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"What The Blind Girl Saw"


Chapter 1
What The Blind Girl Saw

By Sally Law

"My powers of observation have grown as my eyesight has diminished," I told my doctor.

I had heard of this phenomenon, but now, knew of it firsthand. I began to refer to this time in my life as "the new reality."

It is a queer thing, having a sense go away, and the remaining senses pulling forward to help.

That's the miracle of the human body, I suppose. I think about this when I remember that day....

Frost was still lingering on the rooftops on this early weekday morning in Louisiana. No, I'm not psychic. 103.2 FM radio reported the scattered frost as I was getting up--readying myself for the day.

My sighted helper--faithful guide dog, King--was at my side, moving me along. How could I tell him I was going all the way to the mailbox without him? He would not understand--at all. He will be insufferable, but, my floor's a mess if I do.

"I will call if I need you, King. Stay..." I held up one finger to assure him I wouldn't be gone long.

His ridiculously expensive collar was connected to my smartphone, and he was easily summoned. Without a doubt, my massive German Shepherd would arrive at my side within seconds.

By 9:30, the icy chill still lingered and greeted me as I walked to my mailbox, pushing past my front gate. Mid-March, and still winter hung on with all its might.

It was past the usual time for the morning paper to be delivered; and unless the weather stalled him, the mailman. I hoped I was on time for both.

My husband, Jackson, oftentimes read it aloud after supper, both of us discussing the daily news events. It was important to me that it was double-wrapped in plastic. There was nothing worse than a soggy newspaper.

My blind cane tapped on the melting ice as I sloshed slowly along to retrieve the mail--and hopefully...a dry "Morning Gazette."

I heard chickadees and cardinals as they frequently visited this time of day looking for sustenance.

The red-headed woodpecker was back to annoy me with endless pecking, and, I wondered... would he ever finish his projects?

My hands were cold, but nothing compared to my metal mailbox which was difficult to open. I removed my mittens for just a moment to retrieve the mail and secured the latch. I dropped my cane in the process and reached around trying to locate it.

Hearing footsteps coming towards me--nervous and flustered-- I continued to fumble, reaching for my dropped cane. Mail went tumbling into the slush.

The smell of cheap cologne, something nostalgic, filled my nose.

My mind raced to identify the scent, possibly something my husband wore when we were first dating? Jade East? No, maybe, English Leather? I inhaled it again as it seemed to be clinging to something, or someone!

"Hello . . . is someone there?" I called out in a loud voice.

Silence.

Except for the birds and zealous woodpecker--the morning sounds of life--it was unusually quiet. The footsteps had finally stopped.

Had I imagined them?

I fixed my thoughts on what was missing. There were no dogs barking, cars honking,  or my neighbor’s classical music heard coming from his art studio. 

I stopped to listen, to remain still, as if frozen. It was only then, I perceived--for certain--the presence of someone.

Reaching for my cellphone, I summoned King.

To be continued . . . .

Author Notes Observation test #1~ In the photo above, which one of the foil roses is the most distinguishable to you? Let me know when you reply to me by review. Do not be afraid, there are no right or wrong answers. I will post my observations at the end of my mini novella.

Link to Part 2 of What the Blind Girl Saw


Chapter 2
What The Blind Girl Saw-Part Two

By Sally Law

I could hear the power of my huge German Shepard, his stride coming towards me with full force.

The melted ice did not seem to bother him in the least. He was at my side in less than a minute.

He barked like a wild-crazed animal as he approached me though. Something was amiss.

This was not like King. I had never heard such fierce emotion from him.

I had adopted him as a pup and trained him for blind services as an assist dog, mainly for myself. King was a sweet and even-tempered dog.

Even when he wrestled Jackson, he was always controlled. This was a first for me--sensing such deep agitations in his behavior.

"King, heel! I commanded.

I could hear his heartbeat racing, his bulky frame finally calming down as he sat next to me. He licked my hand in compliance, although panting and whining.

"Good boy... such a good boy!" Reaching over, I gave him a quick pet as I called for help.

"Siri, call 9-1-1."

King had an intruder in his sights, someone I could feel, smell and sense, but unable to see.

"911--what's your emergency?"

"I am blind and need assistance. My guide dog is with with me after chasing a stalker. Please hurry. Law residence, 17 East Main Street...."

"Yes, ma'am. Are you in need of an EMT?"

"No, I... I am just a little shook up. My dog is still whining and pulling on me, so, I'm not sure how safe I am right now, please hurry."

"Stay on the line with us, help will be arriving shortly."

"Thank you, please call my husband, Jackson, his number is...." I faded slowly to the ground feeling a bit woozy. King circled me in protective mode as he snorted and carried on.

"Stay on the line Mrs. Law. We will get word to your husband. Your ETA is four minutes," said the operator.

And--four minutes--it was.

King had licked me to death during the short wait. He stood at attention when he heard the sirens approaching the entrance to our neighborhood.

"Good boy, now you sit right here." I pointed the area next to me so he could park himself. He sat, but continued to be disturbed.

He kept pulling on me--and pushing his cold nose against my hand. I finally got the hint that whatever it was couldn't wait another second.

"What is it, King? Show me."

He took off with me in tow just as emergency services blared around the corner and slowed; parking and unloading across the street.

The 911 operator was still on the phone with me and assured the police were coming to assist, as well. A patrol car pulled into my driveway issuing a loud--BEEP--BEEP! Jackson was right behind them, driving like a madman.

With one hand on his collar, I could barely hold on to him. I felt like a little kid being dragged along by a giant dog with no will or say so in the matter.

Police Sergeant Dina Ray switched on her body cam as she came up behind us. I heard her call for backup as she hurried along.

My otherwise quiet neighborhood had just turned into a circus sideshow.

King led us all next door to our longtime neighbor's house, Andre. He was formerly a Parisian art caretaker at the Louvre. Now somewhat of a recluse, he created floral masterpieces in the comfort of his humble abode.

I paused at his familiar front steps as King guided me upward so I would not trip. I could smell the lemongrass Andre had recently planted by his window.

My eyes began to water as I feared the worst.

King maneuvered us past shards of broken pottery to the front door and halted us there; letting out a yelp.

King began to whimper--almost like a cry. I felt something at my feet; the door, ajar.

Crumpled and fallen in the doorway, was our neighbor, Andre!

To be continued....

Author Notes Observation question #2~ Do you know your neighbors? Know their schedules, children or pets? Being an observer of people is not being nosy, it means you care. Most crimes are prevented and solved by those familiar with the victims and reporting when something seems peculiar. Especially where elderly neighbors and shut ins are concerned.

Photo art courtesy of my husband, Jack, and our friends at Great Dane Graphics. The exact likeness of King.

Link to Part 3 of "What the Blind Girl Saw"


Chapter 3
What The Blind Girl Saw~Part 3

By Sally Law

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

I cupped one hand over my mouth as I knelt down near my dear neighbor, Andre, laying my other hand upon his still frame.

There was no discernible pulse. He was as cold as the day... the warmth of his spirit long departed.

As saddened as I was, I knew without a doubt, King and I had seen, heard, and smelled the person who had done this.

The scent I had detected earlier was distinguishable once again as I entered the house, that of 'English Leather' cologne.

My husband, Jackson, pulled me into his arms as King followed.

Police Sergeant Dina Ray took control of the crime scene and immediately had me assessed for shock. I was escorted to the ambulance by my husband, King, and two EMTs.

A technician gave King a bowl of water and checked his paws for cuts from the pottery shards.

I petted him long and affectionately. "What a good boy you are King, so obedient and protective." He continued licking any part of me he could access. Jackson joined in the kissing, as well.

I overheard police radio chatter as King and I were being checked out. The description "possible homicide" were used to describe the scene.

I was anxious to be released as I had what I thought were clues to who may have done this. Two homicide detectives had just rolled in and were asking to see me, and I had much to say.

They finally let me go after a half-hour of rest and rehydration.

As I suspected, a homicide detective was waiting next to the ambulance.

"Mrs. Law, are you able to answer a few questions?" asked lead detective Mike Lembowsky.

"Yes, but can we go inside Andre's house? There are some things I want to point out...things that may have been overlooked in your investigation."

There was a pause...the kind of pause that let me know I had culled his interest.

"Ab-so-lute-ly," said the Jersey-born detective. "Your first-hand account of what went down this morning, is crucial."

"Great. May my husband and King come along?" I asked politely.

"Ya got it," he said, just as he popped a piece of fruity gum in his mouth.

We made our way back inside Andre's house, keeping to the art studio. I made myself comfortable by sitting on the settee he had recently purchased.

King sat majestically next to me staying very close and attentive to my needs. He had a hard time sitting still though, wanting to go back to the front door to see Andre.

"King, calm down, I need you to sit still...." I rested my hand on his back, as my touch always seemed to soothe him.

Jackson was nearby with the other detective, answering questions about Andre's habits, friendships and daily schedule.

"Do you mind if I turn on my recorder for the interview?" asked Detective Lembowsky.

"No, not at all," I replied.

I heard the click of the recorder and a hollow sound as he sat it on the wooden table next to me. I could still smell his pungent chewing gum.

I recalled my morning as I spoke slowly.

"I went to my mailbox this morning without my guide dog, King. It was so wet and slushy from the ice, I just didn't want to make a mess of my wood floors. I know that probably sounds silly. Anyway, when I reached the mailbox, I dropped my blind cane, along with the mail. At that time, I heard someone nearby and called out. I also smelled cologne...'English Leather'--the popular cologne of the 70's. My husband wore it back in the day. I called out, again, but no one answered. I listened intently, hearing a rustling sound--a quiet, stalking presence. I can see shadows and forms, depending on the light, although I am blind. It was then I saw someone standing just a few feet from me--near Andre's property. The person was bundled up just like I was...with a knit cap... I think. Definitely a man and taller than me. It was at that moment I sensed danger and summoned King with my cellphone. King has an electronic device that is connected to my phone. He is able to alert me and I can alert him. He sighted the stalker as he was rushing to my aid."

"About what time was that?" asked the detective.

"The morning express train had just arrived. I heard the horn blast as I was walking towards the mailbox. It typically arrives on weekdays around 9:45, or so."

I heard him scribble as he spoke. "Anything else you would like to add?"

"Yes. Andre had one son, Charles. I had only interacted with him a few times. He would visit when he needed money, treating his father like an ATM. Andre was very generous and awarded him the requested amounts. You would never know it by looking around, but this man was wealthy in both talent and gold. His art was in high demand, yet he sold it for a fraction of its worth. He was employed at the Louvre for many years as an assistant to the caretaker. Andre also boasted of white diamonds given to him for hiding Jews during the war, confiding in me that he stowed them away for 'a rainy day.'

"I have more. He painted me a beautiful picture of roses. It hangs on our living room wall. It's a very special gift and possibly worth a great deal. I fear the son came looking for the rose painting, possibly the rumored diamonds, hoping to cash them in...." My voice trailed off as my thoughts and memories arrested me.

"Are ya okay...?" Detective Lembowsky offered to pause the recorder, thinking I just needed a moment.

"No... leave it on. Detective, there is a leather-framed photo on the kitchen counter, near the coffee press. Would you get it, please, and bring it here?"

"Sure thing." He promptly retrieved the photo after confirming it had been dusted for fingerprints.

I heard him walking towards me. King was stirred from his calm as I reached my hands out to grasp the photo.

"I have on latex gloves. Allow me to handle the frame for you," said the kind detective.

"Show the photo to King," I entreated.

King began to bark and whine loudly, returning to my side to guard me once again.

"Heel, King and sit! Good boy!" I snapped my fingers as I brought my dog back under control, rewarding him with praise.

It grew unusually quiet in the room.

All I heard was King panting and the click of the recorder.

To be continued...

Author Notes Oberservation question #3~ How tuned in are you to those around you? Are you more involved in social media than being social with those around you? I read where the average American spends two hours a day on social media. This sounds like a big chunk out of the day (and week) taking away from real human interactions. I am personally seeking to be more social.

Artwork is called Beautiful Spring by Moon Willow of FanArt Review.

Link to Part 4 of "What the Blind Girl Saw"


Chapter 4
What The Blind Girl Saw, Part 4

By Sally Law

King, Jackson and I slept very well considering the trauma of the previous day's events and losing our dear neighbor, Andre Dupree. It had been exhausting.

"Alexa, turn off the house alarm," said Jackson as he rolled over in bed to nuzzle me awake.

"Good morning, love," I yawned as I tried to unearth myself from such deep sleep.

I could feel the presence of King, his giant head resting on the bed. My
German Shepherd would not be in true form for the day though without a good petting along with his early morning affirmations.

"And, how are you, King?" I asked in loving-dog-speak as I rubbed vigorously behind his ears. I pressed my forehead to his as this was our signal of loyalty.

"Outside with Jackson you go, then strong coffee before I do another thing," I declared pointing towards the door.

I could hear Jackson creak as he got out of bed. No...that was me. It's tough getting old, I thought.

Was it really just yesterday that this nightmare unfolded and Andre was found murdered? My chest hurt once again as thoughts of yesterday's events spun around in my head.

A sense of urgency grabbed me, too, as I remembered Detective Lembowsky had requested to record my sworn statement at the precinct today around two o'clock, if I was feeling up to it. Offering us a police escort, the kind and attentive detective asked if I would bring King along, as well.

I might take him up on it, I contemplated. I did not want to postpone my statement, as apprehending Andre's killer was forefront in my mind.

Besides, King might get to see some of the other dogs I had trained for the local law enforcement services in the Canine Division. He would have a fine time and perhaps snag a doughnut. King adored doughnuts, especially the frosted ones.

A van arrived promptly at 1:30 to escort King and me to the main police headquarters downtown. It was about a ten minute drive...give or take a few minutes.

I was surprised to see it was Detective Lembowsky who had volunteered to be our escort.

I learned much about the Jersey-born detective in the short ride. We didn't talk at all about the case, only about the hope of spring...red roses his dear wife would plant every year with great delight.

He pulled in, parking in his designated spot. I knew this instinctively because it was close to the main entrance. We were inside sniffing doughnuts and department grade coffee within minutes.

King maneuvered me into a room, guiding me to a faux-leather chair. As we sat there, a female assistant, Janelle Harris, made us comfortable and welcome. She brought me a cup of the pungent coffee and a doughnut. She remembered King, too, bringing him a bowl of water, setting it down in front of him. She paused to visit with my celebrity dog, giving him a much needed petting.

I broke my frosted donut in half and gave the smaller piece to King. He was delighted; lapping the last remnant from my hand. He thanked me with a gigantic lick. I hurriedly reached for my hand sanitizer, applying it liberally.

Detective Lembowsky and Mrs. Harris re-entered the room after a few minutes and closed the doors. I could tell the windows and doors were glass, as King was in observation mode, attentive and more erect in his carriage. He was obviously people watching, taking in all the sights and sounds of the busy precinct.

The detective began the questioning in the same polite manner he had the day before.

"May I record our conversation?"

"Yes, of course," I replied.

He set the recorder next to me and turned it on. He stated my name and the date along with the case file number.

He began with opening comments that completely overwhelmed me.

"Our key witnesses in this murder case is a highly trained service dog named King," stated the detective, "and his blind owner and master...Mrs. Sally Law."

I felt I could hardly breathe. I was disturbed by the thought King and I held the key to who murdered Andre. Deep down I knew this, but hearing it stated in this manner made me feel the whole world was weighing upon me.

"Detective, a moment please..." I said as I held up one finger. He reached over and promptly turned off the recorder.

Mrs. Harris put something in front of me as she pressed a few tissues into my hand. "Just in case you need them, honey, there's a whole box of 'Kleenex' right in front of you."

"Thank you," I replied.

He leaned forward in his squeaky chair, and spoke softly. "You take all the time you need. We'll catch the scum bag who did this. Rest assured, we are working 'round-the-clock with every resource we have. Forensics will be getting back to me no later than tomorrow."

"I just don't want to let you down, detective," I stated as I dabbed away tears.

"Not happening...you and King are doing us a favor," he replied.

Detective Lembowsky continued. "While we're sitting here, and before I turn the recorder back on, I just need to know about the photograph I retrieved at the crime scene--the one showed to King that provoked his heated reaction. First, how did you know about this particular photo; and second, who are the two men pictured with Andre in front of the Louvre?"

I composed myself while I began with the details of the photo as relayed to me from Andre.

"I saw Andre almost every day; and if I didn't, my husband Jackson usually did. We were close as neighbors, and talked deeply about many things. Andre and I loved to work the daily crossword puzzle together as King sat close by, hoping for a French Pastry nibble. He's shameless, that dog. Anyway, one morning as we were sitting in his kitchen working the crossword, I spilled my cup of coffee. It flowed over, drenching the leather-framed photo. I apologized profusely and insisted on replacing the frame. I inquired about the picture and why it was sitting next to his coffee press. He said, and I quote him verbatim, "To remind me of happier days." In the photo was the Louvre's art caretaker, Philippe Savard, along with Andre and his son, Charles."

