by Rogue Writer
First murder and First day of the Trial -
|It’s strange to think that about forty-five years ago there wasn’t an internet, no cell phones and DNA was just in the early stages of being mapped. But this is 1977.
The First One
By the time the cab arrives, the sun has set and the woods are lit by the glow of a full moon. Liz tells the driver to stop at the head of the driveway and says she will walk from there. He looks over his shoulder at her high heels and then back at the coarse gravel road beyond the gate.
“Are you sure?” he asks; raising an eyebrow.
Handing him three twenty-dollar bills for the forty-three-dollar charge on the clock, she says, “Thanks, I’ll be fine… keep the change…”
He watches her slip out of her shoes and exit the cab barefoot. She stands for a moment looking down the path that leads into a stand of trees and ominous darkness. It's a hot calm night with a clear star filled sky.
Liz is wearing a short brown skirt, black silk blouse and with her thick black hair and caramel complexion; she's almost invisible against the wooden gate...
The driver finishes making his entry into the trip log. Putting the cab in gear, he looks over at his passenger, he shakes his head; thinking she’s out of her mind as he drives off.
Tonight, she’s to visit client number forty-nine at his lake front cottage. As she watches the taillights of the cab disappear, she looks up the gravel road before her, feeling the coarse stones under her feet.
She starts her trek at a brisk pace; she has an hour to walk the mile to her destination. She curses herself under her breath; she couldn't let Kay come here again. But she will never turn down doing a favor for her friend. Especially for this kind of money.
The forest is dense and dark; the canapé of foliage blots out the moon completely. She’s made this trip once before and didn’t like it then either.
Thirty-five minutes have passed and she knows that the only way out of here is to call a cab from his cabin. Her pace is much slower now; she can’t see them, but she knows her feet must be blistering. But, she thinks, it’s better than breaking an ankle.
Ten more minutes and she can see the lights of his cabin and him sitting on the lawn, near the lake. The road ends in a small gravel parking area near the building; his Alpha is parked beside the house, on the grass. As she comes closer, her pace quickens until she reaches the grass of his lawn. She stands there for a few moments; soothing her feet on the cool soft grass before making her presence known.
While relieving her pain she hears heavy breathing; she begins to look around and suddenly freezes. Standing perfectly still with her arms crossed over her chest, she watches his two Dobermans begin to slowly circle around her. She’s not afraid of them; she knows that they’re trained not to harm his women. As they circle, they sniff and nose her from her butt to her feet. She can feel their cold wet snouts moving up and down her legs.
Confident and loud as she can, she tells them, “Okay boys, call your master…”
They stop circling, sit, looking up at her and begin to growl and bark. Suddenly they stop, their attention is drawn to the corner of the cabin where the silhouetted figure is leaning. He nods his head and the dogs begin to rip at Liz’s skirt, pulling at it; it’s another trick he taught them.
Liz can hear the material tearing and fights to remain standing until she feels the waist band snap. Growling and grunting, they pull the garment down to her ankles. She quickly does a little high step out of the skirt before they pull her feet out from under her. It’s all part of his twisted little game.
He begins to approach her and stops, “I called for the other one… what the hell are you doing here…?” She can almost taste the seething anger in his voice. It scares her and she knows the answer is a lie.
“It’s her time… you know… her friend?” She watches her skirt become shreds of cloth all over the lawn. Last time he provided designer replacements for her garments; she hopes he does it again.
Vehemently he replies “Bull-Shit…” With a short but loud whistle the dogs stop shredding and run to his side. “I guess, one slut is as good as another… Get down on all fours and clean up my lawn… make sure you get all of it…” He begins to walk away, “Do it quickly and then come inside. I’m waiting…”
Within thirty minutes, Liz, the dogs and her client are inside the cabin and in his playroom. The room; paneled with old unfinished wood boards. Lined with shelves and cabinets; it’s fitted with all the devices, fixtures and paraphernalia you’d find in a dungeon or torture chamber. She’s seen all of this before; this is what he pays through the nose to do. Bondage is a role-playing game to these nuts. Tonight, Liz is to play his submissive, to do whatever he wants with her.
It isn’t long before Liz is suspended by her wrists from two hooks in a ceiling beam. All of her remaining clothing and undergarments lay on the floor; one of the dogs is slowly reducing them to strings.
