A Chance Encounter? - My EndingbyVitorio©
A Chance Encounter? – My ending.
If you've read my stuff before you know what to expect. I like to round off my fantasies happily so here it is. Oh, no real sex, just romance! I wanted to try and write something different so a court case with an examination in chief to try and explain Barbara's situation. Please, when you vote and comment, remember I warned you here! I have used English idioms, slang, etc., but I hope meanings will be clear from the text.
No, not chance surely. There is a pattern – isn't there? What did she need most now? Support, certainly and I could give her that – wanted to. What she really needed was a good brief. Well, I was a good brief. Mind you, I only dealt in civil courts, company law, inheritance, and the like, but I worked in chambers with some very good criminal solicitors and we had one of the best defence barristers in the country.
Not chance at all then! 'There is a destiny that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we may'. Ok, I'd go for that. Oh, I know I was rationalising. Wife buggered off with a younger man and the kids. Here was me, on the rebound, 40, lonely and alone. Shit! But she was there. Hell the sex was fantastic but there was something more. I'm sure there was: wasn't there. Her eyes – the way she looked at me sometimes and soft, gentle caresses amongst the passionate. I knew I was hooked and I knew I was going to do everything in my power to save her from prison.
Decision made I went to the coffee maker – a letter!
'Darling man – I'm sorry, I don't know your name – darling man,
I'm sorry, really sorry for using you like that. It was unfair and I've probably got you in trouble as well. It was wonderful and I won't ever forget it,
Thank you with all my heart
Well! There was a lump in my throat as I folded the letter and put it in my wallet. Decision made and now confirmed. Half a dozen lines on a piece of paper!
I got to the office later than usual of course. Once there I hunted out Gordon Streeter, our best defence solicitor and a good friend. Showed him the newspaper, "Gordon, I want you to see her"
"Why, old son?" he was older! I showed him the letter. "Blimey, what happened?" I told him – not everything just that we had sex. "She picked you up in a pub on Friday night?"
"It'll be trouble Dave. Plod will be around."
I laughed, "I think I can deal with the local constabulary but, Gordon, I don't want her to go to prison. See her – please. I'll talk to Jane."
Arm round shoulders. "David, old man, we've known each other for a goodly number of years." He was 20 years older than me was Gordon. Supported me, and Jane, right through our careers. Something of a 'father figure'. He continued, "It's not, hell you know, you're not still upset about Helen." He knew about America.
"Bugger it, Gordon. Yes I'm upset, upset and angry, but it's not that. Shit I don't know really and I won't be able to find out if she's in bloody prison will I. It's worth the risk!"
"I can afford it," I said. Couldn't really. Divorce hadn't left me that well off - what's money after all!
"OK," he said, "I'll see what I can do." Shot upstairs to Jane. Jane Lackington is one of the very best criminal barristers. A QC very early, she's defended some pretty important cases and bloody expensive! That's what Gordon meant.
She was in. "Jane, a word please." Got on pretty well now, Jane and me. Born in the same month, university together, had a bit of a fling. Flirted gently – nothing serious, she was married, but it was fun. Knew Helen's boyfriend quite well - very annoyed when he moved in on my wife.
"Hi Dave, of course. What can I do for you?" Sexy smile, arched eyebrows.
"Unfair Jane, you always know what you can do for me," I said with a laugh then, seriously, "I need your help." Raised eyebrows. "Well not me, someone I, errrrm, someone I know." I handed her the newspaper.
"Yeah, Barbara Carter."
"David! What have you been up to?" Showed her the letter and told her about the weekend – not all of course. "Hell! Dave are you sure. Look, it's not Helen is it?"
I smiled wanly, "That's what Gordon said. No, well I don't think it is. Well possibly but, bugger it Jane, I've got to find out."
"She's bloody attractive I suppose?"
I laughed, "Yes, bloody," then seriously, "Jane love, it's not only that. Hell, I don't know how to explain it but . . . I don't want to see her go to prison. I want to . . . . hell I don't know what I want really."
She smiled. She knew me well did Jane. I sometimes wondered whether I shouldn't have asked her to marry me instead of her sister but there you are, times past. "I'll have a chat with Gordon when he gets back. Give you a call."
"Thanks Jane, thanks a lot."
Day passed slowly. Nothing from Gordon 'til five'ish then a call from Jane. "Want to come up Dave?" Like a shot!
