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| Category: || Mystery and Crime Fiction |
Posted:|| November 10, 2019 Views: 217|
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Chapter 28 of the book What The Blind Girl Saw
"What The Blind Girl Saw #28"
by Sally Law
Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper-hanging son-of-a-%@&%# Hitler - just like I'd shoot a snake." - In a speech delivered to his troops before embarking for Operation Overlord (D-Day). American General George S. Patton
Strasbourg, France. June 6, 1944. D-Day.
The heavy rains had pounded the coast of Normandy and moved west towards Strasbourg for two days, pushing back the planned invasion of allied troops a full day to the 6th of June.
Leo Fermier planned to return to the cave hideout and carry out strict instructions from Hava von Gil: "Bring Renee and Andre here, so that I may look after them. I can't turn away from them now. Andre is only fourteen, and Renee so sick. I have ancient cures that will help to restore her strength."
He left with a sense of urgency, knowing this could also be the day of the great battle for France, as well as relocating the Duprees.
He set off as soon as his truck was readied and the rains had subsided. When Leo reached the top of the hills, he switched on his radio, hopeful to hear the news of the invasion. However, the radio's reception was crackling with static. I'll try again later. Yesterday's storm most likely blew out the tower.
There had been many German military convoys on the roadways these past months, which made his daily deliveries more precarious. He always made sure he played the part of a pro-Hitler Frenchman, which guaranteed safer passage.
Leo was very familiar with covert operations from his military days in the French Resistance, but this was his first plot involving a beautiful woman that he loved. Yes, I love Hava von Gil. At twenty-four, she was his first love; and the very thought of her filled him with vigor for the day.
Leo pulled into the abandoned vineyard just as the path narrowed to the cave entrance, and parked on a patch of rocky soil. So far so good. He checked his radio one more time, but--nothing.
He sighted Andre with his mare, sitting on a stump beside the vine-covered entrance.
"Bonjour, Andre. How is your maman today?"
Andre wiped tears as he looked away. "I can't lose her, Mr. Fermier."
"You are both coming with me to the farm," insisted Leo. "Hava will care for her, and I can keep a closer watch. Is that your mare?"
"She is now. I think perhaps her owners died. We've been through much together, and she refuses to leave."
Leo helped Andre to his feet. "Gather your things, and let's get her inside my milk truck. I'll drive slowly so that you can follow me on horseback. It's about five miles west, just past Hope Road. My farm sits on a lake there, down in a low-lying area," Leo said, pointing. "Do you know it?"
"Yes, I believe so. I buried my best friend, David von Gil, there. I waded his body into your lake."
Colmar, France. June 6th, 1944.
Jeanne-Louise Dupree didn't like rain; it made her sad. She had been indoors for days with no Andre to play with. Oh, how she missed him and his silly French songs and pantomimes. She would amuse herself by watching him paint, if he didn't have time to spoil her. Life was so different here without her brother and Maman.
Miss Marie had been gone for weeks. Jeanne-Louise lovingly touched her silver locket, a parting gift from Marie Segal. I hope Miss Marie doesn't forget me, too.
Over the weekend, Jackson and I finished going through the hidden room in Andre's former home, examining boxes of old letters, postcards, and pieces of memorabilia. It was emotional, to say the least. I learned some difficult truths about my ancestry--but, more importantly, the kind of cloth I was cut from. I felt blessed just to be near and touch their memories.
More than ever, I understood how selfless Andre was. He put his artistic dreams on hold for a long time for the sake of others.
My uncle's past revealed an extraordinary person, formed in the war years of his youth.
Andre had hired multiple private investigators to locate me, and traveled from Paris to Louisiana to make his home as close to me as he could. He had plans to eventually tell me of our blood relationship, but had put it off for some unknown reason.
These latest revelations filled me with strength, and I was actually looking forward to my upcoming testimony in court. I was going to let the jury hear what Philippe Savard had taken from me.
Prosecutor Owens pulled Jackson, King, and me aside as we were entering the courtroom. "Just remember our practice sessions, Sally. If Clayborne Moore gets out of line, I'll come to your rescue."
"May I speak freely to the court at the onset of the state's examination?" I asked.
"Certainly," said Prosecutor Owens. "You'll do great."
Apparently, the press caught wind of my upcoming testimony and wouldn't leave us alone. Media was everywhere we stepped. Jackson and Detective Lembowsky kept pushing them back just so we could be seated. "Mrs. Law, is it true...?"
Truth...? Does the media really care, or are they just here to make a spectacle? I spoke briefly with two reporters from the Lafayette Township Gazette, as the editor's mama just happened to be in my book club.
The judge greeted the court with his usual sunny disposition as the bailiff called us to order. It was standing room only on this Tuesday morning.
