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Inadmissible - A Short Story

by Stuart Keane 12 months ago in Short Story
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But nothing is as it seems...

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

The blood spatter; that’s the kicker. The evidence that blew the case wide open. Three days at trial and the lab rats couldn’t guarantee the legitimacy of the forensics.

A schoolboy error right there.

Rae Mercer swiped her brow with the back of her trembling hand. A pool of sweat gathered on her left eyebrow and rolled down her face just shy of the left eye. Short breaths whistled through her pursed lips as she made an enormous effort to calm down and stay reassured. For twenty years, she’d been a lawyer and her final case could be, no, would be, thrown out because of a technicality.

She had always imagined her career ending on a more upbeat and triumphant note.

Undefeated. A lawyer’s dream.

Screwed the pooch on this one, didn’t you? She thought. They’ll just replace you with a Harvard rookie who’ll probably win twice as many cases as you in half the time.

Mercer calculated the math in her head and realised it was a real possibility.

Lawyers were always dispensable in a world where people appreciated neither their value nor their advice. Mercer couldn’t recall exactly how many, but the fact was that quite a number of her clients decided to talk whilst under oath, despite being advised not to. Yeah, she reasoned to herself. If you ask for legal advice, make sure you take the advice you’re given. Being a lawyer isn’t always like the portrayal in the movies, but a lot of the time the movies were deadly accurate. Idiots existed in both reality and fiction after all.

She rubbed her left forearm. It itched like crazy. She sighed. The sound was deafening and sudden. The events of the trial frolicked in her mind’s eye, giving her a headache. Mercer just remembered the highlights. The pain was throbbing at the base of her skull.

Robert Benjamin Perry, sometimes referred to as RBP, had enemies. Known as Bobby to his friends, family and anyone who took a moment to listen, the man was a lecherous scumbag, a character with few principles and ethics. Shock and surprise were noticeably absent when his punctured body, stabbed and shredded, was discovered in his home.

His mother found him. Mercer suspected that even the man’s mother, the only woman in the world who truly loved him, had an inkling that her little boy was bad news. The parents always know – it’s like a sixth sense. On this occasion, RBP had pissed off the wrong person and had paid the ultimate price.

Mercer ran the events through her mind. The murder, the crime-scene photos, the interviews (oh the many, many interviews) and RBP’s mother breaking down suddenly and painfully in her colleague’s arms, at the realisation that her son, her evil conniving son, was gone. The interviews didn’t bode well, they painted a picture of RBP that was … well, truthful.

It all started when he was thirteen and he stole his best friend’s bicycle. He sold the bike to fund the purchase of fireworks, which RBP would set fire to before distributing them into several letterboxes of various homes in his cul-de-sac. One old dear needed the hospital; two children received severe burns because the sound of a letterbox flapping, for them, normally meant the arrival of morning comics. Not this time though. They found no evidence of RBP’s actions, and no vendor would ever admit selling the fireworks to a minor, so nothing came of it. He got away with the crimes.

It got worse.

A year later he stole his mother’s TV. His mother didn’t stop him; her son was six-foot-three at this point. His shadow engulfed her frail frame. This time, the sale of the TV was to fund his ever-increasing drug habit: heroin to be precise. This was the beginning of his life of crime. Before long, he was selling the drug to others. His trash-talking mouth ensured that he was a damn good drug dealer too. For a while.

During the interview with his mother, she described how she witnessed her son vanish before her very eyes. His red hair faded to grey years ahead of its natural time, his matchstick frame bulked into muscle in weeks rather than months (steroids she assumed) and his taste in clothes became increasingly lavish. His wrists bulged with gold jewellery or ‘bling’ as he called it.

The heroin dosages increased. It was inevitable.

RBP’s hair started to fall out and his skin became pallid, making his features appear sunken. His clothes became cheaper and dirtier, probably because he was wasting all of his money and profits on the deadly drug. Hygiene took a backseat, a normalcy for junkies.

Eight years after stealing her TV, RBP returned to his mother’s house to repeat the theft, this time to take its replacement. She described him as shaking and verbally comatose. His eyes were jittery, like those of a cat chasing a fly. Paranoia, and other things, oozed from his pores. The stench of him was unbearable and his mother had asked him to take a shower. He did so without taking his clothes off. After an hour or so, he left, carrying her TV wrapped in newspaper. Mother and son exchanged sixteen solitary words during the whole visit, one of which was goodbye.

His mother didn’t know the entire story.

