The Alpha and the Omega
Two days went by. Catherine pacing her living room for the millionth time had heard nothing from Joe, even though she had rung his number several times. The office said he was out, and on contacting the police department was told that she couldn’t see or speak with Mr Wells as he was still in custody and helping with their enquiries.
Kept in the dark, Catherine contemplated going below but chickened out. Father’s wrath was not something she needed right now. She felt she was going mad as it was, Father would only hammer another nail in that particular coffin.
Finally unable to stand the silence of her apartment any longer she donned shoes and jacket and grabbing her keys set off for the DA’s office where even if Joe wouldn’t be present she would at least find some familiar faces that would make her feel human again.
She hadn’t quite reached her car when another pulled into the parking lot that she recognised and she drew level with the driver’s side door until the engine died and the driver got out. “Joe! Where have you been?”
“No time to explain now kiddo, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.” For the first time Catherine noticed someone in the passenger seat, someone she had never before met. “Carl, this is the lady I was telling you about, Catherine Chandler. Cathy I’d like you to meet Carl Windsor.” Cautiously Catherine held out her hand and smiled wanly as some sixth sense told her that she would not like what this man had to say.
“Pleased to meet you Miss Chandler. I have wanted to meet you for some time. Please can you spare the time to talk?”
“I was just going to the office, as it happens.” Catherine told the pair, “But since you’re here perhaps you’d like to come up to my apartment.”
Joe and Carl nodded their grateful thanks, and heading back toward the elevator, Catherine led the way to her home.
Inside the apartment, Joe wasted no time, “Cathy, what we have to tell you may come as a shock. Maybe you need to sit down.”
Catherine remained standing, leaning against the dining room table, her jacket half on and off as if she was prepared for flight at any moment.
“Tell me.” She asked her eyes wide and anxious.
“Vincent told me how he was found abandoned as a baby outside St Vincent’s hospital, and that set me thinking. I started to make some low key enquiries but found that it would be more difficult than I’d supposed and I knew that it was going to be hard.”
“Run that by me again will you Joe, what would be hard?” Catherine forced a grin.
“Basically, to find the person or persons responsible for Vincent’s creation.” Joe told her and wasn’t surprised by her gasp. “I began thinking kiddo, that whomsoever was responsible for Vincent’s makeup was in effect the one to be blamed for all of this. Forgive me, but I drew that conclusion from thinking on the ownership of someone with a dog. A dangerous dog would be destroyed but its owner summonsed and fined for not taking good care of the animal to begin with. Well we couldn’t very well destroy Vincent, but we could, I thought, bring the reckless owner or creator of him to justice. Vincent does what he does, reacts how he does because of someone’s warped mind and it should be that person that ought take the blame for the things that Vincent does either by instinct or by a built in mechanism that makes him react violently when threatened, or when someone he loves is threatened.
Whatever, that’s what I had in mind at any rate but the problem of finding such a person was almost impossible until Carl here turned up. I’ll let Carl tell you what he told me.”
“Miss Chandler, this may be hard to believe but I am the husband of Mr Well’s mother.” He let that sink in, as Catherine mouth open wide gasped loudly, mainly through disbelief.
“Its true. I know it’s hard to believe but I can prove it and I am willing to stand up in court and verify this fact. My wife once subjected herself to a very stupid experiment in a bid to save the Asiatic Lion from extinction and then scared silly of the repercussions dumped her baby when she saw what he looked like. We wasn’t married back then, in fact we have only been together some twenty two years, but let me tell you Miss Chandler not a day went by in all that time that Steph, that is my wife Stephanie did not regret what she had done, both in producing such a child and dumping him out in the cold that night. But she was young, only seventeen back then and if she had not been alone, things might have been very different. If I had met her back then we might possibly have raised that child. I grew up in a household of deformities, Miss Chandler, my parents were always fostering children with various disabilities and disfigurements and it would have been nothing for me to have accepted a child that looked different to the norm. But that was not to be, however, in some small way I wish to be of assistance in any way that I can and naturally the same goes for Stephanie.”
“Your wife is alive?”