The electricity in the air circled like an approaching Louisiana thunderhead.
After Philippe Savard was seated, he immediately pulled a white envelope from his coat pocket.
The envelope had been hand-delivered this morning, just as he was leaving the county jail for the courthouse. This was not unusual; but the warden had it checked for toxic substances, then passed it along to him.
Savard was surprised to see it was a typed letter from juror, Velma Watts. She had returned to court after her panic attack the previous Friday.
It said: No thanks, Phil. I have to live with myself. You may want to rethink your options. West Feliciana Parish Prison is calling you. You know--death row. God sees you, and His court is the higher one. Here's your money back. Hugs and kisses, Vee
Enclosed with the note was the check he had given her to throw the jury's vote.
Savard looked over at Velma as court began, trying to catch her eye. She knew she had succeeded when Philippe Savard leaned into Clayborne Moore. "I've changed my mind, I would like to testify," demanded Savard.
After the morning formalities, Jackson seated me in the witness box. King remained behind the partition to keep him from sighting Philippe Savard. With a hand command, I reminded him to be good.
Roy Fitzgerald Owens was in his usual confident form, greeting me in his southern drawl. "Thank you for your testimony today, Mrs. Law. May I remind you, you are still under oath."
"Good Morning, Mr. Owens. Yes, I understand that I'm still under oath."
"Good. Before we hear your account of the events on March 16th, 2019, I would like to hear about your relationship to Andre Dupree. Please feel free to speak openly to the court at this time."
My hand touched the scarf Andre had given me, the one I wore to his funeral.
"Andre Dupree was an amazing person. I knew him as my next door neighbor, friend, and crossword puzzle opponent. Because of his age, we checked on him daily."
"How old was Andre Dupree?" asked prosecutor Owens.
"He was 88 when he was taken from us."
"So, you were close?"
"Yes, very close. He had been our neighbor since 2004. We became fast friends enjoying each other's company. We celebrated holidays together, since he had no family to speak of, except for Charles. Their relationship was strained."
"Do you have any idea why it was strained?"
"Objection. We have no way to verify this information. It's no more than hearsay," said Clayborne Moore.
"Overruled," said the judge. "The court will hear from Mrs. Law on this matter, as she is speaking freely at this time."
"Thank you, Your Honor. Andre didn't like Charles's lavish lifestyle and friends, specifically Philippe Savard," I said.
At that, Savard went ballistic. "So ... I'm supposed to just sit here and listen to this!"
As soon as King heard Savard's voice, he snapped to attention and came from behind the partition to rescue me once again.
"Heel, King," I commanded.
Savard stood up and continued his rant. He screamed at everyone: Clayborne Moore, Ashley Bishop, Prosecutor Roy Owens, King, and me. His last comment was yet another insult to Judge Hawthorne.
The judge's gavel was whacked so hard, it came apart. "Mr. Savard, you have disrespected this court for the last time. You are excused for the duration of the trial on contempt of court charges. Security, remove the defendant immediately," said the judge.
And fun was had by all on the first morning back at trial.
The atmosphere in the afternoon courtroom was much improved after the departure of Philippe Savard. The examinations were given back to Prosecutor Owens as court resumed at two o'clock.
"Mr. Owens, may King and I move closer to the jury for this next portion?" I asked.
"Mr. Moore, do you have an objection to this?" asked the judge.
Clayborne Moore answered, "That is fine, Your Honor. Possibly, we can return to polite courtroom behavior starting now."
"I agree. Thank you, Counselor," said the judge.
Jackson and King helped me to the juror's area. I was offered a chair; however, I chose to stand with King by my side.
"Members of the jury, this is my sight dog, King. Say hello, King."
King barked and panted in his friendly manner. My, what a charming dog can do in the courtroom.
"I introduce my dog today, as he is both my eyes and my protector. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I didn't see who killed Andre Dupree and neither did King. But, King did sight two men in my front yard just minutes after his murder. We know that one of them was Philippe Savard. It was confirmed by the blood DNA found on the crowbar, and King identifying Savard in a police lineup. The second man, I hope comes forward as the trial progresses."
I let this sink in a bit. As no one objected, I felt free to continue.
"Lastly, on the morning of Andre's murder, King circled me in protective mode, which means there was more than one assailant. I originally thought the second man was Charles Dupree, but ruled him out at Andre's funeral. If Charles had been in my yard burying the murder weapon, or seeking to harm me, King would've reacted at the funeral. I believe it was Philippe Savard I interrupted while he was burying the crowbar, along with his accomplice. As we learned from Dr. MacLavish, the evidence from the dated video cam on the express train confirms Charles was long gone at this time."
The members of the jury were hanging on every word. I got to them, and I knew it.
To be continued . . . .
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