Mercer liaised with many police officers to get the records for the RBP case. He was bad news. Stealing from your mother is one thing, but bag snatching, charity box swiping and even robbing buskers wasn’t news to RBP. He couldn’t admit to these minor offences because the heroin was burning his veins, shrinking his brain and practically reducing the man to a walking, mumbling pot plant. Mercer was reading the reports and noticed that the man’s behaviour was becoming more erratic. His crimes were escalating and it was more a matter of when, rather than if, RBP’s actions would get him sent to prison.

Then he got clean. His mother was amazed. It took him two months, during which the colour returned to his cheeks, he started to put weight back on, was able to stay off the H and began using his illegally gotten gains to fund his lifestyle. In six months, he was back on top once again. What’s more, his mother didn’t lose another TV. Hell, RBP even bought her a 60-inch plasma set to compensate for the loss. He redecorated her house and bought her Snoopy, her now beloved Jack Russell terrier.

Which was the next fault in RBP’s life. He thought throwing money at his aggrieved victims would make them forgive him. For most, it worked.

For fifteen years, everyone was at his disposal.

For Ross Jenkins, the accused, cash wasn’t solving his problem. No amount of money could compensate him for the loss of his wife.

That’s right; RBP stole his wife and tried to pay him off.

A motive for murder, yes siree!

Mrs. Jenkins is, was, a bikini model. Ross Jenkins earned a living as a wealthy real estate contractor. One day he came home and found a note from his wife saying she’d left and found someone better, someone who could cater to her needs and who could support her career. That’s not to say her husband was unsupportive, it simply meant that RBP was willing to waste more money funding the lavish lifestyle of a model who, frankly, would never grace the cover of Vogue or Esquire and certainly wasn’t of an age to successfully compete with younger models. Besides, Mrs. Jenkins had become so enamoured with her luxurious lifestyle, she’d put her career on the back burner. No need to go to photo shoots or attend fashion shows when she could sit at home and admire her sleek pins in the pool whilst living the Life of Riley.

So, there’s RBP, a model on his arm, clean and moderately healthy, driving around Los Angeles as if he owned the place. Drug dealers left him alone. His reign of terror began at aged thirteen and looked set to continue beyond his last birthday, which made him forty-one.

Ross Jenkins didn’t leave him alone.

A witness saw him walk to RBP’s front door. Within seconds, Jenkins left. He tried several times to speak to Mrs. Jenkins, who now went by her career name of Kerri, with no success. On another occasion, he approached RBP on his front stoop while his rival was collecting the newspaper. Wearing his dressing gown, RBP produced a wad of bills and stuffed them into Jenkins’s pockets. RBP then slapped Jenkins across the face affectionately and returned to his breakfast.

That’s when Ross Jenkins went into an antique shop and bought a sword and two knives.

With RBP’s money.

The police found RBP dead two days later.

His reign of terror was over, his downfall funded by his own illegal dealings.

Or so they thought.

From that point, the case wrote itself. The headlines read: JILTED HUSBAND KILLS DRUG KINGPIN and SCARFACE REBORN and in one particular lowbrow paper, HUSBAND SHAFTED MY SUGARDADDY.

Mercer had chuckled at that last one.

She shouldn’t have, since she was representing Mrs. Jenkins AKA Kerri AKA the sole inheritor of RBP’s estate, according to his will. Mercer didn’t believe the woman’s tears were genuine, not for one second. Her history pretty much confirmed that she was a gold digger. However, Mercer remained neutral. She was a professional after all.

The crimp in this case was the evidence. Mercer knew they didn’t have any solid proof that Jenkins actually murdered RBP.

The trial began amid a media frenzy. RBP, for some reason, had become somewhat of a celebrity during his reign of terror. People came out of the woodwork to see it, millions tuned in on TV to catch the news and a mob congregated outside of the courthouse. It was crazy. Within days, the court was sectioned off for the safety of all involved. The mob continued at the cusp of the barrier, promoting its hatred and bile to anyone within earshot.

Kerri arrived on the first day, dressed to the nines. Mercer nearly told her to go home and change her outfit but she doubted a continuance would be allowed for such a drama.

A continuance on the first day? Mercer shook her head at the very thought.

When Kerri walked into the court and took her seat, all eyes were on her, probably for the first time in her life. Her pink summer dress was hardly suitable for someone in mourning and her little Chihuahua dressed in a matching outfit was a joke. The dress rode up her bronze thighs to the hilt, the material around the ample bosom was very revealing and her matching hat, well, Mercer wondered if the hat contained more fabric than the remainder of the outfit. Kerri could walk well in her high heels and Mercer swore she used her entrance as a catwalk. She even spun as she took her seat.

