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"Pewter's Homecoming"


Chapter 1
Chapter 1 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Five Years Ago:

Before Homecoming:


Marcy Sellers entered the Pewter Public High School, very aware she stuck out in the wave of juniors. She was the only new face among those who would soon be thinking about colleges and futures. What a time to start at a new school.

But, her father got this new job maintaining turbines at the wind farm outside of town. So, the family moved from Eagle Pass to Pewter and she was now at this new school.

Her petit frame felt smothered by her blouse and skirt. She'd tied her brunette hair back in a ponytail that morning, but the purple scrunchy now felt like it was trying to pull her whole head off her neck. Her bookbag seemed to weigh three times more than ten minutes ago, the strap digging into her shoulder. Could things get any more uncomfortable?

Marcy pulled out her schedule, but the thing might as well be written in Latin. Her homeroom was with Mr. Evans in Room 102. Who was Mr. Evans? where was room 102?

She began walking among the sea of students, noting how Even the freshmen seemed to have a better idea of the school's layout than she did. She needed help. But, everyone was melting into groups which were probably long-established. Marcy needed to catch someone on their own or work up the courage to pull someone away from their in-crowd for a moment. Neither option seemed appealing.

She came upon a row of lockers and noticed a blonde girl by an open one down a few feet. The girl was alone, putting away some books. Marcy hurried over.

"Excuse me," she said in a small voice.

The blonde turned and looked at her.

"Hi," she said.

"H ... hello," Marcy replied and kicked herself. Why did she have to be so painfully shy? This girl had no conceivable way of knowing her. She didn't need to worry about her secrets spilling out. There was no conceivable way to link her back to Todd.

The blonde was studying her. She was a head taller than Marcy and had plenty more to offer in terms of a woman's figure. Marcy was unnaturally thin and almost didn't need her bra.

"You're new here?" the blonde asked, pushing a stray long, wavy strand out of her face.

"Yes," Marcy replied, figuring it was obvious.

"You lost?"

Marcy nodded. That had to be obvious.

"Let me see that," the blonde said, snatching the schedule from Marcy's hand with two long, slender, well-manicured fingers. She studied the document, occasionally glancing at Marcy, who stood there, rooted to that spot.

"Mr. Evans, huh?" she asked.

"Uh-huh," Marcy replied.

The blonde took another look at the schedule.

"It's down that hallway over there," she said, pointing out a nearby bend in the corridor. "You got a locker assignment?"

Marcy nodded. She hadn't even thought to ask about that. She withdrew the slip of paper from her bookbag. Returning the schedule, the blonde snatched this next. Her eyes lit up when she read the document.

"Come on," she insisted.

She slammed her locker shut and grabbed Marcy's hand, pulling her down the hallway. They passed a skinny man in a custodian's jumpsuit along the way. He glanced at them for a few seconds before continuing to clean a display case full of sports trophies.

"Where ..." was all Marcy was able to say before they stopped again.

"There it is," the blonde said, pointing out the small number plate on another locker. Two hundred and eighty-six. She showed Marcy the slip of paper. It had the same number, Two hundred and eighty-six.

"Thank you," Marcy said, taking back the slip of paper.

"No problem," the blonde returned. "What's your name, anyway?"

"Mar ... Marcy ... Marcy Sellers."

"Hi, Marcy. I'm Lillian ... Lillian Harvey. Everyone calls me 'Lily'."

"H ... hi."

Marcy glanced at her locker, trying to figure out what she ought to leave in there for the time being.

"Listen," Lily said, "find me at lunch today. I'll give you some more tips about surviving at this school."

"You don't have to ..." Marcy began.

Lily shook her head, her hair tumbling with every cranial shift.

"Don't worry about it," she insisted. "I'll see you later."

She turned to go but stopped again. She glanced over her shoulder at Marcy, her long, wavy, blonde hair cascading down her back.

"Oh," she added, "and smile. You don't have to be nervous and people will respond better if you don't look like you think everyone here is ready to take your head off."

Marcy nodded and Lily smiled at her. She seemed so at ease.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 2
Chapter 1 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Five Years Ago:

Violent crime was almost unheard of in Alter County. Since Sheriff Keith Darden was first elected seven years ago, there had only been two homicides. Neither were worth wide press coverage and the players involved were generally forgotten by now.

So, no one took the call about bodies at the Pewter Public High School seriously. Deputy Charles Morgan, the rookie in the eight-man department, was sent to investigate and find the ones responsible for the prank. His subsequent radio calls made it clear it was no joke.

"I need back-up and ambulances here now!" the deputy cried over the radio. "Oh God! Get here now. We need ambulances."

Most of the department had been at the Homecoming game earlier that day, two of the deputies serving as security. They, like almost everyone else, had gone home, where the students of Pewter Public High were getting ready for the Homecoming Dance. That year's dance never happened.

Sheriff Darden arrived right after the first ambulance. A tall man with graying brown hair and about thirty extra pounds around his midsection, he'd left the force in El Paso ten years earlier. Serving as sheriff of Alter County was supposed to be his retirement plan. Crime didn't happen here.

He met Deputy Morgan outside the girl's locker room. Having managed to keep his lunch down, the young deputy had checked on the two girls. he'd determined the blonde was dead while the brunette still had a pulse, though a weak one. Sheriff Darden stepped aside as two paramedics whisked her out the door and down the hallway to the ambulance, which would race to the county hospital with everyone hoping it would be enough. Another ambulance was on its way from neighboring Hudspeth County, but everyone knew it was no longer needed.

Deputy Morgan briefed his boss on what he'd found. After hearing the overview, Sheriff Darden entered the locker room. The scene wasn't hard to find and the injuries on the blonde's body told a gruesome tale just upon first sight.

The girls were found in adjacent shower stalls. Both were naked and covered in cuts, bruises, hickeys, bitemarks, and many more injuries. There was blood everywhere. Pieces of torn clothing were scattered throughout the scene and a crumpled towel was lying in one corner of the main locker room. A janitor's cart with the assorted mops, buckets, and other cleaning supplies stood just inside the entrance, maybe ten feet from the bodies.

The blonde was lying on her side in front of one of the stalls, a large pool of blood around her head. Strands of her hair were saturated by the sticky, dark-red substance, which was also on the wall above her.

"How was the other girl found?" Sheriff Darden asked, stepping back into the hallway, where Deputy Morgan still stood, still looking ready to vomit.

"The janitor says she was face-down in one of the shower stalls," Deputy Morgan replied, looking pale but coherent. "She was drowning in a pool of water."

"Was the shower on when you came in?" Sheriff Darden asked, recalling how no water had been running while he was just in the room.

"One of the shower's pipes was broken. Water was pouring out. The janitor went to turn it off when I got there. He'd found a pulse on the brunette and pulled her out of the stall. She was lying on her back with her head to one side when I arrived. I was confirming she had a pulse when I heard the water stop."

Sheriff Darden nodded. The deputy looked a little wet, but he hadn't gotten a direct hit from a stray spray.

"Where's the janitor?" he asked.

"Outside," Deputy Morgan replied. "Poor guy looked ready to lose it even worse than me."

Sheriff Darden nodded, understanding.

"Have Tim run the scene when he gets here," he instructed. "I'll go chat with our witness."

Tim Lancer was the senior deputy in the department, or at least the longest-serving deputy. Regardless of his title, the man was the most experienced with securing crime scenes and collecting evidence. Technicians from the state crime lab were an hour away at best. The sheriff couldn't wait.

Deputy Morgan nodded.

"We gotta fry whoever did this," he remarked.

"Yeah," Sheriff Darden agreed in a soft voice.

He left the school building and found the janitor, a skinny, black man in gray coveralls, seated on a bench. Sheriff Darden vaguely knew him from around town, but the name was not coming to him now. He did notice the man looked sick.

"You all right?" he asked, approaching the bench. He didn't move to sit.

"I don't know, Sir," the janitor replied in a slight southern drawl, looking up at him. "I never saw something like that before, not even in the movies. It's bad what someone did."

Sheriff Darden nodded, remembering now. This was Andrew Mooruff. He was about thirty and a bit on the slow side.

"You found the girls?" the sheriff asked.

"Yes, Sir," Andrew replied. "I found them lying there in the showers the way they were. They got hurt real bad."

"What did you do when you found them?"

Sheriff Darden kept his tone casual despite having already seen the scratches on Andrew's arms, the sleeves of his coveralls having been rolled up. He'd also noticed the fresh bandage on his left forearm.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Keith Darden: sheriff of Alter County. Personally investigated the locker room attack.

Charles Morgan: lowest-ranking deputy in the Alter County Sheriff's Department. First to arrive at the high school after the girls' bodies were found in the locker room.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 3
Chapter 1 - Present

By teols2016

"They're executing another one tonight."

Roland Davis looked up as he emptied a second packet of sugar into his coffee.

"What?" he asked.

"They're executing another one tonight," his colleague, Michael Ellis, repeated, filling his own cup at the coffeemaker. "At the prison in Huntsville. Cop killer, I think. I heard it on the news on my way in this morning. Apparently, he's the second this week."

"That's not news," Roland remarked. "That's the weather here."

People always said Texans loved three things. God, football, and barbecue. At least, that was the G-rated version. Other versions included guns and still others included the death penalty. Though the Lonestar state's execution rate was falling like everywhere else in the country, it was still higher than everywhere else. About half of all executions carried out in any given year in the United States happened in Texas.

Roland put a lid on his coffee cup and headed to his office. As a corporate attorney in the booming metropolis of Dallas, he had plenty more important things to worry about. The city was home to the headquarters of more publicly-traded companies than anywhere else in the United States. Texas really ought to love Corporate America.

Roland did embody one of Texas's great loves. He'd been a star offensive lineman for the Panthers at Permian High School in Odessa, the team which inspired the film Friday Night Lights and the TV series of the same name. Even though he had no part in what inspired those things, that team having played in 1988, four years before he was a freshman, the association was there, and he let it be. He'd gone on to play for the Longhorns at the University of Texas At Austin and then was drafted by the Buffalo Bills. He played with the team for two seasons before being traded to the Carolina Panthers. With many enjoying this irony, he stayed for three seasons before being released from his contract. He next signed on with the Cleveland Browns and was traded to the Atlanta Falcons the following season. He played with Atlanta for another two seasons before retiring and returning to Texas to attend law school.

Roland considered his football career a modest one. He knew he'd been very lucky, doing what most people could only dream of, and was even luckier to get out without any lasting injuries. Standing at six feet, five inches, he still worked out whenever he could, sometimes meeting clients at the gym. He jogged every morning and sometimes again at night. He was in good shape and proud of it, his broad, muscular frame often causing his wealthy clients to initially mistake him for a bodyguard.

"Nope, I'm just your attorney," was his standard reply. "I can probably get you a bodyguard, if that's what you need."

Having forgotten about whoever Texas was killing that evening, Roland arrived in his office. Setting down his coffee, he opened his e-mail. The most recent message had come in five minutes ago from a client wanting an update on a merger Roland was negotiating on her company's behalf. There was a suggestion to meet for dinner to discuss the matter. Roland would get back to her once he'd crafted a tactful response to yet another advance from this woman. Were she not a client, he might have considered it, but she was a client. The line was clear.

The next message was from Bruce Shawcross, one of the firm's senior partners. He was asking if Roland could meet with him at 10:00 that morning. Roland checked his calendar and confirmed the appointment, thinking nothing more of it.

* * *

Having just moved out of the firm's Cube Farm last year, Roland knew not to take his office for granted. But when he stepped into Bruce Shawcross's office, he felt as though he were still in a cubicle. Heck, he might as well be working in a phone booth compared to this. The dark oak desk alone could seat five people without problems.

Bruce Shawcross was sitting in his high-back, leather chair. If the blond-haired, blue-eyed Roland was an all-American boy, Bruce Shawcross was a good-old boy. His graying dark hair created waves across his scalp. He had a large face which would likely have a cigarette sticking out of it if he were allowed to smoke in the office. He wore western attire, including pointed boots, a string tie, and a silver belt buckle. He even had a cowboy hat hanging next to his coat.

Despite his old-time cowboy appearance and mannerisms, Roland knew his superior was brilliant. He'd gone to Harvard, graduating with honors before returning to Texas. The man earned this office and was just paces away from becoming a named partner.

"Come in," Bruce said, waving his hand at Roland. "Come right on in."

He gestured towards a couch and some armchairs which stood around a coffee table near his desk.

"Have a seat," he insisted. "Drink?"

He kept a fully-stocked bar handy for clients and colleagues alike.

"No, thanks," Roland said, feeling secure enough in his position that he didn't need to drink with the boss.

Bruce shrugged and made himself something before sitting across from Roland.

"Heck of a job you did on the Froundral acquisition," he commended. "I hear Mr. Pearson is mighty impressed."

"Thank you," Roland replied. He was certain this was not why he was summoned. Making sure a client could legally buy out another company for a few hundred million was just another day at the office here.

"You're going places in this firm," Bruce remarked.

"I hope so," Roland said, wondering if the man always took his time with getting to the point. Wasn't he concerned with the time he couldn't bill someone for this conversation?

"That's good," Bruce said. "You know we do a lot of pro-bono work, right? Makes us look not so greedy in the eyes of the public."

Roland nodded.

"Sure," he said. "I've done some over the years. Mostly housing matters in the projects."

Bruce took his turn to nod, his face showing no hint of surprise.

"From what I hear, you excel there as well," he continued. "That's why I called you in. There's a case I think you would be perfect for. We need a good man for it."

He picked up a manila folder on the coffee table.

"You ever hear of a town called Pewter?" he asked.

"No," Roland admitted.

"It's a relatively small place. Population's about three thousand. It's the seat for Alter County out in western Texas, near the New Mexico border. The county's one of only four in Texas that's on Mountain Time instead of Central. There's not much else there ... a couple unincorporated communities and things like that around Pewter. you get the idea."

He flipped open the folder to reveal a mug shot of a skinny African American man. Roland glanced at the photo without a word.

"This here's Andrew Mooruff," Bruce explained. "Until five years ago, he was a janitor at Pewter Public High School. That changed when he raped two girls in the locker room after the homecoming game that fall. Well, raped, beat, and tortured. One, Lillian Harvey, was a cheerleader there. She died when he bashed her head against the wall. He did the same to the other girl, Marcy Sellers, and left her to drown in a puddle of water. She survived but she's been in a coma ever since. Andrew Mooruff is on Death Row in Livingston."

Roland sighed.

"We're representing him?" he supposed.

"Yep," Bruce said. "A firm in Houston was handling the case, but after the Hurricane, they could use some help. He's one of theirs facing the needle."

Roland knew the firm had defended condemned clients before, though he'd never kept up with the outcomes of those cases.

"Did he do it?" he asked, supposing he ought to be aware of the possibility of innocence.

"According to his file, they got him cold for it," Bruce replied. "Fingerprints, DNA ... all the good stuff. Plus, he's the one who reported finding the bodies. Apparently, he's also got a history of being a peeping tom."

He looked straight at Roland.

"I know you've never handled a death penalty case before," he said. "But this is an easy one. He already lost with the Court of Criminal Appeals on his direct appeal. All you gotta do is pursue the federal writs and make sure his rights are protected. Mark my words, he'll go to the needle soon enough. It's just our job to make sure everyone plays by the rules along the way."

Roland let these words sink in, calculating if he still had a way out of this apart from simply not wanting to do it.

"Take this," Bruce insisted, holding out the file. "Review the case and let me know if you're on board. The rest of the file is on its way from Houston. You know, transcripts, evidence reports, etc."

Roland understood he'd better have a very good reason not to take the file. As far as death penalty cases went, this was supposed to be an easy one. The firm just wanted it for the publicity and would put a competent lawyer in charge without actually taking resources away from clients who had legitimate legal matters that needed an attorney's attention.

"If you can, take a drive out to Polunsky," Bruce added. "See this guy. Impress him with what a big-shot lawyer you are. Things go smoother if the client likes you. Plus, if word gets around that you're representing him, the guards and State Attorney's office will do their part not to tick us off. Last thing they want is for us to find cause to derail an execution, whenever it might happen."

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Bruce Shawcross: senior partner at Roland's law firm and Roland's direct supervisor.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 4
Chapter 2 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago

The cafeteria was bustling. Pewter Public High School was the only high school in Alter county and currently had a student body of approximately six hundred adolescents. About half of them were partaking in this mid-day meal with the rest to follow in the next period.

Having survived her morning classes, Marcy stood in line, clutching a plastic tray. The dry-erase board by the cafeteria door proclaimed "BBQ Chicken and Crispy Home Fries" as the entree of the day. She could see racks of salads, wraps, and sandwiches which served as the alternatives to this option. The food didn't look different from what was available at her old school in Eagle Pass.

Marcy grabbed a can of Diet Coke from a refrigerated cabinet and decided to get the chicken and fries. She supposed the chicken kind of looked like it had been barbecued, but the fries had definitely never been near anyone's home.

After paying, Marcy surveyed the scene. People were chatting, wandering around, and eating as two teachers kept watch while seated in plastic chairs by the door. There were random empty seats here and there. Marcy wanted to find one out of the way. She couldn't just take a seat some group left empty because they didn't have a body to fill it. She couldn't impose like that.

"Hey! Hey! Over here!"

At first, Marcy didn't register that the voice was calling to her. She turned and saw the blonde, Lillian, or "Lily," as everyone called her, waving. She was gesturing for Marcy to come over, one long leg draped across an empty seat next to her.

Marcy remembered Lily telling her to find her at lunch. She didn't think the girl was serious but instead just being nice. Now, it seemed to be something else. Maybe she ought to accept the invitation. What other options did she have?

Marcy walked towards Lily, trying to characterize the moment. She was the new kid, and kind of a nerd to boost, being summoned by someone who was surely one of the popular girls, if not the popular girl. After all, the two girls sitting with Lily were following her gaze towards Marcy, seeming curious about what their leader was up to.

"Glad you made it," Lily said, withdrawing her leg from the empty seat. "Sit."

Marcy set her tray on the table and sat down next to her. She studied the other girls, one also a blonde and the other having jet-black hair. The latter's darker skin suggested she might be Native American.

Lily introduced her friends as Amber, the other blonde, and Cassidy, the raven-haired girl.

"They're also on the cheerleading squad," she elaborated. "Guys, this is Marcy Sellers."

"You're a cheerleader?" Marcy asked, surveying Lily. The girl was wearing jeans and a pink blouse buttoned up high enough to comply with the school's dress code.

"It's still the off-season," Lily replied. "Practice starts next week, and we'll have tryouts to fill out the roster. You'll see us in action at the Homecoming game in October."

Marcy then noticed Lily had also gotten the chicken and fries. Part of the chicken seemed to have already been consumed. She could see the sloppy cuts made with one of the flimsy plastic knives available in every high school cafeteria. Amber had a salad in front of her while Cassidy had gotten one of the sandwiches.

"You interested in trying out?" Cassidy asked, picking up her sandwich.

"No," Marcy replied with a shake of her head, "I could never do that."

She began trying to cut her chicken but quickly gave up when it began moving with her knife. She instead picked up a French fry.

"What do you do?" Amber asked, spearing small bits of salad with her fork.

"I like to write," Marcy replied.

"Really?" Lily asked. "What?"

"It's been only short stories so far," Marcy replied, nibbling on the end of the fry. "I wanna write a novel though."

"That's cool. How are your classes?"

"They're good."

Marcy decided to omit the fact every one of her teachers so far needed to direct her to where she needed to go next. She shoved the French fry into her mouth to keep from having to say more.

"Let me see your schedule again," Lily said, having managed to cut and eat another piece of chicken.

Putting another French fry into her mouth, Marcy dug into her bag and pulled out the now-somewhat-crumpled sheet of paper. She slid it over to the blonde.

"You're in the same math class as me," Lily said, studying the text. "Mr. Kanter."

"Lucky you," Cassidy said. "I have Mrs. Fay. She somehow looks even older this year."

She took another bite of her sandwich.

"I didn't think that was possible," Amber remarked. "Mr. Kanter is definitely the opposite. I'd certainly like to be in that class. Getting to look at him almost makes math interesting."

As the three girls continued talking about what a babe Mr. Kanter was, Marcy studied Lily. She envied how confident the buxom blonde was. Nothing seemed to phase her. She didn't even seem to notice when the skinny, bald custodian walked past their table a second time, glancing at her again.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Amber Rose: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Cassidy Ada: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.


Chapter 5
Chapter 2 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

"I saw the one girl with the brown hair," Andrew described. "She was lying in some water and I could see the water moving. She was trying to breathe but couldn't because of the water. I pulled her out of the water. I checked her wrists. Mr. Ericson taught me how to check a wrist for a pulse. I could feel it a little, so I did the CPR like Mr. Ericson taught me. I don't know if it helped. The policeman wouldn't tell me."

"What about the other girl?" Sheriff Darden asked. "The blonde one?"

Seated on the bench outside the high school, Andrew Mooruff was being very forthcoming, and Sheriff Darden wanted to keep that momentum going. He noticed a crowd of people gathering, but his deputies had already used two department cruisers to block off the parking lot in front of the school building, keeping them out of the way. This left him to focus on Andrew and the injuries on his arms. He'd sat down on the bench next to the janitor and was continuing to keep his tone casual. He knew the fact he outweighed the skinny man by at least a hundred pounds and that this made him an intimidating sight. He wanted to downplay that for the moment.

"I saw the other girl also," Andrew said. "She was lying outside the shower. I tried the CPR, but I did not find the pulse."

Andrew was staring at him and Sheriff Darden noticed his eyes. They were a deep blue, perhaps like a vast lake, and they always seemed to stare rather than look. Andrew seemed to hardly ever blink, adding to the unsettling sight. With his round, bald head, it felt as unnatural as being stared at by a bowling ball. Also, he wasn't crying. True, none of the deputies were crying, but Sheriff Darden could tell they were keeping their emotions just below the surface. Andrew Mooruff was not a seasoned cop. He ought to be upset by what he found.

"Was the water running when you were helping the girls?" Sheriff Darden asked, noticing the county coroner's van arriving along with the second ambulance. He glanced at Andrew's arm again as the deputies moved their cruisers to let these vehicles through their blockade.

"What did you do there?" he asked, pointing out the scratches and bandaged wound for the first time.

"I was cleaning under the bleachers earlier," Andrew explained. "It's real tight under there. I often hurt my arms and legs. Mr. Ericson tells me to be careful, but it's real tight down there. It's hard."

"You put that bandage on yourself?"

Sheriff Darden was eyeing the large, white bandage. It was square and made of gauze. It wrapped around half of the skinny janitor's forearm. There had to be more than just a scrape under that.

"Mr. Ericson helped," Andrew said.

"Listen," Sheriff Darden said, glancing at the ambulance as it stopped by the school's side door, "I'd like someone to take a look under the bandage, just to make sure everything's okay. It's just to be sure."

Andrew looked at him, confused.

"Who's gonna look?" he asked.

Sheriff Darden pointed out the ambulance, glad the dispatcher never called it off after the blonde victim's death was confirmed.

"I'm not hurt bad," Andrew said. "I don't need them to take the time. They should help people who are hurt bad."

"It's all right," Sheriff Darden assured him, standing up. "They won't mind. Come on."

He knew he looked more intimidating again. Sure enough, Andrew rose as well, standing more than a head below the sheriff.

Sheriff Darden led the way towards the ambulance, where the paramedics were unloading the stretcher. Fortune smiled as he recognized the older one, Mike. The two of them had been to a few scenes together, mostly car accidents near the county line.

"Where do we need to go?" Mike asked as the sheriff reached him.

Sheriff Darden gave him a single, almost imperceptible shake of the head. Catching it, Mike responded with an equivalent nod. There was no second victim to rush to the hospital, but their services were still needed.

"This is Andrew Mooruff," Sheriff Darden said, waving at the skinny man in the gray coveralls behind him. "He cut himself earlier today while cleaning under the bleachers by the football field. Could you take a look at his arm? Make sure there's no infection or anything?"

"Sure," Mike said. His own skin as dark as Andrew's, he waved the latter over. Over the janitor's shoulder, he gave Sheriff Darden a second, almost imperceptible nod.

Leaving the paramedics to this task, Sheriff Darden went over to Deputy Adam Baxter, who was working crowd control. He motioned for the deputy to accompany him so they'd be out of earshot.

"Call the D.A.," he instructed. "We'll be needing warrants, starting with one for the bandage the paramedics are changing right now."

He knew Mike would go along with the ruse, but he wouldn't hand this evidence over without the proper paperwork.

"Make it quick," he added. "When they're done, I'll convince the janitor to come down to the station to keep helping us out."

Deputy Baxter nodded, plucking his cell phone off his belt. As the second-longest serving lawman in the department, he carried a certain amount of sway to get things done in the District Attorney's office. That, and one of the paralegals in that office was his cousin.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Keith Darden: sheriff of Alter County. Personally investigated the locker room attack.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 6
Chapter 2 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Located in rural West Livingston, three and a half hours south of Dallas, the Alan B. Polunsky Unit served as Texas's supermax prison. In addition to housing more than 2,500 of the state's most dangerous men in administrative segregation, the prison was home for two hundred and thirty-six killers awaiting their execution.

Despite being considered one of the most secure prisons in Texas, the facility looked more like a cluster of buildings one might find on a college campus, if one overlooked the high fences with razor wire and the even taller guard towers. Each structure was made of white concrete with blue steel supports and a dark-gray roof. Instead of windows, the walls were lined with narrow slits, allowing the residents inside a limited view of the free world which many of them would never be a part of again.

Roland drove up to the prison's main gate. Having never done this before, he followed the instructions given by the officer behind the bulletproof glass of the booth next to the gate. Having anticipated needing to show his license, he snatched it from his car's passenger seat. It was the one logical thing he'd been able to plan ahead of his visit.

"Your reason for coming?" the officer asked via the static-laced intercom.

"I'm here to see Andrew Mooruff," Roland explained. "He's on Death Row here. I'm his lawyer."

The second part seemed to have been lost on the officer as he was already checking something on a computer inside the booth. Roland supposed it was an older desktop as it seemed to be taking a long time. He also supposed the glass was kept dirty to obstruct anyone outside from seeing what was on the screen. Would a bottle of Windex and a spare rag really be such a burden on the taxpayers?

"Building 12," the officer said, pushing a yellow slip of paper through a narrow slot in the glass. "Turn right and follow the signs. Show them that at the building's entrance."

The arm of the gate went up and he waved Roland into the complex. Another officer soon signaled for the attorney to stop again and two or three officers searched his trunk and looked beneath the chassis.

"Nice car," one officer remarked, pausing to admire the Porsche.

Roland suddenly wondered if he ought to have gone out and rented something less conspicuous. Beyond the next gate, he could see two men in orange clothes raking leaves along the side of the road.

"You're clear," the officer who'd stopped Roland said.

The second gate, an actual gate as opposed to an arm, slid aside. Roland drove through, already feeling more confined as the gate slid shut behind him. He also became more nervous as the two inmates stopped sweeping to stare at his Porsche as he drove by.

Roland knew Death Row was housed in Building 12, which stood apart from the rest of the complex as if to further emphasize how different it's occupants were from every other inmate in the state prison system. He parked in the visitor's lot near the entrance. Making sure he had his yellow slip and his license, he got out and walked towards another gate, this one smaller than the others. There was another booth with another corrections officer inside, again behind murky, bulletproof glass.

"Your Name and reason for visiting," this officer said, not asking, via another low-quality intercom speaker.

Roland swallowed a lump in his throat. This would be his last chance to turn around and drive away. He opened his mouth and no sound came out.

"You okay, buddy?" the officer asked, any indication of actual concern overshadowed by static.

Roland swallowed again.

"I'm Roland Davis," he said. "I'm here to see Andrew Mooruff."

* * *

Andrew Mooruff had always enjoyed walking. He'd taken long walks around Pewter throughout his life. He'd enjoyed his job as a custodian, the word Mr. Ericson explained was his job title, at the high school because he got to walk all around the school many times as he cleaned. And, here in this cell for just himself, he could admit seeing the many beautiful girls was another great benefit of the work.

He still tried to walk, both in his cell, which was as big as the closet where he kept the cleaning supplies at the high school, and the slightly-larger enclosure they took him to for an hour every day. Though these walks were just back and forth many times over, he made the best of them. He also tried to stretch out the walks every time the officers took him somewhere, even if the extra steps only existed in his mind.

Andrew understood he wasn't as smart as many people. But he understood other things, too. He understood he was in prison. He understood he was there because everyone thought he'd hurt and killed a girl, something he understood he didn't do. He'd never hurt someone like that pretty, blonde cheerleader. And the other girl who was hurt ... she was pretty, too, even if not as pretty as the blonde. He wouldn't hurt them or any other girl.

He understood this was why he spent so much time alone in this cell. It was the walks that kept him from going crazy. The walks and the memories.

The panel covering the slot in his door was opened. Andrew looked at it, sure it wasn't time to eat yet.

"On your feet, Mooruff," an officer said. "You've got a visitor."

Rising, Andrew considered this. Was it already time for his Mama to come again? One of his sisters? Maybe, just maybe, it would be Ruby. He hadn't seen her in so long and he felt his heart race at the mere thought of her.

"Let's go, Mooruff," the officer outside the door said.

Remembering Carlos's most important piece of advice, Andrew understood what he had to do. He did it every day. He turned around and stepped back towards the cell door. Dropping down to his knees, he stuck his hands through the open slot. He felt the handcuffs tightening around his wrists like always.

"Back on your feet," the officer said after checking that the cuffs were secure.

Andrew rose again and turned to face the door as it opened.

"Step forward," the officer said.

Andrew stepped out of his cell. The officer and two others, all wearing jackets, helmets, and face shields as usual, surrounded him before he was allowed to walk down the corridor.

* * *

Roland sat in what the corrections officers called an attorney/client visitation room. Encased by walls made of dull white concrete, the room was divided by a partition made of more concrete and bulletproof glass. Each side had a counter sticking out a foot or so, a bench which was bolted to the floor, and a phone for the inmate and his attorney to converse.

Roland knew the corrections officer who'd brought him to this room and then left again had locked him in on this side of it. He wondered how any inmate could get through the divider to harm his attorney or anyone beyond the door. What good would it do them to harm the one person advocating for their right to live?

He reviewed his notes and the questions he'd developed. Apart from studying the death penalty, how it was applied in Texas, and the conditions of Death Row, he'd spent the last week reviewing the case, reading the notes from Alter County sheriff Keith Darden and his deputies as they investigated, the trial transcript, and the ruling by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals when they denied Andrew Mooruff's direct appeal of the conviction and sentence. Balancing this with his other work and sleeping about four hours per night, he spent every free minute cramming while tripling his normal caffeine intake.

On the surface, it looked like a solid case and a fair trial. But, it hadn't taken much digging for Roland to find problems and develop questions. True, there wasn't anything which directly contradicted the investigation and court proceedings, but these were issues that needed to be looked at. After all, wasn't that why Roland was put on the case? Everything needed to be in order when Andrew Mooruff took his last walk in Huntsville, whenever that might happen.

The door on the other side of the room opened and, unable to hear anything through the divider, Roland waived as his client was brought in by two corrections officers. He couldn't think of any other way to acknowledge the group's arrival.

Though the officers were of average height and build, they looked like hulking giants next to Andrew Mooruff. The skinny bald man's dark skin looked even darker in contrast with his white prison uniform.

At the officers' beckoning, Andrew stepped towards the bench and sat down. The handcuffs securing his wrists behind his back were then removed and the officers left.

Deciding to get this over with, Roland picked up the phone on his side. Andrew did the same. He held the receiver to his ear, waiting with a blank expression plastered on his face.

"Hello, Andrew," Roland said. "My name is Roland Davis. I'm your new lawyer."

He'd already received the representation agreement with a sloppy signature at the bottom via an e-mail from an attorney with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The attorney's short message, stating that he'd made sure Andrew understood and signed the document, wasn't reassuring. The signature looked like a child's scrawl and Roland had been tempted to query if it had been done in crayon.

"Hello," Andrew said.

Roland waited for him to say something else. Maybe he'd ask what happened to his last attorney. He was probably wondering what would happen next. He'd definitely be wondering if and when he was getting out of this place.

But Andrew Mooruff said nothing else. He just stared through the glass with those deep blue eyes on that round head. He hardly ever blinked, and Roland felt unsettled. Roland decided he had to speak. He needed to get out of this room. But, he needed to talk to his client before he could do that.

"I came to introduce myself," he explained. "I'm going to be handling your appeals from now on."

"You gonna tell them I didn't hurt those girls?" Andrew asked.

"Did you?"

Andrew shook his head, making wide arcs with each motion.

"No, Sir," he replied. "The girls were already hurt. I tried to help them."

Roland nodded, taking notes.

"Tell me about that," he requested. "How did you find them?"

"I went to the locker room to clean," Andrew explained. "The game was over, and I thought it'd be okay. I thought everyone would be at home. I did call out Like I'm supposed to when I go in the girl's room."

Andrew seemed to be studying Roland, perhaps seeking validation of his actions.

"Did you see anyone when you were going to the locker room?" Roland asked.

"No, Sir," Andrew replied. "There was no one around and I thought they all went home. You know, to get ready for the dance. I didn't see anyone."

"How did the girls look when you found them?"

Andrew recounted the same description Roland had pieced together from notes taken at some point by Sheriff Darden and the court-appointed attorney. Andrew had found the girls, injured and bloody, in separate stalls. The blonde, Lilian Harvey, was actually lying in front of the stall. She was already dead while the brunette, Marcy Sellers, was alive but drowning in a rising pool of water created when her body blocked the drain in the adjacent shower stall. The water in that stall was bursting out of a broken pipe that ran up the wall to the shower head.

"They looked bad," Andrew finished. "They looked real bad. Someone hurt them real bad."

"But you didn't touch them, right?" Roland asked.

"I only touched them to help. I know you ain't supposed to touch girls like that, but Mr. Ericson said it was all right when I wanted to help with the CPR. I just wanted to help."

He stared at Roland.

"Can you get me out of here, Mr. Davis?" he asked. "Can you tell them I didn't hurt no one so I can go home?"

Roland considered his answer, knowing he could not make any promises. He took a deep breath, studying the little man through the glass.

"I'll see what I can do," he replied.

He had a few more questions before he could leave this place. Things already didn't make complete sense.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 7
Chapter 3 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

Marcy's parents weren't on the conservative end of the religious spectrum, but they had always gone to church on a regular basis, only skipping due to illness, vacations, and other, similar reasons. They'd soon found St. Andrew's church in Pewter and the family integrated themselves into the congregation.

A couple weeks after school started, St. Andrew's held an outdoor luncheon after that Sunday's service. Detaching herself from her parents, Marcy wandered across the lawn, occasionally greeting fellow students she'd gotten to know a little bit. She had no path in mind and wasn't looking for anyone in particular.

Marcy's link to church in general was through her parents. She went when they went and all three understood this. She wasn't an atheist, but she'd never had the best relationship with religion. Her attendance record was sure to decline sharply once she went to college or otherwise moved out of her family's house. For one thing, she wanted to head north, where things weren't as conservative. The dream was New York City, where all the big names in publishing were located. Marcy knew she was being idealistic, but she wanted to be an author who was popular with readers and critics alike.

Marcy kept walking and scanning the crowd. So many people in Pewter were still strangers to her. Yet, it was like a town out of a storybook. Everyone seemed to know everyone else. Marcy couldn't picture living in a place like this long-term. Experience told her not all her personal facts would be well-received.

"Marcy!" someone called. "Hey, Marcy."

Marcy looked to her left to see Lily hurrying towards her. She smiled. This was the person she'd gotten to know the best at Pewter High. Anyone else had made themselves known to her through school assignments and similar forced circumstances.

"Hey," Lilly said, pushing some stray blonde strands out of her face. "How are you?"

"I'm okay," Marcy said, studying the taller girl. Even with the flyaway strands, Lily looked put together. Today, she was wearing purple sandals, blue shorts that showed off her long legs, and a t-shirt that read "UT Austin". Marcy wondered how Lily always managed to be so presentable. More importantly, why would such a girl bother interacting with her? She'd have better things to do on her worst day. Yet, they'd shared about a dozen lunches with Lily's friends.

"How are you doing?" Marcy asked, as if she didn't already know the answer.

"I'm good," Lily said, beaming. Did the girl have any facial expression besides smiles?

"Glad you could make it," Lily continued. "Come on. A bunch of us are hanging out by the fountain."

She walked away and Marcy, feeling she'd probably never have anything better to do in her life, followed.

The fountain was on the other side of the church. Marcy thought it was an odd place to put it, large as it was with its angels spouting water into the ten-foot-wide basin. People didn't seem to walk this way much and there were no doors or gates nearby to prompt such foot traffic.

"This was the only completed part of an expansion they planned for the church a few years ago," Lily explained. "It's as good a place as any for us to hang out during these get-togethers."

They reached the fountain, where about twenty people were milling around, chatting or looking at their phones. Marcy recognized some, like Lily's friends and fellow cheerleaders Amber Rose and Cassidy Ada, and a few others she shared classes with. Lily began making introductions.

"And that's Ethan," she was saying, pointing out a brown-haired boy who Marcy already knew was a star running back on the school's football team.

"Lily here knows me better than that," Ethan commented.

No one but Marcy seemed surprised by this remark.

"We dated last year," Lily explained. "Ethan likes to boast about it."

Marcy supposed that made sense. Lily looked like that girl who'd be a prize on any guy's arm and Ethan was handsome and a sure catch for any girl. They were probably that star couple everyone else admired. Why had they broken up?

Ethan had some buddies hanging around him. Marcy already couldn't remember their names and she supposed that made sense. Ethan was the star of his group. Plus, his father was some local big-Whig, owning multiple small businesses in Pewter.

"How are you settling in?" Amber asked, probably to change the subject. She'd never taken much of an interest in Marcy and she was giving Ethan odd glances.

"It's going all right," Marcy replied.

"You try Gately's yet?" Lily asked. "We haven't seen you around there."

Gately's was a local eatery that served as an after school hangout. Lily and her friends had mentioned it to Marcy a few times.

"Haven't had a chance yet," Marcy said.

"Well, you should," Lily said and a few of her friends murmured in agreement.

"I will."

"Maybe Jeff here can show you around," Ethan remarked, gesturing at his large companion. "He knows his way around their menu."

The large, muscular boy gave Marcy a slight smile.

"I'll manage," Marcy said, her gaze turning to her feet. She couldn't tell if Jeff was actually interested in her. He looked like he could have her sit in the palm of his hand, and she was somewhat tempted to ask what position he played on the football team. Her limited knowledge of the sport suggested he was on defense.

"Hey," Cassidy said, breaking the awkward tension. "There's that weirdo."

Everyone looked where she was pointing. Marcy recognized the short, skinny, African American custodian from school. He was pulling a full trash bag out of a bin and replacing it with an empty one.

"Why is he here?" Ethan asked.

"I guess he volunteers here," Lily suggested without emotion in her voice.

"It's creepy," Cassidy remarked. "He's always looking at us."

Marcy didn't know what to say about this. She supposed she hadn't taken the time to notice any possible leering.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Amber Rose: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Cassidy Ada: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Ethan Huntley: junior at Pewter High and Running Back on the school's football team. Lily's ex-boyfriend.

Jeff Edwards: junior at Pewter High and Left Tackle on the school's football team.


Chapter 8
Chapter 3 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

"Have a seat," Sheriff Darden said, waving towards the empty chair by his desk.

The Alter County Sheriff's Department's sole station did not have a formal interrogation room. Crimes in this area were generally minor and victimless. Confessions and apologies were often extracted with little effort at the deputies' desks in the squad room. For this rare occasion, the sheriff's office would do.

Andrew Mooruff sat without a word. He watched as Sheriff Darden moved around the desk and sat as well.

"I just want to talk to you some more," Sheriff Darden said. "You understand we want to find out what happened to those girls and who hurt them?"

Andrew nodded, the up-and-down motions long, slow, and deliberate.

"Tell me again what you saw," Sheriff Darden prompted.

Andrew repeated his description of entering the girls' locker room, discovering the girls in the shower stalls, and finding a pulse on one and trying CPR. Everything was consistent with the earlier version he'd recounted.

"What did you see before going to clean the locker room?" Sheriff Darden asked. "Was there anyone around?"

"I didn't see no one," Andrew replied. "I didn't see no one until I found the girls."

"What were you doing before you went to clean the locker room?"

"Mr. Ericson said I could take a break until it got quiet. I was listening to my music."

Sheriff Darden nodded.

"Andrew, do you want to keep talking to me?" he asked.

"Sure," Andrew said. "I want to help."
"Okay," Sheriff Darden said, withdrawing a card from his desk. "I have to read you something. It's something we gotta do when we keep talking to people after someone gets hurt."

"Or killed?" Andrew asked.

Sheriff Darden nodded.

"Or killed," he echoed. "Listen up. You have the right to remain silent ..."

He read the entire Miranda Warning.

"You understand all that?" he finished.

Andrew nodded slowly.

"Yes, Sir," he added.

"Okay," Sheriff Darden said, taking out a pen and pointing to the line on the card. "Please sign right here."

Andrew did so and returned the card and pen.

"How did you get those scratches on your arm again?" Sheriff Darden asked.

"I was cleaning under the bleachers earlier," Andrew repeated. "It's real tight down there."

"Looks like you could have gotten those fighting with someone," Sheriff Darden suggested, though he couldn't be sure.

"I didn't fight with no one."

Andrew accompanied this assertion with wide shakes of his head.

"We have to look at everything," Sheriff Darden said. "Luckily, DNA and fingerprint tests are real quick these days."

Andrew seemed confused by this.

"They're tools we use to solve crimes," Sheriff Darden explained. "They let us know who touched what and where.

"You'll know what I touched?" Andrew asked.

Sheriff Darden nodded.

"So, you'll want to tell me all that first," he said. "Did you touch either of those girls?"

"Only to try and help. I was looking for the pulse. I only found one."

Andrew was becoming flustered.

"Didn't you tell me you pulled the dark-haired girl out of the shower so she wouldn't drown?" Sheriff Darden asked.

"Yes," Andrew said quickly, starting to fidget in his seat. "I did do that. But I just wanted to help."

"Andrew," Sheriff Darden said, letting out a long sigh. "I hear a lot of things around town. I hear that you like to watch the girls at school. We've gotten a few complaints."

Andrew didn't say anything. He also didn't meet the sheriff's eyes.

"Why would you look at the girls?" Sheriff Darden asked.

"I thought they were pretty," Andrew said in a small voice.

"Did you ever look at them in the locker room?"

Sheriff Darden wondered how many times the pervert had looked before he couldn't resist his urges anymore. Though he was waiting on a confirmation of the identities of the victims in the locker room, he could tell both had been pretty in life. Andrew Mooruff would have surely watched them. The sheriff had seen it often enough when he worked sex crimes in El Paso.

"No," Andrew said. "I never did that. Mr. Ericson said I should never go in the girls' room when someone else was there. I always had to call out first to make sure no one was there."

"Didn't you hear the water running in the locker room?" Sheriff Darden asked.

"I did. But no one called back, so I went to make sure nothing was broken. It happened before."

Sheriff Darden sighed again.

"Andrew," he said. "I'm having trouble putting all this together."

Andrew stared at him.

"Well," Sheriff Darden continued. "You didn't tell me again how exactly you touched the girls when I asked you to repeat everything. And, I wonder why you went into the girls' locker room when you heard the water running. What if someone was there and just didn't hear you? I bet you would have gotten in trouble then."

Andrew nodded again.

"Yes, Sir," he admitted.

"Is that what happened?" Sheriff Darden asked. "You went in and they didn't hear you? Things got out of hand?"

He wanted to trip this prick up and he felt he was getting close. He frowned as someone knocked on his office doorshattering his focus.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Keith Darden: sheriff of Alter County. Personally investigated the locker room attack.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 9
Chapter 3 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Roland understood his role in the Andrew Mooruff case was more for show than anything else. The man was guilty and the horrific nature of the crime warranted the death penalty. Plenty of condemned men had committed far less heinous acts than what happened in that locker room.

Still, the firm gave Roland some help in the form of junior associate Janice Cooper and paralegal Phillip Decker. The three were meeting for the first time in one of the firm's smaller conference rooms to strategize. Roland's meeting with Andrew took place about a week ago, but it felt as though he'd just left the prison, his mind still buzzing with so many unanswered questions.

Janice was a brunette of average height and build, though she looked like a dwarf next to Roland. She wore her hair in a bun and dressed in pantsuits in varying shades of blue and green. Phillip was a bit taller than her, though still much shorter than Roland. He wore glasses and kept his dark-red hair trimmed short and seemed to use some gel. His normal attire was khakis and button-down shirts without a tie or jacket. Like Roland, neither of them were happy about this assignment but didn't see a tactful manner of extracting themselves from it.

