Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language, violence, and mature content.
Raffie was heaving, heaving, sweating, shaking, convulsing, crying. He sobbed painfully and let his anguished words cry out: “Why did they make me go out there? Why did they make me see him? Why?”
Jesús, the Fullers, the usher, the McCollinses, everyone consoled him. Their voices cooed and echoed, reverberated against Raffie’s ears.
It’s all right, Raphael, everything’s fine, it’s all over, no one will ever make you do that again, it’s all over, you’re all right, everything will be all right…
His breath began to calm, though his heart still beat rapidly in his chest. His cheeks were wet with tears, his body recovering from the savage convulsing it had gone through. An image flashed in his mind, a remembrance of something that comforted him in the darkest hours - his silver cross necklace. He did not reach over and clutch it with his hand, but he clutched it with his mind, his grieving spirit. The symbol vibrated, was warm, consoling, and the words of the other people around him became background noise.
Sasha sat frozen. She didn’t know what to do but be frozen in place and not say a word to anyone. Was it fear or was it necessity? Maybe both, she thought as possible. Fear and necessity - to imagine those words ever being combined in one single cause of action must be stemmed from witnessing a horrifying, terrifying spectacle: the sudden outburst of Raphael Cortez - and upon seeing whom? The defendant - Georg Adolf Krause.
And everyone, too, felt the same effect of that display.
Mr. Score stood up to face the jury. “My friends, please note that the visceral reaction you just witnessed was in response to seeing the defendant. It is documented that Raphael Cortez went out of control when he saw the man Georg Adolf Krause. I will also have the jury know that a bad character application was previously made before the trial officially began, which essentially shows that the defendant has in the past shown inappropriate or misconductive behavior, which strengthens the counts against him, especially of violence against children as well as sexual advances. Raphael Cortez’s reaction serves as his witness report, and I will personally confer with him and his brother before allowing either of them to be questioned in the stand, if Your Honour permits, of course.”
“Permission granted, Mr. Score,” the judge said.
“Thank you , Your Honour.”
The judge rose from his seat. “We will take a short break, and reconvene in thirty minutes. The jury will be escorted to their appropriate waiting room. While you are waiting, feel free to look around at some of the exhibits they have here.”
The court rose in a wave of bodies, and that wave ebbed and flowed and pushed outward beyond the courtroom. Sasha followed her fellow jurors, open to going wherever they decided to go.
Aldous Score felt slightly guilty for bringing Raphael onto the witness stand. He knew the performance warranted a re-substantiating of evidence against Krause for the jury. That performance may help the jury make their decision in favor of declaring Krause as guilty.
Mr. Score walked into the witness waiting room, and saw the child Raphael sitting curled in a corner. No one spoke to him, but glances were sometimes passed, of concern, nothing more. He was afraid to approach the child, but knew he had to say something.
“Raphael,” he said softly. The child stayed curled inward with anger. “Raphael, I had no idea that seeing that man would have been so traumatic. I just came to say… to say that I’m sorry.”
Raphael looked at him with weary eyes. “Do you mean that?”
“Of course I do! Why would I not?”
“No one ever means what they say, even if they convince themselves that they do.”
Score was taken aback. I meant that apology! I didn’t convince myself to think that! I truly meant it! he thought indignantly.
“Is there something else you needed?” Raphael asked.
“I just needed to quickly talk to your brother before allowing him to the witness stand.”
“You see now, mister, that you were not here to apologize, but to talk to my brother.”
“Well, I wanted to apologize as well.”
“You are entitled to that opinion,” Raphael said flatly.
Aldous shook, and moved on to talk to Raphael’s brother, Jesús.
“Good morning, Jesús.”
Jesús looked at him with a bored look. “Who are you?” he asked.
“My name is Aldous Score, I am an attorney representing the prosecution. You were planned to be the next witness on the stand after your brother, but in the event of your brother’s adverse reaction to seeing the defendant, I thought I’d confer with you first, you know, to see if you were up for it.”
“If it’s all the same to you, Mr. Score, I would rather not see that man again. But, I will make my statement, if it means putting that monster behind bars.”
“Very well, Master Cortez. I admire your bravery.”
“When would you have me do this?”