Probably the only shot at modelling she was ever likely to have.

Not that it mattered. She never needed to work again.

Mercer remembered looking across the courtroom on the first morning. The jurors resided in the booth off to the right. A huge window decorated the wall above them. The sunshine beamed down onto them, making them look like twelve angels of life and death with the ultimate decision in their hands. An ordinary bunch, the looks on their faces ranged from: ‘I’m so important to be here’ to ‘I’m missing daytime TV for this’. Mercer imagined them being sequestered; that would put a crimp in their ordinary lives. Mercer stifled a smile. At the sight of one man picking his nose, the lawyer turned her attention to her client.

“Are you ready for this?” Mercer asked Kerri. The model glanced at Mercer as if she was a lowlife, a speck on the blemish of her existence.

“Make the bastard pay,” Kerri said, staring ahead again, robotically petting her dog, which was surprisingly quiet in the muted chaos of the courtroom.

Mercer gave the opening statement. The prosecution always goes first. She kept it short and sweet, she threw in a little court humour that she hoped would dampen the fact that her client resembled a walking lollypop. The jury giggled politely.

So far so good.

Ross Jenkins’s lawyer, a hack called Burt Levinson, went second. Levinson rambled on a little, as some defence lawyers do; he waved his arms around a lot and put on a show. Mercer wasn’t watching him do this; she made notes on her notepad. Reading the jury was one thing she prided herself on. So far, the favour of the jury appeared to be on her side. A squint here, a nostril flare there, one juror even closed his eyes for a minute. Probably something to do with Levinson’s southern drawl that extended certain words, or maybe his cheap suit. Seriously, she thought, you’re in court so why not make an effort? Mercer saw Jenkins shifting uncomfortably in his seat. Those early trial jitters. Did I hire the right lawyer? What if I’m declared guilty?

Mercer had seen it a hundred times.

The first two days consisted of standard court activity. The calling of witnesses was vast, exhaustive and a little boring. The prosecution went first, followed by the defence’s cross-examination.

Mrs. Perry (RBP’s mother) took the stand. Despite the evidence to the contrary and the fact that she could testify to RBP’s normal behaviour, she described her son as a saint. Some mothers will do that. Several of RBP’s ‘friends’ were questioned in relation to Jenkins’s visits to the dead man’s property. One even lied, “Yo, Jenkins was trippin’ dog! He pulled a gun on me and ma brothers.”

Obviously, that witness testimony was discarded immediately.

The antiques shop owner confirmed that Jenkins did indeed purchase the supposed murder weapon(s), which were entered into evidence and sealed in plastic bags. Kerri had her turn in the spotlight. Despite Mercer telling her that she should behave as a victim, play it down, seem upset, Kerri was laughing and smiling and, on several occasions, leaned too far forward, giving the court an eyeful of her ample cleavage. Jenkins lowered his head at this point, the pain too harsh. Kerri really was using this case to promote herself. Despite this, her testimony was solid.

Finally, Jenkins took the stand himself and sat there, answering yes and no for most questions. The man looked dejected and broken. Mercer didn’t blame him in a way, he was a victim of greed and jealousy and pride. Kerri had really ruined that man’s life. On the other hand, was it really Mercer who was about to do that?

Mercer’s thoughts returned to the present. She felt uncomfortably hot and sweaty, and her hands immediately went to her collar to loosen the button. The air felt cool on her newly exposed neck. She remembered the blood work and scratched her left forearm again.

During the murder, the sword and knives were the primary weapons. Apparently, Jenkins went in behaving like a man on fire but emerged silent and fulfilled, according to the witnesses. However, the blood spatter indicated otherwise. Doubt had reared its ugly head at the most inconvenient time. This occurred during the trial, much to Mercer’s chagrin.

Bloody lab monkeys.

However, there was more.

The blood spatter analysis was wrong, it didn’t correspond with the witness description of how Jenkins acted, but they also found a second person’s blood during the investigation. Blood and saliva. Whoever had committed the crime did so in a controlled frenzy and was satisfied with the work. Probably satiating a long-term need to kill RBP.

The list of potential murderers was a long one.

The blood work had taken some time to get back. However, the results had no identification. A John Doe was at the scene and no one knew who it was.

They’d hit a dead end.

“Sorry for keeping you, Ms. Mercer.”

