When the jury finally returned, Vincent waited in hopeful expectation though he knew not what for. In all fairness, what he had set out to achieve had been achieved and nothing else mattered. Catherine had been set free. The fact that he had proven that to society he was of human capability showed that Catherine was well in her rights to rescue and free him from the zoo, so that no blame of theft could be apportioned to her. So whether the zoo were found innocent or guilty did not really concern him. They did what they deemed to be right and correct at the time and that was that.
It was well he felt this way, for when asked if the jury had found the zoo guilty or not guilty they ruled that it could not be proven beyond all reasonable doubt that the zoo had acted incorrectly over the entrapment of Mr Wells, and so a verdict of not guilty was returned.
Most people had expected this, but what they did not expect was the judge’s final ruling. “In light of the verdict the state awards Mr Wells the sum of $200,000 for compensation by Halcyon Days Zoo and all costs incurred from the removal of the tattoo pertaining that Mr Wells is the property of Halcyon Days Zoo are to be presented to Halcyon Days Zoo within ninety days of this hearing.”
However, Vincent spoke up stunning those listening further still, “There is no need for compensation Your Honour. I have no need of money, and the zoo still have debts and a few animals to feed. I hold no grudges against the zoo for their treatment of me, only that they pay for the removal of the tattoo, and any after treatment that may be required.”
The judge nodded, “So be it Mr Wells, that is very noble of you, and may I take this opportunity of welcoming you to New York as an American citizen?”
Vincent wasn’t certain how to reply. With what was coming, being an American citizen would give him certain rights and yet legalise him to certain laws within that citizenship. As much as the judge appeared to be offering friendship Vincent wondered if, in fact, he was being primed for something to come and so, not sure how to, he did not reply. The judge chuckled, yes for a certainty this fellow was an intelligent human being and he looked forward immensely to the weeks ahead and the pending trails to come.
Naturally, Vincent did not feel the same way.
*** *** ***
“Well buddy, I wish that there was some way of getting you out of here without you being carted straight off to jail, but I don’t know of one.” Joe told Vincent as the two made their way back to where Catherine awaited them.
“I know Joe, and I want to thank you for everything that you have done. But I am aware have always been aware that this day would come, and in many respects I am relieved that it has happened. I only wish…”
“Yes, what do you wish?” Joe was intrigued, there was still so much about Vincent that he did not know.
“There are people I would wish to see before I am arrested. I may never see them again.” It grieved Vincent that some of the tunnel dwellers had been in court. He had seen the expressions on their faces and had known that if they could have they would have whisked him away to the tunnels the moment the jury returned their verdict of not guilty. Knowing that now it would start, now the real problem would be faced. And it grieved him that he hadn’t yet made peace with Father for coming out of hiding and acting on Catherine’s behalf knowing the issues that would be raised thereafter. He knew that Father had forgiven him true, but he still felt bad about it. Almost as if for all the years Father had sweated blood over him, he was now repaying him like this, as if none of it had mattered. Father loved him of that there was no doubt and what was about to occur would be breaking his heart. That and the fact that Catherine would in all likelihood take the blame.
“I think we can safely say that the moment you leave court you will be arrested. Bail, even conditional bail, is highly unlikely since you have no fixed abode unless we can find somewhere for you to reside. However, Catherine who will be called as your witness will be unable to have you stay with her. I, who act as your attorney will be unable to offer you accommodation at my home, but surely there has to be someone that you know within this city who would agree to putting you up? Although you will, I’m afraid, have to spend a few nights in prison cells, until bail can be applied for.”
“There is a man that might be able to help.” Vincent told Joe. “It is in fact Catherine’s own GP and a friend of mine. Namely Peter Alcott, I am certain he would allow me to stay at his home and being a man of authority he is unlikely to do anything as unlawful as letting me out of his sight.”
“Perhaps, but being a general practitioner he will have to leave home every day to attend surgery so you will be left much to your own devices. We have to show the court that wherever you are located you will have supervision. What about someone like Greg, the helper that introduced us? His store is adjacent to his home and there you would be with him twenty four hours a day.”
Vincent nodded, “Yes I’m certain Greg would help, but he wouldn’t have the money for bail.”
“I don’t think you need worry about that. If I know Catherine she will insist on putting that up for you, however much it is.” Joe reasoned.
“Did I hear my name mentioned?” Catherine enquired opening the door more fully as they approached. Joe ran her through his recent conversation with Vincent.
“Of course, that goes without saying.” Catherine beamed, she knew as well as Vincent that Greg might be a decoy when it came to having somewhere to stay but in actuality, Vincent would reside in the tunnels. It was the perfect opportunity.
“Well if you two are ready, we have to go outside and face the dragons now.” Joe smiled wryly.
“I’m about as ready as I’ll ever be, but if I could have a few moments alone with Catherine?” Vincent asked. Joe bowed out of the room, “Of course, sorry I should have realised. You two take all the time you need.”
“I wish that were so.” Catherine commented as Joe closed the door behind him. “I wish we could take all the time we needed. I for one wouldn’t move from this spot forever more.”
Vincent didn’t seem to hear her, he stepped forth gathered her close and told her, “Catherine, I love you, whatever comes, whatever happens know that will never alter.”
With her arms around him, Catherine held him close. Everything now, their dream, their lives hung on these next few minutes. Anything might happen. “I’ll always be here Vincent, always. And I’ll wait for you, whatever the court decides I’ll wait for you. I love you Vincent.”
A tapping at the door startled them and Joe’s voice asked, “You ready folks?”
“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.” Vincent told Catherine and opening the door the two fell into step alongside Joe, who by this time had nothing more to say, and the three walked hearts in mouths toward the main doors of the court. Once there Joe took a deep breath and in a stance that seemed to imply ‘this is it’ he opened the door leading out onto the street and as surmised was met by several police officers holding the journalists at bay.
Joe tried to shield Vincent and attempting to force his way through the crowd steered Vincent and Catherine by their elbows toward the waiting car at the curb, but his actions were halted when two police officers stepped either side of Vincent and snapping on handcuffs told him, “Vincent Wells, we are arresting you on suspicion of murder. You do not have to say anything but anything you do so will be taken down and may be used in a court of law against you.” Tears gathered in Catherine’s eyes, she had expected it but it was still a shock and she wanted to rant and rave at the injustices of it all, but knew that would do no good. From now on the dream that they’d shared took on a frightening reality and the outcome looked bleak.
“Don’t worry Cathy.” Joe tried to reassure her, “I’ll do everything I can to get him acquitted.”
Catherine wasn’t quite so optimistic. “We’ll need a miracle Joe, and then some.”
Inclined to agree, Joe said nothing, but his silence said it all, and as Vincent was led to the awaiting police car, the tears that had gathered in Catherine’s eyes started to fall like they might never stop.
*** *** ***
To be continued in part eight.