Her full weight is on her arms and shoulders; Liz extends her legs and toes; she can just barely touch the floor. He approaches from behind and kneels; he begins to tie ropes to each of her ankles. One at a time he secures the ropes to metal loops that are screwed into the floor. Now she hangs there, her legs are held wide apart by the ropes and her toes dangle three inches from the floor; she’s spread eagle, in the middle of the room.
It’s a tough pose and painful, but she knows she’ll be well paid for her discomfort.
She watches as he opens a small cabinet filled with bottles of liquid; carefully reading the labels of the bottles, he selects one. “I call this the tenderizer.” He puts on surgical gloves and opens the bottle. “I asked for Katharine and they send me you instead.”
He begins to apply the oily lotion to her skin with a sponge. She feels her skin begin to tingle with a slight burning sensation. He’s meticulous applying it to every inch of her body; her brown skin glistens in the bright florescent lighting.
He slaps her butt a stinging blow, “I didn’t like you the first time I did you…” He pulls his shirt off and tosses it to the dogs; they promptly begin chewing on it.
“Maybe I should teach you lying ladies a lesson… not to mess with me…” He turns to one of the three wide wardrobes against the far wall. She remembers the last time he only opened the center one. The one with the nipple clamps, dildos, butt plugs and vibrators.
This time he opened the right cabinet to expose boxing gloves, bamboo canes and bull whips. “Never did test how much pain you can take… Let’s see…” He selects one of the short fat bull whips. “Haven’t used this one in a while…”
Liz has been with the agency for over nine years. She knows the rules say she's not allowed to deny a client anything. She decides to test that rule and says, “No. Not that.”
He begins to swing the snake over his head, “What?”
“This isn’t in my contract.” She watches as the bitter end of the whip almost clips her nose. She's been whipped before; by another customer and almost called it off then... “Get me down; you can keep your fuckin money…”
His expression changes and he says, “Did you just curse at me?”
“Fuckin ‘A’ mother fucker get me down…”
“Ho no. We can’t have this.” He comes face to face with her. She can see a fire in his eyes. He slaps her a hard-stinging blow across her face. “You’re in no position to argue.” He chuckles as he steps back and continues swinging the whip over his head.
“Listen man. No matter how much you pay me…” She’s watching the end of the whip swing past her breast on every revolution. “That thing’s goin to leave marks… permanent marks. Keep your damn money, get me down and we’ll call it even…”
“I don’t want you coming back here, and I pay for perfection.” On his next swing he reaches out and the end of the snake bites as it tears a blood welt around her back.
She screams out in pain as anger and adrenaline race through her. She screams, “FUCK YOU, YOU SADISTIC PIG.”
In a very calm voice he firmly says, “I never use vulgarity; I find it so distasteful…” With that, he strikes her three more times.
Tears are streaming down her cheeks and she has four dark red welts crisscrossing her back. She sobs, “Bastard…”
Outside the cabin the woods are calm, the pale bluish glow of the full moon reflecting off the smooth lake. It’s quiet, but for the occasional muffled scream and faint report of whip cracking. Soon there are no more screams, just the relentless report of the whip.
* * *
The first inkling of life; Liz can smell the cool night air and the aroma of freshly mowed lawn. There are rough hands lifting her and then she’s immersed in icy cold water. She’s weightless, floating, sinking. She’s in a semi-conscious state and doesn’t realize that she’s under water. Inhaling water she panics. Choking, she wants to swim but her shoulders and hips ache; she feels like she’ll drown. Finally, she breaks the surface and hears the rush of running or falling water. She feels a stone or concrete barrier and holds onto it. There’s a strong current pushing her, and she easily slips over the slick barrier.
The old man sends the lure hurtling into space; the trajectory lands it right in the circle of his choice, fifteen yards away. It’s a perfect bright and warm June Saturday afternoon. The cool water swirling around his legs barely makes a sound. There’s little or no breeze and the water is as clear as glass.
As he reels the line in, jerking it a little to give the lure life; he decides to move up a little closer to the base of the falling water. Securing the hook in an eye on the rod and locking the reel, he wades the few feet to the shoreline where his wicker bag sits.
Old Harry’s been fishing this stream since he was twelve. He and his father would spend almost every Sunday afternoon here. He remembered how his dad liked to talk about the lake above that overflow. He remembered him saying...
