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 Category:  Mystery and Crime Fiction
  Posted: September 15, 2019      Views: 246
Chapters:
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Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
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Chapter 23 of the book What The Blind Girl Saw
Change of direction.
"What The Blind Girl Saw #23" by Sally Law



~**~
Strasbourg, France, near the German border at the cave hideout. May 21, 1944~

It was first light when Hava von Gil rose and bathed herself, putting on her best travel clothes. Her evening prayers still lingered, and she felt peaceful.

She gathered her knee-length hair with a leather cord; then bravely sheared decades of growth with a razor.

Studying herself in the mirror, the reflection of a modern Parisian woman looked back. The finishing touch was a tortoise shell barrette; a gift from her parents as part of her wedding trousseau, and a pinch of red rouge. She trimmed little Andre's hair too, and tied all the clippings together with a satin ribbon.

Resting on the familiar tree stump stool; she penned a goodbye letter to the Dupree's.

My dear friends~
I know my precious David is gone, and I must think ahead to my future. I have family members in Hungary, and I will travel there. Please do not worry yourselves, for I have money and more family heirlooms if I need them. The child that grows in my womb needs a father and so does little Andre. I will always be grateful for that day in the field, Andre. Very few grown men would have risked their lives for a Jewish family, much less a young boy. You have become a fine young man. David and I spoke daily of how much we loved you and your family.
Shalom,
Hava von Gil


Hava collected the locks of hair and set them underneath the small velvet pouch containing the white diamonds. "To the family who saved us," said Hava, as she pressed her lips to the letter.

Turning to look upon her brief home in the cavernous hills one more time, she remembered the last request from David before he left for the farm to rescue Maman and Jean-Louise. She added to the letter--

P. S. David said, 'If anything happens to me, make sure the pink heirloom diamond is given to Andre along with the white ones. I see a wonderful future for our artist friend. I had a vision of his paintings hanging in a stately manor. A white house with greenery and flowers all around. A lovely vision and so real.'

Securing the cave entrance, Hava von Gil made her way down the blossom-covered hill to the main road with her toddler son in her arms. She slipped her family's compass around her neck and recited an ancient prayer for protection.

"Defend us against enemies, illness, war, famine and sorrow. Distance us from wrongdoing. For You, God, watch over us and deliver us. For You, God, are gracious and merciful. Guard our going and coming, to life and to peace evermore."

The day was a fine one, and for just a moment, war seemed far removed. The answer to her prayer was already on the way; coming towards her in a milk truck.

***************

The residence of Dr. Francois Segal, Attending Physician, St. Paul's Hospital near Colmar, France. May 21, 1944~

Jeanne-Louise Dupree was seated at the guest room window every day to absorb the healing sunshine.

If the weather was fine, like today, Marie Segal would take her outside and sit with her young patient amongst the roses, offering her tea in a miniature porcelain cup.

Marie had always dreamed of children and had grown attached to the darling child with each passing day. Her attentive care had made all the difference in Jeanne-Louise's recovery. She spoke more and more as she regained her strength.

"Miss Marie, where is Maman and my brother, Andre? I miss them so."

"Oh dear one, they have only left you here to get well. They will be back soon. Do not fret. Think of your visit here as an adventure."

"I am glad I'm better. My brother will come back and bounce me on his knees. We will play and be happy, once again. I do not think I can be happy without my Maman and Andre," said Jeanne-Louise, shaking her head.

"There now, they will be back soon," assured Marie. "Help me gather some flowers for the hospital. It makes the rooms smell so much sweeter."

"Yes, and roses for my family, too. My brother loves flowers and paints them on everything!"

"Does he? How wonderful," commented Marie.

Light sparkled from the eyes of her patient for the first time and she sensed her young charge was going to be just fine.

***************

St. Paul's Hospital, Colmar, France. May 21, 1944~

A shadow had fallen on Dr. Francois Segal as a strep-born fever was sweeping the hospital. Two German soldiers had died in the night, prompting the attending doctor to nail a sign to the front door after completing his morning rounds.

It read: Quarantine--Rheumatic Fever. No new patients at this time.

