Maragana Girl Ch. 26

bycaligula97236©

That evening there was a small goodbye party for Tiffany and two male alcoholics who were well enough to leave the hospital. The hospital staff removed the patients' collars by unlocking them. Unlike judicial collars, which were much more permanent, medical collars simply unlocked and were designed to be re-used on other patients. The party was short, but very emotional for Tiffany and her roommate, who shortly would be separated. The two women would see each other in about a month, however, once the roommate was released. Kim was deeply satisfied knowing Tiffany had made her first friend in Upper Danubia.

The two middle-aged male patients got dressed and officially were released into the custody of their wives. Kim learned an interesting detail about Danubian law and how it treated substance abusers. An officially certified substance abuser, even if not accused of any crimes, no longer was a completely free citizen. Instead the patient had to be released into the custody of a family member, most often a spouse. The spouse was legally responsible for the substance abuser's public behavior, could tell him or her what to do, and could request arrest or detention if the offender refused to follow orders. After a year the detox program's staff reviewed each case to determine whether custody needed to continue or if it could be canceled. Kim figured very few men would want to be ordered around by an angry spouse for a year. Perhaps that was one factor that kept Upper Danubia's alcoholism rate so low. That night the two men, in a very subdued demeanor, left the hospital with their wives.

Tiffany was not released, because she had to go on trial the next day. Instead Vladik and his partner showed up to take Tiffany to the Central Police Station and lock her in a holding cell. The law was inflexible on that point; if Tiffany was not wearing a collar she had to be locked up. Kim felt bad for her, but the only thing she could do for her client was have Vladik give her some paper and a pen so she could spend the night writing letters. Tiffany was very scared, and with good reason. The next day would be both painful and traumatic. As best she could, Kim had warned her what to expect, which was not particularly reassuring.

At 6:00 the following morning Kim and Vladik showed up to take Tiffany to Spokesman Dukov's office. Tiffany ate the usual criminal's breakfast of tea, breakfast rolls, and fruit, before going to the bathroom and getting cleaned up. Kim ordered her to fill a sample tube with her urine for drug testing and to shave her pubic hair. While Tiffany finished getting cleaned up Vladik's partner took the urine sample to the police doctor. A medical student determined there was nothing in Tiffany's urine except a trace of marijuana, a drug that lingers in the body much longer than most other drugs. For the first time in several years, Tiffany was clean.

Tiffany dried herself off and came out just as Vladim Dukov showed up to accompany Kim to her first court appearance as an Apprentice. Kim ordered Tiffany to kneel in the outer office. Vladik then ordered her to stand up and handcuffed her. She gave Kim a very scared look.

"Alright, Tiffany, we're taking you down to your arraignment. I'm gonna warn you that committee is not going to be very nice to you, because they're a bit pissed about the perjury. Just be ready to answer their questions, and whatever you do, this time tell them the truth."

A few minutes later the Tiffany was standing in front of the arraignment committee, in the prisoner's stance with her hands behind her head and her legs spread. She was trembling from fear and humiliation as the tears began flowing down her cheeks.

The English-speaking member of the panel addressed Tiffany in her usual dour manner.

"You are the American Tiffany Walker?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Has your Spokeswoman, Apprentice Kimberly Annette Lee, informed you about the charges pending against you?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"What are the charges you face, Tiffany Walker?"

"Marijuana possession, direct perjury, and indirect perjury, ma'am."

"That is correct. You are aware of the seriousness of these violations of our law?"

"Yes ma'am."

"And knowing the seriousness of what you did, you still chose, voluntarily, to return to our country and face these charges?"

"Yes, ma'am."

There was a brief discussion among the committee members, before the female panel member addressed Tiffany again.

"Tiffany Walker, on July 2, two years ago, you entered our country with two other American tourists, Kimberly Lee and Susan Taylor. Kimberly Lee had 432 grams of marijuana in her backpack, along with items associated with the preparation and use of that drug for the purposes of intoxication. Were you aware of the presence of the marijuana in Kimberly Lee's backpack?"

"Yes, ma'am. I knew the marijuana was in there."

"How did you know that?"

"I put it there before we left Amsterdam, 'cause I didn't have any room in my own backpack."