"I don't get it," Phillip remarked. "Why is anyone looking at this. The guy did it. That's clear."

Roland didn't reply and Janice noticed this.

"What are you thinking about?" she asked. "You can't really think he didn't have anything to do with this."

"I don't know," Roland admitted. "There are ... questions."

"What kind of questions?" Janice queried, her eyes narrowed.

Roland sighed. Having wanted to do as little on this case as possible, he'd already spent too much time trying to reconcile the oddities.

"Okay," he said. "To start with, Andrew Mooruff is five feet, five inches tall. Lilian Harvey was five feet, eight inches tall. The coroner measured her body."

"So?" Phillip asked. "Three inches taller. I know women taller than me, especially when heels are involved."

He too barely passed five, eight.

"Lilian Harvey was an athlete. She was a cheerleader. She kept in good shape," Roland continued. "Andrew's width could rival the poles of streetlights. His only workouts happened when he cleaned. Even if he had taken either victim by surprise, you don't think they would have fought back and overpowered him?"

There was no evidence to suggest either Lilian Harvey or Marcy Sellers had been drugged or subdued in any way except by physical force.

"You saw the injuries," Roland continued. "Those girls fought for their lives, especially Lilian. It was a violent struggle."

All three of them had seen the photos of the girls nude bodies covered with fresh bruises, cuts, and many more horrific injuries. There was no need to whip those out again.

"You really think one man of Andrew's size could have done all that?" Roland asked. He wasn't a criminal lawyer, nor a religious viewer of crime shows. This was just logic speaking.

"Plus," Roland continued. "It takes time to do that sort of damage to another human being."

He'd seen plenty of injuries during his football days. None matched what these girls had endured. Simple collisions on a field wouldn't produce what the photos from the hospital and the coroner showed.

"Setting aside the fact you would need to keep these girls under control for the time you do this," Roland elaborated, "there's the fact that you have to get into the mindset to want to do this and stay there. It's gotta take a lot of rage to wanna keep thinking that way. That all leads me to conclude it was personal."

"Andrew Mooruff worked at the girls' school," Janice pointed out, sticking one finger up in the air for emphasis. "He admitted seeing them often. Maybe someone else hurt him in some way and the rage built up inside him until he took it out on these two victims. How many serial killers picked their victims based on someone from their personal life?"

"If so, why didn't he use his cleaning equipment?" Roland asked. "You can do some damage with a mop or broom, but those had no blood, hair, or anything else on them. Why would Andrew, being at a disadvantage in size, strength, and number of opponents, not use a literal cart full of available weapons like that?"

"You said yourself the guy doesn't seem like the brightest," Phillip reminded his boss. "The tests show he's got an IQ between seventy-eight and eighty-one. That's on the low side. Couple points further down, they wouldn't be able to let him stay on Death Row."

Roland sighed. Everything they were talking about was only conjecture, regardless which side of the argument any of them took. The discussion alone offered no proof in support of Andrew Mooruff's guilt or innocence.

As though reading his mind, Janice asked, "Why are we even talking in circles like this? Let's just focus on the errors made at his trial. For one thing, his defense attorney could have done a better job. If I read right, he never called a single witness except the psychiatrist who saw Andrew Mooruff for three hours and was of no help to the defense. The jury was completely white, which could have raised issues under Batson. The prosecution was throwing a bunch of theories out there and the judge let them all in with little to no consideration on their merits. I mean, whether or not this guy is guilty, those are serious problems."

Roland nodded. She was right on every point. But, there was one major obstacle to what she said.

"The Court of Criminal Appeals already ruled on all of this in the direct appeal," he said with a sigh. "Given their reasoning, the federal courts are likely to agree."

Andrew's previous appellate attorney in Houston had put together a competent appeal. It really was just the hurricane and the collateral damage therefrom that prevented her from continuing to represent him. But even she couldn't have overcome the problem Roland was seeing.

The state appellate system in Texas was among the more unique in the country. While most states had a single high court that heard all appeals, Texas had two. As a corporate attorney, Roland had mainly dealt with the Texas Supreme Court, which heard all appeals in civil matters. Death penalty appeals, like Andrew's, fell under the jurisdiction of the Court of Criminal Appeals, which was known to be conservative, even if they were becoming somewhat more moderate in recent years. Then, there were the federal courts to worry about. The case would be heard by district and circuit court judges in the 5th Circuit, one of the most conservative venues in the country.

Despite his inexperience with criminal law, Roland understood that pointing out an error was, on its own, not enough to overturn a criminal conviction or sentence. The appellant had to prove this error impacted the outcome of their original case to such a degree that things would have surely turned out differently if the error never happened. In Andrew's case, that meant the errors and issues Janice described had to be so severe that he would have stood a good chance at being found innocent without them. The damming DNA and fingerprint evidence made that a remote possibility.

"I don't want to go after something that's failed already," Roland said.

"Then what do we do?" Phillip asked.

"We gotta raise doubts about the man's guilt. We weaken the evidence, these other issues might carry some weight with the federal courts ... maybe enough for reversible error."

"So, what do we do?" Janice asked. "Investigate the case again? Where would we even start."

"We go to Pewter," Roland declared. "We go to where this all began."

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Janice Cooper: junior associate assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Phillip Decker: paralegal assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 10
Chapter 4 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

Being that Lily was the closest thing to a friend for Marcy since she'd started at Pewter High three weeks ago, the latter was delighted that they shared two classes. One was Math. With her overall average being in the A- range, Marcy was good at the subject. That didn't mean she liked it and Lily shared her sentiments when they paired up for an assignment one day in late September.

"'16 + x2 = 25'," the blonde read from their sheet as they sat in a booth at Gately's. "When are we ever going to actually have to know this in real life?"

Marcy shrugged. She supposed her parents had explained the purpose of knowing this at some point, but she couldn't recall their reasoning now.

"Unless we make math our job or we're Matt Damon, it's not gonna matter," Lily continued.

Marcy gave her a puzzled look.

"You never saw that movie?" Lily asked. "My brother did an internship in L.A. once for his film studies. He met all kinds of people out there. 'Good Will Hunting' is his favorite movie and Matt Damon signed a couple DVDs for him. He sent one to me."

She studied Marcy.

"You should come over and watch it someday. Robin Williams is also in it, so you know that's a good thing."

Marcy managed a small smile. Something else had been nagging her and she finally dared to ask.

"Why have you been so nice to me?" she queried in a small voice.

"What do you mean?" Lily asked, puzzled.

"You've been nice to me since I got here," Marcy elaborated, not looking up from the table between them. "Why?"

"You're easy to be nice to," Lily replied. She paused.

"I guess I don't want to be one of those stuck-up girls," she continued. "This might sound stuck-up, but I know I'm popular. I just don't want to be mean about it."

She stared at Marcy.

"You make it easy," she said. "You're easy to be nice to."

"Thanks," Marcy said. "Thanks for everything."

Before Lily could say anything else, Tony, the big man who owned and ran the eatery, sidled over to their booth.

"Can I interest you gals in any shakes?" he asked in a raspy voice. He seemed nice, but he sounded like he'd just quit a decades-long smoking habit.

"I'll have the Banana Split," Lily replied without hesitation.

Tony nodded and looked at Marcy, who'd never thought to check the milkshake menu. They'd been splitting a basket of fries while completing their homework.

"I'll have what she's having," Marcy said, not looking at Tony.

"You allergic to nuts, kid?" Tony inquired. "These days, I gotta ask or risk getting sued."

He sounded annoyed about having to do this.

"No," Marcy replied.

"Alrighty," Tony said. "Have it out for you soon."

He sidled away.

"Good choice," Lily said. "They're delicious."

Marcy nodded.

"Thanks," she added.

Lily shrugged.

"You start looking at colleges?" she asked.

"Just online," Marcy replied. "My parents want to start going to places on an upcoming three-day weekend."

"Any ideas where you want to go?"

"Don't know," Marcy replied. In reality, she was looking for a way out of Texas. While somewhere like New York was probably out of the question, she thought she might be able to persuade her parents to let her go somewhere in California.

"How about you?" she asked.

"I'll probably head to UT in Austin," Lily replied.

Marcy knew she meant the University of Texas at Austin, one of several public colleges nationwide said to hold the same academic standard as the Ivy League schools in the northeast.

"A lot of my family's gone there," Lily continued. "My great-grandfather was a Provost there back in the early 1900s. Plus, they've got a great cheerleading program."

She grinned.

"You think I've got a good-enough rack for collegiate cheerleading?" she asked, pointing at her chest, clad in a blue short-sleeved blouse.

Marcy stared at her, trying to make sure she heard right. She supposed she had, but what was she supposed to say? She guessed Lily's bra-size was a C-cup. This was more than she had to offer, but was this good enough for college cheerleading? Marcy had no idea.

To her confusion, Lily began laughing.

"You should see your face," she said, a few tears rolling down her cheeks as she tried to catch her breath. "Relax, I'm just messing with you."

"Oh," Marcy said. She managed a giggle.

Their milkshakes arrived, Tony setting the plastic cups and straws in the middle of the table.

"Are you going to be a cheerleader in college?" Marcy asked when he was gone again. She'd sometimes noticed Lily and her teammates, including Amber and Cassidy, practicing after school. She hadn't been able to convince her parents to drive her to an away game, so she'd have to wait for the Homecoming game in a few weeks to see them in action for real.

From what she'd seen, Marcy supposed Lily was good. The blonde seemed to have command over the group as they followed her lead.

"I want to," Lily said. "It's not just dancing around and looking pretty. It's harder than it looks."

Marcy nodded. She decided to try her milkshake, the Banana Split. A mixture of chocolate, strawberry, and banana with crushed nuts, it was pretty good. She stared at Lily, admiring how confident the girl seemed to be about everything.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Tony Andrews: owner and manager of Gately's, a local eatery in Pewter which is popular with the high school students.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 11
Chapter 4 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

Sheriff Darden opened his office door and worked to keep his anger suppressed until it was closed again.

"What?" he asked through gritted teeth, staring down Deputy Charles Morgan, the person who had knocked and interrupted his interrogation of Andrew Mooruff.

"The state troopers are here," Deputy Morgan explained, trying not to show he was nervous.

Sheriff Darden sighed. He would need to interrupt his interrogation for this after all. While his people could collect evidence, they had no facilities to do anything with it. The troopers from the Texas Highway Patrol would see that everything went to the state regional crime lab in El Paso. They'd probably seen to it that some of the crime lab's technicians accompanied them when they got his call for assistance. Sheriff Darden knew better than to keep such a valuable resource waiting.

The two troopers were standing in the station's main room, dressed in their uniforms, each one's attire the color known in the Lonestar State as "Texas Tan". One was older and, like Sheriff Darden, had some gray strands poking through his short, dark hair. His younger partner stood straight, waiting, his dark-blond hair as neat as his uniform. Both men held their straw cowboy hats at their sides.

Sheriff Darden didn't recognize either of these men, but that didn't mean anything. The Texas Highway Patrol had over 2,800 troopers across the state. He'd worked with a few dozen different ones while in El Paso. He composed himself and stepped over to greet his important guests.

"Gentlemen," he said and introduced himself. He learned they were Sergeant Joseph Hillstrand and Probationary Trooper David Tokeman. The career gap between the two men stretched over twenty years.

"Quite a mess you seem to have here," Sergeant Hillstrand remarked.

"Yeah," Sheriff Darden said, waving a hand around at the walls of the small station. "And this place was supposed to be my retirement plan after twenty-five years in El Paso."
The two older men shared a slight chuckle.

"Let that be a lesson for me," Sergeant Hillstrand remarked. He did look like retirement wasn't far away.

"You identify your victims?" Sergeant Hillstrand asked.

"Yeah," Sheriff Darden replied. "The school's principal gave us photos of all the students. The dead one is Lilian Harvey, a cheerleader for Pewter Public High. The coroner's got her now. The other one is Marcy Sellers. She's a new student this year, originally from Eagle Pass. We've informed the parents and the Sellers are at the hospital while their daughter's still in surgery."

"And you have a suspect?"

"In my office," Sheriff Darden replied, lowering his voice a little. "I've been working on him and he's already tripping over his lies."

"A janitor, right?" Sergeant Hillstrand asked.

"That's right. A black little punk who likes teenaged girls. I've dealt with pricks like that before. He's a bit retarded, but it shouldn't be a problem."

"Sounds like you've got a handle on things," Sergeant Hillstrand commented, sounding a little impressed.

Drawing from his own experience, Sheriff Darden was certain the Sergeant wasn't looking to be involved in what was sure to be a big case. Not so close to retirement. The man wanted minimal involvement to achieve maximum success. Sheriff Darden could give him this.

"What we need is physical proof to really nail this guy," he explained.

Sergeant Hillstrand nodded.

"Well, we've brought some boys from the crime lab for that," he said. "We'll have them take what your deputies collected and get it all back to El Paso. We've got a couple fingerprint analysts here who can help you now. If you've got photos of prints or actual latents that you found, they can link up to the databases from their van and get you results in an hour or two."

"Yeah," Sheriff Darden said. "We've got some."

He glanced at Deputy Morgan, who hadn't moved from his spot by his office door.

"Charlie here will get you and the crime lab guys to where you all need to go," he said.

"Sounds good," Sergeant Hillstrand said. "Let's fry this half-wit."

Moving for the first time, the younger trooper, David Tokeman, nodded.

Returning the gesture with a silent nod of his own, Sheriff Darden turned and headed back to his office.

Andrew Mooruff was sitting where the sheriff had left him, straight and stiff in his chair by the desk. The sheriff liked this. Maybe the interruption had helped and the prick was closer to cracking.

"Sorry about that," he said, taking his own seat behind the desk again. "I had to talk to the state troopers. You know why they're here?"

Andrew Mooruff shook his head.

"They're here to help us figure out who did this to those girls," Sheriff Darden explained. "They're going to take all the evidence we found to the crime lab, where they'll be able to tell us who was in there."

"I was in there," Andrew said, staring at the sheriff with wide eyes.

"I know that."

Sheriff Darden decided to press even harder.

"You know," he said. "One of my deputies found this bloody smudge on Marcy Sellers's breast. Made him sick to look closer, but he did. And, you know what?"

He paused for effect. Andrew said nothing.

"Turns out it was a fingerprint," Sheriff Darden announced. "A bloody fingerprint on that poor girl's chest. You leave it there? You feel the need to play with her even though you had blood all over your hands?"

He watched Andrew consider this. The SOB seemed to be thinking back to what happened in that locker room, perhaps looking for a way to lie about this latest set of circumstances.

"I only touched her to help her out of the water and to do the CPR like Mr. Ericson showed me," Andrew said. "I'm not supposed to touch girls like that."

Sheriff Darden nodded.

"You know how hard you have to press your finger to leave such a clear print on human skin," he asked, "especially for us to find it later?"

Andrew shook his head.

"I was only trying to help," he added.

"Pretty darn hard," Sheriff Darden continued as if he hadn't heard that last statement. "My deputy took a photo of that bloody fingerprint ... a pretty good photo, in fact. The crime lab boys shouldn't have a problem matching it to you."

He knew Andrew Mooruff would have been fingerprinted when he took the janitor's job at the high school, no matter what else about him was overlooked by "Mr. Ericson" and the school's administration. One of his deputies would have collected and run those prints. They'd still be in the state's database, ready for comparison.

"When they tell me it's a match," the sheriff said. "I'll have enough to arrest you for murder. After that, whatever else they find will make it easier for the prosecutor to get the death penalty. And, don't worry. I'll be in Huntsville when they shove that needle in your arm. I'll be there with the parents of those girls, watching you whimper out some pathetic final words before the state gets rid of you for good."

He withheld a smile as Andrew stared in stunned silence. The man looked like he was about to cry.

"Think that over," Sheriff Darden encouraged. "Decide what you'll ask for when you get to choose your last meal."

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Keith Darden: sheriff of Alter County. Personally investigated the locker room attack.

Charles Morgan: lowest-ranking deputy in the Alter County Sheriff's Department. First to arrive at the high school after the girls' bodies were found in the locker room.

Sergeant Joseph Hillstrand: member of the Texas Highway Patrol. Assisted Alter County authorities investigate the locker room attack.

Probationary Trooper David Tokeman: rookie member of the Texas Highway Patrol and partner of Sergeant Hillstrand. Assisted Alter County authorities investigate the locker room attack.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 12
Chapter 4 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


After three more days of research, Roland, along with the reluctant pair of Janice and Phillip, boarded an American Eagle flight to El Paso. He had to lecture his team on the time change when the pilot's announcement about their arrival time caused confusion. Since that western slither of Texas was one hour behind the rest of the state, it initially seemed they would be in the air for two and a half hours. In reality, it was under ninety minutes.

At the El Paso International Airport, they picked up a reserved SUV from the rental agency and made the hour-long trip to Pewter. After checking into one of the town's two local hotels, they decided to get some lunch. Roland suggested Gately's, his research having shown the eatery was still in business.

"That's where all the students from the high school hung out," he explained as he drove. "Maybe we can get some information."

"And we won't look creepy doing so?" Phillip asked, incredulous. "I mean, three adults just sitting there, asking random teenagers questions about rape and murder. I might want to call the cops on myself."

"Plus, it was five years ago," Janice said. "Anyone in school with the girls is probably off to college or the military or somewhere else. The current students won't be much help."

But they went along with Roland's idea. After all, he was their boss, and the SUV's driver.

Gately's was just a short drive from the hotel. They passed the Pewter Public High School along the way, noticing the garden which was planted as a memorial for Lilian and Marcy. A large plaque near the front of the plot confirmed this in big, gold letters.

"Marcy Sellers is still alive, right?" Phillip asked from the backseat of the SUV.

"Yeah," Janice replied. "As far as the articles suggest, she never woke up from her coma. Her parents moved her away from Pewter, probably to get away from what happened."

"That's gotta be rough."

As he drove, Roland could only nod, trying to figure out what he'd researched about the Sellers, in particular the parents. This conversation about them suddenly seemed to make such information very important.
"There it is," Janice said, pointing out the yellow and blue sign that read "Gately's" in bold letters.

"Tacky," Phillip remarked, studying the sign as Roland parked. "Bet it's a reject from Vegas."

The three of them entered the eatery and Roland saw Tony Andrews, the owner and manager, behind the counter.

"Afternoon, folks," Tony said without looking up from the glass he was cleaning. "Sit anywhere and someone will be right with you."

"Thank you," Phillip said as the trio slid into a nearby booth and plucked menus from the rack by the wall.

Looking around, Roland spotted a juke box against one wall. He rose to investigate. Getting closer, he saw it didn't contain records, but instead a screen from which it seemed one could select a song for a price. Roland inserted a dollar into the slot and, impressed with the apparently-endless list of options, chose "Good Life" by One Republic, "Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim McGraw, and "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey.

"Great," Phillip remarked as Roland returned. "Music with your food."

A woman in a yellow and blue uniform soon came to their booth. Phillip's expression suggested the uniform matched the tacky sign outside. Roland had to agree to a point as he studied the woman.

"What can I get you folks?" the server asked, her pad and pen ready.

Roland figured this brunette was in her mid-30s, around his age. Was the economy still in such a sorry state that this was the best job available for her?

"I'll have a Bud and a burger," Phillip said.

"Ginger Ale and the tuna salad sandwich," Janice said.

"And you?" the waitress, her nametag reading "Emily", asked, looking at Roland.

"Water and the double cheeseburger with bacon," Roland replied.

"You look like you can eat that," Emily remarked. "It is big."

Roland wasn't as fit as he'd been during his days in the NFL, but he was still large and tall.

"Where you folks from anyway?" Emily asked. "I haven't seen you around here before."

"Dallas," Roland replied.

"What brings you to our quiet corner of the world?"

"Work," Roland replied. He wasn't quite prepared to disclose their reason for coming to Pewter.

"Well," Emily said, "enjoy your stay. I'll be right back with your drinks."

As she left, Janice turned to Roland.

"What do we do after lunch?" she queried.

"Talk to the sheriff," Roland replied. "I want to see if we can get a look at the actual evidence."

"No way that'll happen without some kind of court order," Phillip remarked.

"Maybe he'll at least talk to us."

"Not when he finds out why we're here," Janice said, sliding out of the booth.

"Where are you going?" Phillip asked.

"If we're going to do this, let's get started," Janice hissed over her shoulder.

She walked over to the counter, where Tony was cleaning another glass.

"Excuse me," she said, putting a southern twang in her tone. "This is where those girls were murdered, right? Over at the high school?"

"Yeah," Tony replied, still not looking up. "One of them died. The other ... I'm not sure where she's at now."

Janice nodded.

"We're doing research on that case," she explained. "Could you answer a couple questions?"

"Maybe," Tony replied.

"Those girls ever come in here?"

Tony paused his cleaning but still didn't look anywhere else. He seemed to be thinking.

"Yeah," he said after a few seconds. "Lots of kids came here after school. They mainly got the fries. Those are cheap."

"This a popular place around here?" Janice asked.

"I suppose. Pewter's pretty much the only town in Alter County and this is the closest we've got to anything 'downtown'."

He waved at the quiet neighborhood visible through the diner's large windows.**

"I'll bet the jurors on that trial came in here," Janice said, pretending to look fascinated.

"I suppose," Tony said. "We're not far from the courthouse."

He paused again, this time looking up at Janice.

"Come to think of it," he continued. "They were in here a lot. Always in a group. They all sat together, taking three or four booths. Never said much to anyone, and some folks tried to engage them in simple conversation."

"Ever have a problem with them being here?" Janice asked, frowning a bit.

"Not really. Some people got passionate about the case, so the talk got heated, but those folks stayed out of it. Brought in some good money for me for a while. I mean, reporters and other people were also coming in while that trial was happening."

"Hmm," Janice said, her frown growing.

Tony frowned as well. His eyes narrowed as he stared at her.

"What did you say you were here for?" he asked.

"Leave the poor girl alone, Tony," Emily admonished, coming with the group's drinks. "You don't need to go prying into everybody's business. It's natural for someone to be curious about what happened."

Janice was walking back to the booth as Emily set the drinks down for everyone.

"Sorry about him," she said. "He's very protective of the kids from the high school, especially after what happened. Even though they're gone, he still cares about those girls."

Roland nodded, studying Tony, who was staring at their booth.

"I'll be back soon with your food," Emily said and walked away again.

"Bet he spits in that food," Phillip said in a low voice, glancing at Tony. "I thought the trial was moved to another venue."

"No," Janice whispered back, "they just had an imported jury. It should have been moved. They drove those jurors to and from here for ninety minutes every morning and night."

She looked around the eatery. A few people were there, enjoying a late lunch. It was too early for the high school to let out, so no one was under twenty.

"A lot of good the imported jury must have done," she continued. "If even some of those jurors came in here every day during the trial for lunch, they would have heard people talking about the case. You can't tell me the town's emotional state influencing the jury wouldn't be grounds for reversible error."

"We'd need a juror to come forward to confirm this," Roland said. "Even then, it would still be a long shot, especially if we only get one. We still need to weaken the weight of the evidence."

"You've got a one-track mind," Phillip remarked as Emily came with their food.

Roland shrugged as he studied the waitress again. He then noticed Tony was still staring at them.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Janice Cooper: junior associate assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Phillip Decker: paralegal assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Tony Andrews: owner and manager of Gately's, a local eatery in Pewter which is popular with the high school students.

Emily Winters: server at Gately's.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 13
Chapter 5 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

"Where's Amber?" Marcy asked, sliding into a seat at the table in the cafeteria. Though she didn't feel accepted by anyone except Lily, she'd gotten used to their usual lunch group. The other blonde's absence was immediately noticeable.

"Somewhere that way," Lily said, pointing down the long table with the fork she'd been using to spear a ravioli. "She's trying to put the moves on Ethan."

Cassidy was eating a wrap and not saying anything. Glancing down the table, Marcy couldn't see Amber or the object of her affections. There was just the sea of students, so many still strangers to her.

"She's been interested in him for a while," Lily continued. "I think she might have been jealous when he and I were going out."

"Why did you two break up?" Marcy queried.

"We lost interest in each other," Lily said with a shrug. "I mean, we weren't gonna get married or anything. Things just ended."

She looked at Marcy, who was eating a tomato sauce-soaked ravioli, another "homemade" entrée curtesy of Pewter Public High.

"You ever date anyone while you were living in Eagle Pass?" she inquired.

Marcy chewed and swallowed.

"Not really," she said, looking down at her tray.

"Well, you should get out there," Lily encouraged. "Bet Jeff would be interested. I saw how he looked at you at the church."

Marcy remembered, but she wasn't so sure. For one thing, she could probably sit on the palm of Jeff's hand. How would that look?

"I'm not sure he's my type," she said.

Cassidy looked up, interested for the first time.

"Who is your type?" she queried.

"I'm not sure," Marcy replied, looking at her food again and wondering how to steer away from this topic.

"You must have some idea if you think Jeff doesn't fit," Lily pointed out. "Come on ... spill."

Marcy looked at her. There was that confidence again. God, the girl had everything.

"People don't really notice me," Marcy said. "Not like they notice you. I haven't had much of a choice."

"Come on," Lily said. "You're cute. You're nice. And, you're so smart. I'm sure you'd be a catch."

"History hasn't proven that."

"You going to the Homecoming Dance?"

"I don't know. Are you?"

Lily gave a single shrug.

"Yeah," she said. "I mean, I kind of have to go. It's right after the game, but it's a lot of fun. You should go."

"I usually wind up sitting in some corner at these things," Marcy Lamented.

Lily shook her head.

"Then make it fun," she encouraged. "Ask someone. Guys don't always have to be the ones who ask."

Marcy stared at Lily. Who was she supposed to ask? How would that end?

* * *

Later that night, listening to her parents heading up the steps to their bedroom, Marcy lay on her bed, thinking about that day's lunch.

She hadn't been lying when she admitted her lack of experience to Lily. Her sole experience with kissing a boy was a round of Seven Minutes in Heaven when she was twelve. That was less than memorable, in part because a shoe rack was poking her in the butt the entire time.

Things in her dating life had only become more complicated since. Marcy wished she could just tell Lily the truth, but that had previously gone even worse than the botched seven-minute session with Franklin Frasier in the closet. She couldn't go through that again.

Marcy jumped when she heard a soft knock at her door.

"Come in," she said.

Her mother, Valerie, entered the small bedroom.

"Are you okay, Pumpkin?" she asked. "You seemed very quiet at dinner."

Marcy knew she was normally more outgoing around her family than with anyone else. She wished she could be like that with Lily.

"I just have a lot to think about," she said. "Big history test next week."

"Have you been studying?" Valerie asked.

Marcy nodded.

"Have you thought any more about what colleges you might want to look at?" Valerie inquired. "We want to start planning a trip soon."

Marcy considered her answer.

"I might want to see the University of Texas in Austin," she said.

Sure, the school was an eight-hour drive away, but it was a public university and in-state. With her grades, a scholarship was guaranteed.

Valerie nodded.

"That's a good school," she commended. "We can think about that. Just keep your grades up where they are and higher. How is school going? Are you making any friends?"

"Kind of," Marcy said.

Valerie sat close to her daughter on the bed. She reached out and stroked her hair.

"You don't have to be afraid," she said. "This is a fresh start for you. Just be yourself."

"I can't do that," Marcy said.

"Not like that," Valerie corrected. "But in every other way."

Marcy sighed and nodded.

"Get some sleep," Valerie encouraged. "We'll talk more about colleges this weekend."

She got up and walked back to the door.

"Good night, Mom," Marcy said.

"Good night, Pumpkin," Valerie returned and turned off the light before shutting the door.

Marcy sighed again and turned over in her bed. Even her parents couldn't understand just how complicated all this was for her, no matter how supportive they were.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Amber Rose: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Cassidy Ada: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Ethan Huntley: junior at Pewter High and linebacker on the school's football team. Lily's ex-boyfriend.

Jeff Edwards: junior at Pewter High and Left Tackle on the school's football team.

Valerie Sellers: Marcy's mother.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 14
Chapter 5 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

Sheriff Darden came out of his office with a handcuffed Andrew Mooruff. The small, skinny man was crying.

"If you cannot afford an attorney, one can be provided to you at no charge," the sheriff was reciting. "Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?"

"Ye ... Yes, Sir," Andrew stammered between sobs.

"Take him to a holding cell," Sheriff Darden told some deputies standing nearby. "We'll drive him over to the county jail in the morning."

As two deputies escorted Andrew off through another door, Sheriff Darden moved over to where Texas Highway Patrol Sergeant Joseph Hillstrand and Probationary Trooper David Tokeman were seated by some desks.

"He confess?" Sergeant Hillstrand asked.

Sheriff Darden shook his head.

"He just began blubbering when I told him the bloody fingerprint matched his left ring finger," he lamented. "I decided to just arrest him. He's not gonna be coherent anymore and any half-baked lawyer will tell him to shut up from here on out."

"Maybe it's for the best," Sergeant Hillstrand offered. "You wanna already start hearing about the sick things he did to those girls?"

"I suppose not," the sheriff conceded. "I'll already have nightmares about this case. What are you guys still doing here anyway?"

"We got all the evidence your deputies collected and packed it up in the van," Sergeant Hillstrand explained. "We're just waiting for the hospital to call us. They collected some samples before that girl went into surgery and they said we could try to collect some more when they're done. Doubt there will be anything left given how they wash people down over there, but we gotta try."

He stared at Sheriff Darden.

"They don't all confess," he said. "You know that."

"Yeah," Sheriff Darden agreed. "I suppose it's a bit easier when they take some sort of responsibility."

"For me, a sicko's a sicko. The important thing is you've got plenty on him already. After a jury hears about what he did, coupled with that fingerprint and the DNA that'll surely point to him, they'll be voting and arguing over who gets to push down the needle's plunger."

Sheriff Darden chuckled.

"You know what he asked me for right before I brought him out?" he said. "He wanted to call his mother."

"Maybe that's the sickest part of this," Sergeant Hillstrand mused. "What kind of man wants to involve his family in what he's done?"

"Hmm," Sheriff Darden grumbled. He looked over at Trooper Tokeman.

"What do you think about all this, kid?" he asked.

The young man jumped, seeming surprised to be included in the conversation. He didn't say anything.

"Hey," Sergeant Hillstrand said, sounding like a parent scolding a child. "This man asked you a question. You answer him honestly. He's had a hard enough day and doesn't need any disrespect from you. Got me?"

Trooper Tokeman nodded and looked at Sheriff Darden.

"I guess I'm thinking about those girls' parents and how they feel about this," he said. "I can't imagine what they're going through."

Sheriff Darden gave him an approving nod.

"They'll be many more parents like that," Sergeant Hillstrand said. "That's who we fight for as we take on each of these monsters. They need to know someone's on their side. God knows the justice system isn't. What with the fancy lawyers, endless appeals, and all this talk about 'cruel and unusual' punishment. What about those girls? Isn't what happened to them 'cruel and unusual'?"

Trooper Tokeman nodded. Sheriff Darden began to think the kid had potential.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Keith Darden: sheriff of Alter County. Personally investigated the locker room attack.

Sergeant Joseph Hillstrand: member of the Texas Highway Patrol. Assisted Alter County authorities investigate the locker room attack.

Probationary Trooper David Tokeman: rookie member of the Texas Highway Patrol and partner of Sergeant Hillstrand. Assisted Alter County authorities investigate the locker room attack.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 15
Chapter 5 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


"What can I do for you folks?" a deputy asked as Roland, Janice, and Phillip entered the Alter County Sheriff's Department's sole station.

"We'd like a word with the sheriff," Roland explained.

"You have an appointment?" the deputy, the nameplate above his badge reading C. Morgan, asked.

"No," Roland admitted. "Is he available?"

Deputy Morgan's eyes narrowed.

"What's this about?" he asked.

"With all due respect, I'd like to explain it directly to the sheriff," Roland replied. "Is he available?"

He stood there, trying to make it clear he wouldn't leave without speaking to the sheriff. Janice and Phillip stood behind him, silent and waiting.

"I'll see if he has time," Deputy Morgan said. "Have a seat there."

He pointed to a bench by the front door and walked away.

"He ought to have time," Roland muttered under his breath. "This town hasn't seen a murder in five years."

The three sat, Janice and Phillip not hiding how uncomfortable they felt while Roland continued trying his best to appear confident. He hoped circumstances would be on their side.

The previous year, Alter County sheriff Keith Darden was defeated in his re-election bid by Aaron Waller, a native of Pewter who'd come back to town with a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice. Sheriff Darden's questionable tactics, bordering on racial profiling, had piled up so much, the younger man was able to gather support to challenge him. The son of a white mother and Mexican father, he'd won the election by one and a half percentage points.

A door soon opened, and Roland recognized sheriff Aaron Waller from his photos. Now twenty-six, the man seemed to be more politician than law enforcer, but no one was complaining ... yet. Roland wouldn't hold the fact this sheriff graduated from Texas A&M against him.

"You folks here to see me?" Sheriff Waller asked in a sharp southern accent as he came towards the bench.

"Yes," Roland said, rising to his feet.

"You must be Roland Davis."

Roland was surprised and the sheriff chuckled.

"If you want to keep a low profile, don't pay for your lunch with a credit card that your big-city law firm covers the bill for," he explained. "Oh, and having had a career in the NFL doesn't help. Tony's a football fanatic. And, there are no secrets in this town."

He grinned, clearly proud of being one step ahead of Roland.

"Let's talk in my office," he suggested.

"Sure," Roland agreed.

"We'll wait out here," Phillip volunteered. He and Janice weren't moving off the bench.

Roland gave them a nod over his shoulder as he followed Sheriff Waller across the station's main room.

"Have a seat," Sheriff Waller offered as they entered his office. He shut the door and sat behind his desk.

"You're representing Andrew Mooruff," he said.

Roland stared at him and he chuckled again.

"Why else would a big-city lawyer from Dallas be visiting our sleepy little town?" Sheriff Waller asked. "It doesn't take much brain power. You are lucky Tony hasn't put it together yet, because it'll be all over Pewter ten minutes after that happens."

He leaned across his desk, his face growing serious.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

"Like you said, I'm representing Andrew Mooruff," Roland explained. "I was wondering if I could take a look at the physical evidence used against him."

Sheriff Waller leaned back in his chair again.

"That ain't happening without a court order," he said. "After ousting many town officials for mismanagement and similar issues, including the sheriff and district attorney, we gotta play by the rules. What's your interest in it anyway?"

"I have ... questions," Roland replied.

Sheriff Waller raised an eyebrow.

"What kind of questions?" he queried.

Roland didn't answer that. He wouldn't answer that.

"You think he did it?" he asked instead.

"At face value, I'd have my doubts," Sheriff Waller admitted. "That little guy against those two girls, or even just the blonde? All other facts set aside, I'd think It wouldn't end well for him."

He exhaled.

"But," he continued, "that's what evidence is for. DNA ... fingerprints ... it's as straight-forward a case as I've ever seen. As straight-forward as it was brutal."

"Okay," Roland said. "So, I can't see the evidence ... yet. I can talk to people."

"No law against that," Sheriff Waller agreed, "provided you don't go harassing anyone."

"Who could I talk to?"

Sheriff Waller thought about this for a few seconds.

"His mama still lives on the outskirts here," he said. "Despite everything, she refuses to leave her family's home. August Ericson's still working at the school, though that's a miracle. People wanted to lynch him for hiring Andrew Mooruff after it all happened."

"Andrew mentioned a girl he used to date," Roland said. "Ruby something."

Sheriff Waller nodded.

"Ruby Kressler," he said. "I heard about her. Those two were the loosest definition of 'dating' anyone's ever seen. I think she pitied your boy for a while. Anyway, she's gone. She married some soldier out of Fort Bliss about three years ago. She hasn't been seen since."

Roland wondered how he'd break the news to his client. Andrew had asked him to see if Ruby could come visit him at the Polunsky Unit.

"That's all I can think of," Sheriff Waller said.

"Thanks for your time, Sherriff," Roland said, getting up and heading to the door.

"Be careful," Sheriff Waller advised. "People aren't going to take your queries kindly. The majority here wants your boy in the ground five years ago."

Roland nodded and left the office.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Keith Darden: previous sheriff of Alter County. Personally investigated the locker room attack.

Charles Morgan: lowest-ranking deputy in the Alter County Sheriff's Department. First to arrive at the high school after the girls' bodies were found in the locker room.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Janice Cooper: junior associate assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Phillip Decker: paralegal assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Aaron Waller: sheriff of Alter County. Defeated/succeeded Sheriff Keith Darden.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 16
Chapter 6 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

Marcy looked up to see Jeff approaching her table in the school library. By now, she'd learned he was Jeff Edwards and he was a left tackle on the school's football team, The Pewter High Falcons.

"Hey," Jeff said, setting his bag down on a chair across the table from her. "You busy?"

"A little," Marcy said, holding up the book, To Kill a Mocking Bird, she'd been reading. "I gotta finish this chapter for English this afternoon."

Jeff nodded but sat down anyway. Marcy tried to focus on her book to indicate she didn't want to talk. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the small, skinny custodian putting a new plastic bag into the trash can by the library's main doors.

"How's that book?" Jeff asked, gesturing towards it.

"It's interesting," Marcy replied. "You ever read it?"

"Kind of. I can never really get into these things."

"I like it," Marcy said, hoping this would indicate she wanted to be left alone.

"I'm more a science guy."

He wasn't getting it.

"You're from Eagle Pass, right?" he asked.

Marcy nodded.

"I got a cousin who lives out there," Jeff said. "Billy Gardener. You know him?"

Marcy shook her head, turning a page in her book. Jeff seemed desperate to try and make conversation. He also seemed a bit nervous. She could tell because that was usually her role in student interactions. His fidgeting was a dead giveaway.

"He lives in Carrizo Springs," Jeff continued. "You know it?"

"Not really," Marcy said. She'd heard of the town and knew it was somewhere near Eagle Pass, but she couldn't pinpoint its location on a map to save her life.

"I've never been out there," Jeff said. "My cousin and his family came to visit us a few times, but I've never been out there."

Marcy managed to get through another page in To Kill a Mockingbird. This boy seemed unwilling or unable to take a hint.

"Eagle Pass is on the border with Mexico, right?" Jeff asked. "You have a problem with immigrants there?"

"No," Marcy said. She didn't have a problem with immigrants.

"We're just a bit further north here in Pewter," Jeff continued. "But who'd want to come here, anyway?"

Marcy wanted to point out she and her parents chose to come here but was spared when the bell rang. Packing up her books, she noticed several people watching her and Jeff. A few were smiling. Without a word, Marcy fled the library.

* * *

Never more grateful to hear the last bell of the day, Marcy left her Computer Science class and ducked into the first bathroom she found. Locking herself in a stall, she stuffed her backpack into a far corner, put the toilet lid down, and sat on it with her legs hugged against her chest. She did not want to be found.

Rumors were already spreading about her time with Jeff in the library just hours ago. She'd heard them in her last two classes. No one had spoken to her about it yet, but it would only be a matter of time.

She'd recognized how Jeff's rambling and somewhat insensitive statements suggested he was nervous. She feared he might have been working up to asking her to the Homecoming Dance. Marcy did not know how she could have turned him down. Worse, she couldn't figure out how she could have endured going with him and what that might have meant.

Marcy knew it wasn't Jeff's fault. She just wasn't interested. She did not know how to tell him or anyone else.

Tears welled up in Marcy's eyes and she buried her face in her knees. She wished she could talk to someone. But history suggested they wouldn't understand. She couldn't lose what little she'd gained here, especially Lily. Seeing that girl made each day worth it.

Marcy jumped when she heard a knock on the bathroom door. It then creaked open. She sat, frozen on the toilet.

"Hello!" a voice, a man's voice, called. "Anybody in here?"

Marcy's heart raced. She didn't want to be found. Why was a man asking if anyone was in here? Was there some sort of hook-up in the works and she was in the way? Her mind raced as she tried to figure out what to do.

She heard the man come inside and begin humming. Seeing the gray pantleg and the mop through the opening under the stall's door, Marcy realized it was one of the custodians. He was just cleaning.

Knowing she'd better leave, Marcy took a deep breath and stood up. Grabbing her backpack, she unlocked the stall door.

"Oh," the man said, surprised. It was the small, skinny, bald, African American custodian, holding the mop. Marcy had seen him around school plenty of times.

"I'm sorry," he said, backing towards the door. "I thought you weren't here. I called out like I'm supposed to."

"It's okay," Marcy assured him. "I'm leaving."

She thought the guy might be slow or something.

"I'm not supposed to be here if you are," the man said, almost at the door now. "Mr. Ericson said ..."

"It's okay," Marcy repeated. "I'm leaving."

The man studied her.

"Are you okay?" he asked. "You're crying."

Marcy wasn't crying anymore, but she realized she had tear streaks on her cheeks.

"You should wash your face," the man said. "My mama always told me to do that after she helped me feel better when I cried."

"Thanks," Marcy said. "I'll do that."

The man moved towards the door again as she stepped towards the sink.

"You don't have to go," she said, quickly splashing water on her face and wiping it with a paper towel.

The man stood, frozen by the door with his mop in his hand. Finally, he reached out with his free hand and grabbed the trash bin, sliding it closer to her.

"Thanks," Marcy said, tossing the used paper towel into it.

The custodian nodded as he slid the trash can back into place.

"Bye," Marcy said.

He didn't say anything as she left the bathroom. He just stared after her as she walked out.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Jeff Edwards: junior at Pewter High and Left Tackle on the school's football team.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 17
Chapter 6 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Three Years Ago:

Andrew Mooruff watched as the man in the brown suit came into the room, one of the jail's officers behind him.

"Take your time," the officer was saying. "He ain't going anywhere."

The man only nodded. Andrew watched him sit down as the officer closed and locked the door.

"I'm Clyde Baxter," the man said. "I've been assigned as your public defender. You understand me?"

"Yes, Sir," Andrew said. He was glad for the company. He'd been sitting in the jail for over a year and only his mama had come to see him. He was hoping Ruby would come, but she had not yet come. He was in a cell by himself. He could hear the other men. He sometimes saw them when he was taken out of his cell. But, the guards weren't letting the other men get close to him. They always stood in the way.

"Okay," Clyde Baxter said, taking out a notepad and pencil. "The trial starts next week. Jury selection will probably take two or three days. Then, the D.A. and I will each give opening statements. The prosecution will present their case and I'll cross-examine their witnesses as needed. Then, I'll present my case. I'm not sure who we can call except Dr. McVey. You remember him?"

"Yes, Sir," Andrew replied. He hadn't seen the doctor in a while, but they had talked a few times.

"Good," Clyde Baxter said. "Do you have any questions about anything I went over?"

Andrew considered his answer. This man spoke fast and said a lot. It was all very confusing. But he didn't want to ask him to repeat it all and explain more. Still, he had one question.

"Will I get to say something to the judge?" he asked.

"You mean the jury," Clyde Baxter corrected. "I'm not sure that's a good idea. They've got DNA and fingerprint evidence against you. If you take the stand, the prosecutor will be allowed to cross-examine you and that will not go well. I don't think it's a good idea."

Andrew was confused again by all this, so he just nodded.

"As you know," Clyde Baxter continued, "the prosecution is asking for the death penalty. If you'd be willing to plead guilty, I might still be able to get you life without parole. Believe me, people sentenced to death do get executed in this state."

Andrew knew he had a question.

"What would I do?" he asked.

"Plead guilty," Clyde Baxter replied. "Tell everyone what you did and go to prison for the rest of your life."

This time, Andrew understood enough. He shook his head.

"I did not hurt those girls," he said.

Clyde Baxter sighed.

"All right," he said, closing his note pad and putting it away. "I did manage to get the judge to bring in a jury from another jurisdiction. That was the compromise we all reached when I filed for a change of venue. The jury's coming from Sierra County, which is about two hours away and has a population of just over eleven thousand, much more than here. It's less than ideal, but we'll need to deal with it."

Once again confused, Andrew nodded.

"Okay," Clyde Baxter said, getting up from his seat and heading to the door. "I'll see you in court next week."

He pressed the buzzer to summon an officer and was soon gone. Another two officers then came to take Andrew back to his cell. He hoped he could make sense of everything there. Maybe Jose, his neighbor, could help him, if he wanted to help him.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters, as indicated.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Clyde Baxter: public defender assigned to represent Andrew at his murder trial.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 18
Chapter 6 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


"What's the address again?" Roland asked as he drove. His GPS hadn't been able to locate this place, so he and his support staff had to rely on a map they'd gotten at the Alter County civic building.

"Should be coming up on the left ... ugh," Janice said as the SUV hit another pothole.

