tagNovels and NovellasMaragana Girl Ch. 26

Maragana Girl Ch. 26

bycaligula97236©

Chapter 26 -- The trial of Tiffany Walker

The following week Kim divided her time between the music store, rehearsal with Eloisa's band, and studying the cases and laws she needed to become familiar with to properly represent Tiffany during her trial at the end of August.

Dukov conducted some of Kim's research for her, finding relevant cases and book-marking them. He laid books and files on Kim's desk, along with a few old drug cases he and other Spokespersons had represented over their careers. Kim later would have to learn how to research and find the necessary information herself, but Dukov realized she simply had no time to find the information she needed for her research now. It was imperative that Kim know the legal limitations placed on her by the Danubian judicial system, and to have very clear in her own mind what she hoped to accomplish when Tiffany was sentenced. Kim's primary goal never wavered:

"She's here to get off drugs. That's what I want to accomplish with her sentence. I want to get her off drugs and see to it she never has the chance to get high again. I don't care how much she craves that crap, I want to make sure she can never get her hands on it. I'm sure that someday she can make peace with herself, but she's gotta be clean to do it."

Dukov thought about Kim's statement for a moment. Finally he responded: "Very well, Kimberly. I believe you will properly represent your friend in court, from what you have just stated. The goal of personal redemption is what we strive for in our judicial system. The thought of redemption should be on the mind of every Spokesperson as he contemplates each criminal who must pass through his office. If you understand that, and also understand how you can use our laws and resources to redeem Tiffany, then you will properly represent her at her trial."

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Kim only had three days to attend to her duties at the store and in Dukov's office before having to leave Danube City for the second foreign performance of Socrates' Mistresses that loomed at the end of the week. The band's second concert was in Berlin that Saturday. Kim's third week back in Europe would be taken up with video shoots and then there would be a concert the following weekend in Paris. Between all that Kim somehow had to schedule return trips to Upper Danubia each Sunday to spend her allotted three hours with Tiffany.

Kim openly worried about her fellow band-members during their upcoming trip to Berlin, given that in Warsaw she almost felt like their chaperone. Kim's boss from the music store and the now-retired Spokesman Havlakt came to her rescue, volunteering to go with the band during the trip to Germany and France. Their help would allow Kim to study her case files during the week and return to Danube City on Sundays to deal with Tiffany.

Kim took a suitcase of Danubian law books with her to Berlin. While the other members of her band toured the German capitol with their two chaperones, Kim spent hours alone in her hotel room with Dukov's books and photocopies of his case files. When Kim was not reading or taking notes she was with the other members of the band rehearsing or being filmed for footage to be used in several upcoming videos. Kim only slept about five hours per night during her time in Berlin and Paris. Of those two famous cities Kim saw absolutely nothing except the airports, her hotel room, the Berlin studio, and two concert halls.

As regrettable as it was she could not be with her friends as they explored the world outside Danube City, Kim had no choice. Tiffany would be released from the hospital at the end of August and immediately go on trial. Kim's actions in the courtroom would determine the course of her client's entire life and she had to be properly prepared. Kim ran up the band's hotel phone bill spending hours talking to her former Spokesman when she had questions or doubts about how to interpret what she was reading. Kim had only three more weeks to attain a third year level of proficiency in understanding the cases and laws concerning drug use and perjury that would be relevant to Tiffany's case. Her only consolation was that because she had to push herself so hard during the weeks leading up to Tiffany's trial, she expected her classes in the fall to be somewhat easier now she was familiar with real cases and laws.

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Kim visited Tiffany for the third time the Sunday following the concert in Germany. She flew to Danube City first thing in the morning to be at the hospital by 9:00 and would go to the airport immediately after noon to return to Berlin. Officer Vladik Dukov and his partner borrowed a police van to take Kim from the airport to the hospital and back again, justifying the use of the van to transport the Apprentice because she was performing the duties of her profession. When the two cops dropped her off, Kim realized they had an ulterior motive for borrowing the van. As she got out of the vehicle she noticed a picnic basket sitting in the back, partially covered with a blanket.

