Being able to spend time with her truelove for the first time in two weeks, Catherine turned to him now and said, “Vincent, there’s something Joe and I have to tell you. Joe’s arranged for you to spend recess with us in an interview room, come let’s follow him.”
After Carl had spoken with Father, Catherine and Joe had decided not to enlighten Vincent until the two of them could see him together, and since Catherine had not been permitted to see Vincent before the trial this had been their first opportunity.
Once in the interview room, Vincent was surprised to find not only Catherine and Joe present but Father was there also. The two embraced and tears fell down Father’s cheeks rendering him incapable of speech for a considerable length of time. “How did you manage this?” Vincent asked of Joe over Father’s shoulder.
“With great difficulty I can tell you, difficult because any person knowing you would have to give evidence. Catherine has asked me not to cross-examine Jacob Wells, and as much as I’d like to do I’ve kept that promise but I have to remain in this room with all three of you, so if there’s anything that you don’t want me to know then you’ll have to gather in that corner across there and whisper.” He told him grinning.
“Well thank you Joe, seeing my father is much appreciated.”
“Your father!” Joe exclaimed, and Vincent could have bitten his tongue off.
“Just forget you heard that Joe, please?” Catherine begged him. Joe shook his head not from refusal but because there was so much obviously hidden, and he didn’t like it but could see that it wasn’t going to help matters any. They’d stick to the plan they had derived between them and that was that. Maybe one day these people could trust him enough to let him in on their BIG secret, whatever it was.
“Okay Radcliffe but you all just be careful okay, there’s only so much a lawyer can forget.” He cautioned them.
“Thanks Joe.” Catherine told him sincerely.
“Now Vincent, if you’d like to sit down we’ll tell you what we came in here to say.” Joe told him.
Vincent looked confused, “You mean there is something? I was thinking you had used that as an excuse so that I could see Father.”
“No Vincent.” Father told him gravely, “There is something else.” Vincent didn’t like the sound of that and sat down a worried expression forming on his face.
“A couple of weeks ago a man came to see Joe,” Father began, “and told him certain things that in general only a few select people that we know would know.” Joe understood why Jacob Wells was being cagey, and he would have loved to have known who those select few might be. Father went on, “Joe took the man to see Catherine, who in turn came to see me, to have me meet with this fellow. Vincent, the man pertains to be married to a woman who claims to be your mother but we don’t think they are telling the truth.” Father hurried on with that last part before Vincent got his hopes up. “In fact Narcissa has maintained that they are lying.”
‘Who’s Narcissa?’ Joe thought.
Despite what he was hearing, Vincent grinned, “You’re believing Narcissa?”
“Well as it happens in your absence I have started to consult the old witch. You know full well I have always taken what she says with a pinch of salt, but on many occasions recently she has been spot on. I find myself consulting with her more times than I care to admit of late, and she is positive that the people claiming to be your descendants are lying, possibly for money.”
“I don’t know about this Narcissa,” Joe cut in, “But I am pretty sure that they are lying, I’ve checked out their story and there are a few things that don’t tally but since they maintain that it is so, we have decided to use their story to help have you acquitted. However, you need to be made aware of these facts, since these people will be giving evidence, and while its all very interesting will only extend the trial possibly for another week as the facts are checked by the prosecutor. I don’t have to tell you Vincent that this trial is gonna take weeks, but after tonight we are hoping to secure bail so that you can stay with Greg rather than in prison. How’s it been by the way?”
“Not too bad. I’m in solitary and they have allowed me books and candles so I’ve been able to shut much of my circumstances out.” Father and Catherine wondered how much of what he said was for their benefit. Both knew how Vincent was with cages. Still both knew that Vincent had surprised them over a few things of late the main one of all coming out and revealing himself to the world to start with. “Are you certain that these people are lying?”