"So... now we have two possible 'persons of interest' in this case. I will have my forensics team run facial recognition on both Philippe and Charles," stated the detective. "Excuse me, while I make a quick call. This is an interesting detail, for sure."

I heard the detective leave the room as the glass door opened and closed.

As soon as he left, he was back again with another question. "Real quick, do you have any idea when the photo was taken?"

"Yes, exactly. It was May 11, 1976...Charles's seventeenth birthday," I answered in a matter-of-fact way.

"And, don't look at me like that, Detective Lembowsky, I see you. Don't forget...I have eyes in the back of my head," I retorted.

"That you do, ma'am--that you do...."

To be continued...

Author Notes Special thanks for the beautiful photo called, German Shepherd Portrait by alaskapat of FanArt Review.

Link to Part 5 of "What the Blind Girl Saw"



Chapter 5
What The Blind Girl Saw, Chapter 5

By Sally Law

My cell phone rang at precisely eight o'clock the next morning. It just had to be Detective Lembowsky, I thought.

No one who truly knew me would think of calling before my morning jolt of caffeine had taken effect.

"Good morning detective, how are you?"

"I hope you're sitting down," he said, obviously unable to contain his emotions.

"Yes...I'm sitting here with Jackson and King enjoying my morning coffee. What's up?"

I put him on speakerphone so Jackson could join in. King drew near and parked his snout right next to me, refusing to be left out of the conversation.

"I have a lineup tentatively scheduled for this afternoon," he said. "I need you and King one more time."

"Certainly. What time were you thinking?"

"Between one and three o'clock. A person of interest in Andre Dupree's murder was arrested, attempting to leave the country. That's all I can really share because this is still an open investigation, as you know. I had to do some finagling, but I am hoping to get this lineup pulled together this afternoon with your help," he stated, barely taking a breath.

I paused, searching for the right response.

"Detective, I am sure you mean...King will be the one to identify Andre's murderer in the lineup, am I right?" I clarified as I petted my German Shepherd.

"Yes, ma'am, you got it. Now, don't you worry about a thing. I need to retrieve something from the crime scene and I'll swing by and pick you up. Jackson is welcome to come along, as well. I think it would be helpful for both you and King if he could be there for support. It will probably be a long and taxing afternoon."

The considerate detective had done it again, putting me at ease.

"Of course, we will all be there for you," I said without hesitation. "Andre was such a wonderful neighbor and friend. We must do our best to catch the killer."

I could tell by the relieved tone in his voice, that this case was hinging on today's lineup. "You can breathe now, detective, and finish your coffee and bear claw," I said smilingly.

"I have a question for Jackson," he asked politely. "Do you mind if I speak with him for just a moment?"

"Sure thing," I said. "Planning covert operations together, are ya now?"

Jackson said nothing more than a few words as he walked out of earshot. "I just hate secrecy," I muttered.

"Okay, King," I said, setting my empty coffee cup aside. "We better get moving."

**********

One o'clock came and went. Detective Lembowsky's assistant, Janelle Harris, was there, waiting to prepare Jackson, King, and me for the lineup.

We were seated in a soundproof room with a one-way viewing window. The persons in the lineup would not be able to see or hear us. I was then wired with some kind of gizmo attached to a headset.

There were police officers as well as Federal Agents present. It was a bit overwhelming, but to catch Andre's killer was worth any temporary discomfort.

King was just the the best dog for me, I thought. How blessed I was to have a loving husband next to me, and a sight dog who served me unswervingly. I felt safe and secure, away from harm.

Jackson was to be my eyes for the lineup. He had seen the photo from Andre's kitchen of both former Louvre Museum caretaker, Philippe Savard, and Andre's son, Charles Dupree.

The photo was an old one, but perhaps some resemblances still remained. I believed that the two men were somehow linked to Andre's murder.

With the latest facial recognition technology, Jackson was hopeful to see a likeness in today's lineup.

King was called for the lineup by Detective Lembowsky. A knock at the door told me the canine handler had arrived to escort him to the front.

I stood to my feet fully aware it was showtime. I could feel every eye watching me and the fine dog I had trained.

I gave King three verbal commands in a row. The final command was paramount in importance.

"King, find the killer." I pulled Andre's winter scarf from my purse. King sniffed it and let out a whine; followed by two barks. "Good boy," I said, and handed his leash to the officer awaiting him.

The door opened and closed and all was quiet for a few seconds.

"I see King, Sal. He is already in the room. He is obeying the canine officer as if he were you," said Jackson in a relieved tone.

"He'll get him," I said confidently.

The headset secured on me by Mrs. Harris was finally turned on. I now had a three-way conversation with King's canine handler and Detective Lembowsky.

The door to the lineup room opened. Jackson began to give a play-by-play as eight men filed through the door and across the front.

I leaned toward Jackson and whispered, "Do you recognize anyone?"

"Not at all. This should be interesting," he said.

It was all I could do to sit still. My heart skipped a beat as I listened and waited.

I finally heard Detective Lembowsky's voice. "When I call your number, step forward, please."

It was relatively boring...until number five.

"Number five, step forward, please," he said.

Number five began to shake uncontrollably, frozen in place.

The videographer in our room said, "That guy looks like he's going to pee his pants!"

The detective repeated himself, "Number five, would you step forward, please?"

King sounded off with two barks--our coded signal. He had found him.

"That's him!" I cried. "Let King off his leash."

**********

Meanwhile, back at our residence, and unbeknownst to me, Jackson had installed a hidden camera inside our living room near the rose painting given to us by Andre. The trap had been set and it was working. A stranger made his way to our front door. His hand pushing open the front gate....

Author Notes Art is called Man Contemplating Time by jgrace of FanArt Review.

Link to Part 6 of "What the Blind Girl Saw"



Chapter 6
What The Blind Girl Saw, Part 6

By Sally Law

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

"Charles Dupree...set the painting down...gently, and show me your hands," said police Sergeant Dina Ray as she halted the burglary in progress.

He thought about running until he noticed her partner, Officer Nate Smith. He was possibly as wide as he was tall.

Officer Smith placed handcuffs on the suspect as he met his eyes.

His booming Louisiana accent matched his official duties.

"You are under arrest for the murder of Andre Dupree. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, legal counsel will be provided to you by the state. Do you understand these rights, Mr. Dupree?"

"Yes," he snarled. "This painting belongs to me! It's mine I tell you."

"Mr. Dupree, raise your hands above your head," the officer drawled. "I'll search you now, sir. Legs apart, please."

The two officers patted him down for weapons. A small handgun, a .380 ACP, as well as a screw driver were found in his coat pocket.

Also, bagged and tagged as a part of his possessions: (1) One glue stick. (2) Swiss Army knife. (3) House key attached to small chain with an alligator charm. (4) First-class flight ticket to Versailles, France, in the name of Charles A. Dupree.

Officer Smith noticed a cellphone sitting on a chair adjacent to the painting. He walked over to examine it and saw a display on the screen. He held the phone up to Sergeant Ray.

Two missed calls: Philippe Savard's name and number shone brightly.

Charles raised his head and aimed daggers at Sergeant Ray. "Are you kidding me, Cop? Philippe is the cold-blooded murderer! All I wanted was the white diamonds stashed behind one of the paintings. I didn't kill my father!"

"Officer Smith," said Dina Ray in a serious tone, "sit Mr. Dupree down so he may remove his socks and shoes."

"Yes, ma'am. Okay, you heard the sergeant, sit right here and hand each item to me one by one." Nate knelt next to Charles and examined him closely.

The afternoon sun streaming through the window confirmed their suspicions. Spilled across the wood floors sparkled the rumored white diamonds.

**********

It was quite the show at police headquarters downtown.

Murder suspect, Philippe Savard, was number five in the line up. He ran pretty fast for an old guy as he headed for the guarded exit. King was right behind, racing to stop him.

Why he ran, thinking he could escape, no one knew.

King caught him by his pant leg and wouldn't let go. Detective Lembowsky sprinted as Philippe was going down, flailing handcuffs.

"I have never seen anything so comical in my life," said Jackson. "I wish you could see this, honey. I didn't realize he could move so fast!"

"Of course King moves fast...you know that from wrestling him," I stated emphatically.

"Not King...Detective Mike! He flew through the air with the wildest eyes you ever saw."

Jackson continued his play-by-play of the lineup gone awry. He was interrupted though by the constant vibration of his cellphone.

"Hold on a second, Sal. Our house alarm just went off." Shortly afterwards, he was notified by our security system provider that police had been dispatched to our residence.

An intruder was seen coming through the wooden gate and prying open the front door, tripping the silent alarm. The newly installed micro-camera showed a man removing the rose painting from the living room wall.

The rose painting had been given to us many years ago by Andre.

**********

Memorandum: March 21, 2019
From: Lafayette County Medical Examiner
To: Detective Michael Lembowsky

Re: Cause of death in the Andre C. Dupree murder investigation of March 16, 2019. File# LTPD 32549

It is my finding that Mr. Dupree died of blunt force trauma to the parietal area of the head. Attached files show a 3-D view of the bludgeoned area, most likely delivered by a weighted metal object. This was not self-inflicted in my expert opinion.

Please feel free to contact my office, or come by for a viewing within 48 hours. I am usually in my crime lab most weekdays; however, I can accommodate you and Mrs. Harris after hours, if need be.

Sincerely.
Dr. Marie MacLavish, Lafayette County Medical Examiner


To be continued...

Author Notes Photo my own.

Link to Part 7 of "What the Blind Girl Saw"



Chapter 7
What The Blind Girl Saw, #7

By Sally Law

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

Jackson, King and I were headed home after a long day at police headquarters.

King identified in a lineup the person who possibly murdered my next door neighbor, Andre Dupree.

Philippe Savard was a decades-old friend to Andre. Both men worked as museum groundskeepers at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Savard was arrested after King identified him; then, chasing him down as he ran for the exit.

Also arrested and charged in Andre's murder today, was his only son, Charles. He was caught on tape attempting to steal the rose painting from our home. It was given to Jackson and me by his talented and artistic father years ago. Apparently, the rose painting held an important clue as to why this sweet, old painter of florals was bludgeoned to death.

As happy as I was to have the likes of both Philippe Savard and Charles Dupree arrested, I had a gut feeling we all had missed something.

I longed for a hot soak in the tub... the perfect place to do some thinking. Bubbles undoubtedly would be required.

I knew it would have to wait though, as Sergeant Dina Ray was awaiting our arrival. Hopefully, my bathroom wasn't sealed off with crime scene tape. Some of my best thinking occurred in the holy tub of divine scrub.

Detective Lembowsky was expected at our residence after the arrest and initial processing of Mr. Savard.

He offered to bring dinner, and inquired if we liked Chinese. We, of course, said yes. King loves fortune cookies and the smell of duck with fried rice.

I would have to give him some kind of treat for being such a great help at the lineup.

Jackson could be easily persuaded to share some of his favorite--a duck breast portion--with King. How could he say no to such a dog?

I was confident King not only saw Andre's killer, but saved me from his evil hand. The murdering stranger who paid me a visit had a much larger agenda. Why else would he risk being caught red-handed at the scene of the crime?

I was curious to know why Charles Dupree was arrested in our home today with Andre's painting in hand. Was he tied to the world of forged artwork? I was at a loss for his interest in the rose painting.

But, one thing I knew for sure, he or Philippe Savard would have killed me, too, if not for my protective dog.

We pulled into our driveway--just barely.

"This looks like Andre's home right after his murder," said Jackson. "You should see all the vehicles crammed into such a small space." Jackson let King and me out curbside, and found parking three houses down.

King began to whine loudly, pulling on his leash as he led me towards the front entry.

"What is it, boy?" I asked, as my rubbery legs hurried to keep up.

He diverted us across the lawn to the magnolia tree situated between our house and Andre's yard. All the while, King was in protective mode, turning his head from side to side scanning the surroundings. King paused at the tree, then sat, barking twice. This is our code for "I found it."

Jackson ran behind after calling for Sergeant Ray. She dropped everything she was processing from the attempted burglary earlier in the day and excused herself. She, along with Officer Smith, hurried to see what was causing all the commotion outside.

"The soil around the tree...would you look at that," remarked Jackson. "It looks as though a critter has found a burial spot."

"King...you are a helluva dog," said the Sergeant. "That's no critter--they're not that neat. Folks, we will need to take a look at this area for possible evidence. Could you step back, please?"

Rookie Officer Smith offered to retrieve a hand-shovel from his trunk for the dig. She quickly introduced him as he peppered us with pleasantries.

"How ya doing, King?" He knelt down to give our gentle giant a dog-lover's petting.

The late afternoon air was chilling me, but I did not want to miss whatever this was. Jackson threw his jacket around my shoulders as we huddled close together.

The more Officer Smith dug, the more disturbed King became. I did, too. My sense of smell had become more enhanced as my eyesight loss had progressed. I felt more like a dog than a human at times. A sickening smell filled my nose and I quickly reached for my tissues.

"I hit something...." The gentlemanly officer was working it loose from underneath the tree. "There seems to be something heavy, wrapped in a towel."

I blurted out, "it's the murder weapon, isn't it? I can smell the blood...oh, dear God...the murderer was burying it when King saw him the morning of the murder!"

I fell to my knees and wept. I shook in the cold reality, reliving Amdres murder once again.

King had been trained to console me. He licked my hand, quietly, sitting by my side. Jackson knelt as he wrapped his arms around us both, holding tightly.

I heard a car pull in, presuming it was our dinner guest.

"Hey, you're just in time, Detective. Wait until you see what King just uncovered," reported Sergeant Ray.

Jackson moved from beside King and me to look upon the newly discovered evidence.

Wrapped in the bloodied towel was a crowbar.

To be continued...

Author Notes Art courtesy of Beckie51 called, Magnolia.

Link to Part 8 of "What the Blind Girl Saw"


Chapter 8
What The Blind Girl Saw #8

By Sally Law

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

Nothing kills the appetite like finding a murder weapon buried in your yard. I was glad Jackson invited most of the officers to stay for dinner.

Besides, Detective Lembowsky had brought enough Chinese takeout to feed the entire force, including King.

I admired the way everyone got along so well--all things considered. It had been a grueling day.

It was over dinner, I heard the most astonishing news. I could hardly take it all in. I was hoping this was not some kind of early birthday joke. Jackson confirmed, it was not.

Pinned to the back of the rose painting given to us by Andre, was a small silk pouch. The pouch was fastened directly behind the white rose in the center of the painting. The obvious clue to the rumored white diamonds' whereabouts had been there all along, yet, no one saw it except for his son, Charles.

Three white diamonds had been placed in there. Also, folded neatly and tucked inside with the precious jewels, was a note addressed to me in his beautiful handwriting. Jackson read it aloud:

Ma tres chere-
These are for you. Save them for a rainy day, or take Jackson and King on a Paris adventure. Don't forget to see the Louvre and think of me with happy thoughts. You are more like family to me than my own flesh and blood. You all are in my heart--always.
Andre

I excused myself to the tub of holy scrub...and I cried.

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

An hour later, our guests still remained. The scent of freshly brewed coffee and French pastries floated from our kitchen. No one seemed to be alarmed that I was in my bathrobe, my wild mane of hair secured with an oversized claw. I snuggled near Jackson on the window seat facing Detective Mike as I slowly sipped my cup of the hot brew.

"So...the diamonds were recovered in our home today when Charles Dupree was apprehended?" I asked. I nonchalantly slipped King a nibble of my cruller.

"Yes," said Detective Lembowsky as he recounted the written report. "He was caught red-handed; recorded with the mini-camera Jackson installed near the painting. He hurriedly stashed the gems in his socks when he heard movement coming from outside your home. They fell into plain sight while being strip searched by the two officers, exposing the rumored diamonds for all to see. They're in forensics right now to be photographed as physical evidence. We'll return them to you as soon as possible."

"I can't say any more about this ongoing investigation until later, Sal," he said, licking his fingers in delight. "Unless...."

"Unless what, Lembowsky? Are you going to deputize me like Barney Fife? Do I get to carry a bullet in my shirt pocket? You'd have to deputize King, too," I said sarcastically.

He continued, oblivious to my tone. "I actually do have something for you to consider--a new consulting opportunity to think about--for both you and King."

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

Hours-old coffee percolated in the main break room at police headquarters, reminiscent of maple syrup. Adding powdered creamer seemed to only make the concoction ten times worse.

Murder suspect, Phillip Savard, nursed a cup of the twice baked coffee as he awaited the arrival of his court-appointed defense attorney.