The road they were navigating wasn't made of dirt, but it needed some serious work to match its counterparts further within Pewter's limits.

"That's it," Janice said, pointing over Roland's shoulder.

She was pointing at a small white house with a gray roof. The lawn wasn't overgrown, but there were plenty of weeds visible. There were a few potted plants, all of which were doing their best to die. At least one window had tape across it.

"Poor lady," Phillip remarked as Roland pulled to the side of the road. "Bet a lot of landscapers or handymen aren't keen to come to fix things here."

Roland didn't comment as they got out and walked towards the house. As they got closer, the inside door opened and a woman appeared, staring at them through the screen door.

"Mrs. Mooruff?" Roland asked.

"Yes?" the old woman asked, her face neutral and one hand on the inside door.

She was short and had white hair. The lines across her face indicated the years of stress she'd been enduring. She was wearing faded blue sweatpants and a matching hooded sweatshirt.

"Hi there," Roland said, coming up to the screen door. "I'm Roland Davis."

A weak smile appeared on the woman's face.

"You're my son's new lawyer," she said.

"Yes," Roland confirmed. "These are my associates, Janice Cooper and Phillip Decker. Can we speak with you for a few minutes?"

"Andy told me about you. We talk on the phone once every other week. It's not long, but it's nice. I don't get over to that prison very often, so we talk on the phone."

Her words sounded drawn-out and tired.

"He told me about you," she continued. "He said you were a nice man. He said you were going to help."

She managed a small chuckle.

"He didn't make it clear just how big you were," she commented, looking up at Roland's face. "Oh my."

"Do you have a few minutes to talk?" Roland asked, ignoring her reaction to his size.

The old woman sighed.

"I've got plenty of time," she said, pushing open the screen door. "Come on in."

Roland led the way. The inside of the small house was the opposite of its exterior. The floor was immaculate. A few pairs of shoes were neatly lined up against one wall. The group could see a well-organized bookcase in the adjacent den.

"I've got plenty of time to clean," the old woman remarked, watching them. "People don't come by much and I don't have many places to go."

"Mrs. Mooruff ..." Roland began.

"Call me Angela. Come into the kitchen."

The kitchen was as clean and organized as the rest of the house. Angela invited the group to sit as she put a tea kettle on the stove. Roland had a brief moment of fear that he'd break one of these spindly chairs by sitting in it, but it held. Still, He moved as little as possible.

"We're here to learn more about your son and what happened," he explained.

"What do you want to know?" Angela asked. "I know he didn't hurt those girls. It's not in his nature."

"I believe that. But, we've heard rumors."

Angela shook her head and made a clucking sound with her tongue.

"Rumors," she said. "You can guess I don't trust them."

Roland nodded.

"So, Andrew never spied on anyone?" he asked.

"Nope," Angela replied without hesitation. "Oh, he'd look at a pretty girl who's walking by, but show me a man who doesn't do that. I'm sure you're just the same, Mr. Davis."

Roland didn't answer.

"Did anyone ever talk to you about such allegations?" Janice asked.

"Mr. Ericson did," Angela replied. "The nice man who got Andy that job at the high school. He always believed in my boy. He said Andy followed the rules and wouldn't spy on anyone."

She took a deep breath.

"Andy did not hurt those girls," she declared. "Can you help him, Mr. Davis?"

"We're going to do everything we can," Roland replied.

* * *

"Where to now, Boss?" Phillip asked from the SUV's backseat.

"I want to talk to that custodian," Roland replied as he drove and ignored the new nickname. "Ashley Ericson. He saw Andrew around the school all the time."

"Ashley?" Phillip asked in disbelief.

"It was originally a common name for boys," Janice offered. "It didn't gain popularity as a girl's name until the 1980s and it's still a popular boy's name in England."

"How do you just know that?"

"My husband and I were thinking about the name for our son. We wanted to it to be different, but we decided that name would invite too many problems."

"What did you wind up going with?"

"Maynard."

"Sounds like a bodyguard's name."

Roland wasn't interested in this conversation. A name wouldn't resolve this case and, more importantly, the questions which kept nagging at him.

He checked the time on the dashboard. 4:12. The custodian was probably still at the high school, so they'd go there. If what Andrew's mother had said was true, he'd want to talk to them.

They turned onto Elvalon Drive. Roland recognized a gas station. He realized they were just off Main Street. They'd head there and orient themselves before continuing towards the school.

Suddenly, a Jeep sped out of the upcoming intersection and turned towards them. Roland was driving straight at it.

"Jesus!" he exclaimed, slamming his foot on the brakes.

Tires squealed and the SUV fish-tailed, but it stopped after a few heart-racing seconds.

"Everyone okay?" Roland asked, staring out the windshield. He could see the Jeep's front bumper. It was about five feet from the front of the SUV. They hadn't hit it.

"Yeah," Janice and Phillip muttered behind him. They'd grabbed the seats in front of them to brace themselves.

Roland sighed with relief, seeing the Jeep's driver's side door open. He definitely needed to get out and find out what was going on. This person had deliberately pulled out to block them.

Roland unbuckled his seatbelt and pushed his door open. He got out and circled around the back of the SUV to confront the Jeep's driver.

He was already becoming angrier with every step. The sheriff had warned him that his reasons for coming to Pewter wouldn't remain a secret for long. He was sure this had something to do with the case. But being against the issue of someone's innocence was a big difference from risking an accident.

As he approached the Jeep, the driver jumped out, followed quickly by a passenger from the backseat. It was a young man and woman ... probably college students. He was carrying a camera and raising it as she stepped forward and whirled to face it.

"I'm Olivia Paulsen and we have an exclusive opportunity to speak with Roland Davis, the latest in a line of attorneys representing convicted murderer Andrew Mooruff."

"What is this?" Roland demanded as Phillip climbed out of the SUV, Janice sliding out behind him.

"Mr. Davis," Olivia Paulsen said, whirling to face him, "what do you think you can do given how guilty Andrew Mooruff is? I mean, there's DNA evidence. Everyone in town knows he did it."

"Who are you?" Janice asked, trying to stay out of sight of the camera by stepping behind Roland.

"Can we get a statement?" Olivia Paulsen asked.

"Are you nuts?" Roland asked. "You idiots nearly got us all killed. I've got nothing to say to you."

"Oh yeah?" the young man holding the camera asked. "You sure you don't owe the people of Texas an explanation? Guess it figures. You couldn't even play for us in the NFL."

Roland had heard this a few times and the jab didn't bother him. Pushing it aside, he thought the blond young man looked familiar. He decided to be forward.

"I know you?" he asked.

The blond kid actually puffed out his chest. It wasn't impressive.

"I'm Gabriel Harvey," he announced.

It clicked in Roland's mind. Lillian Harvey, the girl who died in that locker room. Roland could see a familial resemblance.

"I'm sorry about what happened," he said.

Gabriel Harvey glowered at him.

"Don't you dare say that," he snapped. "You've done enough to hurt my family. You and the others. Why won't you get it. He killed my sister."

"We're making a documentary," Olivia Paulsen chimed in. "We're going to expose the truth. Andrew Mooruff is guilty and needs to die, but the courts won't allow it because you lawyers keep lying about all kinds of things being wrong in this case."

Roland remembered that Lilian Harvey's older brother had been a film student at UT Austin. He worked to ignore the fact he'd somehow gone to the same school as this uninformed nutcase.

"How did you get involved in this idea?" Janice asked. With Gabriel more focused on ranting than filming, she'd stepped out from behind Roland's broad frame.

"I'm Gabe's girlfriend," Olivia replied. "He told me the whole story and I think what you're doing is wrong."

Roland wasn't a journalist nor filmmaker. Still, he could mentally compose a lengthy list of ethical conflicts applying to this situation while standing at this intersection.

"Let's go," he said, turning away.

All too glad to obey, Janice and Phillip scrambled back towards the SUV.

"Hey," Gabriel Harvey said, lowering his camera. "You're not going anywhere."

He lunged forward and grabbed Roland's arm. Roland stared at the idiot. He had half a foot and about fifty pounds on him. Did the kid really think this could end well.

A siren's squawk interrupted the tableau. Everyone turned to see sheriff Aaron Waller emerging from an Alter County Sheriff's Department cruiser.

"What's going on here?" the sheriff asked. "Folks in the local shops said there was almost an accident."

"Just some misjudgment by a young driver," Roland said. "No one's hurt and the cars never touched."

He was more interested in getting out of here than sparing Gabriel and his friend from having to answer for their stupidity.

"Misjudgment," Sheriff Waller muttered, studying the scene. "You don't say."

"That's all it is," Roland insisted.

The sheriff studied him and then nodded. He turned to Gabriel and his girlfriend.

"Be more careful next time," he advised. "Now, please pack up and leave. You're blocking the intersection."

There was no car waiting, but the sheriff's stern expression made it clear what he wanted.

"Come on, Chuck!" Gabriel called.

At this, another young man got off a nearby bench and hurried over to the Jeep. As he climbed in, Roland wondered if he'd been a lookout for the group. He hadn't noticed this third stooge earlier.

Gabriel and Olivia climbed back into the Jeep and its engine came to life. It was soon passing the SUV and driving away.

Sheriff Waller turned to Roland.

"Making friends, I see," he commented without smiling.

"Kind of," Roland replied. "I don't want to follow up on this."

Sheriff Waller nodded.

"That's maybe for the best," he said. "I suggest you take it one step further and leave. Have you actually found any new evidence?"

Roland didn't speak, but he knew his silence was telling. The sheriff nodded again.

"I'm all for freedom of speech and for letting people do what they want," he said. "I just don't want to get dragged into it. If you find evidence, you'll have the full support of me and my department. But if you're just going to get people riled up, then please do it back home in Dallas."

Not giving Roland a chance to reply, He turned and walked back to his cruiser, whistling as he went.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Janice Cooper: junior associate assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Phillip Decker: paralegal assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Aaron Waller: sheriff of Alter County. Defeated/succeeded Sheriff Keith Darden.

Angela Mooruff: Andrew's mother.

Gabriel Harvey: Lily's older brother.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 19
Chapter 7 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

Taking her tray, Marcy stepped away from the register and studied the cafeteria. She knew she didn't have many options and made a beeline for her usual seat. Her one saving grace was that Jeff was in the other lunch period.

News of their meeting in the library the previous week had trickled through the school. Though few people addressed the matter with her, Marcy noticed many more staring and whispering when they thought she wasn't looking. The general consensus was disbelief that this jock was interested in the new-in-town bookworm.

Lily, Amber, and Cassidy were already assembled in their usual seats. Marcy slid into hers and began picking at her sandwich.

"Hey," Lily said with a big grin on her face.

"Hello," Marcy returned in the flattest tone she could manage.

Lily kept grinning.

"You planning to share what happened?" she queried.

"What?" Marcy replied, sure she knew the answer.

"Jeff. Everyone knows he talked to you in the library. Nobody has details and you aren't posting on Snap Chat. Tell us. What did you talk about?"

Marcy had a Snap Chat account, but she was glad for its sparse content.

"Nothing much," she said with a satisfying shrug. "Mostly classes and Eagle Pass and how I liked living there and here."

"Did he ask you to the dance?"

"No."

"I heard he was nervous," Cassidy chimed in.

"I think so," Marcy said. Glancing across the table, she noticed Amber wasn't interested in this conversation. She was casting long glances further down the cafeteria, where some football players were eating. Ethan was visible in the center of that group.

"It's obvious he wants to ask you," Lily said, drawing Marcy's attention back to the conversation. "How about you beat him to it? Imagine how that would feel."

Marcy was spared from responding when Amber gasped and pointed. The skinny, black, bald custodian was nearby, mopping up some spilled soda.

"Can't believe they let him back in here after what happened last week," Amber remarked.

"What happened?" Marcy asked, grateful for this change in topic. She couldn't fathom this quiet, shy, and possibly delayed man doing anything wrong or scandalous.

"Amanda told me how he walked in on some girl in the bathroom by the science wing," Amber explained in a hushed but animated tone, waving her hands as she spoke. "The girl ran out of there and he was watching her the whole time. Creepy."

Marcy knew she'd been that girl, but Amber's narrative didn't suggest that was known to anyone.

"Word got back to the principal," Amber continued, caught up in her excited monologue. "He and the head janitor guy spoke to this creep. I don't know what was said, but he should have been fired right there. I don't want some sicko looking at me in the bathroom."

Cassidy cringed.

"Maybe he didn't mean any harm," Marcy suggested. "Maybe he walked in on the girl by accident."

The other three girls shook their heads in unison.

"He's definitely a pervert," Amber declared. "Before that bathroom thing, I wore this really hot pink top to school. I swear, he followed me all day. He could not stop staring at me."

Marcy reflected on how no one with normal testosterone levels could stop staring at Amber that day. She was surprised the girl wasn't written up for a dress code violation. Plus, she'd sat with their usual group at lunch, and that custodian had never entered the cafeteria that day.

"Did that stripper costume even work?" Lily asked.

Amber nodded.

"Oh yeah," she said with infallible conviction. "It planted the seed in Ethan's head. I'll make my move at Amanda's party on Friday."

"Are you coming to the party?" Lily asked, nudging Marcy. "Should be good now that we know we'll have a show."

Amber pouted.

"I don't know," Marcy said. "I didn't even know there was a party. Who's Amanda?"

Amber gasped.

"She's Vice President of the Student Body Government," Lily explained. "She doesn't actually do anything for the school, but she throws great parties. Her folks both travel for business and seem incapable of sorting out their schedules, so she has the house to herself for at least half the year."

She grinned again.

"Bet Jeff will be there," she added. "You could make your own move then."

Marcy searched the darkest corners of her mind for a tactful way out of this, but no options revealed themselves.

"Where does Amanda live?" she asked.

She figured that, if the party was as legendary as advertised, Jeff might never find her.

"I'll bring you there," Lily offered. "I can come by your house before then and help you pick something to wear."

Marcy was both excited and terrified over the suggestion.

"Two potential hook-ups with a fifty-percent chance of catastrophe," Cassidy remarked. "This party might seriously raise the bar for everything after it."

Amber scowled while Marcy wanted to crawl under the table forever. Her mind was now evaluating all the possible scenarios that could result from this party, most of them bad. She remembered Todd from Eagle Pass. It all started for him at a party. Now, her life seemed to be taking the same turns and she saw no way to avert that fate.

"It'll be great," Lily was saying, not seeming to realize Marcy's anxiety.

No one noticed the custodian glancing at them as he walked by with his mop and bucket.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Amber Rose: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Cassidy Ada: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Ethan Huntley: junior at Pewter High and Running Back on the school's football team. Lily's ex-boyfriend.

Jeff Edwards: junior at Pewter High and Left Tackle on the school's football team.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 20
Chapter 7 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Three Years Ago:

"The people call Jose Ortis to the stand," the District Attorney, Quince Martin announced. After Sheriff Darden and the coroner, this would be the third witness speaking for the state of Texas.

Andrew Mooruff looked up in surprise. Why was Jose coming to speak at his trial? Sure, the pair had spoken in their neighboring cells in the county jail, but what did Jose have to say now?

His attorney, Clyde Baxter, put a hand on his shoulder.

"Relax," he hissed in a harsh whisper. "You're agitating the jury."

Andrew tried to relax, but his leg kept shaking. Clyde Baxter didn't say anything about this, so he supposed that was all right. He turned his head to watch as his friend came into the courtroom.

Jose looked a lot cleaner than he had in the jail. He wore beige pants, a clean white shirt, and a brown jacket. He had no stubble and his dark hair was neat, like he'd used a comb. He looked a lot like Andrew needed to look whenever his mother took him to church. In fact, he looked a lot like Andrew did now in court, except Andrew's pants and jacket were black and he was wearing a blue tie.

Jose came up to the front of the room. He swore to tell the truth with his hand on a Bible and sat down to face everyone.

"Mr. Ortis," Quince Martin said. "Do you know the defendant, Andrew Mooruff?"

"Yes, Sir," Jose replied in his Hispanic accent. "He's in the cell next to me at the county jail."

"Why are you in the county jail?"

"I have a problem with drugs, and I got arrested for it. I'm hoping I can get past my problems soon."

Andrew recalled Jose hinting at the business he ran, but he couldn't remember all the details now. He kept watching.

"Did you and the defendant speak much?" Quince Martin asked.

"Yes, Sir," Jose Ortis said. "He was very nervous ... asked me a lot of questions."

Questions about what?"

"He wanted to know what was happening and how a trial worked. I asked him what he did, and he said he tried to help some girls who got hurt. I asked what girls and he told me two girls at the high school. He said they were real pretty girls. He saw them a lot."

Andrew remembered saying that because Jose had asked if they were pretty girls. They were, but lots of girls at the high school were pretty.

"Did the defendant explain how the girls got hurt?" Quince Martin asked.

"He thinks they hit their heads on the wall," Jose explained. "He told me their heads were all bloody. He also told me they were bloody between their legs."

Several people in the courtroom murmured and squirmed.

"He looked between their legs?" Quince Martin asked in astonishment.

"I wasn't there to see if he did," Jose said in disgust. "He just told me how they looked."

Clyde Baxter looked at Andrew, who didn't speak. He was trying to remember what he'd said to Jose over the past few months. He also remembered how both girls had blood on them. That memory still made him sick and he fidgeted in his seat.

"Relax," Clyde Baxter hissed again, that firm hand back on his shoulder. "It's bad enough without you drawing everyone's attention right now."

"What did the defendant say about what happened to the girls?" Quince Martin asked.

"He told me he thinks they hit their heads on the wall," Jose said.

"What did he do when he found them?"

"He said he wanted to help them because they were hurt. He described how he touched them but that nothing worked."

Jose cast a scornful look at Andrew, who didn't know what to do.

"That's all for me," Quince Martin said. "Your witness."

Clyde Baxter let out a long sigh as he rose to his feet.

"Remind us," he said, sounding tired. "What were you arrested for?"

"State troopers pulled me over for speeding and found cocaine in my trunk," Jose said.

"And are you receiving any consideration for your testimony today? Maybe a reduced sentence?"

"Only if I tell the truth. And I am telling the truth."

Clyde Baxter sighed again.

"No further questions," he said.

"Any redirect?" the judge asked.

"No, Your Honor," Quince Martin replied.

"Then, let's recess for lunch."

The judge banged his gavel.

* * *

Clyde Baxter came to see Andrew in the holding cell outside the courtroom. A brown bag sat on the long bench inside the cell. Andrew wasn't hungry.

"How's it going?" Andrew asked his lawyer.

Clyde Baxter released his third sigh in the last two hours.

"Not so good," he said. "They've got the coroner explaining how those girls were attacked and how one of them died, experts from the state explaining how your fingerprints and DNA were found at the scene, and now your neighbor painting you as a pedophile and possibly a necrophiliac, depending on the jury's mood. Plus, he says you told him how they got their heads bashed into the wall, which the evidence shows is exactly what happened. All we need are the families of those girls getting up there to cry about their lost loved ones, and it's over."

Once again, Andrew felt confused by everything this man was saying to him.

Clyde Baxter took a deep breath.

"It might already be over," he continued. "I'm sorry, but I don't know what else to do."

"What does that mean for me?" Andrew asked.

"You need to do a lot of praying. God might not be able to keep that jury from convicting you, but he might be able to convince one of them to keep you off Death Row."

Clyde Baxter turned and left, shaking his head. Andrew let out a sigh of his own as the outer door slammed shut.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Keith Darden: sheriff of Alter County. Personally investigated the locker room attack.

Clyde Baxter: public defender assigned to represent Andrew at his capital murder trial.

Quince Martin: Alter County District Attorney who prosicuted Andrew for capital murder.

Jose Ortis: occupied the neighboring cell from Andrew at the Alter County Jail.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 21
Chapter 7 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


After their near-collision with Gabriel Harvey and his friends, Janice and Phillip were keen to return to their hotel rooms. They planned to order a pizza for dinner and asked Roland if he wanted to join them. Feeling restless, the attorney declined and headed into the hotel's lobby, blocking out their discussion about possible toppings.

"Where's a good bar?" he asked the young man behind the reception desk.

"Right here," the young man said with apparent pride, pointing over Roland's shoulder.

Roland turned to see an entrance across the lobby. Beyond it was the usual bar scene, with a portion of the wooden counter and half a dozen patrons visible through the entryway.

"Best in town," the young man behind the reception desk added. "Used to be you were only allowed in if you were a guest here, but that wasn't pulling in enough revenue. So, they opened it to everyone."

Roland gave him a nod of thanks and crossed the lobby. The bar seemed simple enough and that was fine. He was more interested in the contents the place had to offer than how they were presented.

"Scotch," he said when the bartender took notice of him.

"Sure thing, Chief," the gray-haired man said with a wave of his glass-holding hand. His response suggested no recognition and Roland appreciated that.

Roland settled into a barstool, resting his elbows on the wooden counter. Jazz music was playing, but the volume was low to create an intimate atmosphere. Texas-based sports memorabilia adorned the walls and Roland hoped he wasn't recognized. After Andrew Mooruff, his football career and his lack of having represented Texas in the NFL was the last thing he wanted to discuss at this moment.

"Gin and tonic," someone said, coming up next to him.

Roland realized the speaker was a woman and that her voice sounded somewhat familiar. He didn't turn to look as the bartender put his Scotch down in front of him and set to work on her order.

"Hey, Big Man," the woman said, her voice turned towards him.

Surprised, Roland looked at her. It took a moment to achieve recognition, but it came. The woman was Emily, the waitress from Gately's, where he and the others had stopped for lunch.

"Let me guess," Emily said. "You're staying at this hotel."

Roland nodded, seeing no point in denying it. This was one of only two hotels in town, so it wasn't a stretch of the imagination to conclude his wealthy big-city firm would pay for the nicer establishment.

"Heard about your run-in with Gabe Harvey this afternoon," Emily said, sliding onto the barstool next to him.

Roland raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Emily laughed.

"You don't realize how small this town is," she said. "You can't sneeze without getting a 'God bless you' from everyone you encounter for the rest of the day."

"Nice," Roland remarked in a bitter tone.

"That's how it is."

Emily's drink arrived and she took a long sip. Roland took the opportunity to study her. The blue and yellow Gately's uniform was gone. She was wearing dark slacks and a olive-green blouse. Her brunette hair was down, and she'd put on a little make-up. Having had years of practice admiring beautiful women, Roland averted his eyes as Emily turned her attention from her drink back to him.

"You find what you're looking for?" she asked.

"Not yet," Roland replied. Granted, this quest would be easier if he knew what he was looking for. Evidence indicating Andrew Mooruff's innocence would be nice, but he wasn't completely sure the man was innocent. He just had doubts. DNA and fingerprints tended to beat doubts like rock beat scissors, but they didn't eliminate those doubts.

"You still working?" Emily asked.

"No," Roland said and was pleased by her smile. "What brings you here?"

Popular as the bar might be, it was in Pewter's so-called "commercial district", far from the high school and Gately's.

"I come in a couple times a week," Emily said. "I like to unwind."

"Looks like it's working," Roland remarked, casting another admiring glance over her body. She seemed very relaxed and confident. Her smile enhanced that image.

"You're quite the sweet-talker," Emily said. "That work during your football-playing days?"

"Maybe," Roland said, offering a sly smile of his own.

"I might have figured. Commitment issues?"

Roland shook his head.

"Not really," he said. "I just always focused on football and, when I retired from that, work. But, I do like to have fun."

He reached out and pushed two stray brunette strands out of Emily's face, tucking them behind her ear.

"Aren't we bold," she remarked. "These days, something like that might be taken in a very wrong way."

"You're not complaining," Roland pointed out, glad his move seemed to be working. He'd considered the possibility of being slapped and/or arrested, but chose to take the risk.

"I'm not so sensitive," Emily said. "I can handle myself."

"Then what would you do if someone confessed how they couldn't take their eyes off you?" Roland inquired. He was enamored by her confidence.

"How would I know if he doesn't say anything outright?" Emily asked. "I'm sure I've got about half a dozen sets of eyes on me right now, including the cute auburn-haired gal in the corner ... definitely just passing through."

Roland knew the majority of the hotel's guests came to Pewter on business, the majority related to the wind turbines outside of town. The owners of those machines lived far away from this place.

"But only one man will come forward," Roland said, leaning close to Emily. "And he won't give anyone else a chance to top him."

Emily smiled again.

"Two more over here!" Roland said, pulling away and hailing the bartender. It looked like he'd have a nice distraction from work tonight. It had been a while since he'd had some fun.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Janice Cooper: junior associate assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Phillip Decker: paralegal assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Emily Winters: server at Gately's, a local eatery in Pewter.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 22
Chapter 8 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.

Five Years Ago:

Marcy paced in her room, considering. She had forty-eight hours until the party and she saw no way of getting out of it. Her mind flashed back to Todd and what happened in Eagle Pass. She couldn't let history repeat itself.

She looked at her phone, which lay on her bed. The message was still visible on the screen.

Send me your address, please.

The message was from Lily, who was making it her mission of getting Marcy to the party and prompting the meetup with Jeff. Despite their simplicity, the words burrowed into Marcy's brain, invoking so many complex thoughts.

True, she'd never pass up an opportunity to hang out with Lily. That girl's friendship had been a gift Marcy could have never anticipated. But, despite her motives being selfless, Marcy could not accept this push she was now receiving. And, she also couldn't explain why she could not accept it.

The three knocks on her door startled Marcy and she felt like she'd crashed back on Earth.

"Yes?" she asked.

Her mother, Valerie, entered.

"What are you doing?" she asked. "Your father and I are hearing thump after thump across the kitchen ceiling."

Marcy stared at her feet, still clad in her light blue sneakers.

"Sorry," she said in a faint voice.

"What is on your mind?" Valerie asked. "You're obviously worried about something."

Marcy sank down on her bed.

"I got invited to this party," she said.

She wasn't completely surprised when her mother beamed at this statement.

"That's great," Valerie said. "That is so great. You're making friends."

She came over to the bed.

"You should go," she encouraged. "I'm sure it'll be fun."

She paused.

"This girl, Amanda," she said. "Her parents approve of this party?"
"Yeah," Marcy replied.

She'd rarely lied to her parents, but she felt this was better than the truth. She didn't want to layer the issue of unsupervised minors onto this dilemma.

Then, her lack of sense hit her. She could have told the truth that, at best, she did not know what Amanda's parents knew or thought about the party. Her parents would have forbidden her to go and the matter would have been resolved. Marcy mentally kicked herself while working not to let more despair show on her face. It was too late to take anything back.

"Do you want to go to the party?" Valerie asked.

"I guess," Marcy said. That was kind of the truth.

"What's stopping you?" her mother queried.

Marcy decided to be honest again.

"Todd," she said.

More wasn't needed. Valerie nodded.

"What happened was awful," she said. "But, I do not want it to influence how you live your life. Yes, you are shy. Your father and I concede that, and we wish you would become more confident. I think you've made some progress since we moved here. We'd hate to see you regress."

"But, what if someone finds out?"

Marcy was becoming more agitated and she took deep breaths to try and calm herself. It was only working a little bit.

"Again, don't let what happened influence your life," Valerie repeated. "You make your own choices and know your father and I are behind you. You don't have to let anyone know something about you if you don't want them to know it."

Marcy looked down at her lap. Her mother was making it sound so simple.

"This is very different than Eagle Pass," Valerie insisted. "Heck, things were already different for you while we lived in Eagle Pass. What happened to Todd is not your destiny."

She studied her daughter.

"You should go to that party," she said. "Talk to your friends. Make some more friends. And, don't worry."

She turned to go.

"Dinner's in fifteen," she said over her shoulder as she exited the bedroom.

"Okay," Marcy mumbled, unsure if her mom heard her response.

She looked back at her phone, which had now locked. The message was still visible in her mind's eye.

Send me your address, please.

Lily was her friend and she was sure the blonde would concur that sentiment. Cassidy was friendly towards her, probably thanks to Lily's influence. And Amber, while not outright friendly, wasn't outright rude or dismissive towards her. And Jeff, whom Lily had introduced her to at the church, was interested, even if Marcy didn't reciprocate these feelings.

She picked up her phone and unlocked it. Lily's message reappeared.

Send me your address, please.

Marcy began typing.

6327 Marina Court

She stared at the phone's screen, considering the irony of this address. There was no marina within many miles of her house. And, her street didn't have at least six thousand three hundred and twenty-seven houses on it. But, this was her address since her family had moved to Pewter last summer. And, she was about to share it with Lily, possibly sealing her fate.

Marcy took a deep breath and pressed SEND. A few seconds later, she received a reply.

Thanks. I'll be by at 5:00 on Friday.

Though Lily couldn't see her, Marcy nodded and set her phone down again. She sat on her bed, staring at the wall.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Amber Rose: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Cassidy Ada: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Jeff Edwards: junior at Pewter High and Left Tackle on the school's football team.

Valerie Sellers: Marcy's mother.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 23
Chapter 8 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Three Years Ago:

After Jose Ortis testified and the court reconvened following a lunch break, the afternoon consisted of Sherriff Darden describing his interrogation of Andrew Mooruff. From the prosecution's perspective, it was unremarkable, offering no surprise information that suggested the defendant's possible innocence. After the sheriff spoke for three and a half hours, Clyde Baxter declined to cross-examine and the judge adjourned court for the day.

"The prosecution rests," Quince Martin announced the next morning once the jury was seated.

"Call your first witness, Mr. Baxter," the judge instructed.

Clyde Baxter rose to his feet.

"The defense calls Dr. James McVey," he announced.

For the first time, Andrew relaxed in his seat. He remembered Dr. McVey. They'd met three times while he was in jail and the doctor seemed nice. For one thing, he wasn't accusing Andrew of anything.

Dr. McVey, a short, thin, white-haired man, made his way down the center aisle of the courtroom. He was sworn in and took the witness stand. He and Clyde Baxter first talked about him going to school in Michigan and the doctor's credentials and expertise were soon accepted.

"Have you examined the defendant, Andrew Mooruff?" Clyde Baxter asked.

"Yes," Dr. McVey said, pushing his glasses up his nose. "We met several times over the past year."

He spoke in a high pitch that sounded like a bird chirping. But, unlike most birds' chirps, this wasn't appealing to the ear.

"What was your impression of him?" Clyde Baxter asked, pushing forward.

"Very friendly and cooperative," Dr. McVey said, "but he has a limited understanding of the world around him."

"So, you'd consider him cognitively impaired?"

"Objection," Quince Martin spoke up. "Leading the witness. Mr. Baxter is not a trained therapist and is in no position to suggest such a prognosis."

"Sustained," the judge agreed with a bang of his gavel.

"Dr. McVey," Clyde Baxter rephrased. "What conclusions did you draw about Andrew's mental capacities?"

"I concluded he is cognitively delayed," Dr. McVey said. "As I explained, he has a limited understanding of the world around him. Sure, he can function at his job, but he was extensively trained to accomplish his assigned tasks there. He would require such extensive training if he were to succeed at any other aspect of his life."

"You described him as 'friendly'. Would you say that is a general demeaner Andrew displays to people he encounters?"

"Objection," Quince Martin said. "Dr. McVey cannot testify about every one of the defendant's encounters."

"I am asking the witness to give his opinion on my client's general demeaner based on their interactions and Dr. McVey's professional experience and training," Clyde Baxter countered.

The judge paused to consider the arguments.

"Overruled," he said, banging his gavel. "The witness will answer."

"Yes," Dr. McVey said. "One thing Andrew does understand is making people happy. He understands people are happy when he does what he is supposed to do, like at his job. He also understands people are happy when he is friendly towards them."

"Thank you. No further questions."

Clyde Baxter sat down, and Quince Martin jumped to his feet.

"Dr. McVey," he said, "how often did you meet with the defendant?"

Dr. McVey paused, seeming to conjure an acceptable answer.

"I can present the jail's visiting logs," Quince Martin offered. "They indicate every time someone comes or goes from that facility."

"Andrew and I met three times," Dr. McVey said with all the confidence he could regain.

"How long was each visit?"

"About an hour."

Dr. McVey had no choice but to give a prompt answer and everyone knew it.

"Three times for an hour each?" Quince Martin asked. "The 'several times' you testified about earlier were a total of three hours across a year?"

"Well," Dr. McVey said quickly. "I also spent time reviewing his records from school and the like."

"How much time?" Quince Martin asked. "We'll accept a ballpark answer, Doctor."

Dr. McVey looked at his feet.

"Four hours," he said in his weakest bird's chirp.

"Seven hours?" Quince Martin asked. "You spent a total of seven hours on this defendant's records and with the defendant himself and we're supposed to believe your description of him?"

Everyone knew an answer wasn't expected. Dr. McVey stayed quiet.

"Have you heard about all the allegations about the defendant's inappropriate behavior with young women?" Quince Martin asked. "Not young women ... girls? Underage girls the same age as Lilian Harvey and Marcy Sellers?"

"Yes," Dr. McVey said. "I have heard about this."

"Draw any conclusions?"

"Andrew admitted he liked to look at pretty girls and women. He told me he glanced at such girls at the school, but he swore to me he would never act on such feelings. It was extensively explained to him that such behavior was inappropriate. He swore to me he never acted on his attractions."

Quince Martin snorted.

"And here we are," he remarked. "One girl dead and another in a coma, likely to never wake up. I have no further questions."

He sat down again.

"Any redirect?" the judge asked.

Clyde Baxter declined, wanting to get the doctor out of the courtroom as quickly as possible.

"Call your next witness," the judge instructed as Dr. McVey left the courtroom and probably Alter County, if not the state of Texas altogether.

"We have no more witnesses," Clyde Baxter said. "The defense rests."

Andrew looked at him. He wanted to speak and tell everyone the truth. He opened his mouth. Clyde Baxter shook his head and waved his hand.

"The defense rests," the lawyer repeated to ensure certainty.

"Then we'll take a long lunch and reconvene at 1:00," the judge said. "You gentlemen will then give your closing statements."

He banged his gavel.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Keith Darden: sheriff of Alter County. Personally investigated the locker room attack.

Clyde Baxter: public defender assigned to represent Andrew at his capital murder trial.

Quince Martin: Alter County District Attorney who prosicuted Andrew for capital murder.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 24
Chapter 8 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Roland woke to the sound of the shower running in his hotel room's small bathroom. Rubbing a palm against his throbbing temples, he evaluated his surroundings.

He hadn't consumed enough Scotch to be considered drunk the previous evening and he was grateful not to deal with a full-blown hangover, even though his head still ached.

He'd gone to bed with Emily, now knowing her as Emily Winters, who had appeared likewise lucid. Surveying his room, he saw she'd gathered her clothes and taken them into the bathroom with her. Pulling on his boxers and pants, Roland considered if she was regretting their tryst. He wasn't. The brunette was beautiful, smart, and passionate. He'd had worse one-night-stands.

They'd talked after having sex. Roland explained his reasons for coming to Pewter, some of which Emily had already surmised based on rumors spreading through the town. The specification of him having been drafted into representing Andrew Mooruff was a new tidbit.

In turn, Emily told him about attending Ohio State University and studying business administration. She described how she'd grown up in Pewter and lived with her mother, who was battling pancreatic cancer.

"I don't think I'll stay here forever," Emily confessed, "but right now, she needs me."

The bathroom door opened, and Emily emerged, dressed in her slacks and blouse from last night. She paused when she saw Roland was awake.

"Morning," she said.

"Morning," Roland returned, wondering if she'd been planning to slip out while he slept. Glancing at the clock on the nightstand, he saw it was 6:17.

He looked back at Emily and noticed she was surveying his still-naked upper torso. He smiled at her.

"Now who's looking?" he teased.

Emily released a slight chuckle as she retrieved her shoes. She leaned against the dresser as she pulled them on.

"Sorry to run out like this," she said, straightening up again. "But I've got to get home. I have to drive my mother to El Paso."

Roland nodded, figuring it had something to do with her mother's cancer ... probably an oncology appointment.

"I'll see you around," Emily said, plucking her purse off a chair and walking towards the door.

"I'd like that," Roland said. "I'll call you."

He remembered exchanging numbers with her before she'd decided to come up to his room.

As she was about to open the hotel room's door, Emily paused and looked back at Roland.

"Do you really think he's innocent?" she asked. "Do you really think he didn't kill those girls?"

Roland sighed. Work was starting early that day.

"I have doubts," he explained. "As long as they're nagging me, I can't just stop looking around and asking questions."

Emily nodded.

"Good luck," she said and left.

* * *

At a quarter to seven, Roland was showered, dressed, and ready for the day. Heading towards the lobby, he was in good spirits. While his hook-up with Emily was intended to be fun, a break from the seriousness surrounding his business in Pewter, he realized he wanted to see her again. For one thing, he didn't even know her last name.

Arriving at the lobby, he noticed a different young man was now on duty behind the reception desk. That was perhaps a good thing. As professional as the employee had been the previous night, there was no telling what he might let slip this morning if given the chance.

Roland made his way over to the coffee station and began preparing a cup for himself. He'd found a couple of aspirin in his luggage and they were starting to work. Now, he needed a caffeine boost.

He was stirring his sweetener into the brew when Janice and Phillip arrived.

"Morning," Roland said, moving aside as he fitted a lid onto his paper cup.

Neither of them responded or moved towards the coffee station. Roland raised an eyebrow.

"Everything okay?" he queried.

Janice sighed.

"We're going home," she declared with Phillip nodding in agreement.

"What?" Roland asked. "Why?"

Janice lowered her voice to a whisper.

"We're sure you know why," she said. "Yesterday's near-car accident illustrated how people feel about us being here. Yes, there are things we need to look into about this case, but we can do that in Dallas."

"There's no reason for us to stay here," Phillip added. "Not where we're not wanted. What happened with that girl's brother proves it."

Roland sighed. He'd have never guessed they were so shaken by Gabriel Harvey's actions the previous afternoon.

"Are you sure about this?" he asked.

They both nodded.

"I'm guessing you already have a flight booked," Roland said.

"This afternoon," Phillip confirmed. "Out of El Paso."

Roland sighed again. There was no point in arguing.

"I'll drive you to the airport," he said.

* * *

The three spent the morning in their individual hotel rooms. Janice and Phillip checked out at 12:30. The group then sat in the lobby, eating sandwiches from a nearby deli before heading to the airport in El Paso.

"You won't go home with us?" Janice asked from the front passenger seat.

"I've got something else to do," Roland replied. He had his own flight booked for the next morning.

He fished a sheet of paper out of his pocket and passed it to Janice. On it was a list of names.

"Look up these people when you get back to the office tomorrow," he instructed. "I want to know what's happened to them in the past five years and where they're living now."

He'd done some research himself that morning, but he hadn't had enough time for more.

Janice took the paper and nodded without a word. From the backseat, Phillip didn't react.

* * *

After dropping Janice and Phillip off at the airport, Roland cruised through El Paso, unsure of what to do with his free time. He thought about looking for Emily. Maybe he'd stake out some oncology clinics and hospitals, but the tactic made no sense and came off as a bit creepy as Roland repeated it in his head. He decided against it.

He stopped at a convenience store for a bag of chips and a Mountain Dew. He ate and drank as he continued driving and reviewing what he knew. Problem was that the facts he had were independent pieces that weren't quite linking up to one another. He was missing something important ... maybe more than one thing. Making his problem more infuriating, Roland didn't know what he was missing or where to look for it.

He wasn't quite sure why he was flying to Baltimore the next morning, but he figured he had nothing to lose. Maybe he could get a few answers out east.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Janice Cooper: junior associate assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Phillip Decker: paralegal assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Emily Winters: server at Gately's.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 25
Chapter 9 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

Marcy milled through the partiers, someone having shoved a pink drink into her hand. She'd sipped it, not missing the alcoholic content in her cup. She noticed an ongoing game of Beer Pong in the den. Some people were dancing to the music playing over several speakers, though many of the dancers had indulged in enough drinks to eliminate any inhibitions about appearing foolish. Even more blatant were the couples making out in various corners of the joyful mayhem.

Marcy had spoken with a few people and had to admit she'd enjoyed some of those conversations. She was thankful to have not spoken to Jeff yet. She'd noticed him looking around for her and always ducked away before being spotted. She'd seen Cassidy and briefly spoke with Lily earlier. She hadn't seen Amber anywhere.

Marcy took a gulp of her pink drink. People were being nice to her. She felt more blended into this community instead of just being the new girl anymore. Maybe her mother had been right. History wasn't repeating itself. Maybe she'd leave this party in a couple hours, her life still intact.

She suddenly found herself in a small side hallway. There were three doors. Marcy wondered how big this house was. As she understood it, Amanda was an only child. She could probably have three bedrooms to herself in this dwelling.

Curious about what these three doors hid, Marcy tried one of the handles. A thick stench hit her as she pulled open the door. It was a small bathroom, recently used. Marcy shut the door and fanned her free hand in front of her face. She reached for another handle.

"I wouldn't," someone said behind her.

Startled, Marcy turned to see Lily standing behind her. The blonde girl had her own plastic cup and she looked a little flushed. But, she was smiling and still seemed aware of her surroundings.

"Why not?" Marcy asked.

Lily giggled.

"I think Ethan and Amber chose that room," Lily replied, leaning close to her friend. "Amber got his attention, all right. She's reeled him in for herself."

Surprised, Marcy pressed her ear against the door she'd been about to open. Through the music, she now heard faint grunts and moans beyond the wooden barrier.

"Wow," she commented.

Lily giggled again.

"Plenty of rooms in this house," she said. "People hook up all the time at these jamborees."

She leaned in even closer. Marcy could feel her breath on her ear.

"Jeff's looking for you," Lily whispered, actually trying to keep things private now. "Maybe you two could ..."

She backed up, breaking into a third giggling fit. Marcy shook her head.

"What's wrong?" Lily asked.

Marcy opted for the lesser truth.

"I've never ..." she said. "Well, I've never ..."

She looked down at her feet. Not hearing a response from Lily, she looked up again after a few silent seconds. She was surprised to see Lily looking seriously back at her. Maybe her friend wasn't as drunk as she'd perceived.

"Are you a virgin?" Lily asked.

Marcy supposed some alcohol had given the blonde the courage to pursue asking this question.

"Yes," she admitted in a small voice. Her cheeks turned red as Lily giggled again.

"That's sweet," Lily said, putting a hand on her shoulder. "Really. You've got nothing to be ashamed of."

Marcy heard some other people coming their way. She did not want to add more participants to this conversation.

She tried the third door and saw it led into a small office, currently unoccupied. She pulled Lily inside, shutting the door behind them. There was another question she wanted to ask before she lost her nerve. Right now, she had the advantage of the possibility that Lily wouldn't remember this tomorrow.

"Have you ever ..." she queried. "I mean, have you ever ... you know, been with someone?"

Lily regarded her for a long moment before nodding. She held up two fingers.

"Twice," she said. "With a guy I was kind of dating in my freshman and sophomore years, before I dated Ethan."

She shook her head and took a large gulp from her plastic cup.

"Nothing to brag about," she continued. "Really. Neither 'event' lasted long. I sometimes wonder if I ought to have done it. It wasn't like I was in love with the guy. It was just ... fun."

She regarded Marcy again.

"I don't blame you for wanting to wait," she said with a smile.

Marcy took another sip from her own drink.

"Thanks," she said, glad to have her friend's support on this issue. In fact, she felt a huge wave of relief washing over her as she listened to Lily, even if this was only a secondary problem. She'd never imagined having this conversation, let alone hearing this response from a fellow high schooler.

"You should still talk to Jeff," Lily said. "You two would be good together. He's a nice guy, not a stuck-up jock like you might think ..."

Marcy shook her head, taking a gulp of her drink. She needed some liquid courage and hoped she wouldn't lose control.

"I know," she said. "He is nice. It's not that."

Lily stared at her.

"Then what is it?" she asked.

Marcy stared at Lily, drinking some more of her pink concoction. She had a choice to make, either option presenting massive ramifications. This could no longer be let go.

"I'm not interested in Jeff," she said, swallowing a lump in her throat. "I'll never be interested in Jeff ... or any guy."

She cast a longing look at her confident, blonde, beautiful friend, willing her to understand.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Amber Rose: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Cassidy Ada: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Ethan Huntley: junior at Pewter High and Running Back on the school's football team. Lily's ex-boyfriend.

Jeff Edwards: junior at Pewter High and Left Tackle on the school's football team.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 26
Chapter 9 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Three Years Ago:

The jurors began deliberating at 2:00 the afternoon after Dr. McVey's testimony. Clyde Baxter stayed with Andrew Mooruff and his mother, Angela. Both stood outside the holding cell while lawyer and client played Go Fish through the bars.

"Do you think we have a chance?" Angela asked, dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

"We have a shot at a hung jury," Clyde Baxter replied as he drew a card from the deck. "Hopefully, this county won't have the funds for another trial."