Detective Jack Hopkins stepped through the door. Mercer leaned back, once again wiping her slick forehead. The door closed with a muted thud. An hour ago, she’d been sitting on the uncomfortable metal chair when they advised her that the blood work was useless. It could jeopardize the case, they said. Mercer looked at the naked bulb above her. Hopkins, noticing her discomfort, smiled. He placed a manila file on the table. “Sorry about the basic amenities. Busy day, this was the only room available.”

Mercer nodded. “You said the blood work was useless? How so?”

Hopkins opened the file and spread its contents across the table, looking at the blood spatter photos. “Well, you already know the blood spatter was contained to a small area. After the witness testimony, it’s come to our attention that something doesn’t add up. Jenkins went in with knives a-blazing and came out normal and controlled. If he was so frantic, on edge and mad…well, this room—”

Hopkins pointed to the photo of the lounge, the murder scene, with a raw looking fingertip.

“—would look like a kindergarten painting project. But it don’t, it looks like someone had a big fuckin’ nosebleed.”

Mercer nodded. She’d heard this all before.

“So obviously, we think something’s amiss. The jury are in there fretting about an innocent man. Everyone can see that this is a stitch-up of some kind. The man isn’t a killer. You don’t walk out of a murder scene, your first murder, all calm and collected. Most men would become a gibbering wreck after they’d done it. Jenkins doesn’t fit our profile.” Hopkins scooped the photos together and patted them into a neat pile.

Mercer looked at him, searching for something. “So, what’s this got to do with me?”

“Nothing really. I just wanted to inform you that we’re removing the blood work from evidence. We can’t use it. Jenkins didn’t go in there, mad about his slut wife, and focus on stabbing the man who ruined his life … that doesn’t happen. Too clean. Someone else was in there and Jenkins turned up too late—”

Mercer nodded, following his train of thought.

“—and witnessed the dead body. It explains his demeanour after leaving. A psychologist all but confirmed that Jenkins isn’t capable of murder, no matter if he bought the weapons to do it or not. The man has a timid personality, one brought on from care and nurturing and a good upbringing, not neglect and abuse. He may have intended to go in there and get his wife back, not kill her lover. The idea might have crossed his mind in the same way it does to people who flippantly say they’re going to kill someone. His job involves negotiating, so that’s probably why he went over there. To negotiate the return of his wife. We think he took the weapons for protection.”

Mercer said nothing.

“He was innocent when he left that house, probably relieved, until this shit landed on his doorstep. All that remains is the witness testimony and let’s call a spade a spade, your client, ol’ Miss Penelope Spreadsherlegsalot…she won’t be sending her ex-husband down. Unless the jury are cold hearted sons-of-bitches who just want to get back to watching Oprah.”

Mercer said nothing. The damage to her case could be fatal.

“Sorry ol’ girl … this could bring your case to its knees. Pretty apt if you consider the woman you’re representing.”

With that, Hopkins left the room. The door thudded shut and all was silent. After a full minute, Mercer smiled.

She couldn’t help it.

For some reason the events of the day didn’t matter anymore.

Mercer felt an itch on her left forearm again. The sleeve rode up to the elbow and Mercer scratched the irritation. The air felt cool on the creased, pink, inflamed skin. Burnt skin. Skin damaged from close exposure to fire.

More specifically, fireworks.

From her childhood.

The stench of burning flesh and acrid smoke, emphasized with the sounds of July 4th, popping, banging, and hissing. Her brother’s scream as he lost his right eye.

The damaged skin still itched when Mercer was hot and sweaty or stressed. The last three days had driven her insane.

RBP’s blood had soothed it. She remembered it running down her arms as she watched the bastard die. When she stabbed him twenty-seven times. Each blow plunged deep, sprayed her with blood and viscera. Droplets went in her mouth. She didn’t care. He died because of his sins. For what he did to her brother.

Her brother had caught the worst of it. The flames scorched the right side of his body as he’d tried to protect her. Later on, he’d hung himself because of constant bullying and abuse. Look boys, its Freddy Krueger. One…two…

Mercer smiled. Vengeance was complete.

Now the blood work was irrelevant, no one would ever know.

Mercer left the room.

She didn’t return to the courtroom.

No one ever saw her again.

Inadmissible is currently published in Whispers - Volume 3: A Third Collection. All of Stuart Keane's work is now available on Amazon.

Short Story

About the author

Stuart Keane

UK Variety Streamer. Horror Author and Fanatic. Avid Gamer. Achievement Hunter. Not necessarily in that order...

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