Authors: James Scott Bell
Tags: #Fiction, #Christian, #Suspense
Feeling like she was on the edge of a cliff, feet slipping, Lindy made the decision. “All right. Deal.”
Sean smiled.“Welcome back to the world, Lindy. I can’t help feeling this is going to be good for all concerned, especially us.”
“There is no
“Give me time. All right. Sit down.” He turned the desk chair for her.
“What you have here is not a photo,” Sean said. “It’s a digital image from a video.”
“Somebody took a video of the shootings?”
“How did you—”
“Get it? Lindy, when I tell you I’m the best reporter in the entire free world, I’m not just blowing smoke. I have instincts. A sixth sense, if you will, only I don’t see dead people with it. I see people who have something to tell me.”
Lindy was starting to believe it. There on his computer screen was the act, the crime.
“Let’s watch,” he said and hit a computer key.
Interpreting the video was an exercise in frustration. With no close-up of Darren’s face, Lindy could not detect any sign of possible mental defect—vacant eyes, frenzied expressions.
On its own, it was just a record of her client shooting people.
Shooting with increasingly rapid speed. As if he were afraid he wouldn’t kill as many people as he originally wanted to.
The videographer had stood behind the baseball diamond, panning the field from left to right. Whoever it was, for some reason, panned past right field to Darren, who was just beginning to raise his rifle.
Why the continued pan? Did the person just want to get a wider view of the park, or did Darren catch the eye?
Darren fired the first shot. The camera shook and panned left, leaving Darren out of the frame momentarily. Understandable. A reaction to shock.
But the videographer must have sensed something needed recording, because the camera went back to Darren, where he apparently finished another shot.
Then Darren lowered the rifle to chest level and began spraying the field. She counted ten shots, based on the rifle’s kick and the puffs of smoke that issued from the gun.
Darren lowered the rifle and turned and began to walk—not run, walk—away. A running man flashed past the camera, presumably toward Darren, and then the recording ended.
Lindy sat, silent, for a long moment. The reality of the crime hit her hardest. She actually saw her client commit the crime for which he was charged. That had never happened to her before.
“Pretty amazing, isn’t it?” Sean said.
“What are you going to do with it?”
“Go exclusive. Then let Colby howl about it. He’ll ask for a copy and get one, and then you’ll get one. No doubt it’ll go over the Net, so
who wants one will get one.”
“Terrific. This doesn’t help me at all.”
“Maybe I can.”
She looked at him.
“Give me something,” he said.
“Give you what?”
“An insight, anything. First part of our deal.”
“I guess you deserve it. You want an insight into me?”
Sean sat on a stool near his work desk. “I find you endlessly fascinating, which is why I am attracted to you.”
“Can we keep things professional this time?”
“Suppose I try to mix in a little pleasure?”
“I will find a sharp instrument to jab in your back.”
“In that case, I’ll try to contain myself.”
Lindy nodded.“Okay. Listen. Sometimes I do wonder if it’s worth it to be a defense lawyer. Nobody likes you, especially clients. If you manage to get them off they’re resentful about giving you any money. They figure they could’ve gotten off themselves. And if you don’t get them off, you’re the worst slime bucket in the world.”
“Not like being one of those glamorous personal-injury attorneys, is it?”
“But there’s something inside you that believes in what you’re doing. When I was in law school I really started to believe in what they call ‘the golden thread’ that runs through the law: the presumption of innocence. You get rid of that, and everything falls apart. But everybody wants to moan about tricky lawyers, and criminals getting off scot-free. But let one of
get arrested on a false charge. They really are innocent, and they know it. The first thing they’re going to want is a lawyer who cares as much about the case as they do. And they should get that lawyer. But after awhile, you get worn down.”
“Maybe it’s because you have to rub elbows with a lot of very bad people. Most people who are prosecuted are, in fact, guilty.”
“So let’s convict them, fair and square. The government has got to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. If it doesn’t, the defendant walks. Because if you don’t do it that way, you make it easy to convict the innocent.”
“You see yourself as a hero?”
She rolled her eyes. “Back in the thirties, when white judges and juries in the South routinely convicted black men on flimsy evidence, the lawyers who came down from New York provided a real defense— as opposed to the lazy crackers who didn’t care one way or the other about their clients—they were considered heroes. Today, nobody considers a defense lawyer a hero. We’re the dregs of the earth.”
“Not to me,” he said and then leaned over to kiss her.
She turned her head. “Not now, Sean.”
“I really don’t know, okay? After the trial, we can talk.”
“More than talk?”
“You never stop, do you?”
He smiled. “That’s why I am where I am.”
But where was she, Lindy wondered as she drove back to Box Canyon. The video troubled her. Something about it. What?
Good thing the night was balmy, the sky clear. Lindy took Sunset to Pacific Coast Highway, one of her favorite routes, and then Topanga Canyon back to the Valley. She liked coming over the crest and seeing the Valley at night, sparkling below. There was no prettier sight in the world than her Valley at night.