“Alive? Oh very much so. She isn’t with me now, only because she has the children to look after and both of us couldn’t afford the airfare. We live in California you see. It was difficult for me to raise the fare let alone Steph’s, and even if she could have afforded to come with me, then who would look after the children? Child minding fees are expensive and we have seven children.”
“Seven! Jeez.” Joe exclaimed and then turned beat red that he had.
“But you are missing the point Mr Windsor. Your wife will have to come when it goes to trial, as much as you wish to stand for her, it will have to come from her. Your wife will have to take the stand, there will be no other way.”
“Oh we know that. I plan to go back and Steph will come over. I’d like to be with her for support but…” he shrugged, “you know how it is.”
“Why didn’t she come by herself this time? I know you mean well Mr Windsor but this story would have been better coming from her to start with?” Catherine told him.
“We appreciated that. But Steph has only a few days to go, and couldn’t travel right now.”
Catherine and Joe drew their brows together, the question unspoken in the expression on their faces and Carl Windsor explained, “With number eight. Steph is expecting number eight any day now.”
“She’s pregnant?” Catherine exclaimed, ‘again’ beneath her breath. Carl nodded, “Yes so you see why it was impossible that she came at this stage. She will however be only too willing to come the next time, but she will have to bring the baby with her.”
“Yes that’s to be expected. But I need more than this Mr Windsor. I need to know, dates, places, weather conditions, everything of the time that your wife gave birth to Vincent, and I mean everything. And that information is not for my ears but rather for a man that has known Vincent since birth. I can arrange a meeting here at my apartment, but…” she turned to Joe, “there’s to be no cross examining the fellow alright? I’m asking Jacob Wells here for one reason only to establish authenticity of what Mr Windsor has to reveal, is that understood Joe?”
Joe wasn’t happy about that. If someone new was being brought in and by his name obviously linked to Vincent, then he’d like to cross examine him, but he nodded anyway, seldom could he deny Catherine anything she asked.
Carl promised he would make himself available any time she chose, and Catherine finally seeing the two to the door, nudged her jacket firmly back on and practically followed them out, one direction her sole intention, to the threshold, through the tunnels and onward, to Father’s chamber.
*** *** ***
Vincent’s Trial Day One - am.
“The count is Manslaughter in the First Degree. Under our law, a person is guilty of Manslaughter in the first degree when, with intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he or she causes the death of such a person or a third person.
Serious Physical Injury means impairment of a person’s physical condition which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes death or serious and protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health or protracted loss of impairment of the function of any bodily organ.
Intent mean conscious objective or purpose. Thus a person with intent to cause serious physical injury to another when that person’s conscious objective or purpose is to cause serious physical injury to another.
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 both of the following two elements:
One, that on September 25th 1989 in the county of Manhattan New York City, the defendant Vincent Wells caused the death of Martin Belmont.
And two, that the defendant did so with the intent to cause serious physical injury to Martin Belmont.” The Judge looked around the sea of faces and at the jury to his left who in turn had eyes only for Vincent where he sat next to Joe on one side of him and Catherine on the other.
“Therefore,” The judge went on, “If you People prove beyond all reasonable doubt both of these elements, you must find the defendant guilty of the crime of Manslaughter in the First Degree as charged by the court.
On the other hand, if you find that the People have not proven beyond a reasonable doubt either one or both of these elements, you must find the defendant not guilty of Manslaughter in the First Degree as charged by the court. Is that understood?”
This time he had the rapt attention of the jury, who answered in the affirmative and satisfied, he beckoned to the bailiff and whispered, who in turn motioned to Joe to call his first witness.
“I’d like to call to the stand my first witness Ms Ruby Duncan.”
There were echoes of this name outside of the courtroom as the woman was called in and within seconds, she appeared looking a trifle flustered and worried until Joe moved across the floor to greet and reassure her that she was doing the right thing, before settling her at the witness stand. After taking her vows Joe began his opening questions.
“Your name and address please?” He smiled at the woman. She was small, petite, about five one, a hundred and ten pounds, thirtyish and of Jamaican descent.
“Ruby Duncan. 1053 Rachael Boulevard, Cannes, Brooklyn.”
“Thank you Ms Duncan. Would you mind telling the court what it is you do for a living?”
