And Justice For All – Chapter Ten

I was in a complete fog.  I found myself looking along the side of the road for some evil, satanic, red-hued man with horns and a bifurcated tail.  I took turns looking for said man, and glancing at that blue folder that lay innocuously on the front seat.  But was it really innocuous, or would I literally be releasing the hounds of hell as soon as I opened it?

In my head, I found myself mimicking Brad Pitt in the movie “Se7en,” as he emphatically and fearfully screamed, “what’s in the box?  What’s in the box? What’s in the fucking box?”

I was reasonably sure that Gwyneth Paltrow’s head wasn’t inside that folder, unless of course it had been run through some huge hydraulic press.  For a split second, I wondered, “shit!  I wonder if Parker Patterson’s head is in that folder?”

It’s amazing what those little psychotic neurons in your brain will insinuate into your mind when you’re unsure of just about any and every little thing.

My sanity returned (I think) and I convinced myself that there was no head in the folder.  I didn’t have a clue what was in there, nor did I have a clue what I had gotten myself into.  I also knew that I had given a solemn oath, and now that I was alone with the folder, I was beginning to have second thoughts.

I was worried.  I was kind of scared.  Could I keep my word?  Would I keep my word? Would this be the first time I betrayed my lifelong commitment to honor…the very thing on which my reputation was based?  Harvilles’ words echoed in my head like a gunshot bouncing off the walls of a deep canyon. “Great tragedy can befall a man who breaks his word.” Why didn’t he just say, “it doesn’t matter what you do…you’re fucked.”

I stared at the folder almost like it was a living thing.  I had trepidation, anticipation, curiosity, dread, fear and I admit, a little excitement.  It seemed to have an almost mystic quality, like it was going to either give me transcendental power, or quite possibly kill me.

The answers to most of my questions were in this folder, according to Harville. I sat down, took a deep breath and reached for the folder.  I almost wished I had one of those fine Gurkha Her Majesty’s Reserve cigars, if for no other reason than to have something to chew on other than my fingernails; either that or light it and use it to set fire to the folder.

I opened it, and the first thing I saw was an envelope with my name neatly written on the front. I literally moaned aloud, “shit.  What’s in the envelope?  What’s in the envelope?  What’s in the fucking envelope? Instructions? Demands?  The Grim Reaper? Dynamite? White powder?”

After my initial shock and a few minutes of reservation, I reached for my letter opener, unsure of whether to use it to carefully slice along the top of the envelope, skillfully slit my wrists, or prepare to stab whatever crawled out until it lay there screaming for mercy.

It was time to put on my big boy panties again.

I opened it.

I was wondering if this was some cruel joke, and all I would find was a condensed version of “Understanding the Law for Dummies,” but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I wiped my eyes and checked my pulse to see if my heart was still actually beating.

I was shaking my head as I looked at a check made out to me in the amount of FIVE million dollars. Attached was a note, containing very specific instructions that I was to open my own law firm.  An account had been established in my name and “funds” would immediately be made available for expenses.  The amount would be known as soon as I set up a “password.”  What the hell?

Word balloons were floating over my head as I thought, “what attorney doesn’t lust after having his or her own firm along with the funds for the practice?  No more groveling and putting up with incompetent, empty-headed clerks.  No more ass kissing, hoping to be made a senior partner.  No more being known as Mr. 2 or 3 or 4.”

Harville may have had to do that at one time, but he didn’t now.  He was what they used to call “shittin’ in high cotton and fartin’ through silk.”  He had his maid and his butler and his chef and his chauffeur, not to mention the grand estate on ‘hundreds’ of acres of land.

Was I going to become him?  Did I want to?  I believe he had done well for the Pattersons, and I felt he had done the same for Parker.  Aside from my jealous, “pretend hatred” for him, I truthfully believed he was an honorable man, but I had this disturbing feeling.  Had I unknowingly, as I said, made a deal with Beelzebub himself, or I had just accepted a suicide mission?

I went through the folder, visiting each and every case Parker Patterson had won.  I recalled how twice, she had stomped on my ego, and made me look like a pathetic bird-brain, limping out of the courtroom. I also remembered how much I despised her.

I kept asking myself.  “Why me?  What could she have possibly seen in me that had made her choose me as her successor?”  Choosing me made no sense. We had barely exchanged ten words between us during all those years, and they had not been pleasant by any means.

There were several “sub-parts” to the folder.  One part contained handwritten notes by Parker, which I found odd.  Why didn’t she use a computer?  Could it be that because once it’s out in cyberspace, it’s out there forever?  Was there something she didn’t want anyone to know?  So many questions.  I decided that I would scrutinize them later.

Another part contained the names of the defendants, whose freedom and “protection” had been so masterfully arranged.  I found it curious that their names were coupled with “latitude and longitude” coordinates.  No new identities, addresses or employment records were attached.  There weren’t even any pages where that information had been redacted.

“Hmm.  That’s strange, I thought.”  I knew about witness protection, and I knew that it was kept secret from the general population, but the arranging officers or departments were privy to that information, and there was always a record somewhere.

The last part of the folder was a sort of “accounts payable” spreadsheet.  It went back twenty years and the first entry was a name that I didn’t recognize.  Underneath the name was “Jackson Alton Benson.” For some reason, that name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite recall why.

I carefully followed the line across the top name, and gasped when I saw the amount “paid.”  It was a cool one million dollars.

The next entry was also a name I didn’t recognize, and the scenario was the same.  I halfheartedly scanned through the names, and the last one caught my eye.

The name was a Mrs. Cumberbatch.  Underneath her name was “Bernard Copley.”  Even after twenty years, I knew that name well.  It was the case that first introduced me to the famous Parker Carolina Patterson.  It was the case “she won.”  It was the case that made me start despising her, not because she won, but because she had made me look ridiculous.  Not only that, but she had made a mockery of the judicial system, and the coup des grace was arranging protection for that horrible excuse for a human being.

The records indicated that Mrs. Cumberbatch was Evelyn Copley’s mother.  She had received one million dollars every year for the last twenty years.  Wow.  I was on to something here, but I wasn’t exactly sure what.

A quick call to Harville went unanswered of course, so after ordering a pie from the local Pizza Hut, I settled down to have another look at the papers.

I wasn’t prepared for what I was going to see.

To be continued_________________________________

And Justice For All – Chapter Nine

“Parker seemed to be comfortable here, but she always walked with her back to the wall, almost scooting along with her hands out as if trying to feel for a doorway or an opening of some kind.  When she walked up or down the stairs, she walked sideways, with her back to the wall.”

“She spent almost all of her time in this library.  Since she refused to speak, I wasn’t sure she could remember how to read, but I would later be assured. I would lay odds that she read every single book in here.  It was like she was trying to satisfy a long ago forgotten voracious appetite for the written word.”  He motioned toward the corner and said, “she always sat in that chair, with her back to the wall.”

Harvilles’ eyes teared a bit when he said, “I once saw her standing in front of my piano, and wondered if it triggered anything.  I told her there was music in the seat, if she’d like to play something. I walked away, hoping, but I never saw her look at it again.”