“Fifty years ago, it was a farm and when the farmer died the family sold it to a developer. They damned up this steam with that wall.” He remembered how dad would always point to the fifteen-foot slab of concrete between the ends of the two granite outcroppings. “For centuries, this stream was cutting this gorge in the ground and they damned it up to make that lake.” He’d shake his head and always added. “It was a sin… only to make money…”
A conglomerate now owns all the property around that lake and stocks it with trout for the locals and vacationers. Regularly some of those fish are swept over the lip of the overflow and land downstream, in the gorge.
The old man walks a narrow dirt path that follows alongside of the stream. Soon he’s looking down at the first shallow pool near the base of the falling water. Patient, he stands perfectly still, rod and basket in hand and sees the familiar splash of fish in the water.
Setting the basket down, he discovers the edge of the pool is too steep to just step in; he must enter the stream from the base of the wall. The relatively smooth path turns into a rocky rubble. Harry carefully navigates the rough path, avoiding the pitfalls and stops for a moment, looking up at the fifteen-foot concrete barrier and spillway. There's green stain of moss down the wall and a good flow of water; but he's seen the flow a lot stronger than this.
There's a pile of jagged granite boulders at the base of the wall; set there to break the falling water and reduce erosion. Before proceeding he notices something strange. A foot, it’s a bare brown appendage sticking up out of the rocks at the base of the falls.
Harry studies the image for a few seconds before laying his rod down and moving in closer. It’s been a dry spring. Normally he wouldn't be able to get this close without getting drenched; but there isn’t much water draining over the wall today. He carefully climbs the rocks, stretching to get a better view. He can see a knee, the leg and a foot; but there’s a large bolder blocking his view. He hefts himself up and sees, in a hollow between two large stones, the battered body of a nude woman: she’s wedged head down between the rocks.
Headline – Was it murder? Wednesday, Harry Nobbs, while fly fishing near the Mirror Lake runoff, came across the naked body of a woman at the base of the overflow. Her body, severely disfigured, was discovered with unexplained injuries to her back, legs and chest. Sheriff Jenkins has called Buffalo homicide for help in the case, as much of any evidence was washed downstream from the falls. A friend of the deceased came up from New York City to identify the body. She could not provide any further details. - by. Ed Colon - June 17, 1977
Two Months Later
}Headline – Mirror Lake Murders – It’s only been two months and once again a body has been discovered at the exclusive resort. The body of Mr. Martin Heller was found murdered in his lakeside cabin. Police aren’t releasing much information, but they say they do have a suspect. A young woman, Miss Katharine March, who had come forward to identify the last body; was found unconscious near the runoff at the base of the overflow. Evidence on her person showed her involvement. She is now in a coma at the Mirror Lake Medical Center. Mr. Heller was the owner and CEO of Parker Enterprises; a multinational concern with many subsidiaries. Martin is survived by his wife Margaret. - by. Ed Colon - August 15, 1977
Three Months Later
Headline – Update on Lake Murders – The prime suspect in the two murders who has been in a coma for the past three months was reported to have awakened Sunday evening. She was unable to provide any information as she is suffering from amnesia. Police and ADA Cid Chandler are proceeding with the investigation toward an indictment. - by. Ed Colon - November 7, 1977
The Trial Day
Katharine March sits staring. The room’s small with a large wood table at its center. Her gaze drifts up to the vaulted ceiling and then down to the dark mahogany walls. The windows are frosted; covered with wire mesh gates and the floor is a cold tan marble. In her bright orange jump suit, she's the brightest object in the room. There’s a uniformed court matron sitting by the door reading a paperback.
Katharine's about to be prosecuted for a crime she cannot remember and by another self she doesn’t know. She knows that they’ll give irrefutable evidence of her being involved.
Five weeks have passed since she awoke from a three-month sleep; a sleep that washed all memories of her prior life from her mind. Since her awakening, everyone seems to know all about her life. But all she’s learned about her life; she’s learned in the past five weeks. During interviews and conversations, she learned her name, her address and pieces of her history. All the things she should have known about herself but didn’t, were revealed one day. Last week, when the detectives let her see a photocopy of her diary.
It wasn't the whole diary; just the excerpts pertaining to her case. All the pages were sealed in plastic page protectors and bound in a loose-leaf. The handwritten pages seemed so familiar to her, but it was like peeking into another woman's life story. It was laid out in snippets, a few paragraphs at a time.