He grimaced as he studied his new card and added it to his hand. Angela dabbed her wet eyes again.

* * *

The game was wrapping up when a court officer approached the holding cell.

"The jury's back," he reported. "They say they have a verdict."

Angela gasped. Clyde Baxter stiffened. Inside the cell, Andrew just sat there, staring.

"You folks head in there," the officer said, waving towards the door through which he'd come. "He'll be in shortly."

He gestured through the bars at Andrew.

"Come on," Clyde Baxter encouraged, steering a shaking Angela.

"I love you, Mama," Andrew said.

"I love you too, Baby," Angela returned, looking back at him over her shoulder.

They walked out as Andrew gathered the cards.

* * *

A couple minutes after Clyde Baxter and Angela entered the courtroom, Andrew was brought out as usual. His handcuffs were removed when he sat down at the defense table and he stared straight ahead. Angela sat in the first row, surrounded by a few friends and family members.

Across the aisle, the victims' families sat with Sherriff Darden and several deputies, the rows behind them filled with supporters and the girls' classmates. Many people wore t-shirts with the girls' faces on them and some were crying. Others glared at Andrew as though the conviction and sentence had already been pronounced and he had no right to be alive anymore. Everyone knew more supporters were standing outside the courthouse, holding signs and chanting. The only reason they weren't in the courtroom was capacity limitations and related safety concerns.

The judge entered and then the jury took their seats.

"Mr. Foreman," the judge said." I understand you have a verdict."

The foreman, a thin man, an insurance salesman, if people remembered correctly, rose.

"We do," he said, "on some of the charges. We're encountering opposition on some of the other charges."

A low murmur erupted throughout the courtroom. It wasn't loud, but the agitation was clear.

"Order," the judge barked, banging his gavel. "Order."

Andrew stared at his attorney, bewildered. Clyde Baxter's face revealed no answers.

As the courtroom settled again, the judge returned his attention to the jury.

"Do you have any questions?" he asked.

"No, Your Honor," the foreman replied, quick to please. "It's just ... there are disagreements."

"Your Honor," Quince Martin said from the prosecution's table. "We ask that you question the jurors further to learn what these disagreements are."

The judge paused before looking at each juror for a solid second.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury," he said. "Are you sure you are unable to continue? It's barely been two hours."

"Not in a way we can see," the foreman replied. A few jurors murmured their agreement and some exchanged glowering looks.

"Very well," the judge said. "I shall meet with each of you individually in my chambers to ascertain the problem. Court officer, please escort them back to the jury room. Counselors, my clerk will contact you with an update when I have it. For now, court is dismissed."

"Your Honor," Clyde Baxter said, springing to his feet. "I would like to be present when you question the jurors."

"I'm denying your request, Mr. Baxter," the judge said without hesitation. "This has been stressful enough for these folks. I don't need lawyers breathing down their necks as I ascertain where we are in diliberations."

"Yes, Your Honor."

"Very good."

The judge banged his gavel.

"He wants this wrapped up today," Clyde Baxter muttered to no one in particular as he packed up his briefcase. "No one wants to be here through the weekend."

Andrew tried to count how many days they'd been here. He thought it was four, but he couldn't be sure. Being in the jail every night for so long was doing funny things to his mind. It became harder to keep the days right, but he supposed today was Friday.

"I'll come see you when I can," Clyde Baxter said as a court officer came to take Andrew back to the holding cell.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Clyde Baxter: public defender assigned to represent Andrew at his capital murder trial.

Quince Martin: Alter County District Attorney who prosicuted Andrew for capital murder.

Angela Mooruff: Andrew's mother.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 27
Chapter 9 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


The next morning, Roland caught his American Eagle flight to Chicago. From there, he boarded a Southwest Airlines plane bound for Baltimore, arriving in the early afternoon. He picked up another reserved rental car and drove directly to the Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

Flirting with nurses as he passed, he got directions to the long-term care wing. The tiny, gruff receptionist there did not seem the type to be charmed like some of her younger colleagues.

"Can I help you?" she demanded rather than asked.

"I'm looking for Marcy Sellers's room," Roland explained, deciding a straight, truthful answer was best.

"Are you a doctor?" the receptionist asked, already seeming to know the answer.

"No."

"Are you a family member?"

Roland thought quickly.

"Yes. A second cousin, once removed."

The receptionist narrowed her eyes.

"Can I see some ID," she said.

Roland handed over his driver's license and she made a copy of it. He supposed this was some sort of test. Anyone with ill intentions probably wouldn't want to leave a trace of their identity.

"Down that hallway," the receptionist said, pointing and sounding a little friendlier. "Turn right and it'll be the third door on your left. Room three-zero-seven."

"Thank you," Roland said and hurried forward before she could reply. He didn't want to press his luck.

The directions were easy to follow, and he soon found room 307, a plastic plaque adjacent to the door confirming his location. Roland took a deep breath, feeling as though he were about to burst in on a very private moment. He tried the door handle and, finding the door was unlocked, entered.

The room was small, maybe forty square feet, and a large bed occupied most of the space. Approaching the bed, Roland got his first in-person look at Marcy Sellers.

The girl, now twenty-two, lay in the bed, her eyes closed. Tubes stuck out all over her body, providing oxygen and nutrients while removing waste. Her physique, already petit in the photos Roland had studied, looked withered and frail. The pajamas she wore and the blanket that covered most of her body looked loose and ill-fitting. Her brunette hair was gaunt and her skin pale. Shy and withdrawn as she had been in school, Marcy was a shell of her former self. The only upside was that the horrific injuries she'd endured alongside Lilian Harvey were no longer visible.

Staring at her, Roland tried to remember why he'd come. Marcy Sellers obviously couldn't provide any answers, yet coming to see her felt very important.

"Who are you?" a surprised voice asked.

Roland whirled around to see a man had entered the room. He was shorter than Roland, though most people were, and he looked thin and tired. His suit and briefcase suggested he'd come from work.

"Mr. Sellers?" Roland asked, seeing the familial resemblance in the man's worn face.

"Yeah," the man said. "And you are?"

"My name is Roland Davis. I'm an attorney from Dallas, Texas."

Mr. Sellers ... Burk Sellers, nodded.

"You're a long way from home," he remarked.

Roland's plan reentered his mind, but he felt lost as to how to execute it.

"My firm ... I represent Andrew Mooruff," he explained, very aware of the possibility he might suddenly be hit. "I'd like to speak with you."

To his surprise, there was no eruption. There was no reaction at all. Burk Sellers just kept regarding him.

After a few silent seconds, Burk Sellers withdrew a business card and a pen from his pocket. He flipped the card over.

"Not here," he said as he jotted something on the card. "Come by my house in two hours. I think my wife needs to be a part of this. For now, I'd like some time with my daughter."

Roland nodded and left before the opportunity to do so was retracted. He studied the address on the back of the business card.

4603 Schenley Road

He'd check it on his phone once he was back in his car, but Roland supposed the address was legit. He was more consumed by the fact he wasn't leaving the hospital without fresh bruises. He had a lot more questions for the Sellers, and it looked like he might soon get some answers. He kept going, setting an alarm on his phone as he passed the receptionist, who said nothing.

* * *

At the Sellers's home, Roland was introduced to Valerie, Marcy's mother. There was even more of a resemblance and Roland understood who their daughter really took after.

Valerie was also petit with long, brown hair. Like her husband, she too looked worn out and was still wearing her work attire consisting of a white blouse and black slacks, though the exact nature of her job remained a mystery. Roland made a silent promise to keep his visit short.

"How are the appeals going?" Valerie asked as they all sat in the den.

"I haven't filed anything new since receiving the case a couple weeks ago," Roland admitted. "I'm still acquainting myself with all the facts."

"And you came all the way to Baltimore to do that?" Burk asked.

"Why did you move here?" Roland queried. "Quite a trip to make from western Texas, especially for your daughter."

The Sellers exchanged a long glance, probably reliving the grueling logistics of transporting a comatose teenager halfway across the country.

"My family lives here," Valerie explained. "My parents, my brother and sister, and a few cousins, plus the families they've built. I guess I was kind of the oddball in the family. I went to Southern Methodist University, met Burk, and built my life in Texas. Anyway, we thought it would be easier to take care of Marcy with some support. Thankfully, we were right."

Her husband nodded in agreement while Roland tried to withhold a blush. Their choice of where to relocate and the reasoning behind it should have been obvious. A quick Google search would have told him they had family living in Maryland.

"We sit with Marcy in shifts throughout the day," Burk added. "She's rarely alone. We talk to her, read to her, do the exercises the physical therapist showed us to prevent bedsores and the like ... you know."

Roland didn't. He couldn't possibly imagine caring for a comatose family member for five years with no sign of improvement on their part. But, he didn't say this. Instead, he gave the couple a sympathetic nod, trying not to think about the tasks they hadn't listed.

"It works," Burk finished, a note of resignation in his tone.

"If you don't mind my asking," Roland said, "what do the doctors say? Will she ever wake up?"

Across the coffee table from him, the couple exchanged a longer, more sorrowful glance.

"They put it at about thirty percent," Valerie replied. "Those odds aren't great, but we have faith ... and hope. If there's a chance for our baby to come back, we'll take it."

"Mr. Davis," Burk said, "I'm sure you did not come all this way to get a sense of Marcy's prognosis."

Roland shook his head. It was time to get some answers.

"I'll admit your behavior surprises me," he said. "Most parents in your position would want to do me physical harm, or at least tell me to get lost forever. All things considered, you've been very kind to me, and it is a bit baffling."

Granted, they hadn't offered him a drink or anything when he arrived at their home, but their conduct could still be considered hospitable under the circumstances.

"We have strong convictions against the death penalty," Burk explained. "Religious, moral ... you name it. It's another reason we left Texas. We didn't want to get roped into all those appeals and the fanfare that surrounds the whole thing. We could never imagine going to Huntsville to watch the execution."

"We suppose it's similar to our faith that Marcy might wake up someday," Valerie added.

Roland had nowhere near enough experience in the realm of capital punishment to know if they were being truthful, but he'd accept their reasoning. Again, they were speaking with him and they were being more than civil about it.

"Do you think he did it, Mr. Davis?" Valerie asked. "Do you believe Andrew Mooruff killed Lilian Harvey and hurt our daughter?"

The couple shuddered in unison, as though remembering their daughter's violent attack.

"I'm trying to figure that out," Roland said. "It isn't clear to me ..."

He paused, his mind trying to determine if he should say what he was thinking. With only seconds to decide, he chose to push forward.

"I'm getting the feeling it isn't clear for you either," he said. "Maybe that's another reason you are willing to speak with me."

The couple exchanged another glance.

"We always worried that something would happen to Marcy," Burk said. "I mean, what parent doesn't worry about their child? But it was a bit different with Marcy. She hasn't always had an easy life and we thought it might be the cause of what happened when we first heard ... when the deputies and troopers first came to our house and drove us to the hospital."

Valerie retrieved some tissues from a box on the coffee table and wiped her wet eyes.

"We didn't know what to think at first," she added. "Marcy was in surgery and no one was really telling us anything. We hadn't even seen her, and they were saying how she needed to be air-lifted to another hospital which was better equipped to help her. Someone was making all the arrangements and the only thing we could do was wonder how this had happened and what might have caused it. Naturally, we drew our own conclusions based on what we knew."

"Then," Burk said, "a deputy told us someone had been arrested. A custodian at the school. At first, we didn't believe it. Then, people were telling us about fingerprints and DNA evidence. I suppose that laid our own conclusions to rest. With all that in hand, we figured they had the right guy."

He regarded Roland for a few silent seconds.

"We've told you a lot, Mr. Davis," he said, his eyes narrowing. "I think you need to be fair and tell us a few things."

This was the closest he'd come to being hostile and Roland was quick to oblige.

"What would you like to know?" he asked.

"You seem to be doing more than just trying to figure things out," Burk said. "Something's itching and you can't let it go. What's going on?"

Roland sensed he could be honest.

"It doesn't add up," he explained. "So many things don't add up. To start, this attack is way too personal. Whoever attacked Lilian Harvey and your daughter was not driven by lust, but by rage. They did too much damage if they were just out to violate the girls."

The couple shuddered again and Roland was sure they were thinking about their daughter's injuries. Those might have healed, but the memories hadn't.

"You must have thought the same thing when you first learned about the attack," Roland continued. "You were drawing your own conclusions based on your fears. What were you thinking?"

The couple exchanged yet another long glance. Burk then looked at Roland with a very slight smile flickering across his face.

"Back to us, huh?" He asked. "Well, that's simple. We love our daughter. Always have and always will. We just knew she would never lead an easy life, especially where we were living. Not everyone was as accepting as we were. So, we had our fears. And, like you said, they drove our conclusions when we first learned what happened that afternoon."

"What?" Roland asked, feeling he was close to a revelation. "What fears did you have about your daughter? How was she different?"

There was another exchange of glances, though this one was concluded with a simultaneous, almost imperceptible nod. The couple looked back at Roland.

"Mr. Davis," Valerie said. "Our daughter was gay."

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Valerie Sellers: Marcy's mother.

Burk Sellers: Marcy's father.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 28
Chapter 10 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

Lily stared at Marcy, the color draining from her face. Any influence the alcohol seemed to have been having on her inhibitions was vanishing. She might as well have never had a drink tonight.

For her part, Marcy was realizing what she'd said and wished she could take it back. Her legs shook as she considered the possibility of losing this wonderful person, the only friend she had in Pewter. Then, there was the possibility of Lily telling other people. Then, it would all be over. It'd be Todd all over again.

Outside the small office, the party continued, the partygoers unaware of the revelation coming out within feet of them. The girls could hear faint music and laughter through the door, but they ignored this.

"You don't like guys?" Lily asked. "Are you saying you're ..."

Marcy nodded, on the verge of tears. There was no taking it back now.

"I'm gay," she admitted, looking at the floor. "I'm gay and ... I kind of ... I kind of really like you."

For the first time, Lily gasped.

"I need a drink," she said and then downed what was left in her cup in one swallow. She next snatched Marcy's cup and drank that too, though little was left. Nothing seemed to help as her eyes kept darting around the room while she tried to find words.

"I'm sorry," Marcy said, a few tears rolling down her cheeks. "I didn't mean ... I shouldn't have ..."

Lily backed towards the door.

"I gotta get out of here," she was saying to no one in particular. "I mean, I'm pretty, but I never ... I'm not ... I wouldn't ..."

"Can we forget it?" Marcy begged. "Please."

Lily fumbled for the door handle, seeming unable to find it. She cursed under her breath.

Then, there was a knock on the door. Before either girl could react, the door opened, and a guy and girl stumbled into the office. Neither Marcy nor Lily recognized the giggling couple at the moment.

"Oh," the raven-haired girl said. "Occupied."

The boy looked like the winning lottery ticket had just been snatched out of his hand.

"That's okay," Lily said, seeming grateful for this interruption. "I'm leaving. Enjoy."

The boy looked relieved as Lily hurried out of the office. Marcy ran after her.

"Lily, wait!" she called.

She pulled the office door shut as the boy was helping the girl onto the desk and reaching underneath her skirt.

"Lily!" she called again.

She caught up with Lily on the front lawn.

"I'm going home," Lily declared as she kept walking. "Leave me alone. Get away from me."

Marcy grabbed her arm. Lily was wearing a blue tank top and she was momentarily caught up in how soft her friend's bare skin was.

"I'm sorry," Marcy said, tears now flowing. "Please talk to me."

"Talk?" Lily asked, whirling around and wrenching her arm free. "You just admitted you really like me. What do we have to talk about? I'm not ... like that. Don't touch me."

"I'm sorry," Marcy said. "It's just ... you've been so nice to me ever since I came to this school. And, you are really pretty. I shouldn't have said it. I'm really sorry."

Lily stared at her.

"Well, you did say it," she pointed out. "We can't be friends anymore."

She walked away, leaving Marcy, crestfallen, on the front lawn of Amanda's house.

Marcy watched Lily go until the dark night swallowed her. She cast a last look back at the house with the party spilling out of it and headed home as well, tears still rolling down her cheeks. Fears of what might come next weren't even able to enter her mind at that moment.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 29
Chapter 10 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Three Years Ago:

The judge finished speaking with each of the jurors by Friday evening before instructing the entire panel to return at 9:00 the next morning to continue deliberations on the charges they had yet to agree on.

The next morning Andrew Mooruff was left in the county jail, half a mile from the courthouse. Clyde Baxter came to see him briefly and his mother sat with him for a while under the watchful eye of a guard. No one could offer any comfort as Andrew began wondering if he would ever leave this place. He tried to talk to Jose next door, but the man wasn't there anymore. Andrew asked the guards about his friend but got no answers.

Around 11:00, two guards arrived and took Andrew out of his cell.

"Time to go to court," one of them announced. "Judge's orders. Seems the jurors sorted out their issues, so you'll be moving soon."

"Where ..." Andrew wondered as they cuffed him and marched him down the row of cells, the men inside jeering at him. He never got an answer.

* * *

The courtroom was packed again when Andrew was brought in. His family and friends, led by his mother, were in their usual seats behind the table where he and Clyde Baxter sat. Across from them, the families of the girls sat behind Quince Martin. Many were glaring at Andrew again.

"Has the jury reached a verdict?" the judge asked once he and the jurors were seated.

The foreman rose, several sheets of paper in his hand.

"We have, Your Honor," he reported.

Having a court officer retrieve the papers from the foreman, the judge examined each sheet for half a minute before returning them, all without a word. Everyone in the courtroom watched and waited.

"Please read the verdict," the judge instructed.

"On the charge of rape in the first degree," the foreman read, "we, the jury, find the defendant, Andrew Mooruff, guilty as charged."

There was some murmuring, but it quickly died down as he moved to the next sheet.

"On the charge of rape in the first degree," the foreman read, "we, the jury, find the defendant, Andrew Mooruff, guilty as charged."

Someone clapped. Andrew was found guilty of raping both girls. Then came the next sheet.

"On the charge of attempted murder in the first degree," the foreman read, "we, the jury, find the defendant, Andrew Mooruff, guilty as charged."

"Thank God," someone said and other people agreed.

"Order," the judge admonished with a single bang of his gavel.

The courtroom quickly assumed a hushed silence again. The most important charge was still coming.

"On the charge of capital murder," the foreman read from the final sheet, "we, the jury, find the defendant, Andrew Mooruff, guilty as charged."

Cheers erupted throughout the courtroom. People cried and hugged one another. Some shouted congratulations and thanks towards Quince Martin. Behind him, Andrew's mother and her band of supporters wept.

"Order," the judge said, banging his gavel. "Order. I will clear the courtroom if I do not have order."

The combined jubilation and sorrow died down, though much slower than before. The judge turned to the jury.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said. "I thank you for your service thus far. As you know, your duties are not yet complete. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty as allowed under the law for the conviction of capital murder. We will reconvene at 9:00 on Monday to begin the penalty phase. Dismissed."

He banged his gavel again.

"What does that mean?" Andrew asked, grabbing Clyde Baxter's arm as the attorney moved to rise from his chair. "What does all that mean?"

Pulling his arm free, Clyde Baxter regarded his client for a long moment.

"It means you'd better do some serious praying over the remainder of the weekend," he said. "On Monday, the prosecution will unleash the families of those girls on these jurors. There won't be a dry eye on the witness stand or in the jury box.

"What does that mean?" Andrew pleaded as a court officer came to get him. "What's gonna happen to me now?"

"That means you'll soon have to start thinking about what you wanna say before they inject you," Clyde Baxter said, rising to his feet. "I'm sorry."

Andrew still didn't know what that meant as he watched his lawyer walk away.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Clyde Baxter: public defender assigned to represent Andrew at his capital murder trial.

Quince Martin: Alter County District Attorney who prosicuted Andrew for capital murder.

Jose Ortis: occupied the neighboring cell from Andrew at the Alter County Jail. Testified for the prosicution at Andrew's trial.

Sophia Harvey: Lily's mother.

Jordan Harvey: Lily's father.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 30
Chapter 10 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


The Sellers spoke non-stop for forty minutes. Roland hung on every word.

They explained how Marcy concluded she liked girls instead of boys and told them so when she was twelve. They described how they took her to a psychologist to help her sort out her feelings.

"We didn't want to change her," Burk explained. "We just wanted her to be able to understand and express her feelings. We also wanted her to understand that not everyone would be open to the way she felt about herself."

Roland could only nod as he listened.

They talked about Todd Sheridan, a classmate of Marcy's in Eagle Pass, where they'd lived before Burk was sent to his company's operations outside of Pewter. They explained how Todd was outed as being gay by some jocks at a party. The bullying and harassment he received at school the following weeks became so bad, he killed himself shortly after Halloween.

"Marcy was so scared she'd go the same way," Valerie recounted. "We tried to tell her things weren't the same for her. For one thing, she had us supporting her."

Burk scowled.

"Todd's parents," he remarked. "What a joke. As homophobic as you could find. Anyone who did try to help the boy was shoved away. It was a lot worse than simple bullying and harassment for him."

"But Marcy understood you were behind her and was still worried?" Roland asked.

Valerie nodded.

"I suppose we were too," she said. "We've all seen the horror stories on the news. 'Cruel' would be a polite word for some of those cases. I guess we never could have imagined what happened but, at the same time, we always worried about it."

"You think Marcy might have been targeted because she was gay?" Roland asked, also wondering how Lilian Harvey would fit into that theory.

"We considered it, as I'm sure you can guess," Burk replied. "But, when they arrested that man and told us about the evidence against him, those thoughts became more remote."

He stared hard at Roland.

"Do you really think he's innocent?" he asked. "Even with all that evidence, do you really think there is a chance he didn't do it?"

Roland broke eye contact for the first time, considering his answer.

"I think it's possible," he said. "There are just too many questions to not consider it."

"If he is innocent," Valerie said, "we hope you can free him. Please do that and find the person who's really responsible. Andrew Mooruff and his family would be hurting in their own way if that's true."

Roland nodded, thinking of Andrew's tiny mother.

* * *

As Roland drove away from the Seller's duplex, his phone pinged. He checked it at the next red light and saw he had a new e-mail from Janice. She and Philip were back at the office in Dallas and, to Roland's slight surprise, fulfilling his instructions. Part of him had figured they'd never speak to him again after their swift departure from Pewter.

They'd gotten halfway through the list of names Roland gathered and the results weren't encouraging. Former Alter County sheriff Keith Darden, who'd personally arrested Andrew, had left Pewter after being ousted in the last election. He now owned a ranch in Arizona as a "re-retirement" plan.

Quince Martin, the prosecutor who likewise lost his bid for reelection, also left Pewter, relocating to work as a real estate lawyer outside of Huntsville. Roland wondered if he'd chosen that location to be able to easily attend Andrew Mooruff's execution at the prison there, if things came to that. Such speculations didn't really matter. Quince Martin knew nothing about real estate and his practice fell apart in less than a year. He returned to Pewter and now worked as a general practitioner for local residents.

Neither Keith Darden nor Quince Martin would be keen to talk about this case, especially to the attorney handling the condemned man's appeals. Roland wouldn't even try to contact them.

Janice had found half the jurors, who'd been bussed in from Sierra County. Five out of those six still lived at their original addresses, two having served on other juries since Andrew's trial. The sixth, Mrs. Kathy Banks, had died of a heart attack two years ago.

Roland considered this. He wanted to talk to the jurors. He wanted to learn what happened between when they reported they couldn't agree to convict Andrew on some of the charges and when they later convicted him. He knew the judge had spoken with everyone, but the trial transcript didn't contain the details of those conversations. Roland had pestered the Alter County Criminal Court about this and feared that, despite their promises to get back to him soon, no record of those discussions was ever made. He'd need to add that to the next appeal he filed. Maybe he ought to talk to the court stenographer as well. He'd have to go back to Pewter and he needed to plan a trip out to Sierra County as well.

Janice's next report intrigued him the most. Clyde Baxter, one of three public defenders in rural Alter County, had been assigned to defend Andrew at his trial. Roland remembered Janice's clear summary of his poor performance. It seemed she wasn't alone in her opinion of the man's worth as a lawyer.

Two years after Andrew went to Death Row, Clyde Baxter was disbarred and left Texas shortly after. He now owned a souvenir shop in Florida, just south of Fort Lauderdale.

Roland arrived at his hotel ten minutes after reading Janice's e-mail. Checking in, he hurried to his room and called the number she'd provided.

"Baxter's Souvenirs," a gruff voice said. "What can I do for you?"

"Mr. Clyde Baxter," Roland asked, wondering how the man kept customers with that attitude.

"Yeah. You calling to sell me something or promote a political campaign. I'm not interested in either."

"My name's Roland Davis. I'm a lawyer in Texas."

A second later, Roland realized that was probably the wrong thing to say.

"I've got nothing to say to you people," Clyde Baxter replied as though to confirm this notion. The man didn't sound angry, but it was clear he wanted to leave that chapter of his life behind him. Still, he hadn't hung up yet.

"Wait," Roland said, seizing this chance. "It's about Andrew Mooruff."

He heard a long sigh.

"There's a name I'm definitely trying to forget," Clyde Baxter muttered. "Which side of the appeals are you on?"

"I'm representing Andrew," Roland replied.

"You got yourself a real winner there. Either that or Andrew Mooruff is the unluckiest guy in Texas."

"Do you think he did it?"

"Never mattered what I thought. Look at the evidence. Last I heard, it's still as valid and damning as ever."

"Did you ever pursue an alternate theory or suspect?"

Clyde Baxter sighed again.

"Not really," he said. "I was just trying to find any way to keep the poor guy off Death Row."

Roland had read that such a strategy was common in capital murder trials. It made sense. A defendant couldn't do everything possible to deny they killed someone during the guilt phase and then do everything possible to present mitigating circumstances for killing someone during the penalty phase. Many attorneys defending such clients focused on one or the other, and the mitigation strategy usually won out.

"Lot of good I did there," Clyde Baxter continued, "but it was my first death penalty case. I'd have hoped to go my whole career without one of those. No such luck. That's something I don't miss about being a lawyer. Still, that case haunts me. I know I made a lot of mistakes and I have to live with those. The Bar was kind enough to fully outline my short-comings."

He paused.

"You use my performance in an appeal yet?" he queried.

"Not yet," Roland replied. "I haven't had a chance to review all those records."

"Well, they're juicy. I can promise you that."

Roland had read in Janice's e-mail that Clyde Baxter was disbarred for sleeping with a client's twenty-five-year-old daughter while representing the man in a DUI case, allowing this affair to interfere with his responsibilities and causing him to miss crucial filing deadlines. Granted, he might have been served a lesser punishment if he hadn't already had a history of questionable conduct. Roland doubted Andrew came up much in the Bar's considerations when Clyde Baxter's law license was on the chopping block.

"What alternate theory did you have in mind, anyway?" Clyde Baxter inquired.

Roland saw no harm in telling him. After all, he'd announce it however he could if the theory ever gained any traction.

"Marcy Sellers was gay," he explained. "I think she was targeted, and Lilian Harvey got caught in the crossfire or something."

He was spit balling that last part as he had no confirmation of the latter's sexual orientation. He hadn't thought to ask the Sellers following their revelation. After his previous encounter with Gabriel Harvey, he doubted the rest of that family would want to deal with him.

Through the phone, Roland could hear Clyde Baxter chuckling.

"It's as good a theory as anything else," the former attorney was saying. "I'd believe a place as conservative as Pewter would have a nutjob or two who'd go that far. Your problem is the existence of solid evidence that already put a man on Death Row for this. You'd better have something good to counter that if you're gonna open those cans of worms."

He chuckled again. Roland had to concede his point.

"Thanks for your time," he said. There was nothing more to gain from Clyde Baxter.

"Good luck," Clyde Baxter said. "Believe it or not, I'll be rooting for you."

Resigned, Roland hung up the phone and pulled up Janice's e-mail again. There was one more name he saw worth pursuing. He went on the Internet to book another flight, only pausing for a second to consider all the travel expenses his firm was incurring from this pro bono case. They'd be all right.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Keith Darden: sheriff of Alter County. Personally investigated the locker room attack. Lost his bid for reelection.

Clyde Baxter: public defender assigned to represent Andrew at his capital murder trial.

Quince Martin: Alter County District Attorney who prosicuted Andrew for capital murder.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Janice Cooper: junior associate assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Phillip Decker: paralegal assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Valerie Sellers: Marcy's mother.

Burk Sellers: Marcy's father.

Gabriel Harvey: Lily's older brother.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 31
Chapter 11 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

Her tray in her hand, Marcy scanned the cafeteria. She saw Lily, Amber, and Cassidy in their usual places but knew better than to go there. Lily had made it very clear she was no longer welcome. Marcy instead found an empty corner and sat down with her food, today's entrie being a burger that made McDonald's look gourmet.

Picking at the burger and accompanying fries, Marcy evaluated her situation. No one else in school seemed to know what she'd revealed at the party. At least Lily was decent enough not to repeat that. God only knew what she was telling Amber and Cassidy to explain why Marcy was no longer joining them for lunch. Then again, Amber was too absorbed in her new relationship with Ethan, something everyone in Pewter now seemed to know about.

Marcy theorized she could find new friends ... maybe. She glanced at the girls, who weren't noticing her. She was still attracted to Lily, but maybe that was an absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder kind of thing. And, Lily hadn't lost anything in the looks department since the party. Today, she was wearing a white top with spaghetti straps over her shoulders. Either she wasn't wearing a bra, or it was strapless. Marcy couldn't help it as her imagination soared.

Someone then stepped in front of her. Marcy blinked and realized it was the skinny, bald custodian, seemingly sweeping up discarded wrappers and stuff. Whose bright idea was it to sell Jolly Ranchers in the cafeteria?

Marcy and the custodian regarded each other, having not been this close since he'd accidently walked in on her in the bathroom.

"Hi," Marcy tried.

He paused, still regarding her.

"Hello," he returned.

Marcy noticed the nametag on his gray jumpsuit. Mooruff, A.

"What's the 'A' stand for?" she asked.

"My name," he replied.

Marcy stared, wondering why this was all he said. Was he not allowed to reveal his first name to a student?

"What's your name?" she tried.

"Andrew," the custodian said. "I gotta go keep working."

"Okay. Bye."

"Bye," he returned and kept sweeping.

As he walked away, Marcy noticed Lily, Cassidy, and Amber looking at her. Discarding her food and grabbing her bag, she decided to go to the library.

* * *

As Marcy left the school that afternoon, Jeff caught up with her. She withheld a groan. She thought he'd be at football practice. After all, the Homecoming Game was three weeks away.

"Hey," Jeff said, catching his breath. "I heard you were at Amanda's party the other night. Quite a thing, huh?"

Marcy nodded. He had no idea.

"I was hoping to see you there," Jeff said.

"I was there," Marcy replied. "Sorry I missed you."

She wasn't sorry. Her mind was scrambling for a tactful way to extricate herself from this conversation. He didn't seem to know the truth and telling him that was not going to happen.

Marcy began reviewing her grades in her head. Maybe she could apply for early admission to college next year. She could go to California or New York or somewhere else where no one knew her, and no one was likely to come after her for being gay. Maybe then, she could have a life worth living.

"Hey," Jeff said, bringing Marcy back to her present circumstances.

Marcy looked at him, her mind still racing, when someone else called out.

"Jeff! Jeff!"

Two other boys, seemingly wearing practice gear, ran over. Marcy thought one of them was called Tyler. One of them was definitely leering at her. This actually made the situation even more uncomfortable.

"Dude," the one named Tyler said to Jeff. "You gotta be at practice. If you're late again, Coach will make you the tackling dummy."

"Not much of a stretch there," the other one remarked. "Just a small difference in IQ points."

"Ignore him. Come on. We gotta hustle."

Jeff nodded and looked at Marcy.

"I gotta go," he said, sounding apologetic. "We'll talk some other time."

Marcy just nodded and he ran off, seeming unaware of how happy she was for this interruption. She turned to hurry away from the school before he found a reason to turn back again.

"You should tell him," someone said as Marcy took a step.

Marcy stopped and turned again. The speaker was Lily. Despite the warm September day, she was wearing a jacket, which she'd zipped shut.

"What?" Marcy asked.

"You need to tell him," Lily said, keeping her distance. "You can't keep letting him think he's got a chance with you."

"I can't. And, I'm not trying to give him that impression."

"Why not?"

"It's ... complicated."

Marcy glanced around. Though no one was paying attention to them at the moment, students were still trickling out of the building. Someone could still overhear something. All it took was bad timing.

"Doesn't sound complicated to me," Lily said. "You like girls. Jeff most certainly is not a girl, but he has the hots for you. You, meanwhile, have the hots for me, and I am not going for that. All the while, you don't want to talk about any of this. Do I have all that right?"

"You don't understand," Marcy protested, feeling hot tears welling up again.

"I understand plenty."

"It took me a year to figure this out about myself. I still struggle with it."

Marcy composed what she hoped was a firm glare directed at Lily.

"Haven't you ever wondered? Have you ever considered it about yourself?"

Lily blinked.

"You always dress up," Marcy pointed out, "but then you sit with me, Amber, and Cassidy. Most girls, like Amber, use their clothes to make plays for guys. I've seen her at it, but not you. Plus, the few times we've hugged, you've let it last way longer than average."

Lily paused and then shook her head.

"I gotta go," she declared and turned away. "Oh, and you're nuts."

"Hey!" Marcy called as she walked away.
Lily hesitated and then looked back.

"Thanks for not telling anybody," Marcy said with a slight smile. "I mean ... about me."

She refused to let Lily's last statement get under her skin.

"Yeah," Lily said. She gave a single nod and kept walking away.

Taking another glance around to see if anyone had overheard, Marcy too hurried away from the school.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Amber Rose: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Cassidy Ada: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Jeff Edwards: junior at Pewter High and Left Tackle on the school's football team.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 32
Chapter 11 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Three Years Ago:

The rest of Saturday and the following Sunday seemed to rush by. On Monday morning, everyone was back in court for Andrew Mooruff's sentencing.

Clyde Baxter scored one victory during the hour of preliminary discussions in the judge's chambers that morning. He managed to prevent the inclusion of Marcy Sellers in the proceedings as what happened to her did not factor into the capital murder conviction, the sole item for which this second hearing was allowed to take place. Though the jurors had sat through the four-day trial the previous week, they would not hear a rehash of what happened to the comatose teenager, now at a hospital in El Paso. Her family wouldn't be allowed to speak during the penalty phase and the coroner, whom the prosecutor intended to put back on the stand, could only talk about the injuries inflicted on Lilian Harvey, including the cause of her death. Clyde Baxter doubted anyone had forgotten the descriptions of what happened to Marcy Sellers, but there was nothing he could do about those memories.

So, Quince Martin presented three witnesses. First, Lilian's mother, Sophia, sobbed as she told the jurors about her daughter.

"She was so full of life," the woman said between sobs. "She made everybody happy."

Lily's father, Jordan, came next, looking stoic as he gave similar testimony.

"What was Lily's favorite hobby?" Quince Martin asked at one point.

"Clothes ... fashion," Jordan replied, managing a smile as the remark was met by a wave of chuckling throughout the courtroom.

Jordan Harvey was followed by the coroner, who again described the injuries the popular blonde teenager endured from the rape, torture, and murder. Photographs of the cuts, bruises, and bitemarks were again passed around the jury box, still receiving shocked and disgusted reactions. A few jurors again looked up and glared at Andrew.

Clyde Baxter declined to cross-examine any of these witnesses and the gruesome spectacle lasted two hours, after which the judge adjourned the court for lunch.

That afternoon, Clyde Baxter presented his only witness.

"The defense calls Angela Mooruff," he announced.

He had the good sense not to call Dr. McVey back to the stand and his limited budget prevented him from finding another expert to explain Andrew's cognitive limitations to the jury. Unfortunately, he had no clear evidence that his client was so unable to understand the nature of these proceedings that he'd be ineligible for execution. So, like his prosecutorial counterpart, he'd tug at the jurors' heartstrings.

Like Sophia Harvey, Angela sniffled as she sat in the witness stand, her eyes already wet.

"Your son is Andrew Mooruff, correct?" Clyde Baxter asked.

"Yes, Sir," Angela replied.

"Where's his father?"

Angela swallowed a lump in her throat.

"He died in a car accident before Andrew was born," she explained. "A hit-and-run. It's been Andrew and me his whole life."

"I'm sure that wasn't easy," Clyde Baxter said. "Where do you live?"

"A little house just outside of Pewter. It's on Shyanne Road. It isn't much, but it's been our home."

"Did Andrew have any friends out there?"

"He played with some of the boys on our street. He never had any close friends. The other boys didn't understand his delays."

"His cognitive delays?"

"Yes," Angela confirmed with a nod.

"When did you first notice there was a problem?" Clyde Baxter queried.

"It was little things. His teacher and I saw them. He would have trouble speaking and remembering things. Sometimes, he'd throw these awful tantrums. And, he wasn't keeping up with his classmates as they were learning more complex math problems."

"Has Andrew ever been violent?"

"No. Never."

"Before his arrest for these crimes, has he ever been in trouble?

"No."

Clyde Baxter paused.

"Angela," he said, "what would you like this jury to do?"

Angela turned in her seat to look at the jurors, tears rolling down her cheeks.

"Please, she said, her voice breaking. "Please don't send my son to Death Row. He's a good boy. Please don't kill him."

Watching his mother cry, Andrew felt like crying himself.

"Thank you," Clyde Baxter said. "I have no further questions. Your witness."

"Mrs. Mooruff," Quince Martin said as he stood up, " you love your son?"

"Yes," Angela replied, glaring at him.

"You'd say anything to save his life?"

"I say it because it's the truth."

"We can appreciate that, and we can value what you've told us. But, are you truly aware of what your son has been convicted of doing?"

"I was here when the jury read the verdict."

"Are you aware of how your son ambushed sixteen-year-old Lilian Harvey, stripped her naked, and held her down?"

Angela paused, looking to Clyde Baxter for guidance. None came.

"I wasn't there," she said.

"True, but you've heard the testimony offered throughout the trial," Quince Martin pointed out. "Are you aware of how your son raped Lilian Harvey?"

Angela gulped, this time looking towards Andrew for strength. Tears were coming again.

"Do you know that girl cried?" Quince Martin asked. "Kind of like you now. The coroner found her own tears on her cheeks. Lilian Harvey cried as your son brutally raped her. I mean, she couldn't have cried when he bashed her head against the wall three times, because those were quick and successive blows, the third one killing her. And, he wouldn't have sat around with her between the rape and the murder. That would have given her time to fight, but she was never given such a chance. So, she cried during the rape ... while your son was violating ..."

"Stop it!" Angela cried. She glared at Quince Martin, gritting her teeth. Her heavy breathing was audible throughout the courtroom.

"He didn't do that," she said. "My son is innocent. This is a mistake. He shouldn't even be here, listening while you people make him out to be some kind of an animal."

She paused, realizing the damage her outburst had done. But, it couldn't be taken back. And, it was the truth.

Quince Martin nodded.

"You say your son's a good boy," he said. "But you haven't even come to terms with his conviction, proof that an accumulation of facts convinced twelve ordinary men and women like yourself that he is guilty of rape and guilty of capital murder."

Angela glanced at the jury again. Twelve white faces were staring back at her. Were they really like her?

"No further questions," Quince Martin said and sat down again.

"Any redirect?" the judge asked.

"No, Your Honor," Clyde Baxter replied in a defeated tone.

"You're free to go," the judge said.

Angela rose to her feet and left the witness stand. She walked slowly across the room, shuddering and crying with every step.

"I love you, Mama," Andrew said as she walked past him.

Angela stopped, the words registering in her mind. She turned her tear-streaked face to her son and managed a smile.

"I love you too," she said.

"Any more witnesses, Mr. Baxter?" the judge asked as this exchange concluded.

"No, Your Honor," Clyde Baxter replied. "The defense rests."

"Then we'll recess for an hour and come back so you both can give closing arguments. We're adjourned."

The judge banged his gavel as Angela sank into her seat behind Andrew, wiping her eyes.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Clyde Baxter: public defender assigned to represent Andrew at his capital murder trial.

Quince Martin: Alter County District Attorney who prosicuted Andrew for capital murder.

Sophia Harvey: Lily's mother.

Jordan Harvey: Lily's father.

Angela Mooruff: Andrew's mother.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 33
Chapter 11 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Having flown yet again, Roland was back in Texas. Behind the wheel of yet another rental car, he wound through the streets of Houston, not missing the irony that this was where Andrew Mooruff's last lawyer had worked.

As he drove, Roland watched as the city continued the reparation process after the hurricane. Many buildings still looked unoccupied and there was construction and road repair in process everywhere. There was also still plenty of garbage, consisting of everything which couldn't be saved after the storm left. He wondered what parts of Andrew's life would be like that if he were found innocent and released.

Focusing again, he located the barracks for District A of the 2nd Region of the Texas Highway Patrol. The low gray building seemed to have weathered the storm well. Roland parked and emerged from his SUV, a couple troopers glancing at him as they walked across the parking lot. Ignoring them, Roland walked up to the building's main entrance.

He was admitted and told to wait in a metal chair that seemed to be tested like never before by his weight.

It only took a few minutes before a dark-blond-haired man in a "Texas Tan" state troopers uniform came into the lobby. Roland then realized he'd never interacted with a state trooper in Texas before. He'd dealt with plenty of law enforcement personnel in Buffalo, Charlotte, Cleveland, and Atlanta, the cops usually taking an opportunity to talk football with him or get an autograph if he happened to be in the same coffeeshop or somewhere similar. And there were the occasional traffic violations. But none of that ever happened in Texas.

The trooper was grinning as he approached Roland.

"Mr. Davis, I presume," he said. "Had to look you up to be sure I'd know who you were, seeing as you never played in this state."

Roland had a retort ready. He used it on rare occasions with mixed reactions, but the tone of their prior phone conversation told him it would go over well this time.

"What does it say about the fact Texas never chose to sign me?" he asked.

Corporal David Tokeman laughed.

"Nice to meet you," he said, shaking Roland's hand. "Come on back. I've got a room we can chat in."

Rising to his feet, Roland followed him through a bustling squad room to a small room furnished by a single, long table and about a dozen chairs.

"Have a seat," Corporal Tokeman said, shutting the door and sitting as well. He regarded Roland for a long moment.

"Andrew Mooruff," he said. "Haven't heard that name in a while. Thought about him from time to time. Mind you, I've had three other cases since in which someone went to Death Row. Two of those boys are still there. The third, some punk who robbed a liquor store and shot the owner, asked to die. I believe they executed him last year."

Roland wasn't surprised by these statistics. After completing his probationary period in El Paso, during which he visited Pewter in the aftermath of the locker room attack, David Tokeman was transferred to the barracks in Houston, where he rose to the rank of corporal. Houston was the county seat of Harris County, which sent more people to Death Row than any other jurisdiction in the country, let alone Texas.

"What was your involvement in the case?" Roland asked.

Corporal Tokeman laughed.

"It'd be easier to say I wasn't involved," he replied. "The Alter County sheriff and his boys ran the investigation there. We just provided the logistics needed to get the evidence to the state lab in El Paso for testing. Plus, I was still a probationary trooper back then, ten months out of the academy. My senior partner, Joseph Hillstrand, took the lead."

"He's retired, right?" Roland asked.

"Yes, Sir. I think he's living on the Gulf Coast now. He's pretty much cut ties with the agency."

"Was there bad blood when he left?"

Corporal Tokeman slowly shook his head.

"He said he wanted retirement to be a fresh start for him," he explained. "This job broke up two marriages of his. He just got tired of the things we saw. Probably for the best."

"For him?"

"Of course."

"And you? And the agency?"

Corporal Tokeman stared across the table at Roland.

"What are you getting at, Mr. Davis?" he queried.

"You've been choosing your words pretty carefully when it comes to Joseph Hillstrand," Roland explained. "What are you not saying?"

"Maybe I've been careful, but you've got something on your mind which you aren't outright saying. Seeing as you came to me, you go first."

Roland had to smile at this tactic. He knew coming to speak with this man would be worthwhile.

"I've visited Pewter," he said. "From what I've seen, the 'Old Guard' was ousted in the last election. The sheriff, the D.A., etc. ... all gone. Anyway, the sheriff, Keith Darden, did some questionable things. Nothing outright racist like using the N-word. He was just sometimes a bit quick to point fingers based on certain factors. I'm wondering if your old partner had the same mindset as the sheriff and those other folks."

Corporal Tokeman regarded Roland in silence a while longer before speaking.

"I don't have any outright proof or anything," he said. "But yeah. You could say Joseph Hillstrand was a part of, as you call them, 'The Old Guard'. The night those girls were attacked, he was letting the sheriff lead that investigation right to that man ... your boy, Andrew Mooruff. I was a bit uncomfortable with how those two were treating the whole matter, but I didn't have any standing to say anything. Remember, I was a probationary trooper and they weren't doing anything outright wrong. I just never felt right about it, even when all the evidence said he did it. That's why I never really forgot him."