“I would talk to her just like I would talk to anyone, but I never again asked if she remembered me.  I never asked if she remembered her parents.  I never told her what happened to them, nor did I ever ask what happened to her.  You know, I didn’t care if all I got was silence.  I knew she listened because she would make eye contact, and a few times she looked at me like she wanted to ask me a question…but she never did.”

“Then, after a year, she finally spoke.”

I was spellbound and patiently waited until he continued.  He was drawing circles on the top of his desk with his finger, like he was trying to find his words…maybe words that he didn’t want to say.  Maybe he was having thoughts that he didn’t want to have, or didn’t want to revisit.  I didn’t know what he was going to say, but I could tell that it was going to be painful for him.

He took a deep breath and said, “I remember that day like it was yesterday. Parker walked into the library and said, ‘I want to learn everything there is to know about the law’.”  She acted like there had been no silence for the entire year she had been here, and I found that a bit troubling.”

“I had to resist my inclination to ask questions about the past, or why she suddenly wanted to talk, so I played along and asked her what kind of law she wanted to study.”  

“With absolutely no hesitation, she said, ‘criminal law.’  I want to know every trick of the trade, be it legal, illegal, moral, immoral, aboveboard, underhanded, walking through the front door, sneaking through the back door, full disclosure, don’t ask, don’t tell, under the rug, clean and crisp, or down and dirty’.”

He said, “I was a little taken aback, but I asked her why, and her answer made my blood run cold.”

I knew I was going to risk being chastised when I asked, “what did she say?”

Harville had expertise when it came to deflection. After my question, he said, “I told you that she was a child prodigy, right?”  I told him that he had mentioned it.  “Well, you can also safely bet that she didn’t have any sort of education for the ten years she was gone, so that posed a problem.” He hesitated and said, “well, in a way.”

I immediately asked how she was able to get licensed with the Bar.  I knew a degree was necessary, and how many years it required, and of course, so did he.  He looked at me and said, “there are some things you will not know. That is one of them. You will not know what happened to her during those years she was gone, and you will never know the answer to your prior question.”

I was flummoxed. I would NEVER know the answer to my question? I didn’t work that way. Like Parker, I wanted full disclosure, but that “don’t ask, don’t tell” crap didn’t sit well with me. I wanted to know the words that made Harvilles’ blood run cold.

That particular conversation was obviously over when he suddenly turned his chair around, and completely out of left field said, “this is a beautiful estate, don’t you think?”  I nodded.  “I own hundreds of acres,” he said.  “Hundreds.  I can’t tell you how many times I used to show Parker around on one of my golf carts.  She was such a bright little thing.  She wanted to know the kind of every tree that stood on the property, and the name of every flower that bloomed in the spring.”

I watched as he seemed to be immersed in nostalgia.

Turning his chair back around, he picked up the thick folder and as he tossed it to me said, “you have questions about Parker.  You want to know about her.  You didn’t understand her.  You hated her.  You didn’t know why or how she could and would defend the lowest of the low.  You will find the answers to most of your questions in here, but there is a caveat.”

“Once you read it, there will be demands and requirements, and most importantly, there will be a code of silence.  Those demands and requirements cannot be refused, but there will be rich rewards.  Do you understand?’

I hesitated a bit.  Harville stood up and said, “have you not wondered why you are sitting here?” I had to admit that I hadn’t. I was sure that it wasn’t because he so thoroughly enjoyed my company, or found my intelligence to be quite challenging.  

He said, “do you think it was an accident?  Do you really think a seasoned attorney like me would be so silly as to not only leave an autopsy report behind, but request the return of an unimportant one? There was a reason you were contacted.  That’s why I gave you instructions to contact me when you figured it out, remember?”

I sat in silence.  I really didn’t know what to say.  He looked at me and said, “you were chosen.”

“Chosen?” I asked with bewilderment.  “Chosen by whom?”

“By Parker,” he said.  “She left specific instructions that should something happen to her, you were to be contacted. You may not know why, but it will become clear in time. So what do you say? Are you in?”

I needed to know more.  I couldn’t just arbitrarily give him an answer.  Trying to sound authoritative, I said, “I need more information.” With a look that made a chill run down my spine, he replied, ‘well, you’re not going to get it’.”

I finally gave a weak “okay.”  Harville read me like a cheap novel, and didn’t seem to appreciate what he perceived to be uncertainty.  “This is no time for a flip, half-assed, insincere agreement.  You have to be dead sure,” he said. “You have a choice of whether to read what’s inside, or leave it here.  Once you have read it, there will be no turning back. Your life will be forever changed, and you must be prepared for that.”

I told him that I understood.  Harville looked at me and asked, “do I have your word?”

I’d been known to stretch the truth a little, or skirt around it when necessary, but when I gave my word, the torture had never invented that could make me break it.  My word was my bond and it was written in stone.

He shook my hand and gave me the folder.  He held onto my hand and looked me square in the eyes as he said, “great tragedy can befall a man who breaks his word.”

As I was walking out, I thought I could hear my knees knocking.  I stopped at the door, turned and said, “you didn’t mention the tattoo.”

He looked at me and said, “you’re right.  I didn’t.”

As I was walking back to my car, I couldn’t help but wonder. “Had I just sold my soul to the Devil?”

To be continued____________________________

And Justice For All – Chapter Eight

HIs voice almost cracked as he said, “when Parker was five years old, she was kidnapped.  After a frantic search, ransom demands were sent to Mr. Patterson, a day and a half later.  The sine que non was ten million dollars for her safe return.”

“They consulted me of course, and asked me to get the money together.  I urged them to follow the FBI’s protocol, which was to not pay the ransom. I reminded them that after 48 hours the victim rarely survived, and it had already been 36, but they were determined.”

Against the FBI’s advice and mine, they agreed to pay the ransom. Arrangements were made for the trade, but the FBI had placed cut-up pieces of paper in the bag in lieu of actual cash.  The kidnappers were being watched, and they knew they were being watched. The FBI agents were not aware that the kidnappers had set an elaborate trap. After they noticed they had been scammed, they opened fire, killed the agents and escaped.”

“There was one more phone call to Mr. Patterson, and that was to tell him that he had ‘fucked with the wrong people’.  He never got another call and two weeks later, their house burned to the ground.  When the fire was put out, his and his wifes’ charred bodies were found, and it was obvious that they had been tortured.”

“No one could figure out how the killers gained access through the Pattersons’ tight security.  One agent suggested that Parker may have been used as a means of gaining entrance.  If that was true, it would never be known.  If she had witnessed their torture, it would also never be known. All of the security cameras and videos were destroyed in the fire.”

“Not having been returned, everyone assumed that she was dead.  She was ‘buried’ alongside her parents.  I was her Godfather, and the Patterson’s last wishes stated that their entire fortune would go to Parker, but would remain in my possession until she reached the age of 25.”

As I listened, I was mesmerized and had a bazillion questions, but I just sat and waited for the “next chapter.”

“Even though we buried Parker and her parents, I could never shake the feeling that she might still be alive,” he said. “We always had a special connection, and I just didn’t feel that it had been ‘broken’ for some reason. You know how sometimes you just feel something in your gut?  I never gave up hope that some day, she would come skipping down the hall and into my library.”

I didn’t care if I made him mad by speaking out of turn when I said, “obviously, she survived.”