“I wish we could say otherwise Vincent.” Father told him regretfully, “But it would appear that they have been talking to Mitch. Something both they implied and Narcissa said made me draw that conclusion, and Mitch would have the knowledge of your existence to impart and have the reasons for doing so. You and he have never seen eye to eye and he certainly bears a grudge. If he hadn’t been wanted by the police no doubt he would have come and given evidence himself to back their story in any way that he could. At any rate, I would stake my life that they are doing it for money. Imagine how much the papers would pay for their story when the trial is over. Other than the fact that their reasons for your creation is very weak even though it’s logical.”
“Are you going to tell me what it is?” Vincent asked.
“If you like. There’s no reason to withhold it from you.” Catherine told him. “Father?”
“Catherine’s right. Since it’s fabricated anyway and since it’ll be brought out in court you’d best know. Have we time to tell him Joe, what about lunch?”
“I’m not hungry.” Vincent told them.
“I’ll grab a sandwich.” Joe replied, “Catherine?”
“Me too, and I’ll get Vincent one.” I’m sure he will be hungry by the time Father has finished telling him. It’s going to take quite a bit of time Vincent.” Catherine told him. Vincent said nothing, as he prepared himself for whatever information Father was about to impart. “Are you ready Father?” Catherine asked.
Father nodded, “Yes. Okay then,” he added preparing himself for the tale, “this is their story…”
*** *** ***
Vincent’s Trial – Day One - p.m.
After recess, Joe with slight indigestion at having wolfed down his cheese sandwich and cup of coffee called his next witness.
“You’re name is Arnold Stabler is that correct?” He asked the elderly gentleman that had taken the stand to give evidence.
“Yes, Mr Maxwell that is correct.”
“And you are the father are you not of the deceased Carol Anne Stabler.”
“Mr Stabler as carefully as you can would you please tell the court how your daughter died. Take your time, there is no hurry.” Joe reassured the elderly man.
“My daughter was murdered by Martin Belmont.”
“Objection!” The prosecutor cried.
“Overruled.” The judge told him.
Joe went on, “Mr Stabler if you will please?”
“My daughter worked for The Mayfair Agency as an escort. She witnessed some things that worried her and Belmont threatened her if she should reveal what she knew to the police.”
“And did she?”
“No. However, Belmont carried out that threat, but not before his thugs had attacked another woman in a case of mistaken identity.”
At this stage Joe passed some photographs to the Judge who viewed them and passed them on to the jury.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Joe told the jury, “You see before you some photographs taken of my colleague Catherine Chandler, who has given her permission for you to see them this day. Miss Chandler was the woman who was mistaken for Carol Stabler, knifed, beaten and raped and left for dead in Central Park the night of April 12th 1987. The night Vincent Wells found her and nursed her back to health.”
There were various glances of disbelief in Catherine’s direction as the jury couldn’t believe that someone so beautiful was one and the same with the woman glaring out at them from the photographs.
“I know you find it hard to believe, but Miss Chandler will later testify to this act of violence and show one remaining scar. The others have been carefully removed by cosmetic surgery.” Turning back to his witness Joe asked, “Mr Stabler, what do you know of your daughter’s death?”
“I know that Miss Chandler encouraged her to testify against Martin Belmont, and that Carol was dead against it. But then she realised the truth of what Miss Chandler was saying, if someone didn’t testify then Belmont would keep getting away with assault on women. Against her better judgement, Carol agreed to testify. I’m sorry Miss Chandler but had you not have encouraged my daughter do to this, she might well be alive today.” Mr Stabler accused looking in Catherine’s direction. Catherine winced, she couldn’t deny that he was possibly right, but how could they have known that Belmont was having Carol followed?
“What happened after that?” Joe asked.
“Miss chandler arranged for Carol to stay in a safe house, but one of Belmont’s men was following, or Belmont was, we never did find out who. At any rate she was followed and before Miss Chandler could arrive later that day, Carol had been murdered.”
“Members of the jury, it will brought out later in Miss Chandler’s evidence that it was Martin Belmont that murdered Carol Stabler. Mr Stabler’s evidence does not entail this fact since he was not at the scene when it occurred. Neither having said that was Miss Chandler, but you will see that Martin Belmont himself verified the killing of Carol Stabler.”
