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14

The press mobbed the Criminal Justice Center. News vans, cameramen, and print reporters with skinny notebooks clogged Filbert Street, the narrow, colonial lane that fronted the sleek, modern courthouse. Black TV cables snaked along the sidewalk like inner-city pythons, and microwave transmission poles fought the linden trees surrounding the courthouse for airspace. TV reporters shouted to their crews, their puffs of breath visible in the morning air. The winter cold bit cheeks protected only by pancake makeup, but the reporters forgot the weather when a Yellow cab pulled up and out stepped Assistant District Attorney Dwight Davis.

'Mr Davis, any comment on the Newlin case?' 'Dwight, will the Commonwealth ask for the death penalty?' 'Mr Davis, will you be trying the case?'

'No comment,' Davis called out as he climbed the curb. His head was a helmet of dark hair, with sideburns just long enough to be risque for a D.A. He wore a pinstriped suit and moved nimbly from the cab to the courthouse entrance. The media loved Davis, and the feeling was mutual, just not this morning. His expression was dour, and when the reporters kept blocking his path, he lost any sense of humor whatsoever. 'Move the hell out, people!' he called, and hurried into the Criminal Justice Center.

Arriving on foot just after Davis were Mary DiNunzio and Judy Carrier. No press recognized them, much less plagued them for comment. They were merely associates of Bennie Rosato's and one of the throng of young lawyers heading into the Criminal Justice Center. Mary snorted at the ruckus. 'Dwight Davis, no less,' she said. 'They're rollin' out the big guns. They're scared of us.'

'Us? You mean you, and they should be.' Judy glanced ahead at Davis. 'Check it, Barbie. It's Ken, come to life. He's even got his plastic briefcase/

'Look at him run. He knows I studied. It'll take more than a Commonwealth to stop me now.' Mary was psyched despite her meeting with Jack. If her client was going to fight her, so be it. She had never felt so good before court. Where were the blotches? 'Step lively, little pretty.'

Judy laughed as she pushed on the revolving door of the courthouse. 'You're ballsy this morning.'

Temporary insanity,' Mary said, and grabbed the next door.

Jack found himself handcuffed to a steel chair in a tiled cell, and directly across from him was a large TV monitor on a rickety table. On the wall was a black phone but the cell was otherwise bare. There was nothing in it but Jack and the TV, so the scene felt surreal, as if Jack would be forced to watch bad sitcoms. Gray static blanketed the screen, which emitted an electrical crackling so loud he winced. Crk-crk-crk-crk.

He'd been told by the sheriff that he was going to his arraignment, but this was downright odd. He should have let Mary fill him in, but he had been too shaken by what she'd told him. Had Paige lied to him about Trevor's being there? Couldn't be. Her story had been so convincing and it made complete sense. It was how Honor would have reacted, what she would have said, especially when drunk. But did Trevor have anything to do with Honor's murder? Was Paige even there? Had Jack sacrificed everything -for nothing!

Crk-crk-crk-crk. He couldn't think for the crackling noise. He kicked himself for rushing to confess before he was sure of the facts. His reaction had been almost reflexive, the instinct of a good father; shelter, protect, fix. Or maybe it had been the instinct of a bad father, overcompensating. If he hadn't felt so responsible for what had happened, would he have been so quick to confess falsely? He couldn't answer that question. He didn't know. He shifted in the hard chair.

'Sit still!' commanded the sheriff, guarding the door. 'Else the camera won't get you right!'

'Camera?' Jack said. It must have been some sort of closed-circuit TV system. He scanned the cell. It was dim, lit only by a bare bulb in the hallway and the bright flickering of the TV screen. A camera lens peeked over the top of the TV. Crk-crk-crk.

'Sit still, goddammit!'

Suddenly the static noise ceased, the grey blanket on the monitor vanished, and a full-color picture popped onto the screen, divided into four boxes. The upper right box showed a courtroom made miniature and the upper left box was a close-up of a judge, an unassuming man in a tie and cardigan sweater instead of black judicial robes. In the lower left sat a well-dressed woman behind a sign that read COMMONWEALTH; in the lower right was a young man behind a PUBLIC DEFENDER sign. If he hadn't been so preoccupied, he would have laughed. It looked like the Hollywood Squares of Justice.

'Sit up straight!' ordered the sheriff. 'Be ready. You're on deck.'

The TV courtroom seemed to be waiting for something, but Jack's thoughts raced ahead. He doubted he'd get bail, considering Mary's inexperience. It was why he'd hired her, after all. He didn't want an experienced criminal lawyer who might figure out he was setting himself up. He had never intended to hire Bennie Rosato herself, but one of her rookies, and he'd been delighted by the reluctant voice on the telephone.

But he might have been wrong about Mary. She was evidently suspecting that Paige was involved, and it worried him. Ironic. With her inexperience came energy and she wasn't as callous as an experienced criminal lawyer would have been. She cared too much, and somewhere inside, Jack was touched. She hardly knew him, yet she was fighting for him. He smiled despite the tight handcuffs, the weird TV, and the fact that he was about to be arraigned for murder.

'Two minutes, Newlin!' the sheriff said.

Jack stopped thinking about Mary. She was his lawyer and she'd better be a lousy one. Her questions threatened to expose Paige and jeopardize his plan. And what she'd learned about Trevor, if it was true, made him crazy, but he couldn't turn back now. He had to stay the course; keep up the charade. He was good at it, from a lifetime of practice, he was coming to realize.

'Okay, Newlin,' the sheriff called out. 'You're up.'

The sharp crak of the TV gavel burst from the monitor, and Jack couldn't deny the tension in his gut. He had to know the truth and he'd have to find it out from behind bars.

But right now, it was time for the justice show.


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