He didn’t react in the hostile way I expected when he said, “well, there’s surviving and then there’s surviving.  Yes, she survived in that she was still breathing.  The kidnappers kept her, but they had not kept her as a toy or a child of their own.”

“When she was fifteen, she managed to escape.  A farmer found her running along a road out in the country and called the police.  They weren’t quite sure what to make of the situation, but they took her to the station.  There, officers tried to talk to her, both male and female but she wouldn’t say a word.  She just sat in the corner with her head resting on her knees.”

“A sharp-eyed old-timer remembered seeing a missing child flyer from ten years earlier.  Using the process of age-progression, a rendering of what Parker Patterson might look like at fifteen years old, revealed a dead-on match and a little digging into the past revealed my name.”

“I’ll never forget the day that phone rang.” he said.

Harville glanced at his telephone and said, “that call changed my life forever.  Officer McDowell was on the phone and told me that he was sure Parker Patterson was in his interrogation room.  My first reaction was of course to completely dismiss him, but he was adamant.”

Officer McDowell said, “according to what we can determine, you are her Godfather.  Is that correct?” Harville said, “I don’t think I even answered.  I called my driver, Porter and told him that we were going to the police station.  I wasn’t sure what I would find.  I had always believed, or wanted to believe, that Parker was still alive, and part of me wanted to shout with joy, but the other part of me was thinking, ‘this could just be a cruel joke’.”

“When I walked into the room, I immediately knew that it was her.  She looked up and for a few seconds, I wondered if she remembered me.  She held her gaze, but didn’t even offer a twitch as far as recognition.  I walked over, bent down and asked if she knew who I was.”

“She didn’t respond.  I offered my hand but she didn’t take it.  I told her that I was her Godfather and guardian and I would be taking care of her.”

“A victim’s advocate had tried to talk to her but again, no response.  Since I was to essentially take custody of her, the advocate and I agreed that she should be taken to the hospital for a thorough check-up.”

“Parker didn’t resist any of our efforts.  She got up and walked with us to the car.  On the way to the hospital, I told her who she was. She didn’t even blink.  I told her that a doctor was going to do a minor check-up, just to make sure she was alright.”

“I remember thinking, of course she wasn’t alright.  Who knew what hell she had been through during the last ten years?  I certainly didn’t and she wasn’t talking.”

“Dr. Trask came up and introduced himself.  I told him who she was, what had happened to her, and how long she had been gone.  He shook his head and said, ‘I remember that kidnapping.  Well, let’s have a look’.”

“After what seemed like forever, Dr. Trask came out to talk to us.  He said, ‘well, she wouldn’t let me touch her but she did allow us to take x-rays’.”

“He said, ‘the x-rays showed nothing, but I can only imagine what kind of mental and psychological damage has been done. And of course, she is a bit malnourished. We couldn’t get her to talk, which makes me wonder if maybe she has forgotten how.  Ten years is a long time and being so young, it’s possible she’s forgotten, especially if no one was talking to her.  Captivity and abuse can do things to you’.”

Harville said he asked Dr. Trask what he would recommend.  He said, “I would just try to make her feel as safe as you can, and see what happens. You know of course, about Stockholm’s syndrome.  She may try to bolt and go back to the person or persons who held her captive, or she may not.”

Harville paused long enough for me to ask him if he remembered how he felt the first time he saw her.  Big mistake. “You astound me.” he said.  “How am I supposed to answer a stupid question like that?”  

Once again, I apologized and said something lame like, “I’m sorry.  I just can’t imagine.”  He glared at me and said, “of course you can’t imagine unless you have been in that situation.”

Then he said, “can I continue or do you have any more asinine questions?”  Embarrassed, I asked him to please continue.

“I brought her here and showed her where she would be staying.  I asked if maybe she would like to go shopping for some new clothes, but she never answered.”

“I don’t know how long she had been wearing the clothes she had on when she was found, but it took my maid, Maria a while to let her at least wash them.  After a few weeks, Parker seemed to warm to Maria, and would wear the clothes she bought for her. She never thanked her, but Maria said sometimes her eyes would light up when she came into her room with some new clothes.”

“Maria tried to hug her once, and Parker recoiled.  Even though it was apparent that she was touched starved, she seemed to be repulsed by the very thought of an embrace.”

To be continued__________________

And Justice For All – Chapter Seven

I politely declined once again, and he said, “very well.  Mr. Harville will be with you shortly.”  I spent a few minutes, fantasizing about what his life must be like.  Butlers, maids, chauffeurs, limousines, and it was a given that he had his own chef.  Yep. I hated him.

Don’t misunderstand.  I lived comfortably.  I had a nice home, drove a nice car and had money in the bank, but I had started at the bottom and clawed my way to the top.  Being there, it seemed like my top was almost like his rock bottom.  I really hated him.

He finally came into the room and at that very instant, I realized that I had forgotten to bring the autopsy report.  I was hosed.  He shook my hand and told me to sit.  He got comfortable in his overstuffed leather chair behind his, what I was sure had to be a hand crafted desk. As he glared at me, I sheepishly admitted that I had forgotten the report.

“I don’t give a shit about that report,” he said.  “You think I needed to see that report?”  I shrugged and asked why he had requested that I get it and send it to him.  “You’re the one who needed to see that report,” he scowled.

I was at a loss.  I didn’t have a clue what to do or say next.  He obviously thought I knew what the hell he was talking about.

He opened a drawer and pulled out a rather thick folder.  He plopped it down on his desk and said, “look through this.”

“What is it?” I asked.  He acted a little perturbed and said, “I don’t like to give instructions twice, and I don’t like to repeat myself.  Understood?”  I nodded, I think.

“Now, ” he said.  “Before you do that, let’s talk about Parker.” I managed a meek “okay.”  

Harville said, “she was a piece of work, wasn’t she?”  I nodded in agreement, and he smiled when he said, “I understand she spanked your bottom a few times.” I could feel my face flush as I tried unsuccessfully to attribute the “butt kicking” to my youthful inexperience, but I knew Harville wasn’t buying it.

“She sent quite a few of you crying home to your mamas, didn’t she?”  I began my defense but he quickly dismissed me by saying, “save it.  I want to tell you a little about Parker Patterson, but first, I want you to tell me what you really thought of her, and you can be honest.”

I put on my big boy panties and said, “okay.  I thought she was a fucking bitch and I despised her.  I never could understand how she could so vehemently defend people who were lower than pond scum, and not only that, but get them protection.  Protection!  Like they actually had some kind of value to society.  Like they were somehow entitled to special treatment after they had raped, murdered and destroyed people’s lives.  I’ll be honest with you.  More than once, I wished the gates of hell would open and suck her insider.”

I felt ashamed after my rant and tried to temper it with the stupid statement, “but I’m sorry that she was killed.  She didn’t deserve to die that way.”

Harville looked amused when he said, “that was a pretty visceral response.  Were you in love with her?”

“No!” I proclaimed rather loudly, “but I will say that I admired her and envied her ability to win every single time.  Every single time!  She always found a loop-hole or a mistake or some way to make the rest of us look like rank amateurs. But I will admit that she was drop dead gorgeous.” I don’t know where that statement came from. Maybe I was trying to appease Harville, or maybe I was trying to deflect my idiocy, hoping he wouldn’t notice.