The doctor had been working tirelessly, treating patients right and left. The delivery of the much needed penicillin had been delayed and streptococcus cases were growing exponentially. The deteriorating conditions of the war had made hygiene among the soldiers lax, spreading disease throughout the ranks. He had noticed soldiers sharing flasks of whiskey and cigarettes while waiting to be admitted.

Dr. Segal sent his most persuasive nun to collect the contaminated possessions, and he overheard the soldiers hurling curses as they placed their valuables in the offering plate.

It was near midday when Dr. Segal made a call to his wife to check on her and Jeanne-Louise.

"Marie, I know you were planning to bring Jeanne-Louise to the hospital with you today, but I had to place it under quarantine."

"Quarantine! Then, let me send your lunch," she insisted. "Francois, you must eat to keep up your strength."

"Thank you, love. I think it's best if you take Jeanne-Louise to your sister's house, and return to help me. I am overwhelmed and exhausted. Remember dear wife, you are also my best nurse."

***************

The courtroom was stirred after my reading of the letter from Charles Dupree and subsequent announcement. So much so that the Honorable Judge felt it necessary to warn us all.

"Ladies and Gentlemen--please!" His gavel came down with a loud 'whack.'

Both the defense counselors apologized on behalf of Philippe Savard, who thought it necessary to blurt out a disdainful comment once again, risking a contempt of court charge. But, it was too late.

"Defense Counsel, would you approach the bench, please?"

The discussion was muted, and lasted about two minutes. Jackson leaned into me and whispered, "Philippe Savard is toast."

"Bailiff, would you please call security and remove Mr. Savard from the courtroom," said the judge in a serious tone. The judge addressed Philippe Savard as he stood to leave.

"Mr. Savard, you are here, in my court, and you will control your outbursts. Do I make myself perfectly clear?" Judge Hawthorne waited for a response. A few seconds passed as Philippe Savard hesitated. "Yes--Your Honor. I understand."

"I hope so. I expect better manners tomorrow. In the meantime, we will continue on today without you. Good day, Mr. Savard," said Judge Hawthorn.

The rambunctious courtroom had turned on a dime. Finally, the steady voice of Dr. Marie MacLavish broke the silence.

"I'm ready when you are, Your Honor."

"Thank you for your patience, Doctor. I give the floor back to you for the reenactment of the morning of the murder."

At this time, Dr. MacLavish addressed the jury in her teaching way. Each member of the jury was given a printed list of the forensic exhibits as the actors came forward and took their places in the center of the courtroom.

Before we begin, I need to shine a light on the unique quality of DNA evidence. I call it, 'living proof.' The unique characteristics of a person are left behind in every crime, sometimes a little or a lot. It's our job to collect and process it in order to put together a picture of what really happened. We believe we have a good picture of the day Andre Dupree was murdered.

Today, I will show how cause, mode, and manner of death in the murder of Andre Dupree are clearly supported by the forensic evidence. I will show evidence that Philippe Savard handled the murder weapon and left his bloody print, or living proof, on the crowbar used to murder Andre Dupree. Finally, Philippe Savard was identified in a police lineup by Mrs. Law's sight dog, King. These are the compelling facts, and add to the growing list of evidence in this case.

Shall we begin?

Andre Dupree was an early riser, and had left the house for a brisk morning walk. He picked up French pastries at Cafe de Fleur around 8:00 o'clock, then returned home. His wet coat, galoshes and scarf were left to dry by the front door. He received a phone call from his son, Charles, around 8:45, saying he was on his way for coffee and pastries. The text message confirming the planned breakfast meeting between Charles and Andre Dupree is marked on your sheet.

Andre was expecting Charles, and had two places set, and breakfast waiting, on the kitchen counter.

We will switch now to the express train cam in Lafayette Township.


Jackson leaned into me to tell me what was going on. "The overhead projector shows Philippe Savard and Charles Dupree boarding, then disembarking the morning express train on foot, one mile from Andre Dupree's residence."

Dr. MacLavish continued as she referred to the video.

Facial recognition technology matched both Charles Dupree and Philippe Savard, on the early morning commuter. The time stamp displayed 8:45 A.M. on Monday, March 18th. But at 9:50 A.M., you see only Charles Dupree re-boarding the express train.

