Needless to say, the case was thrown out of court and Benton walked away, smiling at the officers as he buttoned his Stuart Hughes Diamond Edition jacket.
Parker had already told him to make plans to go to his own private island to rest and recuperate after his “ordeal,” and assured him that he would travel safely. His journey was going to be safe but Parker Patterson’s was not. The father of the murdered little boy, a former Navy Seal, walked up the steps of the courthouse and plunged an SOCP Knife into Parker’s chest. He knew exactly where to strike a fatal blow.
My hatred for her had never waned, and for a split second I wanted to yell, “how does it fucking feel? How does it fucking feel to be gutted?” But I didn’t.
Horror and disbelief was all anyone felt for a few seconds. Before an officer could get the knife away from the boys’ father, he slit his own throat. He lay dead just feet away from Parker. I leaned over and held her head as she lay dying. I didn’t know if she remembered metaphorically castrating me all those years ago, but the hatred I had always felt toward her subsided a bit when she asked me to take her hand.
As I held it, she asked me to come closer. I wasn’t staring into the face of Charles Manson anymore. I was staring into the face of a dying woman, for whom I suddenly felt compassion.
I put my ear close to her mouth, and with her last breath, she whispered, “tattoo.”
“Tattoo? What did that mean? Why would her last word be tattoo?” For a split second, I called my hearing into question, thinking that maybe she had said fuck you, but I knew what I heard. She clearly said, “tattoo.”
There was a pretty good possibility that the ex-Navy Seal had a tattoo. Was she trying to let me know that he was the one who killed her? That didn’t make any sense because there had to be at least twenty or thirty people who witnessed her death, and from what I could recall in my state of shock, he had no visible tattoos. As they were taking her away, it occurred to me that possibly she had a pet named Tattoo, and wanted to make sure that someone knew.
The proper paperwork as far as search warrants for her home and car were in order, and I made sure they were done correctly. Not that it made any difference. It wasn’t like we were looking for evidence of a murder, or there was a possibility of Parker Patterson taking issue with our efforts.
I, along with one of the other partners and two seasoned detectives arrived at her residence. I was expecting all the accouterments she had so richly described when the woman asked her how she slept at night, but I would be surprised.
As we walked through the house, I remembered the first time she absolutely crushed me, and the smug look on her face when she handed me the “Understanding the Law for Dummies” book. It infuriated me then but the truth is, I actually read the book, and it still sits on one of my shelves. What sat on her shelves was a different matter.
There were no figurines, no pictures, no books, no Rembrandt paintings, no Fabergé Eggs, and no 24k gold sheets. She lived modestly and by that I mean, you would have almost thought an ordinary middle class person lived there. It was neat and tidy, but nothing extraordinary.
We couldn’t find any pets, nor did we uncover anything that made any reference to someone named “Tattoo.” There were no cards or letters anywhere. It was almost like being in a hotel room. There was nothing personal.
We forced open her file cabinet and it revealed very well kept records as well as a sealed envelope addressed to Morgan Ayers Harville, Esquire. I looked at my partner and asked if he had ever heard of the guy. He said, “hmm. I haven’t but if he’s an attorney in this state, it will be real easy to find him. If he’s in another state, it might take a few minutes.”
I took the letter and began my search. I handed it off to my newly appointed clerk, who after a couple of hours, knocked on my office door. She smiled and said, “I found Mr. Harville.”
She stood there like a statue so I finally looked at her and rather abruptly said, “okay. Are you going to tell me?” I thought I might have angered her with my flip answer, but she smiled and said, “he’s listed in The Chamber’s Legal Library.”
I said, “are you fucking serious? The Chamber’s Legal Library? Do you know how hard it is to get listed there? WOW.” Obviously she didn’t know, and I think my curse word flew straight over the top of her coiffed hair, that covered a brainless skull.
After I collected myself, I said, “alright. Get him on the phone. Tell him it’s in reference to Parker Carolina Patterson. Maybe he’ll take the call.”
Later that afternoon, Mr. Harville and I were on the phone. I introduced myself and told him the reason for my call. There was a pause before he responded with a broken, “I’m sorry to hear that.” I waited for him to say something else but he was quiet. I was wondering if he was crying. Finally he said, “I’ll take care of it. Her final wishes were pretty straight forward, and I’ll be on the next flight out.”
He asked how it happened. I told him, and honestly, any other time I would have probably concluded my account with, “and she got exactly what she deserved.” Hearing of her death seemed to hit him hard, and I wondered if they had a special relationship that went beyond the bounds of friendship. I woke myself up with a pretend slap to my face and said, “not unless he’s as big an asshole as she was.”
I wondered, “did this man know her at all?” If he did, he couldn’t possibly be sad about her death. She was considered to be the devil incarnate, pure poison, and it was my opinion that she had dodged a bullet…or a knife…more than once. Still, we all have our own opinions.
I picked him up at the airport and considering where he was “listed” and the reputation that accompanies that list, he seemed to be just an ordinary man. No flash. No pretense. No query about the lack of a limousine for transportation. He seemed to be a lot like Parker. No muss, no fuss.
He gave me instructions about her wishes, asked that I have them carried out immediately, and said we would meet the next morning. There was a sadness about him, and he was clearly not in the mood for mundane chit-chat when I asked how well he knew Parker. Without even looking at me, he said, “I’m not going to answer that.”
I was thinking, “well, excuse the fuck out of me.”
To be continued___________________________