I tested the waters when I flippantly said, “tell me.  Were you in love with her?”

That question seemed to anger him at first.  He looked down and there was obvious pain in his voice when he said, “yes. I did, but I didn’t love her in the way you are implying.”  His reply was genuine and I felt like a cad because I could see the anguish in his face.

Still wearing my big boy panties, I switched gears and took charge.  “Okay. Tell me about Parker Carolina Patterson.”

He leaned back in his big, impressive chair and began.  “Parker Patterson was a high-born.  Do you know what that means?”  I stopped just short of saying, “I know I have acted like an imbecile at times, but yes, I do know what it means to be high-born.”

“Well,” he went on.  “Her father invented a little gadget that nobody knew they needed until he convinced them that they did.  He patented it, marketed it and became a multi-billionaire.  That’s billionaire with a B,” he said.

“Parker was an only child, and not only was she the apple of her parents’ eyes, she was a child prodigy. She was reading at three years old and actually read “War and Peace” when she was four.  She was a brilliant pianist, and I remember seeing her sitting in front of that huge Steinway grand piano with her little fingers flying over those keys like a bumblebee in a garden of flowers.”

I interrupted him and said, “you knew her when she was a little girl?”  By the look on his face, I could tell that he had stopped just short of asking me if I was a ninnyhammer.  He shook his head and said, “how else would I know these things?”  He looked sternly at me and said, “don’t interrupt me again.  It is not appreciated.”

After I apologized, he continued.  “I was the Patterson’s attorney. They were my only clients.  As you can tell, they paid me quite handsomely, and in return, I was totally devoted to them.”

“They were as honest as the day was long and never asked me to hide assets or misrepresent their wealth in any way.  They were very unassuming and gracious about their wealth and position, and that’s a rare trait.”

“They were very generous to charities as well.  If they saw homeless veterans, they would put them up for weeks and sometimes months, help them find jobs and places to live.  They would open their home on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  They didn’t care if you wandered in off the street or were another ‘blue blood’ who had been invited.”

“Parker met each one at the front door and handed them a gift and a card.  They were living the perfect American dream.” He hesitated for a minute and said, “then, one day…”

His thoughts seemed to drift, but I had been warned not to interrupt so I didn’t dare.

He buzzed for the butler.  “Mr. Winslow, would you please bring us a light lunch and some coffee?  We’ll have it out on the veranda.”

Mr. Winslow, acting every bit as prim and proper as Mr. Carson on Downton Abbey said, “of course, sir.  Right away.”  It was clear that we were going to eat lunch before the conversation continued.

We were served a scrumptious salad made of baby spinach leaves, topped with strawberries and almond slivers.  That was followed by Jerk Salmon with a hefty helping of Couscous.  Although out of my realm of the casual breaking of bread, I imagined that Mr. Harville dined that way every day, served by said prim and proper butler.  I really, really hated him.

We finished our meal and went back to the library, where he surprised me when he pulled out a box of cigars from Gurkha Her Majesty’s Reserve, which he boasted cost $15,000 a box.  The number 38 was stenciled on the box and I wondered if that was an indication of just how many boxes he owned, or how many cigars the box held.  I didn’t ask and although I didn’t smoke, I graciously accepted, and hoped that I didn’t make a fool of myself by coughing up a lung while trying to pretend that I knew what I was doing.

Once again, he leaned back in his chair that I was sure cost twice as much as that box of cigars, took a few puffs and began.

To be continued______________________

And Justice For All – Chapter Six

“And Justice For All.”

What the hell did that mean?  I didn’t know, but I was damn sure going to find out.  I told the coroner that I had changed my mind. I would take the report.

Harville’s words were once again knocking on my brain.  “Call me when you figure it out.”  I hadn’t figured anything out but I was hell-bent on finding out what those words meant, and how they tied into Parker’s last word.  I also knew that Harville was the only person who could help me.

I flew into my office and told my clerk to get Harville on the phone.  “What should I say?” she asked.  I had to hold my tongue while I was thinking, “you are dumber than a bag of hammers, aren’t you?”  I collected myself and calmly asked her to just make the call.

A few minutes later, she knocked on my door and said, “there was no answer.”  I shook my head.  I knew what the answer to my next question was going to be, but I asked anyway.  “Did you leave a message?”

“No,” she said.  “You didn’t ask me to.”  For a second, I thought I was going to go into orbit and stroke out.  I envisioned snapping her useless head off and using it as a bowling ball, but on second thought, hollow bowling balls won’t knock down many, if any, pins.

This gal had been hired because she was the niece of one of the partners. How I got strapped with her, I have no idea, but she sure wasn’t office material.  It was like trying to get a first grader to give a soliloquy on the meaning of life.  I was sure I was being punished for some reason…maybe for forgetting search warrants.

I emphasized every single word as I said, “call him back and if he doesn’t answer, leave a message and that message should be that I would like for him to return my call at his earliest convenience.  Do you think you can handle that?”

She smiled and gave me a cutesy, “of course.”  I’m not sure she was even bright enough to understand when she was being insulted, but I didn’t care.  I just wanted to talk to Harville.

I didn’t know what I was going to say, if he called back.  I hadn’t “figured” anything out but I did believe that there was a connection between the word “tattoo” and the actual tattooed words “and justice for all.” What was she trying to tell me?  I was sure that the last word she uttered wasn’t to let me know that she had a tattoo.  I just kept asking myself. What does it mean?  What does it mean?

I waited all afternoon for Harville’s call.  It didn’t come.  I had already decided that he wasn’t going to get the autopsy report until he returned my call.  It was pure petulance on my part, and if it pissed him off, tough shit.  If he wanted the report, he would have to talk to me first.

I left my office feeling a little smug, although I really didn’t know why. Maybe I felt like I had the upper hand because I was holding the autopsy report hostage.

I had a conversation with myself all the way home.  Not only was I talking to myself, I was answering myself.  “Like Harville is going to fold because you’re pouting like a child.  Like he’s going to tell you the answer to what you haven’t yet figured out.  Like he’s even going to return your call.  You’re a fucking idiot and he knows it.”

I battled myself long enough and decided I would let it go until the next morning.  I had it in mind to just barrage him with calls until he responded. Sure…with the clerk I had, that would mean a call every other week maybe, if I was lucky.

I strolled into my office and asked for Harville’s number.  My clerk said, “oh. Do you want me to call him?”  I told her that I did not. I would just like for her to give me his number.

I called and of course, got no answer.  I left a rather hostile, not threatening, but hostile message.  I told him that I had the autopsy report, and stopped just short of telling him that I intended to keep it until he returned my call. I stressed the importance of a conversation and told him that I would be anxiously waiting.

I wasn’t listed in The Chamber’s Legal Library but I tried to act like a big shot, you know, like I was someone of substance that warranted a call from the noted Mr. Morgan Ayers Harville, Esquire.

Another call went unanswered, and another and another.  I started doodling, “and justice for all.”  I was trying to take an analytical approach.  “Okay.  What is the definition of justice? On one hand it means, fairness and moral rightness. ‘And justice for all’ are the last four words of the Pledge of Allegiance, expressing loyalty to the country and the flag of the United States.” Did Parker Patterson strike me as the loyal type…to her country, or flag, or anything or anyone? No.”