He studied Roland again.

"Do you have some new evidence, Mr. Davis?" he asked. "Something that says something was done wrong."

Roland sighed and shook his head.

"No," he lamented, "just a lot of holes, doubts, and questions."

"I suppose I didn't clear much up for you."

"I'm afraid not," Roland replied with a chuckle.

"Anything else I can do?" Corporal Tokeman asked.

Roland considered the question. There were a bunch of answers, all of them longshots. He picked his best one.

"Who else would have copies of the lab reports from the evidence you and your partner had sent to El Paso?" he asked. "Besides anyone in Pewter and Alter County."

"The lab, of course," Corporal Tokeman replied. "I'm sure I could find them in our agency's records, if I dug non-stop for the next ten years. We archived those shortly after the trial. The lab's your best bet."

"I doubt they'll give those to me without a court order and I don't want anyone getting wind of me doing it just yet ..."

Roland looked at the corporal.

"Could you request those records for me?" he asked.

Corporal Tokeman considered the request for a full thirty seconds before nodding.

"It might take a couple weeks," he said. "No one's got them sitting on their desk, ready to go."

"That's fine," Roland agreed with a wave of his hand. "Also, do you have anything about this case I don't?"

Corporal Tokeman stared at him with wide eyes.

"What do you mean?" he queried.

Roland sighed.

"I wish I knew," he replied. "Just anything I might not have gotten as counsel on the case. Records, lists ... something the courts wouldn't consider important enough to be required for me to see."

Corporal Tokeman thought about the request. This time, the silence stretched into two minutes.

"There might be something," the corporal then said. "Hang on a minute."

He left the room and was gone for fifteen minutes. When he returned, he was holding a printout.

"I knew I remembered this right," he said with pride. "About six months after your boy was charged, we got a call. The caller asked for us specifically and so it was routed to our shared line. Joseph answered, but I could hear someone chattering on the other end. It wasn't clear enough to make out words, but they sounded agitated. Joseph assured them that everything was fine, and this was how things worked. He said it often took a while. The caller seemed to calm down and seemed grateful by the end. I asked Joseph about it after he hung up and he said it was some kid from Pewter, calling about the case and wanting to know why there hadn't been a trial yet. Joseph said the kid didn't know a thing about how slow our criminal justice system was and left it at that."

"Why would he call you?" Roland asked. "Why not ask the Alter County Sheriff or the D.A. about it?"

"I was wondering the same thing at the time. Joseph said the kid seemed arrogant, like those guys were beneath him or something. That was all he said, and I accepted it. I'd already dealt with a few folks like that, so it wasn't an unusual reason. Anyway, here's the report Joseph logged about the call in our system."

The corporal handed Roland the printout. It didn't have much on it, mainly the date and time, a few sparse notes which Corporal Tokeman had already elaborated on, and a blank space after "Follow-up:". But, what it did have was the caller's phone number. Area code 432. This encompassed a large landscape in rural western Texas, but who outside of Pewter would be interested in this case. The call was made before the trial, so the jurors from Sierra County weren't a possibility. There was no other viable explanation.

"Can you run this for me?" Roland asked, pointing at the ten digits.

"Already have," Corporal Tokeman said, taking back his seat at the table. "It's still in service, registered to a Malcolm Huntley. Mr. Huntley lives in Pewter with his family and owns a grocery store, a deli, and a pharmacy there."

Roland was feeling excited. He had to find a hotel.

"Can I take this?" he asked, waving the printout through the air.

Corporal Tokeman shrugged.

"Sure," he said. "Hope it helps."

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Keith Darden: sheriff of Alter County. Personally investigated the locker room attack.

Sergeant Joseph Hillstrand: member of the Texas Highway Patrol. Assisted Alter County authorities investigate the locker room attack. Now retired.

Corporal David Tokeman: as a rookie member of the Texas Highway Patrol, assisted Alter County authorities investigate the locker room attack.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Janice Cooper: junior associate assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Phillip Decker: paralegal assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 34
Chapter 12 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

Lily lay on her bed, her mind spinning. She actually missed the sounds of machine gunfire and rocket blasts from Call of Duty, which Gabriel once played in his bedroom across the hall at all hours. But Gabriel and Call of Duty, whatever version he was up to now, were in Austin and Lily was still in Pewter.

Marcy's words hung in front of her like an ugly tapestry. Lily had thought the notion of her being gay to be ridiculous and a bit insulting.

But now, alone in her bedroom, Lily had time to turn the suggestion over in her mind. The likelihood had never occurred to her. After all, she'd dated guys and she'd had sex with guys. Granted, neither occasion was good, but she'd read online that this was a consequence when the guy too was a virgin. She wasn't ready to believe she'd switched teams because of that poor outcome.

Lily thought about Marcy. She remembered their first meeting back on the first day of school. The girl seemed about half Lily's size then and she'd looked so lost and confused. Lily had offered to help to be nice. She never wanted to be a stuck-up cheerleader. Others she knew would have walked right by Marcy. Unfortunately, Amber would probably have been one of them. Cassidy might have done the same.

Feeling guilty about thinking this of her friends, Lily nonetheless knew it was true. She also understood what she'd done meant something to Marcy. She wondered if that had lit a spark.

Lily reevaluated her decision to integrate Marcy into their group. She had done that as well to be nice. And Marcy turned out to be an interesting person to hang out with, even if she was a bit shy.

Her mind flashed back to Marcy from that afternoon. The girl was wearing jeans and a blue blouse, buttoned up to the neck, and her blue sneakers. She'd been upset when they talked, but that was no surprise given what had been happening. Lily recalled the tears in the girl's eyes and a part of her hurt for Marcy. She knew she wasn't mad at her. She was just ... confused by all this. Her friend had come out to her and, in the same breath, confessed a crush on her. Who didn't have the right to be confused?

Pewter was a quiet town. One reason for this was a lack of discussion about diversity, brought on by a lack of diversity in the area's population. Sure, there were a few Hispanic and African American families around, but the majority were Caucasian and, as far as Lily knew, straight. No one outright stigmatized being gay, but no one outright welcomed the idea of people coming out of the closet amongst them.

Lily got up again and sat on her desk. She'd spent most of the afternoon searching topics like "my friend is gay", "my gay friend has a crush on me", and "am I gay". She also took some time to research how to delete her Internet search history. She didn't need to have to answer awkward questions from her parents on top of everything else.

Unfortunately, her searches produced no clear guidelines. Everything she read kept preaching that everyone was different and there wasn't one universal approach to addressing these issues. Lily briefly considered looking up girl-on-girl porn to see how she reacted to watching it, but that idea didn't last long. Gabriel had been busted watching porn a couple years ago. Lily would not risk the same outcome, even if she were to mute the computer's volume.

Lily could admit she missed hanging out with Marcy. But, did she need to become gay to resume this? Even if she wasn't and still reignited the friendship, would she be perceived as gay for hanging out with a gay person? That possibility seemed unlikely since Marcy guarded what she was. Lily wondered what drove her to be so cautious. It had to be more than her being shy.

Lily supposed she wanted Marcy back in her life. And, while the brunette's confession was the cause of the current friction, she didn't outright blame her for causing this mess. One consistent point she had read in her research was that such admissions were difficult for anyone to make. Plus, Lily had provoked the matter by trying to hook Marcy up with Jeff, an idea Marcy had always spoken out against.

Lily jumped as someone knocked on her door. She closed her Internet browser as her father, Jordan, entered.

"Good news," he announced, beaming. "I spoke to Ralph this afternoon. Tanya Moss, the head cheerleading coach at UT Austin wants to meet with you."

Under other circumstances, Lily might have been thrilled to hear this. It was her dream to attend the University of Texas in Austin and she was never concerned with her family's legacy helping to make it happen. After all, she'd already attained the grades on her own.

"We're aiming to go in early November," Jordan reported.

"Great," Lily said, managing a wide smile. "Thanks, Dad."

"We can talk more about it at dinner. Go, Longhorns."

"Go, Longhorns."

Her father left and Lily flashed back on her conversation about colleges. She recalled telling the brunette about her family's century-long history at UT Austin. She remembered her crack about her having a good-enough rack for collegiate cheerleading and Marcy's dumbstruck reaction. Lily had meant it as a joke, but she now wondered how Marcy had taken it. Had the remark prompted her to visualize Lily's breasts?

Lily thought about Ethan and Rob, the guy she'd dated before him. She'd been happy in both relationships, so much that she let Rob screw her twice in her family's rec room downstairs. Even after their mutual first time was less than spectacular, she'd willingly engaged in sex with him again. The relationship ended because Rob and his family moved to Phoenix, not due to any differences in desires. Her relationship with Ethan ended because she felt it had run its course. Lily was also sure Ethan resented her denying him sex every time the idea was broached. But Ethan had Amber now. And, if the rumors and hints from Amanda's last party prove true, Amber was happy to fulfill Ethan's carnal needs.

Thinking about Amber, Lily thought about the whole cheerleading squad. How often had she changed with all of them in the locker room. The idea they were anything other than her teammates never occurred to her. Had she ever tried to sneak a look at another girl's developing figure? Lily supposed she hadn't, but she had also never been confronted with the idea she might have feelings for the female gender.

"Lily!" her mom called from downstairs. "Dinner!"

"Coming!" Lily called back. Her head ached and she knew her mom was making Swedish meatballs, her favorite, tonight. Maybe the meal, and the impending talk about an official visit to UT Austin, was the distraction she needed before she tried sorting things out again.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Amber Rose: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Cassidy Ada: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Ethan Huntley: junior at Pewter High and Running Back on the school's football team. Lily's ex-boyfriend.

Jeff Edwards: junior at Pewter High and Left Tackle on the school's football team.

Sophia Harvey: Lily's mother.

Jordan Harvey: Lily's father.

Gabriel Harvey: Lily's older brother.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 35
Chapter 12 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Three Years Ago:

At the judge's instructions, Clyde Baxter rose and faced the jury, Andrew Mooruff sitting behind him.

"Here we are," he said. "The real meat of this case. Oh, we would have loved a 'not guilty' verdict. You can bet that."

He got a few small smiles at the remark.

"But we accept your verdict and the diligence exercised by you to reach it," he continued. "We now ask that you exercise that same diligence to spare Andrew Mooruff's life. He is a young man. He will have decades to think about what he has been convicted of while in prison. For those of you who might not understand, prison won't be a picnic. Andrew's life will be tightly controlled. Corrections officers will monitor where he goes, what he does, and who he associates with. Prisons in the state of Texas are secure. They are designed to keep us safe and the staff therein are trained to perpetuate that mission. The prosecutor will outline for you what a violent man Andrew is. You must consider if society would ever feel threatened by this man were he to spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole ... without the possibility of him ever being free again. Consider that and consider what Andrew's mother told you. This man's own mother bore her heart on this witness stand and told you her only child, whom she knows better than anyone else, is not a violent man."

He paused, hoping the memory of Angela on the stand would resonate with the jury. As damaging as her responses to Quince Martin's cross-examination had been, it was the best he had to work with. Thinking about how each of these jurors had a mother and five of them were mothers themselves, he hoped it'd be enough.

"Consider that," he said. "Then, find it in your hearts and in the law to say 'no' to placing this man on Death Row and someday sending him to Huntsville. Thank you for listening."

He sat down and Quince Martin jumped to his feet.

"We've all heard and seen the evidence that the defendant does not have a history of violence," he said, striding as close to the jury box as possible. "I will concede that point any day of the week and twice on Sunday. That is what makes this crime all the more shocking. Andrew Mooruff raped and killed Lilian Harvey. You folks convicted him of that. In doing so, you said that this meek, mild-mannered man suddenly changed into a person who would attack a beautiful young woman just starting in life. You have said that he would hold her down and viciously rape her. You have made the point that he would brutally smash her head into a brick-and-tile wall over and over again, ending her life and silencing her forever. You have said he would do all that for no conceivable reason ... no evidence of him having been provoked."

He'd drawn out his description and paused to let the words take effect. A few jurors looked pale, probably remembering the photos of Lilian Harvey's bruised and battered body.

"Our prisons are secure," Quince Martin continued. "There's another point I'll concede to without question. But they are not perfect. How can a prison prevent such a tragedy from absolutely never happening again? How can fences with razor wire, thick metal bars, and stone walls prevent this defendant from snapping again? What if he kills another inmate? What if he kills a guard? Lilian Harvey didn't do anything to him and look what happened to her. What if Andrew Mooruff manages to escape? We've seen it happen. What if Andrew Mooruff's unchecked rage is again let loose on society? If any of the scenarios I've outlined for you comes true, people will ask. Why was a man, convicted of an unspeakable crime, given a second chance? I am telling you today that he should not be. Please, consider what has already happened. Then, please follow the law and deliver the punishment this defendant is entitled to."

As he sat down again, Andrew turned to Clyde Baxter.

"Can I talk to them?" he asked in a low voice. "I'd like to talk to them, please."

Clyde Baxter shook his head as the judge began giving his instructions to the jury.

"It's too late for that," he explained. "They have to decide now."

Andrew gave his lawyer a bewildered stare.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Clyde Baxter: public defender assigned to represent Andrew at his capital murder trial.

Quince Martin: Alter County District Attorney who prosicuted Andrew for capital murder.

Angela Mooruff: Andrew's mother.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 36
Chapter 12 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Since Austin was under three hours from Houston, Roland decided to drive rather than be concerned with flying and obtaining yet another rental car. Though he hadn't been to the area in at least six years, he still remembered it well and soon located the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.

It had taken half a day of research, but he'd figured out Malcolm Huntley's connection to the case. It really wasn't him at all. The cell phone number from which someone called the Texas Highway Patrol was registered within a family cell phone plan under his name. Logic and research on social media dictated that particular phone belonged to Ethan Huntley, now a senior at UT Texas working towards a degree in Political Science. Ethan Huntley was a former running back from the Pewter Public High School Robins football team. He was also an ex-boyfriend of Lilian Harvey.

Through his research and directions from some helpful students, Roland located the fraternity house of Phi Kappa Psi. Two students were exiting through the front door as he approached.

"Excuse me," he said.

"What you want?" one of the students asked.

Roland decided to ignore the rude manner in which the question was sent his way.

"I'm looking for Ethan Huntley," he explained. "Is he around?"

"I think he's in there," the second student replied, jerking a thumb over his shoulder. "Take a look."

He was a little more polite and Roland responded with a thankful nod. The two students kept walking and he headed to the open front door. Another student directed him down the entrance hallway to the main room, where he was met by yet another student.

"I'm looking for Ethan Huntley," Roland repeated again.

"Yoh, Ethan!" this student called out to no one in particular. "Some guy's looking for you."

"Who is it?!" someone called back from across the room.

"How should I know?! Maybe you two hooked up or something!"

A few students snickered as Roland crossed the room, having found his man.

"Ethan Huntley?" he asked as a formality.

"What can I do for you?" the young man with sandy hair asked.

He was being polite, but Roland knew such an attitude would vanish the moment he explained who he was. Still, he had to do it.

"You play football?" Ethan asked during the silence.

"I did," Roland replied, guarded.

Ethan smiled.

"Me too," he said. "At least, I did. Got tackled hard my sophomore year and blew out my knee. That was it for me."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Roland said. "I'm retired now and I work with a law firm in Dallas."

"You wanna ask about my dad?"

"What?"

Roland was taken aback by Ethan's question. Ethan just shrugged.

"My dad's always talking to lawyers about one thing or another," he explained. "You said you're from Dallas and I know a lot of corporate law happens there."

Roland shook his head.

"This is different," he explained. "I'm here about something at happened in high school."

The shocked look on Ethan's face said he hadn't seen that coming and that he hadn't even considered Roland coming to see him about it.

"Lily," the young man said.

"Yes," Roland confirmed. "I'm representing Andrew Mooruff in the appellate process."

"The guy everybody knows did it? Why bother? They got him cold for it. Everybody knows that."

Ethan waved his hand around the room.

"People here know it," he added, "and I didn't need to be the one to tell them."

"I understand," Roland said in a sympathetic tone, seeing the young man starting to become upset. "I just have a couple quick questions."

"About what?"

"About a phone call you made to the Texas Highway Patrol six months after Andrew Mooruff was arrested."

Ethan looked even more shocked. He definitely hadn't seen that coming.

"What about it?" he asked, working to compose himself again.

"It just seems odd," Roland clarified. "Why would you call two Texas troopers whose involvement was so minimal six months later? How did you even get their names?"

"I asked my dad and he talked to some people and got the names for me," Ethan explained. "No big deal."

"But why call them at all?"

Ethan glared at him.

"If anyone in Pewter knew what they were doing, that sicko would already be dead," he snarled. "I figured asking them wasn't worth it. My dad always told me 'go straight to someone who will know what you need to know'. That's what I did."

Roland nodded, remembering Corporal Tokeman's assessment of this arrogant young man.

"Hey, Ethan," someone said, interrupting the conversation.

Another student hurried over.

"Lauren's outside, waiting for you. She's all wound up about something."

Ethan nodded, seeming to understand some hidden deeper meaning in that statement. The other student looked at Roland.

"Who's this?" he queried. "Are you interviewing for a job or something?"

"He's here about what happened to Lily," Ethan explained.

The color drained from the second student's face as he stared up at Roland.

"You're from Pewter as well?" Roland asked.

"Yeah," the student said. "I'm Tyler Stackhouse."

He stuck out his hand to shake.

"He's representing the guy on Death Row," Ethan interjected.

Some color returned to Tyler Stackhouse's face as he glowered at Roland, withdrawing his hand. His mouth opened as though he were about to say something, but he instead closed it again. He then turned back to Ethan.

"You gotta get going," he reiterated. "Lauren."

Ethan nodded and pushed past Roland. Roland turned and followed him, Tyler trailing behind them.

"Why did you make that phone call?" Roland demanded as they entered the entrance hallway.

Ethan didn't answer. He kept walking, exiting the fraternity house and descending its three front steps. A pretty redhead was waiting for him, her purse and bookbag slung over one shoulder.

"There you are," she said. "Come on. The room's free now and you promised to help me decorate."

Ethan was nodding as Roland caught up with them.

"Just tell me why you made that call," the lawyer insisted.

The girl, presumably "Lauren", stared at him in bewilderment. Ethan whirled to face Roland.

"You wanna know?" he spat. "Because I still cared. Yeah, Lily and I broke up a long time before that happened, but I still cared. And I didn't want to see that murdering freak go free. Like I said, I didn't trust the locals, so I went one step higher to someone who knows how to do police work. It was for Lily."

He stopped to catch his breath as Tyler joined the group. Lauren's shocked expression had changed to one of pride as she stepped closer to Ethan.

"He told me all about what happened in high school," she said to Roland. "He told me about the evidence they found and everything. You leave him alone. I can make trouble for you otherwise."

She began leading Ethan away. Roland wasn't interested in seeing what kind of trouble she could cause. He doubted the threat meant anything. He also doubted Ethan Huntley had anything else he would want to share, so he let the couple go. He turned to look at Tyler, who seemed to be rooted to the sidewalk in front of the fraternity house.

"Something you'd like to add?" he prompted.

"N ... no, Sir," Tyler said quickly. "Have a nice day."

Roland watched him run back up the steps and into the house before turning and walking away.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals. Alumnus of the University of Texas in Austin.

Ethan Huntley: junior at Pewter High and Running Back on the school's football team. Lily's ex-boyfriend. Now a student at the University of Texas in Austin.

Tyler Stackhouse: junior at Pewter High and player on the school's football team. Friend and classmate of Ethan's at the University of Texas in Austin.

Lauren Dupree: Ethan's girlfriend at the University of Texas in Austin.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 37
Chapter 13 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.

Five Years Ago:

Late September brought rain and plenty of it ... so much there were flood warnings throughout western Texas. Many students considered the possibility of the Homecoming game being washed out, neglecting to consider the fact the game was still two and a half weeks away.

Marcy retrieved her raincoat from her locker, noting it was still damp from that morning. She checked and was glad to see her books weren't water-damaged.

As she pulled on the raincoat, she worried she'd get soaked anyway. Looking out a nearby window, she judged that the downpour had intensified from that morning.

Marcy's lamentations were interrupted when she saw Lily coming down the hallway, pulling on her own raincoat ... or trying to while balancing her overflowing bookbag. Physics soon won out and the bag slipped to the floor, some of its contents spilling out across the linoleum. Cursing under her breath, Lily crouched down to start gathering her things.

Marcy didn't hesitate. Tightening her own coat around herself, she grabbed her bag and hurried over.

She knelt down and gathered a Math textbook, noticing that Lily's laptop was still secure in the bag's padded sleeve. Thank God for that as the device might not have survived a direct impact with the floor. Marcy knew this from experience.

"Thanks," Lily said, taking the textbook and pens Marcy was holding.

"Sure thing," Marcy replied, reaching for a runaway pencil. She realized too late that Lily was reaching for it as well and their hands collided. Energy surged through Marcy as time around them seemed to stop. Outside, they could hear howling as the wind intensified.

Marcy's brain couldn't compute a resolution as their hands continued touching. She was very aware that Lily wasn't moving her hand either. How much time had passed? A minute? A few seconds? A couple nanoseconds? It was impossible to determine.

Then, Lily pulled her hand back. Marcy reached for the pencil and nudged it so it rolled back towards its owner.

"Thanks," Lily said again, stuffing the returned pencil back into her bag with the rest of her things. She stood up, fixed her raincoat, and picked up her bag. She then looked at Marcy.

"We need to talk," she said.

"Okay," Marcy replied, unsure of where this was going.

"I want to clear the air. I want to keep you as a friend."

Marcy smiled.

"I'd like that too," she agreed. "When could we talk?"

Lily looked around. There were still some students near them, but no one was paying any attention.

"Maybe on a day where we don't risk drowning on the walk home," she said, gesturing at the rain-splattered windows.

"Yeah," Marcy agreed with a chuckle.

"I'll text you."

Marcy nodded and turned to go. Lily watched her head down the hallway and turn left towards the school's main entrance.

As her friend disappeared, Lily felt a pang in her chest. She stood still, making sense of this feeling. Yeah, she often thought about Marcy when they weren't together, but that was because she liked hanging out with her. But this was different. She'd never felt this with any of her other friends. Lily didn't want Marcy to walk away.

Her mind already racing, Lily dashed forward, startling the students around her. She rounded the corner and almost collided with the black, skinny, bald custodian, who was cleaning a trophy case.

"Wha ..." he began, startled.

"Sorry," Lily said while moving to avoid him and continue her dash forward.

He turned and watched her go for a few seconds before resuming his cleaning.

Lily didn't see Marcy in this hallway. Ahead of her were the main doors. Was Marcy already outside? How much time had passed since she'd walked away? Not caring, Lily darted forward.

She came out of the school and was pelted by sheets of rain buffeted by the wind. It was dark and visibility was so bad, cars on the nearby street were using their headlights in the mid-afternoon.

But, Lily caught sight of the petit figure in the neon-green raincoat fifty yards ahead of her, trying to shield herself as much as possible from this meteorological onslaught.

"Marcy!" Lily called, but the wind carried away the name from her lips.

Seeing the green raincoat moving further into the darkness, she bounded down the front steps. Her foot landed in a puddle and the water splashed into her boot, soaking her sock. Cursing, Lily kept moving.

She hurried down the sidewalk. Soon, only five yards separated her from the neon-green raincoat.

"Marcy!" she called again.

This time, the raincoat stopped moving. Marcy turned around as Lily caught up to her.

"What?!" she called as another gust of wind hit them.

Her heart beating so hard it threatened to crack her ribs, Lily took one more step forward and threw her arms around Marcy. Surprised, Marcy stood still, unable to determine a proper reaction.

"Lily ..." she tried but the wind prevented her from being heard.

After a few seconds, she raised her own arms and wrapped them around Lily's torso. Looking over Marcy's shoulder, Lily smiled with relief.

"My house is closer," she said. "We can wait out the worst of it there. We can talk there."

She felt Marcy's arms wrap around her even tighter. Content, she pressed her cheek against the side of Marcy's head. Somehow, the rain and wind weren't affecting them anymore.

* * *

Watching from a distance of twenty yards, he was hidden enough by the darkness that they didn't notice him. Through the rain, he was just able to make out their passionate embrace.

Understanding what this meant, Jeff Edwards turned and walked away. He hadn't wanted to believe it, but the proof seemed to have presented itself. Why else would two girls be hugging in the middle of this horrendous storm?

All his efforts at courting Marcy Sellers were for nothing. Upset and angry, Jeff didn't care as he walked through puddles and soaked himself even more.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Jeff Edwards: junior at Pewter High and Left Tackle on the school's football team.


Chapter 38
Chapter 13 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Three Years Ago:

Though no national media outlets ever took interest in the case, a few local stations from Texas and neighboring New Mexico had covered the trial. Even with all the surprises they'd seen so far, no one was prepared for the announcement that the jury had reached a recommendation only an hour after being sent out of the courtroom to deliberate the matter of life versus death.

There was no chance for a twist to come. There was only one question the jurors needed to answer. For the sole count of capital murder of which he'd been convicted, should Andrew Mooruff receive life or death. The fact a recommendation had been agreed on eliminated the possibility of a deadlock that could make things more interesting. The twelve men and women had agreed on one option and everyone was about to hear which one it was.

When the court officers brought Andrew in this time, they did not remove his handcuffs. He was a convicted murderer, definitely headed for prison. There was no need to present the possibility of innocence anymore. He sat in his chair next to Clyde Baxter, staring at his feet while resting his cuffed hands on the table.

"Has the jury reached a recommendation?" the judge asked when everyone was seated.

"We have, Your Honor," the jury foreman confirmed. He looked paler than usual. Neither he or any of the other jurors met the eyes of Andrew's supporters or the victims' families. There was no way to tell how they'd decided.

"Just stay calm," Clyde Baxter advised his client in a whisper. "No matter what they say, stay calm. Show them some dignity."

Andrew nodded once and Clyde Baxter leaned back to repeat the same advice for Angela's sake.

The judge was reviewing the single sheet of paper the foreman had given him. He soon gave a nod of satisfaction, indicating everything was in order. After all, there was only one question.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury," he said, "on the sole conviction of capital murder, what is your recommendation as to sentencing for the defendant, Andrew Mooruff?"

"We the jury," the foreman said, "recommend that the defendant, Andrew Mooruff, be sentenced to death for the sole count of capital murder of which he has been convicted."

Chatter erupted in the courtroom, but it was soon eclipsed by a plaintive wail from Angela.

"No!" she cried, leaning forward in her seat. "No, you can't do this. You can't kill my baby. No!"

Andrew turned to look back at her as friends and family moved to offer comfort.

"It'll be okay, Mama," he said. "I'll be okay."

Clyde Baxter shook his head in dismay. The poor idiot had no clue about what was coming.

"Order," the judge barked, banging his gavel. "Order. I'll have order or I'll clear the courtroom."

Things slowly settled down and he faced the jurors.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury," he said, "the court thanks you for your service. In a moment, my officer will escort you back to the jury room. There, you'll gather your things. The bus is waiting to take you home."

Home for these men and women was Sierra County, a ninety-minute ride away. They emitted low grumbles as they exited the jury box and followed a court officer out of the courtroom. None of them looked at Andrew or his supporters.

"If counselors are ready, I'm prepared to pronounce the sentence," the judge said when the last juror had left.

Both Clyde Baxter and Quince Martin affirmed they were ready.

"Very well," Mr. Mooruff," the judge said. "Please rise."

Andrew stared at him in bewilderment.

"Stand up, Mr. Mooruff," the judge ordered, showing his impatience at the end of this long day. "I can have an officer assist you if you need more specific directions."

"Come on," Clyde Baxter encouraged in a whisper. "Stand up."

Andrew rose to his feet, still staring at the judge as Clyde Baxter stood beside him.

"Andrew Mooruff," the judge said, "a jury of your peers has found you guilty of the crime of capital murder and has unanimously recommended that you be executed for this crime. I am required by Texas law to follow their recommendation, so I hereby sentence you to death by lethal injection as allowed by state law. You shall be transferred into the custody of the Department of Criminal Justice, who will be responsible for housing you in an appropriate facility until the governor of Texas signs your death warrant, authorizing your execution."

After adding three ninety-nine-year sentences for the rapes and attempted murder convictions, he banged his gavel to punctuate the order. In her seat, Angela sniffled.

Two officers stepped forward. They weren't court officers, but corrections officers.

"Come on," one of them said. "We've got a van waiting for you outside."

Clyde Baxter had not expected to see his client get hauled off to Death Row within minutes after he was sentence. He felt uncomfortable about the behind-the-scenes machinations that made this possible. But he, and Andrew, had no choice.

"You have to go with them, Andrew," he said, patting his client on the back. "I'm sorry."

Watching his client get taken away for the last time, he sighed and packed up his briefcase. Behind him, he could still hear Angela's quiet sobbing and worked hard to ignore this pitiful sound.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Clyde Baxter: public defender assigned to represent Andrew at his capital murder trial.

Quince Martin: Alter County District Attorney who prosicuted Andrew for capital murder.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 39
Chapter 13 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Roland had been gone from his office for about a week, but it felt like so much longer. After confronting Ethan Huntley on the UT Austin campus, he decided to forgo checking into another hotel and made the three-hour drive from Austin home to Dallas. He found an agency where he could return his rental car and took an Uber home, splurging on the extra bucks to get additional leg room. On his way home, he ordered a pizza, and it arrived only a couple minutes after he'd entered his apartment.

As he ate and tried to stay interested in the Cowboys taking on the Giants on TV, Roland was contemplating a new theory. Three hours from Houston to Austin and the same from Austin to Dallas had given him plenty of time to think.

He considered that his theory about Marcy Sellers having been targeted due to being gay was valid. But now, instead of Lilian Harvey having lost her life in a vicious crossfire, he thought the blonde beauty might have also been singled out. Sure, she'd had boyfriends, but who was to say she hadn't changed her mind.

Roland knew from experience that teenagers were impulsive. Lilian might have considered the idea she too was gay and latched on to it harder than she should have. How sure could someone be in their teenage years?

When Roland was sixteen, he began dating Jennifer Myers. At the time, he'd been sure the relationship would last for ever, and that thought process was ignited by the fact Jennifer had been a C-cup at age fourteen and was still growing. Being a star football player gave Roland an edge over his classmates and he got to see those real, spectacular orbs in ... well, in the flesh. But, as hindsight often pointed out, it wouldn't have worked in the long run. For one thing, Jennifer had been a vegetarian while Roland was currently consuming every meet topping Grimaldi's could invent. That was one of dozens of differences ... too many to sustain a committed relationship based on lust and bust size.

Thinking about his old courtship led Roland to think about Emily. He'd had about half a dozen serious relationships throughout college, his NFL years, law school, and his professional life in Dallas, but he'd never come close to contemplating marriage. He wasn't considering it now, but he did want to see Emily again. Maybe he'd call her this weekend.

Focusing again, Roland wondered how much of Lilian's and Marcy's relationship, if there had been one, was genuine. There was always the chance it could have beat the odds, but he was going with the odds. High school relationships were meant to happen within the bounds of high school. Marcy had gotten help sorting out her feelings from her parents, so her being gay was probably more than an impulsive phase. Roland had no evidence about Lilian's orientation or what her parents knew and did about it. Based on his run-in with Gabriel Harvey, he wasn't sure how he could learn such information without being shot. But, it was looking like he might have to investigate this angle. Saving an innocent man's life trumped protecting the privacy of someone's being gay or straight, especially given they were already dead.

* * *

The next morning, Roland was back at the firm, retrieving his usual morning coffee in the breakroom. Fitting the plastic lid onto the paper cup, he headed to his own office. There was nothing more he could immediately do for Andrew Mooruff and he had yet to conceive a tactful way to approach the Harveys. So, he'd work on his pending corporate matters while he waited for his inquiries to yield results.
Roland shared two secretaries with five other associates. Both women were already at their desks as he walked by, greeting them.

"Morning," the raven-haired Samantha returned. "Mr. Shawcross left a message. He wants to see you in his office right away."

Roland stopped, curious. He wondered if it was about all the recent travel expenses related to Andrew's case. Surely the firm could swallow those.

"Does he have any meetings?" he asked.

"Not according to his secretary," Samantha replied. "His entire morning is free."

Roland realized this had to be important.

"Tell him I'll be up in fifteen," he instructed, pausing just a second to consider how, after climbing up a couple more rungs within the firm, he'd have his own personal secretary. He hoped she'd be as efficient as the likes of the raven-haired Samantha ... maybe he could poach her somehow when the time came.

* * *

Unlike last time, Bruce Shawcross was sitting behind his desk when Roland arrived in his massive office.

"Come in and take a seat," Bruce instructed. "And shut that door."

There was no offer of drinks or anything. Roland didn't speak as he sat down.

"We received an interesting call late yesterday afternoon," Bruce said, leaning forward in his high-back, leather chair. "Are you familiar with Jacob Dupree?"

It took a few seconds for Roland to recognize the name.

"The Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives," he said. "He called you?"

"He called Oliver Bass," Bruce corrected, referring to one of the firm's named partners. "Oliver was so kind to transfer the call to me. I understand you met his granddaughter yesterday."

This time, it took only a second for Roland to make the connection.

"Lauren's her name," he said, knowing better than to actually ask.

Bruce nodded.

"She told her granddaddy yesterday that you were harassing her boyfriend, or soon-to-be fiancée, on their university campus. In part, I'm surprised how quick news about this traveled and things got done, considering a politician was involved."

Roland didn't chuckle at the remark about a politician and a rapid accomplishment.

"What were you doing talking to this Ethan Huntley?" Bruce queried in a neutral tone.

Roland knew the absolute truth was his best option. After all, he hadn't done anything wrong.

"His name came up in my investigation," he explained. "I went to the UT Austin campus to ask him a couple of questions."

Bruce nodded.

"This investigation ..." he said, "does it have anything to do with that death penalty case I handed you a couple weeks ago?"

Roland nodded.

"Andrew Mooruff," he said as a reminder for his boss. "From Pewter."

Bruce didn't seem to recognize any of these names. He waved his hand as if to set them aside for the time being.

"I'd like to know who authorized your investigation," he said.

"I was assigned to represent Andrew Mooruff," Roland said, feeling it was best not to point out the man questioning him at the moment had been the one to give him this assignment. "Questions arose as I reviewed the file, so I followed up on them. That developed more questions and I kept looking for answers."

"And in doing so, you managed to get on the wrong side of our Speaker of the House of Representatives. That is not a productive use of this firm's resources."

Roland knew some humility was due.

"I'm sorry," he said. "That was not my intention ..."

"Your assignment was to represent a man on Death Row throughout the appeals process," Bruce went on. "It was not to play detective."

"Sir, as I explained, questions came up ..."

"There are always ways to find questions in these cases. I handled almost a dozen of them in my day. The evidence says he did it. You were just supposed to let things run their course."

Roland tried to make sense of what he was hearing.

"The death penalty draws publicity," Bruce continued. "The people of the state of Texas want to see killers executed, but a law firm showing the decency to see that a condemned man's appeals are handled properly will get them positive press no matter what the circumstances. More clients will want to be represented by such diligent lawyers and they will pay those diligent lawyers' exorbitant fees."

"But what if Andrew is innocent," Roland asked. "As his lawyer, I have a duty to ..."

"As you and I know, and as the Speaker has so thoroughly reminded me, that is not the case here. Fingerprints and DNA say he did it. It is as open and shut a case as you can get."

Bruce sighed.

"This was a mistake," he said. "I should have known better. You're off the case. I'm reassigning it."

Roland gasped.

"You can't ..." he began.

"Consider it done," Bruce said. "I need a lawyer on this who understands the priorities of this firm. Maybe you need a few more years to get in line with that."

He glared at Roland.

"Pack up the file," he said. "I'll send someone to your office in an hour to collect it. Then, focus on your corporate clients. In a couple months, we can see about you doing some other pro bono project. Maybe you can take on some housing cases like you've done before."

He leaned back in his chair, making it clear the matter was closed. Roland wasn't ready to concede.

"You can't just ..." he began.

"I've got the other partners backing me on this," Bruce said. "I don't want to have to suggest that we consider your overall standing at this firm."

The message was clear. Defeated, Roland rose from his chair and left the office.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Ethan Huntley: junior at Pewter High and Running Back on the school's football team. Lily's ex-boyfriend. Now a student at the University of Texas in Austin.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Bruce Shawcross: senior partner at Roland's law firm and Roland's direct supervisor.

Lauren Dupree: Ethan's girlfriend at the University of Texas in Austin.

Jacob Dupree: Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Lauren's grandfather.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 40
Chapter 14 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

Lily and Marcy sat across from one another in a corner of the library. Through some nearby windows, the sun shone brightly, a strong contrast with the storm a few days earlier.

Reviewing her essay on William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Lily felt a foot rubbing against her shin. She smiled at Marcy, who grinned back. Like the weather, this behavior was a far contrast from their coldness towards one another a week earlier. Memories of their time in the rec room flashed through Lily's mind and she kept smiling.

"What are you thinking about?" Marcy asked in a whisper.

"You," Lily replied, also in a low tone. Apart from the fact they were in a library, they weren't ready to come out with their new relationship.

"I did some research," Lily said.

Marcy raised an eyebrow.

"I still like guys," Lily said. "But I like you, too. So, I suppose that means I'm bisexual."

Marcy gave her an understanding nod.

"I did the same thing when I first began figuring it out about myself," she said. "I can tell you, I am very gay."

She deliberately stared at the sliver of cleavage visible above the neckline of Lily's top. Giggling, Lily raised a hand up over her chest.

"Don't get any ideas," she said. "I'm not ready to show you that much."

Giggling as well, Marcy gave her another understanding nod.

"I have an idea," Lily said, realizing something. "Amanda's having another party this weekend."

"Are her parents ever home?" Marcy queried.

"Nobody reads too much into that. Anyway, we should go. You've seen how these things get. We can hang out together and no one will give us a second glance."

Marcy smiled.

"Sure," she agreed.

"You're not worried?" Lily asked, a little surprised. Marcy had told her all about the boy named Todd Sheridan from her old school in Eagle Pass. Lily cringed when she heard about the bullying that drove the kid to kill himself.

"Not that much," Marcy replied. "You?"

"I'm a little nervous," Lily admitted, "but that's why going to this party is a good idea. We can disappear within that mayhem."

Marcy nodded in agreement. Then, Lily remembered something.

"What about Jeff?" she asked.

"What about him?" Marcy returned.

"He's probably still interested in you. Are you gonna tell him?"

Lily cast a nervous glance around the library. No one was paying attention to their hushed conversation. She wondered how Marcy would ward off Jeff without revealing their relationship.

Across the table, Marcy shook her head, shutting the history textbook she'd been perusing.

"I haven't spoken to him since that afternoon outside the school," she said.

Lily cast another nervous glance around the room.

"Do you think he knows?" she asked.

"I wouldn't know how," Marcy said. "I haven't said anything."

"Me neither. Plus, if he knew, I doubt it'd still be kept quiet."

"Maybe he found someone else to pursue."

Beneath the table, Marcy stretched her leg out again and rubbed Lily's shin with her foot. Lily smiled, unable to focus on her essay. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the skinny, bald custodian wiping some empty tables across the room.

"What's the deal with him?" she asked with a slight wave of her hand in the man's direction.

"He's fine," Marcy replied. "I think he's delayed or something, but he's a nice guy. He's not creepy. His name's Andrew."

Lily nodded, satisfied.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Jeff Edwards: junior at Pewter High and Left Tackle on the school's football team.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 41
Chapter 14 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Three Years Ago:

Andrew Mooruff stared through the van's windows at the many buildings on the grounds of the Polunsky Unit. So many of them were surrounded by high fences and tall towers. They all looked similar with white walls, blue supports, and gray roofs. Many had very narrow windows and Andrew couldn't see inside. He shifted in his seat, his metal restraints rattling as he moved.

"Welcome home," one of the officers in the front of the van remarked.

This did not feel like home to Andrew. They'd driven through the whole night, stopping twice so Andrew and the other passengers could eat and use the restrooms at quiet rest stops. They stopped two more times so the officers, three of them including the driver, could eat and stretch their legs.

There were six other men besides Andrew. No one spoke, the officers having made it clear that silence was a rule on this drive. Three were dropped off along the way at a large structure similar to this place. The sun had risen by the time they'd arrived here.

The van drove past several buildings before it arrived at a gate set apart from the other fenced-in areas. The driver lowered his window and spoke with an officer outside. The officer soon waved the van forward and the gate opened.

They stopped by a door where three more officers were waiting. The driver got out and spoke with them.

"Dropping one off," he said. "Mooruff, Andrew, from Alter County."

Checking a clipboard she was holding, one of the officers nodded. Another officer opened the van's side door and motioned to Andrew.

"Let's go," he said.

With some difficulty, Andrew rose. The officer held onto his arm as he stepped out of the van.

"You guys got time for a smoke break after we get him settled?" one of the waiting officers asked.

"Can't," the driver replied. "Gotta finish this run and get the van to a maintenance garage. TDCJ's got a full calendar and they still want to squeeze in vehicle inspections between runs."

The officer nodded in, understanding the ridiculousness of the contradiction. They all understood the bureaucracy dictating their responsibilities. The administration often didn't understand what they were putting the corrections staff through when they made their decisions.

"Next time," the officer said.

The driver and his colleague left in the van with their other three passengers. Andrew was brought into the building by the three officers. They escorted him into a small office. The female officer with the clipboard left.

"Raise your hand," one of the remaining officers instructed.

Andrew obeyed, but wound up raising both his hands since they were still cuffed together. He also couldn't keep them from shaking.

The officers didn't seem bothered by this. One of them grabbed his hand and pressed his finger against a glass. Andrew remembered a sheriff's deputy doing the same thing when he first went to jail a long time ago. The machine the glass was attached to soon beeped and he saw his own picture on the screen.

"It's him," one of the officers said. The others nodded.

"Let's go," one of them said, turning Andrew around.

They took him to another small room down the hall, where two more officers were waiting. Andrew was startled when they began removing his handcuffs, leg irons, and other restraints.

"Strip," one of the officers instructed.

Andrew stared at him, startled. Did he mean get naked in front of all of them?

"You got a hearing problem?" the officer asked more forcefully. "I said 'strip'."

Understanding he had no choice, Andrew kicked off the shower shoes he'd been given. He then pulled off the beige t-shirt and pants he'd worn in the jail for the past two years. Last went his underwear and he stood there, trying not to blush. At least the woman wasn't there to see him like this.

"Open your mouth," an officer instructed.

Andrew did so and had to resist gagging as the officer stuck a finger, covered by a rubber glove, in his mouth. The officer felt around under his tongue and between his cheeks and gums. He finished with a slight nod.

Andrew was then patted down by another officer who was also wearing rubber gloves. The officer checked his armpits, between his toes, and everywhere else.

"Bend over," the officer instructed. "Touch your toes."

This was becoming more bewildering. Where was there left to look?

Andrew then felt where as his butt cheeks were pulled apart. He shut his eyes, waiting for it to end.

"All clear," someone said.

"Stand up straight," another voice instructed.

Andrew did so and was relieved when one of the officers handed him new clothes, these being white instead of beige.

Author Notes Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 42
Chapter 14 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Warning: this chapter does not contain any objectional language, but some topics the characters discuss might make some readers squeamish (it makes some characters squeamish.)


Roland finished his e-mail and sent it. It was a routine matter regarding one of his clients, a bank, who wanted to buy out a smaller bank in order to expand their own operations. He'd handled this a few dozen times before.

He'd been handling routine matters like this for the past month or so. It seemed Bruce Shawcross had let word get around the firm that Roland should not be charged with important matters which could impact the firm as a whole. Roland was officially blackballed. And, as far as he knew, Andrew Mooruff's case file was still in the firm's storage room where it had been sent after the meeting in Bruce's office. There were no rumors about a new lawyer having been assigned to take up his cause.

Roland sighed. He did not see a way forward for himself. He considered quitting, but he feared the possibility of any future employer being made aware of his alleged misdeeds. At least his salary hadn't been cut, so that was something. But, was keeping his paycheck as is worth a potentially innocent life?

Roland became alert when his phone beeped. He was receiving an internal call, another rare occurrence since his meeting with Bruce about six weeks ago. He picked up the receiver.

"Hello?" he asked.

"Mr. Davis," a woman said. "It's Donna at the reception desk. There's a Corporal David Tokeman from the Highway Patrol here, asking to see you."

Roland became alert, recognizing the name.

"He doesn't seem to have an appointment ..." Donna began.