"It's a good case Dave," she said. "I think we can get her at least Manslaughter, possibly less with a bit of digging." I didn't really ask what had happened. Didn't want to know just then – happy for them to deal with it.
"Wanted to know who sent me round," Gordon said with a smile, "told her it was a 'friend'. She's puzzled. In a bit of a state really. Got no money, her 'friends' have all disappeared, and she doesn't have any family. I think she needs you son," he said with a big smile.
"Can I see her?"
"They won't let you 'til she's been to the Magistrates Court. That'll be tomorrow. I'm going back later when she's charged. You should be able to see her in the remand centre or tomorrow."
"You know our lot Dave. It's a murder charge and, as far as they are concerned, she's a deadly criminal. I'll try tomorrow but I suspect Plod will oppose and the beak will agree. I'll try and arrange for you to see her tomorrow."
"Thanks Gordon, Jane, thanks a lot."
They both smiled. "Oh, by the way," said Gordon, "Expect Plod when you get home. She told them where she was."
Well they were there. Two detectives who, very politely, suggested that I accompany them to the nick. No point in refusing. I knew from Gordon that all she had said about he weekend was that we slept together so I wasn't going to deviate from that. At the police station I showed them the letter, which they insisted on keeping – didn't matter, I'd copied it in anticipation. They'd already satisfied themselves that we hadn't met before Friday so it was just a couple of hours of them trying to get me to say that she said she did it! Christ's knows why because Gordon said she'd admitted killing him in her statement.
Finally home. Empty, much emptier than it had been last week. You're a fool I said to myself, a bloody fool. But then, better a happy fool than a sad genius. Just made dinner, TV, then bed. Remembered her there – got quite excited!
Even more excited in the morning. Gordon arranged for me to see her after the committal. 11 o'clock I was there. He knew the staff pretty well so saw her in a room alone apart from an overlooking window.
She was sitting as I came in. "You!!"
"Mmm," I said - a smile, "me."
"But, but, but. Oh god, now I'm embarrassed."
A shy smile, "Oh you know. Don't be unkind."
"I could never be that," I said, a look telling her all she needed to know.
Sadness overcame her, "I don't even know your name," she muttered.
I sat opposite, table between. "David," I said, "David Graham."
"You!!" she said again. Raised eyebrows. "It's you? Gordon, he said something about 'David'."
"Must be if you say so," a smile, "me what?"
"It's you who arranged for Gordon to see me isn't it?"
"Yes, yes it is."
"And for the lady barrister. Jane isn't it?"
Something like hope in her eyes, "Why?"
Opened heart now. "Because I don't want you to go to prison. Because I can't get the memory of the weekend out of my mind. Because I can't get YOU out of my mind. Because I want to know you better." I fixed her with my eyes, "Because I'm fond of you and because I'm a romantic fool!"
Shy smile then, "I like fools!"
I laughed, "Well, at least I'm in with a chance!"
Then sadness again, "I killed him you know."
"I know. Doesn't matter. You must have had a reason."
"Perhaps. I'll go to prison." She looked lost and forlorn. How could a vibrant, attractive, confident woman be reduced to such a waiflike caricature?
"Not if I can help it. Nor Gordon, nor Jane. She's good you know. The best." Hope in her eyes. "Try not to worry just help them all you can. Don't hide anything Barbara."
She looked at me, "I like that. I like it when you say my name. I wish you could have said it . . . you know. And I wish I could have said yours. David. I like that. Simple. Simple and nice."
God she was lovely. Even here, no make-up, simple clothes, sad. I held her hands in mine – against the rules but no-one came in – and said, "I like Barbara too." I think my tone told her how I felt just then because she squeezed my hands.
"Thanks," she said. "It was unkind you know, to use you like that!"
I laughed, "I didn't mind and I don't know." I squeezed her hands, "I hope that you might 'use' me again."
"I think I'd like that," she said smiling then the sadness descended, "but I won't because I'll be in prison."
"No you won't," I said firmly. "Now, chin up. We'll get you off this."
"Times up Mr Graham," said the guard entering the room. I bent and kissed her cheek. "Now, now. None of that!"
I smiled, "See you soon," I said. "Don't worry!"
She smiled shyly as she was led away. Just a backward glance as she left the room.
Saw her once a week over the next few months, until her trial. Gordon and Jane confident. Lots of enquiries had revealed much that the police hadn't bothered to address. Open and shut case for them. Stupid really but then sometimes they're like that – can't see the wood for the trees.