The only other decorations in the stark interrogation room were a table, chair, analogue wall clock and an emerald-green reading lamp. One legal-size memo pad, and a Louisiana-themed cup filled with cheap pens would have to do for his Friday evening amusement. He drew disturbing pictures while he waited.

He kept telling himself to remain calm, confident the police had not retrieved the murder weapon.

His phone had been confiscated, and he wondered why Charles Dupree had never responded to his two texts. Had he found the rumored diamonds?

"That little twerp had better cough them up if he did.... I'm in this too far not to get paid," he muttered underneath his breath. He scribbled as he thought, becoming more livid by the minute.

"I've got to get out of here! If Dupree gets on a plane to Europe with those diamonds, I'll never find him!"

To be continued....

Author Notes Photo my own.

On to chapter 9 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.


Chapter 9
What The Blind Girl Saw #9

By Sally Law

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

Jackson and King were snoring in concert, chasing me to the study.

It was more than my beloved duo, though.

Anxious thoughts were rolling in my head like a vintage television set riddled with static lines.

I needed some quiet to just sit and think.

One of the greatest thinkers that ever lived, Albert Einstein, said "A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be."

I thought long and hard about the day of Andre's murder from beginning to end, and how it really was. I replayed every detail as I recalled them from my memory.

My crime-solving thoughts were interrupted, though, by a glaring omission on my part.

As the night waned, I realized it was my duty as a friend to plan Andre's funeral--one more thing that required my immediate attention.

While under arrest for his father's murder, Charles wouldn't be able to carry out his last wishes.

I spoke into my Smartwatch, "Siri, set a reminder for tomorrow at 10 o'clock AM to call Andre Dupree's attorney."

I felt a lump rise in my throat. I would most likely have to speak with Charles Dupree in person about the funeral, and I wasn't sure how in the world that was going to happen.

Sleep finally came after I ate a leftover cruller and some cold Chinese takeout. The last sound I heard was the hall clock as it struck four.

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

Detective Mike Lembowsky and his assistant, Janelle Harris, thought it was a fine day to walk to the Lafayette County Medical Examiner's Office two blocks from police headquarters.

Baby blue Louisiana skies sprayed with white clouds gave way to a spring-like day. Winter was officially gone.

Today was the appointment to view Andre Dupree's body along with the official autopsy report. They stopped briefly to pick up 'Cafe Du Monde' coffee for the famed medical examiner. Dr. Marie McLavish was widely known for her expert eye and coffee consumption.

Today would be no exception, and she would once again see into the mysteries of murder and uncover them one layer at a time. The two detectives arrived early as promised, bearing the finest coffee gifts.

"Come, come, my dears, we are waiting for you," said Dr. McLavish in her sweet southern accent. "I see you brought my favorite!"

Laid out upon the table was Andre Dupree. His body was covered for modesty, with only his head and upper torso exposed for the examination. "Dr. M" held the dead in sacred esteem. She took it upon herself to honor their final moments with kind and tender hands. Detective Lembowsky stood in awe of her professionalism every time he made these necessary visits.

A 3-D picture was displayed on her laptop as she spoke in layman's terms.

"I am listing the cause of death as resulting from Blunt Force Trauma (BFT) caused by a firm object the approximate size of a crowbar. Most likely Mr. Dupree was walking away from his assailant when he was struck...see here," she emphasized as she pointed with a pen. "This tells me he knew his killer--someone he trusted to invite inside his home and turn his back on."

She continued. "The damage to the parietal area of the skull and the timing of the injuries are consistent with the time of death, or "perimortem"--meaning the injury provoked the death. In my professional opinion, this is clearly a homicide, and will be so noted in my official documentation. I'll give you everything you need to prosecute whoever murdered this kindly, old gentleman. It is my burden to show cause, mode, and manner of death. It is your burden to bring the guilty party in for prosecution."

"Was there anything else in your autopsy that was suspicious, doctor?"

"None. No defense wounds. His right knee and hand were bruised badly, but consistent with his fall. No signs of physical or sexual abuse. No traceable toxins, poisons, opiates, or drugs in his system. He was remarkably healthy for a man in his mid-eighties. His organs resembled someone in their fifties, I'd say. I hope I look that good when I'm opened up!"

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

"Excuse me, Dr. McLavish, here is the complete forensics report for Andre C. Dupree you requested, prepared and ready for Detective Lembowsky. We were able to process the blood found on the crowbar, too," said the crime lab rookie with a proud smile. "I forwarded the full report to your email with attachments, as well."

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

Louisiana State Prosecutor, Roy Fitzgerald Owens, had one plea bargain and one "Not Guilty" plea after the arraignments of Charles Dupree and Philippe Savard in the murder of Andre Dupree.

Charles Dupree had turned 'States Evidence' in exchange for a Manslaughter charge.

The small Louisiana township was about to become more famous than its shrimp hoagie and Cajun fries.

To be continued....

Author Notes Photo my own.


To read onto chapter 10 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.


Chapter 10
What The Blind Girl Saw #10

By Sally Law

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

The early morning sun danced upon my face, its delicate rays of warmth hinting of a spring day.

I was never more glad to greet spring in these chilly days after the murder of my dear friend and neighbor, Andre Dupree.

King was not far behind the sunrise, nuzzling me awake, his giant head resting near me.

"Good morning, King. And, how is my favorite dog?" He parked himself in "gimme mode" as I petted him affectionately. I didn't hear Jackson just yet, so I lay there dozing off and on.

It was almost 4 o'clock in the morning before I had succumbed to sleep, burrowed deep within my favorite couch. It was a ghastly hour to be awake fraternizing with memories of the dead.

I heard the automatic coffeemaker turn on, grinding the fragrant beans for my morning brew. My day had officially begun.

Jackson greeted me with kisses, and inquired why I had disappeared in the night, retreating to the study. He didn't seem surprised when I told him why.

"I had to clear my mind and think through everything that happened on the day of the murder. I also recalled from memory, times when Andre and I worked the daily crossword puzzles together. He divulged intimate details about his life during our times in his kitchen. He confessed his strained relationships with both Charles and Philippe, consequently deciding to make Louisiana his new home."

"I hope you dictated the details into your Smart watch," he said as he set my morning coffee mug within my reach.

"Yes, I did. There are no shortcuts when there is a murder to be solved. Besides, it sounds like King and I have been offered a consulting job in the future! I better get used to recording everything that comes to mind--even in the middle of the night."

"By the way, Sal, I have to go into the office for just a bit. Will you be okay here at home with King?"

"Sure, honey. I need to make some phone calls. I realized in the wee hours that we need to plan Andre's funeral. Everything has been happening so fast, I forgot to make inquiries about his cremation and memorial service. I'll call his attorney as soon as I finish my coffee along with the delicious breakfast I smell. Is that bacon?"

King howled at the very mention of the word.

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

Detective Mike Lembowsky was in his office at police headquarters downtown, plowing his way through his second cup of resurrection brew coffee and a sugar-laden bear claw--and it was only 8:00 A.M.

After meeting with the county Medical Examiner, Dr. Marie McLavish, and learning about the compelling evidence in the murder of Andre Dupree, he was on fire.

He had expertly gathered forensic evidence, and the key pieces needed to form a strong case.

Fundamental pieces to his case included:

- Official cause of death listed as homicide.
- Fingerprints from the crime scene.
- Murder weapon with blood DNA matched to Andre Dupree.
- Cellphone pings from nearby cell towers with communications between suspects Charles Dupree and Philippe Savard.
- Video camera footage from the local express train.
- Sworn statements from two on-board express train crew members who noticed both Mr. Dupree and Mr. Savard on the morning of the murder.

Never in his career had he seen such a slam dunk.

Today, he and his team were going to lay out the evidence for the Louisiana State Attorney's office and make their case against Philippe Savard, hoping for a grand jury indictment.

State Prosecutor, Roy Fitzgerald Owens, and his team were present with laptops and cellphones crowding their shared antique library table.

"Hidyho, whadayaknow?"

Janelle Harris sputtered as she gagged on her drink. "Mike Lembowsky, did you really just say that?"

"It's a Jersey thing. People, I'm in the very best mood because we have great forensics and a strong case. Miss Harris, let's set up a our crime board with all the evidence we have catalogued from the last ten days."

Most in the room excused themselves, racing for restrooms. It was about to get really good, and they didn't want to miss a thing. The sounds of hurried footsteps echoed through the halls of Precinct #1.

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

A half-hour later, the scene continued with everyone fully caffeinated.

"Okay, people, on the board is our prime suspect, Philippe Savard. Our evidence places him at the crime scene."

Janelle Harris was writing as fast as she could go as her boss fired away with acute accuracy.

"Mr. Savard had motive, method, and opportunity," he said as he emphasized with a finger count.

"His motive: Old-fashioned greed and envy. He was interested primarily in the rumored white diamonds he heard of down through the years, working alongside Andre Dupree at the Louvre Museum."

"Means: Mr. Savard had recently traveled to the State of Louisiana for the first time, one month before the murder. We believe it was to surveil the old gentleman and plan his murder."

"Opportunity: This particular day was marked on his cellphone calendar. A seething statement of his malice towards Andre Dupree, it said, 'Today is the day. The old man won't even see it coming.' "

The room grew suddenly quiet, some of the women tearing up. He paused to let the comments sink in as tissues were passed, then continued.

"We have his fingerprints lifted from Mr. Dupree's residence with his DNA on the front door jamb, marked as exhibit (A), and fingerprints from broken pottery shards, shown in exhibit (B). The most chilling evidence was Philippe Savard's bloody fingerprint lifted from Mr. Dupree's toolbox, where his crowbar was normally kept. See exhibit (C)."

Every eye was glued to the lead detective as he continued down the list.

"We have video footage of both suspects boarding the morning express train at 7:15 A.M. Savard was wearing a heavy coat and sunglasses. A train cam shows his face exposed as he pushed his sunglasses onto his head to rub his eyes. We found him initially in the FBI's National Database using facial recognition technology. See exhibit (D) with attachments. He was also later identified in a police lineup by an expertly trained dog named King. See Exhibits (E) and (F)."

"However, Philippe Savard was not seen at 9:50 on the return train trip with Charles Dupree. We believe he remained behind at the crime scene, most likely to tie up loose ends as his accomplice in a diamond heist gone wrong. He was burying the murder weapon when Mrs. Law and her sight dog, King, interrupted him. Charles Dupree has agreed to testify to this and receive a lesser charge of first degree manslaughter. The two men kept in constant contact by cellphone until their subsequent arrests. See Exhibits (G-J)."

Roy Fitzgerald Owens spoke in a slow and mild mannered tone. "I understand the diamonds involved were behind Mrs. Law's painting, and now have been collected as evidence. Is that correct, detective?"

"Yes, sir. We are tracing the origin of the diamonds, and how they were given to Andre Dupree for hiding Jews during World War Two. I have a foreign expert in these matters, and I hope to hear something soon. In the meantime, they appear to be a legitimate gift to Mrs. Law with a verified letter in the handwriting of Andre Dupree. See Exhibits further down on your list, marked "X". And--yes, I did that on purpose."

The room erupted in laughter, all except for Mrs. Harris.

She stopped writing and paused for a moment, bowing her head with her lips pressed to her hand.

She was thanking God, praying Philippe Savard would get what he deserved, and justice for Andre Dupree.

To be continued....

Author Notes Photo of beautiful Louisiana architecture is courtesy of my
daughter-in-law.


To read on to chapter 11 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.


Chapter 11
What The Blind Girl Saw # 11

By Sally Law

The element of surprise is a valuable tactical strategy. It doesn't matter if you're a military commander, or just a blind girl; it usually gets satisfactory results.

I decided to apply this strategy today, and drop by for an unannounced visit to Charles Dupree.

He was in solitary confinement at the county jail after turning 'State's Evidence.'

He had accepted a plea bargain, reducing his charge from first degree murder to manslaughter of his father, Andre Dupree.

I had just recently learned from Andre's probate attorney, Ben Coltrane, that I had been named as the executor of Andre's estate, and as soon as the ink dried on the legal documents, his court-appointed personal representative. I would now be able to carry out his last wishes, plan his funeral, and oversee the sale of his estate.

I was speechless; almost requiring smelling salts.

Jackson, King, and I traveled to the outskirts of our small township to the county jail, hoping to speak with Charles for a few minutes.

We drove with the windows down, smelling the delicious jasmine of spring. Jackson said the bougainvilleas were full, and looking mighty fine this year, lining the roadways with brilliant shades of pink. King always enjoys the fresh air, habitually poking his snout out of the back window.

The jail was a twenty-five minute drive, give or take, but adjacent to 'Louie, Louie,' a famous Louisiana hole-in-the-wall diner, known for its cajun fare. The thought of this diner made the necessary trip to the jailhouse seem bearable.

The owner, Louie Ray, was Sergeant Dina Ray's husband, and also a fan of our special dog, spoiling him with his own imprinted bowl. He would escort King to the kitchen door where he would sit patiently, waiting for the day's collection of scraps. Jackson and I accepted the fact we had become second fiddle.

"Does Detective Lembowsky know we are attempting to see Charles Dupree today?" asked Jackson.

"No, I'm not officially a police consultant until the murder trial is over, due to my conflict of interest. This is strictly to discuss his father's funeral and reading of the will. But, if he happens to blab anything that might be helpful, who knows. Personally, I don't trust Charles--at all. He's a thief, liar, and possibly murdered his father. Now, I'm saddled with the daunting task to include him in the funeral, as requested by Andre. It's a little late for his redemption, don't you think?"

"You and I know from experience that it's never too late for redemption as long as there is breath," said Jackson in his low, sweet tone.

"Oh, honey, you've given me a wonderful idea. Let's stop at the diner first and eat. I also want to pick up some... persuasions."

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

Jackson and King stayed close, helping guide me along the obstacle course known as 'county lockup.'

It smelled like sweat and adrenaline--too many angry men crammed into one place. King sensed it too, as his carriage became more erect and stiff, his head turning from side to side.

King halted us at the checkpoint where the security officer was surprisingly friendly. "Hello there, folks," he drawled.

"Excuse me, sir, I am here to see Charles Dupree. My name is Sally Law."

"What is that heavenly smell ma'am? Is that from Louie's place across the street?"

"Yes, and it's for you, young man; and I brought extra for your staff. I have barged in without an appointment, I'm afraid; so I thought an offering of Louisiana's finest would ease your apprehensions."

"You folks are angels of mercy, and my friends already! You said you needed to see Charles Dupree?"

"Yes, I am here on behalf of his deceased father, to honor his final requests, and to plan his funeral. Would you be so kind to tell him that, and ask him if I could have just a few minutes of his time?"

"I don't think he has anything else to do, ma'am. He ain't going anywhere--not yet, anyway."

"Thank you so much. This is my husband, Jackson, and my sight dog, King. I need to have them both present with me, or at least close by while I speak with Mr. Dupree."

"Yes, ma'am. There will be a partition between you and Mr. Dupree, as well as two security guards. King is welcome to sit right next to you if you like."

"Oh, by the way, more hot biscuits are coming by way of a food runner. I hope you like butter and honey with them," I said in my authentic southern accent.

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

"Dupree... hey, Charles! You have a unscheduled visitor."

"Very funny, I don't have any friends in this godforsaken state."

"You do today, a nice lady; and she has her German Shepherd with her. His name is King."

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

We were escorted past two more heavily guarded doors into a conference room. I was seated in a utilitarian chair by Jackson as he squeezed me on the arm. "I'll be standing to your left near the door. Call me if you need anything. King is with me, too. If you start feeling uncomfortable, just alert King with your Smart watch, and he will come and sit at your side."

"Okay," I said as I took a deep breath and prayed. "Here we go."

The steel security door opened as footsteps came closer to where I was seated and stopped.

"Well, if it isn't my father's crossword puzzle friend, and heiress to practically everything," he said as he drew up a chair.

"Hello, Charles. I see your attitude is as sour as I remember. I'm here to inform you that I have just been appointed by the court as your father's personal representative-- and, with that, the great honor to plan his funeral. He has requested your attendance, and that you read his favorite poem."

"You can't be serious. Me? The old coot probably didn't leave me a dime, but he leaves you everything? You read the poem, lady. I couldn't care less."

"First, you don't deserve a father like him, and not a drop of his kindness runs in your veins. Second, nothing could be further from the truth. He left you a generous inheritance, and loved you in spite of yourself. How could you do it... how?" My voice trembled as tears spilled onto my blouse.

Silence followed. I let him stew for a few minutes, hoping he would give me a glimpse into his soul, if he had one.

"'The Road Not Taken," by Robert Frost was my father's favorite poem. Let me know the date and time, and I'll request to be there under police escort. I lack in both character and virtue as you have stated, but I sure as hell didn't kill him."

His gait was slow as he shuffled his feet and walked away.

To be continued....