"I'll be right there," Roland said, already jumping to his feet. Last thing he needed was someone intercepting the corporal and asking questions before he had a chance to speak with him.

* * *

Roland arrived in the firm's main lobby to see the corporal, in full uniform and carrying a battered briefcase, sitting on one of the leather couches. The cop rose as he approached.

"So, this is your world," Corporal Tokeman remarked, looking around the vast and well-appointed lobby.

"Yeah," Roland said. "Come with me."

He led Corporal Tokeman back up to his office, trying to be as quick and inconspicuous as possible along the way. Thankfully, anyone they did encounter was to pre-occupied to notice the law enforcement officer.

"I heard you ruffled some feathers," Corporal Tokeman remarked as Roland shut his office door.

Roland stared at him and the corporal chuckled.

"Texas is not that big," he said. "I've got a friend on the Governor's protection detail. People in Austin talk."

He watched as Roland sat down behind his desk.

"Are you the person I should be coming to about this anymore?" he asked.

"Let me check," Roland replied, logging back into his computer. He pulled up the firm's internal case file directory, which listed every legal matter the firm had ever handled and which lawyer had been or was currently assigned to it. The idea behind this system was to reroute mis-transferred calls and written correspondences to their proper recipient with minimal research needing to be done to correct such mistakes.

Roland typed "Mooruff, Andrew" into the search box and soon found the answer he was hoping for and had half-expected. "Davis, Roland" was still listed as counsel of record for the appellate representation of Andrew Mooruff.

Like many executives, Bruce Shawcross was an ideas guy who relied on people beneath him to handle the necessary logistics. While he'd verbally taken this case from Roland, the computer record showed otherwise and Roland was still Andrew's assigned lawyer. Roland turned back to Corporal Tokeman.

"We're all clear," he announced with a smile. "What can I do for you?"

He saw the corporal now looked troubled.

"I got those lab reports," Corporal Tokeman said, opening his briefcase. "You're not gonna like a bunch of things in them.

He handed Roland a thick stack of papers. Ignoring his visitor, Roland began to read.

The first was a report about a blood sample a paramedic had wiped off Marcy Sellers's chest during the frantic ride to the hospital. Everything looked routine.

The second report noted the blood was typed as O-positive. Roland remembered reading somewhere that Marcy Sellers was B-negative.

The following was a report of a DNA test conducted by the state lab in El Paso. The report showed a 99.9999% chance that the DNA matched that of Andrew Mooruff.

Roland looked at Corporal Tokeman.

"He tried to perform CPR on her," he said. "He's admitted that. He must have cut himself somewhere shortly before then. He's a custodian after all. God knows where they sent him to clean."

Corporal Tokeman shrugged.

"I'm not arguing with you," he said. "And that's not what's got me bothered."

"Where'd they get Andrew's blood anyway," Roland wondered out loud.

"It looks like another paramedic collected a bandage from him," Corporal Tokeman explained. "There's a copy of a warrant in there for it, duly signed by an Alter County District Court judge."

Roland found the paperwork. The tactic had been sly, but legal.

"So, what's got you worried about all this?" the lawyer asked.

"Keep going," Corporal Tokeman encouraged.

Roland flipped through a few more pages and his eyes widened. He looked at the corporal.

"Is this for real?" he asked.

"Looks real to me," Corporal Tokeman said, mirroring his concern.

"I've gotta get my team in here."

Roland reached for his phone.

* * *

To call Janice Cooper and Phillip Decker a "team" was a stretch. Both had been assigned to other, separate matters since Roland's meeting with Bruce Shawcross, though they'd endured much less scorn. Nevertheless, they answered Roland's summons, probably driven by curiosity.

"Are you even allowed to be working on this anymore?" Phillip asked with skepticism.

"Until they tell me otherwise," Roland replied. "You don't have to be a part of this anymore if you're uncomfortable."

"We're here, aren't we?" Janice asked and Phillip nodded in agreement. "What's got you so excited?"

The three of them, along with Corporal Tokeman, were gathered in a small conference room near Roland's office. The corporal had brought all his paperwork, which Janice and Phillip were reviewing. They too soon saw what Roland had seen.

"Jesus," Phillip remarked. "Nineteen milliliters of semen?"

Janice became pale.

"That's what they collected from inside Lilian Harvey," Corporal Tokeman said, seeming to have already overcome any squeamish feelings about this subject. "They collected seven milliliters from Marcy Sellers ..."

"Okay," Janice said, "I'm done eating ... forever."

"... that difference in amounts isn't really surprising. Remember, she was found in a shower stall with water spraying all over her from that broken pipe. And, they would have washed her at the hospital before they took her into surgery. A lot was already gone before anyone actually began collecting evidence. I suppose it was lucky that paramedic collected the blood from her chest."

"I did some research," Roland added, wondering if anyone would ever question him about the current search history on his work browser. "The average man emits approximately one and a half to five milliliters of semen during one ejaculation."

"Are you done yet?" Janice asked.

"You know what this means?"

Everyone nodded.

"The way I see it, you got three scenarios," Corporal Tokeman said. "Number one ... your boy can freeze time in order to recover often enough to leave that much fluid in each of those girls. Let's discount that one right out of the gate. Number two ... he had an accomplice, or several, as this evidence would suggest, whom he's been dumb enough not to name. Given how scared he looked that night after Pewter's Sheriff Darden went a few rounds with him, I doubt those names would have stayed a secret. Number three, the most frightening ... those girls were gang-raped, and your boy had nothing to do with it."

"Tell me the DNA in that semen was tested," Janice said, having recovered enough to focus again.

"Looks like it was run through CODIS," Corporal Tokeman replied, flipping through some pages as he referenced the national Combined DNA Index System run by the FBI. "No matches."

"Who requested these tests?" Phillip asked.

"The sheriff of Alter County, Keith Darden. As I explained, we only handled getting the evidence to the lab in El Paso. The locals have to request the tests and they pick up the tab."

The corporal reviewed the pages again.

"Looks like that sheriff had the DNA from that blood from the one girl's chest run against the blood from that bandage collected from your boy," he said. "Nothing else was compared, but the blood type was listed as A-negative. The semen was typed and determined to be AB-positive, B-negative, O-positive, and A-negative."

"And Alter County would have gotten everything you have?" Janice asked.

"Absolutely. They request the tests and submit the evidence, they get all the results and paperwork related to that. Plus, the lab will supply it for defense attorneys if ordered to do so by the courts."

"Did anyone give such an order?"

"Doesn't look like it."

Janice turned to Roland.

"This could squash the conviction by itself," she said. "This is a blatant Brady violation. The sheriff and the D.A. had a duty to give all this to the defense. Anyone with a brainstem could have destroyed the scenario the prosecution built of Andrew being the lone attacker. Plus, the defense attorney could have asked the judge to order the lab to hand over a copy of those reports."

"We can file a motion," Phillip chimed in. "No judge could deny it. We can get Andrew off Death Row."

"Hold on," Roland said, standing up and waving his hand over the group's heads. "It's a little more complicated than that."

"How?" Janice asked in astonishment. "They withheld evidence. That sheriff, and probably the prosecutor, cherry-picked which of this information they would give to the defense and present to the jury. They built the evidence around their theory and Andrew lost because of it."

"We have more people involved now. The Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, for one thing. We're now dealing with a forty-year career politician who is very popular in this state."

Everyone around the table murmured their concession to this point. Jacob Dupree had been in the Texas House of Representatives for the past twenty-five years, serving as Speaker for the past eight. In the past decade, the lowest number of votes he'd received in his district up north was 70%. A former sheriff and mayor up there, his legacy seemed secured.

"I don't want to risk him wielding any more influence that could hurt this case," Roland said. "From what we can tell here, Andrew's been railroaded from the beginning, and that was without anyone in Austin being involved."

"You think Dupree is involved?" Phillip asked.

Roland shook his head.

"I doubt it," he said. "He probably couldn't find Pewter on a map. But the fact he so quickly and fiercely took action after my talk with Ethan Huntley makes me think the man's granddaughter wasn't the only one exerting their will. Someone doesn't want me finding out something, and my prime suspect for that is Ethan Huntley."

The suggestion didn't receive a shocked reaction. Everyone's replies suggested they'd considered the same conclusion. After all, Ethan was the only person in Speaker Dupree's inner circle who had any connection back to Pewter, let alone the case. Who else in Austin would have a vested interest to see Andrew executed, forever branded as a rapist and murderer of children?

"At this point, I don't doubt that boy had something to do with it," Corporal Tokeman said. "I'm just as sure he fed that girl some strong horse manure to get her running to her grandfather. Heck, he's probably been feeding her that sort of stuff throughout their entire relationship. Your problem is none of what you're currently speculating is illegal. I can't go arresting anyone based on what they might have lied to someone else about, or even if I know for sure they lied about something to someone else."

"Then what do we do?" Janice asked. "We can't sit on this while Andrew sits on Death Row."

"We need that semen tested," Roland said. "Even if Ethan Huntley was involved, he wasn't alone. I figure, based on the amounts recorded in these reports, there were half a dozen people there. Everyone's been holding on to this secret for five years. Someone's bound to crack if we keep prodding."

"What about the problem you mentioned earlier?" Philip pointed out. "What if someone finds out what we're doing? What if someone here figures out you're still working on the case? You had to sign those records out of file storage."

"That's why we need to be subtle," Roland said, his firm tone making it clear there was no other option. "Someone will find out what we're doing soon enough. When that happens, we need to have built such a firm case, they'll have no choice but to let us keep going and finish it. We're not breaking the law here, just messing with politics."

He looked at Corporal Tokeman.

"Can you get this semen tested?" he asked.

Before the corporal could respond, Janice spoke up.

"We need to do it," she said. "We're the ones representing Andrew. If these new tests reveal anything, we need everything to be legit when we take it to court."

Roland sighed, realizing her point. They couldn't go through all this only to have their results be ruled inadmissible as evidence due to incorrect paperwork.

"Okay," he said. "You and Phillip take care of that. Try and find judges who worry more about the format of the documents than their contents and who aren't likely to talk about work outside a courthouse."

Janice nodded and she and Phillip gathered their things.

"You still need me?" Corporal Tokeman asked.

"Yes," Roland said, whirling to face him. "We need to go to Polunsky and then to Pewter. Somewhere in that town are copies of these reports."

He paused, thinking.

"There's something else I need as well," he added. He wasn't a religious view of crime shows, but he knew enough to know one trick ... a trick not too different from the one that paramedic, probably with the Sheriff Darden's blessing, pulled to obtain Andrew's bloody bandage the afternoon of the locker room attack. Roland hoped it would work.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Ethan Huntley: junior at Pewter High and Running Back on the school's football team. Lily's ex-boyfriend. Now a student at the University of Texas in Austin.

Keith Darden: sheriff of Alter County. Personally investigated the locker room attack.

Corporal David Tokeman: as a rookie member of the Texas Highway Patrol, assisted Alter County authorities investigate the locker room attack.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Janice Cooper: junior associate assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Phillip Decker: paralegal assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Bruce Shawcross: senior partner at Roland's law firm and Roland's direct supervisor.

Lauren Dupree: Ethan's girlfriend at the University of Texas in Austin.

Jacob Dupree: Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Lauren's grandfather.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 43
Chapter 15 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

The scene at Amanda's was much like the one from the last party. The games, seeming to legally require the involvement of alcohol, were well underway. People were dancing and unconcerned about how ridiculous they looked in the process. And, every room seemed to serve a party-related purpose, including the small downstairs office.

Feeling an invisible pull towards one another, Lily and Marcy had seized this room not long after their arrival. Locking the door, they settled in on the small couch as music and laughter, combined with the occasional cheers or jeers, blasted through the walls.

Their initial kisses were tentative, much as they had been in the Harvey family rec room during the storm a few weeks ago, but both girls soon grew more comfortable. Now, they were finishing an intense make-out session which left both their hair well-tousled, Lily's blouse unbuttoned far beyond what any school's policy would ever permit, and Marcy's lips covered in red smudges, she not having put on lipstick before leaving her house.

"You're pretty good at that," Lily said, running her hand up Marcy's bare arm. The girl had borrowed a tank top from her for the party and this was Lily's way of complimenting this newly-developing self-confidence.

"You ever do this before?" Lily asked with a grin.

"Once," Marcy said. "At summer camp."

Lily's grin widened.

"You wear one of those cute little uniforms?" she teased.

"Maybe," Marcy replied, grinning as well. She raised her hand and let her fingertips trail along the exposed slither of bra cup revealing itself from beneath Lily's well-unbuttoned blouse.

"Don't hope for seeing more tonight," Lily admonished in a playful tone as Marcy walked two of her fingertips across the exposed part of her breast. She admired this bold side of the petite brunette, though she'd started this by being the initiator, fondling Marcy's chest through her top earlier. For her first girl-on-girl experience, she thought she was doing all right.

Marcy removed her fingers and kissed Lily again before embracing her in a tight hug, almost as tight as the one they'd shared in the middle of that rainstorm.

"I don't need to see more," she said into Lily's shoulder. She pulled away and they smiled at one another.

"I'd like too," Marcy then added, surveying Lily's figure, "someday."

"Someday," Lily agreed.

She sat up straight, closed a few blouse buttons, and straightened her hair.

"We need to talk," she said.

Marcy's smile vanished.

"What kind of 'we need to talk' is that?" she asked in a cautious tone.

"Nothing bad," Lily assured her. "It's just that ... well, Homecoming is coming up fast ... the game, the dance ... all of it. As far as anyone else is concerned, I'm unattached and available. I've been receiving feelers from a few guys."

Marcy grinned, recalling Lily's self-identification as bisexual.

"Not those kinds of feelers," Lily said, grinning as well.

Marcy gave her a slow, understanding nod.

"I've kept them all at bay so far," Lily continued, pushing some more stray blonde strands out of her face. "But, there will be rumors soon enough. I don't know what people will think or if their minds will jump right to me playing with the other team, but rumors will start."

"What do you want to do?" Marcy asked.

Lily let out a long breath.

"Going with a guy would be so simple," she said. "No one would suspect anything about either of us."

Marcy nodded, understanding.

"But," Lily said, "I don't want to do that to you. Plus, it wouldn't be fair to the guy, especially if he's of the decent sort."

Marcy smiled. Lily truly demolished any stuck-up cheerleader stereotype people might consider when first seeing her.

"We could both not go to the dance," Marcy suggested.

"It's an option," Lily agreed, "but we will be missed, or at least, I will.

She gave Marcy a sheepish smile.

"Rumors will start then as well," she added, "and, if someone realizes you weren't there, they might put it together. Homecoming's still very big here."

"It sounds like rumors will start no matter what we do," Marcy concluded.

Lily nodded.

"Either that or someone will be uncomfortable and upset," she added.

"Should we just go together then?" Marcy asked.

Lily stared at her. True, this new, bolder Marcy was attractive, but her suggestion was far beyond any expectations.

"Would you want to do that?" Lily asked.

"Only if you want to," Marcy said. "I just think it would be best if we got out ahead of any rumors."

Lily had to agree with that. Plus, she knew that, if anyone gave her problems, she could take them on. Her cousin was a blackbelt and had taught her a few things.

"What about Todd?" she asked. "What about what happened to him?"

Marcy's eyes lowered to the couch.

"I think there will be problems," she said, "but I also think my mom's right. It is different. My parents are behind me and they'd like you. And, we have each other. Todd didn't have any of that."

Silence passed between the girls as they considered the circumstances of Todd's senseless death.

"Would you tell your parents?" Marcy asked.

Lily considered this. Her parents weren't ultra-conservative or anything, but they were very active in the church and good friends with the pastor, who was definitely homophobic. Lily couldn't be absolutely sure if they would be as supportive as Marcy's parents.

"I'll have to think about it," Lily said. She looked at the office door and the party beyond it.

"We should get out there," she said. "Let ourselves be seen. Otherwise, the rumor mill will start tonight."

Marcy nodded in agreement and began wiping Lily's lipstick off her mouth with a tissue. Both girls then continued straightening their hair.

* * *

Lucas Brown didn't drink much. Oh, he sipped on a beer to look social, but he didn't like being drunk. Drunk people weren't in control, and Lucas liked being in control.

This personal philosophy came in very handy when he was able to fondle a plastered Sasha Parsons out by the pool at the last party. The auburn beauty had looked so tasty in that green bikini and, only half-conscious in a deck chair, hadn't resisted as Lucas ran his hands all over her body.

Though his fingers had been inside her bikini, he hadn't dared to take things further. Tall and lanky, he was on the Pewter High football team as a wide receiver for his running ability rather than his strength and bulk. He couldn't move the semi-conscious girl by himself without looking suspicious and the otherwise oblivious partygoers, while missing the blatant molestation, were more likely to notice outright rape. Still, Lucas had gotten a thrill from touching Sasha. And, staying sober and in control kept him from getting caught.

That had been his highlight of the last party. Lucas was still prowling this soirée when he noticed Lily Harvey and a shorter girl whose name he couldn't recall. He knew she was new to the school this year, but that was it.

The girls were emerging from a side hallway. Lucas knew there were a small den, bathroom, and office down there. Amanda's father was a high-profile psychiatrist or something who sometimes brought work home.

Lucas watched the two girls as they drifted away from one another and mingled with other students. He didn't wonder long about what they were doing off by themselves. He'd seen Lily Harvey's blouse and the button she'd overlooked when she'd obviously redone the whole matter. That, combined with both girls wide smiles and still-tousled hair, put it together for Lucas. He smiled as well, thinking about how he could best use this information. Sooner or later, he'd have to tell Ethan. That boy was sure to go ballistic upon learning his ex was now a muff-diver. Watching that reaction would be delicious.

But Lucas had already lost track of the two girls. That was all right. There was no need to rush. It wasn't like they could undo what he'd seen. Ethan would hear about it soon enough. And, maybe Lucas could first have some fun with the information.

These thoughts were interrupted by someone slamming into Lucas's back. He turned, about to give the rude cretin a piece of his mind for nearly spilling the beer he was holding. He stopped when he saw it was Sasha Parsons. The girl was wearing a tube top and very short shorts with matching sandals this time, but she looked just as sexy. And, she appeared to be almost as drunk. The sole difference was she was still standing now, even if that looked fleeting.

"Sorry," she slurred, seemingly able to tell there was someone in front of her as she continued swaying to the music.

Lucas smiled.

"That's all right," he assured her.

Her responding smile as sloppy as her speech, Sasha kept ... Lucas supposed she thought she was dancing, but gravity threatened to end that. Sure enough, she soon swayed too far, toppling to one side and losing what was left of her drink.

"Wo there," Lucas said, darting forward and catching her. "Easy."

"Thanks," Sasha said, seeming unaware that he had already determined she wasn't wearing a bra.

"That's all right. You should sit down."

Helping her stand upright again, Lucas steered her forward while trying to keep things subtle. He was sober and in control. No one was noticing what was happening as he aided Sasha through one tentative step after another.

"Where are we going?" Sasha asked, sounding more playful than worried.

"I'm gonna take you to sit down," Lucas said, thinking of that couch in the office. He knew he had to hurry as vacant spaces at these parties never stayed vacant for long. Plus, he relished the opportunity to survey the room for more evidence after he finished with his redhead.

"Right this way," he encouraged as Sasha walked with him. "That's good."

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Ethan Huntley: junior at Pewter High and Running Back on the school's football team. Lily's ex-boyfriend.

Lucas Brown: junior at Pewter High and Wide Receivor on the school's football team.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 44
Chapter 15 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Three Years Ago:

After putting on his new, white clothes, Andrew Mooruff was recuffed and given sheets, a thin pillow, and toiletries. Six new officers arrived and took him down several corridors and through several doors. After walking through what felt like a maze, they arrived at an open door.

"Welcome home," one officer said. "Step inside and put your things on the bunk."

Andrew stepped inside, staring at the slab of concrete with the thin plastic mattress on top of it for a full ten seconds before putting his things on top of this setup. He heard the door close behind him.

"Come back," someone said. "Drop to your knees and put your hands through the slot."

Andrew couldn't see the speaker. Still, he obeyed, and his handcuffs were removed.

"Review the rules in the booklet we gave you," the officer said before sliding a metal panel over the slot with a clang.

Andrew looked around what they'd called his "home". It didn't look like a home. The room was as big as the closet where he'd kept his cleaning supplies at the high school. It had one narrow window he could hardly see out of. Apart from his new bed, which didn't look comfortable, there was a sink, a toilet, and a small desk with a square block of concrete in front of it. He supposed this was meant for him to sit on.

Andrew looked around again, thinking about how his home had never been one room before. Then, he heard a voice.

"Hey," it said. "Hey, new guy. You there?"

"H ... hello, Andrew asked, his voice shaking.

He looked around for a third time but didn't see anyone.

"Where are you?" he asked.

The voice laughed.

"I'm next door to you," it said. "Come to your door and put your ear by the crack at the bottom."

Andrew did so.

"What's your name?" the voice asked, sounding clearer now. It sounded similar to Jose from the jail. Was he brought here as well? Andrew hadn't seen him in the van.

"Andrew," he replied.

"I'm Carlos," the voice said. "Welcome to the end of the Earth. What'd you do to wind up here?"

Andrew frowned.

"I didn't do anything," he protested.

Carlos laughed again.

"Yeah," he said, "and I didn't shoot my ex-wife and that cop in what used to be our apartment. Face it ... we're all guilty here. You'll have to get used to it."

Andrew crawled away from the door, having heard enough. Pushing his things aside, he lay on his uncomfortable mattress and stared at the wall, trying not to cry.

He wanted his mama. He wanted Ruby. He just wanted someone to explain to him what was going on.

Glancing at the booklet he'd been given earlier, and which was now lying on the floor, Andrew thought about what the officer had said earlier.

"Review the rules in the booklet we gave you."


Andrew picked up the booklet and flipped it open. The words quickly became incomprehensible and he gave up. How was he supposed to know the rules?

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Carlos Ortega: occupied the neighboring cell from Andrew on Death Row. Convicted of murdering his ex-wife and a police officer.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 45
Chapter 15 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Among the tasks he'd been given, Corporal Tokeman accomplished setting up a visit with Andrew Mooruff at Polunsky first. To keep their activities subtle, Roland had him take the lead on this, arranging the visit under the guise of questioning Andrew about some vague law enforcement matter which didn't require specification.

As a matter of protocol, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice informed Roland, the attorney of record for Andrew Mooruff, that a law enforcement officer was coming to speak with his client. Roland advised prison officials he'd be present for that meeting. Everything was set up in just under two weeks.

* * *

As he parked his car outside of Building 12 at the Polunsky Unit, Roland's phone rang. Glancing at it, he didn't recognize the number. He wasn't even sure where the 516 area code was from. He ignored the call and got out of his car.

Corporal Tokeman was waiting for Roland by his own car. Once inside the building, the two men were led to an interview room by a corrections officer and told to wait. Andrew was soon brought in by three more officers and his handcuffs and leg irons were secured to the bolted-down table in the center of the room.

"Buzz us when you're done," an officer advised as he and his colleagues left and locked the door.

Andrew looked at his visitors.

"My name is Corporal David Tokeman," the state trooper said, sitting across the table from Andrew. "I'm with the Texas Highway Patrol. I believe you know your attorney, Mr. Davis."

He gestured at Roland, who was seated next to him. The setup was not by design. Roland would have liked to sit next to his client to offer comfort, but prison regulations forbade this for fear that weapons or contraband could be passed from hand to hand. The only other option had been for Roland to stand alongside the table, perpendicular to Andrew and the corporal. No chair would be provided for this arrangement and Roland didn't want to intimidate Andrew further by towering over him. So, he made due with the option he was given.

Andrew stared at his attorney.

"You haven't come to see me again," he lamented. "You haven't been here to see me in a long time."

"I'm sorry about that," Roland replied. "I wanted to come again, but something got in the way. I'm here now though."

Andrew nodded and looked at his cuffed hands.

"They took my friend Carlos away," he said. "They took my friend Carlos away a few days ago and I ain't seen him since."

Roland nodded, sure he could guess Carlos's fate.

"Andrew," he said, leaning forward, "I need you to answer this man's questions as best as possible. I think it can really help your case."

Andrew looked up, staring into Roland's eyes. Roland realized he was studying this apparent lifeline being dangled in front of him.

"You can trust me," he offered. "You can trust him too."

Andrew slowly nodded.

"Okay," he murmured.

"Can you tell me what you were doing when you found the girls in the locker room?" Corporal Tokeman asked.

"I was cleaning," Andrew replied. "Most people had gone home after the football game and I was cleaning the bathrooms people came to use when they had to. Mr. Ericson said I could take a break and I listen to my music for a while. He later told me to go and clean the girls locker room because he thought everyone was gone now. I took my cleaning stuff with me and I went to the locker room. I called out like I was supposed to. 'Hello!' I heard no one, but I heard water running. Because I heard no one, I went inside to clean, but I wanted to turn off the water first. Mama always told me not to waste water."

"So, you went to the showers in the back of the locker room?"

"Yes, Sir. That's where I heard the water. I went in there to turn it off so no one could waste the water. I saw the blonde girl lying on the floor. I wanted to run away because she did not have no clothes on. I'm not supposed to look at girls like that. But, I saw she was hurt and wasn't moving. I ran over and tried to help with the CPR, but nothing happened. I could still hear the water running and I knew I needed to stop it."

Corporal Tokeman nodded.

"That's when you found the other girl?" he asked.

"Yes," Andrew confirmed. "The darker-haired one. She was nice to me. She sometimes said 'hello' and stuff to me in the school. I found her lying with her face in the water. I saw the water moving. She was trying to breathe, but you can't breathe in the water."

Roland gave his client an encouraging nod while lamenting how the man's best efforts couldn't prevent Marcy Sellers from slipping into the coma she was still in today.

"I tried the CPR for her," Andrew continued. "I went to find help because I knew I needed help. I found Mr. Ericson in the hallway when he was coming to get me. He was saying he needed my help with something, but I knew I had to tell him, so I interrupted him. Mama said that's rude, but I knew it was important."

"You told him about the girls?" Corporal Tokeman asked.

"Yes. I told him and he ran that way to see. I ran after him and he told me to wait outside. He went in, but he soon came back out and looked sick. He told me not to go back in there. He took his phone out of his pocket and called the sheriff."

Roland recalled Pewter, and Alter County as a whole, never installed a system to use 9-1-1. It was a rare thing to encounter, but some places in the country, usually rural areas, didn't have what many people took for granted even during an emergency. Even today, 9-1-1 still didn't exist and every store window in Pewter had the sheriff's and fire department's number displayed in some corner. Roland could picture the little red-and-yellow squares.

"Did you go back into the locker room again after you brought Mr. Ericson to see what you had found?" Corporal Tokeman asked.

Andrew thought about this before nodding.

"Yes, Sir," he said. "Mr. Morgan asked me to turn off the water. I didn't see Mr. Ericson around and Mr. Morgan said it was okay, so I went back in with him. He works for the sheriff."

Roland needed a moment to recall that "Mr. Morgan" was Alter County Sherriff's Deputy Charles Morgan, the first officer to respond to Ashley Ericson's call for help. He noticed Andrew looking upset.

"I didn't want to see the girls again," Andrew said, shaking a bit. "But, Mr. Morgan said he needed my help, so I tried not to look when I went to turn off the water."

"Andrew," Corporal Tokeman said, "you know they matched your DNA to the girls, right?"

"Yes," Andrew replied. "Sherriff Darden told me that night."

"Your blood was on one of the girls' bodies. Did you cut yourself while you were in the locker room?"

"No, Sir."

Andrew sounded very certain as he said this.

"Did you touch either of the girls in any way besides pulling them out of the water and performing CPR?" Corporal Tokeman asked.

"No, Sir, "Andrew repeated.

Roland could tell his client was becoming nervous. Though the corporal was on their side, his questioning style was still fast-paced. Sure, he wanted to get as much information as possible as quickly as possible, as any cop would, but Roland could see how this approach might be seen as intimidating. He wondered if this was how the sheriff had interrogated Andrew five years ago.

"Can you think of how your blood got on Marcy Sellers's body?" Corporal Tokeman asked.

"No, Sir," Andrew replied.

Roland put a hand on the corporal's arm, pausing the questioning. Across the table, Andrew was taking deep breaths.

"Are you all right?" Roland asked.

Andrew looked at his attorney, but he didn't speak.

"It's all right," Roland assured him. "He wants to help you."

He paused, thinking.

"Andrew," he said, "you had a bandage on your arm that day, right?"

He made sure to speak in a slower, gentler tone than the corporal, who was now watching this exchange.

"Yes, Sir," Andrew said. "Mr. Ericson helped put it on. Later, Sherriff Darden had that man from the ambulance put a new one on after he checked my arm."

Roland again thought about this trick the sheriff had employed to obtain Andrew's DNA for comparison. Why had the paramedic gone along with it?

"How did you cut yourself?" Corporal Tokeman asked, now mirroring Roland's more relaxed tone. "Did that happen earlier that day?"

Andrew nodded.

"Yes, Sir," he said. "It happened earlier that day. I was cleaning under the bleachers before the big game. It's real tight under there. I often hurt my arms and legs. Mr. Ericson tells me to be careful, but it's real tight down there. It's hard."

"So, you cut yourself and Mr. Ericson helped put the bandage on the wound," Corporal Tokeman summarized. "That all happened before the big game that day?"

"Yes, Sir. Mr. Ericson was worried that I would need stitches, but I didn't need stitches."

Andrew sounded more relaxed now that both men across from him were relaxed. Also, being able to give affirmative answers seemed to help. Roland smiled, which caused Andrew to smile.

"Andrew," Corporal Tokeman asked. "Do you think blood from your wound and bandage got onto Marcy Sellers's body when you were trying to perform CPR on her?"

Andrew stared at both men with a blank expression on his face.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Corporal David Tokeman: as a rookie member of the Texas Highway Patrol, assisted Alter County authorities investigate the locker room attack.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 46
Chapter 16 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

Marcy sat in her history class, listening to Mrs. Clancy drone on about the Industrial Revolution or World War I or something in-between those two. "Listening" was maybe too strong a word. She heard her teacher's voice, but the words weren't sinking in. What did it matter? Along with English, she was already at the top of the class in this subject.

Marcy's mind was on the text message she'd received from Lily a couple hours ago.

Let's just go to the dance together. I'll tell my parents everything by then and we'll deal with it together after.

Having gotten this text while in her chemistry class, Marcy fumbled with the beaker she'd been handling. How she stowed her phone away again and prevented any chemical spills before her teacher even noticed what was happening was a miracle she was still trying to understand. But she'd done it. Mr. Kahl had a strict "no phones" policy in his class and he might have demanded to see the message like he'd done to Seth Albright a couple weeks ago when the boy was reviewing the previous night's baseball game with a friend. Seth had been forced to recite the conversation for the whole class which Mr. Kahl had concluded was "so interesting, no one could possibly be able to focus". It wasn't and it unfortunately contained some phrases proclaiming Mr. Kahl's explanations about compounds as "the most boring thing on this Earth".

"It's nice to know you're open to there being other Earths," Mr. Kahl had remarked at the conclusion of Seth's recital of shame.

Though hers would have been shorter, as she had only one message as opposed to a dozen, Marcy knew her own recital would have led to subsequent uncomfortable questions and possible revelations. True, Lily was now open to revealing their relationship, but she wouldn't have wanted it to be announced like that. So, crisis everted.

Marcy had texted Lily back after leaving Mr. Kahl's classroom, agreeing to these arrangements. Now, she was considering how her life would be different once she and Lily were seen dancing together. True, they'd already taken some risks, like making out at Amanda's last party, but no one seemed to know about them so far. That would definitely change at the dance.

Marcy was sure there'd be bullying. How much was difficult to gauge. She was also sure she and Lily would endure blowback from some more conservative teachers. And then, there was Pewter as a whole to consider. This was a small town. Two girls dancing intimately at a school function was sure to make the rounds soon after.

Marcy remembered her mother's words. She did have more support than Todd. And, she and Lily had agreed they'd bear the consequences together. Plus, they'd be gone in a year and a half, earlier if their grades permitted. Pewter had no colleges and hardly any future for anyone. Most kids left after graduating.

Marcy was not thinking that she and Lily would stay together forever, but she did think they'd be linked through the rest of high school. Even if they broke up, it was doubtful either would find a new romantic partner. Lily's newly-discovered bisexuality might improve her options over Marcy's, but it seemed unlikely that any boy or girl would get involved with her after the upcoming Homecoming reveal.

Beneath her desk, Marcy slid her phone out of her pocket. She had to be sure. She texted Lily.

Are you sure you want to do this?

She got a reply less than a minute later. Thankfully, her phone was on silent mode. A chime might actually interrupt Mrs. Clancy's rambling. Marcy glanced at the message.

Are you? We don't have to.

Marcy weighed the options in her head ... certain revelation versus speculation, rumors, and likely ultimate revelation was better. She again reviewed the people in her corner. With them behind her, she could do this. It was best to just get it over with, like pulling a bandage off a wound. A quick, if painful, jerk was better than a long, torturous peel.

Marcy texted Lily back.

Yes, it'll be better this way in the long run.

Again, Lily's reply was prompt. Marcy tried to remember what class she was in as she read the message.

Then I'm still in too. See you after school.

Marcy replied with a smiley face and smiled as well as she slid her phone back into her pocket.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 47
Chapter 16 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Three Years Ago:

Lunch was served about an hour after Andrew Mooruff's arrival on Death Row. An officer passed a brown bag through the slot in the cell door. Curious, Andrew took the bag and ripped it open as though it were a present.

Inside were two thin peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a small bottle of water. Having not eaten since sometime last night, Andrew scarfed everything down in under two minutes. He was still hungry afterwards.

During the afternoon, Carlos next door seemed to realize Andrew's inability to read the rulebook they were all given upon their arrival.

"You kind of slow, ain't you?" he asked after Andrew inquired about what he ought to do with his garbage.

Laughing, he nonetheless read and explained the book's contents. He even answered Andrew's questions along the way, if he felt they were worth answering.

"You only gotta remember the one most important rule in this place," he finished. "Don't tick off the guys on the other side of your door."

Andrew stared at his cell door for a long time, wondering how he ought to know who was on the other side. He thought about Carlos, whom he had yet to actually see, and wondered what he looked like. He sounded a lot like Jose from the jail. Did they also look a lot alike?

Dinner came a few hours later. The officer sliding the tray through the door's slot said Andrew was lucky.

"Macaroni and cheese tonight," he said. "A welcome meal just for you."

He slid the panel back over the slot without another word.

Andrew looked at his tray. The orange-and-white glob didn't look like any macaroni and cheese he'd ever eaten. He remembered Mr. Ericson talking about how bad the food at the school was, but Andrew thought that looked a lot better than what he was given in this place. The roll on the tray looked and felt like a rock. Taking a careful bite, Andrew was relieved it wasn't a rock, though it still didn't taste good.

Andrew could hear Carlos next door. He was calling to someone and they were speaking with one another, but Andrew couldn't understand what they were saying.

"Hey, new guy!" Carlos said after a minute. "Watch your feet."

Confused, Andrew looked down as two small packets slid in beneath his door and hit his right foot. He bent down to pick them up.

"Ketchup packets from the commissary," Carlos explained. "My man Efrain across the way helped ricochet them from me to you."

"Eh ... thanks," Andrew said, staring at the small, lumpy white packages. There wasn't anything written on these like the ones at McDonald's.

"They're for that so-called food they're giving us," Carlos added and Andrew looked around, wondering if the man could see him. "Put them both on the mac and cheese. It won't be anything great, but you'll stop gagging as you swallow."

Considering how much Carlos had already helped him, Andrew did as he was told. The macaroni and cheese seemed to smell a little better with the ketchup on it.

"Pay me back as soon as you can," Carlos said. "I'd give you some tabasco sauce if they let us have that stuff."

Andrew could hear Carlos and a second man laughing. Was that Efrain? Where was he?

* * *

Not long after dinner was delivered, an officer arrived and demanded Andrew's tray and garbage. Remembering what Carlos had told him about the rules, Andrew slid everything through as quickly as he could.

"You learn fast," the officer remarked and slid the panel over the slot shut.

An hour later, Andrew heard movement outside his cell again. Muffled voices seemed to surround him, but he couldn't see anyone.

"Hey, new guy!" Carlos called. "Quick. Look under your door. It's happening!"

Andrew looked through the thin space beneath his door in time to see several pairs of feet walking by. One pair had on the same shower slippers he'd been given with his new clothes that morning. All the other feet had on thick boots.

"See you later, Adolph!" Carlos chortled as other men jeered.

The chatter died down soon after Andrew lost sight of the feet.

"Hey, Carlos?" he asked. "Who was that?"

"Nathan Lindcoy," Carlos explained. "A real gift from god ... about on the same level as those turds in your toilet ... okay, maybe a bit lower than those. He's a white supremacist, but even they can't stand him."

"Where's he going?"

"Observation. That's where they take you forty-eight hours before your date. About time. He's been here eight years. You know what he did?"

Andrew had no idea what Carlos was talking about. He decided to admit this, seeing as how nice Carlos had been to him.

"No," he said.

"He grabbed a ten-year-old girl while she was out rollerblading with her friends," Carlos said. "Snatched her up right there on the street in Amarillo, in front of a dozen people, and it still took the cops most of the afternoon and night to find him. By then, he'd taken her to his house. I'll tell you this ... they didn't have a tea party there. When he was done with her, he cut her body up and dropped the pieces across three counties before a state trooper got him. They never did find everything ... they found plenty to get him sent here, but not everything."

Andrew was quiet, trying to make sense of all this. Was Carlos saying that the man whose feet he'd just seen had cut up a little girl? Andrew felt sick. Why would such a man have a tea party with the girl? But Carlos had said they hadn't had a tea party. It was all very confusing.

"Thursday's his date," Carlos said. "I hear that little girl's mama will be there, looking through the window at him. I wonder what he'll say when the warden asks him for his last words."

He muttered something in his other language, and then there was a long pause. Then, Carlos chuckled.

"Come to think of it," he said, "you arrived here this morning. Now, Adolph's on his way out. Guess it kind of is 'out with the old, in with the new'."

He laughed and Andrew could hear Efrain laughing as well across the way. Andrew couldn't tell what was so funny. Instead, it all felt so Erie and chilling.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Carlos Ortega: occupied the neighboring cell from Andrew on Death Row. Convicted of murdering his ex-wife and a police officer.

Efrain: occupied a cell across from Andrew on Death Row. Convicted of robbery and murder.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 48
Chapter 16 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


To make their differences in salary less apparent, Roland flew in economy class alongside Corporal Tokeman. Neither man acknowledged if it actually made a difference. For Roland, it was definitely a tighter squeeze.

"Sorry I was hard on your boy back at the prison," the corporal said. "I'm not used to being on your side of the law and all that."

Roland nodded, deciding to forget the matter.

"Do you believe him?" he asked, feeling more convinced himself.

"I suppose I do," Corporal Tokeman said. "But there's a problem."

Roland groaned. What else could take a punch at this case?

"Your boy's got a problem with time," Corporal Tokeman explained. "That friend of his he mentioned ... Carlos."

"Yeah," Roland said. "Andrew said he was executed a few days ago. At least, I assume that's what he meant."

Corporal Tokeman shook his head.

"Impossible," he said. "I double-checked to make sure. Texas has executed eleven men so far this year, already higher than the last three years. Only one was named 'Carlos'. Carlos Ortega was executed almost two months ago, not a few days ago."

Roland suddenly remembered a colleague of his, Michael Ellis, mentioning the upcoming execution of a cop killer when both men had been getting coffee. That happened on the same morning Bruce Shawcross first gave him Andrew's case, almost two months ago ... not a few days ago.

"I don't keep track of these things," Corporal Tokeman was saying, "but the man ambushed and killed his soon-to-be ex-wife and a San Antonio officer who was accompanying her to their former apartment to pick up a few things. That's why I recognized the name when your boy said it. I remember when the cop killers go ... anyone with a badge in Texas remembers that sort of thing. You'll see many of them outside the prison in Huntsville whenever it happens."

"So, you believe Andrew cut himself when he was cleaning underneath the bleachers before the Homecoming game?" Roland asked. "He later got the blood from that injury onto Marcy Sellers's body while trying to perform CPR."

"It makes sense."

Roland sighed and closed his eyes.

"We just can't prove it," he said.

"Which is why I'm hoping this sheriff has something good to share," Corporal Tokeman said.

Roland nodded in agreement, hoping the expense of booking this last-minute flight to El Paso would be worth the "big thing" Alter County Sherriff Aaron Waller was promising. Even economy class cost a lot when booked two hours before the plane was scheduled to leave. But the sherrif was being careful, using a number Roland had never seen before, to contact him twice after Roland ignored the first call and answered the second due to curiosity.

* * *

As they approached Pewter in their rented SUV, Roland called Janice. She'd texted him during the flight, saying she'd filed the subpoena for the lab reports that morning.

"They said it'll take about six weeks for them to get everything together," she reported over the phone. "I don't think they'll give us any grief about it."

"They've got no reason to," Roland concurred. "How are things at the office?"

"Pretty quiet, relatively speaking. Luckily, this place is so big and busy, it's hard for anyone to keep track of what their neighbor is working on, let alone anyone else. I don't think we got any funny looks yet."

Roland smiled. In addition to his instructions to find judges who were professional and not chatty, Janice had come up with the idea to leave out any names in court documents and to simply insert Andrew's case number as needed. If a judge were curious enough and had that sort of free time, he could look it up and see that everything was still in order.

"It's hard to imagine any judge would take that kind of time in this overloaded system we've got," Janice had said.

Roland agreed. Judges not only looked to attorneys to guide them to the purpose of their requests in order to decide whether to grant it with minimal effort, they also looked to lawyers to provide all needed information to prevent their being bogged down by doing the necessary research themselves. As long as no one opposed any of their requests and raised uncomfortable questions, Roland's team wouldn't encounter any problems.

"I'll call you back after we speak to the sheriff," he said into the phone as Corporal Tokeman made a sharp left turn.

* * *

Alter County Sherriff Aaron Waller met Roland and Corporal Tokeman at the front entrance of the Sherriff's Department.

"Thanks for coming," Sherriff Waller said. "When I found them, I was so shocked. I mean, I knew this place had problems. That's why I ran for sheriff against Keith Darden. But I never imagined ... well, come with me."

Without saying another word, he led them inside, through the small squad room with its half-dozen desks, and into his office. As he was shutting and locking the door, Roland saw the stack of papers on his desk.

"Are those the lab reports?" he asked, wondering if this was why the sherrif had called him through an app. On his phone that gave him the mysterious 516 number. There was obviously something he didn't want traced back to him.

"Yeah," Sherriff Waller said, sounding defeated. "Couple of deputies and I found them in a box in the back of our file room here."

Roland and Corporal Tokeman stared at him.

"Don't worry," Sherriff Waller said. "I picked deputies I could trust. Even so, I don't think they have any idea about the meaning of what we've found."

Roland picked up the reports. These copies bore a stamp, indicating when they were received by the Alter County Sherriff's office after the tests were completed.

"I wonder how much will overlap once I double-check the evidence list from the trial," he remarked.

"I need to take custody of all that," Corporal Tokeman said. "I need to take it back to our barracks in El Paso and call the State Attorney General. This could turn into a serious case against this office. It might even involve the feds."

Sherriff Waller threw up his hands.

"By all means," he said. "I ran for this job to change things. If that means having this place looked at closer than a prostrate, I'll let you do it."

Corporal Tokeman then noticed a few stacks of boxes against one wall.

"What's all that?" he asked.

"Other stuff we found back there," Sherriff Waller replied. "I was going through it while waiting for you to get here. Most of it's old, closed cases, but there was some other stuff. One file was about a sixteen-year-old girl who reported being raped at some sort of high school party. It looks like the case never went anywhere and just got filed away when it went cold."

He paused, thinking.

"Her rapist bit her," he said to no one in particular. "He bit her during the attack. There are photos in the file that a nurse took at the hospital. He bit her on her breast. Saliva was found, collected, and sent to the lab, but there were no hits in CODIS."

He looked at Roland and Corporal Tokeman.

"Those girls," he said. "Five years ago. They were both bitten too, right?"

Roland nodded, remembering the photos and accompanying reports. No need to keep those hidden.

"Several times," he said.

"I'll need to go through all that and determine if there is anything else I need to take to El Paso," Corporal Tokeman said, gesturing at the wall of boxes.

The three men stared at the dozen or so cartons.

"Marge down the street makes great coffee and doughnuts," Sherriff Waller offered.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Keith Darden: sheriff of Alter County. Personally investigated the locker room attack.