So the trial came round. I didn't really know how they were going to play it. Jane was quite notorious for not preparing witnesses and I thought that she probably hadn't spent time coaching Barbara (I was wrong!), but, as I said they were quietly confident.
The prosecution case was simple. Short and, they thought, sweet. The only witness was a young woman who was there at the time. I didn't know any of this of course. It was sub judice so the papers couldn't print any of it and I hadn't asked Gordon or Jane about the trial.
I won't dwell on their case because, basically, none of the facts were really argued. Barbara had, of course, pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, the only charge brought. I should explain that, in English law, a charge of murder includes a charge of any lesser offence 'against the person' right down to a common assault. I was surprised that they didn't call me in an attempt to destroy her reputation.
Barbara was the first defence witness. She looked far from the confident, mature, attractive woman she was. Remand had, I don't know, defeated her I suppose. She looked pale and wan and she'd lost some weight. You could almost hear the 'ahhh's' as she took the stand.
Now Jane showed why she was so expensive. "Mrs Carter," she said crisply, "did you kill you husband?" You could hear the sharp intake of breath across the court. This was the defence!
"I don't think the jury heard that Mrs Carter. I'll ask you again, Did you kill your husband."
"Yes." She couldn't look up. Jane was relentless.
"I don't think we heard that."
"Yes," said Barbara. Deep breath, "Yes I did?"
"Did you want to kill him?"
"I don't know." Hesitation, "Yes, no. No not really."
"I don't think I understand. Can you explain Mrs Carter?"
She looked confused, "Well, errrm, I felt like killing him, you know, seeing him like that but that was a feeling. I don't know." She looked pensive, "I didn't WANT to kill him, no I didn't. I just felt like it. Oh I don't know!"
"Let me help you," said Jane. "Did you mean to kill him?"
"Oh no. Of course not. No. No it . . . it just happened." The minutest of hesitations made me watch Barbara closely.
"So, to clarify, you felt like killing him but you didn't want to kill him and you didn't mean to kill him. Is that correct?"
"I think so. Yes it is – I think!" Firm and direct.
"So Mrs Carter. Did you murder your husband?" Another gasp from the gallery and a hard look from the female jury members. I could see now where Jane was going, and going very cleverly.
"Is that the same as killing him. If it is I suppose I did."
"Let me try again to clarify things for you Mrs Carter: to explain the term 'Murder'. Simply, to murder someone you must either mean to kill them, or not care whether what you are doing to them will kill them. In legal terms, you must have malice aforethought, either express, that is you meant to do it, or implied, that is you didn't care. Does that clarify it for you?"
"Well, I said I didn't mean to kill him."
"So there was no 'express malice'?"
"I suppose not. No."
"OK. Fine. Now when you picked up the knife. And we will come to that My Lord but it is not in dispute."
"No Mrs Lackington, it isn't but we must push on when you've finished with the law." The judge looked down his spectacles at her. She was doing his job after all, explaining the meaning of the law.
"Of course My Lord," deferentially, then back to Barbara, "when you picked up the knife what did you intend to do with it?"
"I don't know really. I didn't realise it was a knife actually. I reached behind and felt something then held it between Stephen and me."
"You didn't intend to stab him with it?"
"No, of course not."
"So there was no 'implied malice'?"
"Errm. I don't think so."
"So, back to my question. Did you murder you husband?"
"Well, I thought that perhaps I did but now I don't know. I did kill him though." I was watching the judge and he actually smiled. Good old Jane. Got the judge on Barbara's side. Her 'innocence' about the law and Jane's manipulation had showed that she clearly could not be guilty of murder. I looked at the jury and I was pretty sure that was how they felt as well. Add the that the look of concern on the face of the prosecution council and I was sure Jane had scored.
"Good," said Jane with a satisfied smile. "Now on to the events of Friday. I'm afraid we're going to have to go through them in detail Mrs Carter." Barbara looked apprehensive and I wondered why. I found out! "Can you begin on Friday morning?"
So Barbara explained how she had gone to see her friend with the intention of staying Friday night. At lunch time her friend got called away and Barbara left. She did a bit of shopping and got to her home about 4 pm.
"Now, Mrs Carter, what happened then?"
Barbara looked uncomfortable. "I went in and heard some noises from the kitchen."
"What sort of noises?" Barbara looked embarrassed.
"Groans," she said, "groans and grunts I suppose."
"What did you do?"