“As soon as the thirty minute break has concluded.”
“Why is there a break?”
“To allow for a brief pause before continuing on with the trial.”
This child is very mature, Score realized. He admired that maturity, and had a sense that someday that same maturity would present itself in his younger brother, who was only seven years old.
Seven years old! Raphael Cortez only seven years old! How could anyone do something so wretched and vile to that poor boy like that man Krause did to him? I wish I could personally sentence that monster to death. Score suddenly became very protective of the Cortez children, and wondered if he should keep Jesús from going to the stand. He felt ashamed that he let Raphael, the younger of the two, be forced through the torture of seeing his attacker. What the hell was I thinking? thought he. How callous must I be to have let that happen? I must do something to redeem my actions.
He knew, though, that Jesús was determined to overcome his fear and be brave enough to sit in the stand, if it meant bringing down Krause.
“Well, Jesús, I will see you in the courtroom.”
Mr. Score walked out of the waiting room deep in thought. He had come to the conclusion that he needed to have a serious talk with himself over his actions and how to move forward as a better man.
He was glad to find the courtroom mostly empty.
Sasha found herself following the jurors around the court building, looking through little glass cases at historical trinkets and little statues and paintings here and there. She didn’t pay much attention to the exhibits or the meaningless chatter between the jurors who seemed to all know each other (which was rather amusing to her). She tuned them all out and looked out a window every so often, looked at a tree, silently said hello to it, and was constantly in her own little world that was somewhere different and more peaceful than the chaos and emotional instability of the masses. She knew she was apart of that mass, but she rather considered herself someone who preferred escaping that insanity for a bit more peace in her life. She had done this as far as she could remember; friends who were not true friends would call her a looney or a loner and seek to distance themselves from her, but she was so caught up in her little paradise of the mind that she barely noticed when people would separate themselves from her or approach her with curiosity. She even had a vague recollection from a year in high school where a boy attempted to ask her out on a date, and she barely noticed him, as if he was talking behind thick layers of impenetrable glass, or like a conversation trying to be directed through feet of water when all you hear is a faint murmur.
And what’s more, she enjoyed being that way. To her it was like being in the world yet not of the world, being physically somewhere yet having no similitude or reference to that somewhere. To her it was the ultimate tranquility.
As the half hour ended, she thought for a moment about the trial. She had been traumatized by the fearful performance by the little boy brought to the witness stand to testify against a man who had tried to attack him. Yes, she was traumatized by that unexpected occurrence, for even in her fleetingness of attention, she was very much attentive to the goings-on of the courtroom, for she knew it was her responsibility as juror to know what was happening and to be able to provide a sufficient verdict, and the reason she was traumatized was rather due to her kind, warm heart that reached out to people who were suffering and in pain and in need. Even though she preferred staying out of people’s drama, she always noticed when someone was in pain and suffering. To her, not noticing that would be like being passive and unresponsive while someone was being torn apart in agony right in front of her. She could never imagine her being that disconnected from the dealings of mankind.
And the half hour break ended. They all moved back to where the courtroom resided, and filed in, already having been sworn in before, and all they had to do was sit now, and listen to the rest of what had to be said. Mr. Score was seen sitting rather pensively in his designated chair. The jury took their seats; Sasha was silent and observant, watching everyone yet appearing to be lost in her mind. That was something she was good at, not showing her true state, her full colour, her deep thought.
Everyone finally returned. The judge walked in with an unreadable look. It was a look that said he might’ve been focused, or was slightly sour about something.
“Is everyone here?” the judge asked the listening air.
The court usher responded. “Yes, Your Honour, I believe we’re all present.”
“Then let us begin.”
Mr. Score stood up and adressed the court. “During our thirty minute break, I talked with my third witness, and though he is also young, he is willing to come to the stand and testify and be questioned.”
“Does anyone object?” the judge asked the court. No one responded.
“You may proceed, Mr. Score.”
Aldous continued. “I shall now have Jesús Cortez brought to the stand.”
The court usher went into the next room and summoned the boy. Jesús saw the defendant Krause, and internally shook with a mixture of anger and disgust, but it was dull, suppressed, and he found himself being prepared to face that man.