“Yeah well you would say that, she’s your mate!” Yelled someone from the back of the courtroom.
The judge banged the gavel down onto the bench, “Silence! If you persist in this sir, you will be removed from the court.”
Turning to see who had shouted out Joe did not recognise the man, but Mr Stabler did. “That’s Robert Belmont.” He whispered, “one of the bastard’s son’s.”
“I heard that old man!” Robert Belmont yelled, and the judge signalled to the police at the rear of the courtroom to remove the fellow from the court.
When everyone had settled down again Joe went on questioning his witness, “Mr Stabler, did you never seek legal action for the death of your daughter?”
“Why was that? You know you had Miss Chandler’s solid evidence.”
“Yes I know that. But like I said earlier that isn’t much use to me. I have to blame Miss Chandler for my daughter’s death as much as Martin Belmont, surely you can understand that?”
“Yes. But Mr Stabler during our interview you told me that there was another reason why you did not seek legal action or compensation from Martin Belmont’s estate for the loss of your youngest child. Would you please tell the court what that was?”
Mr Stabler shook his head. Beneath his breath Joe cursed, Mr Stabler had been frightened of repercussions from Belmont’s family but Joe had reassured him that he was doing the right thing. Now with Robert Belmont’s outburst, Joe knew that Mr Stabler would clam up. He had his other children and grandchildren to consider. Joe just hoped that the jury would understand why Mr Stabler had suddenly refused to give evidence. He thought of highlighting the evidence himself, but thought better of it. If anything should happen to Mr Stabler’s family from anything he had revealed he’d never forgive himself. It was a shame that Mr Stabler felt unable to give evidence in this way, but Joe reasoned that his other witnesses might reveal enough information to allow the jury to see the evidence that Mr Stabler was withholding.
“Thank you Mr Stabler. I have no further questions.”
Mr Stabler was just about to take his leave of the stand when the prosecutor Richard Rawlings bid him stay, “one moment Mr Stabler, I should like to ask you some questions.”
“How well do you know the Belmont family?”
Mr Stabler seemed to look right through him. In fact, he was looking beyond him. Only he could see the evil intent upon the face of Daniel Belmont, Martin’s other son and his wife, Patricia, who glared at him willing him to remain silent. Frightened for his life and that of his family, Mr Stabler did just that. He never replied at all.
“Mr Stabler I ask you again, how well do you know the Belmont family?” Rawlings prompted a trifle wearily.
The witness shook his head. And the judge intervened. “Its alright Mr Stabler, you may stand down.”
“But…” Rawlings cried then shut up, perhaps the judge was right. They weren’t going to get anything more out of the old man, he looked terrified and for the first time Rawlings wondered about the family that he had been hired to represent.
“Do you have another witness Mr Maxwell?” the judge asked.
“Yes I do. I’d like to call Frederick Pansive to the stand.”
Moments later a tall grey haired fellow stood giving his vow on the Bible and then Joe asked his first question. “Your name is Frederick Pansive is that correct?”
“And you are the father of the deceased Clive Pansive who worked for The Mayfair Escort Agency?”
“Mr Pansive would you care to tell the court how your son died?”
“He was murdered by Martin Belmont.”
“And can you verify how that occurred and when, Mr Pansive?”
“Yes.” Mr Pansive looked upward toward the back of the court and glared at two people sat there. He’d known they would be in court, and he’d known they would try to frighten him witless, but he’d thought long and hard about his evidence and as a man dying of cancer he had nothing to lose and his only family was dead.
“My son refused to have sex with some of Belmont’s clients and Belmont had him killed.”
“Had him killed?”
“Well killed him then. Belmont always took an active role in the killings. He thrived on it. Same as those bastards up there still do!”
At this, everyone turned in their seats to view the people he referred to. Patricia Belmont shied away by letting her long hair fall over her face as she looked down, while Daniel Belmont covered his face with one hand.