"I went into the kitchen." Barbara looked very apprehensive now and even more embarrassed but Jane wasn't about to let up. This was all part of her master plan.
"My Lord," said Jane deferentially, "I would like to draw the Jury's attention to the diagram showing the layout of the kitchen and the location of the doorway."
"Certainly Mrs Lackington, I think we are all aware of the plan."
"Thank you My Lord. What did you see Mrs Carter?"
Now Barbara looked really embarrassed. Reluctant to answer the question. She turned to the Judge, "Must I My Lord?"
"I'm afraid you must my dear," he said with a soft smile. "It is for your own good." 'My dear'. He said 'my dear'. Clever that Jane, I was sure the judge was on Barbara's side.
"I saw my husband and that girl, Miss Jones." Poor Barbara. She looked something like a cornered rat because she knew what was coming.
"And what were they doing?"
"My Lord," said Barbara pleadingly. The Judge nodded.
"You must I'm afraid."
She took a deep breath, "They were 'doing it'."
"You know, doing IT."
"No Mrs Carter, I don't know. Nor do the jury. Can you tell us what they were doing?"
Deep breath, "They were having sex."
"Oh, they were having sex. How?"
"I don't understand?"
"What position were they in?"
Barbara looked at the judge again and he nodded. She took a deep breath. "That girl, Miss Jones, was bent over the kitchen table. He, Stephen that is, was behind her."
"What exactly was he, your husband, doing to her?"
"Oh I can't say. Oh you lordship, I can't." I smiled inwardly. Didn't know why she couldn't say but I suspected that I'd done it to her in several positions, including that one on a couple of occasions! But this was open court. How do you say that your husband was fucking his young bit of stuff up the arse on your kitchen table?
"I'm sorry Mrs Carter but you must."
"No, no, I can't. Oh you lordship, please." The judge looked down on her sympathetically.
"Mrs Lackington, Mr Peters (the prosecution QC), approach the bench please." They chattered away for a while until, finally, returning to their respective positions. "You may lead the witness, Mrs Lackington, but do not take liberties!"
A smile and a nod of the head, "No my Lord, of course not. Now Mrs Carter. To return to what your husband was doing to, or indeed with, Miss Jones. Was he having anal sex with her?" Took a lot to embarrass Jane!
"Errmm, errr, yes."
"You could see this?"
"Now Mrs Carter, what was the state of your husbands dress?"
Again Barbara looked cornered but, by now, she knew she had to answer. "His trousers were undone."
"Were they down?"
"No just loose."
"He was erect?"
"Oh My Lord!"
"You must answer the question Mrs Carter."
She looked down. "Yes," she managed to say.
"How did you feel Mrs Carter as you stood in the doorway seeing this 'intercourse'?"
Barbara stood straight now, remembering how she felt I suspect. "I was angry and I felt humiliated. And I was embarrassed."
"Tell us why you were angry."
Now she looked like a cornered animal again and looked pleadingly at the judge who nodded sagely. She must answer. "Because he wouldn't with me," she answered more firmly now, appreciating that there was no going back from here.
"I'm sorry Mrs Carter. Do you mean he wouldn't have anal sex with you?"
"God no," said Barbara quickly, "we never did that!"
"What did you mean?"
"He wouldn't, oh you know, with me."
"I'm afraid we don't know Mrs Carter. What wouldn't your husband do with you?" Of course we all knew by now, didn't need to be told really, but it's all in the drama isn't it. After all, the examination of a witness is all about drama.
"He wouldn't have sex with me." As she said it, it was as if she was deflated. For a woman as attractive as her to have to admit in open court that he wouldn't screw her was a daunting prospect. I stared at her hard then, trying to make her look in my direction. I succeeded and she did. I smiled reassuringly and nodded. I wanted her to know that he was a fool!
"Can you tell us why?"
"He said I was too old and too, oh My Lord . . ." she started to cry.
"I think a chair, a glass of water and a short recess are in order Mrs Lackington. Objections Mr Peters?" It would have lost him any chance of winning he might have had left to object.
"No My Lord." So there was a 30 minute recess.
Gordon found me in the corridor. "Christ she's bloody good isn't she?"
I laughed, "Yes. I think the Murder charge is out don't you?
"Oh yes, no doubt. The next problem is Manslaughter. Not sure we can dodge that one but there will be mitigating circumstances old son, so don't worry too much. Jane's got it all in hand."
So, back into court, Barbara back in the witness box. "Are you feeling better Mrs Carter?"