The court usher swore him in with the designated line. He repeated the words the man spoke, and he repeated them with definitiveness, of resolute confidence in the desire to prosecute Krause.
Score began his examination.
“Please state your name for the court.”
“Jesús Vallejo Cortez.”
“Tell us what happened on the night of February 25th.”
“What night was that?” he asked.
“Leave to refresh the memory of the witness,” Score turned to the judge.
“You have leave,” the judge said with a wave of hand.
“The night of February 25th was the night that you and your brother, and the woman Margaret Chetty, reported the defendant having attacked your brother. Would you care to fill us in step by step on what happened that night?”
“Yes, I will,” Jesús said. “I was sleeping on the bed above Raffie’s, it was a bunkbed, and I awoke to his screams calling out for me to help. I saw that man, the one sitting there, your defendant, attacking my little brother. I couldn’t rightly see what he was trying to do, but I did see his arm trying to reach out and take hold of something. I immediately sprang into action and started kicking and punching the man, while Raffie with his ragged fingernails clawed the guy’s eyes out. Then Mrs. Chetty came into the room in a fury and yelled out, ‘What the hell is going on?’ and Raffie told her that the man had tried to grab his crotch. She then started screaming hate at the man who we had defeated with a joint effort, and she gave him some pain by kicking him in the solar plexus. After that she had two men guard that man, who sits in this room as your defendant, and she went off to call the police.”
“So I have one quick question for you: How did you know Mrs. Chetty kicked the defendant in the solar plexus specifically?”
“Well, my Mami taught me about the body and I saw where she hit him, and he was out of breath after she did that.”
“Very good. Now, had you and Mrs. Chetty or your brother ever talked about the incident before today?”
“No, sir. Not a word about it. We had all tried to put it out of our minds, I suppose.”
“Fair enough. I have no more questions, Your Honour.”
“Those are very few questions, Mr. Score. Are you sure you don’t have more? I have known you to be very questioning in the past.”
“Not today, Your Honour. I have asked all that I need to ask. Any more questions would be unnecessary. The defence may cross-examine my witness if they wish.”
“Mr. Dalton, do you have any questions for the witness?” the judge asked.
“Yes, I shall go ahead with my cross-examination.”
“Proceed, Mr. Dalton.”
Mr. Dalton stood up and stood several meters away from the stand.
“First off, Jesús, did you or did you not actually see Mr. Krause attempt to sexually assault your brother?”
“I only saw his arm reaching forward.”
“Let me restate the question: Did you or did you not actually see Mr. Krause attempt to grab your brother’s crotch?”
“Then there is no way you can actually be sure that Krause intended to commit such an action, am I right?”
“When you and your brother were beating up Mr. Krause, he wasn’t fighting back at all, was he?”
“He was fighting back, but Raffie had blinded him so he wasn’t very accurate with his blows. He mostly swung at air as we tried to fight him off.”
“Then it is entirely possible that Krause had no intention of fighting back because he knew that if he did he would be an even larger suspect, am I right?”
“You are entitled to that opinion, Mr. Dalton,” Jesús said calmly. A few people in the audience chuckled.
Dalton’s face flushed red with anger. “Answer the question with a yes or no!”
“I already answered your question, Mr. Dalton. Then again, your question wasn’t an important one.”
He flushed even darker a red. More people chuckled in the background and quickly stifled themselves to maintain composure.
“Humor me, son,” said Dalton. “Answer my question with a yes or no.”
“What was your question again?”
Anger built to a fury in that man Dalton. His words fumed, smoked like a volcano. “It is entirely possible that the defendant had no intention of fighting back because he knew he would dig himself an even deeper hole than he was already in, am I right?”
“No, you are not right. You weren’t there. If you were there, you would not be so adamant on defending Krause, in fact, you would be doing what Mr. Score is doing - trying to prosecute him.”
Dalton was enraged. How dare this child sass me in front of the entire court and get away with it! This is insufferable! he thought with boiling frustration.
The judge leaned forward and spoke very calmly to Mr. Dalton. “Charles, if you are having a hard time with that question, I suggest you move on to another one.”
Dalton was furious. He couldn’t believe something like that was happening, like that could ever happen. “Very well,” he said, barely containing his anger.