“But on the other hand it means, revenge, retribution, vengeance, retaliation, payback, avengement, getting even, counterbalancing.” Was I on to something?

Those were all strong words. “Revenge. Revenge for what? Retribution. Again, for what? Retaliation, payback, avengement, evening the score, counterbalancing.

Evening the score? What was the game and who were the players? Was the game the trial? Were the players the accused, the victims, or the attorneys, or all of those? What was she counterbalancing? Guilt versus innocence? Righteousness versus evil?”

None of those definitions made sense when it came to her profile. I was still completely in the dark. I still had no answers, but I was beginning to think that the tattoo had something to do with something or someone, seeking, needing, or receiving justice.

The next morning, I decided to make one more call to Harville.  Knowing he wouldn’t answer, I put the phone down, threw my feet up on the desk and started drinking my coffee.  I almost spit it all over my pant legs when he actually answered the phone.

I had gone over and over in my mind exactly what I was going to say if and when he ever answered, but suddenly my mind went completely blank.  It seemed like an hour before I finally blurted out the words, “and justice for all.”

Harville said, “I’ll book you on the next flight to Chicago.  Someone will be waiting to pick you up.  Plan on spending a few days.”  Then I heard the “click.”  I have seen movies where the players hear that click and continue to say “hello? Hello?  Hello?”  I never understood that.  I would yell, “you stupid idiot!  Why are you still saying hello?  They hung up!”

Call me a stupid idiot.  I found myself saying, “hello?  Hello?”

Oh boy.  Obviously Harville thought that I had “figured it out,” but I didn’t have a clue what was going on.  I would have to fake it.  Maybe I’d pull the ole “what do you think?” hoping he would think I knew what the hell I was talking about and start telling me what I didn’t know.  I knew I was going to be intimidated by his “status” but I was determined to act like I wasn’t.

I got to the airport just in time, given the short notice.  It was a relatively short flight, and when I walked through the terminal, I saw a well dressed chauffeur, holding a sign bearing my name.

When we got outside, he opened the door to a stretch limousine.  Of course. What was I expecting?  A ticket for a ride on the city bus?  When I got in, that song, “How Do You Like Me Now?” popped into my head.  Yep. I wasn’t on the “list” but I was being chauffeured around in a limousine, owned by someone who was.  That was class.

I had to snap back into reality because I was about to face Harville and like I said, I knew nothing.  I figured the worst that could happen is that he would toss me out, and I would be relegated to fetching a cab back to the airport.

The limousine pulled up to what could only be described as a magnificent, ancestral mansion with a well-groomed lawn, luscious landscaping and a fountain that was as big as my living room.  Okay.  I was duly impressed. I also hated him.

I got out of the “royal coach,” and rang the doorbell. I kid you not.  The classic British butler answered.  I told him who I was, and he said, “of course.  My name is Mr. Winslow.  Mr. Harville is expecting you.  Please follow me into the library.”

I looked around the room and felt like I had landed in the middle of a storybook castle.  “Please make yourself comfortable,” Mr. Winslow said. “Might I bring you a cup of tea?”  I thanked him, but declined.  “Oh, yes,” he said.  “I forgot.  You Yanks prefer coffee.  Might I bring you a cup of coffee then?”

To be continued____________________________

And Justice For All – Chapter Five

During the entire ride to the hotel, the only other words he uttered were, “you’ll make sure that everything is in order.” This time is was more of a command rather than a request.  I told him I would do my very best, and he surprised me when he shook my hand and thanked me.

When we arrived at the shabby cemetery she had chosen to “spend eternity,” to say that I was speechless would have been an understatement. It was unkempt and most, if not all the tombstones appeared to have been there for centuries.  The plot marked for her was on the outskirts of the cemetery, which was just a hole in the ground.

I will admit that Harville intimidated me, and I was hesitant to ask if there would be any kind of marker.  I decided that if nothing else, I could outrun him, so I took a deep breath and asked.  “Not what she wanted,” he said.  “She was very specific.”

I looked at him with what I’m sure was amazement and said, “but why? Everyone wants to be remembered.”  Harville looked at me, shook his head and said, “not everyone.”

I think I was so overwhelmed with the whole ludicrousness of things, that it took a while to realize there were only three people at her funeral.  I was there.  Harville was there, and some pay by the hour preacher was there, doing his best to pronounce the words that he had obviously never seen in the Bible.  He couldn’t even remember the usual “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”  He stumbled around and was finally able to say something about “dust eventually turns into ashes.” I was thinking that maybe he was a little tipsy.

For some reason, I thought Parker would find that amusing, but I don’t know why.  I realized that none of us had brought any flowers and mentioned it to Harville.  “Not necessary,” he said.  “She wouldn’t have wanted it.” Harville was a man of few words, but the words he did say definitely had an impact.  He was succinct and to the point.

As we were leaving the cemetery, he said, “you do know that Parker had a sizable estate, don’t you?”  I told her that I knew she commanded a high price for defending….”people.”  That was the first time I saw even the most remote sign of a smile from him. He said, “yes…people.”

As I walked toward my car and he walked toward his taxi, he handed me his card. As I looked at the non-descript card, he said, “call me when you figure it out.”

“Call you when I figure it out?”  Figure what out?  What the hell does that mean?”  I yelled those exact words as I watched him ride away. What was I supposed to be figuring out?  She was dead.  That was a fact. She had been murdered.  That was a fact.  She was a raging bitch.  That was a fact.

I was at a complete loss as to exactly what I was supposed to “figure out.”  I went on a thirty minute rant, calling him every name but a child of God, not to mention disparaging his intelligence, his character, his mother and every other shortcoming that came to mind.

When I got back to my office, my clerk said I had a message. “Okay,” I said.  She said, “Mr. Harville called.”  Again, she just stood there.  I swear, sometimes trying to get any information out of her was like trying to get a response from a tree stump.  “And?”  I said.

“And, he wanted me to tell you that in his haste to leave town, he neglected to pick up the autopsy report for Parker Patterson.  He wondered if you would be gracious enough to pick it up and overnight it to him.”

“Was an autopsy even done on her?”  I asked.  “Apparently,” she said. “Well, did the elusive and forgetful Mr. Harville leave an address by any chance?” I asked.

“He left a Post Office Box number,” she said.

I didn’t have time to deal with that crap.  If he was so damn good, good enough to be listed in The Chamber’s Legal Library, how could be absentminded enough to forget something like a copy of an autopsy?

He was obviously upset about Parker’s death, but come on.  Forgetting a vital piece of information like an autopsy report?  There was no excuse for that kind of sloppiness.  That was along the lines of forgetting to get a search warrant before finding body parts buried in someones’ yard.

I knew one thing. If he expected me to “tidy” up his omission, he was mistaken. I wasn’t going to do it. I asked my clerk to run over to the coroners’ office and pick it up, but just as she got to the door, for some reason I had second thoughts.  “Never mind,” I said.  “I’ll take care of it.”

As I was driving, Harville’s words kept running through my head.  “Call me when you figure it out.”  The more I thought about it, the more it pissed me off.  I didn’t like innuendo, I didn’t like games, I didn’t particularly like puzzles, and I intended to divulge that in a rather insulting note.