The judge whispered to a police officer and then as the officer moved away he announced, “I would like to ask the Belmont family to remove themselves from this courtroom and if they refuse then to be forcibly removed by an officer. They are not to return until they are required to give evidence.”
There was much disturbance in the courtroom at this request but the two at the back of the court would not permit anyone to remove them. They stood aloof and with many threats to whomsoever stared at them in passing, they left the courtroom.
“Now,” the judge admonished the court, “Perhaps our witnesses will not be terrorised against giving evidence.” None of which was lost on the jury.
“I know this is difficult for you Mr Pansive but would you tell the court how your son died?”
“I thought I did? Oh you mean…sorry.” Looking up at the people listening to him, Mr Pansive went on, “Belmont stabbed my son forty times in a frenzied act of violence.” The last words were caught on a sob and Joe squeezed the hand of his witness, thanked him and told him he had no further questions.
“Your witness, Mr Rawlings.” The judge told the prosecutor. He shook his head, “No questions your honour.” And the judge had Mr Pansive stand down.
“I believe you have one final witness other than Miss Chandler, Mr Maxwell. Its been quite trying today has it not? I think we should just listen to the evidence of your last witness and adjourn until tomorrow at 9 am.”
“Thank you Your Honour. I should like to see how my other witnesses are faring. Some left here rather distressed.”
“I should like to call my final witness for today, Judith Wilkin.”
When Judith Wilkin took the stand she was already in tears. Joe tried to pacify her to little avail and finally he had to ask why she was so upset.
“It would have been my daughter’s birthday today.” She sobbed, “She would have been thirty five.” Tears streamed down her cheeks.
“I’m sorry Mrs Wilkin, I promise not to keep you long.” Joe told her sincerely. “Just one question then, I promise.”
Mrs Wilkin dried her eyes and nodded wanly.
“Mrs Wilking would you please tell the court how your daughter died?”
The woman started sobbing again and it was some time before she was able to reply, even so, the court anticipated her answer. “Martin Belmont killed her.” She told them bitterly, “Shirley wouldn’t do what he wanted her to do and he killed her. She would have been thirty five today.” Then she broke down sobbing her heart out.
Everyone felt for her yet it could not have been a more fitting end to the day’s trial. From what the people had heard and what they had seen that day the cards were stacked very neatly against Martin Belmont and his escort agency.
“Thank you Mrs Wilkin you may step down.” The judge told her not even bothering to ask Rawlings if he wanted to cross-examine her. Which was as well for Rawlings found he hadn’t the stomach for it, her distress was very real, and he had already heard more than enough said against the father and husband of his client’s.
“We will adjourn until tomorrow morning. What?” The judge paused as Joe reminded him of bail conditions for Mr Wells.
“Oh yes, of course. Bail has been set for Mr Wells at the sum of one hundred thousand dollars. Will that be a problem?”
Joe shook his head, “No problem Your Honour, thank you.”
The judge nodded, ‘no problem? He wished he’d said two hundred now.’ He thought as he prepared to leave the courtroom.
There was hustle and bustle as people filed out. Tomorrow was another day, but with Catherine Chandler and Vincent Wells due to give evidence, everyone was wishing that it were here already.
*** *** ***
Showering the following morning in preparation for court, Richard Rawlings contemplated the day ahead. With some clients, Rawlings had that gut feeling that told him what they said was the complete and utter truth, with others, and with some he was downright positive that they were lying through their teeth. What he had never been was wrong in any of those initial assumptions until now. He had been so sure that Belmont had been an innocent bystander slain by Wells, and was positive that he would in his capacity of a fine attorney see that justice was carried out. But after yesterday…he wasn’t sure of that anymore. It wasn’t so much the accusations that had flown between parties but the expressions crossing the faces of the Belmont family, and the threats, not so much in themselves but the vibes and the viciousness with which they were thrown. And what he had heard about Martin Belmont! How could so many people be wrong? And as much as Rawlings wanted to see the cat man Wells get what was coming to him, he found it impossible not to render him the hero that others had praised him with when he thought about the scum he had cleaned from the streets of Manhattan. Still as the prosecutor unless he refused to act on the Belmont’s behalf anymore, he was compelled to see it through. He had to help them as much as he could, because there was one thing he did know, whether it be Martin Belmont’s reputation or the life of Vincent Wells, both were innocent until proven guilty.