Most of what she read made no sense to her. The pages only exposed three years of her life. It started just finishing a years’ probation. The pages describe a woman leading a poor existence and then making some very bad decisions. For some reasoning that Katharine couldn't understand; the woman turned to prostitution. Upon reading this, tears began to well up in her eyes. Somewhere deep inside, she felt familiarity with the story that was unfolding. Tears slowly trickling down her cheeks, she thinks, 'This woman was... it is me.'
Katharine couldn't imagine some of the things she read about herself. I could never have done these things – it's impossible. A thought goes through her head, 'If I made all this money, where is it? Why do I have a public defender?'
There's a hard knot in her chest when she read that she had accepted her fate and had no misgivings, doing whatever she must do. As she reads on, the thought of selling herself for the past eight years makes her squirm in her chair. churns in her mind. And that last page; she stares at the words in horror, “I'll kill him.” Scrolled at the bottom of the page. She cried herself to sleep that night.
* * *
As she waits for her lawyer she slowly rocks forward and back, thinking and racking her mind for answers. Something to trigger a memory; but all she ever experiences is flashes of terrifying disconnected images. The one strong reaction she experienced was when a detective placed four pictures on a desk and her sudden feeling of revulsion at one picture. He had asked her if she knew the man and she thought she did but couldn’t say who or how she knew him. She was told that it was a picture of the victim. Without knowing him, his image raises a rage in her mind, and she didn’t know why.
* * *
Matt Cohn is rushing through the side entrance of the courthouse. He’s carrying a small carryon bag and attaché case in one hand and holding a garment bag over his shoulder with the other. He tries to pass the security desk holding his ID card in his teeth; but he’s stopped and escorted to the inspection counter. The officer behind the counter smiles at him and Matt smiles back… The officer asks, “What’s in the bags?”
Realizing he’s going to be late; he deposits everything on the counter. “My clients clothing, she’s waiting for me…” Looking in the officer’s eyes with a puppy’s innocence, “I’m late… Could I just…”
The officer isn’t smiling anymore and says, “You should know the process… Open the bags.”
The officer does his best to slowly examine everything. Fifteen minutes later Matt is on his way; without a cherished letter opener and nail clipper.
* * *
Her lawyer finally comes through the door and the matron steps out. Matt lays the garment bag and carryon bag beside her on the table. He says, “I picked up some of your things from your condo. I suggest you fix yourself up and change, ASAP…”
“I'm told that you are appointed...?”
“Yes, you must have representation. Don't think about defending yourself....”
“Don't be offended but I'm supposed to have money... I...”
Matt stops what he's doing and looks up at her. “They didn't tell you?”
A little confused she tilt her head to one side, “What?”
“You do have over three hundred K in your accounts but the IRS and SEC froze them... Something about not paying taxes... and investigating you on withholding funds from a prior case...?” He sees her composure wilt under this news and adds, “It'll be okay... without boasting... I can say I'm pretty good.” he chuckles.
She begins to unpack the clothing he brought in.
Matt moves to the far end of the table, taking a seat and opening his attaché case. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I noticed you only have short skirts and dresses. I picked the most modest outfit I could find…” He raises an eyebrow and adds, “It should be okay, but please keep your knees pointed away from the jury box and God… don’t cross your legs.”
She looks at the clear plastic garment bag and sees a dark blue skirt suit and white blouse. She recognizes neither. Opening the suitcase, there’s a small mirror, shoes, undergarments and cosmetics. Katharine stands and holds up a skimpy thong with one finger, “This is mine?”
“It came from your bureau… that’s all there was in there…” He busies himself with the attaché case and pulls out a manila folder.
She begins to unzip her orange jump suit; then looks at him and stops. Timidly saying, “Could I… Could you… You know…“ She looks and nods at the door.
A little embarrassed, he realizes she wants privacy but knows he can’t leave her alone. “Actually, I could leave but I need to finish this…” He holds up a neatly typed sheet and looks around… “Here, wait.” He turns his chair completely around, facing the wall and pulls an unused chair in front of him; placing his case on that chair, he asks, “Is this okay…?’
Nervously she responds, “Yeah, I guess so…”
He pauses as he hears the sound of the zipper; then goes about his business of preparing his opening statement.
About fifteen minutes pass and he’s deep into re-reading his statement and making last minute corrections when he hears, “Okay, how do I look?”