As she entered the substance abuse rehabilitation program area of the hospital complex, Kim had a pleasant surprise. Tiffany was not in her room. Instead she was sitting outside on a bench, struggling to communicate with a young man and woman. The woman was wearing a red heroin collar like Tiffany, but the young man was wearing a yellow collar. Kim later learned the color yellow was for ecstasy users and he had become hooked on the drug while studying abroad in Belgium.

As Kim approached Tiffany, she dropped to their knees and crisply greeted her in the proper manner. The other two stood up to greet Kim instead of kneeling. Tiffany seemed surprised as she turned her head slightly and noticed her companions still on their feet.

When she was alone with her client, Kim realized she would have to explain the complicated situation of her status as a provisional Apprentice. As far as Tiffany was concerned, Kim was legally her Spokeswoman and had to be treated as such. However, Kim did not have her Spokesperson's certificate, so she was not yet a public official. Therefore any other criminal, prisoner, or patient not directly assigned to her had no obligation to use protocol when greeting her. As far as the others were concerned, legally Kim was nothing but a college student.

When she knelt upright, Kim noticed that Tiffany's appearance had improved tremendously. Her skin color looked good and she seemed to have gained some weight. The scars on her arms had faded and were only visible if one actually was looking for them. However, the other changes were nothing in comparison with the change in her eyes and her expression. Tiffany's eyes no longer had a vacant, exhausted look. They were not sunken nor with dark circles under them. Tiffany looked...healthy.

Kim also realized Tiffany was in an upbeat mood. She quickly found out why when her client summarized her week. The second week in rehab had been a difficult one, but it seemed each day Tiffany was making real progress.

"Kim...I mean Apprentice Lee...I got a merit! They actually gave me a merit yesterday, 'cause I've improved so much with the exercising!"

"In just a week?"

"Yeah! In just a week! I went out on Tuesday and got sick during the workout...but I kept trying. Everyday I got a bit better, and yesterday I was able to keep up! I mean I did the whole routine! The hike, everything! And I didn't get sick!"

"That's so cool! I'm really happy for you!"

Tiffany's merit, because she did not need to use it to cancel a demerit, resulted in her receiving a small reward. During the dinner Saturday night Tiffany was allowed to eat dessert. She had the choice between a piece of cake and two cookies. She took the cookies so she could give one to her roommate. Having dessert was a big deal in the program, since ordinarily dessert was not on the menu. The patients ate extremely bland food designed to clean out their bodies: whole wheat bread, raw fruits and vegetables, buckwheat porridge, and an occasional piece of meat. Dessert was held out to those who had earned merits.

Kim was pleased that Tiffany had shared her merit with her roommate. That small gesture indicated that Kim's client was thinking about others and making the effort to become an accepted member of the detox program's patients. Kim noticed a very real difference between how the program's other patients were treating her now, and how they had treated her the week before. The language barrier still stood between Tiffany and her fellow-patients, but the Danubians seemed to be determined to make Tiffany part of their group.

Kim reflected how much Tiffany already had changed. In high school she had been the leader of her clique. She mercilessly bossed her friends around, using her charisma and the threat of her disapproval to keep everyone in line. The Tiffany who was emerging now was much more reserved, content and eager to be accepted and follow instead of lead. What she had been before was completely destroyed by her drug use. Now, with the drugs out of her body and her brain recovering from the chemical assault it had endured over the last two years, Tiffany had to rebuild her mind and her personality every bit as much as she needed to rebuild her body. Her goals would have to be modest ones at first, because she was rebuilding herself from nothing. Tiffany's excitement over the merit reflected her new ability to appreciate the smaller things in life.