"You now acknowledge having placed 432 grams of marijuana in Kimberly Lee's backpack? With your own hands?"

"Yes, ma'am, I put it there myself."

"But, two years ago, in this very room, you denied having any knowledge of the contents of Kimberly Lee's backpack."

"Yes, ma'am. What I said two years ago wasn't true. I knew."

"Who purchased the marijuana in Amsterdam?"

"I bought it from a guy...you know a friend...like a boyfriend or something, who gave me a good price for it. That's part of the reason I got so much. And I was going to take it to Prague and...trade some of it for heroin. That's what I wanted to do with it."

"So your plan was to exchange a portion of the marijuana for another drug."

"Yes ma'am, that's what I was gonna do."

"What was Kimberly Lee's participation in this transaction you were planning?"

"She just was smoking, that's it. And Susan was just smoking. I was the one who had the contacts in Prague."

"That is not what you told this committee two years ago."

Suddenly Tiffany began shaking with fear.

"No ma'am. Two years ago...I...I....w...wasn't....t...telling...the truth."

The committee gave the prisoner a moment to calm down and continued.

"Let us change the subject. You mentioned Susan Taylor was smoking your marijuana as well. So she was aware of the marijuana's presence in Kimberly Lee's backpack?"

"Yes ma'am, she knew."

"And why, do you suppose, she denied any knowledge of the marijuana when we questioned her?"

"Because I...when we were in the holding cell...I told her to play dumb, you know, so we wouldn't get charged."

"And you did this knowing Kimberly Lee would be charged with possession of the full amount of marijuana in her possession?"

"Yes ma'am, I knew she was fu...uh, that she was gonna get charged."

"And you now claim that it was your idea that you and Susan Taylor would deny knowing what Kimberly Lee had in her possession, even though, in fact, both of you did know?"

"That's right, it was my idea. I was the one who told Susan what to say."

"Very well, Tiffany Walker, you will understand that you have admitted to marijuana possession, you have admitted to lying to this committee, and you have admitted to telling Susan Taylor to lie to this committee."

"Yes, ma'am."

The woman then stood up and tightened her lips. Her eyes bore right into Tiffany as she continued.

"I do not find what you did to us, however, nearly as abhorrent as what you did to Kimberly Lee. Apparently you had no reservations about destroying her life in order to spare yourself. Is that not so?"

"I...I didn't...I...was more worried about myself, that's true, ma'am...that's..." Suddenly Tiffany sobbed.

"You will control yourself!"

With every bit of her strength Tiffany forced herself to stop crying, while the committee members again talked quietly among themselves. Finally the woman spoke again.

"I want you to understand how vile a person I would find you, but there is one detail that prevents me from making such a conclusion. You did volunteer to return to our country and submit yourself to the consequences of your crimes. You will understand that your trial will not determine your guilt or innocence, since you already have admitted to all three charges. You will understand there will be no leniency for you, because what you did came very close to destroying the life of a person who considered you her friend. But you have chosen to try to redeem yourself, and for that I am forced to withhold my judgment concerning your value as a human being."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Very well. This committee will recommend you face charges of marijuana possession, drug trafficking, direct perjury, and indirect perjury. Your trial will begin as soon as you depart from this hearing."

With that the director of the committee stood up and drew his fist across his chest.

Vladik immediately handcuffed Tiffany and led her into the hallway of the police corridor. As members of the public and staff from the National Police watched, Vladik led Tiffany out of the building and onto the sunlit Central Plaza while his partner, Kim and his father trailed behind. The trip across the plaza seemed to take forever, even though they were in the main courthouse only minutes after leaving the Police Station. As always the Plaza was full of morning commuters, many pausing to stare at the attractive tall young foreigner being led across the plaza in handcuffs.

Kim was quiet during the trip across the plaza, extremely worried about the added charge of drug trafficking. She had expected the other three charges, but drug trafficking carried an additional 20 years plus a switching every 60 days. The extra time did not worry Kim, but the prospect of the extra switchings did bother her. Kim was convinced that switching Tiffany more than once a year would do her much more harm than good. Somehow she had to convince the court not to impose the extra switchings.