Cellphone communications are also logged as evidence and appear on your sheet in this section. What investigators gathered from Philippe Savard's cellphone during this time is consistent with what we heard in the letter from Charles Dupree.

One thing in particular is a comment that had been marked on Philippe Savard's cellphone calendar--a telling statement of his malice towards Andre Dupree. It said, 'Today is the day. The old man won't even see it coming.'


The re-enactment began at the front door with the struggle between Charles Dupree and Philippe Savard. The actors did a splendid job according to Jackson, and drew everyone back to that fateful morning.

In the struggle, Savard cut his hand badly, and blood droplets were found on the porch, and the pottery shards strewn about. Two separate footprints were tracked through the blood, and into the house. Philippe Savard's blood trail was matched to the story in the letter; tracing his steps from the front porch, through the garage, and back to the front door.

Philippe Savard was running in the front door with the crowbar when he allegedly struck Andre Dupree with frenzied strength. Please note an important piece of forensic evidence highlighted on your sheet as exhibit (N); the bloody fingerprints lifted from the crowbar and the hand towel were matched to the Defendant, Philippe Savard.


Listening to how my dear friend and uncle died left me in tears once again. I grabbed my cane and headed towards the exit. Jackson hurried to my side and opened the door. "Are you okay, sweetheart?"

"Yes, dear. I just need a break."

I took some deep breaths as I tapped my way through the vestibule and headed for the washrooms. A security guard greeted me as I turned down the long hall to the ladies parlor and washroom.

"Mornin'," said the guard in a low tone.

"Good Morning," I replied.

It was unusually quiet, I thought. "Everyone must be glued to the murder trial."

I continued on and into the handicap stall area, reaching to feel for the Braille lettering.

Suddenly, a man grabbed me from behind and forced me into a stall, his hand covering my mouth. I was completely subdued, and unable to move my hands to reach my smart watch and call for King.

"This is just a kind inquiry." he whispered. "Where is the pink diamond?" He released his hand from my mouth, but still towered over me, waiting for my answer.

"I don't know what you are talking about. I inherited white diamonds, not pink ones."

"You're a liar," he seethed, "and so is Savard." He had me pinned to the wall with his full weight pressed upon me. I could hardly breathe. "Stop--you're hurting me!"

The assailant shifted his weight, and when he did, I stomped on his foot to release his grip. I dug my long fingernails into his head as we tumbled backwards onto the tile floor. I yelled into my smart watch. "Siri--alert King!"

***************

France countryside, near Colmar. May 22, 1944~

Andre Dupree managed to move along slowly in the truck to a clearing in the forest. He pulled in as far as he could and parked, leaving the gear in neutral. He ran back and fetched his mare, mounting her for the search. As soon as he entered the deep woods, he saw her.

"Maman! Oh, thank God."

He ran as he stumbled into Maman's arms. Relief washed over him as he held her close.

"You're not well, Maman. I must get you to the hospital or back to the cave. You're burning up!"

Maman asked a question, suspecting the dreaded answer. "Is David dead?"

Andre nodded his head and began sobbing as his legs gave way. "His body is in the truck bed. The vultures were after him. I was hoping to find you and Jeanne-Louise . . . ."

Maman froze in silence, unable to speak. Andre slowly arose and turned his mother, cupping her face in his hands.

"Where is my littlest girl? Dear God, please tell me she is safe," pleaded Andre.

"She is being cared for at St. Paul's Hospital, Andre. David and I left her there for weeks of treatment. We were retuning to the cave when we pulled over and stalled. The gearshift jammed and refused to budge. A German convoy came up behind us on the road. David suspected something and pleaded with me to get out and run as fast as I could into the woods. A few minutes later, I heard German soldiers shouting--and then--the shot."

The mother and son wept, reminiscent of the day a messenger came from the captain of the French Resistance with unwelcome news. "Mrs. Dupree, we regret to inform you of your husband's death . . . ."

To be continued . . . .

Recognized

The book continues with What The Blind Girl Saw #24. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes

To continue to chapter 24 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.


Go to chapter one.

If you missed the beginning of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.


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