Unfortunately, Jason Banes’ plight isn’t the only thing on Judge Walker’s mind. Shortly after she arrives home, her husband, Bert, dies from the cancer that has plagued him for many years. Her mentor & friend, Kyle Tourney, gives her great comfort.
Judge Walker handed the phone back to Betsy, who walked out chatting quietly. Betsy laughed at something, no doubt outrageous, that Kyle said. The sound was suddenly muffled as if she’d put her hand over her mouth. Honoria couldn’t help smiling. In the midst of tragedy, Kyle could still be counted upon to make people laugh. It was a gift he and Bert shared.
Betsy came in with a syringe on a tray. She rolled up Honoria’s sleeve, swabbing her arm with an alcohol pad. “Dr. Stevens said to give you this. You need to sleep and he knows you won’t.”
Honoria nodded slightly. The needle stung for a second, then stopped. Betsy led her to her room, helped her undress and tucked her into bed as her eyes drifted shut.
“It’ll be better in the morning, Missus. You’ll see. He’s happy now, watching over you. Tomorrow, you’ll wake up with a smile.”
Honoria tried to thank her, but she was already falling asleep. Her dreams were full with memories of Bert. Just before she woke up, they were dancing at their wedding.
Betsy was right, she did wake with a smile. The last moment before waking, Bert kissed her, telling her how much he loved her. She felt him with her even as she went through the mundane tasks of her day.
When she got to the courthouse, she was greeted with surprise. Somehow, they all knew Bert was gone.
“We expected to cancel your docket for the day, Your Honor,” her secretary said.
“I’ve got one case at ten I can’t delay. The rest, please reschedule. I can’t face them.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he said politely as he started to close the door behind himself. Taking a step into the office, he cleared his throat. “Are you sure, Judge Walker?”
“I’ve got to deal with the Banes case, Sam. Then I’ll go home.”
He nodded, smiling a little sadly. “I was very sorry to hear about your husband’s passing, ma’am. He was a great guy. I’ll miss him a lot.”
Honoria had forgotten how much Bert had always been around her office. Her staff all knew him well. They’d been so kind and supportive during his illness, and she’d hardly noticed.
“Thank you, Sam. If you would, tell everyone that we’ll meet here after court. I’ve a few things to say.”
When she entered the courtroom 30 minutes later, she was surprised to find it full. Not only were the usual spectators there, but the families of the victims and dozens of reporters. Before proceeding, she had the reporters cleared out. She hadn’t anticipated a media feeding frenzy over this, but realized she should have. This could be a landmark case. However, she refused to have it turned into a fiasco.
The families of the victims had moved up in the gallery and were all seated behind Jason Banes. Mrs. Prentice was directly behind him. Puzzled by this, Judge Walker turned to Cortland.
“What’s going on?” She whispered.
“They’re showing their support, Your Honor. Seems they don’t think he killed their family members anymore than you do. They stand behind him and want him released so he can find that Orchid woman and make her pay.”
“Dear Lord, I’ve got an army of vigilantes.”
“No, ma’am. But I believe that boy’s finally got himself a family.”
Nodding, the judge turned back to the courtroom. She folded her hands in front of her, staring at Jason Banes. He met her scrutiny with a level gaze.
“After taking into consideration everything Mrs. Prentice and Jason Banes said to me yesterday, I made a call to a friend of mine. He used to work for the federal judicial system. He, in turn, made a few more calls. He’s in the courtroom right now, so I’m going to have him come forward and tell you the particulars, Mr. Banes.”
“Thank you, Your Honor.”
She nodded to him, then turned to Kyle Tourney. The bailiff escorted him forward as she introduced him to the court. This might not be following court protocol, but this case hadn’t followed protocol since yesterday.
Kyle thanked her, taking the witness stand. He held a file folder in his lap.
“When Judge Walker contacted me, I made a few calls. Seems quite a few people take an interest in you, young man.” He eyed Jason with a bland expression. He opened the folder and adjusted his reading glasses. “You’re wanted in seven different countries.”
“I’ve got around a bit,” the young thief replied, almost proudly.
“Only seven?” He sounded incredulous.
“The rest can’t exactly pin you to anything. The more daring, hope to find something to tie you to the crimes.”
Jason’s lips twitched, but he said nothing.
“In any case, I put forth an offer and was surprised to see that several of them jumped at the chance to use your unique services. It seems this Orchid person has been a busy woman, leaving a trail of death in her path. The difference here is that you’re the only partner to survive, making you quite the hot commodity.”
“Meaning they want to use me as bait, figuring that she’ll want to come after me once she finds out where I am.”
© Dellani Oakes