Apparently, the coroner had been alerted that I was coming to get the report and it was ready when I got there.  When he handed it to me, he said, “it’s pretty cut and dried.  Knife wound was COD, but you already know that.”

“Anything else?”  I asked.  The coroner looked at me quizzically and said, “like what?”  I told him that I was just curious.  Then I asked him if he minded if I looked at the report.  “Not at all,” he said.

I sat down and started reading what was a very brief report. I intentionally avoided the pictures.  Even though I despised her on a certain level, I felt there was no need to intrude on private pictures of her exposed body.

There was the standard “unremarkable” description for every organ and extremity.  It was noted that there was not one single flaw (aside from the obvious gaping knife wound) other than a small tattoo on the victims’ left hip.  I didn’t give it much thought, put the report back in the folder, and told the coroner I would be on my way.

I had the audacity to ask him if he would overnight the report to Harville. At least I had the courtesy of requesting that he bill my office for the expense.

When I got into my car, I felt like a thunderbolt had hit me between the eyes. “A small tattoo.”  I bolted out of my car and burst back into the coroners’ office, blurting out, “I need to know about the tattoo.” The coroner looked like a deer caught in the headlights.  He clutched his chest and said, “what the hell, man.  You almost gave me a heart attack, and I’m getting on up in years!”

I apologized and said, “I just need to know about the tattoo.” The coroner got the report, sat down and put on his glasses.  Thumbing through his notes, he smiled and said “ah.  It was four words.”

Déjà vu.  Was I back at the office?  Had he turned into my clerk?  Finally I said, “what were the fucking words?”

He looked at me, cocked his head to the side and said:

To be continued____________________

And Justice For All – Chapter Four

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___________________________

And Justice For All – Chapter Three

After a lengthy search, a jury had been carefully selected, and the case was going to be heard by Judge Amy Davis.  I was delighted that we had pulled a female judge because I thought she, although unethical, might have an empathetic bent that a male judge would not.  Of course, if she did have a blatantly biased view, Parker would make sure that she recused herself.

Even so, our case was strong, and with the evidence we had it didn’t really matter what the gender of the judge happened to be.  We were ready, and we were confident even though, like I said, we had not procured a proper warrant before the search and seizure.

Our opening statement came to a screeching halt before we ever began.  I felt like a student who had studied for the wrong test, and utter disbelief was the only thing tumbling around in my head as Parker Patterson immediately called for the dismissal of the case.

“Case dismissed? Are you serious?  On what grounds, your Honor?” I queried.

Parker was a winner for a reason.  An expert at due diligence, she had discovered that the search warrant issued was for the house proper.  It did not include the grounds, nor the woodpile, so therefore all the evidence, including the contents of the dog’s stomach was inadmissible.  It looked like a novice mistake made by a novice detective, and that novice detective was me.

My partner and I stood in stunned, stupefied silence as Judge Davis granted the dismissal of the case, due to lack of evidence, illegal search and seizure, and the absence of a corpus delicti. We also listened as she granted witness protection…once again for a known murderer.  Parker had done her job, and had done it with absolute expertise.

I will never forget the look on Kevin Mays’ face as he heard Judge Adams’ ruling, nor will I ever forget the look on Judge Adams’ face as she rendered her decision.

The next few minutes were a complete fog until we reached the top of the courthouse steps.  I didn’t even remember how I got out of the courtroom.  I wanted to scream, “are you fucking kidding me?  Are you fucking kidding me?”

The famous saying “justice is blind” pissed me off.  Justice was not blind. Justice had its eyes wide open as it prevented the very laws that are supposed to protect the innocent.  There was going to be no justice for Evelyn May.  More than once I had given a toast and said, “justice is for the guilty.  The laws are supposed to protect the innocent, but clearly they protect the guilty.”

I settled down and watched as a woman slowly approached Parker.  I was halfway hoping she would punch her in the face but instead, she calmly said, “I want to ask you a question.” Parker said nothing and waited. The woman asked, “how do you sleep at night?”

Parker looked at her and almost mockingly said, “first, I slip into my silk Hermes lingerie.  Then I pull back my Charlotte Thomas Bedspoke 22-karat gold sheets to reveal my Hungarian goose down pillows.  Just before I turn off my original Tiffany lamp, which sits on a piece of my handmade Henredon furniture, I glance at my extensive collection of Fabergé Eggs, and my original paintings by Van Gogh, Monet and Rembrandt.  I must say that I find the works of Pollock and Picasso a bit troubling.”

She turned and walked away as if she had just been asked for the time.

I will admit that I had an intense hatred for Parker Patterson.  She was like a deadly Black Mamba, stalking her prey and then striking with electrifying precision.  But she was stalking the good guys, striking like a lightning bolt, and leaving us paralyzed and helpless as we watched these scumbags, degenerates, and bottom-feeders walk away as free as a bird.

My question was, “why?”

For years, I kept asking myself that same question.  “Why?  Why would arguably one of the most talented and yes, most beautiful litigators continue to defend people who were so reprehensible?”

I was not one to accept “I don’t know” as an answer.  There is always an answer to a question.  It may not be what you want to hear, but there is an answer, and I wanted an answer.

I did my time with the public defender’s office and moved on to one of the city’s most reputable firms.  Within a surprisingly short time, I was named a junior partner, despite my earlier faux pas with the May case.  The celebration was in full swing and my mind suddenly went back to those days when I had literally been gutted by Parker Patterson.

Her reputation had never faltered and the general loathing toward her had never subsided.  She had made millions defending common slime, along with a multitude of stereotypical, entitled rich scumbags, who had gotten caught with their pants down and, who didn’t bat an eye when she demanded a one million dollar retainer fee.  They knew she was able to do magic.

My dream was to once again meet her in court.  I wanted to literally and figuratively eviscerate her.  That day would never come, but I would continuously watch her pulling off the impossible from what seemed like an endless bag of tricks.

A case that caught national attention was about a wealthy man, named Jackson Alton Benton, who was a secret pedophile.  It was a well kept open secret, but no convincing proof had ever been brought to bear.  His luck ran out one night when he was stopped for a routine license check.  Because they believed it was within the arm of the law, the officers searched his car.

A young boys’ bloody underwear was found in the trunk, along with a rope, a gun and a canvas bag.  Two weeks earlier, a little boy had gone missing, and an extensive and exhaustive search had been fruitless.

The items that were found in the trunk of Benton’s car were put into evidence bags, and he was arrested, the whole time screaming police brutality, and pleading his innocence.

Amid cries of utter heartbreak, the little boys’ mother was notified and was able to identify his underwear.

Parker Patterson was immediately called and presented herself as counsel for Benton.  She bonded him out and began to prepare her defense.  Her immediate questions were how the items were obtained, and who had issued the search warrant.  No search warrant had been obtained, but at least Benton had been Mirandized.  

The prosecutor argued that the law states that with “reasonable suspicion” you and your belongings can be searched, but Parker accused the arresting officers of falling short when trying to explain their suspicions or their justifications for searching the car.