Her eyes darting around the courtroom, Ms Duncan hesitated. Only Joe’s sympathetic smile gave her the courage she needed and so focusing upon him she was able to reply.
“I work for an Escort Agency.”
“Would you care to elaborate on that, for the benefit of the court Ms Duncan?”
“Yes. I provide a service for men or women that need partners to accompany them to various functions in and around Brooklyn and Manhattan.”
“Would you say this was a good job, Ms Duncan?”
She smiled, “Oh yes very. The Agency vet all clients and they pay well, not to mention the meals I get for free when wined and dined by the clients.”
“And is escorting your only service?” Joe had primed the witness on this one, and she knew exactly what he meant.
“I don’t provide sex if that’s what you mean. There are other women for that game. The Agency run a decent set up, it’s not a brothel.”
“Yet there are other Agencies that might expect this of you, is that not so Ms Duncan?”
“Would you care to enlighten the court on one such Agency where sex was expected and also tell the court who ran this establishment?”
“Yes, Mr Maxwell. I once worked for The Mayfair agency run by Martin Belmont. I was expected to entertain wealthy clients and provide a full service if it should be required.”
“And what exactly were those requirements?”
“In a word, sex.”
“And if you were to refuse?”
Ms Duncan cowered here, seemed to withdraw before everyone’s sight. Her hands started to tremble.
“In your own time Ms Duncan. Don’t worry.” Joe smiled reassuringly. When interviewing this woman she had almost gone to pieces relating her experiences with The Mayfair agency. He hoped she wouldn’t clam up now.
It took an age before she even started to speak, and the people waited with anxious expectation in silence, until at last she told the court, “We would be slashed.”
Fearfully, Ms Duncan nodded.
“Would you please explain slashed, Ms Duncan?”
She gulped, swallowing with obvious difficulty her eyes now turned fearfully toward the main gallery and not until she was certain that she knew none of the faces looking back at her did she tell the court, “Slashed is having your face shredded with a sharp knife. The idea is that every time you look into a mirror you will remember your refusal.”
The court gasped.
“Thank you Ms Duncan. No more questions.” Joe crossed to the stand and taking up Ms Duncan’s hands in his he thanked her for her testimony and prepared her for the prosecutor’s questions. He had previously warned her that the prosecutor acting on behalf of the Belmont family might not be quite so tolerant of her feelings. He was right. The moment the prosecutor walked into the centre of the courtroom he began a barrage of questioning that might have had Ms Duncan in tears had she not been ready for him.
“Ms Duncan, is that Miss or Ms?”
“You’ve been married?”
“What of your husband?”
“I divorced him.”
“Not the other way about? As I see it,” He flicked through his notes, “It was he that divorced you, Ms Duncan.”
“Ms Duncan please direct your answers in a negative or positive vein, that is be specific with a simple yes or no.” the judge admonished her.
“Sorry.” She sighed, “Yes, my husband instigated the divorce proceedings. And you may as well know cos your gonna ask anyway, he divorced me because he thought I’d had sex with the clients at Mayfair. But I didn’t. When I refused to have sex and Martin Belmont threatened me with a slash I resigned. That wasn’t the end of it however, Martin Belmont told my husband that I had had sex with clients, and he divorced me and gained custody over our children.”
“That must have made you very bitter Ms Duncan. Did you not retaliate in kind to Martin Belmont?”
“You know damn well I did! I told Patricia Belmont, Martin’s wife that he and I were lovers, but she didn’t believe me, she’s as bad as he was!”
“So how did that make you feel?”
“Make me feel! What kind of pathetic question is that? How would it make you feel? You do your best at a job that didn’t give you the greatest clientele get the sack for not sleeping with clients, get threatened with violence for refusing to have sex with clients, then lose your marriage and your children cos some bastard lies to get his revenge! How the hell do you think I feel? Let me tell you shall I? That man, Vincent Wells, is a hero in my book. Martin Belmont had it coming to him and I don’t mean maybe! This city is a better place without Martin Belmont in it I can tell you! The way he died was just retribution cos slashing was something he loved!”
The prosecutor appeared stunned, “Thank you Ms Duncan no more questions.”