----------

The Spokesman and his Apprentice, along with two police officers and one very forlorn-looking naked young woman, entered the old ornate courtroom. The courtroom was crowded, as it had been for Kim's trial two years before. The audience this time was different, and included Sergekt, Eloisa, Dima, ex-Spokesman Havlakt, and Tuko, who now was wearing a police cadet's uniform. Also present were Anyia, a couple of her friends from high school, and Dukov's wife Maritza.

Kim and Tiffany took their positions at the back of the chamber for the beginning of the trial. Kim's words to Tiffany echoed what Dukov had said to her two years before.

"Tiffany, when the judge comes in everyone will stand and salute him, except you. You must kneel forward and put your forehead to the carpet. You will stay that way until the judge orders you to step forward. You will climb the platform and assume the prisoner's stance. That means you must stand with your legs spread and your hands behind your head. No matter who else is talking, you must remain in that position, facing the judge. I will translate anything you need to know or any answers you need to provide the court."

The judge entered the chamber. The entire room shouted "Doc-doc Danube!" and everyone saluted, including Kim. As instructed her client knelt forward and placed her hands on the worn carpet, her forehead touching the ground. Like Kim before her, Tiffany felt the cool air of the courtroom blowing against her exposed vagina and bottom. The tears rolled down the bridge of her nose and onto the carpet.

The prosecutor read the charges, which included the new accusation of marijuana trafficking. Kim quickly scribbled a note to pass to Dukov asking him if Tiffany could be charged with trafficking if she did not intend to sell the marijuana in Upper Danubia. A court courier took the note and handed it to Dukov. Kim noticed Dukov writing a rather lengthy response.

The Prosecutor then asked Kim in Danubian: "Apprentice, is your client properly aware of the charges she is facing and that you are her representative in this court?"

"Yes your honor. I informed Prisoner 98946 of the charges before she departed the United States to come here and face trial. I have since provided her with the additional information to fully understand what she faces as a convicted criminal in the Duchy."

"Are you properly prepared to represent her?"

"I am properly prepared to represent her regarding the charges of marijuana possession, direct perjury and indirect perjury. I will request assistance from my mentor, Spokesman Vladim Dukov, concerning the charge of drug trafficking, which under the Spokesperson's Apprentice Code Item 7, article 2, I have the right to do."

"Very well, Apprentice. It is better to request assistance when needed than to poorly represent your client. Please tell your client to present herself to the court."

Kim tapped Tiffany's shoulder and pointed at the platform. Tiffany walked to it and climbed the steps, finding herself standing about a meter and a half above the ground. Reluctantly she spread her legs and put her hands behind her head. Four spotlights shined on her from different directions.

Tiffany was totally terrified. Over the last two years she had suffered nightmares about going on trial, and now here she was, going on trial for real. And yet through her haze of terror and humiliation, Tiffany realized that here, on the prisoner's stand in the Danubian courtroom, was where she needed to be. This was her destiny, to surrender herself to the harsh punishment of Upper Danubia, and at last her life had come in line with her destiny.

Tiffany knew had she confessed the truth and been on the prisoner's stand two years before, two ugly things in her life would have been prevented. First, the traumatic adventures from the most recent two years of her life never would have happened. There would have been no hepatitis in Prague, no unpleasant homecoming, no drug addiction, no Raymond, no dancing at Dirty Grampy's, no sex with paying customers. Joe probably would not have started drinking so much, and her mother would still be speaking to her. Kim would still be her friend instead of her Apprentice, or Spokeswoman, or whatever the fuck she was. More importantly, had Tiffany come here to the courtroom instead of going to Prague, Susan would still be alive. Kim's harsh words in Frankfurt echoed in her mind: "One last hit! Just one last hit! One last hit before we leave Prague! Isn't that what you said to Susan? One last hit? And for her it was, wasn't it?"

There was only one thing that could be saved now, and that was Tiffany's own life. Standing here guaranteed only one thing, that she would stay alive long enough to see her 30th birthday. It was a gift from Kimberly Lee, but a gift that would come with a very heavy price. If only Tiffany had come here two years ago. If only...