Author Notes
To read on to chapter 12 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.


Parish jails are the name of the correction system in Louisiana as opposed to my fictional account of a county jail where Charles Dupree is being held. Thank you to my friend Y. M. Roger for this interesting tidbit of Louisiana history.


Photo from Pinterest. https://images.app.goo.gl/pLEU3UWUC2c4gSej8


Chapter 12
What The Blind Girl Saw #12

By Sally Law

As the trial for the murder of Andre Dupree approached, the more behind I felt with his funeral preparations.

I desired to have this sacred moment in time untainted, without the dark shadow of the trial falling upon it.

It would be an emotional time for our small township-- especially Jackson, King, and me.

I had ideas to make the eulogy of my dear friend special, as he was truly one of a kind.

My own father left my family when I was young, and I never knew him--not really. But I knew Andre, and in him I saw the father I had always wished for.

I wanted to borrow a few items from his house for tomorrow's graveside gathering. It was, however, still sealed off with crime scene tape. I called my good friend, Detective Mike Lembowsky, to see if he could help out.

"Hello, Mike, it's Sally. How are you?"

"Good morning! How is the world's finest canine trainer and her family?"

"Hanging in there, Detective. Listen, I have a favor to ask."

"Just name it," he said, in his thick Jersey accent.

"I need a few things from Andre Dupree's home, and I wanted to know if you could help me out?"

"You got it, ma'am."

"I thought of a few personal touches for his funeral tomorrow, but the house is still a designated crime scene. Would you allow me to borrow two, I mean, three... possibly, four items?"

"Certainly. Mrs. Harris and I are attending the funeral together, anyway. She is seven months pregnant, as you know; and her husband is deployed overseas. How about if we drop by tomorrow--say, eleven o'clock--to help locate what you need?"

"That sounds great, " I said in a relieved tone. "I can't wait to see you both."

"You're welcome. See you all around eleven."

I honestly don't know why I say I see people, but I do perceive them. I hope they know my perceptions are more of the heart and mind, than that of physical eyesight, I thought. I catch myself all the time, saying, "see you later."

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

It was a warm day, almost too warm for an outdoor service. I was glad someone had the forethought to bring portable fans. I made sure one was blowing directly on Mrs. Harris, and that she had a bottle of water.

I was dressed in a black skirt and white silk top accented with a scarf Andre had bought me years ago. King had on a scarf too--one that I found in Andre's art studio, draped across his easel. He typically wore it in the winter to "keep the damp, Louisiana air away", as he used to say.

Three of his oil paintings were displayed at the front, sitting amongst his favorite flowers--assorted garden variety roses.

I opened his funeral with a greeting to everyone and thanked them for coming. Jackson stepped forward and held my hand as he led us in 'The Lord's Prayer.' King readily joined us when I called him to come with a hand signal. We stood as one to honor our friend and neighbor who had worked his way into our hearts forever.

"A beautiful day gives way to a beautiful person, a man who loved nothing more than to paint nature, collect poetry, and solve crossword puzzles--out loud. He lived a rich life, and those who knew him were all the richer. We honor him today, our dear friend and neighbor, Andre Dupree. Happy thoughts remain, and sustain us until we see him again in God's kingdom. Au revoir, mon amour."

The three of us stepped to the side, and allowed Charles Dupree a moment in tribute to his father.

He began to read "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost.

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference." *Source

I don't think there was a dry eye remaining at that point in the service.

King led the final tribute by taking a yellow rose in his teeth and placing it next to his grave. Everyone else followed suit as music played softly.

Jackson and I sat with our kind-hearted dog, lost in our memories of Andre.

A little while later, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I was surprised when I realized it was Charles.

"Mrs. Law, I appreciate your kindness to me and my father, and also for inviting me today. I don't deserve to be here, given the circumstances. Please excuse me... I'm not feeling so good. I'm gonna head back to my posh accommodations," he said, alluding to his police escort back to the county jail.

"I completely understand. Louie Ray is catering our lunch today. May I send some food with you?"

"No, but thank you. I'm wishing for my father's homemade vegetable broth right about now and feel the need to lie down."

"Yes, it was a healing broth, wasn't it? Delicious, too," I said in agreement. "I will keep in touch, Charles."

After he left, I commented to Jackson how changed he seemed, almost... nice. It was as if the bitter rage had left his soul.

I didn't realize it then; but death would claim Charles Dupree before the trial, changing the dynamic of the First Degree Murder charge of Philippe Savard.

To be continued....

Author Notes


Photo from Pinterest. https://images.app.goo.gl/KqDzmJscTFYrQH8o9

*Source: From The Poetry of Robert Frost by Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1916, 1923, 1928, 1930, 1934, 1939, 1947, 1949, Copyright 1969 by Holt Rinehart and Winston, Inc. Copyright 1936, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1951, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962 by Robert Frost. Copyright 1962, 1967, 1970 by Leslie Frost Ballantine.


To read on to chapter 13 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.


Chapter 13
What The Blind Girl Saw #13

By Sally Law

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

It was a quiet evening at the county jail in Lafayette Township.

A balmy breeze from the gulf blew through the Spanish moss-laden trees which lined the compound.

On the winds came a messenger, the name engraved on his calling card was... Death.

The shadowy figure arrives this very night, unexpectedly, which is his character.

The front desk guard, Duane Haskins, was more bored than normal, certain the sweeping hands on the wall clock had barely moved. Seinfeld reruns played back to back and kept him from nodding off.

A red light continued blinking from cell number four in solitary confinement. He recognized the number--that of Charles Dupree.

The main entry door rattled as the breeze blew stronger. Even the stately oak trees bowed in obedience. A squall was coming, carrying with it the unexpected visitor.

A small light was still shining in one of the prison cells, painting the hallway with a single ray. Charles Dupree was still up, writing, and hoping the guard would bring him something for his pain along with a glass of milk. He had already called the night guard three times, and hoped the prison doctor was still on his way.

His hands shook as he finished the letter, a letter he had written to Mrs. Law. He would read it one more time to make sure he had remembered everything--every detail, every single sin to be repented of. Only then could he die in peace and face the Almighty.

His stomach hurt so bad; but, really, that was his fault, too. Alcoholism has ruined him... his pancreas and liver, shot.

Rolling to his side, he adjusted the reading lamp just above his single bunk. He pulled his memo pad close to his burning eyes so he could see more clearly as he read.

*****************
To Sally,
I write this to you because I know you will do the right thing. You seem to have a quality about you that draws people to trust you.

First, I must confess, I have asked God to forgive me for the horrible things I have done to you all, and especially my father. He didn't deserve to die like that.

With that being said, here is what really happened the day of my father's murder.

I discussed and planned it all, step by step, along with Philippe Savard. The only part that was not true to my side of the deal was my father's murder. He was killed--in cold blood--by my evil partner.

In the beginning, it was all about stealing and selling my father's oil paintings. In my opinion, they were never displayed and sold as they should have been.

Philippe Savard had online buyers ready to purchase, paying us handsomely. He had many connections in the art world, and had pictures of my father's oils ready for bidding as soon as we had them in hand. The pre-arranged sales seemed to fall in place effortlessly.

However, once Savard got wind of the white diamonds and their possible whereabouts behind one of the oil paintings, he went crazy. That's all he could think about. He shifted his interest solely towards the diamonds.

On the morning we arrived at my father's house, we had planned to knock him unconscious with the flower pot and steal a few of his paintings. I got into it with Savard on the front porch, and he cut his hand on some broken pottery shards. He went into the garage and retrieved a towel along with a crowbar. Then, running back and through the open front door, he jumped my dad as he was walking away, hitting him so hard with the crowbar that it killed him instantly.

I will have to live with that ghastly sight until I die--which I suspect will be soon.

He walked past my dad without emotion, and began to check behind the paintings. But, I was so distraught--hysterical really--that I couldn't join him in the search. I left him there, walking as fast as I could to catch the next train. He was burying the crowbar in your yard when you and King came upon him. I'm certain he would've killed you, too, if it weren't for your protective dog and quick police response.

Later that day, Savard texted me and said he looked for diamonds behind every painting but came up empty handed. I knew then, the gems had to be in your care, or hidden behind the rose painting given you by my father. Dad always boasted they were in "safe keeping."

I was confident at the time, Savard would've been back to steal the diamonds himself, and God knows what lengths he would've gone to get them. I volunteered to burglarize your home, and retrieve them from behind the rose painting, paying off Savard to get my life back. (My dad always kept a key to your house on an alligator keychain by his front door. That's how I entered your home so easily.) I'm sorry about that, too. Anyway, we know how that ended, and here I am.

Philippe Savard is evil, greedy, and has no conscience. I sorely regret my days spent with him. He deserves the maximum penalty for what he did. It was pre-meditated, with malice, with the intent to kill.

I hope I live to give testimony of these things; but, if not, please deliver this letter to the State Prosecutor via your detective friend.

I blame myself for letting this happen. Even now, I beg God to forgive me, along with my father, you, and Jackson. I hope you all can forgive this--forgive me.

Sincerely,
Charles Dupree

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

He folded the letter as neatly as he could and tucked into an oversized envelope. He pulled out her mailing address scribbled on a piece of paper from his pants pocket.

It hurt to move. The shooting pain in his abdomen was becoming more unbearable by the minute. He pressed the emergency call button once again, holding it down with all his might.

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

Township family practitioner and former Army medic, Dr. Seth Gooding, was on call this weekend for any and all prison emergencies in the southernmost sections of rural Louisiana.

He drove the world's oldest living Jeep, he thought, with 400,000 plus miles on its original odometer--boasting of the older, well-built cars of yesteryear, saying, "a car that didn't last at least forty years wasn't worth squat."

His 1968 automotive classic was doing just fine despite the squall-like conditions. He was a little bit late for his urgent call to the county jail in Lafayette Township because he has stopped to help an elderly gentleman repair a flat tire in the blowing rain. Oddly, when he pulled back onto the road and checked his rear view mirror, the other car was gone. It was if the old man had disappeared into the tumultuous night without a trace. He shook it off and continued on, his windshield wipers on maximum speed.

He was waved through the security door as Duane Haskins buzzed him in.

"Good evening, Doctor Gooding, how are ya?"

"Whew... pretty good. Sorry, I'm late. I had stopped to help a fellow stranded in this mess with a blow out."

"Let me check your bag, please, and then I will escort you back to Mr. Dupree's cell."

"Sure thing. I brought him a dose of OxyContin for tonight. I cannot leave a prescription with him, as he could possibly overdose. I will be back every twelve hours with a single dose until I can have him transferred to a medical facility."

"All right, doctor, you and your bag may come with me."

The hallway lights were motion-activated, illuminating the narrow wing to cell number four.

The light no longer shone in cell number four. The spirit had come and gone, and with him, the soul of Charles Dupree.

He lay peacefully upon his bed with an envelope in his hand. In it was a letter--a departing gift--that would redeem him, and hopefully bring justice in the days ahead.

To be continued....

Author Notes
To read on to chapter 14 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.




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Chapter 14
What The Blind Girl Saw #14

By Sally Law

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

Jackson and King were not disturbed at all by the evening storm that blew into southern Louisiana after the funeral of Andre Dupree.

They were both sleeping peacefully without a care, and it just didn't seem right.

I wished for that special gift--being able to sleep through a near-hurricane without arousal.

I, however, roamed the house, made three cups of herbal tea, listened to the updated-by-the-minute weather report, and finished crocheting a scarf--all in one night.

It was more than the Louisiana toad-strangler that was keeping me awake though. I was mentally readying myself to testify in the upcoming murder trial of Andre Dupree, tentatively set for mid-July. I could see the newspaper headlines in my evening visions.

************************************************************
**Southern Louisiana Gazette** July 15, 2019
"Trial begins today in Lafayette Township starring blind canine trainer, Sally Law, and her famous dog, King...."
************************************************************

Just the thought of being thrust into the limelight made me want to crawl under a rug. Would our lives ever return to normal?

I had to keep my wits about me, and remember it was about justice for our family friend. I finally went back to bed as the storm subsided, both outside and in my mind.

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

It was not unusual for Dr. Marie MacLavish to be called upon at all hours of the day and night. She was the Chief Medical Examiner for this area of southern Louisiana. The storm was finally clearing as she made her plans to visit the county prison, which was actually not too far from her residence of twenty-five years.

Her husband, Alan, was an early riser and offered to drive her. He had already prepared her favorite 'Cafe Du Monde' coffee for the trip. She placed a few calls as she climbed into the passenger side of her truck. The most important call was to Detective Mike Lembowsky, letting him know of her plans.

"Hello, Mike, it's Doctor M. I was contacted by the warden of Lafayette County Prison, saying Charles Dupree died early this morning. Alan and I are on our way there now. It's around 5:30 AM, she said as she verified the time. "I will see you when I see you."

Rays of sunshine filtered through the trees, illuminating the damage caused by the overnight squall. The rain-washed air smelled sweet and fresh, but the humidity persisted below the low-lying clouds like sea spray.

Other than muddy conditions, and a few downed branches, the Medical Examiner made it safely to the prison.

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

Mike Lembowsky rolled over and slapped his obnoxious alarm clock. It had to be obtrusive, for he slept like the dead. Oldies played as he sang along, showering for the day. He checked his voicemail as soon as he was cognizant, readying himself for his important job as a homicide detective.

He had missed two calls. One was from Dr. Marie MacLavish, and the other from Lafayette County Prison. He knew in his gut it had to be Charles Dupree.

Charles looked terrible at his father's funeral yesterday, and many of the attendees had mentioned it. He read his dad's favorite poem with shaking hands as perspiration ran down his pain-stricken face.

He unlocked his weapons, and armed himself. Then, grabbing a bagel, along with his dark navy sport coat--in which he stashed his cellphone--he flew out the door in record time.

The humidity reminded him it was, indeed, summer. He hung his coat in the back of his car, and rolled up his shirt sleeves. It was going to be a long, hot day for the good detective.

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

Philippe Savard was not happy about his situation, not at all. How did he get here? With all the crimes he had committed over the years, this was the first time he had been caught. Well... caught without a solution.

There's got to be a way out of this, he thought.

His twisted, sick mind ran different scenarios round and round.

"House arrest, with cops watching and monitoring your every move, is the pits," he muttered in whispered tones.

There was one exception--the bathroom. That was the only place he wasn't surveilled. "Thank God for small favors," he chuckled.

He had money--lots of smaller bills stashed in his apartment. He just had to get his hands on it. Dirty cops loved cash; and it had helped him in the past with delicate matters, disappearing paperwork--even forensic evidence.

"Oh, life is so much easier when you have access to money," he said as he rubbed his greedy hands together in delight.

Philippe asked for a pair of nail clippers, for he had a ferocious hang nail. He promised the daytime cop some money if he bought him a few things from the pharmacy, along with dry cleaning long overdue for pickup. There was nothing to lose if the cop said no as he was already headed to trial, charged with First-Degree Murder.

The pharmacy package came, delivered as requested; and mingled in the contents was a jumbo-size nail clipper. "Oh, this would do it--yes, yes, yes!" The dry cleaning, too. He would most assuredly have to tip well for these kind favors, he thought. "Merci, sir. I hope to repay you for your kindness," said Philippe with a wink.

It was very late when he went into the toilet, around the time the evening guard was online--chatting. Philippe took the nail clippers, and in one fell swoop, clipped his ankle monitor band in two. Then he stood on a chair and covered the security camera at the side entry with a sport sock. A few minutes later, he left through the side door, dressed as a Lafayette Township police officer, complete with an electronic key. With a penciled-in mustache and horn-rimmed glasses, he walked--unrecognizable--into the sweltering night.

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

A long day evolved into a sixteen hour shift for Detective Lembowsky, who was now on the other side of town, waiting in an unmarked police sedan. Across the street he could see Sergeant Dina Ray, and her partner, Nate Smith, parked in the shadows.

It wouldn't be long now, according to the phone tip.

"Remind me to thank Philippe Savard for helping me rid my force of the remaining cops who are a disgrace to their badge," he said, as the escapee came waltzing down the street. "Let's roll, people."

"Philippe Savard--Police! Stop right there, and show me your hands."

To be continued....

Author Notes
To read on to chapter 15 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.


Photo my own.


Chapter 15
What The Blind Girl Saw #15

By Sally Law

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

There are many things I love about living in Louisiana, pronounced "Lose-eee-ann-a."

The food, natural beauty, and southern hospitality are second to none--in particular, the deep faith and family atmosphere.

Manners play a big part in our state, too. For instance, it is thought impolite not to inquire after someone's family, especially if they've been under the weather.

It goes something like this: "Mrs. Harris, how is your mama getting along after her surgery?"

Or, even more culturally appropriate, "How's ya mama an' them?" This is understood to mean: "How is your mama, and everyone still at home?"