“It was quite dark in that room, for it was in the middle of the night. Isn’t it quite possible that you saw a different man attacking your brother and not the man sitting right here?”
“It was dark, but I am quite confident in my recognition of the man.”
“Had you ever met him before that night?”
“Then how would you have been able to identify him when you had never seen him before?”
“I don’t have to have known him before that night to identify him. I can identify him right now as your defendant. Just look at him! His face is covered with scars from Raffie’s fingernails! Identifying him is easy.”
Dalton exhaled through his nose and looked at the floor for a moment. “I have no more questions for the witness.”
“You may step down, Mr. Dalton. And you, Jesús Cortez, you may be dismissed from the witness stand, unless the prosecution wishes to re-examine you,” said the judge.
Score looked at Jesús. “I am satisfied, Your Honour. The witness may stand down.”
“Then, Jesús, you may leave at any point from now till whenever. You are free to stay and watch the rest of the trial, or leave when you wish. No further questions will be asked of you.”
“Thank you,” Jesús said in a smallish voice. He stepped down from the witness stand, and the court usher asked him quietly where he wanted to go. Jesús said something in response, and the usher nodded, escorting him into the waiting room.
Mr. Score stood up facing the judge. “That is the case for the prosecution.” He sat down.
Sasha sat waiting for the next step. She had an idea of what it would be.
The judge spoke again. “The defendant may now make his case upon the witness stand. He has the right to not give any evidence, though it must be known that in the act of not giving evidence, it allows for adverse inferences to be made by the jury.”
A quick conference took place between the defendant Krause and his attorney. Krause nodded, and stood up to face the judge. “I choose to not give evidence.”
The judge’s eyebrow raised a fraction of a millimeter. “Well, Mr. Krause, upon your decision to not give evidence, there can be no defence case to be presented. Thus the defence eternally rests, and the prosecution may make its closing statement as of right now, and after you have finished your statement, the defence may make his.”
Mr. Score was surprised the defendant chose to not give evidence. Choosing to not give evidence was such a risky maneuver, one that almost certainly guaranteed the guilt of the defendant. What had his attorney suggested to him? Did he have some backup plan to win Krause independence? Or maybe the attorney didn’t even like the person he was aiding.
Or, he thought with amusement, he was an incompetent attorney.
He realized, though, that no one would ever know one way or the other. Only that attorney would know.
Mr. Score stood up to face the jury.
“Members of the jury - to recapitulate the specifics of this case, I shall say it all out. The defendant, Georg Adolf Krause, was charged on counts of attempted assault with intent to molest, and of forgery of legal documentation and identification as well as residential history. The evidence shows that Krause did enter the room at approximately three in the morning, and attempted to attack the Cortez children, especially the boy named Raphael Cortez. You have been shown that Margaret Chetty and Jesús Cortez’s statements upon the witness stand support each other. You have also seen Raphael Cortez’s reaction to seeing the defendant in court. This evidence supports the guilt of the defendant, and in the event of the defendant’s unwillingness to provide evidence to support the opposite case, the jury is led to assume adverse inferences. It is supported by law enforcement the submittal of a bad character application which took place just before the jury entered the court. I beseech the jury to carefully review the evidence that they have been provided with by the prosecution, and make their verdict wisely. Thank you.”
Score sat down, and remained silent. Dalton now stood up to make his closing speech for the defence.
The judge spoke. “You may go ahead and make your closing statement, Mr. Dalton.”
“Thank you, Your Honour.” He turned to face the jury. “The issues in the prosecution case are as follows: one, the lighting conditions of the incident, which impairs the identification of the accused; the actual sighting of the attempted sexual action, which is shown by the lack of seeing that action taken by both Jesús Cortez and Margaret Chetty. The count of forging documents was directly made null and void by Margaret Chetty’s statement. To say Krause is guilty would be an unsupported verdict, for the evidence posed by the prosecution does not prove that Krause did in any way attempt to sexually assault the child Raphael Cortez. He did not, as you may or may not remember, fight back when the children fought him. As Jesús Cortez stated, Krause threw blows but only hit air. You can suppose that action of missing them as intentional. You can also conclude that Krause had intentions of checking on the children to make sure they were settling in well, for they had just arrived to the shelter that day. I ask of you, members of the jury, do not be swayed so easily by the compelling evidence you have been given. Make sure you take in both sides of the argument, and truly determine which side makes more sense. Thank you.”