Vincent groaned, that reference to the way Martin Belmont had died through slashing bringing the whole ghastly experience home to him. Ms Duncan might have meant well, but those looking at his lethal hands right at that moment were shuddering and imagining how Belmont had died. Catherine covered his hands with hers, an action that was not lost on the people in court. One by one they relaxed, perhaps the cat man wasn’t quite so bad after all, not if such a beautiful woman could touch him with such affection like that. Still the thought of how Belmont had died would not be completely erased from their minds. It was immaterial that he had threatened to do likewise to Ms Duncan. Maybe she deserved it, or maybe she was lying.
“I’d like to call my next witness Teresa Allen to the stand.” Joe told the judge and the bailiff went to call her.
Teresa Allen was much like Ms Duncan in her build and race, except she appeared more sure of herself and Joe, remembering his recent appointments with her had no qualms about asking his questions. Still he smiled to set her at ease, and she beamed back at him and looked around the sea of faces awaiting her answers. After asking her name and address Joe began, “Like Ruby Duncan you also worked at Mayfair agency is that correct?”
“Yes, from 1982 to 1983. I was an escort.”
“And like Ms Duncan you also were threatened with acts of violence if you did not have sex with clients, is that correct?”
“Yes. But I had no such reasons not to comply. Giving sex meant bigger tips and Martin Belmont increased my salary.”
“Why then did you insist on giving evidence against him? For it was you that approached me was it not when you heard I was seeking witnesses against Mr Belmont?”
“Yes that is correct. As I say sex posed no problems until Martin Belmont arranged a little party for me that I refused to attend.”
“And why was that Miss Allen?”
“Martin had arranged for eighty men to attend a party where I would be the only woman. I was to perform oral sex on each and allow them to fist me.”
“For the benefit of the court, would you describe the act of fisting?”
“It’s the degrading act of allowing a man to ball his hand into a fist and shove the entire hand into the vagina or anus. It’s painful and can do considerable damage to the body.” She replied.
People in the courtroom gasped and there were cries of disgust among them.
“And when you refused to participate what did Martin Belmont do?”
“He slashed me.”
“Leaving you to undergo extensive cosmetic surgery over a period of three years?”
“Did Belmont do this personally, or employ some other men to carry it out?”
“Oh Martin Belmont always did it himself. He got off on it.”
“Thank you Miss Allen, no further questions.”
The prosecutor came forth. Despite how he had felt toward the previous witness, he had to fight down nausea when Teresa Allen had been giving Joe her evidence. This one was close to the bone, he’d known someone personally who had died through the grotesque act of fisting and he found asking his questions a little unnerving. He had only one question to ask of the witness.
“Miss Allen did you ever take legal action against Martin Belmont?”
“Why was that?”
“Fear. That man was dangerous, would stoop to anything. This city is a better place without him in it. I cheered when I heard he’d been killed. Was the best day of my life.”
“Thank you, Miss Allen. No more questions.”
“You may step down Miss Allen, and take a seat at the back of the courtroom if you so wish. Mr Maxwell, do you have a further witness?”
“Yes Your Honour, I would like to call Philma Burrows to the stand.”
When Philma came in Joe aided her to the stand as she found walking difficult. She was an older woman, at a guess in her late fifties with salt and pepper hair that had once been the colour auburn. She weighed in the region of two hundred and sixty pounds and it was her face that had everyone’s rapt attention for around her eyes, along her cheeks, over her chin, and the double one beneath it were scores and scores of scars, some stitched at the time, some not. Joe smiled at her, told her he appreciated her attendance in court and promised that if the prosecutor gave her a hard time he would deal with him personally.
Amid the silence in court, the woman started to speak timidly in reply to Joe’s question of her name and address and then Joe asked her gently, “It goes without saying that you have been the victim of some terrible crime in your lifetime, Mrs Burrows but would you care to enlighten the court as to how this was so?”