Tiffany still was in the very initial phase of breaking free from her past. She still faced many very hard challenges. For example, she had a bad craving on Thursday, but was smart enough to tell her intern about it. He walked with her for several hours until she was able to work that awful feeling out of her body. The year before the exact same thing had happened when she was in rehab in the US, but with different results. As the craving became unbearable Tiffany escaped and immediately scored some drugs to get high. This time, with a red collar around her neck and the prospect of a switching looming over her if she tried to escape, Tiffany was forced to stay and work through her craving instead of leaving to satisfy it.

That week Tiffany felt well enough to start a rather long letter to her brother, a project that took up all of her scant spare time. She shared what she had written so far with Kim. Kim was surprised to read the detail with which Tiffany had described the Danubian rehab program. She left nothing out, not even the fact she was denied the right to wear any clothing, nor the details of the punishment she received the week before. She emphasized she was not really sorry to have been punished, since it was in response to something she had done that clearly was wrong. Once the punishment ended and her welts healed, everyone acted as though the entire incident had never happened.

Tiffany also wrote Joe about how grateful she was for everything he had tried to do for her over the past two years. All of Joe's efforts to help Tiffany had failed but, as best he could, he kept trying. Finally his efforts did pay off when he succeeded in getting help for his sister by finding Kim. Without Joe, Tiffany would not have talked to Kim. Without talking to Kim, Tiffany would still be dancing at Dirty Grampy's, strung out on meth and making trips across the street with her unsavory clients to get money for Ray.

Finally, as she talked to her client, Kim realized her speech had improved in her conversation. Tiffany's grammar was better, she was using somewhat less slang and not swearing constantly. Her sentences were longer and her train of thought more coherent. She was more straightforward with her statements and clearly not embarrassed at all about the steps she was taking to rebuild her life. In the letter Tiffany planned to include a Polaroid picture of herself taken with her roommate and two other patients, to give Joe a better idea of what her life really was like.

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The remaining weeks of August passed in a flash. Kim would have liked to enjoy the rest of the summer doing things outdoors. She remembered with regret Sergekt's hope the previous year they could go hiking in the foothills near the Rika Chorna Reservoir, but it was obvious there was not a chance there would be any time for hiking that year. She really saw very little of Sergekt, because she was with her law books while he was constantly practicing and experimenting with Dima and the band's other musicians. Both of them were extremely busy, so fortunately there was no time for either to be upset about not being able to spend time with the other.

Eloisa, on the other hand, fully enjoyed her month traveling around western Europe. She and the three other female members of the band took time off from their practicing to explore with Spokesman Havlakt. Eloisa's mind, recently freed from many of its inner torments, was hungry for experiences and information that did not relate to her life in Danube City. Under the very legitimate justification they needed to rest their voices for the concerts, the band's four Danubian women simply relaxed and went sight-seeing during the day while Kim studied and the men practiced with their instruments.

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The group's other chaperone, the owner of Danube City's music store, watched Kim dig herself ever deeper into her future life as a Danubian Spokeswoman for the Criminal. He became increasingly annoyed about the fact the band had dumped its financial responsibilities on its American singer, and also angry at himself for allowing it to happen. What had happened to Kim was completely unfair. Dima and Sergekt were intelligent and sharp young men. There was no reason why they should hide behind that "Americans are so good with business" nonsense to shirk their responsibilities to the band's other musicians and songwriters. In Barcelona he sat down with Dima and Sergekt to give them an angry lecture about the need for them to take control of the finances of "Socrates Mistresses".

"What you two are doing to Kimberly Lee is completely unjustified, and you are dishonoring yourselves with your laziness," he snapped. "She has her own path in life and that path is not to keep your band's records straight! That is your job, not hers! Kimberly Lee now has her duties to Spokesman Dukov and to that drug addict Tiffany Walker. I do not want you to approach Kimberly Lee with your financial concerns any more. When you have problems, you will approach me about them. When you do, I will expect you to have at least made the effort to find out what questions you need to be asking. From this moment I will insist that you two take responsibility for this band, and I will hold you accountable for anything that goes wrong. You will learn what you need to know to negotiate your contracts and make payments, and you will assume some leadership!"