Dalton sat down. Mr. Score had an almost indistinguishable smirk on his face. If he had left off that last sentence, he would have had a chance, he thought. But when he told the jury to make a verdict based on which side made sense, he lost all hope of winning this trial. Even with the minimal amount of evidence I had, I did pretty damn good.
The judge cleared his throat, then turned to the jury. “The jury will now be escorted to a private and secure room where they will not be disturbed or talked to. During their formation of the verdict, no one may interfere with their private conference. Shaw, you may escort them out, now.”
The court usher nodded in response and motioned the jury to stand up and exit the courtroom. Sasha followed the tide of people and let the usher named Shaw take them to a “private and secure room”. She had no idea where they were going to go, but was confident that wherever they went, they would make a very confident verdict.
The jury was led to a conference room in an obscure part of the building. Only the usher would be able to lead them back to the courtroom.
“Enter, and be discerning,” said Shaw. “You may have as much time as you need, but after a certain time I will check in to see if you all have come to a verdict. Please remember that the judge did not allow for a majority verdict, so all jurors must agree in order for the verdict to be valid.”
The jury entered the room, and Shaw closed the door behind them. Sasha looked around at them, and the decision-making began.
A man spoke up first. “So, based on the evidence we have been presented to, what are some thoughts?”
A slightly heavyset woman spoke up. “I think he’s guilty. Did you see the way that kid screamed when he saw that guy? It was bloody awful!”
The man asked her further, “Is that your official position?”
Sasha looked around at all of them, read into their minds, saw their decisions before they saw them. They all had dark expressions on their faces, all sullen and thinking about cruelty. “Let’s have a raise of hands,” she said suddenly. Everyone suddenly noticed her existence. The man said, “Yeah, sure, we can do that, as long as it isn’t our official decision right off the bat.”
“Of course,” Sasha agreed. “Who here says Krause is guilty?”
The hands slowly rose. One by one, every hand in the room went up, all except one.
It was the upright, stoic man with a tweed suit. He spoke when everyone saw his disagreeance. “I just don’t see it. The evidence was convincing, but then nobody ever saw Krause do what they said he did. You know what I mean?”
An elderly woman sat up. “Well, mister, here’s the thing. Both witnesses that made their statements both agreed that Krause was guilty on the same story. They both said they saw him charging at the boy, trying to do something aggressive.”
“Well, that is true,” the tweed man said.
“All I’m saying is, even the defence agreed that Krause was in the room even though they tried to go back on that statement later on. Do you know what I am referring to?”
“Yes, I do. And I see your point.” He sighed slightly, still a bit unsure. “I will raise my hand in the confidence that my fellow jurors saw something I did not, and that the defendant had a dark intent. I say he is guilty on the count of attempted assault, but I say he is not guilty on the count of forgery.”
“Then let us have a vote for the two different counts,” Sasha intervened. “All who say Krause is guilty of attempted assault with intention to molest, raise your hands.” Every hand raised. “And all who say Krause is guilty of forgery, raise your hands.” None raised.
“Then we have a verdict,” the first man said.
The social woman with curly black hair said, “I can go get the court usher, if you want.”
“Sure,” said the heavier woman.
Ms. Social Curly Hair went to the door, and told the usher that the verdict had been made.
“That was fast!” the usher said in surprise.
“Really? I had no idea!”
“Well anyway, have the other jurors follow me back to the courtroom, and then the jury can make its statement. First, you must appoint a frontperson to officially announce the verdict.”
“Okay!” the woman went back into the room and told the jury the information. Sasha looked around, thought maybe the first man who spoke could be a good frontperson. The old lady agreed with that, and spoke her idea to that man. “Excuse me, mister….”
“Hm?” he said. “Oh… Saer Jenkins.”
“Mr. Jenkins, would you like to be our frontperson?”
“Sure, if that is what the jury desires.”
People nodded as if they were saying, “Sure, why not.”