Tears stated flowing down the prisoner's cheeks. She was not crying from fear of what was going to happen, but out of regret for the two years of hell she had gone through because of her "escape". Kim was the lucky one. She was the one who stayed. She was the one who had a life worth living.

The three arraignment panel members spoke for the prosecutor, as well as Malka Chorno's former police partner. An assistant to the prosecutor re-introduced the statements of other witnesses from Kim's trial, but did not see the need to actually call them back to give live testimony. The judge asked Kim if she objected to excluding live testimony from the witnesses, to which she replied she had no objections.

About half-way through the prosecutor's portion of the trial, Tiffany's loud sniffs began filling the room, as she desperately tried to keep the snot from her crying from running down her face. Finally the judge couldn't stand that irritating sound anymore. He addressed a court attendant:

"Attendant Dublakt, please bring some tissues to Apprentice Lee. Apprentice Lee, as soon as you have the tissues in your hand I want you to call Prisoner 98946 off the stand and have her blow her nose. Then she will reassume her position and we will continue."

"Yes your Honor."

Once Tiffany's nose was taken care of, the intern in charge of her rehab discussed her current physical condition. He described how she had deteriorated since her arrest two years before and how much she recovered during her five weeks in the National Hospital program. He showed two mugshots of his patient, the one taken the day after her return to Danube City, and a more recent one to emphasize the change.

The judge commented: "I believe we have a living example in front of us who demonstrates why our drug laws are necessary."

Finally Officer Vladik Dukov testified concerning the details of Tiffany's arrest at the International Airport. His testimony did not really have anything to do with Tiffany's guilt or innocence, but he had to certify he was the arresting officer to allow the court to authorize him to switch Tiffany, should she be found guilty.

Tiffany still was crying when the prosecution phase of the trial ended. Kim ordered her off the prisoner's stand and handed her a glass of water. Kim's mind was on the note Vladim Dukov was about to pass to her, concerning how she was to confront the drug trafficking charge. However her first priority was to get Tiffany to calm down. As best she could Kim tried to comfort the prisoner, telling her that the trial and the switching would be the worst part of her experience in Upper Danubia. All she had to do was get through the next several hours. As Tiffany buried her face in her hands, Kim nervously opened Spokesman Dukov's note. He advised her to argue for dismissal of the drug trafficking charge, given that there was no indication Tiffany planned to sell or exchange marijuana in the territory of Upper Danubia. He cited two cases he had worked on before Kim's, in which he successfully had argued for dismissal of trafficking charges in possession cases. Kim realized that there was a third case she could cite, her own from two years ago.

"OK, Tiffany, here's the deal. I am going to be arguing your defense. I'm going to be honest and tell you there's a bit of a problem, and that is they want to add drug trafficking to your charges. I'm going to argue that doesn't apply to you because we weren't going to sell or exchange any of that pot in Danube City. I'm worried because its going to affect what actually happens to you during your sentence. Now you gotta get on the prisoner's platform on your knees and wait for the judge to come back in. When you hear 'Doc-doc Danube' kneel foreward and put your forehead on the platform. I'll tell you when they want you to stand up, and when you do it'll be legs spread and hands behind your head."

Tiffany climbed back up and knelt, occasionally wiping her tears or blowing her nose.

"Doc-doc Danube!"

Once Tiffany was back in position Kim began her defense. She spoke of her personal experiences and how she had come to terms with what had happened to her. She explained that in the end she had been the lucky one, to have stayed in Upper Danubia while one friend died and the other became a drug addict. She discussed how she understood the term "redemption" and how she felt the Danubian justice system could contribute to personal redemption. She went on to explain why Tiffany had been crying throughout the trial. It was not because she was scared, it was because she had lurched from one personal tragedy to another. Kim then described Tiffany's condition when she came across her in the US. She left nothing out, describing Tiffany's drug addiction, her boyfriend, her job at Dirty Grampy's and her supplemented income. Kim concluded:

"Just a couple of weeks before my sentence ended, Spokesman Dukov told me I would use my profession to save a life. I now understand that life is the life of Tiffany Walker. I brought her back with a single promise and a single purpose. I asked her if she wanted to see her 30th birthday, in good health, and many more after that. She agreed, and came back with me."

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