Jackson and I appreciate living among people that care about everyone around them, and especially their mama.

My neighbors are genuinely good folks. They inquire regularly about Jackson and King, and how we are doing with the approaching trial for the murder of Andre Dupree.

Hotels and motels in our township were rumored to be full with no vacancies according to the local gossips--and we still had weeks to go.

Also arriving in our close-knit community was the not-so-friendly press--specifically, the tabloid media. Both had proven in the past to be rude and inconsiderate. Their main goal at the end of the day was to get a good story; and for most of them, that's all that mattered. The truth, or the lives of those involved, were of no consequence to them.

I had long feared becoming a media spectacle, having microphones shoved in my face indefinitely.

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

Dr. Marie MacLavish was working under the fluorescent lights of her medical lab late into the evening. It would be the second Dupree on which she had recently performed an autopsy. Charles Dupree had died two nights ago in Lafayette County Jail, from what appeared to be natural causes.

He had been prepared to testify against his partner in crime, Philippe Savard, and had accepted a lesser charge of First Degree Manslaughter for "turning state's evidence."

Unfortunately, he passed away before he was able to fully carry out his change of heart and testify in court.

In her first assessment, the seasoned medical examiner thought the cause of death was from poor health, for Charles Dupree suffered from alcoholism. He was chalk white, and nothing but skin and bone. But as she knew from years of experience, outward appearances can fool even a trained eye.

The autopsy was serving a dual purpose on this July evening. She had the honor of training a new assistant, a graduate from her alma mater. She had her eye on this young man throughout his academic years at LSU, and saw great promise in him as the next Chief Medical Examiner.

Overdue to retire, she and her husband longed for impromptu road trips, or just sipping coffee on their veranda, watching the sunrise over the bayou.

Dr. Travis Cain had the body of Charles Dupree on the table, prepped and ready to be examined post mortem. His body had properly cooled and was in the best timeframe for forensic examination. During a autopsy, it is necessary to thoroughly examine the body externally as well as internally. X-rays were displayed on the overhead projector right above their workstation.

Cause of death would be determined first and foremost. Tissue samples would be taken, and sent to their in-house pathology lab for testing. Each organ would be removed, examined, and photographed. Then, the organs would be collected and bagged, securing them back inside the torso. The body would then be ready for delivery to the mortician for embalming.

The body was covered with a white sheet, as was her protocol. Sterile implements were laid out methodically, and the stainless steel containers were marked for each organ. This process would take several hours; and both doctors made sure they would not be interrupted, stopping only to drink water and wipe perspiration from their brows. Emergency phone calls were to be forwarded to Doctor MacLavish's answering service.

"All right, Travis, I'll let you do the honors. I have marked his torso to help guide you. Begin by making a Y-shaped incision, the two arms of the Y running from each shoulder joint, meeting mid-chest. And from this little blue mark in the mid-region, at the Y stem, continue down to the last blue mark on his pubic region," she said, guiding him verbally.

The intern proceeded confidently, cutting along the lines with the all-seeing eyes of Dr. MacLavish looking on. He finished rather quickly and efficiently, he thought.

"You learned well in school. This is perfect, young man, just perfect."

It would prove to be a memorable night; a textbook case believe-it-or-not.

Forensic science has its secrets, and just like the sea--it will tell.

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

From past experience, I knew the defense attorney for Philippe Savard would do everything in his power, and use every arsenal available, to blow my testimony out of the water. He would prey upon my disability, too, and draw attention to my obvious physical weakness--blindness.

Any inconsistencies in my deposition would be used to discredit me in court in order to have my testimony thrown out of the upcoming trial.

However, I had with me a letter, hand-delivered from the county jail. Its contents were weighty and just what I needed to hear. It will give credibility to both my sworn deposition and trial examination.

Charles Dupree penned me a personal letter, describing in detail the murder of his father, Andre, at the hand of Philippe Savard. I will gladly hand it over today to the Louisiana State's Attorney.

I will rise to the occasion, and fully prepare myself to meet my adversaries--securing justice for my friend, come what may. Philippe Savard will regret what he did and pay dearly.

With my husband on one side and my sight dog on the other, I swallowed my fear, and walked confidently into the courthouse to give my sworn deposition--the letter in my possession.

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

"The stomach is the most interesting organ to me," said Doctor M. as she twisted and turned the insides of Charles Dupree. "I feel something lodged in the lining of his stomach. Oh, it's large all right."

She continued to cut and feel her way with steady hands and eyes. "I think I have it!"

"Son of a gun," said Dr. Cain as he looked more closely. "That couldn't possibly be...," he said as he pulled the adjustable light even closer, narrowing his eyes.

Doctor M. held it up in the light. Reaching for an alcohol swab, she gave the object a rub. Sure enough, it was as she suspected.

With eyebrows raised, Dr. MacLavish exclaimed, "I thought I'd seen it all. It's a pink diamond!"

The precious gem shone brilliantly in her hand. She handed it carefully to her student.

"Travis, please weigh, measure, and photograph the diamond, then place it in the vault. Tell absolutely no one what we found here tonight, unless it's in court."

"Yes, ma'am, I understand. I think we should call the police, too."

"Excuse me, Travis, while I do just that. My good friend, Detective Mike Lembowsky, will definitely want to know about this one. For some reason, I think this may be tied to the big murder trial coming up in two weeks."

"How---just---how much is something like that worth, Doctor M?"

"Oh, at least a million, my dear. It's a rare diamond, kept among the wealthiest families and royalty. Think Harry Winston's clientele."

To be continued....

Author Notes
To read on to chapter 16 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.





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Chapter 16
What The Blind Girl Saw #16

By Sally Law

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

The smell of mahogany greets you when you visit our county courthouse located in downtown Lafayette Township near Coulee Creek. It is a prized architectural gem, rich with Louisiana history.

Everything, from the barrel-vaulted ceilings to the glass doorknobs of the washrooms, adds to the charm of this historic landmark and fully functional courthouse.

The long awaited day had finally arrived. Our town was packed with onlookers here for the trial of the murder of Andre Dupree. It would prove to be an emotionally charged day, just as State Prosecutor, Roy Fitzgerald Owens, had predicted.

I would be reliving the most traumatic experience of my life in the coming weeks. I had prayed with Jackson in the early hours for the strength to do this, and do it well. The judge, jury, and many attendees would see and listen to what the blind girl saw.

Mine was the hand that laid upon him as I knelt near his cold, still body. My tears were the first to spill upon his artist's smock, and it was my voice that cried, "oh no, Andre--this cannot be!"

Jackson read a quote to me recently from writer Robyn Nola. "Butterflies are nature's angels. They remind us what a gift it is to be alive." I thought these words very profound, recalling once again the precious life taken from me.

Detective Mike Lembowsky, pushing back the press, met us in the parking lot.

"Good morning, one and all," he said, giving King a hearty petting. He guided us through the forming crowd like a pro, seating us near the front of the courtroom.

In a police lineup, King had a already identified Philippe Savard as the one seen on our property the morning of Andre's murder. I had requested special seating in a side area, out of view, certain my protective sight dog would go on the offense once again. King could easily disrupt the court, and "His Honor" would not be pleased.

I would not be on the witness stand today, but scheduled to follow the forensic testimonials later in the week.

Prosecutor Owens had already briefed me about the possible line of questioning--specifically my generous inheritance, and the three white diamonds given to me as a gift from Andre. We practiced for hours as the seasoned lawyer prepared me for cross-examination by the defense, pounding me in mock trial until I did not flinch, whimper, or bat an eye.

"You're ready, Mrs. Law. We're gonna win this, and win big."

"For Andre," I replied.


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

The countryside of Rhinau, France, September, 1942.

Andre Dupree was in the barn feeding the last of his remaining chickens. He kept his paintings there as well, hung on tattered pieces of burlap. Money for oil paints during wartime was considered a luxury, not a necessity.

At twelve-years-old, he was already showing great promise as an artist and loved to paint the hours away. Farming was secondary; but he had proved to be very grown up, able to put food on the table for his widowed mother and younger sister. Hitler's army was invading Europe, and many men had died in the war. His father was one of the many, giving his life while serving in the French Resistance.

He had ventured outside to gather vegetables from his garden, when he saw two abstract forms moving towards him. As they approached, he saw a beautifully dressed woman and an equally handsome man walking through his field, struggling in ankle-deep mud.

Andre stood there with his hand over his eyes to shield the sun, thinking they were a dream, not befitting of time and place. The woman's ermine coat came loose, exposing her protruding stomach. She was with child, just as Andre's mother had been.

"Bonjour. Can you help us, young fellow?"

"Yes. What do you need? Should I fetch my maman?"

"We are Jews, and very wealthy. I can pay you, lad. We need a warm place to stay. We escaped from Germany where Hitler is killing us ... killing us all. The barn is fine, and just a crust of bread and some vegetables. I have diamonds--I will give them to you if you help us. Please--I beg you."

Andre shook the stranger's hand. "I am a painter, sir. I will gladly give you the root cellar if you like, and bring you a warm blanket. My papa has died, and I am now the man of the house."

"The God of Abraham be praised! I am a descendant of the house of David, and I will give you these heirloom diamonds in gratitude. Also, there is a rare, pink diamond for you if you let us remain here until the war ends."

"Sir, you have yourself a deal. I will do my best to keep you here as long as God will protect us. Come, let me clean your shoes, for supper will be ready at dusk. Possibly, this poor chicken will make a fine stew."

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

At precisely ten o'clock, court was called into session.

The bailiff announced: "All rise. Court is now in session, the Honorable Judge Preston Hawthorn presiding. "All those who have cause to plea draw near and you shall be heard." The low roar subsided as a calming silence came over us all.

The court attendees remained standing until the judge was seated.

Jackson, King, and I were somewhat hidden from view. A partition, which had been erected to keep King from sighting Philippe Savard, also kept us less exposed to the press.

The bailiff continued. "Case number 2356, the State of Louisiana versus Philippe Savard. The charge is: Murder in the First Degree."

"How does the defendant plead?" asked the judge as he peered over his bifocals.

"Not guilty, your honor," said defense attorney Clayborne Moore.

"The record will show the entry of 'not guilty' on behalf of the defendant," stated the judge.

After a few minutes of legal formalities, most everyone was settling into their seats. I heard the ancient doors opening and closing, the shuffling of papers, and a few nervous coughs. The audience was obviously readying themselves for an electrifying first day.

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

Louisiana State Prosecutor, Roy Fitzgerald Owens, came forward to make his opening statement. It was easy to hear his drawled voice without a microphone. He took his time, making every word and gesture count.

"I will prove to the court today, the guilt of the accused, the man named as the defendant in this case, Philippe Savard. I will prove to the members of the jury, he had means, motive, and opportunity; but not only that, I have concrete evidence that Mr. Savard hated Andre Dupree and planned his murder with premeditated malice. This is as cold as it gets, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Philippe Savard murdered Andre Dupree for his art and diamond collections. It was planned weeks in advance and rehearsed with Andre's son, Charles. Unfortunately, Charles Dupree died a month ago in jail while awaiting trial. However, he left us with important information we now have in our possession."

"Charles is dead?" Philippe Savard became unhinged as he slammed his hand down on the antique table.

King barked as a natural response as the Judge's warning was announced, "Counsel, you will keep your client under control, or face a contempt charge. Do I make myself clear?"

"I apologize, your honor," said defense counsel Moore.

"Proceed, Mr. Owens," said Judge Hawthorn.

"Thank you, your honor. The forensic evidence in this case is overwhelming. We have the whole kit and caboodle; and, of course, as everyone in our fine state knows, our Medical Examiner has impeccable credentials. Dr. Marie MacLavish has proven herself time and again--a professional, thorough, and kind to all. The state has a strong case against the accused and the hard forensic evidence to support it. Philippe Savard murdered Andre Dupree. The state of Louisiana seeks the maximum penalty under the law for such a crime."

Jackson squeezed my hand and I felt confident, especially knowing Doctor MacLavish was in the courtroom and would be testifying today. Prosecutor Owens had brought in the big guns, really--an arsenal.

To be continued....

Author Notes
To read on to chapter 17 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.



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Chapter 17
What The Blind Girl Saw #17

By Sally Law

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

It had been an outstanding morning for day one of the trial.

Judge Preston Hawthorn had called for an early lunch, generously allowing the court attendees a two-hour break.

Magically, two food trucks appeared and parked as close to the courthouse as the law would allow, serving Louisiana cuisine with generous hospitality.

The weather was fine, so Jackson, King, and I had grabbed some shrimp hoagies and a jumbo frozen lemonade, then made our way down a rocky path to nearby Coulee Creek.

King found a wonderful tree-lined area, parking his ponderous bulk in the obliging shade. Louisiana's State Bird, the mosquito, was in full force; and I was prepared, armed with repellent stowed in my oversized purse.

King's favorite things, food and outdoor romps, were needful after sitting still in the courtroom for nearly two hours. He gulped down his meal and raced for the creek water, and I wished for a moment I were as lucky as he.

Jackson and I soaked up the atmosphere, talking about anything--except the trial.

We weren't the only ones who were enjoying the shaded surroundings. Prosecutor Owens and Detective Lembowsky were nearby, sitting together underneath a weeping willow tree. Jackson said they had waved, but looked to be in deep conversation as they ate, sharing a book or manual of some kind.

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

Mrs. Janelle Harris was waiting for the birth of her baby. Unable to fully function as a homicide investigator and assistant to Detective Mike Lembowsky, she had been placed in 'Case Research' and was restricted to light duties out of harm's way.

In the interim, Mrs. Harris had been assigned to re-examine the Andre Dupree residence. She was the one her boss trusted the most, known to dot the i's and cross the t's, bringing much-needed proficiency to the precinct. With the trial already in progress, she thought today would be a great day to tackle the job. Everyone, including the press, would be camped out at the county courthouse.

She was right. Not a soul was near the residence of deceased Parisian painter and Lafayette citizen, Andrew Dupree. Jiggling the key in the lock, she let herself in the front door.

One thing in particular she was on the look out for was a journal or diary. By the time he had turned twenty, Andre Dupree had already lived three lives. "Surely, there was something written down, stowed within his dusty house," she thought.

The allergens were getting to her and she was running low on tissues. She looked around in the usual places, but came up empty.

"Ah, the linen closet," she thought. "My parents always stored their paper goods in the linen closets."

The master suite had a large linen closet as she recalled. She opened up the double doors; and to her surprise, flowered wallpaper lined the panels and shelves. "How pretty, yet, so unexpected," she thought. "This gentleman was truly an artist."

With gloved hands, she moved some bath towels to the side, searching for the much-needed tissues. Her hand grazed a latch, causing the wall to move. The scene on the wallpaper changed as it opened, exposing a small chamber.

"Whoa . . . oh my." She grabbed her camera and snapped photos as fast as she could, hardly believing her eyes.

Walking with trepidation, she inched forward. The entrance was sharply angled, giving way immediately to a small room. A single lightbulb with a long cord was the only light offered, but the bulb had burnt out.

Looking around with her cellphone light, she saw a menagerie of collections. Weathered oil paintings adhered to tattered pieces of burlap lined the paneled walls. Four leather-bound journals stood side by side on a shelf, each one stuffed to the brim with faded photographs. White baby shoes and a lock of blond hair were tucked in a box made of decoupage, lovingly displayed and preserved.

Gift shop style postcards from the Louvre were bound with twine and placed in hand-woven baskets. Letters, Valentine cards, bus tickets, and wine bottle labels, were filed in manila envelopes with the appropriate year marked in penciled handwriting. She touched the items reverently, knowing as she went along, the people represented here were long gone. A deep sadness filled her heart--not sure it was hers alone, but perhaps a sadness remaining in the room.

Lastly, she saw a small velvet pouch with a 'Star of David' etched in gold, cinched with a beautifully ornamented drawstring. There was nothing inside, but the pouch itself was still pristine. "I think you once held those precious white diamonds I've heard about," she said in a whisper.

In the midst of it all sat a chair, a wooden table, and a half-burnt candle. It was obvious that Andre Dupree had come here to remember a life long ago and cry; crumpled tissues and empty Kleenex boxes were strewn everywhere.

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

Philippe Savard was eating his lunch at a nearby cafe under the watchful eyes of a police escort. His attorney, Clayborne Moore, had joined him.

Speaking in a hushed tone, Philippe expressed his concerns. "This is not looking good. It's your job to get me out of here and on a plane to Paris. I'm not taking the rap for Andre Dupree's murder, and now with Charles dead . . . oh, this is just galling me."

"Calm down, Savard. You've already portrayed yourself as the psychopath you really are; looking guilty as hell. I can only do so much," said Mr. Moore as he examined the express lunch menu.

"Ha! If you want to live to see those beach sunsets you have plastered all over your office, you'd better get with it," said Savard with eyes flaming.

