I should be sued for taking a whole month to post the last bits of my Novel Project. Truth be told, I’ve been waiting because I know I should keep working on my conclusion…but then I thought to myself, “that’s what the official For the Love of Elaine site is for–to post my edited novella.” And thus, without further ado, I have posted the last two installments.
BEFORE THE JUDGE
“Rise and shine, Donald,” one of the two policemen outside Ian’s cell called. He tapped the iron bars with the jail key, and the rattling intruded on the gardener’s thoughts. Looking up, Ian stood. The officers led him down the cold cement corridor and into the dull greyness outside. A blanket of portentous clouds hung oppressively over the sky, choking out the sunlight. Shoving Ian into the back seat, they drove to the courthouse.
The half-full gallery rustled with whispers of curious on-lookers. Upon the suspect’s entering, they shushed, and Ian read their verdict in the hard eyes which stared at him. Yes, this man looked like a murderer, they seemed to say. Ian locked eyes with the jury as they fidgeted. And resting his eyes on the crowd, one by one they too shifted their gaze uncomfortably to the floor and sank lower in their chairs. But one on-looker did not shrink away from Ian’s severe perusal, and Ian recognized the strained, confident face of Boswell. The butler returned Ian’s gaze, unwavering and steady. His eyes seemed to smile softly, instilling Ian with a of hope.
Ian turned to sit, but in doing so, he caught the venomous gaze of a lonesome figure in the middle of the mostly empty balcony—Richard Farrell. His face was drawn and white, but his eyes blazed with unattended fires of fear and hate. Ian turned at the voice of the attorney beside him; they shook hands firmly and sat down.
Sumptuously, the judge took his seat, black satin robes swishing. Eyeing the gathering with a fierce face, he hammered the gavel. “This court will come to order,” his voice rumbled like thunder from somewhere deep within his chest. “Mr. Prosecutor,” he motioned to the right side of the courtroom, “state the case.”
A tall blue-suited man took the floor, “Honorable judge, jury, Ian Donald is accused with the first-degree murder of Elaine Whitney. A gardener at the Chadwick Estate and lover to the aforementioned Miss Whitney—daughter of the butler—Mr. Donald did willfully in a fit of rage and jealousy poison Miss Whitney with the use of Dylox, a lethal pesticide when ingested. His black rage is well known and former accusations to his name have been previously ignored. But not today.” The prosecutor turned pointedly to the jury.
Ian heard the gallery ripple in agreement. His body stiffened, and his jaw clenched. Losing his temper though at this time would not prove beneficial, he knew. He tried to hold it in, but whereas he could control his body, his eyes still burned.
* * * * *
Boswell anxiously watched the proceedings. Both prosecutor and attorney had questioned Ian, and the popular consensus expressed through vicious and condemning whispers acquiesced with the prosecutor. But nothing worked against Ian as much as the dark looks which shot from his piercing eyes, and Boswell wished for once in his life that the gardener did not possess such a relentless and honest anger against injustice.
“I would like to ask Mr. Gifford Boswell to the chair,” the attorney stated, searching the crowd.
Boswell started at the sound of his name and slowly stood up, deliberately pacing his steps toward the witness chair. His hand on the Bible, he swore the oath and sank into the chair stiffly.
“Mr. Boswell, what is it true you found a letter addressed to the late Miss Whitney from another…—suitor?” the attorney turned to him with abruptly, his face enigmatic.
Boswell’s heart beat faster. This was the moment he could grasp to prove Ian’s innocence. “Yes, sir.”
“Can you explain to the court the content of said letter?”
Carefully, Boswell chose his words as he felt the gaze of every person upon him. “The contents of the letter time and time again imposed the suitor’s possession over Elaine—such so that he threatened to find her and harm anyone who dared to draw near—”
“Objection, sir,” the prosecutor cut in, addressing the judge. “The witness is insinuating another murderer and subjectively interpreting a piece of evidence.”
The judge sustained his objection and turned to Boswell severely to ask him to continue.
Boswell swallowed. “He said he would find her and keep others from drawing near to her,” he concluded.
“Thank you, Mr. Boswell. You may step down.” The attorney glanced sideways at Boswell, defeat written over his face. He let the prosecutor take the floor.
“Honorable Judge, and the jury—people who have gathered—I see no towering evidence for Ian Donald’s innocence in such a letter—if anything, I find more evidence for his guilt in such a text. Reviewing closely, the same words could have been spoken by a zealous, protecting lover, and could have fueled a wrathful jealousy in Ian Donald…”
Boswell closed his eyes and shrunk into his seat.
* * * * *
Up in the balcony, watching like a falcon, Farrell smiled thinly, his eyes glimmering.
He had won. He had.
Ian, the court, and all the people had fallen into his played trap—and he was safe. Victorious. What was guilt? What was remorse? Such words for sure had never coursed through his mind.
He courthouse door beneath him opened and shut, and Farrell glanced down, his blood freezing.
A platinum blonde in black with steel eyes walked up to the court. Slowly, deliberately, she interrupted, and her words sent fire and ice through his veins.
It was done.