Twisting around and looking up at her; he’s first stunned by her transformation. He’s only seen her in prison coveralls, seeing her cleaned up takes his breath away for a second. Then a thought crosses his mind; maybe I should have bought her a more conservative pants suit and larger size blouse.
He sees that the skirt is still too short. The blouse, buttoned up to her collarbone, fit perfectly. But the buttons are straining against her bust. Quickly thinking, he reaches into his overcoat and pulls out a light blue silk scarf. Wrapping it around her neck once, he tucks the tails into the front of her jacket. “There, that’s a little better.”
There’s a moment of intimacy for both of them. Tucking the material into her jacket and touching her, brought unexpected feelings. This is the first time he’s actually been physically close to her and realizing his attraction. She appreciates his concern and is attracted to him, but is cautious about showing her feelings.
He steps back to visually appraise his client; his lawyers mind is taking over again. “Okay… Okay, remember, you say nothing; no outbursts… let me do all the talking… Got it?”
Her eyes are bulging and he can see her nervousness. She mumbles. “Yeah., A… Yes…”
“Stop… Close your eyes… Take a deep breath and let it out, slowly.” He watches her follow his instructions. “Do it again…” He can see the blush in her face subside to her cheeks. “Relax, calm down; you’ll do fine…” He knocks on the door and the matron opens it.
Matt leads her through the door to the courtroom; followed by the matron. The matron takes a seat beside the door and they proceed directly to the defense table. She sees two other uniformed officers; one beside the judges’ bench and one at the main doors. Her lawyer’s little speech back in the jury room bolstered her courage a bit; until she notices his hand shaking and lip biting. She takes another deep breath and closes her eyes for a moment.
The jurors are all seated facing the defense table. Most are paying little attention to her; but there is one woman and two men staring at her. Looking over at the prosecutions table she sees two gentlemen. One is young, maybe in his late twenties and the other older and more distinguished, with gray flakes in his hair.
In a bellowing deep voice, she hears someone call out, “All rise…” Not remembering ever being in a court, or being on trial; the process seems so familiar. Katharine sits listening to the opening statements of the prosecution. She's half horrified and also interested in the facts he’s relating to the jury.
The handsome young attorney rises and faces the jury. He speaks with calm and deep confidence as he steps around the desk. “Hello, I am Marvin Kynde, Assistant District Attorney prosecuting this case. You may not know the defendants background or history.” He holds his hand out pointing toward Katharine, “so here is Miss Katharine March… For those of you who are not aware... Miss March was quite famous a few years back. Miss March is charged with the murder of Mr. Martin Heller, and you know we are all innocent under the law; until proven guilty...
As prosecuting attorney, it is my job so bring evidence that the accused is in fact the perpetrator of this crime. We will show evidence that she was capable of the crime, she was present at the time of the crime and we will produce physical evidence that she performed the crime. It’s public knowledge that the defendant had climbed the ladder of success, in a corrupt corporate institution. She gained her success by lascivious means, admitting to procuring her way to...”
Matt rises and interrupts the prosecutor with, “Your honor, Except for character assassination – what has all this got to do with this case?”
The judge says, “Mr. Kynde?”
“The defendants’ history goes to her character and frame of mind your honor...”
“Mr. Kynde, please keep your statements withing the proper guidelines.”
“Thank you...” He turns back to the jury box. “Ladies and gentlemen, all these things are history and are not part of this case. But… As the testimony unfolds, you'll see how they do reveal her immoral structure and demeanor. Was she capable of murder and did she have a motive? There's evidence that she visited the victim many times. You’ll hear about her friend who was murdered… that is still an open case…
Katharine notices that as he speaks, he slowly moves left to right and back again; looking each juror in the eye.
“Admittedly she was discovered badly injured. She was unconscious from a fall that resulted in a three-month coma. Now she says she has amnesia and can’t remember anything.” He slowly steps forward and places his hands on the railing. “You will hear testimony regarding her movements and activities during that week… including the day and night of the murder…” he moves to the prosecutions table and before sitting down adds, “When you hear all the testimony I feel certain that you will find Miss March guilty of premeditated murder… in the first degree. Thank you.”
Katharine stopped breathing halfway through the remarks and a cold chill rattles up her spine; she's trembling. She turns her head toward Matt who is beginning to rise; he closes the folder with his statement and approaches the jury box.