“Yes Mr Maxwell. Well it all started when I was a lass, In 1970 I came to America from England seeking a better life but found work harder to come by than I’d been led to believe. With the risk of losing my apartment, I took on work as an escort for Mayfair Agency. It was okay. I didn’t much care for the late nights, I’ve never been one for that, but some of the clients were good company, and I made some lasting friendships. Martin Belmont, who ran the agency told me that one of the requirements of the job, was to be a sleeping partner whenever he needed one. I wasn’t certain what he meant by that and he explained that I would be required to have sex with him if he so wished it, otherwise I would not get the same wage as the other ladies were on. I refused, and received a lesser wage. It wasn’t until I’d worked there a while that I found that we were all getting the same rate, and that they had been told the same thing at their interview. Some had even agreed to sex with Belmont and were furious by this discovery. Anyway, that blew over and we all continued to work for Belmont. Everything was fine, I did what I was paid to do, and I admit there were times when I did have sex with clients, but I drew the line at a few things that were asked of me, degrading things, dirty, unnatural things. One night though Belmont approached me with the invitation of a party. He said that he had chosen me because I had been personally recommended by a client as being able to comply with anyone’s wishes no matter what they were. I was chuffed and didn’t think to ask what those recommendations were and agreed to attend the party. I thought there would be other girls there. Imagine my surprise then when I walked into a room full of men, and not just men but semi naked men at that. I remember screaming and turning on my heels to leave, but found Belmont behind me and forcing me to stay.”
“How did he force you?”
“Literally?” Joe nodded. “He dragged me back into the room, he stripped and raped me before all those men, and then beckoned them forth to do likewise. I managed to get away, men were cheering, hands were grabbing at me, some bastard fisted me in the backside as I bent to grab my clothes and I still have trouble with my bowels over that. I ran from the room and Belmont chased after me muttering obscenities and followed me down the stairs. Then he disappeared and I thought I had lost him, managed to get my clothes on, and continued running down the stairs. When I arrived at the lobby, Belmont was waiting for me. He’d used the elevator, he grabbed me, dragged me outside and beat and kicked me shouting that I had cost him a lot of money that night and would have to go back to the party or if I didn’t then I would remember that refusal every time I looked in the mirror.
Naturally, I refused. I was in pain for one thing, but I wasn’t going back to that. Not for any one. Belmont hit me again, several more times and tried dragging me back to the building, but I wouldn’t go. I started hitting out at him and I saw his hand reaching out to strike my face and in his hand there was something bright and shiny and when it touched my skin I felt the touch of ice and then hot blood running as the knife he was using on my face cut my skin again and again. Well you can see what he did. I could never afford cosmetic surgery in fact it was years before I even went out. I hid myself away and have tried to kill myself four times, as my general practitioner will verify. These days I am the leader of a support group for victims who have been physically assaulted like I was. These days I see the scars as a guarantor that I can help them come to terms with all they have endured. When I heard that Belmont was dead though I broke open the champagne, it had always been a constant worry to me that he would do that to some other woman, and she wouldn’t be able to get away from him, or worse live to tell the tale. Though having said that, more than once I wished that Belmont had killed me that day, and before you ask, it was fear that prevented me from testifying against him. If he hadn’t of been dead you wouldn’t have seen me here today. Belmont was a madman and I’ll take the fear of him to my grave.”
“Thank you for giving evidence Mrs Burrows. I have no further questions.” Joe told her.
“Mr Rawlings? Have you any questions?” The judge asked the prosecutor surprised when he shook his head, “No questions your honour.”
Joe was surprised too. Richard Rawlings was not usually one to ignore the chance of cross-examination, but he did look decidedly green around the gills. Joe wondered as to its cause then forgot about it as the judge announced, “Court will break for recess until one pm.”
“Court rise.” The bailiff announced and as everyone complied the judge made his way to his chambers. This was going to be a long case even he could see that. Martin Belmont wasn’t the only person slain by Vincent Wells there were several other cases to take into consideration before the jury could bring about their verdict of guilty or not guilty. But the judge knew that whatever more he may hear, if any of the next cases were anything like Martin Belmont, then he would feel like giving Vincent Wells a medal for doing them all a favour. In his opinion, people like Martin Belmont should be dead. In that state, they could never hurt another person ever again.
(Authors note: The information on the grotesque parties attaining to fisting and oral sex with up to eighty men present at any one time is taken from the true experience of a man invited to such a party.)
*** *** ***
To be continued in part nine.