Corporal David Tokeman: as a rookie member of the Texas Highway Patrol, assisted Alter County authorities investigate the locker room attack.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Janice Cooper: junior associate assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Phillip Decker: paralegal assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Aaron Waller: sheriff of Alter County. Defeated/succeeded Sheriff Keith Darden.

Carlos Ortega: occupied the neighboring cell from Andrew on Death Row. Convicted of murdering his ex-wife and a police officer. Executed for his crimes.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 49
Chapter 17 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

It took serious restraint for Marcy and Lily to hide their new relationship from Amber and Cassidy, especially when the four of them ate lunch together. Marcy wasn't sure what Lily had told the other girls about her temporary banishment from the group, but the cover story must have worked, given the girls never acknowledged this absence having ever existed.

Today turned out to be an easy day to keep secrets. Amber was being very accommodating and dominated the conversation.

"Ethan asked me to Homecoming!" she squealed as soon as everyone was seated and ignoring the odd-smelling Macroni & Cheese.

By her excitement, Marcy would have thought Ethan had proposed marriage.

"Good for you," she offered.

"I'm so excited," Amber went on, "I just want to cut the rest of school right now so I can figure out what to wear."

"I'm sure your parents will go for that," Lily said with a chuckle. "Remember what happened last time?"

Amber pouted in response.

"Did you two actually hook up at Amanda's party?" Cassidy asked.

Marcy's heart skipped a beat before she realized Cassidy was addressing Amber.

"Maybe," Amber said with a coy smile.

Even Marcy had heard the varying gossip which suggested the couple had had sex at the party or locked themselves in a room to allow a rumor to start about them doing it. At this point, either version seemed plausible, given the legit and ludicrous evidence the student body had to offer.

"It doesn't matter," Amber said. "He asked me and I, of course, said 'yes'. We are going to be the hit of the Homecoming Dance."

Lily and Marcy exchanged a look. They knew their dating would eclipse Ethan and Amber. Both girls wondered how Amber would take it.

"Lily," Amber then said, "who are you going with? Rumor says you haven't picked yet."

That was sort of true. Lily was still being pursued by potential suitors and was still trying to be vague but tactful as she dismissed them.

"Not sure yet," Lily said. "It's a big night. I want to do everything right."

Marcy smiled, catching the hidden meaning.

"Well," Amber said, clearly oblivious, "first thing is always your clothes. How did that pink dress you bought over the summer look on you. I bet it'd be hot."

Marcy's mind spun like the dials of a slot machine as she tried to visualize this garment.

"I think it's pretty hot," Lily agreed with a coy smile as she noticed Marcy's wide eyes. "Maybe I want something I can easily slip in and out of."

She bit her lip to keep from laughing as Marcy tried to disguise the possibility she was having a heart attack.

* * *

"Sorry about that earlier," Lily said as she and Marcy lagged behind the other students leaving the cafeteria. "I couldn't resist."

"Did you mean any of it?" Marcy asked.

"Maybe," Lily replied, sounding less coy this time. "Do you want to see that pink dress?"

Marcy hoped her nods didn't look too eager.

"Then you gotta look hot too," Lily insisted. "Maybe then, people will be too busy undressing us with their eyes to realize we're dating."

Marcy chuckled.

"And what did you mean about wanting something you can slip off easily?" she queried.

Lily took a deep breath and let it out.

"I'm not sure yet," she said. "Maybe something will happen, but I make no promises. Either way, it'll be a big night."

Marcy nodded.

"Do you know yet how you'll tell your parents?" she asked as they left the cafeteria.

Lily exhaled again.

"I don't know yet," she said. "Your head isn't the only one that's spinning."

"Do you want me to help you?" Marcy asked.

Lily shook her head.

"I gotta do this on my own at first," she said. "I'll figure out when to introduce you. I promise."

"Sure."

They reached the corner. Lily would continue straight to Photography while Marcy would veer right to Creative Writing.

"I'll see you later," they said in unison and burst out laughing.

* * *

From down the hallway, Jeff watched the two girls as they laughed about having jinxed one another. Sitting on a bench, he kept watching as they split up, promising to meet up after school. He doubted Lily would notice him, even as she was headed his way. Sure, she was nice, but everyone was wrapped up in their own world at times. And, Jeff was quiet and easy to miss, despite his bulk.

Sure enough, Lily walked right by him as he pretended to read. He watched as she turned and entered the school's Photography classroom. Yeah, she was pretty, but Jeff had liked Marcy better. There was something about her shy, quiet demeaner and her intelligence that did it for him.

But now, Marcy was with Lily and he'd lost his chance. In fact, he never even got his chance.

Jeff fumed, wondering what he ought to do when he heard chuckling. He looked up to see the tall, lean figure of Lucas approaching. Jeff's eyes narrowed. While he might be the sort of wide receiver any football coach would dream about having, Lucas Brown was a creep in every other aspect of his life. Rumors of leering, lude comments, and suggestive behavior stuck to him like flypaper.

"Didn't know they were having the remedial classes out here now," Lucas remarked, still chuckling.

"What do you want?" Jeff asked, trying to make it clear he was in no mood to talk or joke.

"You were watching those girls," Lucas remarked. "So was I. Saw them from the other hallway. Not the first time. I'm sure the same goes for you."

Jeff frowned. How could this creep be so perceptive?

"Those ladies definitely got something going on," Lucas said in a low voice. "It might look hot. In fact, I'm sure it does. But, it's just wrong by any standards of common decency."

Jeff nodded. Maybe the creep had a point.

"Those girls need to understand the way things work," Lucas continued. "And, maybe you and I, based on what we've seen and concluded, are the best men to teach them."

"What do you mean?" Jeff asked, his eyes narrowing again.

Lucas waved his hand through the air.

"I haven't finalized anything," he said. "Just some ideas percolating up here."

He tapped the side of his head, adding "you and me ... we should talk more sometime soon."

"Hey!" someone barked.

Both boys turned to see Ms. Crawford, the auto shop teacher, coming down the hallway.

"What are you two still doing out here?" she demanded. "Get to class, now."

"Sorry," Lucas said. "Lost track of time."

"Yeah," Jeff added. "Sorry."

Lucas looked back at Jeff.

"Let's talk again real soon," he said in a whisper. "I've got some things to organize."

He walked away and Jeff vacated his seat on the bench as quickly as possible, Ms. Crawford still glaring at him.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Amber Rose: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Cassidy Ada: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Ethan Huntley: junior at Pewter High and Running Back on the school's football team. Lily's ex-boyfriend.

Jeff Edwards: junior at Pewter High and Left Tackle on the school's football team.

Lucas Brown: junior at Pewter High and Wide Receivor on the school's football team.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 50
Chapter 17 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Two Years Ago:

Now on Death Row for a year, Andrew Mooruff had adjusted to the routine, though Carlos's tutelage had helped. And, Efrain sometimes chimed in. Both men were nice.

Andrew was making the best of his hour out in the solo exercise enclosure. With help from his mama and the few friends they still had, he was able to scrape together some money to buy things from the prison's commissary, including plenty of ketchup.

"Ketchup makes everything here taste better," Carlos always remarked when he helped fill out the order form.

His mama, Angela, visited once a month. Andrew wished she could come more often, but he learned how long a trip it was for her, so he understood and was glad for what he could get. Their pastor also came once, offering prayers. Andrew appreciated that and wished the man would come again.

He was surprised when a corrections officer slid open the panel over the slot in his door.

"On your feet, Mooruff," the officer said. "You've got a visitor."

Rising, Andrew considered this. His mama had come last week, hadn't she? He wasn't expecting anybody else, right? Was it one of his sisters? They didn't come often because they lived even farther than their mama, but it'd be nice to see them.

Or maybe, just maybe, it would be Ruby. Andrew hadn't seen her in so long and he felt his heart race at the thought of her.

"Let's go, Mooruff," the officer outside the door said.

Remembering Carlos's most important piece of advice, Andrew understood what he had to do. He did it every day. He turned around and stepped back towards the cell door. Dropping down to his knees, he stuck his hands through the open slot. He felt the handcuffs tightening around his wrists like always.

"Back on your feet," the officer said after checking that the cuffs were secure.

Andrew rose again and turned to face the door as it opened.

"Step forward," the officer said.

Andrew stepped out of his cell. The officer and two others, all wearing jackets, helmets, and face shields as usual, surrounded him before he was allowed to walk down the corridor.

They took him to a room he'd never seen before. It was small and he could only get to half of it. A counter and a sheet of glass prevented him from reaching the other side, where a woman was sitting.

She was white like most people Andrew knew, and very pretty. She had long, dark-blonde hair and dark, blue eyes. She was wearing a white sweater and ... Andrew couldn't see what else because of the counter in the way.

"Sit on the bench," one of the officers instructed.

Andrew did so. The officers then left, and he heard the door behind him shut with a bang.

He looked through the glass. The woman was now holding a phone and pointing. She had pink nail polish on her nails. Andrew stared until she began moving her finger.

Realizing she was pointing at something to his right, Andrew looked and saw another phone on a hook next to the glass. He picked it up and held it to his ear.

"Hello," Andrew," the strange woman said. "My name is Samantha Rossi. I'm a lawyer from Houston. I've been assigned to represent you in the appellate process."

Andrew was already lost. She sounded nice, but how did she know his name? He didn't recognize her. This was creepy.

"Are you all right?" Samantha Rossi asked.

"Yeah," Andrew replied, trying to grasp onto anything she'd said which made sense. "You said you're my lawyer?"

"Yes," Samantha Rossi replied with her nice smile.

Andrew's eyes then shifted down and he noticed the large bulges in her sweater. His heart raced. Every two months since he got here, a nurse spoke to him, asking if he was doing okay. He'd seen little of her through the slot, but he'd thought she looked pretty. Samantha Rossi put the nurse to shame. Her chest was definitely bigger.

"Andrew?" Samantha Rossi asked, still sounding nice.

"Yes?" Andrew replied, startled as he looked at her face again.

"I was saying I am your lawyer."

Andrew was confused again.

"I have a lawyer," he said. "Mr. Baxter went to court with me every day."

he was wondering when he'd see Mr. Baxter again. He also noticed Samantha Rossi frowning. That didn't look as nice.

"Mr. Baxter isn't your lawyer anymore," Samantha Rossi said. "I am now your lawyer."

"Okay," Andrew said, having no idea how that happened.

"I'm going to review the trial transcript and all related documents this week. Then, I will file your appeal with the Court of Criminal Appeals. I'll probably point out the mistakes at your trial. There are some suspicious holes in the transcript, especially when the jury was deliberating during the guilt phase. Also, I want to look at all the evidence and see how it was handled and tested. I'll be reaching out to the lab in El Paso for documents. Do you understand how all this works?"

Andrew felt safe enough to be honest.

"No," he admitted.

Samantha Rossi showed him her nice smile again.

"An appeal is two-fold," she explained. "First, I have to prove a mistake was made ... some deviation from how things should have been done. Then, I have to prove that this mistake was so serious, it impacted the jury's thinking and their ultimate guilty verdict and their recommendation to send you here."

Andrew nodded, having no idea what she was saying. She was just so pretty to look at.

"How about I come see you again in two weeks?" Samantha Rossi suggested. "I'll give you a progress report."

"Okay," Andrew said eagerly.

Samantha Rossi laughed. Even that sounded so nice.

"It's settled then," she said. "I'll be back in two weeks with a progress report. Do you need anything else? Some money? Snacks, maybe?"

Andrew wasn't sure what to say.

"Think about it," Samantha Rossi encouraged. "I left my number with the corrections officers. Just tell them you want to talk to your lawyer on the phone and they'll have to give you the number."

Andrew nodded again.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Carlos Ortega: occupied the neighboring cell from Andrew on Death Row. Convicted of murdering his ex-wife and a police officer.

Efrain: occupied a cell across from Andrew on Death Row. Convicted of robbery and murder.

Samantha Rossi: attorney from Houston who specialized in death penalty cases. Handled Andrew's appeals before a hurricane destroyed her home and office. Returned home to Oaklahoma after the storm.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 51
Chapter 17 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


"Come on," Lauren insisted. "I hear this club is awesome."

Ethan smiled as they approached her car. Any reason for her to put on her "clubbing" attire was fine with him. Lauren usually relaxed her inhibitions after having a good time and a few drinks, so there was another benefit to come.

"Why'd the professor want you to stay late anyway?" Lauren queried.

"It's no big deal," Ethan said, popping a piece of gum into his mouth. "He just had a friend who knew someone who had an opening in the Senator's office."

Lauren smiled.

"That is a big deal," she insisted. "You already might have a job offer while you still have a semester left. I'm so proud of you."

Ethan nodded, chewing on his gum. He figured that was a better story than the professor expressing his disappointment in the quality of Ethan's most recent paper. What did it matter? Ethan had passed, so why was the professor bothering with this lecture? After all, he had it made. Lauren's family was loaded. He'd get some do-nothing job in her father's company or within her grandfather's circle, marry her, and life would be set.

"Let's hurry," Lauren insisted. "The lot was full, so I'm not really parking legally."

Sure enough, she'd left her car by the curb. There were no lines marking a parking space to be seen. But the couple could see an Austin police cruiser nearby, the officers inside staring back at them.

"Let's go," Lauren said. "I think they'll give us a chance to get out of here without giving us a ticket."

Ethan nodded and move towards the passenger side door.

"Hold it," Lauren said. "You know I don't like gum in the car."

Ethan supposed she had a point. The Mercedes was nice, drawing the envy of many fellow students across the UT campus.

Shrugging, he spit his gum out onto the sidewalk and got in, ignoring the disgusted look on his girlfriend's face.

* * *

Around 6:00, Roland and Corporal Tokeman decided to take a break. They were two-thirds of the way through the boxes and Sheriff Waller had already excused himself to head home for dinner with his wife, promising to be back in an hour or so.

Feeling hungry, Roland suggested the men head to Gately's, the diner near the high school. Of all of Pewter's eateries, he knew it the best, though not by much. Still, the corporal agreed, and they headed out.

Gately's was bustling with the dinner crowd, but the men located an empty booth. Someone had already paid for a long playlist on the jukebox, so Roland didn't bother adding his own choices to the cue.

To his astonishment, Emily appeared at their table, back in her yellow and blue waitress uniform. How did she manage to make that thing look good?

"What'll it be, gentlemen?" Emily asked, trying not to let her eyes widen too much when she realized she was looking at Roland.

"Two ginger ales," Corporal Tokeman said as Roland was clearly unable to speak.

"Coming right up," Emily said and quickly darted away.

Corporal Tokeman looked at Andrew.

"Something I ought to know?" he queried.

"It's a long story," Roland replied.

"That's fine. I just want to know if I'm going to need to resuscitate or arrest one of you tonight. You both look like you were standing on electric panels and someone flipped a switch."

"Like I said, it's a long story."

Emily soon returned with their Ginger Ales.

"You ready or do you want to peruse the menu some more?" she asked. She was more composed now, and she was deliberately addressing the corporal.

"I'm good to go," Corporal Tokeman said. "I'll have the chicken fingers with onion rings and salsa on the side."

"And you?" Emily asked, her friendliness washed away as she turned to face Roland.

Roland realized he hadn't even looked at the menu. His mind raced to the only item he remembered.

"The double cheeseburger with bacon," he said.

"Sure," Emily said coolly.

She walked away and Roland jumped to his feet.

"Emily," he said, following her.

She was almost to the kitchen door before she stopped and whirled around to face him.

"So, you remember my name," she hissed.

"I'm sorry," Roland said, trying to keep his voice down so nearby diners couldn't overhear. "I meant to call. It's just ... the case ... there were some complications ... it got away from me. I'm sorry. I didn't want this to happen."

His ability to summarize and be direct, drilled into him throughout law school and years of corporate practice, now failed him. Then again, how was someone, even a lawyer, supposed to explain a two-month silence?

Emily glowered at him.

"Well, don't worry about it anymore," she said, her tone icy. "And, don't come back here again after tonight. Now, I have to work. As you can see, there are plenty of people here tonight."

She whirled around again and shoved her way through the door. Roland returned to his booth.

"I get the strong feeling I shouldn't be asking to try any of your food tonight," Corporal Tokeman remarked.

Roland was formulating a reply when his phone rang.

"Yeah?" he asked, grateful for the distraction.

"Hey," Janice said. "You know Ethan Huntley was on the Pewter High football team, right?"

"Yeah," Roland said. "What about it?"

"If we're figuring these girls were gang-raped and no one has said a word about it in the past five years, that's got to be a close-knit group, right?"

Roland was starting to see where she was going with this, but he let her continue.

"What's more close-knit than a sports team?" Janice asked. "And in the fall in Texas, nothing beats football, right? Plus, who would give a football player, or more than one, a second glance near the locker rooms? The boys' and girls' rooms were adjacent to one another at that school."

"I like what you're saying," Roland said, "but did you just call to speculate?"

"We did some digging on every football player on the team that year to see what they've been up to since then. A few minor things came up, like speeding and parking violations, but two big things stuck out ... I'm talking sore-thumb levels here."

Despite the sting from Emily's recent rebuke, Roland felt himself becoming excited. Across the table, Corporal Tokeman was watching him with curiosity.

"Okay ..." Roland said. "What?"

"The first is Lucas Brown, a former wide receiver," Janice said. "He went from high school to the custody of the TDCJ. The summer after he graduated, he was arrested for kidnapping, assault, and attempted rape. Apparently, he went after a seventeen-year-old girl while he was visiting his uncle on the Gulf Coast. He's two and a half years in on a forty-year stretch."

Roland's heart raced, remembering what Sheriff Waller had earlier disclosed about that open rape case here in Pewter. That girl had been sixteen. He wondered about the specifics of the Gulf Coast case. Had that girl been bitten?

"What's the other thing?" he asked.

"Another player, Jeffrey Edwards," Janice replied. "Apparently, he developed a heroin addiction. He got an Associates Degree at El Paso Community College, and his life has spiraled downward ever since. He's now at a rehab clinic in El Paso ... court-ordered after he tried to buy the stuff from an undercover cop."

Roland couldn't believe it. Still, he knew exactly what he needed to do.

"Thanks," he said with a grin. "Go home. I'll call you tomorrow."

He ended the call and relayed everything to Corporal Tokeman in a hushed whisper. By the end of his narrative, the corporal was grinning as well.

"Do you have to talk to the Attorney General's office as soon as possible?" Roland asked.

"What do you have in mind?" Corporal Tokeman replied as Emily approached with their food.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Ethan Huntley: junior at Pewter High and Running Back on the school's football team. Lily's ex-boyfriend. Now a student at UT in Austin.

Sergeant Joseph Hillstrand: member of the Texas Highway Patrol. Assisted Alter County authorities investigate the locker room attack. Now retired.

Lauren Dupree: Ethan's girlfriend at the University of Texas in Austin.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 52
Chapter 18 - During Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

"I gotta go," Marcy insisted, but her father snapped another photo and she saw spots again. Why were her parents so insistent on capturing the moment she left the house in jeans and a blouse baring the school colors, red with black stripes?

"How often is our daughter excited about going to see her friends at a football game?" her mother had pointed out what now seemed like a while back.

True, this was the first time that Marcy was ever going to a football game, but did they have to make such a big deal out of it?

"I'll be back afterwards anyway," she pointed out. "I have to change for the dance ..."

Her mother began gushing again and she was sure she was doomed to more picture-taking later.

"Do you need some money for snacks?" her father asked. "I'm sure they'll be stadium prices."

Marcy had no idea what he meant by "stadium prices".

"I've got some," she assured him. "I really gotta go now."

Some miraculous being somewhere convinced her parents to release her and Marcy dashed out the door.

"Have fun!" Valerie called after her. "Call us if you need anything!"

"Go Robins!" Burk added with a fist-pump.

Marcy gave them a final wave as she darted off down the street.

* * *

"Bye!" Lily called. "I gotta go! I'm really late!"

"Hang on!" her father called back from the kitchen. "I'll drive you."

"No, it'll be quicker if I just run right now."

Plus, Lily needed time to think. She hadn't told her parents yet, and she didn't have much time left.

"I'm gone!" she called.

"Bring us to victory!" her mother called back, dashing into the foyer as Lily pulled the door closed behind her. She hoped her daughter had heard that.

"Jordan!" she called. "We should get going. We don't want to be late for the game."

"I'm coming," Jordan insisted. "I'm coming."

* * *

The crowd erupted as the first points of the game were scored.

"Touchdown, Pewter!" the announcer called over the speakers. "Number eight, Lucas Brown! Assisted by number twenty-two, Jonathan Lane, and number fourteen, Nathan Grisham!"

"Go Pewter!" the cheerleaders chanted. "Go Pewter! GOOO, PEWTER! Robins!"

They got their own wave of appreciative cheers as they waved their pom-poms in celebration of the touchdown.

Sitting in the stands, Marcy watched them. She'd already spotted Amber, Cassidy, and, of course, Lily. She'd seen them all practicing before and after school, but this was different. Lily looked stunning in red and black. Maybe it wasn't too late to convince her to switch from that pink dress she'd promised.

Marcy's heart raced. The Homecoming Dance was just hours away now and she was both anticipating and dreading it. Literally anything could happen, and she'd played out all the scenarios in her head. But, she reminded herself to stay calm. Lily would be there. Her parents would be there if anything happened. She would be fine.

Marcy shut her eyes and took a few deep breaths.

"You okay there?" someone asked.

Surprised, Marcy opened her eyes and turned to see a man looking at her. He was probably someone's father ... maybe one of the players.

"Yeah," she said. "I'm fine. Thanks."

"Game's already getting exciting, huh?" the man asked.

"Yeah."

Marcy nodded to display her enthusiasm.

"Save some of that for later," the man encouraged with a chuckle.

Marcy nodded in agreement. "Later" would be much more exciting indeed.

* * *

Walking towards the huddle that was forming, Lucas happened to look towards the stands. He was delighted to see little Marcy Sellers up there. Following her gaze, his eyes landed on the cheerleaders, including Lily Harvey. Yes, everyone was here.

Fortune had smiled for Ethan Huntley as well. Their team captain, Dereck Kellerman, was at home with a severe stomach bug. The coach had made Ethan the captain for this game and he was enjoying the power.

"Okay," Ethan said once the huddle was formed. "Let's not get cocky here, boys. There's a lot of game left."

His and Lucas's eyes met, and Lucas nodded.

"Let's run the ball to Nathan and then over to Clark while Jeff keeps their offense busy," Ethan said.

There were murmurs of agreement. No one was able to read Jeff's face through his helmet, but his body looked stiff, like a coil ready to spring if released.

"On three," Ethan said. "One, two, three!"

"Robins!" the team chorused.

"Let's do this!" someone added as they dispersed.

As he went to take his position, Lucas glanced towards the scoreboard. Standing beneath was that skinny, weird janitor. The guy was staring, but not at the game. Following his gaze, Lucas again looked at the cheerleaders. He laughed. The guy was probably slow, but he wasn't completely stupid.

Taking his position, Lucas took one final glance at each of the girls, wondering who he would have first. He licked his lips as he focused on the game again. Just a couple more hours ...

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,. This section deviates from the usual format.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Amber Rose: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Cassidy Ada: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader.

Ethan Huntley: junior at Pewter High and Running Back on the school's football team. Lily's ex-boyfriend.

Jeff Edwards: junior at Pewter High and Left Tackle on the school's football team.

Lucas Brown: junior at Pewter High and Wide Receivor on the school's football team.

Valerie Sellers: Marcy's mother.

Burk Sellers: Marcy's father.

Sophia Harvey: Lily's mother.

Jordan Harvey: Lily's father.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 53
Chapter 18 - After Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Two Years Ago:

"Welcome back," Carlos said from next door once Andrew was returned to his cell after his meeting. "Who came to see you?"

"I have a new lawyer," Andrew explained and told his friend all about the meeting with Samantha Rossi.

"I think I've heard of her. Does she have big globos?"

"What?"

"Tetas ... pechos ... bubbis ... were her breasts big?"

Carlos sounded a little exasperated and Andrew answered quickly now that he knew what the question was.

"Yeah," he said, "and she's real pretty."

Carlos chuckled and Andrew was happy his friend was happy again.

"Yeah, I've heard a lot about her," Carlos said. "She's been around a few years. I hear she doesn't mind when guys check her out during visits. She seems to get that most of us haven't seen a woman like that since we came here. I tell you, that lady has kept a bunch of guys company on these lonely nights, if you catch my drift."

Andrew didn't get what he meant, but he decided not to admit that right now.

"I think she's also very smart," he added. "She was saying a lot of stuff I couldn't understand."

There was a long pause.

"I've heard she's very smart," Carlos finally said, sounding more solemn. "They say she's done nothing but help guys on the Row here since she got out of school. Maybe you could get her to talk to Efrain ... get him to change his mind."

Andrew suddenly remembered that Carlos and Efrain had been talking all morning in that language he couldn't understand ... well, Carlos was doing most of the talking. That much Andrew had been able to figure out.

"Why?" he asked.

"The fool wants to drop his appeals," Carlos said. "He's willing to let them stick him with that needle. I've been trying to talk him out of it, but the stubborn tonto has his mind made up."

Andrew could hear the long exhalation through the concrete wall separating them.

"He's gone to send a letter to the courts about it so he can get a date," Carlos continued. "They accommodate your requests to do anything real quick if you say you're willing to die."

There was a long pause and Andrew wondered if he ought to say something. He didn't know what to say and was glad when Carlos spoke again.

"You know we both grew up in San Antonio?" Carlos continued. "We lived pretty close to one another, but we never met until we wound up here. How's that for irony?"

Andrew could hear him chuckling.

"He's been here for six years," Carlos said. "He had this girl back home who he was crazy about. She was seventeen, just a couple years younger than him. He wanted to marry her, but he had no money to get her a ring. So, he figures he can get some quick cash by knocking over a few gas stations. He gets a gun, which he just wants to scare people with so he gets the money. Anyway, one night, he's robbing a Chevron. He's got the clerk and a customer at gunpoint, and he gets agitated because the guy's taking too long to empty the register. He bangs the gun on the counter, and it goes off ... right into the guy's chest. He's dead before he hits the floor. Now Efrain's freaking out, and so is the lady he's still got there. He figures he has to kill her now that she's seen everything, so he shoots her twice. She bleeds out and dies. Meanwhile, Efrain grabs the money and hauls out of there. They caught him the next morning at his trailer. Turns out that gas station had a working security camera. It caught the whole thing."

Andrew stood in the middle of his cell, just listening.

"This place has been doing something to Efrain," Carlos explained. "All this time in a cell alone. His parents don't have much money, so they hardly come to see him. His girl split when he was arrested. And his lawyer ... there's a joke. I don't remember the last time that man set foot in here. They're not all like you're girl."

Andrew thought about this. Sure, Samantha Rossi was pretty and nice, but was she a good lawyer? How could he tell?

"Efrain's had enough," Carlos said. "He knows he's guilty and he's tired of fighting them, because they'll win eventually. He doesn't want to do it anymore. That happens to some guys in here."

Andrew heard another long sigh.

"You say you didn't do anything, right?" Carlos asked.

"Yeah," Andrew affirmed.

"Then you hang onto that pretty lawyer. Maybe she can help you."

"Yeah," Andrew said, feeling hopeful. He couldn't wait to see Samantha Rossi again.

"I hope she can," Carlos said. "For you, I really do."

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Carlos Ortega: occupied the neighboring cell from Andrew on Death Row. Convicted of murdering his ex-wife and a police officer.

Efrain: occupied a cell across from Andrew on Death Row. Convicted of robbery and murder.

Samantha Rossi: attorney from Houston who specialized in death penalty cases. Handled Andrew's appeals before a hurricane destroyed her home and office. Returned home to Oaklahoma after the storm.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 54
Chapter 18 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


"How'd you wind up on this case anyway?" Corporal Tokeman asked as they drove along Texas State Highway 20 towards El Paso. "You seem like the corporate type who wouldn't drive within fifty miles of a prison if you could help it."

Despite their eagerness to act on Janice's discovery, both Roland and the coperal thought it sensible to wait until the next morning before talking to the two former football players with criminal records. Since El Paso was about twenty hours closer than Walker County, they decided to take a run at Jeffrery Edwards first before confronting the incarcerated Lucas Brown.

"I was assigned it when my firm took it over," Roland explained from behind the wheel, the sun casting the SUV's shadow in front of him.. "The firm in Houston couldn't handle it anymore when they got hit by the hurricane. The lawyer assigned to it ... I heard she lost everything in that storm. I think she went home to Oklahoma to rebuild her life."

"That's rough," Corporal Tokeman remarked. "You think she would have found out all this about your boy's case?"

Roland contemplated the question.

"Maybe," he said. "I heard she was smart. She's handled death penalty cases before ... started doing it right out of law school."

"Bet I would have enjoyed riding with her more," Corporal Tokeman cracked and Roland laughed.

* * *

The men found the rehabilitation facility with relative ease. Olivanderson was a corporation which owned a chain of such locations from California to Louisiana. With the ongoing opioid crisis, they were looking to expand their operations even further. Roland tried to remember if his firm represented this company, but the answer wasn't coming to him.

Like at Polunsky, he let Corporal Tokeman take the lead, figuring a cop asking would produce better results. The corporal gave the receptionist a similar spiel about needing to speak to Jeffrey Edwards as soon as possible about an ongoing investigation. A badge was flashed, and a counselor was summoned. She came prepared with a reluctance to cooperate.

"I understand the nature of your job," the woman said, "but this is a sensitive time for Jeff. He's really been struggling with his addiction and we feel he is making real progress in our program. Sometimes, people need a push they cannot dodge to even reach this point, like a court order. We'd like the choice to change to be the person's own, but it isn't always possible."

"I can appreciate that," Corporal Tokeman said, sounding genuinely sympathetic. "We'll keep it brief. But we do need to speak with him."

Throughout the exchange, Roland wasn't actually introduced, and he was fine with that. The corporal seemed to be making progress.

"All right," the counselor said, still sounding uncertain. "But I want him to have the right to terminate the interview at any time if he wants to."

"Sure thing," Corporal Tokeman agreed. Both men doubted they really had a choice regarding this matter.

The counselor led them to an empty office, pulling in two extra chairs along the way.

"I'll go get Jeff," she said and disappeared.

Both men surveyed the room. It had a desk, which looked more like a regular table, three chairs, and two filing cabinets.

"Let's do some quick redecorating," Corporal Tokeman suggested.

They moved the desk into the middle of the room and set their chairs, the ones the counselor had brought in, across from the door. The third chair was arranged with its back to the door. They didn't touch the filing cabinets.

"I don't see any cameras," Corporal Tokeman said, surveying the walls and ceiling as they sat. "I think we should tag-team him."

Roland nodded. With no one watching, they didn't need to give the impression that the law enforcement officer was running the interview.

The counselor soon returned and frowned at the new setup, but she didn't say anything.

"Come on in, Jeff," she encouraged with a wave of her hand.

The hulking form of Jeff Edwards entered the room, dressed in a yolk-yellow t-shirt and pants. His head was shaved, and he looked more skeletal than his high school photos, suggesting a lot of muscle had since been consumed by the heroine. His eyes were sunken and both men could see the track marks along his arms.

"Have a seat," Corporal Tokeman prompted, waving his own hand towards the empty chair.

Jeff sat without a word.

"Remember," the counselor said. "You have the right to end this whenever you want. If you don't want to speak with them anymore, you're free to leave."

Jeff nodded twice. When his head was turned away from her, the counselor frowned at Roland and Corporal Tokeman again.

"I'm right outside if you need me," she said and left, shutting the door.

Jeff Edwards studied his visitors.

"I'm Corporal David Tokeman with the Texas Highway Patrol," the corporal said, presenting his badge and ID.

"I'm Roland Davis," the lawyer added. "I'm from Dallas."

"What do you want to talk to me about?" Jeff asked in a quiet voice.

"Before we ask you anything," Corporal Tokeman said, withdrawing a card from his pocket, "I need to read you your rights and make sure you understand them."

He recited the Miranda Rights just as every cop Roland had seen do in the movies and on TV. He watched Jeff Edwards, wondering if they really were so close to getting answers.

"And, as your counselor said, you have the right to terminate this interview at any time," Corporal Tokeman finished. "Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?"

"Sure," Jeff said, looking at Roland. "Is he here to be my lawyer?"

"No. Would you like a lawyer?"

"I'm not sure. Why are you here?"

Corporal Tokeman nudged Roland, who took his cue.

"You're from Pewter and you went to Pewter Public High School?" he asked.

"Yes," Jeff confirmed.

Knowing they would probably be given little time, the men had agreed beforehand to get to their point as quickly as possible.

"Did you know Lilian Harvey and Marcy Sellers?" Corporal Tokeman asked.

Jeff released a long breath.

"You're here about that," he then said.

"Yes," Corporal Tokeman returned.

"There's definitely something on your mind," Roland said. "Is what happened the reason you're in this clinic?"

His shoulders slumped, Jeff nodded once. Roland's heart raced.

"You know what happened in that locker room?" he asked, trying to keep his excitement in check. "You know what happened to Lilian Harvey and Marcy Sellers?"

Jeff didn't move.

"Mr. Edwards," Corporal Tokeman said, calmer and more collected than Roland, "I'm going to explain something to you. This man represents Andrew Mooruff, the man on Death Row for what happened in that locker room. He has found information that suggests some improprieties in this case which will likely enable him to get some evidence retested, particularly DNA evidence."

Roland noticed Jeff squeeze and relax his fists. His breathing had quickened, and he sat stiffly in his chair.

"We have your DNA on file from when you were arrested and agreed to come here as opposed to going to prison," Corporal Tokeman continued. "If these new tests on the evidence show a match to your DNA, I will come back, and things will be a lot harder."

"You want to get in front of this now," Roland encouraged. "You're trying to straighten out your life. This has to be a part of that. You have to do it for yourself, for Andrew Mooruff, and for those girls."

He caught an almost imperceptible smile from the corporal.

"Do the right thing," he said. "Tell us what happened. Please."

Across the table from them, Jeff began to cry. It was quiet at first, but the small office was soon filled with blubbering sobs.

"I ... didn't ... mean ... to ..." Jeff said in a choked voice. "I ... it ... wasn't supposed ... to ... go ... that ... far."

Roland noticed a tissue box sitting on top of one of the filing cabinets and got up to retrieve it. He set it down in front of Jeff and sat down again.

"What was supposed to happen?" he asked.

Jeff calmed down and blew his nose four times. Each blow was a loud, echoing honk. He looked at Roland and Corporal Tokeman.

"I found out they were seeing each other," he explained. "I found out they were ..."

He seemed unable to say the word.

"Gay?" Corporal Tokeman offered after a few silent seconds.

"Yeah, that," Jeff said. "I found out and Lucas did too."

"Lucas?"

"Lucas Brown. He was a wide receiver on the team. He could run, but he was as creepy as he was fast, especially when it came to girls."

Roland and Corporal Tokeman glanced at one another.

"Was it just you two in the locker room?" Roland asked.

Jeff shook his head and blew his nose again. Corporal Tokeman found a wastepaper basket and slid it over towards him. Jeff dumped his tissues in it. He then took a deep breath, looking at his visitors. He took another deep breath, tears still running down his cheeks.

Author Notes These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Jeff Edwards: junior at Pewter High and Left Tackle on the school's football team.

Lucas Brown: junior at Pewter High and Wide Receivor on the school's football team.

Corporal David Tokeman: as a rookie member of the Texas Highway Patrol, assisted Alter County authorities investigate the locker room attack.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Samantha Rossi: attorney from Houston who specialized in death penalty cases. Handled Andrew's appeals before a hurricane destroyed her home and office. Returned home to Oaklahoma after the storm.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 55
19-Immediately After Homecoming

By teols2016

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

Pewter won the game, the final score being twenty-three to seventeen. Fans cheered, players posed for pictures and gave autographs, and proud parents embraced their children.

Soon people were leaving the field. Students headed home to get ready for the dance, sure to be spectacular given the victory worth celebrating, while players and cheerleaders headed for the locker rooms. Everyone was in a good mood.

* * *

Lily turned off the water and pushed aside the shower curtain. Her towel and cheerleader's uniform were lying on the bench. Pausing to listen and hearing nothing, she picked up the towel and dried herself. She knew she was alone in the locker room, having heard the others depart one-by-one. Already being the frontrunner for the position of cheerleading captain next year kept her busy. Everyone wanted a word with her after the game. The rest of the team was leaving the showers when she'd arrived.

That was fine with Lily. She wanted to get home and get ready for the dance. Her heart sped up as she wrapped her towel around herself. She pictured dancing with Marcy in the gym. If anyone couldn't then figure out they were a couple, they would need to have their head examined.

Lily remembered what Marcy had told her about the boy from her old school ... the one who killed himself after being outed. Granted, they'd be outing themselves by choice, but both girls had considered how that would be a distinction without a difference in the eyes of those inclined to disapprove of their relationship.

Gathering her clothes and walking out of the shower room, Lily remembered how uncomfortable Marcy had been all these months. She now understood only some of that anxiety could be attributed to being the new kid at school. Seeing her partner more relaxed and, for lack of a more sophisticated term, happy, Lily understood. She wondered how much Marcy might regress after tonight. She understood what it took for Marcy to want to do this.

She also knew she needed to tell her parents. She couldn't betray Marcy by chickening out. She'd go home, get ready for the dance, and then she'd just blurt it out. She'd go to the dance regardless of her parents' reactions. Yes, that was a good plan ... or as good a plan as any given the time she had left.

Lily reached her locker and, holding her clothes and keeping her towel closed with one hand, spun the dial with the other. She realized halfway through the clumsy effort that she was trying to unlock the locker with her left hand, explaining why it wasn't going well. But, with her crumpled uniform and her towel both shifting precariously, she couldn't switch.

Then, two hands appeared out of nowhere and grabbed the bundle of red, black, and white fabric, gently pulling it away from Lily's torso. Her towel slipped some more and, knowing she was no longer alone, Lily raised both her hands to catch it. Tightening the large, white cloth around herself again, she turned to see her surprise helper was Marcy, standing with her uniform in her hands and her eyes everted. Lily had to chuckle as she noticed Marcy's pink cheeks. They complimented her shy smile.

"You sneak," she admonished in a playful tone. "You really want to see me naked."

Marcy looked down.

"I was waiting for you outside," she said in a small voice. "Everyone else came out and I was wondering ..."

"It's okay," Lily assured her, reaching out and touching her arm. "It's not like you saw anything."

Marcy looked up again, that small smile still on her face. Lily considered the possibility of bringing her back to the rec room after the dance. Her mind sped through so many scenarios and she considered Marcy might be up for some of them.

She turned and got her locker open. Marcy handed back the cheerleader's uniform and Lily put it in the locker.

"You thinking about tonight?" she asked as she pulled out her shorts and t-shirt, setting them on the nearby bench.

"Yeah," Marcy replied.

Lily hadn't missed the nervous tone in her response. She turned to face the smaller girl.

"Do you want to do this?" she asked. "Go to the dance together, I mean?"

Marcy didn't hesitate. Her two nods were clear and affirmative. Lily reached out and pulled her close, wrapping her arms around her. Marcy's head came to rest against the bare skin above her breasts and her hair tickled Lily's chin. The smaller girl raised her arms and hugged Lily back. Their mutual sighs of contentment served as a metaphor for their bodies melting together as they stood, alone in the locker room.

"Then it'll be okay," Lily said, running her hands up and down Marcy's back. "I'll be with you the whole time."

Marcy raised her head away from Lily's body and looked up to meet her eyes.

"I want to go to UT Austin with you," she said.

Lily smiled. Normally, she'd have frowned on such a statement. One person giving up their academic potential for someone they were involved with seemed so outdated and cliché. But UT Austin's academic standards negated such concerns. They'd be lucky to have Marcy.

Lily leaned down and kissed Marcy, who was quick to reciprocate. It was just a brief peck on the lips, but it ignited Lily's imagination once again.

"You need to leave," she said, smiling as she ended their embrace. "I have to change and I'm not quite ready to have you see me naked."

Her thoughts again wandered to the rec room and the possible post-dance outcomes. How much longer would she not be ready?

Marcy nodded, her smile growing.

"See you later," she said and turned to leave.

"Definitely," Lily said to her retreating back. She paused to admire that backside for a moment until Marcy had turned a corner. She then turned to fish her sneakers out of her locker.

* * *

As Marcy headed for the locker room's door, her thoughts turned to Todd Sheridan. She realized just how lucky she was. Her parents were supportive of her sexual orientation. She had a partner she felt comfortable with. Todd hadn't had any of that, as far as she'd been able to tell. So, Marcy was feeling good. She'd dance with Lily tonight and would then deal with whatever happened next.

Marcy couldn't recall ever being so excited. She couldn't wait for Lily to see the attire she'd picked out, especially the skirt. She wondered if Lily would really wear the pink dress. The girl looked good in pink. What song would they choose to dance to? Marcy supposed they'd have to figure that last one out as they heard their options through the DJ's speakers. She stopped to catch her breath. Her heart pounded in her chest. She had really never been this excited before.

Having calmed down, Marcy began walking again. Then, a hand shot out in front of her. Marcy managed to release half a gasp before the thick palm slapped down over her mouth and another arm clamped around her arms and torso, silencing and immobilizing her.

* * *

Having finally found everything she needed, Lily turned away from her locker towards the bench now adorned with her clothes. She was still giddy with excitement for the dance and knew she needed to try and focus enough to not emerge from the locker room naked. She did consider if such a scenario could eclipse the revelation that would emerge in a few hours.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of footsteps. At first, she thought Marcy was coming back for some reason. But then, she realized it was many footsteps, all of them sounding heavier than those of the petite brunette.

Lily turned to see she was surrounded. Amber and Cassidy were there with about half a dozen guys. Ethan seemed to be in charge, which was no surprise. The others seemed to be his usual crowd of lackeys from the football team, including Jeff and Lucas. Two of the boys, Tyler and Nathan, were holding Marcy between them. The girl looked terrified. Ethan was smirking.

"What is this?!" Lily demanded.

"I'd ask you the same thing if I didn't already know," Ethan replied, turning to look at Marcy. "That's why you broke up with me? Girls do it for you?"

Lily managed to withhold a gasp. How had he found out about her and Marcy? She couldn't conceive an answer. They'd been so careful.

But she would not get into an argument over her bisexuality or the fact she and Ethan broke up months before Marcy and her family moved to Pewter. Lily glared at Ethan.

"Let her go," she demanded.

Still smirking, Ethan shook his head. Lily glared at Amber and Cassidy.

"What is going on here?" she asked. "How could you let him do this?"

Granted, she didn't know what Ethan's ultimate intentions were, but he'd already taken things too far. Marcy looked like she was on the verge of tears. Lily could hear her whimpering.

"How could you do this?" Amber shot back, her tone filled with rage. "All this time. How often were we all in here, changing before and after practice and games? How often were you checking us out when we weren't looking? Do you get how sick that is?"

Cassidy didn't speak, though she too looked upset.

"I never ..." Lily began, but she decided not to justify herself. She looked back at Ethan.

"Let her go," she repeated. "You'll be sorry if you don't."

She'd noticed Lucas looking at Marcy and this was making things worse. Lucas was leering at Marcy with wolf-like eyes and a matching sneer. Lily needed to get control of the situation.

"So," Ethan said, "you two do it yet?"

Lily kept her mouth shut tight.

"Guess that's a no," Ethan said with a shrug. "Still a shame."

He looked at Marcy, who cringed.

"Jeff was really hoping to get with you," he said, gesturing towards the crestfallen left tackle.

Marcy did not look at Jeff.

"Let's see what you like," Ethan said. "Glad we came in here in time. Would have been harder if she'd managed to start getting dressed."

Before anyone could react, he reached out and grabbed Lily's towel. She tried to grab it as well, but he was faster, yanking it away and nearly causing her to fall. She scrambled to cover herself with her hands and keep her balance all at the same time. Ethan was wearing a satisfied smile as someone whistled.

"Very nice," Ethan said. "Shame I never got to see it before."

He looked at Marcy again. Marcy had shut her eyes and her whimpering had grown louder.

"Take a look," Ethan instructed. "Check her out."

Marcy didn't react. Ethan gritted his teeth, took two steps closer, and slapped her across the face. The smack of palm to cheek let out a slight echo in the locker room. Marcy cried out, a large red spot already appearing on her cheek.

"Look!" Ethan bellowed. He glanced at Lucas, who was now surveying Lily, ready to pounce.

"Look or I'll make you watch while my friend screws her again and again," he emphasized.

Marcy slowly opened her eyes, still trying to avert her gaze from Lily. Ethan grabbed her chin and shoved her face to the left. It was impossible to miss the athletic, naked figure standing there, unsuccessfully trying to cover herself with her hands.

Marcy's eyes met Lily's. Lily gave her a subtle, reassuring nod. This wasn't her fault.