With that decision having been made, the jury stood up and followed the usher Shaw down a hallway, another hallway, and another, another, another. It seemed endless, that silent procession back to the courtroom. It was like going through a maze that after awhile passed before your eyes like a blur, to where the turns and steps were no longer distinguishable from each other, all one giant flowingness that seemed to never end. But that was the one thing that made it worth the travel for most people: it did end.
The jury was shown into the courtroom again, and they all took their seats. Sasha watched as the first man prepared to make the verdict announcement to the court, to the judge. As people around the large wooden room got settled in, the judge spoke to grab the court’s attention.
“The jury has returned with a verdict. Who is the frontperson?”
The first man raised his hand and stood facing the judge.
“What is your name, sir?” the judge asked.
“Saer Jenkins, Your Honour.”
“You may tell us the jury’s final verdict, Mr. Jenkins.”
Everyone leaned in to hear it. The air tightened with anticipation, every set of eyes making laser-beams through that man Jenkins. His brow began to sweat from nervousness. What unnerved him the most was the dark, sadistic glare the defendant Georg Adolf Krause gave him.
“W-well, Your Honour, it was a unanimous vote. We pronounce the defendant Guilty of Attempted Assault with Intent to Molest, and Not Guilty of Forging Documentation, Identification, and Residential History.”
The judge addressed the court. “It appears we have one count laid to the side, and one count to sentence. Either way, Georg Adolf Krause shall be due charged on the count of Attempted Assault with Intent to Molest. At this point in time any and all jury members are dismissed of the court and may exit through that door by which the usher Mr. Shaw stands, and all others in the gallery are free to watch the sentencing or leave as you wish. There will be a short intermission while people who are leaving may leave without causing distraction during the final steps of the trial.” He then turned to a guard who stood close by him. “Reynolds, can you make sure that everyone in the witness waiting room is dismissed?”
“Yes, Your Honour. I will do so immediately.”
The judge sat back with a feeling of satisfaction. Internally, he felt relieved, for he secretly was glad that the verdict had turned out the way it did, that the man Georg Adolf Krause had been deemed Guilty. A faint smile played on his tired, aging lips. He was happy to see justice be done.
Raffie felt better after sitting quietly for awhile. The emotion had subsided, receded like a lowering tide, removing itself from the shores and going back out to the sea. His emotion was that water, ever ebbing and flowing, coming and going, and endeavoring to get the best of him.
Jesús sat nearby. Raffie and him had somewhat lost contact during that day, especially after what Raffie had said. Raffie knew there was nothing he could say to counter his original statement, for he knew that what he said he believed to be truth.
The two foster families sat apart, the Fullers in the far corner on Raffie’s left, the McCollins couple sitting sullenly next to each other on the other side, staring into space. The childless parents faced the door that led to the courtroom.
The door suddenly was swung open by a guard who was in his mid-thirties and had shiny black eyes. He walked in looked at everyone, then spoke:
“May I have all of you attention please?”
Everyone looked at him.
“I would like to inform you that the jury has made their verdict and the defendant is found Guilty on the charge of attempted assault. He shall be sentenced shortly. You may all go home now and be at peace. I can help you all find your way out of the building if necessary. Would anyone like some assistance?” he glanced around the room. Everyone shook their heads no, and they showed it in a way of gratitude for the offer.
“Alright,” said he. “I hope you all have a good rest of your day.”
He left after that. He seemed to be a very cordial man, respectable. He acknowledged everyone’s right of choice, and didn’t bother to persist.
What a nice man, thought Raffie. There are not many of those left in this world. And I don’t even know if there are any. I don’t even know if my first impression of that guard was even based in fact. I don’t even know if that man was a sincerely kind person that was sensitive to other people’s needs. How can I trust anybody?
Again, as it had been with so many other questions he posed to himself, the answer was silence. It was the silence, above all other possible answers, that unnerved him. Not knowing the answer was like being condemned to the worst possible fate of that question’s yet-undetermined answer. If only he could rightfully declare the answer he desired because he knew it. If only he had the wit to understand his life and how it operated underneath the surface of reality, that glassy façade that fooled the untrained eye. It was a miracle, he realized, that he even had the prescience that there was something to be discovered under the surface, that there was something to be questioned about life. Many didn’t even question.