Parker Patterson made the prosecutor look like a neophyte.  “Of what were you ‘reasonably’ suspicious?” she asked.  “Were you ‘reasonably suspicious’ because he wore an expensive suit and drove and even more expensive car?  Tell me.  What were your ‘reasonable’ motives for the illegal search and seizure?”

When called to testify, one of the officers finally admitted that they were bored and pulled him over for kicks.  “For kicks?” asked Parker?  “Well, we thought we’d harass him a bit maybe,” said the other officer.

“I see,” said Parker.  “And they taught that in officer training school…that you were allowed to ‘harass’ a person because you were bored?  Were you bored when they discussed obtaining a search warrant?”

Parker went on to address the judge.  “Your Honor, we have nothing here against my client.  If anything, charges should be filed against the incompetent officers who illegally searched my client’s car for no other reason than ‘they could’.’

To be continued__________________

And Justice For All – Chapter Two

My second encounter with Parker Patterson was when I was assigned to prosecute a man whose crime was so heinous, actual prayer vigils were held, demanding that God grant justice.

People were outraged when Parker took his case, but none were really surprised.  That’s what she did.  That’s what she did best. Those cases were exactly why she was famous, infamous, condemned, and so deeply loathed.

I had acquired a little more experience, and was joined by a senior partner for this particular case.  Again, we were sure that we had a hands down, slam-dunk, in the bag, can’t lose case.  We were wrong.

Evelyn May had been married to Kevin May for over twenty years.  During that time, she had endured drunken mental and physical abuse, coupled with what she believed were numerous flagrant adulteries…but she stayed with him.  She believed in vows.  She believed in commitment.

Sadly, she came to realize that she had been looking for love, only to find indifference.  She had been looking for a soul mate, only to find herself alone.  She had been looking for validation, only to find criticism.

When Kevin was out doing what he did, her only companion was a German Shepherd named Ralph.  He was her protector.  Ralph suffered Kevin’s wrath as well.  More than once he had been struck with a broom handle, and more than once Evelyn had been warned to “shut that fucking dog up.”

Evelyn was a Christian and hoped that by going to church and praying, Kevin would somehow change.  She questioned her value not only as a woman, but as a human being.  She believed that his behavior was somehow her fault, and spent hours praying, asking for help to be a better wife and person.  Despite her life, she was still a dreamer.

One of her neighbors who heard the fights, suggested that she join a support group for battered women.  Evelyn had the same excuse all battered women do.  “It’s not really that bad, and it’s all my fault. I make him mad.”

Weeks went by and when her bruises had finally started to fade, she somehow found the courage to seek help, but there was a gnawing feeling that she would be judged.  Instead, she found friendship, comfort and encouragement among those other women.

She didn’t tell Kevin about her meetings, and he became suspicious.  He didn’t like it when he came home and she wasn’t there.  He didn’t like that she was finding the strength to start standing up for herself.  He started accusing her of cheating on him.

One night when he finally staggered home, stinking of liquor and cheap perfume, he discovered that she wasn’t there.  About an hour later when she came home, she told him that she had made the decision to leave him. “I matter,” she said.  “I deserve to be treated like I have value.”

Kevin screamed, “what have you been doing?  Screwing some other man?  Is that what he’s telling you?  Filling your head with lies? Telling you that you matter?”

Evelyn for once, raised her voice and said, “there is no other man.  I’m just not going to live like this anymore.  I deserve to be happy, and the only way I’m ever going to be happy is if I get away from you.”

Enraged, Kevin put his hands around her neck and didn’t stop until she stopped fighting. When she dropped to the floor, he kicked her repeatedly while screaming, “get up you worthless whore.”  When she didn’t, he realized she wasn’t going to get up.  She was dead.

Ralph was barking wildly, and kept charging toward him. Kevin grabbed him by the collar and locked him in the back room.

Considerably drunk, but having enough sense to understand the gravity of what he had just done, he came up with a plan.  He knew exactly what to do.  He carried her lifeless body to the bathroom and put her in the tub.

He got a butcher knife from the kitchen and started carving, as if it was Thanksgiving Day, and he was serving turkey.  As he severed each limb, he watched as her life’s blood slowly trickled down the drain.

After they were detached, he put them into black plastic bags, and wrapped them with duct tape.  In succession, he put them in the garage, until only her middle section was left. When he split her open and removed her organs, he got an idea.

Each piece was put into the oven and cooked, like a prime cut of meat.  One by one, he fed them to Ralph, who was unknowingly consuming the very essence of the woman he had more than once tried to protect from her abusive husband.

When people began to question the whereabouts of Evelyn, Kevin concocted an elaborate story of how she had decided to take a “sabbatical,” and had left Ralph with him.  He claimed that they had discussed the trip as a way to try to salvage their floundering marriage.  “We thought that being apart for a while would make us start to appreciate each other a little more,” he said.

The women at the support group immediately suspected that something was afoul, but bound by confidentiality and an element of fear, they said nothing.  

A month went by before one of them finally made a secret call to the police, and with the officers’ assurance of anonymity, told them about Evelyn’s plan and how odd it seemed that she disappeared without letting any of them know, not to mention that she left her beloved dog behind.

After an extensive search of the house, it couldn’t be determined that Evelyn was dead.  There was no indication of foul play in the home, and when Luminol was sprayed throughout, no evidence of blood was found. With the avenues now available, people, especially battered women are able to disappear with relative ease, and that was the ultimate conclusion.

After six weeks, and as they were about to mark the case as cold, a novice detective named Quince Brown, remembered seeing a large pile of wood in the back of the property. On his own time, he made his “official” return visit, and despite Kevin’s objections, he started moving the wood.  Kevin didn’t ask for a warrant, which as fortunate, because Quince didn’t have one.

Evelyn wasn’t found, but the remains of Ralph were.

Quince had a gut feeling, and immediately called Jonas Hobbs, his partner. Quince wanted to have an autopsy performed on the dog.  Not only did Jonas scoff at him, he asked how he came to have the dogs’ remains. Quince told him about searching the wood pile out behind the house, which of course, prompted the question from Jonas, “did you have a warrant?” When Quince shook his head no, Jonas asked, “What the hell were you thinking? You went out there and searched someone’s property with no warrant? Is this your first minute on the job? Geeze! And what the hell are you talking about?  An autopsy on a dog?  

It’s clear what happened here,” Jonas said. “Somebody beat his head in with a rock.  It’s animal cruelty, but we didn’t witness it, so just let it go.”

Quince was adamant and stood his ground.  “I’ve just got a feeling that there is more to this than just finding a buried dog.”  His hardheadedness prevailed, and the dog was taken to the local coroners’ office, only after the promise of severe consequences for his earlier actions.  

Flack from his partner wasn’t the only teasing he took.  The coroner, old man Jenkins, jokingly said, “where do you think you are? The animal hospital?  We autopsy humans here…or what used to be humans.  We don’t autopsy animals.” Quince lied when he said someone “at the top” had ordered it to be done.  “Okay,” Jenkins said.  “This will be one for the books for me…and tell your lieutenant that he owes me one.”  

When Jenkins completed his report, and called Quince in for the results, he stood there scratching and shaking his head as he said, “I’ve seen a lot in my time, but I’ve never seen anything like this.  This dog’s last meal was organs.  Now, if animals get hungry enough, they’ll eat each other and yes, they’ll eat the organs but these are human organs, and it looks to me like they were actually cooked before they were eaten.”