"You like that?" Ethan asked. "You getting off on this?"

He didn't wait for an answer, instead surveying the group.

"Boys," he said like a commander addressing his troops, "I think it's time we show these gals their place in life. They need to understand what they're meant to do."

He looked at Lucas.

"You can go first," he said, "just like I promised."

Lucas moved towards Lily, who was now understanding everyone's intentions.

"Not her," Ethan admonished. "I get her first."

He pointed at Marcy, who was being wrestled to the floor by Tyler. He had a foot and about thirty pounds of muscle on her, so he easily won their fight. Her whimpers evolved to cries and pleas as Lucas changed course towards her.

"Hey," Jeff said. "Maybe we shouldn't do this."

No one reacted to his objection and he stood still, his eyes dancing around the room as if he didn't want to focus on anything.

No one responded to this comment.

"Please," Marcy whimpered as Lucas reached her. "Please, no."

Ethan leered at Lily.

"You're mine," he declared.

"I'll go watch the door," Cassidy volunteered. She looked pale as she turned and walked out of the room.

As Lily's fight instinct kicked in, someone grabbed her arms. This element of surprise was enough leverage and she was soon on her back on the tile floor. Nathan was pinning down her right arm. Amber was pinning down her left, a creepy smile on her face. Lily glared up at her former friend as she tried to free herself. She was very aware of the nearby sounds of tearing fabric.

"Please don't do this," Marcy was pleading. She was then sobbing.

Lily's heart broke for her and she kept fighting. But, Amber and Nathan managed to hold her down.

"You need to learn," Amber said, nodding towards Ethan, who was pulling his belt out of its metal buckle.

"With him?" Lily asked. "You want him doing this?"

She hoped to appeal to Amber's affection for Ethan.

"This is more important," Amber replied. "He and I will get past this."

She gave Ethan an approving nod. Nearby, Marcy screamed, and Lucas let out a triumphant laugh.

"What are these?" he asked. "A or B cups? I'm really not picky ... just curious."

Lily's ears were then filled with the squelching sounds of sex mixed with animalistic grunts and her girlfriend's sobs. She turned back to Ethan, who was pulling down his pants and boxers. As he came closer and moved to kneel between her legs, Lily swung her leg towards his crotch. Ethan caught it and slammed her ankle down on the tile floor. Lily cried out, feeling the joint break.

Ethan pushed her legs wider and knelt between them, ready to go. Lily registered Amber's lack of surprise about his exposure and understood for certain that their hook-up at the party had indeed happened. As if to confirm this unspoken thought, Amber gave Ethan a second, approving nod as she tightened her grip on Lily's arm.

Lily glared up at Ethan. She wouldn't try and talk him out of this. She wouldn't beg. She wouldn't give him nor the others such satisfaction. But she did close her eyes as he lay on top of her and positioned himself. He was breathing quickly and she could smell the booze when he exhaled.

Her mind flashed back to her two previous sexual experiences and she remembered how she'd told Marcy that neither of them were pleasant. Now, lying on a locker room floor, her former best friend helping to hold her down, her ex-boyfriend preparing to rape her, and her only remaining true friend being assaulted nearby, she was sure this experience would be worse than either of those. And, having seen the eager faces of the other boys, she knew it wouldn't just be Ethan inside her.

Lily gasped as Ethan entered her. Not wanting to smell his breath as he moved over her, she turned her head to one side as tears rolled down her face.

* * *

The seven of them walked down the sidewalk. In the distance, they could hear sirens as deputies and ambulances arrived at the school. They'd barely slipped away before that janitor entered the locker room.

They did not want to be noticed too closely until they had a chance to clean up. Cassidy was the only one who bore no scratches or cuts. Lucas looked the worse, having encouraged Lily and Marcy to fight back. He wore the blemishes, one of which was still bleeding, like badges of honor. The others didn't dare to insist he tone that down.

"Well," Ethan said, being the first to speak since leaving the school. "That didn't turn out quite as planned, but what will you do. It's done."

He touched his lip and found the cut had closed.

The others nodded, murmuring their agreement. They all remembered what happened and wondered if they could ever forget. They would certainly never challenge Ethan again.

After the rapes, Ethan had ordered that both girls be taken into the shower room. With neither Lily nor Marcy cooperating, the group dragged them the whole way. Having endured severe beatings in addition to the rapes, both girls cried out in pain, their injuries a lot worse than what they'd been able to inflict on their attackers.

Once in front of the closest stall, Ethan grabbed Lily and pulled her forward.

"Have you learned your lesson?" he asked, his face inches from hers. "Do you understand how it works now?"

Having been looking at the tiled floor, Lily raised her head. Her eyes met Ethan's and he smiled with satisfaction ... until she spit in his face. Something besides saliva and blood bounced off Ethan's chin and, when it hit the ground, everyone saw it was a piece of Lily's tooth.

"Go ... to ..." Lily began, struggling with every word through her fractured jaw.

Enraged, Ethan grabbed her by her long, blonde hair. Before anyone could conclude his intentions, he swung his arm forward, bashing Lily's head against the tile wall of the shower stall. The crack echoed the shower room and some of the group cringed. Lily's blood splattered across the wall.

Growling, Ethan swung again and again. Two more cracks reverberated through the room.

Lily hung limply by her hair, still clutched in Ethan's now-blood-covered fist. He relaxed his fingers and she fell at his feet, not moving as blood poured from her head.

Ethan stepped around Lily's body and moved towards Marcy, who was being held by Nathan and Lucas. Breathing through his gritted teeth, he crouched down so his face was at eye-level with her bruised and bleeding visage. Over her shoulder, Lucas continued surveying the damage he'd done while assaulting her. He seemed satisfied.

"You've got a chance here," Ethan said in a low, menacing tone. "Sure, you made a mistake and look what happened."

He gestured at Lily's nude, battered, bloody, motionless form.

"You've got a chance here," he repeated, looking back at Marcy. "Yeah, we got rough with you, but you'll heal. Just say you understand what you have to do, and you get to leave. We all go home, and no one needs to talk about what happened here."

He moved even closer so his nose almost touched Marcy's. Her one eye swollen shut, she glared back at him with the good one.

"What'll it be?" Ethan asked. "You understand?"

Now, Marcy gritted her teeth, blood leaking from her mouth. She broke eye contact for a moment to look at Lily's body and then at the rest of the group. She looked at Jeff the longest. He never met her eyes.

Marcy's gaze then locked back on Ethan.

"No," she said.

"What?" Ethan snapped.

"No," Marcy repeated in the strongest voice she could summon. She then retched and spewed bloody vomit onto his shoes.

Everyone saw Ethan's rage boil over again. He grabbed Marcy by her slender neck. The others watched as he dragged her into the next shower stall. Marcy gurgled as more blood and vomit ran down her chin.

"You won't learn!" Ethan bellowed. "Fine!"

Still holding Marcy by her neck, he began bashing her head against the wall. More cracks echoed through the room as blood too splattered the walls of this stall.

On the third swing, Marcy's head struck the narrow pipe leading up to the stall's showerhead. Water erupted from the point of impact and the spray soon enlarged, soaking killer and victim.

With a roar, Ethan slammed Marcy's head against the wall one more time. There was one final crack and he let her fall face down in the stall, her nude body landing on top of the shower drain. She too did not move again.

Now, out under the hot October sun in west Texas, Ethan's clothes were almost dry. The spraying water had washed away much of the blood and vomit, so he didn't look conspicuous among the pungent group, even if the smell lingered. He was relaxed and smiling.

"We did what we had to do," he said. "And it's done."

He surveyed the others.

"We can't breathe a word about this," he insisted, "to anyone."

The others affirmed their understanding with nods and affirmations of support.

"Good," Ethan said. "Just stay calm and we'll get through this. We'll be fine."

"You might want to get rid of your clothes," Nathan suggested. "Just in case. No one might see anything outright, but there are tests ..."

His voice trailed off as Ethan nodded.

"Good point," Ethan said. "I'll do that when I get home."

The adrenaline was wearing off and his breathing was growing heavier.

"Let's all get home," he said. "They'll probably cancel the dance because of this. Sad, but necessary. Act surprised and upset if they do."

Everyone nodded again.

"Good," Ethan said. "Well done, everyone. Well done."

With that, they dispersed, heading for their own dwellings. Ethan took a quick glance back in the direction of the high school and then jogged the final half-mile to his house.

* * *

Amber gasped as Ethan finished and withdrew. She couldn't believe Lily would ever choose to be with a girl over a guy like him. When he'd texted her an hour ago, insisting she sneak out and meet him shortly after midnight, she couldn't wait.

He'd been sitting in his car down the road from her house when she made her surreptitious exit. They drove through Pewter's dark streets to Winter Drive, a quiet stretch of road where plans to build something, or anything, were always discussed while nothing ever materialized. It was now a place where people went to hook up. After Ethan gave Amber the news, they climbed into the backseat of his car and did just that. It was glorious.

"So, it's true?" Amber asked, sitting up in the backseat when they were done. It was nearly midnight and the darkness hid her naked form from any prying eyes outside. The only prying eyes she saw, thanks to the car's still-running headlights, belonged to a brown owl in a nearby tree.

"Yeah," Ethan said. "I texted the others, but I wanted to tell you in person."

Amber's smile became a frown.

"What did you say in the texts?" she asked, worried.

"I just told them to check the news," Ethan replied.

Amber smiled. Nothing incriminating could be found in those words. Half the student body had probably done the same as word spread through town.

She thought about the janitor the sheriff had arrested a couple hours ago. It had never been their intention to set him up for what happened. Heck, she couldn't figure out how the sheriff believed that idiot had done it.

But, she concluded it was fine ... perhaps for the best. The guy was a pervert. Amber had seen him staring at her and other girls way too often. It was for the best that he be sent away before he actually hurt someone. Much like with Lily and Marcy, there was no big loss there.

Amber thought about Marcy Sellers. Last she heard, the girl was still alive. She couldn't believe anyone could survive what Ethan had done. Maybe gays had thicker skulls.

"How do you feel?" Amber asked Ethan.

"Pretty good," Ethan replied. "I think we'll be okay."

Amber grinned as he reached over and tweaked her nipple with his fingers. Yeah, they'd be okay.

Author Notes This chapter takes place entirely "Immediately After Homecoming", deviating from the usual format.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Amber Rose: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader. Participated in the locker room attack.

Cassidy Ada: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader. Served as a lookout during the locker room attack.

Ethan Huntley: junior at Pewter High and Running Back on the school's football team. Lily's ex-boyfriend. Led the locker room attack.

Jeff Edwards: junior at Pewter High and Left Tackle on the school's football team. Participated in the locker room attack.

Lucas Brown: junior at Pewter High and Wide Receivor on the school's football team. Participated in the locker room attack.

Nathan Grisham: player on the Pewter High football team. Participated in the locker room attack.

Tyler Stackhouse: junior at Pewter High and player on the school's football team. Participated in the locker room attack.

Keith Darden: sheriff of Alter County. Personally investigated the locker room attack.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 56
Chapter 20 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


"They were all over both girls," Jeff described as he cried again. "Soon, it was always two guys on each of them. Lucas did each one twice. He was like a machine. He was really getting off on it. Ethan took a second turn on Lily at the end."

By the time he'd finished recounting the horrific tale of rape, battery, and murder, he was outright sobbing again. Roland and Corporal Tokeman were feeling less sympathetic. By Jeff's account, Ethan Huntley and the other boys had let their lust, rage, and hormones take control. Over the course of an hour, Lilian Harvey and Marcy Sellers were subjected to every form of rape and sodomy imaginable. Sometimes they'd fought back and were beaten for it. Hearing all this, Roland was ready to vomit.

"Did you rape either of them?" Corporal Tokeman asked, his voice cutting through the mess of sobbing and nausea.

His body shaking, Jeff stared at him.

"Did you rape either of those girls?" Corporal Tokeman said in a firmer tone.

Jeff wiped his eyes.

"I didn't want to do it," he said. "I was watching it happen and everyone was telling me I should 'get some' ... they said I deserved a turn. I felt excited, and I finally gave in."

A new wave of sobs began. Roland thought it difficult to believe a single human being could cry so much.

"I raped Marcy," Jeff confessed. "I raped her, and she cried while I did it. I betrayed her."

Roland had heard enough. His body was shaking too, and his fists were balled.

He felt a hand on his shoulder. Looking up, he saw Corporal Tokeman was standing and gesturing for him to step outside. Glad for this opportunity, Roland followed him out of the small office.

"You okay?" the corporal asked once they'd pulled the door shut behind them.

"Yeah," Roland said, taking deep breaths. "It's just ... those girls were gang-raped."

Corporal Tokeman nodded, also taking a few deep breaths.

"I know," he said.

"You heard him in there," Roland continued, gesturing at the door behind them. "Ethan Huntley initiated the rapes because those girls were gay. They were gang-raped because they were gay."

"I know."

Roland was seething.

"Forget the fact they let an innocent man take the fall," he said. "This ... it's gotta be a hate crime. What they did ... everything they did ... this whole thing's gotta be a hate crime."

"I'm sure it is," Corporal Tokeman said. "I'll talk to the Attorney General."

He stepped up close to Roland.

"Listen to me," he said. "You've got a confession. That's the firmest piece of evidence you could ask for. You'll have no problem getting those DNA tests now. When you get matches to this guy and Lucas Brown and no match to your boy, any judge in the state will have to listen to you and grant whatever you want. Even more so when the others are linked to this as well."

Roland nodded, calming down. He realized the Corporal had probably sat across the table from more than one such freak willing to share what they'd done. The lawman had more experience with this than Roland could imagine attaining.

"Okay," he said, understanding the corporal was right. "But what about Ethan Huntley?"

Corporal Tokeman smiled.

"I got a text from my pal on the Austin PD last night," he reported. "He and his partner collected a chewed piece of gum the guy spit out before getting in his girlfriend's car. Far as they could tell, the couple never suspected a thing. They've logged it as evidence, and you'll be able to ask for it to be tested. Their captain's in the loop and he's assured me Austin PD and the D.A. there won't fight you on it."

Roland nodded as the counselor approached them.

"Are you finished?" she demanded.

"Yes," Corporal Tokeman said, "but I'm arresting Jeffrey Edwards for rape and murder. I'll call the El Paso Police Department and have a couple officers come here to keep an eye on him so he can finish his rehab regiment. I'm sure the local District Attorney will agree with that course of action."

Roland realized he'd need to ask the El Paso County D.A. for a gag order. The DNA tests would take time, and he didn't have a formal copy of the lab reports yet. Jeff Edwards could be held based on his confession, but the arrest needed to be kept quiet so the other six people he'd named couldn't have an opportunity to flee. Until more direct evidence was obtained to prove their involvement, they had the right to remain free. Given the people he now knew, Ethan Huntley definitely couldn't be touched until the DNA tests yielded results pointing at him.

Looking at the stunned counselor, Roland noticed her nametag hanging from a lanyard around her neck. Sasha Parsons, Professional Rehabilitation Therapist. He wasn't sure what exactly that title meant.

Corporal Tokeman allowed the counselor to enter the office while he pulled out his cell phone to make a call. Roland stood in the hallway, unsure of what to do at that moment.

* * *

"Oh my God," Janice said. Roland had told her everything over the phone last night, but this was the first time she was able to react in person.

She met Roland in the lobby when he arrived straight from Dallas Love Field, having caught the first flight out of El Paso that morning.

"Oh my God," she repeated as they navigated through the corridors to Roland's office.

"Yeah," Roland said. "Trust me. I was there. Where are we with our requests for the lab reports."

"Three weeks in on the six-week waiting period," Janice reported, dodging a passing mail cart.

"Get started on our requests for DNA tests," Roland said. "I want those filed with the court the minute we formally receive those reports. Where is Phillip, anyway?"

"I'm not sure. I tried to call him after we talked last night, but he never picked up or returned my messages. I haven't seen him all day."

Roland nodded, figuring he'd worry about his paralegal's whereabouts later. He handed Janice a sheet of paper.

"That's the information you'll need regarding the piece of gum in Austin," he explained. "The corporal's put me in touch with the State Attorney General's office and they've assured me they won't move on investigating anything in Pewter until I got things going with the DNA. Tokeman's also looking to get a visit with Lucas Brown at Ellis. He hopes the guy might be feeling braggy, as it seems doubtful that this one is capable of remorse."

Janice nodded, looking pale as she remembered everything she'd heard about the rapes and Lucas Brown's enjoyment.

They arrived at Roland's office to find Bruce Shawcross standing by the door, Phillip at his side.

"What's this about?" Roland asked, not missing the partner's icy glare.

Bruce looked at Janice.

"Leave us," he said. "You and I will talk later."

Knowing she had no choice, Janice shot a murderous look at Phillip, who avoided her gaze. Bruce turned his attention back to Roland, who was also figuring things out.

"I told you that you were done with this case," he said. "Then, I hear you're still working hard at it. In fact, you're traveling again, wasting this firm's time and resources on a dead-guilty man."

Roland considered pointing out he'd paid his own expenses this time. But he thought better than to do that. He glanced at Phillip, the obvious source for Bruce.

"I'll definitely be calling for a partners' vote now," Bruce snarled. "You are finished here. Consider yourself suspended until the termination vote. I've already had your office cleaned out of its files, so gather your personal belongings and get out."

Roland was stunned.

"I haven't even begun to evaluate what your antics have cost this firm in money and reputation," Bruce continued. "But, you can be sure I'll have a full report for the vote."

Roland took his chance.

"I have evidence," he said.

"Evidence of what?" Bruce spat.

"Evidence that can clear Andrew Mooruff, my client on Death Row."

Phillip looked stunned. Roland supposed Bruce looked a little surprised. Given how long the man had practiced law, little could really shock him anymore.

Seizing this momentum, Roland summarized his discoveries, Jeffrey Edwards' confession, and the actions he was taking now. To his credit, Bruce seemed to relax a little and listen.

"You're hedging your bets, and this case, on the word of a junkie?" he asked when Roland was finished.

"I believe him," Roland said. "So does the corporal. Sickening as it sounds, it all makes sense."

Bruce was taking deep breaths through his nose.

"All right," he said. "I'll let you pursue this through the DNA tests. But if they come back and destroy your little theory, you are definitely done. And you won't be working on anything else until they do come back. I still want you out of this building for the time being. You'll report to me by phone every day from your home until then."

He pushed past Roland and rounded the nearby corner.

Roland glowered at Phillip, who seemed to shrink. He was sure the man had his excuses ready to go. Maybe he'd cite his wife and kids. Maybe he'd prattle on about his student loans. Maybe he'd say Bruce had intimidated him into revealing everything he knew. Roland didn't care to hear any of it.

"Get out of here," he hissed.

Phillip scrambled away without a word.

Roland entered his office. A cardboard box had been left on his desk for his convenience. As he packed up his knick-knacks, Roland reflected he had the DNA tests to look forward to, certain Andrew would finally be vindicated. It would just take a little more time.

* * *

"Thanks for the dinner, Sir," Ethan said, exiting the restaurant with a beaming Lauren on his arm.

"No problem," Texas House Speaker Jacob Dupree said. "I figured you would enjoy that before next week's formal affair."

The upcoming graduation/engagement party for Ethan and Lauren was turning into Austin's social event of the season. Many politicians and local celebrities, including numerous sports icons, were on the guest list. Formal as it would be, Ethan looked forward to the elbow-rubbing.

Next to him, Lauren again admired the ring he'd given her last week. It took the better part of two years, but Ethan scraped together the money to get it for her. For him, it symbolized the last ounce of effort he'd have to make in his life.

"You're going places," Speaker Dupree said. "That's for ..."

The group stopped at the curb, getting their first look at the parking lot outside the steakhouse. They were staring at about a dozen police cars from the Austin Police Department and the Texas Highway Patrol. Every entrance and exit was blocked, and several officers and troopers were searching through what Ethan recognized was his car.

"What's going on?" he demanded as a man in a brown suit approached him, flanked by two uniformed police officers and a dark-blond-haired state trooper wearing "Texas Tan". "What is this?!"

"Ethan Huntley?" the suited man asked. The tone in his voice suggested he already knew the answer to this inquiry.

"Yeah," Ethan snapped.

"I'm Sergeant Mickey Garland of the Austin Police Department," the suited man said.

He held up a stapled packet of papers.

"This here is a warrant coming out of Alter County for your arrest," he explained. "Please turn around and put your hands behind your back."

Ethan didn't move. He could get out of this, somehow.

"Arrest?!" Lauren asked. "On what charges?"

Speaker Dupree looked enraged, his face reddening. Sergeant Garland ignored them both as he consulted his notepad.

"The charges are obstruction of justice, hindering a prosecution, kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault, battery, rape, and capital murder," he recited. "It's my understanding the FBI and the U.S. Attorney are also looking at pressing charges under the federal Hate Crimes Statute. Now, please turn around and put your hands behind your back."

Behind him, the blond-haired state trooper wore a satisfied smile.

Slowly and reluctantly, Ethan turned.

"This is an outrage!" Speaker Dupree raged. "You are making the biggest mistake of your career ... no, of your life. I will be speaking to our Attorney General and the governor about all of this within the hour."

Sergeant Garland looked at him, seeming unruffled by these threats.

"Sir," he said. "With all due respect, it is my understanding that the Austin Police Department and authorities in Alter County have Governor Paterson's and Attorney General Golm's full support on this matter. Please step back."

Stunned, Speaker Dupree took two steps away from the curb, pulling Lauren with him as Ethan was handcuffed and read his rights.

"It's a mistake," Lauren wailed, sounding desperate and a bit pathetic. "It's gotta be a mistake."

As she began to cry, Texas House of Representatives Speaker Jacob Dupree found himself speechless for the first time he could remember. He just stared as Ethan was put in the back of a police cruiser and driven away.

Author Notes This chapter takes place entirely in "Present", deviating from the usual format.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Ethan Huntley: junior at Pewter High and Running Back on the school's football team. Lily's ex-boyfriend. Led the locker room attack. Now a student at the University of Texas.

Corporal David Tokeman: as a rookie member of the Texas Highway Patrol, assisted Alter County authorities investigate the locker room attack.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Janice Cooper: junior associate assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Phillip Decker: paralegal assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Bruce Shawcross: senior partner at Roland's law firm and Roland's direct supervisor.

Lauren Dupree: Ethan's girlfriend at the University of Texas in Austin.

Jacob Dupree: Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Lauren's grandfather.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 57
Chapter 21 - Present

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Texas Governor Franklin Paterson stood on the front steps of the Alter County civic building, which housed the majority of the rural area's government offices and departments. Its parking lot was the only space which could accommodate the sheer volume of reporters and spectators expected to attend this press conference. Those who'd made the attendance estimates ahead of time weren't disappointed as the lot was full by 10:00 a.m., an hour before the governor was expected to begin. In addition to the many media outlets, several LGTB advocacy groups and organizations calling for criminal justice reform made the trip to show their support. It felt as though Pewter's population had doubled.

Roland stood in the crowd, watching the Lonestar State's highest elected official begin to speak. He reflected on the irony that he'd first received this case almost a year ago to the day.

"I hereby address all citizens of the great state of Texas," the governor said into the dozen cameras and even more microphones pointed at him. "I stand here, in the humble town of Pewter, to speak about an injustice that stretches back over half a decade. I am, of course, speaking about the brutal, senseless attack which took place at the local high school here that left two families forever torn apart and an innocent man incarcerated, fighting for his life. I have been extensively briefed on all matters related to this case and I have been even more strongly urged to grant a swift, full, and unconditional pardon to Mr. Andrew Mooruff."

He paused and smiled.

"I feel both bashful and proud to say our courts have beaten me to it," he said.

No one was really surprised by this statement. National news outlets were present the previous month when Alter County District Court Judge Warren Evers vacated Andrew's conviction and sentence after receiving a joint brief from Roland and the new District Attorney, Wendy Sims, requesting he do just that. This, of course, followed the Court of Criminal Appeals remanding the case back to Alter County. Roland had filed a brief, over a hundred pages long, outlining the new evidence of his client's innocence and the misconduct which occurred at Andrew's trial. The judges hadn't taken long to give their six-to-three ruling. Roland wondered how much of his brief they'd actually read. He'd been provided with a dozen lawyers and paralegals to assemble it, Janice overseeing the pieces come together.

"The true culprits in this heinous crime have been apprehended," Governor Paterson continued. "I have appointed Alexander Chase of Fort Worth to serve as a Special Prosecutor to obtain convictions which I hope will ultimately settle the matter of guilt and innocence in this case."

Despite the overwhelming evidence vindicating Andrew, there were still those who believed the wrong man went free. These detractors generally pointed to the DNA match from the blood on Marcy Sellers's body. Thankfully, they were a small minority.

The world also knew about the seven people now awaiting trial for the attack. Four months after Austin police officers obtained the discarded piece of chewed gum, DNA from Ethan Huntley's saliva was matched to the semen found inside Lilian Harvey. The fact he was then arrested outside a steakhouse in Austin in front of the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives made headlines across the country. Visiting Roland in Dallas, Corporal Tokeman recounted the scene over beers.

"He was shocked," the lawman described, laughing. "He absolutely couldn't believe it. I guess he actually thought he'd gotten away with it."

The story continued dominating the media as a squadron of Austin police officers, Texas state troopers, University of Texas campus police officers, and two Texas Rangers entered the fraternity house of Phi Kappa Psi and arrested Tyler Stackhouse. Similar scenes played out on the campuses of Texas Tech University, where Amber Rose was taken into custody, and the Institute of American Indian Arts, where Cassidy Ada surrendered to New Mexico state troopers and Santa Fe police officers armed with a warrant from the neighboring Lonestar State. Cassidy waived her right to challenge Texas's extradition request and was returned to Pewter in an armed caravan within forty-eight hours of her arrest.

Awoken in his trailer in the middle of the night by a SWAT team, Nathan Grisham offered no resistance as he and the hooker he'd hired the previous evening were arrested by El Paso County sheriff's deputies. The girl was released soon after with no charges being filed against her. She became a media sensation for about a day before vanishing from the spotlight.

Jeffrey Edwards successfully completed his required drug rehabilitation program. On the evening before Alter County deputies were scheduled to pick him up, he fled the clinic, stealing a counselor's car and catching the watching El Paso police officers off-guard. The subsequent two-hour chase up I-10 was broadcast live across the country. At some point, over twenty vehicles from six different agencies were involved. After his car was successfully disabled by a spike strip, Jeff Edwards attempted to continue fleeing on foot but was tackled by a Pecos County deputy. Ironically, the deputy had been a collegiate left tackle in Alabama. After being checked out in a hospital in Fort Stockton, Jeff arrived at the Alter County Jail the same evening, four months after confessing to his role in the locker room attack. Authorities were declining to pursue charges related to the chase.

Serving his forty-year sentence for unrelated crimes in the O. B. Ellis Unit outside of Huntsville, Lucas Brown was questioned by Texas Rangers when his DNA, collected after his prior conviction, was matched to the evidence. Confronted with this information, the young man proved Roland right by waiving his rights and providing a graphic, boastful confession. According to the paperwork Roland saw, a highlight of the monologue was him describing Lily as already being "loose and sloppy" when he'd raped her the first time.

"Still made her squeal though," the young man had recounted. "I'm that good."

When asked if he'd participated in the girls' actual murders, he identified Ethan as the sole killer, adding "I just like to ride them." Roland was glad Texas's law of parties made him and the other six equally culpable, regardless of who'd done the actual killing.

Soon after news of Lucas Brown's arrest for the attack was broadcast, Jeff Edwards's drug rehabilitation counselor, of all people, came forward, identifying the convict as the man who'd raped her at a party six years ago. Despite having been drunk, she'd retained brief mental snippets of the assault and now recognized her rapist. A few months later, DNA evidence supported her claim and Lucas Brown now faced additional charges. This also brought out criticism that the lab hadn't tested all the evidence from the locker room. As his DNA was entered into CODIS after his unrelated conviction, Lucas Brown would have been identified as a participant in the locker room attack almost three years earlier, shortly after Andrew had arrived on Death Row.

But what the press really latched on to was where Lucas Brown was serving his current sentence. His cell in the O. B. Ellis Unit was in an area which once housed the state's male Death Row, the condemned inmates having been relocated to the Allan B. Polunsky Unit over two decades earlier. This irony was emphasized by the fact that, due to him being seventeen at the time, Lucas Brown could never face the death penalty for his role in the attack in the locker room. Only Jeff Edwards and Nathan Grisham were old enough back then to now be eligible for lethal injection.

"I have also appointed a taskforce to investigate the operations in Pewter which have led to this systemic miscarriage of justice," Governor Paterson continued. "I know the community has already begun to make reparations on their own and I commend them for their actions, but more needs to be done."

In addition to the seven Pewter Public High School Alumni, former Alter County Sherriff Keith Darden was arrested at his ranch in Arizona. Former District Attorney Quince Martin became one of the few people current Sherriff Aaron Waller was able to arrest himself, given he still lived in Pewter. Around a dozen other current and former county officials were also arrested as more evidence of misconduct was uncovered, some of it having nothing to do with Andrew or the locker room attack.

"I reiterate my administration's vow to support the community of Pewter, Alter County, the Special Prosecutor, and the Taskforce as they work to achieve justice," Governor Paterson said.

Having seven high-profile murder defendants occupying over half of his small jail, Sherriff Waller held no illusions. He reached out to Austin to request help with managing the inmates. The governor dispatched the Department of Criminal Justice and the Texas State Guard to help secure the facility until the Special Prosecutor and the squadron of defense attorneys sorted out where the trials would be held.

Support was being extended directly to Roland as well. His firm was no longer on the verge of firing him. He was now the partners' personal hero for the publicity this case had generated for them. Janice was likewise hailed for her efforts, though Roland wasn't sure what had become of Phillip. Rumors suggested he'd either been transferred to another department, resigned, or was fired. It was hard to determine what was the truth. Roland didn't care to exert his efforts to resolve this issue.

Roland was also encountering unprecedented cooperation from the office of State Attorney General Greggory Golms. Golms and his staff raised no objections to his requests for DNA testing. They did hold firm on keeping Andrew incarcerated until the DNA evidence and the confessions from Jeffrey Edwards and Lucas Brown exonerated him.

"To the families of Marcy Sellers and Lilian Harvey," Governor Paterson said as though he were looking right at them." Nothing will ever take back your terrible loss. Know that I can speak for everybody in this state to promise that we stand with you."

Roland thought about the report he'd received from the Baltimore City Medical Examiner the previous week. Last month, Burk and Valerie Sellers made the surely-impossible decision to disconnect their daughter from life support. Marcy was pronounced dead less than an hour later. The autopsy showed the cause of death was blunt-force trauma to the head, linking her death to the locker room attack and enabling the Special Prosecutor to file a second capital murder charge against the seven defendants. The autopsy also revealed the likelihood that Marcy would have never woken up again.

"She might have still been in there at some point," a separate note from the Medical Examiner stated, "but, by the end, only the machines were keeping her alive."

Shortly after Andrew was cleared and released, he, his mother, his sisters and their families, along with Roland, Janice, and several residents of Pewter and Eagle Pass traveled to Maryland for Marcy's funeral, another online crowdfunding effort paying for this trip. She was laid to rest next to her grandparents.

After the service, Roland arranged a private meeting between Andrew and the Sellers. Valerie and Burk apologized for what had happened and thanked Andrew for trying to help their daughter in the locker room. Enviably oblivious to the full scope of the situation as always, Andrew gave his condolences over Marcy's death.

"I'm sorry she died," he said in his usual, simple way.

The Sellers hadn't returned to Texas for the press conference. They admitted to Roland they now struggled with their opposition to the death penalty and therefore chose not to involve themselves in the proceedings any further. To them, it all felt so much more horrific and devastating now that an innocent man had been sent to prison, the true culprits were their daughter's former classmates, and Marcy was dead.

In contrast, the Harveys seemed to have brought every family member they could find to the press conference. Roland had recognized Gabriel Harvey earlier, but he did not approach the young man. The family was still struggling to come to terms with Lilian's apparent homosexuality, though Roland did commend them for listening when the Sellers reached out to offer comfort and guidance regarding the issue. The Harveys did advocate for all seven defendants to receive harsh punishments once they were convicted.

"I want to ensure each and every Texan," Governor Paterson said. "Regardless of your race, nationality, sexuality, gender, or any other characteristic which makes you unique, this state supports you. Violence and discrimination against minority populations will not be tolerated and I want this case to remind everyone of this fact for as long as I take a breath."

To his horror and disgust, Roland had learned there was a specific term for what happened in that locker room. He'd suspected its existence after hearing Jeff Edwards's confession, but the confirmation of that notion was still shocking. "Corrective rape" was when the victim, who was known or perceived to be gay, was forced to have sex with the opposite gender. This was meant to, in the assailant's mind, fix what was wrong with them, specifically their homosexuality. It was in fact considered a hate crime, though a rarely-reported one. Roland hoped this aspect wouldn't be overshadowed as the seven killers went to trial.

The governor began answering reporters' questions and Roland made his way through the crowd, having no real goal in mind. He wouldn't be speaking and only came to see the progress being made on the case. There was still work which needed to be done. There was a settlement which needed to be agreed upon for Andrew to be compensated for his years in prison as well as for the egregious actions taken during his trial. The investigation in Pewter was continuing and who knew what else might be uncovered. And there were the trials of the "Pewter 7" as some media outlets were starting to call them. Roland could do without fancy nicknames.

Both Jeffrey Edwards and Cassidy Ada were attempting to make deals in which they would testify against the rest of the group in exchange for lighter sentences. The former was attempting to avoid the possibility of the death penalty.

The Special Prosecutor had already filed motions to try all seven defendants as adults. If Jeff's deal came through, Nathan Grisham would be the only person who might be sent to Death Row. Ethan Huntley, Amber Rose, Tyler Stackhouse, and Lucas Brown faced the possibility of multiple life sentences without the possibility of parole, something the Special Prosecutor promised to work towards attaining.

"We will consider their ages at the time," Alexander Chase had said in a statement addressing the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that minors couldn't receive mandatory life sentences, "and we'll consider the heinous nature of these crimes. With that in mind, we will deliver justice."

As the seven defendants sat in the Pewter County Jail, their supporters dwindled. Though his career hadn't taken a direct hit, Texas House Speaker Jacob Dupree faced some blowback due to his peripheral role in the case. He led his family's retreat from Ethan's side and Lauren quietly broke off their engagement. Apart from their immediate family members, the other six defendants likewise saw friends and loved ones disappear from their lives. With bail having either been outright denied or set in the millions, none of them had a hope to be free again before their trials began.

Roland continued moving through the crowd when he spotted him. Andrew, light actually reflecting off his round, bald head, was at the press conference, having made a quiet entrance alongside his mother. Roland thought it was lucky the governor was getting all the attention or the poor guy would be mobbed again.

"Hey there," he said as he approached.

Both Andrew and his mother, Angela, turned and smiled. When he was close enough, Angela through her arms around Roland, who was about twice her size.

"Thank you," she said in a choked voice. "Thank you so much."

Roland recognized the pattern from half a dozen prior encounters since Andrew's release. Angela reacted the exact same way every time they saw each other.

"Say 'thank you' to this man for all he's done for you," Angela insisted, turning to look at her son.

"I have, Mama," Andrew said. "I've said 'thank you' lots of times."

Roland laughed.

"It's okay," he insisted. "How are you guys doing?"

"Good," Andrew replied. "Mama took me to Jake's last week. Jake said I could have all the free food I want forever. He said he ain't never met a real hero before."

Roland smiled. It was nice to hear the acts of kindness the residents of Pewter were directing towards his client. The school had offered Andrew his job back and he was thinking about taking it. There was an uproar from a few parents about this, but these protests weren't gaining traction. There would always be people who believed Andrew's exoneration was the real miscarriage of justice as opposed to his conviction.

"I heard from the state," Roland reported. "They'll be scheduling depositions soon."

Andrew stared at him, dumbfounded.

"They just want to ask you some questions," Roland assured him. "It'll be fine. And I'll be right there with you."

"Mr. Davis will make sure you're okay," Angela added.

Roland nodded. He wished the state wouldn't bother with depositions and just settle already, but not everything could come easy.

"What are you looking at, Andrew? Angela asked.

Andrew had turned his head and Roland looked that way as well. About twenty feet from them was a group of maybe half a dozen athletic, pretty women, seemingly in their late teens or early twenties. They were holding signs which bore the girls' photos and read "Speak for LH and MS!" and "No more killing! No more HATE!"

"Nothing, Mama," Andrew replied, turning back to face Angela and Roland with a smile.

Roland just nodded, studying his client. Then again, he too had to admit the group was worth looking at.

Author Notes This chapter again has three parts, but in a different order.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game. Died five years later due to her injuries.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Amber Rose: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader. Participated in the locker room attack.

Cassidy Ada: Lily's friend and fellow cheerleader. Served as a lookout during the locker room attack.

Ethan Huntley: junior at Pewter High and Running Back on the school's football team. Lily's ex-boyfriend. Led the locker room attack.

Jeff Edwards: junior at Pewter High and Left Tackle on the school's football team. Participated in the locker room attack.

Lucas Brown: junior at Pewter High and Wide Receivor on the school's football team. Participated in the locker room attack.

Nathan Grisham: player on the Pewter High football team. Participated in the locker room attack.

Tyler Stackhouse: junior at Pewter High and player on the school's football team. Participated in the locker room attack. Friend and classmate of Ethan's at the University of Texas in Austin.

Keith Darden: sheriff of Alter County. Personally investigated the locker room attack.

Corporal David Tokeman: as a rookie member of the Texas Highway Patrol, assisted Alter County authorities investigate the locker room attack.

Quince Martin: Alter County District Attorney who prosicuted Andrew for capital murder.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Janice Cooper: junior associate assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Phillip Decker: paralegal assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Bruce Shawcross: senior partner at Roland's law firm and Roland's direct supervisor.

Lauren Dupree: Ethan's girlfriend at the University of Texas in Austin.

Jacob Dupree: Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Lauren's grandfather.

Aaron Waller: sheriff of Alter County. Defeated/succeeded Sheriff Keith Darden.

Angela Mooruff: Andrew's mother.

Valerie Sellers: Marcy's mother.

Burk Sellers: Marcy's father.

Sophia Harvey: Lily's mother.

Jordan Harvey: Lily's father.

Gabriel Harvey: Lily's older brother.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 58
Chapter 21 - Before Homecoming

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


Five Years Ago:

Lily reentered the rec room to see Marcy wearing the sweats and t-shirt she'd given her. The petite girl looked even smaller in this borrowed attire , having turned the cuffs of the sweats over several times so she wouldn't trip.

"I put your stuff in the dryer," Lily reported, having changed out of her own soaked garments as well.

"Thanks," Marcy said.

Outside, they could see the storm still raging. It seemed to not have lost any momentum in the half hour since they'd left the school. The wind howled as it blew against the house and rain continued falling in sheets.

"You text your parents?" Lily asked.

"Yeah," Marcy replied. "They're glad I'm safe and they say they'll come get me if I need them to."

"Have they looked outside?"

Both girls giggled.

"What about your parents?" Marcy asked.

"They're both hunkering down at work until the worst of it is over," Lily replied.

"So ... we're alone."

The hug they'd shared not too long ago as wind and rain pelted them came to the forefront of their minds. Suddenly feeling drained, Lily sat down on the couch. Marcy sat as well, being sure to position herself as far from Lily as possible. But this attempt wasn't making things any less awkward. Seconds seemed to stretch out as both girls remained silent.

"What do we do now?" Marcy finally asked.

"We've now both admitted we want to give this a shot," Lily said. "So, do we?"

Marcy looked at the floor.

"I'd like to," she admitted in a faint voice.

Lily slid a little closer to her, though five feet of couch still separated them.

"I'm not sure why it's so hard," Lily said. "I mean, we're friends."

"I don't think it's any easier when guy and girl friends decide to start dating," Marcy offered.

Lily nodded, admiring the brunette's intelligence. She noticed Marcy had closed the gap between them by another half foot.

"Should we just go for it," she asked. "Just dive in?"

Marcy laughed.

"Interesting choice of words there," she remarked.

Lily laughed too

"Go easy," she shot back. "I'm new at this."

Marcy moved a little closer. They could almost reach out and touch each other.

"But," Lily said, "should we just go for it? Rather than this awkward ... I don't know what to call what we're doing here right now."

She moved over a little more and reached out, sliding her arm across the back of Marcy's shoulders. Marcy closed the gap. As they wrapped their arms around one another, the petite brunet looked up and pressed her lips against the blonde's.

Surprised, Lily froze. She hadn't known what to expect, but this was feeling good.

Unfortunately, Marcy seemed to misread her hesitation and pulled away.

"Sorry," she said, looking down again. She tried to pull away further, but Lily held on to her.

"It's okay," the blonde said. "Really. I was just ... well ... I'm new at this, remember?"

Marcy managed a small giggle.

"Let's try again," Lily offered.

Smiling, Marcy turned her face up again and their lips met. Her heart racing, Lily overcame any lingering feelings of surprise and ran her tongue along Marcy's teeth. She also ran her hands up and down Marcy's sides, working to get used to feeling the straps of the other girl's bra beneath her shirt. The closest she'd ever come to this was feeling a football player's wifebeater beneath his t-shirt.

Then, Marcy broke the kiss and giggled.

"Sorry," she said, recovering. "I'm a bit ticklish."

Lily laughed as well.

"Guess we'll have to keep practicing that," she said, and they broke into new fits of laughter.

Recovering, Lily looked at Marcy.

"I would like to see where this goes," she said in a more serious tone. "I don't know what'll happen, but I'd like to try."

"Me, too," Marcy agreed

She snuggled up against Lily and the blonde realized how good it felt to have her friend so close. She wrapped her arms around Marcy again and released a sigh of contentment.

Author Notes This chapter again has three parts, but in a different order.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game. Died five years later due to her injuries.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


Chapter 59
Chapter 21 - Present (again)

By teols2016

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.


"One of Us" by Joan Osborne was playing as Roland entered Gately's. The governor's press conference had ended hours ago, but the place was still busy, with some reporters still in town, completing follow-up pieces. Thankfully, no one addressed Roland as he secured a booth for himself.

He'd never planned what he'd do now that Andrew was officially free. The firm in Dallas, though putting him in their good graces again, seemed less appealing. Maybe he could relocate. He might be able to join the firm in Houston who'd originally handled Andrew's appeals. After all, he now had experience in the field of helping the condemned ... that and a 100% success rate.

But he could figure all that out later. Right now, he was hungry.

Leaving his briefcase to mark his claimed seat, Roland rose again and walked over to the jukebox, the music having stopped. He was surprised to find no songs waiting in the cue and inserted a dollar. He made his selection and returned to his seat. As he walked, "Don't Stop Believing" began to play.

Sitting down, Roland caught Tony's eye. The man seemed to be permanently rooted behind the counter, where he always cleaned glasses or something similar. But today, Tony looked back and smiled at Roland. That was definitely a first.

The lawyer shifted his gaze to a nearby wall, where a large plaque now hung. Beneath photos of Lilian Harvey and Marcy Sellers, the engravement read, "Cherish their memory" along with the girls' birth and death dates. Roland never realized they were only three months apart in age, Marcy dying at age seventeen while Lily had been sixteen.

Seeing the girls' smiling visages, Roland again wondered if their relationship, whatever it had been, would have lasted. No one would ever know now. Still, Lily and Marcy were forever bound together as symbols in a drive for change and acceptance. Roland wondered if they could look down and see this shrine, one of several recently erected throughout Pewter.

As Roland admired the memorial, Sherriff Waller entered the diner. The lawman nodded at the lawyer before moving towards a nearby booth, where a woman and a couple young children were waiting. Roland watched the sheriff join his family, all of them smiling.

"What'll it be tonight?" someone asked.

Startled, Roland turned to see Emily standing by his booth, her pen and pad poised to record his order. He couldn't recall when they'd reconciled, but the smile on her face suggested they had. He'd have to figure out how exactly that happened some other time.

"I'll have a beer," he said and, glancing at his menu, asked, "What's good here?"

"Well," Emily replied, seeming to mull his question over for a second. "The double cheeseburger with bacon is popular. It's big though."

She gave him another warm smile.

"Sounds good to me," Roland said, returning her smile as she took his menu.
‚??
The End

Author Notes Thank you for taking this ride with me. Your feedback is read and considered invaluable. This is the final section of the last chapter.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game. Died five years later due to her injuries.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Now exonerated.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Tony Andrews: owner and manager of Gately's, a local eatery in Pewter which is popular with the high school students.

Emily Winters: server at Gately's.

Aaron Waller: sheriff of Alter County. Defeated/succeeded Sheriff Keith Darden.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.


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