"Is that supposed to be some kind of threat?" asked the court-appointed attorney. "I get paid whether I win or lose. You are of no consequence to me, Mr. Savard. Understood?"

The silence was deafening until Philippe Savard got in the last word.

"Your opening statement this afternoon better be good, otherwise . . . it's your funeral, Mr. Moore."

To be continued....

Author Notes
To read on to chapter 18 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.


Photo from pixabay.

https://pixabay.com/vectors/candle-lit-flame-light-burning-30113/


Chapter 18
What The Blind Girl Saw #18

By Sally Law

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




Philippe Savard and his defense attorney, Clayborne Moore, sat in silence after a sharp and heated exchange of words.

Still waiting for their lunch to be served, Clayborne excused himself to take an important cellphone call.

This was just the opportunity Savard was looking for. Actually, he had used these busy restaurant settings to accomplish his dirty work on more than one occasion.

People were rarely paying attention--even the police--their faces glued to their cellphones, oblivious to the people and events around them. The servers were even more distracted. Yes, he had even fed his stupid accomplice, Charles Dupree, a pink diamond in this very restaurant. He thought this was a genius idea until the ridiculous man got himself arrested before the proper "transit time" for the coveted stone was complete.

"Perhaps the gem was not lost in the toilet, but stuck in his autopsied body? Hummm . . . I wonder if the Medical Examiner had come across it? She probably had; criminals oftentimes swallowed evidence."

Stroking his chin, he contemplated the rare diamond's whereabouts, forgetting about the current plan he was hatching.

His thoughts were interrupted when the waitress arrived with two identical entrees and potato side dishes. Savard flashed a fake smile. "Thank you, young lady."

"No problem," she said, and hurried back to the kitchen.

Savard reached inside his Armani suit coat and pulled out a small packet, somewhat resembling a salt-free alternative. He applied it liberally to his lunch as he looked around nonchalantly. "This won't kill Claiborne, but it might postpone the trial for a week or two. He'll learn who is really in charge. Besides, he said he wanted to lose a few pounds," he thought, suppressing a laugh.

The server returned to the table with a pitcher of sweet iced tea, offering a refill.

Savard made a special request in his best French accent, "I ordered extra mashed potatoes, and I see my friend has my lunch by mistake. Would it be too much trouble to switch them before he returns? I hate to reach--I might spill."

"Oh, of course. I'm so sorry," said the college-age server. "Let me take care of that for you."

"Also, my dear counselor will be picking up today's tab. He's such a great man--always so generous."

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

Court resumed precisely at two o'clock. It took a few minutes for everything to calm down, but eventually the honorable judge rapped his gavel to remind us of the long afternoon ahead.

"The court will come to order ladies and gentlemen," said the stately judge. He paused, allowing the room to quiet.

"We have not yet heard the opening statement from the defense. Mr. Moore, are you ready to address the court this afternoon?"

"Yes, Your Honor. May I approach the bench?" asked Mr. Moore.

"Certainly," said Judge Hawthorn.

Defense Attorney Moore came forward with his co-counselor, Ashley Bishop. The microphone was covered for a moment as the judge and Mr. Moore had a private discussion, ending with a request for the opening statement to be given by Ms. Bishop.

"Mr. Moore, are you feeling all right? I am willing to grant a recess until tomorrow," said the judge in a hushed tone.

"Thank you, Your Honor. I must've eaten something at lunch that didn't agree with me. Ms. Bishop has been fully briefed, ready for today's events. I'm confident she'll represent Philippe Savard to the best of her ability."

"By all means, let's proceed," stated Judge Hawthorn, removing his hand from the mic.

The judge continued, "You may address the court when you're ready, Ms. Bishop."

"Thank you, Your Honor," said the less experienced member of the defense team.

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

Strasbourg, France, near the German border. Spring, 1944.

"The Second World War must be coming to and end--at least, the liberation of Paris from the iron grip of Germany," thought young Andre Dupree.

His mother, Renee, and baby sister, Jeanne-Louise, along with three Jews, were now under his care; and Andre was only fourteen-years-old.

He looked and acted much older, being tall and speaking German, English, and his native tongue.

His love for painting had only increased, and was his escape from the madness of Hitler's advancing troops.

Sometimes his urge to paint was so great, he crushed berries and mixed the deep blue paste with olive oil to make a satisfactory lavender.

It was mid-May when the Duprees left their family farm, fearing war-weary German soldiers would take over the agricultural areas. With food rations as a way of life, the French population was sick and hungry.

They painstakingly moved closer to Strasbourg for a reason--a cave. It would prove to be a wonderful place to hide and provide a natural resource for fresh water from an underground spring. Food was more plentiful, too, with wild mushrooms and berries, and the soil was rich.

The cave was small and sat within a deep crevice in rocky hills at the edge of an abandoned orchard, now spread with buttercups and bluebells. Tightly wound grapevines lay all around, giving it an appearance of a wolf's lair, with dead tree branches shielding the cave's entrance.

Andre had made many trips in a borrowed truck before the final move, stocking the cave with empty wine bottles saved from his father's wine cellar. His plan was to fill the bottles with the mineral-rich water and store them for the days ahead.

After months of preparations, the first day of the move had finally arrived.

David and Hava, the Jewish couple he was hiding, had become family to Andre. Contrary to Jewish tradition, they had named their newborn son after him, instead of a deceased ancestor, in gratitude to the young boy they shook hands with in the field years ago.

Little Andre had blondish-hair, resembling his namesake. This was a mystery to them all, and they laughed about the similarities in the two boys almost daily.

Andre loaded the truck bed with David and Hava hidden underneath burlap sacks layered with handmade baskets. Little Andre sat next to him in the front seat, posing as his son.

His sweet maman brought food and drink for their travel along with a kiss. "Andre, if you cannot get back to me safely by tonight, wait until you are able. I will be in the root cellar with Jeanne-Louise, hiding until you return. Happy thoughts, mon cher."

Jeanne-Louise clung to his shirt, not wanting to let go. "I'll be back soon for you, my littlest girl. You behave for Maman, you hear?" Their two hands lingered as they parted.

His mother looked upon him as he drove away, realizing Andre had become a fine man--just like his father.

Andre delivered David and his family safely to the cave, and began to set up housekeeping right away. He hung a few paintings, displayed near the entry so the light would shine upon them. It was already feeling homey, he thought.

Hava prepared a mushroom broth and set about the bedding and cushions.

An afternoon rainstorm arrived and delayed Andre's return to the farm. "It would have to be t'morrow," he thought. "Surely the road would be washed out."

He slept soundly his first night after eating the delicious broth and bouncing little Andre on his knee. The gentle rainfall along with the crickets' night song had worked their magic once again.

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

After a rocky start, Ms. Bishop directed her opening statement to the jury. She seemed nervous, hurried, and obviously uncomfortable in her own skin.

"Philippe Savard is an innocent man. He is guilty of nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The real criminal is Andre Dupree's son, Charles, who unfortunately has passed away. We agree, as the defense for Mr. Savard, Charles Dupree had staged the murder scene in order to frame our client. There is no premeditated murder with malice here, deserving of a first-degree murder conviction. The defendant maintains his good name and unfortunate involvement in this case. All the evidence is purely circumstantial from our point of view. We hope the jury will do the right thing and return a verdict of not guilty."

"Thank you, Counselor. The court appreciates your standing in for Mr. Moore," said the kind judge.

Judge Hawthorn continued, recognizing Prosecutor Owens with a nod.

Mr. Owens responded, "Thank you, Your Honor. The state would like to call Dr. Marie MacLavish to the witness stand."

The forensic pathologist and tri-county medical examiner walked confidently to the witness stand, just as she had done on many occasions.

The bailiff swore her in and seated her, adjusting the microphone. The afternoon sun shone on her silvery hair and clear blue eyes.

"Doctor MacLavish, thank you for your appearance in court today," commented Mr. Owens.

"It is my honor to be here today."

"We are privileged to have such an expert and life-long citizen among us today. You graduated with honors from LSU and Tulane. Is that correct?"

"Yes. LSU for my undergraduate degree and Tulane University School of Medicine for my post-graduate degree. I also had my fellowship with Tulane University and residency at Lafayette Medical Center."

"And, how long have you served Lafayette County as the Board Certified Medical Examiner?"

"Twenty-seven years--give or take."

"Doctor, I am going to switch gears, and begin with forensic questions related to the murder of Andre Dupree. I understand you have brought visual aids for the jury and court attendees today and will speak in layman's terms. Is that correct?"

"Yes. I think it will be helpful and bring clarity in understanding the forensics of this case. It will only take a few minutes to set up--if that's pleasing to the court?"

"We will have a short recess and reconvene in thirty minutes," said the judge as he rapped his gavel.

Ashley Bishop felt relieved, collapsing into her antique chair. She glanced at her cellphone, ignoring the body language from Philippe Savard. There was one missed text message from Clayborne Moore.

It said: "Sorry, Ash, I was feeling so bad, I had my wife drive me to the ER. Talk later?"

To be continued . . . .

Author Notes
To read on to chapter 19 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.



Maman is French for mama or mother.

Art courtesy of http://www.fanartreview.com/displaystory.jsp?id=503013.


Chapter 19
What The Blind Girl Saw #19

By Sally Law

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

Philippe Savard had been a life-long criminal, with no good relationships to speak of.

He kept bad company and his life with them flowed like a black river to the lowest levels.

He resembled Monsieur Thenardier, and Andre and Charles Dupree his Jean Valjean and precious Cosette. A lie here, a bribe there, and murder if it was deemed necessary.

But his day of reckoning had come, and he would be found lacking in the scales of Lady Justice.

Also, unbeknownst to him as he sat in the seat of the accused, the country of France would be waiting and watching, set to extradite and charge him for another murder that had gone cold years ago.

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

The afternoon sun filtered through the frosted glass windows of the historic Louisiana courthouse, highlighting Philippe Savard's age and sour demeanor. One could not help noticing his eyes, which seemed devoid of soul and spirit.

Philippe Savard's newly assigned defense attorney, Ashley Bishop, sat as far away from him as possible, yet seated at the same mahogany table. His cheap cologne and glaring looks were already getting to her.

Boxes piled high with evidence came pouring through the double doors as helpers rearranged the courtroom for the forensic testimony coming in the afternoon session.

"What could she do to to defend this man?" she thought. It seemed hopeless, and deep in her heart she suspected Philippe Savard was guilty. Did she really want her career overshadowed by her involvement with him? Her conscience spoke up and said, "No!"

Ashley Bishop saw a vision of her career flying out the courtroom window. She made it to the washroom just in time to throw up her lunch.

Dr. Marie MacLavish returned to the witness stand and had prepared the courtroom to resemble the murder scene, with a plaster likeness of Andre Dupree's skull front and center. Also, a 3-D image of a human skull was projected onto an oversized screen.

Many would hear, for the first time, forensic terms like "blunt force trauma (BFT) to the parietal area of the cranium" explained to them by the resident Medical Examiner and teacher in her field.

Hi-tech forensic crime-solving had arrived, as day one of the trial for the murder of Andre Dupree continued.

***************
The countryside near Strasbourg France, May, 1944.

Andre Dupree rose early after a good night's sleep. The cave was a soothing environment and, he hoped, as autumn approached, a refuge from the cold climate of France.

He prepared hot tea and cut some fresh bread Maman had baked for him, spreading it with blueberry jam. He supposed this was as close to a French pastry he'd seen since the war began. Movingly quietly he began his day, not wanting to disturb David, Hava, and little Andre.

Outside, the dirt road winding downward from the cave was sodden from the summer storm. His heart sank as he looked over the area, realizing there was nothing to be done. He would need to wait at least one more day before he would be able to travel back to his farm to retrieve Maman and Jeanne-Louise.

Anxious thoughts began to take hold of him for a reason he couldn't fully understand at the time.

Andre wanted to share his concerns with David as soon as he heard him up and about. He sat on a tree stump stool, waiting patiently for his attention.

David's deep-brown eyes met Andre's as he spoke. "What's on your mind, my young friend?"

"I hardly know. I'm uneasy not having my family here, and Jean-Louise in poor health. I've never known separation like this . . . only from my father, and that is more than enough for me," confided Andre.

"Then, let me go. I will get them and bring them here to the cave. I was a wonderful driver with many vehicles before the Nazis came and took it all away."

"You would do that for me?"

"Andre, do you not understand? I would do anything for you! You have saved my life and that of my family. There aren't enough diamonds in my velvet pouch to show you my gratitude. Please, let me do this!"

Andre ran his fingers through his golden hair, breathing out a sigh of relief. "I'll help you refuel the truck. The column shift sticks between first and second gear, and the tires need some air, but the good news is that I remembered to bring the air pump."

"Superb. I'll borrow your hat and raincoat and be off after lunch," said David.

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

The Honorable Judge Hawthorn resumed court as soon as Miss Bishop returned to the courtroom and was seated.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, the court will continue and recognize Mr. Owens at this time. You may proceed, Counselor."

"Thank you, Your Honor," said Mr. Owens. "Dr. MacLavish, may I remind you, you are still under oath as you proceed today."

"Yes, I understand that I am."

"Now, Doctor MacLavish, I would like you to start today with cause and manner of death in the murder of Andre Dupree. I see you are fully prepared to teach us all in matters of forensics while we look into the gruesome details of Andre Dupree's last moments. I will give you the floor at this time to speak freely to the court."

"Thank you, Mr. Owens, for granting me such latitude here today," she said as she made her way to the center of the courtroom. She referred to the 3-D picture still displayed on the overhead projector as she spoke.

"The first determination I make as a Medical Examiner is "Cause of Death." Andre Dupree died as a result of Blunt Force Trauma (BFT) after being struck from behind with a crowbar taken from his toolbox. Mr. Dupree was walking away from his assailant when he was struck . . . see here," she emphasized as she pointed with a laser pen. "This tells me Mr. Dupree most likely knew his killer--someone he trusted to invite inside his home and turn his back on. He was expecting a visitor and had coffee, tea, and croissants for two set and waiting on the kitchen counter. He still had croissant residue on his fingers when examined by the crime scene detectives."

She continued. "The damage to the parietal area of the skull and the timing of the injuries are consistent with the time of death, or "perimortem"--meaning the injury provoked the death. Cranial BFT has only three sources: homicide, suicide, or an accident. In my professional opinion, this is clearly a homicide, and was noted in my official documentation."

"So, you are saying, if I understand you correctly, this is clearly a death ruled as a homicide and by no other means?"

"That's correct." She stepped forward and placed her hands on the plaster skull, highlighting the area of the blow. "The strike to Mr. Dupree was so forceful, it split the back of his skull on impact," she said in quivering voice.

The courtroom went silent.

"You know, as long as I've been in this profession, it's never without tears."

To be continued . . . .

Author Notes
To read on to chapter 20 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.


Photo from Pinterest.
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/355362226818107634/


Chapter 20
What The Blind Girl Saw #20

By Sally Law

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

Strasbourg, France, near the German border, May 19, 1944.

David von Gil left the cave as promised and motored down the muddied hillside, waving his tweed cap as he disappeared into the noonday sun. He hoped to return to the cave by nightfall with Maman and Jeanne-Louise . . . if everything went according to plan.

Andre had done everything to make sure the rebuilt Renault truck would make the trip; filling another container with petrol and stashing it in the flatbed.

Andre drew a map of the area, highlighting known German checkpoints and how to avoid them. Most importantly, David carried French francs and German reichsmarks along with falsified identification papers tucked inside his trench coat. He suppressed his fears of the Nazis as memories flashed of the Brownshirts kicking and punching his frail grandfather.

But the hardest thing for David was leaving his wife, little Andre, and his young friend in the cavernous hiding place. He knew he was doing the right thing, though wiping away tears as he drove.

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

As day one of the trial of the murder of Andre Dupree had come to a close, I sat in a stupor, reeling from the gruesome details recalled by County Medical Examiner, Dr. Marie MacLavish. I could hardly wait to exit the courtroom and speed home as fast as Jackson could legally get us there. I longed for my tub of holy scrub.

King, on the other hand, wanted to play and eat, somehow knowing Chinese food had been mentioned.

Detective Mike Lembowsky caught me by the arm and asked for a word. He offered us dinner; we accepted, with King licking our police escort in hearty gratitude. I resolved then my bath would have to wait.

I thought it odd our detective friend wanted to meet for dinner at Andre Dupree's residence, which was now mine according to the terms of his will.

It seemed like a bad dream--walking into his house and not hearing his voice in greeting followed by a kiss on each cheek. The woodsy smell of Andre's aftershave still clung to the furnishings.

We decided to eat our Chinese takeout in his art studio as far away from the main house as possible. The studio was a converted sun porch; and a small addition Andre had added when he purchased the 1940s home in 2002.