“I am Mathew Cohen, Miss March’s attorney.” He looks over at the prosecutor saying, “That was an excellent attempt at character assassination.” He turns back to the jurors, “Have any of you ever done something terrible in your lives to survive a disaster? You have to admit, most of us have. What Marvin failed to say was that Miss March was brought up in a stable home and had excellent marks in school. In college, she graduated at the top of her class with a Master’s in Business Administration.” He glances at the prosecutor and then back at a juror. “I’ve noticed that a few of you have executive backgrounds. Have any of you seen or experienced gender bias in your workplaces?”
Two or three of the panel roll their eyes, one smile with a nod of his head.
Kynde raises his hand to the judge, “Same question. What’s this got to do with the case your honor?”
The judge quizzically looks down at Matt, questioning, “Well?”
“Just trying to fill in the parts of her life that the prosecution left out. Your Honor.”
The judge sits back, “Proceed.”
Matt turns and accidentally bumps into the prosecutors table, knocking some of his papers into his lap. “Sorry…” He smiles at Kynde.
“The company that hired my client as a low-level manager was corrupt with mob affiliates. Katharine was new to business and had never risen beyond salesclerk before graduating college. She watched as most of her female counterparts and she was being slighted or mauled. If they complained, they stayed in their positions or were let go. Then there were two or three women that maneuvered their way up the chain, and she mimicked them. She is a very attractive woman and found that she had a natural talent at setting people at ease. Admittedly she did sacrifice her moral codes a number of times, but never forcing or resorting to threats. I have witnesses to corroborate the legitimacy of her promotions. You may call that immoral, playing on the sentiments of another for capital gain, but she never blackmailed anyone to better her position.”
The judge interceded with “Mr. Cohn, You’re going a little too deep...”
“I’m sorry your honor. The prosecutors opening, attacked my clients’ character. Putting undue precognition in the jurors’ minds; just trying to level the field.”
The judge frowns at the jurors’ and then back at Matt, “You may proceed.”
Matt turns back to the jury box. “There are lawyers… and there are lawyers, like me. Some charge large sums of money to defend a client…” He shrugs, “and I work for the public defender’s office.” A chuckle rolls across the room, even the prosecutor smiles.
“Admittedly Katharine pleaded to a lesser charge and testified against her superiors. She served her time in probation. The law firm that represented her wasn't cheap… In fact, between the justice department and her lawyers she walked away dead broke. leaving her destitute and in the street. She had been an executive in a billion-dollar company and then she sat on a stoop with only the clothes on her back. But she wasn’t in prison.”
“Her MBA no longer meant anything. The newspapers had raked her reputation through a raging fire. Her life was in ashes. Acquiring a high paying legitimate position was out of her reach. Companies rely on prestigious head-hunting agencies to select their key personnel. Katharine was blackballed and turned away from even smaller agencies.
We don’t know who her friend was or how they met, but Katharine lived with this person for a few months. Her friend worked as a bar maid, so she worked as a bar maid also.”
“Mr. Cohn You’re taking too long…” The judge points at his wrist.
“Please bear with me a few moments; I’m almost done your honor.” The judge nods.
“Like most bars of this sort, there’s always illicit behavior. Being very attractive, Katharine was well liked and by consenting to doing favors, she did make money. She lived her life to be successful and she was going to do that however she could.”
“When her friend joined the escort agency, Katharine followed. Admittedly it was a totally illegal operation and again mob affiliated. Prostitution is illegal in this state, but that was all she did. It is on record with her agency that the victim was registered as a customer… client number forty-nine.”
“I will prove to you that Miss Katharine March was not the person responsible for Martin Heller’s murder. Thank you.”
Matt comes back and sits beside Katharine. He whispers, “I suggest you do your damnedest to remember some of this…” He glances at the jury box and adds, “It doesn’t look good.”
The judge strikes his gavel and announces, “We’ll break here for a two-hour recess and lunch. We will reconvene at two this afternoon.”
After Matt deposits his client in the jury room he excuses himself and leaves.
Pain of remembering.
Matt knocks on the door of the small jury room and the matron opens it. He’s carrying a canvas shopping bag full of framed pictures. He stands at the door and sees Katharine staring at the opaque glass of the windows. Her lunch, still wrapped in paper, sits on the table before her. He looks at the matron and asks, “How long she been like this…?”