With that the lives of Dima and Sergekt suddenly became much more serious and focused. While the others went out sight-seeing, the band's two leaders nervously sat with the impatient businessman and learned the basics of the band's financial arrangements. As Kim sat reviewing her law materials during the final weeks of August, Dima and Sergekt spent all of their free time with the financial records of "Socrates' Mistresses". They were forced to learn what they should have learned the year before as they answered a barrage of challenges and questions posed by their impromptu business instructor.

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Kim returned to the rehab wing of National Hospital for the last time on the final Sunday of August. Tiffany's month in the program had rejuvenated her and restored her health. She had put on 5 kilograms and her muscles were toned from the constant exercising. It was obvious there was no need for the American to stay in the hospital past the beginning of September.

Carrying with her the court authorization to represent Tiffany, Kim presented herself at the arraignment committee on August 29. Dukov went with her, but only as an observer. Tiffany was Kim's case and it was Kim who had to address the committee to arrange a trial date. Kim put on her most formal dress and stood in front of the same three individuals who had arraigned her as a criminal slightly over two years before.

There was no warmth between Apprentice Lee and the three officials. The committee members had been humiliated during Kim's trial because of Dukov's defense and criticism of their actions regarding the release of her friends. On the other hand they also had a legitimate interest in questioning Kim's qualifications, given her provisional status and partially completed studies. When asked about her limited education Kim responded in accented Danubian:

"It is true that I am completely unqualified to appear in court for any case other than that of Prisoner 98946. It is true that I have not completed the second year exams, which is why I am only a provisional Apprentice instead of a certified Apprentice. However, it also is true the amount of research I have conducted on the case law related to the crimes committed by Prisoner 98946 is comparable to the research a Spokesperson in full standing ordinarily conducts under similar circumstances. What I lacked in education and general knowledge of the Danubian court system I compensated with guidance and tutelage from Spokesman Dukov."

Kim took a breath, swallowed, and continued:

"I am qualified to argue this particular case because of my unique knowledge of the personal situation of Prisoner 98946. I believe I understand her needs and that is why I volunteered to represent her. My intention is exclusively to serve her interests and make the necessary arrangements to protect her from her own chemical dependency. I have certain concerns regarding her sentencing and want to make sure this panel and the trial judge understand those concerns. If you ask me whether or not I am qualified to represent most prisoners, the answer would be that clearly I am not, due to my lack of experience. However, I do believe that I am the most qualified person available to defend the interests of Tiffany Walker."

Kim's heart was pounding as she finished. She couldn't believe she had said all that, in Danubian, with no pauses and no grammatical mistakes. When the committee members questioned Kim about the cases she felt were relevant, Kim's answers convinced them she was indeed familiar with the information she needed to confront the judge and prosecutor.

The committee had nothing more to add. If Kim could defend Tiffany as well as she had just defended herself, she would do fine in court.

The committee members quietly talked among themselves. The leader responded in Danubian:

"Very well, Apprentice Lee. This committee will take you at your word that you will properly represent Prisoner # 98946. Since we already are familiar with this case we will change our normal procedures for processing her. On September 1 you will bring her here under armed escort at 7:00 in the morning. We will confront her with her actions from two years ago. Immediately after we read her the charges, you and your police escort will take Prisoner 98946 across the Plaza to trial. Once she is punished the court will release her to your custody."

"Yes Chairman, and...thank you."

The committee chairman stood up and drew his fist across his chest. Kim and Dukov saluted the committee members and they saluted back.

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On August 30 Kim visited the hospital to break the news to Tiffany about her trial. Tiffany was scared, not only because of the trial and the punishment that awaited her, but also because she had become used to the sheltered life of the detox program. Tiffany had enjoyed the regimented routine and being able to keep her mind clear of everything except her minute-to-minute responsibilities.

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