We all sat on an emerald green settee amongst his beautiful oil paintings. Oh, how Andre loved to lie on this gaudy thing and nap in the sunshine!

Andre and I spent many days working the crossword puzzles, with me on the settee as he paced about thinking. "What word fit in 6 down or 10 across," he would ponder out loud. I longed to relive those days even now as my thoughts of him lingered.

"So, what's on your mind, Detective?"

"I know this has been an overwhelming year and time for you both," he said. "I just wanted to say how sorry I am for the graphic forensic testimony today. I'm sure it was upsetting."

"Thank you, Mike. Sitting with Prosecutor Owens for so many hours, rehearsing my testimony, toughened me up a bit. I know a strong forensic case is crucial to securing a guilty verdict," I replied.

Silence followed, and I knew it was a prelude to something that was very difficult for the detective to spit out. I felt it coming though, and set my food aside.

"Sally . . . Jackson, I have something to tell you that is so mind-boggling, I can hardly comprehend it all, much less communicate it to you both. All I can say is, I'll give it my best shot."

"Should I be worried?" I asked, gulping down fear.

"Oh, no. I'm just not sure if you realize who Andre Dupree really was," he said as his voice trailed off.

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

Maman held Jeanne-Louise close and gently coaxed her to eat the healing broth she had prepared. Her little girl needed a doctor badly, and she hoped Andre would be back soon. The nearest hospital was thirty miles from their farm.

"Was that a truck with a grinding gearshift?" she wondered. Maman peered out from the crack in the root cellar door to see Andre had made it back. She quickly gathered Jeanne-Louise and her dolly, wrapping her tenderly with a blanket. As she made her way outside to greet her son, David, dressed in Andre's clothes, walked towards her with arms outstretched.

"Oh, David, thank you. I am so glad you've come! But I fear Jeanne-Louise has taken a bad turn and needs medical attention. There is, or was, a fine hospital in the next town. Please, we must go now and take her there."

"Certainly. We will leave now as the day is late. Which way?"

"Head west down this road towards Paris . . . perhaps an hour or so," said Maman, pointing.

The approaching sunset filled the sky, setting the clouds in a golden glow. Maman noticed the radio mounted on the truck dashboard as she reached to pull down the visor. "David, does the radio work?"

"Yes and no. Adolf Hitler took over the airwaves and newspapers long ago. No news we can trust," he said in a somber tone.

David passed a few trucks loaded down with produce, and some peddlers heading home with their wares. A speeding German convoy appeared in his rearview mirror, catching up to them quickly. David pulled over to let them pass. "Most likely headed to the same hospital," he thought.

They arrived in the small town, a hamlet that had given way to the war-wounded. Maman gasped when they pulled in to see so many in need waiting outside the hospital's double-entry doors.

"Let me carry Jeanne-Louise inside, and you pose as my mother," suggested David to Maman.

"It's too dangerous for you, David. You look Jewish, and anyone studying you for more than a few seconds will see that. Absolutely not," insisted Maman.

Feigning deafness, David lifted Jeanne-Louise from her arms and walked calmly to the hospital door as he prayed. "ABBA, Father in heaven, send us your blessing upon this little one."

A nurse dressed in white from head to toe immediately pulled them aside into a room. "Sit here. I can see your child is sick and that you've come a long way. The doctor will be in as soon as possible."

The nurse brought a cup of water for Jeanne-Louise, then disappeared down the hall.

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

I sat in stunned silence at the news. "Andre Dupree is my uncle? How could that be?"

"Just to verify, is this Andre Dupree's handwriting, Jackson?" asked Detective Mike.

Jackson examined the journal and correspondence found in the secret room for about ten minutes and kept squeezing my hand to make sure I was all right.

"It appears to be. It hasn't changed much over the years," said Jackson.

"How did Andre find me?" I asked. " My mother was adopted not once, but twice."

"Love never gives up, my friends. You should know that by now."

Detective Lembowsky continued. "It says in this journal entry, and I quote: 'I knew she was the daughter of Jeanne-Louise as soon as I met her. The same spirit and twinkle in her eyes. Sally Jeanne-Marie Law is my niece--without question.'"

Jackson and King drew close to me as I sobbed uncontrollably.

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

Dr. Francois Segal looked at his little patient with great concern. "She will need to be admitted, but I'm afraid I have no more beds. However, my wife and I have no children and live within walking distance. She will have good care there and I will be able to administer the needed medications. She is also suffering from low iron levels--a severe anemia."

Tears welled up in Maman's eyes as she spoke. "How long will it take for her to recover?"

"It's difficult to say--at least two weeks." Doctor Segal sat with his arms crossed, staring past Maman out the window. "Are you close by?"

"No, but we will do our best to visit her and come back when she has recovered. I have money to pay for anything she might need," said Maman.

"I will ring my wife, Marie, and get our little patient tended to and fed," said the kind doctor.

David and Maman kissed Jeanne-Louise goodbye, leaving her in good hands.

They traveled into the moonless night, headed east towards the cave.

To be continued . . . .

Author Notes
To read on to chapter 21 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.


Photo from Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/photos/lavender-clock-lucky-clover-3467202/


Chapter 21
What The Blind Girl Saw #21

By Sally Law

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

Defense attorney, Clayborne Moore, awoke to the sound of his cellphone pings. Opening his eyes, he remembered he was laid up in Lafayette Medical Center with food poisoning.

His wife, Lana, was asleep on a rollout bed lying next to him, his phone in her hand.

She was dead to the world and worn out from the harrowing night.

He recalled how she steadied him as he hung his head over the toilet bowl, then fed him ice chips from a styrofoam cup. "What a gal. How'd he get so lucky?" he wondered.

Clayborne reached over and carefully removed his phone so she could sleep. He watched as she dozed, thankful to have such an angel for his wife. He knew she'd be awake soon, as he heard the squeaky wheel of the medication cart coming down the hallway.

The busying noises eventually jolted Lana from her nap. She jumped with concern and drew near to her husband. Her eyes said everything he needed to hear.

"Court reconvenes this morning at ten o'clock and I must be there," he said softly, stroking her hair. "Savard did this to me--I just know it. I'm going to let that guilty dirtbag have it today in court."

"How can I help?" she asked.

"Call the police and tell them of my suspicions. I ate at 'Mouth of the South Cafe.' It's that little bistro near the courthouse. The owners installed video surveillance last year after being robbed. I may have evidence right at my fingertips if Savard, in fact, put something in my food."

Clayborne had had a come-to-Jesus moment last night, kneeling upon the cold, grey linoleum, puking his guts out until there was nothing left. Looking back over the years, there had been several just as guilty as Philippe Savard. He vowed never to defend a cold and unashamed killer again. Today, he would start anew.

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

Ashley Bishop was praying that her boss, Clayborne Moore, would be in court today for day two of the trial. She had held it together on day one by herself in the defense of Philippe Savard--but just barely.

"Did I sleep at all?" she asked her makeup mirror. "And, a resounding 'no'-it is!" She closed her mirror with a loud snap and threw it in the bathroom drawer.

Ashley decided she would call her mom first thing today, and then check on Clayborn. "Mom always knew just what to say . . . ." As she had hoped, her Mom picked up her call right away.

"Good morning, Ashley."

"Mom, I'm in deep trouble . . . ."

"What is it, honey?"

"I may lose my job, which is fine, but worse than that, is the thought of losing my soul for defending a man who is guilty of first degree murder. He did it, Mom--I'm certain of it."

"Then, you know what is right, honey girl. You simply must stand up and do it. Do the right thing."

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

My alarm clock woke me sweetly with birds chirping and a slow simulation of a sunrise, easing me into the day.

However, the two hundred dollar clock seemed ill-mannered this morning, waking me after only three hours of sleep.

Hearing the shocking news last night from Detective Lembowsky that Andre Dupree was my uncle brought forth not only deep emotions, but also some unanswered questions. I couldn't understand why he never told me I was his niece.

But deep down, I felt peaceful. A loving family member had found me and now . . . I'd found him. In the days ahead, I hoped to learn more about the wonderful man I was fortunate enough to call my uncle.

It was very late by the time Jackson and I had gathered Andre's journals, leaving the sleeping detective on the couch with King.

"Are you sure you want to leave Detective Mike in Andre's house alone with just King?" I asked.

"I'll leave a note next to King," said Jackson.

The note said, "We were more afraid to wake you than King. What's the old phrase? 'Let sleeping dogs lie, said the daft man, when he saw the dead hound before him.'"

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

France countryside, May 19, 1944~

David and Maman rode quietly, trying to suppress the fears of leaving Jeanne-Louise in the hands of virtual strangers. "What was to be done?" said Maman to David. "We have no other options with my little girl being so sick. We've never been apart! Always hanging on my skirt--my little one." Maman broke down and wept bitterly.

David pulled to the side of the road and shoved the gearshift in neutral.

"Renee . . . we did the right thing. She will get the necessary help and recover. You'll see," he said comforting her. "Here, take my kerchief and dry your eyes."

David became concerned when the column shift froze in place, refusing to respond. He popped the clutch, but nothing he tried would move the truck forward.

Maman spoke up, "Just give it a moment and then try again, David. We should stop at the farm and pick up some lubricant. That's what Andre always uses when it sticks like that."

"We are still ten miles from the farm. Perhaps I should flag down some help," David suggested.

A faint set of lights appeared in the rearview mirror. David was relieved and felt elated. But, the elation instantly gave way to fear when he saw many sets of lights coming quickly upon them.

"Renee--get out right now and run! Run as fast as you can and hide in those trees. Run now! Go! Go!"

"No, I won't leave you, David!"

David's eye were burning with tears. "Go now, Renee, I beg you. Think of Jeanne-Louise and Andre!"

Maman ran into the dense forest, running blind over rocks and fallen trees--tripping and sobbing--moving as fast as she could."Oh, God, please help us," she sobbed.

The mud slowed her, but she slogged through, panting and gasping, looking to see if she could catch sight of David. She heard the sounds of trucks braking and voices shouting commands in German.

Maman fell to her knees when she heard a single gunshot echoing through the trees.

The blackest night she had ever known covered her.

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

Andre left the cave as soon as the sun was up and his satchel was loaded. Something was wrong, and he felt it in every fiber of his being.

"Hava and little Andre have plenty of provisions and supplies," he thought. Andre secured a stone in front of the cave and covered the entrance with branches. He reached for Hava's hand. "I must see what I can do to help. It's probably a problem with the truck," he reassured her.

Scouring the countryside, Andre saw a mare grazing out in the field. He looked around and decided to borrow the horse with the hope to return the mare by sundown. He lured her with an apple and made friends first. After that, he had himself a fine steed.

He headed toward the farm and made it in about two hours. "Almost as fast as the truck," he exclaimed.

The root cellar door was stuck, sitting ajar. He knocked but realized no one was there. The smell of vegetable broth was in the air, but no familiarity of faces and the arms he longed to hold.

David had been here and gone, most likely with Maman and Jeanne-Louise. He noticed fresh tire tracks leading towards the road to Paris.

He rested, gathered some fruits, and bound it all together in an old scarf.

There was enough water remaining in the pump to refresh himself and his newly acquired horse. Andre remounted and headed west, staying near the road.

The welcoming sun was bright and warm and he found himself turning the horse closer to the road to avoid all the mud. Oh, how he wished for a hat to block the sun just a little; but he had loaned his to David.

Vultures began circling the sky, just above the tree line. "Probably some poor creature that had fallen," thought Andre.

He cried out when he saw his truck sitting by the road with the driver's side door still open. "David . . . Maman . . . Jeanne-Louise!"

To be continued . . . .

Author Notes
To continue to chapter 22 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.



Maman is French for mother or mama.

Photo from Pinterest.


Chapter 22
What The Blind Girl Saw #22

By Sally Law

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

~**~
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness."

I found myself cursing the darkness overshadowing the trial, and the aftermath I was forced to live with.

My mind drifted to this quote as I remembered our former First Lady and her amazing resilience.

"There was nothing I could do to alter the dark truth of Andre's murder, but--by God--I'd shine the light of truth!" I was jolted from these deep thoughts as the gavel came down.

Day two of the trial of the murder of Andre Dupree had officially begun, and the Honorable Judge Preston Hawthorn was seated. I slapped my mind to attention after inwardly chastising myself for staying up so late last night.

According to the State Prosecutor, Roy Fitzgerald Owens, Dr. Marie MacLavish would continue with her forensics testimony, graduating to the blood DNA found at the scene and on the murder weapon.

There was a possibility I might be called to the witness stand today to testify because Jackson, King, and I were there on the morning of the murder and when the bloody crowbar was discovered buried beneath our magnolia tree.

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

Dr. MacLavish knew from her years of experience that the most vivid and compelling evidence was live forensics. It engages the court attendees like nothing else.

Who could forget the trial of O. J. Simpson? The former running back for the Buffalo Bills stood at the center of the courtroom, modeling the DNA-covered gloves retrieved from the murder scene of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and friend, Ron Goldman--you know, the ones that were ridiculously small for his hands. This created reasonable doubt and showcased the power of live forensic testimony.

Today would be more of the same--re-enacting the day Andre Dupree was murdered in his home. The crowbar that was used to bludgeon him to death would be shown directly to the jury.

The crowbar contained only two sources of blood DNA. One belonged to the Defendant, Philippe Savard, and the other was Andre Dupree's.

It would prove to be as effective as the gloves modeled by O. J. Simpson in 1995, strengthening the jury's verdict in the last hour.

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

The home of Dr. Francois Segal, Resident Physician of
St. Paul's Hospital, near Colmar, France~May 20, 1944.

"This little girl is just an angel," exclaimed Marie Segal to her husband. "Good as gold."

"She is a sweet thing," said Dr. Segal. "Her maman was distraught though, with the weight of the world on her shoulders. I've seen so many just like this family during these war years."

"Oh, my husband, if only we had such a child as Jeanne-Louise. I wouldn't ask anything of God ever again!"

"You're still young, Marie. Perhaps the stress of the war is to blame. We'll keep trying," he said, touching her cheek. "How is our little patient this morning?"

"She ate breakfast and drank two glasses of goat's milk--is what she did," answered Marie.

"Ah, good, that's very good. Let me have a look at her before I leave for the hospital. Is she bathed?"

"Yes, dear doctor. She smells like lavender, and of course, goat's milk," said Marie, smiling.

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

France countryside, May 20, 1944~

Andre Dupree halted his borrowed mare before he reached the truck. His eyes fell on David's form, but his mind couldn't comprehend the gruesome sight.

He slid to the ground, running to his dearest friend in the world, David von Gil. Touching him tenderly, Andre knelt beside him, drenching him with his tears. "Why did I agree to this? Why? I should've known the risk involved. This is all my fault!" He held his friend and rocked him in his arms. "What will I tell your wife? Little Andre?"

Blood was sprayed on the driver's side door, and his trench coat stained in brownish-red. Andre saw the tweed cap he had loaned David, still clutched in his hand. With pained regret, his memory recalled David happily waving the cap as he drove away from the cave. "Was it only two days ago he was alive and well?"

His thoughts raced when he realized his girls were not accounted for.

Frantically, he rifled through the truck cab, searching for clues of Maman and Jeanne-Louise's whereabouts. Nothing.

Except for David's kerchief wadded on the front seat along with a few apple cores strewn about, there was no evidence of his maman and sister ever riding in the truck.

Grief was pushed aside when he realized the German soldiers may be returning soon, compelling him to move quickly.

The vultures were becoming more bold too, and had surrounded him. He gathered a few rocks, and threw them, chasing the predators away.

With all his strength, Andre lifted David's body onto the truck bed then covered him with burlap sacks.

In the hope that he could get his truck running; Andre slid into the driver's seat. He pulled out the choke before switching on the ignition to start the engine. The engine hummed as it turned over on the second try, but Andre was unable to move the truck in either direction. The problematic gears appeared to have given out. After examining underneath the hood, he quickly saw the issue. "It's the gearshift all right--in desperate need of lubricant."

Luckily, his borrowed mare drew his attention to a pile of fresh manure. "Perfect. That will do in a pinch." He scooped the manure into the kerchief and applied it to the gears.

"Now, if I can loosen these gears just a little . . . ." He finally moved the shifter out of neutral, to first, and back again. "Success!"

Andre thought it might be possible to drive slowly in first gear back to the cave. But first, he must search the wooded areas for his girls.

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

Maman slowly awoke from her tormented sleep in the forest. She felt a heaviness in her chest, and feverish. A pounding headache had kept her from getting up and moving around.

Someone was staring at her, as cracklings in the bramble signaled a presence. She lay still, stifling her tears.

A jackrabbit came and nibbled on her toes and she was never more relieved to see signs of life.