That was a watershed moment.  A high-five moment.  The dog had eaten someones’ organs, which meant that someone had to remove them and then cook them.  But whose organs were they?

A thorough and exhaustive search was executed on the property and bag after bag was found.  Some of them had been partially dug up by animals, leaving no flesh and very little bone, but Quince had no doubt that Evelyn was being found, one piece at a time. He was sure of three things.  Evelyn was dead. The dog hadn’t killed her, and these organs were most likely hers.  

Quince began asking for statements from neighbors who were hesitant at first, but after hearing that Evelyn had been murdered, finally began to talk. They said they had heard the fighting, the screams and the pleas for help. They also said that they had heard his foul mouth attacking her and Ralph.

Quince knew that someone had called, but no one admitted anything when questioned. When he asked why none of them called the police, one woman said, “oh, we didn’t want to get involved.” Quince, who was not one to blow smoke up anyone’s ass, said, “well, I guess we should hope that if you ever need help, someone will be willing to ‘get involved’ before your body parts end up buried all over your back yard.”

Quince turned over his evidence and it was our turn to take custody of the reports, discoveries, findings and affidavits.  Everything was in order and in our hands, except the missing search warrant, but we were still confident. Our case was solid.  Kevin May had killed his wife.

I admit that I was ready to proverbially spit in the face of Parker Patterson, and smile as I watched it dribble onto her perfect couture outfit.

To be continued______________________  

 

And Justice For All – Chapter One

She was the most feared, most hated, most exasperating defense litigator anyone had ever run across.  She was a one-woman wrecking crew, and believe me when I say that you did not want to get in her way.

Often described as the quintessential irresistible force paradox, she had us all playing mental gymnastics as to whether she was the immovable object or the unstoppable force.

She defended murderers, rapists, child molesters, drug dealers, and was renowned for once successfully getting an acquittal for a known serial killer.

On two occasions I was fortunate, or unfortunate enough depending on your view, to go head-to-head with her in a courtroom.

I was an up-and-coming prosecutor for the District Attorneys’ Office and I was determined to make my mark.  I was confident but I was not a know-it-all.  I was definitely not a pushover, and my lack of experience did not reflect my work ethic.  I suffered no fools, but I have to say that only one litigator ever scared the living hell out of me. That person was Parker Carolina Patterson, also known as “PCP” and I’d bet my last dollar that she was five thousand times more deadly.

One common street name for PCP is “Angel dust” but it certainly didn’t apply to her.  She was more often than not described as a less commonly used term, “Embalming Fluid.”  She would gut you, laugh while you were bleeding, and have you at the morgue before you even knew you were dead.

It was a given that any attorney was going to be crucified as soon as a trial began and if possible, the seasoned attorneys who had been emasculated and virtually gelded by her, passed their cases onto unknowing, wet behind the ears associates, like me.

That process was called “the Baptism of fire.”  It was sort of like throwing Daniel into the lions’ den, only they knew the lion was going to eat Daniel alive.  She chewed up novice attorneys like a wood chipper and spit them out into piles of mulch, wearing off-the-rack neckties.  She did it to me…twice.

I used to say “she won,” rather than “I lost.” I thought it sounded better. “She won vs. we lost.”  To me, phrasing it that way somehow lessened the sting of defeat.  It may be a pride thing or a man thing or a Freudian thing. I don’t know but speaking of Freud, in her case “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” was accurate.  Sometimes a raging bitch is just a raging bitch.

I would describe her as a cross between Angie Harmon and Charles Manson. She had the stunning beauty of Angie, but something about her eyes made you think you were staring straight into the face of Satan.  Her porcelain skin appeared to have never seen a ray of sunshine and was absolutely flawless.  Her fire-engine red pouty lips, when parted, revealed either a perfect Hollywood smile, or a string of insults that would make God blush.

I remember the first time I was snared into the web of Parker Patterson like it was yesterday.  I had what we call a “slam-dunk case,” and I was armed with indisputable evidence.  There was motive, opportunity and the ultimate coup de grace…a confession. Although Parker had successfully convinced the judge that the confession had been coerced and was therefore inadmissible, I wasn’t worried.  I was also not worried that there had been any collusion or underhandedness about the judges’ decision.

Parker Patterson was not only hated by other litigators, she was hated by judges.  She talked to them like they had shit for brains, and to her, being slapped with a contempt of court fine was like being handed a parking ticket.

My first case was prosecuting a man named Bernard Copley.  In a fit of rage, he stabbed his wife Maureen, two hundred and sixty-five times.  I had seen many crime scene photos, but I will never forget those.  They were, even today, some of the worst I had ever seen, and the first time I looked at them I thought I might wretch.

Parker submitted the “crime of passion” defense and successfully convinced the jury that “each and every one of us is capable of anything, under the right circumstances.  “It has nothing to do with love or hate,” she said. “It has to do with passion, and in the throes of passion, people seldom have the presence of mind to measure their words or their actions.”

Bernard Copley was sentenced to time served, which amounted to 38 days in jail.  That wasn’t the only coup she pulled off.  She requested, and was granted protection for her client due to the violent outbursts and threats from family members when the verdict was read.

This was common practice for her. She definitely had a way of proving that revenge was not always a straight line, and had no qualms about looking the judge straight in the eyes and saying, “I demand protection for my client. They should be afforded safe harbor.”

It always requested, and reluctantly and quite often with malice, it was always granted for reasons no one could ever really understand, unless it was like several judges said…”I’ll agree to anything to get you out of my face and out of my courtroom.”

Apparently, she had connections, and told the presiding judges that she could make someone “anonymous” faster than any federal agency, and always petitioned the courts to allow the now free defendants to be put into her custody.  She also reminded the judges that her first concern was the safety of her clients, and any delays would put said clients at risk.

Judge Dunbar asked Parker to approach the bench. He told her that he would reluctantly grant her request, followed by the statement, “I don’t know how you sleep at night, after so skillfully and successfully manipulating the law to release a known murderer.” A vainglorious Parker said, “it was not I who released, as you put it, a known murderer. It was a jury of his peers.”

After our case was over, Judge Dunbar, who had repeatedly been compared to the infamous Judge Roy Bean, looked at her and said, “if true justice was served today, madam, you and you client would be hanging from the nearest tree.”  Her response was, “all things being equal your Honor, if true justice was served, you would be undergoing an autopsy.”

Balls?  Yep.  She had them.

Judge Dunbar sarcastically thanked the jury and dismissed them.  That is typically when attorneys shake hands and obligatory congratulations, or “we’ll see you at the appeal” are exchanged.

I admit that I was not feeling very cordial and like a spoiled brat, I offered no congratulations.  After Parker put her paperwork into her Coco Chanel briefcase, she handed me the latest edition of “Understanding The Law For Dummies.” I stood there like a wounded puppy, and said nothing.

As we were walking out, Maureen Copley’s mother grabbed Parker’s arm and asked, “do you think God will forgive you for what you do?”  Parker hesitated for a moment and without blinking an eye, turned toward her, smiled and casually said, “God doesn’t live in this courtroom.”

To be continued______________________