When you could see it. Tonight a blanket of fog obscured the view. Something of a rarity, but there it was.
As she was about to head down, she slowed for just a moment. And had a crazy thought. She imagined herself on a flying motorcycle. Would that not be cool? Cruising right out into the sky and shooting all the way across to the Santa Susanna Mountains. She’d be able to see the major streets crisscrossing. Victory Boulevard, like in the Randy Newman song, and Ventura and Topanga and Sherman Way and Van Nuys. Getting the God’s-eye view.
When she thought of God, that was when it happened. She’d remember later, when she could piece it all together. But it would take a long time for the pieces, any of them, to fit.
She saw lights coming her way. She looked right at them too, the way you’re never supposed to. And when she looked away, and as the car passed by, she saw, from the corner of her eye, the lights flash. Like something was wrong.
She felt a sudden desire to be home. To curl up with Cardozo. To get out of the night.
She sensed a shadow on the left.
There were no cars behind her. The last set of headlights had turned away some half a mile back.
She slowed and pulled slightly to the right. There was a turnout just ahead. Maybe she’d—
The shadow was a car. It jerked toward her.
she thought, and that was her last thought as the car hit her.
Bike, rider, lights, sky—a jumble, then a feeling of falling. Pain shooting through her body. A blow to the head, like a sledgehammer.
Leon Colby stepped out of the elevators on the eighteenth floor of the Foltz Building and gave his usual nod to the county safety police guard who watched the floor.
Another day at the office, though none ever seemed routine to Colby. That was the good part about being a prosecutor. No two cases were ever the same.
He punched in the three-digit code on the door, entered, said hi to a few people, grabbed coffee, picked up his phone message slips, and shut himself up in his office.
The DiCinni matter was rapidly approaching crunch time. Lindy Field was not blinking. She was not going to plead this out, which surprised him. The kid was not going to go to the funny farm. He was going to state. She had the chance to get him less time than a guilty verdict would allow.
Why wouldn’t she take it?
Colby sat at his desk and ignored the phone messages and the stack of files that were also his business. He put his feet up and glanced out his small office window. He could see the field light towers of Dodger Stadium.
Maybe, as the new district attorney of the county of Los Angeles, he’d get a seat in the luxury section behind home plate. They actually had waiters who came out to take hot dog orders. A real L.A. experience. And they’d show his face on the Jumbotron. He’d wave. The crowd would give him a mixture of cheers and boos. Mostly cheers, because he was one of them. A few boos from relatives of the criminal element. But that was what DAs signed up for.
Back to the case at hand.
It wasn’t that he didn’t relish going to trial. That part never got old. His competitive nature was always on high alert, as the Office of Homeland Security might put it.
But with every trial came the risk of the major slip, the unanticipated event, the surprise sack that would take the most prepared quarterback out of the game.
That’s why he had developed a poker face. Never, but never, let the jury see he’d been hit.
Problem was, the higher the profile of the case, the louder the reverb when the hit came.
One misstep and maybe the DA’s office would not be graced with his presence.
Why wouldn’t she settle?
There had to be a reason. Revenge? She couldn’t give up the Marcel Lee ghost and wanted another chance at his prosecutor?
Somehow that didn’t strike Colby as likely. Lindy Field had been a solid lawyer at one time. She was never petty. Of course, she went through that crackup after the Lee verdict. Maybe that had changed her.
She couldn’t really think her client was crazy, could she? The legal threshold for insanity was just too high. Sure, he was relatively young, but—
A knock on the door. It was Lopez, here for the morning conference.
Something in Lopez’s face told Colby all was not well.
“You don’t answer your messages?” Lopez said.
“Just got here. You have my cell number?”
Lopez shut the door. “You heard?”
“What, they bringing back
“Lindy Field. She’s in the hospital.”
Colby put his feet on the floor. “What?”
“Almost dead, man.”
The news came over the radio in Mona Romney’s house while she was grating cheese for a quesadilla.
“ . . . a major development in the mass-murder trial of Darren DiCinni. Defense attorney Lindy Field, who has represented DiCinni from the start, was nearly killed last night in a motorcycle accident on Topanga Canyon Boulevard. Early reports are that she is in critical condition at a local hospital. For what this means to the ongoing case, we turn to our legal analyst, Carl Sizemore. Carl, how is this going to affect the prosecution of Mr. DiCinni?”
Mona lost breath, sat down.
“Well, Gail, this is indeed a strange twist. If this had just been a momentary setback for the attorney, the judge would grant some leeway. But if the accident results in a permanent impairment of some sort, or a long delay, then there will be a substitution of attorney. That’s got to be handled carefully, however, because everyone has the right to an attorney of his or her choice. Or if the attorney is assigned, has the right to keep that attorney. If that right is denied there’s an issue on appeal. But if a lawyer is unable, really unable to carry on with the case, then that defendant has to hire, or be assigned, another lawyer.”