“Since before they brought the food.”
“Okay…” He nods for her to leave and the matron steps out, closing the door behind her.
He puts the bag down on the table and starts to set the pictures up in an arc around her plate. He waves his hand in front of her eyes. “Kat… look. Look at the pictures...”
She blinks and bobs her head, glancing down at the photos. Her grim empty expression worries Matt. He knows they only have an hour before the afternoon session starts.
“I got these from your apartment. Do you remember anything… anyone?”
She’s sitting with her hands in her lap; her gaze slowly passes from one picture to another. Then she raises a hand and lifts one; resting it against the edge of the table, she begins to trace the images with the tip of her finger. “I… I… I think I know her…?”
He’s looking over her shoulder; the photo is of her with a dark-skinned woman. They’re on a beach and both are wearing bikinis. During his research, Matt discovered that the woman was Katharine’s friend and roommate. “Katharine, how do you know her?”
She hesitates and shakes her head. “I don’t know… She’s so familiar to me… I’m sure I know her.”
He pulls another unframed photo from the bag and takes the one she’s holding away. She gasps and sits back in her chair when she sees what he’s holding. “You do know this one; don’t you?”
“I don’t… I don’t know him… but he scares me and… I … don’t like him…” Tears begin to well up in her eyes. “He’s the one that died… isn’t he?”
He puts the photo face down on the table and draws a chair up beside her. “Hun, you need to face your fears. You’re going to have to remember. I need some ammunition to shoot back at this, or you’re going away for a long time.” He rests his hand on her shoulder. “Remember, breathe, calm down…”
Katharine breaks down in a full cry and leans her head on his shoulder. “What am I going to do? I must have done it…“ She’s sobbing. “I can’t remember anything but these feelings and a hatred for a photo of a man I don’t know.”
He waits a few minutes until she stops crying; he blots her eyes and cheeks with a paper napkin. “Okay, done is done. The guy’s dead and we can’t do anything about it. I firmly believe that you could not have done this, and we need answers to a lot of unasked questions.”
He picks up the framed photo and points at the woman beside Kat, “That was your roommate; she shared the rent on your condo. Your neighbors told me that you two were very close.” He puts his arm around her shoulder and holds her fast. “She was murdered seven and a half months ago. Her body was discovered, not twenty yards from where you were found.”
“I didn’t? I wasn’t? Was I?”
“No, you had nothing to do with it. But there is some sort of connection; both of you were discovered naked. Your friend was beaten to death and then dumped over the falls.” He touches her chin, turning her face away from the picture and looks into her eyes. “You identified her body, three days after she was found.” She looks back at the picture.
She traces her finger over her image and mumbles, “What was her name?”
She stares at the picture. It’s coming back; she can see her smiling and laughing. Momentarily Katharine’s on that beach, she can feel the warm sun and almost hear her voice. A picture of a brutally disfigured person flashes in her mind; a person she loved, and she quietly whispers, “Liz…I knew her… That’s Liz!” Then she starts to cry again. “He killed her… I know that son of a bitch must have killed her…”
Suddenly Matt’s heart sinks: he thinks he’s uncovered motive.
Again, he waits for her to settle down; holding her, rocking with her as she pours out her grief. Finally, he sees that they only have fifteen minutes before they start again, he asks her in a very serious tone. “Don’t break up on me again, we don’t have time… But, do you now remember Martin Heller?”
She lifts the picture up from the table and looks at his face again. Stern and committed, she says, “The only thing that comes to mind is forty-nine… there was no name.” She throws the photo down on the table. Images begin to rush through her head; terrible images, things he did to her, things she let him do… for money.”
There’s fire in her eyes; he sees a rage building in her expression. “I’m sorry… I must have done it… I remember… he beat me… he enjoyed hurting women… He paid to beat me. He paid all of us…”
“You remember him…?”
“I only knew him as number forty-nine… Client number forty-nine.”
There’s a loud knock on the door and the matron pokes her head in. “Ten minutes…”
Matt pats her on the shoulder and points. “Cool off… Throw some water on your face. There’s a sink in the corner; wash up and try not to show any emotions when we go back in.” He begins to put all the pictures back into the bag.
“I still don’t remember, and I don’t know how; but I’m sure he murdered Liz.”
“Don’t let on. You still can’t remember… Don’t let them know that your memory is coming back.”