Several blocks away Joe Maxwell was dressing for court. He wanted to leave early, in fact there were a few other calls he needed to make first and the contact numbers were in the drawer of his desk at the office. He thought about the family from California who maintained that the woman Stephanie was Vincent’s mother. He knew that they had fabricated the story for money, but he hoped that grander things might come out of that lie if it were made public. It was a hunch but he hoped it would pay off anyway.
*** *** ***
He also thought about the witnesses he had called to the stand the day before. Ruby and Teresa knew one another, had swapped notes, but he didn’t think either of them had been exaggerating. In fact Ruby, Teresa and Philma had been the tip of the iceberg compared to the amount of people that had come forward against Martin Belmont. In fact, he had a stack of papers attaining to the fact that Patricia Belmont and her sons had followed in Martin’s footsteps quite nicely. They were heaped in several rackets, and did not draw the line at prostitution and drug trafficking. But those cases would have to wait till some future date, for now was not the time.
He also thought about Catherine and Vincent and their relationship and wondered just how deeply involved the two were. And he wondered about the man Jacob Wells and how he fitted into it all, and whether or not the story of Vincent being driven into the city by someone else did in fact ring true. He doubted it, but decided to accept it, as it was immaterial to the case where Vincent actually resided. Chances were only a miracle would allow him to ever go back there. Unless? There was a slight possibility that the jury would return a verdict of justifiable homicide and Vincent would get off possibly with a hefty fine that Catherine would pay. But…and this was a very big but…it didn’t excuse the fact that in order to be on the spot whenever Catherine needed him, Catherine would have had to notify him by cell phone. And that in turn would bring about the verdict of intentional manslaughter or murder simply because Vincent would have been made aware that Catherine needed him in the capacity of defender and bodyguard. Although in the capacity of bodyguard Vincent might well get away with it, but only if he could establish that he literally accompanied Catherine wherever she went, which of course he couldn’t because he never went out in daylight. So, that shot that possibility to bits.
It was going to be tricky all round, and Joe wondered how the present day’s trial would go for the pair. Though it might be that they would not have their chance at taking the witness stand until the morrow, since Richard Rawlings was due to interview the Belmont family this day.
Joe didn’t fancy his chances there. Anyone could see that that family were the scum of the earth, Rawlings would be blind if he hadn’t twigged that by now. Either that or they were paying him over the odds to keep it sweet. Whatever, Joe was glad he wasn’t in his shoes. Might even be a dangerous position to be in, especially if he lost them the case. Joe shrugged oh well it wouldn’t be the first time someone had pulled the wool over the eyes of an attorney, still in his line of business one usually got a gut feeling about a person before they agreed to represent them. Still Joe knew that some crooks were just too good at deception. There was a time or two when he had been fooled into believing in someone and he was sure that after yesterday Rawlings must have had his eyes opened as to what his clients were really like.
Well, he couldn’t worry about that now, in fact he didn’t need to worry about it at all, Rawlings was a good attorney but they had crossed swords before and there was no love lost between them. What he did, or thought or whom he represented was up to him, and Joe didn’t really care since he had his own problems to worry about. And at the top of his list? Joe grinned, well let’s just say he was riding that hunch pretty high this day and all it depended on now was a certain someone from a certain someplace reading tomorrow’s edition of their local rag and being inquisitive or angry enough to act upon it. Joe crossed his fingers, hell he hoped it would flush someone out of hiding anyway. It might be all that they’d have to acquit Vincent Wells. But then Joe didn’t know about the Bond…yet.
To be continued in part ten.