And so the time had come to leave the Crown Court. Raffie went over (not without reluctance, especially after what he found himself saying to his brother earlier) to the McCollinses, who were sitting morosely in a dark cloud of misery. He looked over at his brother Jesús for a brief moment, and he caught his eye. The returning glance was hurt, disturbed, disappointed, filled with grief. Raffie felt Jesús’ internal turmoil regarding what he said earlier.
“Jesús,” he said to him from where he stood. Jesús remained fixed on his brother. “If I thought I could, I would, but I don’t think it’s possible. I hope you understand - I am not leaving you. I am not betraying you. I simply just have to come to terms with the fact that I am stuck here. Please, Jesús, do not be mad at me.”
“That’s the thing, little brother. You are not stuck. You are only convincing yourself you are, and that’s what angers me so. It is that you have made yourself believe you have no choice and that you must go along with what fate presented to you. I don’t know why you insist on doing this, but I hope that you figure it out someday. Farewell, brother. Stay safe.”
Jesús turned and went with the Fuller family. They exited through the main door of the room, and Jesús was lost from sight, it seemed, forever.
He stood there stricken with sadness. He knew not what he did and what he could do. He knew not why he did what he did and why he had convinced himself he could not do what would be the best course of action to take, and a very easy, plausible action that could be taken without legal difficulty.
Indeed, Raffie could not but agree with his brother’s words: I don’t know why you insist on doing this, but I hope you figure it out someday.
He reflected that statement, and realized he had no idea why he insisted on doing it either.
The McCollins didn’t notice any of what took place. They were in their own little world and would forever be there as long as they were living. They stood up like mannikins being controlled by unseen hands, and moved to take Raffie home. They escorted him out of the room, and down a hallway, down the eternal set of stairs, and down the long hall that seemed to stretch for miles, and then into the open lobby where marble was the new wood and stone, and then outside to the little grey car which would take them home.
A woman was getting into her car right next to theirs. She was of athletic build, and had a curious smile on her face like one caught in a trance of beauty. Raffie happened to pass by her as he went to get in the car, and she spotted him for a brief moment.
“Oh, hi! I saw you earlier this morning during the trial,” said she to Raffie. The McCollinses took no notice, or they simply didn’t care anymore.
“Um… yes. I was there,” Raffie replied.
“I’m Sasha by the way. I was on the jury.”
“Oh, you were?”
He paused for a second. “Thank you for serving justice today, Miss Sasha.”
Her expression became very solemn. “You’re welcome, dearie. I hope you have a nice day.”
“You too, Miss Sasha.”
He entered the little grey car, closing the door shut with a bang, watching through the small window as the woman got in her car and drove away.
Yes, thought he, justice was done today. Justice for the damned. That woman Sasha saw to it that Krause was convicted. They all did. I did. Finally, for once, fate was on my side.
The grey car pulled out. Neither of the McCollinses spoke at all, didn’t even care it seemed that a stranger talked to their foster son. It was as if he were not even that, their foster son, for they didn’t even acknowledge his presence, only fed him and gave him shelter, nothing more. There was no love from them, none at all. Their love died with their son, Derek McCollins.
The drive was forever silent, forever mute of feeling, yet filled with it. No emotion, yet too much. Silence forever juxtaposed with the screaming and lunacy of raging emotions that flowed through and caused silent agony, agony unknown to anyone else but the bearer of it.
Yet contrast to the usual state of silence, Raffie felt very little of that kind of emotion, for he was in a state of satisfaction, of joyous anger over the prosecution of Georg Adolf Krause. He was for once not in pain and suffering.
An hour went by in that fashion. The sky was grey but no longer dark, Raffie’s spirits reflected that losing of the dark - his spirits rose and were lighter.
And then they exited the highway and drove a bit further, arriving in the Cambridge Heath neighborhood. They turned a corner at some point, and found themselves on their street, in front of their home.
The McCollinses went inside, Raffie following behind. They seemed quite fatigued from getting up early and taking Raffie to the courthouse. They literally did nothing - only drove and sat and sat some more.
Raffie came to realize that they were only there to give him the base necessities. They were so broken over the death of their son that they no longer knew how to care for another. He thought that maybe it would be the opposite reaction, that they would love him as their son, but no, they would never be the same again.