A/N: I remember really enjoying writing this chapter. I dunno if it's because I got to write a new setting, which was uncommon for this story, or because I had a really clear plan of what the chapter should be from the start, but I really had fun on this one. To the extent that I remember that enjoyment a year on from when I wrote it. Hope it shines through!
The trial came around quickly, suspiciously quickly as far as Patrick was concerned. Every day for a week and a half there was a new story about him. Almost never was there new information, but this scandal was like living breathing fire, and everybody had a 'hot take'. And finally, just as the two week mark since the raid on the zoo was approaching, with the buzz beginning to die down, Patrick found himself on the way to face his fate.
The sleek black car that had slid by to pick him up had dark, tinted windows, which Patrick was very glad of after a few minutes of travel. He was being taken from his cell in a small police station on one side of the centre of Glasgow to a court on the other side of the centre of Glasgow, so the ride was very short, but mobs of journalists bookended it at either side.
As he was marched through the wide, marble halls of the old building, he wondered if each paper had a journalist at either end and they texted each other details of his movements, like tag teams.
Well, he thought, at least my last thought will be a vaguely amusing one.
All eyes were on him as he was ushered into the room. He supposed it was no surprise that the setting of his trial would be public, with galleries jutting out from fairly high up the walls on both sides. If talking animals and a mad scientist wasn't a big money case, he didn't know what was.
He found himself in a wood-panelled booth, about as big as a pirate box at the theatre. There was a battered black plastic chair in the centre, which Patrick suspected might be a hastily arranged luxury for those at the age of sixty-two. But the attention of the media for a fortnight was tiring; he needed the rest, even if it meant admitting to being a fragile old man.
He was even more glad for the chair's support as the trial unfolded. The things the slimy young man accused him of - as if he would ever force the monkeys to put their lives in danger for him. It was their own idea to do all the tracks; they had been so bored before. But it never seemed to be his turn to speak, and even when it was his own court assigned lawyer put a well-meaning but bloody patronising hand on his arm and spoke about him in the third person as if he wasn't even there.
Finally, after some of the longest hours of Patrick's life, he was called to the stand. He strode purposefully out of his booth, desperate to walk like someone would if their knees didn't typically crack every time they stood up. The gate was opened for him and he sat slowly down on the well-kept leather chair.
He looked down at the prosecution lawyer, whose short light brown hair was slicked around in a huge lick, like a little LEGO figure, and his slim grey suit fit him well. Patrick did his best to straighten out the creases in his one navy waistcoat, then cleared his throat, ready to begin.
"Mr McAfferty, when you were first arrested, you claimed to be on the payroll of a company called Neuromax Pharmaceuticals. Is that correct?" The young man blinked up at him expectantly, holding his gaze.
Patrick frowned. His previous employment had been thoroughly debunked over the past fortnight, by both the police and the media. Still, he obviously couldn't lie. He leaned awkwardly forward, starting to lean his elbows against the gate but realising it was far too low. He fidgeted with his fingernails. "Yes, that's what I said."
"And do you stand by that story?"
"Yes, I do," Patrick said.
"Why do you stick by that story, sir?" The man looked over to the jury as he waited for Patrick's answer.
"Because it's the truth," Patrick said.
"But it's not," the man said, looking up to the galleries now. "Neuromax have released their records and there is no evidence that you have ever worked for them. Bearing that in mind, why do you stick by that story? What are you hoping to achieve?"
Patrick shifted in his seat. His own lawyer, a man somewhere in between the ages of the young lawyer and Patrick himself, had told him all about how the questioning would likely be led strongly in one direction. He was also told that this would probably not be useful questioning for their case. But something about this question... Patrick wanted to answer it.
"I need people to believe me about Neuromax," Patrick said, choosing each word carefully, "because they have other animals. Six that I know of, at least three of which are fully talking."
The young lawyer whirled around to face him. "And why have you not told us this before? Actually, I'll answer that one. You haven't answered because you haven't been asked - not by a panicking government, a presumptuous press, or even by a defence lawyer who hasn't even interviewed you for fear you'll slip up and say something out of line because you're too old to keep up with saying the right thing."
Patrick just sat there, stunned. He flicked his eyes towards the galleries, where all eyes were wide and all jaws hung open.
Patrick swallowed to try and moisten his dry throat, then leaned slightly forward, as if he was trying to whisper to the young lawyer. "Was, um, was that a question?"
"That was a goddam resignation," the young lawyer muttered. Louder, he shouted over to the jury. "This man has done some messed up stuff, but at the bidding of a messed up company! I implore you, postpone this trial until Neuromax Lanarkshire have been properly investigated."
And with that he stormed out of the courtroom, slamming some files off the desk that had previously been his on the way past. The double doors swung in and out on their hinges once he was gone, the only noise in the whole room.
Finally, a deep quiet voice to Patrick's left said, "I call a thirty minute recess while we... pick apart the remnants of due process."
Patrick looked round at the judge, a pot bellied man with wispy white hair. His eyes were half-closed, tired. He flicked his hand at Patrick, which Patrick figured was a dismissal and let himself off the stand. He looked toward his lawyer, who beckoned him over with a single wagging finger.
Treego was never even that patronising.
“I’ll be right back,” he called, then stumbled out the room.
He was first out, before any of the jury, and found the young lawyer leaning against the wall across the corridor.
The young lawyer pointed at the water fountain beside him. “Need a drink, Mr McAfferty? You seemed pretty hoarse up there.”
Great, Patrick thought, even the helpful one treats me like a child.
“I’m fine, thanks,” Patrick said. He crossed the corridor to get out of the way of anyone who might leave the courtroom, and turned to face the young lawyer. “And thank you for… that. What made you… Why did you even agree to take the case against me?”
He shrugged with one lithe, eloquent shoulder. “I’ve never had a problem with the spotlight. And you are being wronged. The lawyer who’s meant to be putting you behind bars comes out in favour, capturing the hearts of the nation?”
Patrick frowned. “And what makes you so sure I’m telling the truth?”
“Because the number of times I’ve spouted absolute nonsense up there.” He shook his head. “And I’ve been to your place. I’m not saying I always knew something was up, but you could tell those animals were happy.”
Patrick nodded. “I’m glad you think so. Well then, do you… think you’ll have made a difference with the judge?”
He shrugged again, with both shoulders this time. “Don’t know, don’t particularly care. There’s a much faster route.”
He was quiet for a few moments, and Patrick had no idea what to say. But finally the jury and a few of the more involved spectators started to file out of the courtroom. The young lawyer waited until they were all lingering around, chit-chatting with each other but all directing furtive glances right at him.
He clapped his hands and strode down the corridor, towards the exit. The crowd followed him in drips and drabs, but Patrick couldn’t even be bothered pretending. He darted to catch up with the young lawyer, then stayed on his heels the whole way out the door, into the grey clouded sky of a Glasgow afternoon. Into a pack of journalists.
The young lawyer raised his hands wide, and started to speak.