The hills of France in Spring had left her chilled, leaving her exposed to the damp forest air, and the night's shadows--despairing.

The convoy of German soldiers would've shot her--or had their way with her--had it not been for David. No doubt, he had saved her life. Renee Dupree was still very beautiful, with long brown hair and violet-blue eyes. She had noticed a wounded German soldier staring at her lustfully while she waited with David and Jeanne-Louise at St. Paul's Hospital.

But the mid-morning sun shone on a much-altered woman. She felt sick in body and spirit, certain David had been shot.

Suddenly, in a brief vision, she saw the faces of her children, Andre and Jeanne-Louise.

Drying her eyes, she headed back to the road to see if there was any chance David was still alive.

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

Jackson leaned into me and whispered, "Clayborne Moore is here. I certainly wasn't expecting him back so soon."

Mr. Moore had excused himself on the first day of the trial, and was replaced by his less experienced co-counsel, Ashley Bishop.

"It should be an interesting day," commented Jackson.

"How so?" I asked.

"You can't see the overall picture, but everyone at the defense table looks like death warmed over."

The judge wasted no time as he showered us with pleasantries.

"Good morning, everyone," said the judge. "Mr. Moore, it is good to have you back with us today and you, too, Miss Bishop. We will proceed where we left off yesterday, as the court recognizes Mr. Owens at this time."

"Thank you, Your Honor. The state would like to continue with the forensic testimony from our county's medical examiner, Dr. Marie MacLavish," said Mr. Owens.

"Doctor, you are still under oath from yesterday in your continuing testimony," reminded the judge.

"Yes, Your Honor," replied Dr. MacLavish.

Mr. Owens spoke in his slow drawl, "I understand you have recreated the scene of the murder with a few of your staff members for today's court. Is that correct?"

"Yes, Mr. Owens."

"They may come forward at this time to the center area. I give the floor to you, Dr. MacLavish."

"Thank you, Mr. Owens. I have a special request today as part of the reenactment. I would like Mrs. Sally Law to read the letter addressed to her from Charles Dupree marked as state's evidence, exhibit (v). We have made a Braille copy for her convenience and needed participation in today's testimony."

Judge Hawthorn waved to Jackson and called me forward. "Are you prepared to do this today? If not, we can move this to tomorrow."

"No, I'll be fine, Your Honor," I replied.

The bailiff swore me in. "Repeat after me. I solemnly and sincerely promise before Almighty God that the evidence which I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

"Please state your full name for the court."

"Sally Jeanne-Marie Law."

"And your occupation?"

"I'm a retired canine trainer, specifically detection dogs."

"Thank you, Mrs. Law. You may be seated."

Jackson seated me as I signaled to King with my hand to stay.

The original letter was brought forth and shown to the judge and jury, and marked as evidence. I was handed the Braille copy prepared for me by a local librarian.

I pushed my sunglasses onto my head as I began to read aloud, my fingers quickly scanning the text.

To Sally,
I write this to you because I know you will do the right thing. You seem to have a quality about you that draws people to trust you.

First, I must confess, I have asked God to forgive me for the horrible things I have done to you all, and especially my father. He didn't deserve to die like that.

With that being said, here is what really happened the day of my father's murder.

I discussed and planned it all, step by step, along with Philippe Savard. The only part that was not true to my side of the deal was my father's murder. He was killed--in cold blood--by my evil partner.

In the beginning, it was all about stealing and selling my father's oil paintings. In my opinion, they were never displayed and sold as they should have been.

Philippe Savard had online buyers ready to purchase, paying us handsomely. He had many connections in the art world, and had pictures of my father's oils ready for bidding as soon as we had them in hand. The pre-arranged sales seemed to fall in place effortlessly.

However, once Savard got wind of the white diamonds and their possible whereabouts behind one of the oil paintings, he went crazy. That's all he could think about. He shifted his interest solely towards the diamonds.

On the morning we arrived at my father's house, we had planned to knock him unconscious with the flower pot and steal a few of his paintings. I got into it with Savard on the front porch, and he cut his hand on some broken pottery shards. He went into the garage and retrieved a towel along with the crowbar. Then, running back and through the open front door, he jumped my dad as he was walking away, hitting him so hard with the crowbar that it killed him instantly.


I stopped at this point and held up one finger, as my emotions got the best of me. "Just a moment please, Your Honor."

The kind bailiff handed me some more tissues. Composing myself, I continued reading.

I will have to live with that ghastly sight until I die--which I suspect will be soon.

He walked past my dad without emotion, and began to check behind the paintings. But, I was so distraught--hysterical really--that I couldn't join him in the search. I left him there, walking as fast as I could to catch the next train. He buried the crowbar in your yard as he was leaving. That's when you and King came upon him. He would've killed you, too, if it weren't for your protective dog and quick police response.

Later that day, Savard texted me and said he looked for diamonds behind every painting but came up empty-handed. I knew then, the gems had to be in your care, or hidden behind the rose painting given you by my father. Dad always boasted they were in safe keeping.

I was confident at the time, Savard would've been back to steal the diamonds himself; and God knows to what lengths he would've gone to get them. I volunteered to burglarize your home, and retrieve them from behind the rose painting, paying off Savard to get my life back. (My dad always kept a key to your house on an alligator keychain by his front door. That's how I entered your home so easily.) I'm sorry about that, too. Anyway, we know how that ended, and here I am.

Philippe Savard is evil, greedy, and has no conscience. I sorely regret my days spent with him. He deserves the maximum penalty for what he did. It was pre-meditated, with malice, with the intent to kill.

I hope I live to give testimony of these things; but, if not, please deliver this letter to the State Prosecutor via Detective Mike Lembowsky.

I blame myself for letting this happen. Even now, I beg God to forgive me, along with my father, you, and Jackson. I hope you all can forgive this--forgive me.

Sincerely,
Charles Dupree


The courtroom remained silent as I signaled to Prosecutor Owens.

"Your Honor, I have additional evidence that I would like to submit to the court at this time, if I may. I brought with me: journals, birth certificates, and adoption records proving that I am the niece of Andre Dupree. I plan on confirming this with Mr. Owens, and providing all the pertinent information needed for the court."

A collective gasp followed.

To be continued . . . .

Author Notes
To continue to chapter 23 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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Chapter 23
What The Blind Girl Saw #23

By Sally Law

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

~**~
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 . . . .

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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Chapter 24
What The Blind Girl Saw #24

By Sally Law

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

~**~
France countryside on the road between Colmar and the Dupree farm. May 22, 1944~

For one so young, Andre Dupree was not only resourceful, but had a keen mind for mechanics--just like his father. The abandoned truck was his first mechanical accomplishment, and he was never more thankful for the beastly old thing than today.

Driving back from Colmar towards the cave, Andre was aware of his precarious situation. Maman was safe for now, resting next to him, but feverish.

Jeanne-Louise had been admitted to St. Paul's Hospital in Colmar, and appeared to be in good hands.

Compounding his concerns, was Jewess, Hava von Gil. She had remained behind at the cave with little Andre, and he would be the one to tell her of David's death at the hands of the German soldiers. Every time he tried to form the words in his mind, he broke down.

Danger was all around, especially on the roadways.

Some French citizens had fallen under the spell of Jew hatred, and were involved in their arrests and deportations. These misguided souls were aligned with the Vichy militia and the Gestapo, and were complicit in their actions and support of the enemies of France.

Concerned for his family's safety and Jewish friends hidden away in the cave, Andre focused his attention on the most pressing matters.

"First things first," his instructor father used to say. As soon as Andre heard his father's voice in his head, he knew just what to do.

In the moment, a stop at the farm to pick up lubricant for the gearshift, food, and medical supplies seemed essential to their survival. He also thought the outer pasture would be a good place to bury David. It was dangerous to be traveling the roadways with a dead body. What if German soldiers pulled him over, and the truck, searched?

The sun was bowing westward, lighting a path as Andre headed east towards the farm. He was traveling slow, but steady, in first gear.

As the sun disappeared, the more Maman trembled with chills. Andre removed his outer shirt and gently laid it across her. She slipped into a deep sleep, buried underneath her thick mane of brunette hair.

A disturbing rumble reminded him he hadn't eaten since yesterday. Possibly, there were some remaining cans of food stored at the farm, shelved in the root cellar?

He motored on into the approaching night.

As Andre neared the farm, an eerie light caught his eye. Pulling into the shadows, he cut the engine. Maman was still sound asleep on the front seat.

He slipped quietly to their property, curiously following a flickering light.

German soldiers were walking and standing about--at least five, maybe more. He wasn't certain. A campfire was burning; and -- drinking, laughing, and talking -- they were casting things into the fire to keep it going.

Dark vapors escaped the fire and swirled into the air above them. Andre drew closer, but remained hidden in the trees. He squinted and looked again to make sure his tired eyes weren't playing tricks on him.

He could scarcely take in the sight. The soldiers were burning books--his family's precious library of books.

Tiptoeing his way to the barn, he peeked through a knothole in the barn door. Not a soul. Everyone must be at the book-burning party.

Andre moved in silence, carefully lifting the oil can, and left the same way he came. He found a few peaches on the ground and scooped them into his pockets, hurrying to get away from the terrible scene.

All was quiet and undisturbed back at the truck.

He continued in caution as he pushed the truck away from earshot and gave the gears a quick lubrication; then he cranked the engine.

However, heading back to the cave via the farm route was out of the question. He returned by a different road--one less traveled, and not at all familiar.

Maman slept soundly through the entire ordeal.

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

Colmar, France. May 23, 1944~

"Oh, if we could only see past the storms of life and into the days ahead. I suppose that's the definition of hope," said Marie Segal to her sister, Carina.

"Don't worry, I will take care of this beautiful child as if she were my own."

"Thank you, it may be several days before I return. Do you need my ration cards for food?" asked Marie.

"Only if it has your name on it. We are twins after all. No one would know the difference."

"Take them, please." Marie handed over a month's worth of food ration cards that had been assigned to her. "I will be eating at St. Paul's with Francois. Once I go through the hospital door, I'm quarantined."

"Very well. Now, say your goodbyes and be off. Francois is waiting."

Marie Segal kissed the head of Jeanne-Louise. She grabbed her pocketbook and pulled out a silver locket, arranging it lovingly on Jeanne-Louise's neck. Turning to leave, she hurried from her sister's home with misting eyes.

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

King interrupted court, which was a first for the Honorable Judge, Preston Hawthorn. He bolted from the courtroom door with Jackson in tow as soon as he was alerted. I heard him galloping through the vestibule with Jackson running behind, shouting my name.

"I'm in here," I called.

The sound of the crowd echoing through the halls reminded me of the running of the bulls at Pamplona. They arrived in a noisy throng, Detective Mike Lembowsky pushing them back at the ladies' washroom.

"King! Secure the assailant," I commanded. My dog had him pinned in seconds.

"Thank you, King," said the Detective. "I'll take it from here."

"Release him, King," I said, with a snap of my fingers. King hesitated, which was not like him. "King, obey," I said. He barked three times, which was code for "I recognize the man."

I kept King's bombshell piece of information to myself for the time being.

"Heel, boy," I said.

My attacker moaned and groaned as Detective Lembowsky cuffed him while reading his rights.

Jackson swarmed me with hugs, and helped me to the parlor. "Oh, honey--I can't believe this! Let's get you checked out."

Sergeant Dina Ray was there, and offered me a seat on the couch.

After King was no longer needed, he drew to my side and nuzzled me. "Good boy, King . . . such a good dog."

I wanted to pet him so badly, but waited for a forensic technician. I had plenty of my attacker's DNA lodged under my fingernails.

Sergeant Ray sat down next to me and made a startling comment that jolted me further. "Sally, your assailant is wearing a security guard's uniform."

"About that, where is Detective Mike?" I asked.

"He's working his way towards you with a DNA kit." No sooner than Sergeant Ray spoke, I felt him scoot in next to me, shooing everyone else away. "Let me have your hands, please, and a little sample. It will only take a minute," said Detective Lembowsky. "After this, if you are feeling up to it, I'll need to take your statement."

"Only if you promise lunch, and request Prosecutor Owens to please continue with the re-enactment this afternoon," I begged.

"Done," he said. "But, a check-up first, ma'am. The EMT's are next in line."

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

Attorneys Clayborne Moore and Ashley Bishop were thankful for King's interruption, which cut short the re-enactment of the murder and allowed for a long lunch recess.

"Ash, let's go. You and I are going to pay Philippe Savard a much-needed visit. After this morning, perhaps our client may be persuaded to change his plea."

"I'm with you, Boss."

"This is the Titanic, and you and I are not going down with the ship."


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

Strasbourg, France, near the cave hideout. May 23, 1944~

It was a beautifully designed day according to the new milkman. The Tuesday morning route through the countryside of France was war-torn, but still retained some of its natural beauty. The bluebells and buttercups sprinkled the hilly terrain, and Leo Fermier was singing.

It was mid-morning when he sighted them. A beautiful young woman carrying a little boy in one arm and a suitcase in the other. Even from a distance, the young man was smitten.

She waved as if she were hailing a taxi; and Leo became so flustered, he almost upended the milk truck. He screeched to a stop, causing the brakes to fume.

"Bonjour," she said with a perfect accent. "I'm in need of assistance. May we have a ride to the next town?"

Lightning struck Leo Fermier, robbing him of coherent speech.

"I would be most appreciative and will pay you, kind sir," said Hava, patiently.

Leo finally snapped out of his stupor. "Please, let me help you with your suitcase. My name is Leo . . . Leo Fermier."

"Thank you, Mr. Fermier. You are very kind."

"What a handsome little boy. A picture of your husband, no?"

"Actually, my husband had dark brown eyes and hair. We often wondered about our son and how he came to be."

Did she just say--my husband had? Leo was suddenly filled with hope and tried to remain calm in his reply.

"I am sorry, is your husband . . . ?"

"It's new for me, as I have been married since I was seventeen--that is--until just recently. I am in mourning, you see." Hava teared as she tried to relay some details, but not too much. "The war . . . we have lost so many, have we not?"

Leo reached for his handkerchief, trying not to drive over the cliffs. "Here, please keep it, I have several more."

Leo flashed upon his own great sorrow for a moment. "I am deeply sorry. I have recently lost my father. This was his business and dairy delivery route. I am trying to make ends meet, and carry on to help my mother and large family."

"Now, I'm sorry," said Hava. "I know exactly how you feel."

The clanking sound of milk bottles continued as they traveled down the bumpy road headed east.

"Where is your next stop?" Hava was hoping to be headed more westward, towards her relatives in Hungary.

"Colmar. I have a hospital delivery today. St. Paul's Hospital. Do you know it?"

To be continued . . . .

Author Notes
To continue to chapter 25 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.


Photo: https://pixabay.com/photos/car-nature-vehicle-travel-summer-992793/


Chapter 25
What The Blind Girl Saw #25

By Sally Law

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


~**~

"Everyone has something to overcome. Whether it's a difficult person, adverse circumstances, or a disability, we must overcome it.

Today is a new day to start afresh, even if you failed miserably yesterday. My blindness must be overcome every day. I overcome it by writing."

Sally Law, Author, 'What The Blind Girl Saw' mysteries.

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

The sensationalized trial for the murder of my dear neighbor and uncle, Andre Dupree, had adjourned for lunch. After my attack in the ladies' washroom this morning, an early lunch recess was called for by Judge Hawthorn.

Security was immediately tightened around the courthouse and me. Nothing like this had ever happened in our small Louisiana township that anyone could recall. It had rocked everyone--especially my husband.

However, something good for the trial came out of the harrowing event. Both King and I had recalled the presence of my attacker as the same man near our property on the morning of Andre Dupree's murder. Possibly, an eyewitness to the crime had come into view.

I had had a close encounter with my attacker that was quite revelatory, and I was anxious to relay my story to anyone who would listen.

Patiently I waited as the EMTs and forensic technicians examined me, poking and prodding. I was doing pretty well, all things considered. Luckily, my attacker broke my fall when I fell backwards, landing on top of him.

The crowd eventually left, leaving me with the two men I trusted the most--my loving husband, Jackson, and Detective Mike Lembowsky.

"You look better than he does, Sal. My gawd, he looks like he tangled with a bobcat," said the detective in Jersey-ese.

"Basic self-defense training," I remarked. "His head was the only thing I could reach."

"Are you sure you're up for this, Sally? I see swelling on your neck."

"Yes, sir," I said. "Let me get this out while it's fresh in my mind."

I took a moment to clear my head and retraced my steps back to the courtroom exit. I recalled the specific details of my attacker: his raspy voice, his scent, and contemptuous comments as I began my statement.

"My first contact with my attacker was in the hall leading to the washrooms. He greeted me, but I didn't recognize him as a regular security guard from earlier in the day. His southern accent was fake, definitely French born," I said to Detective Lembowsky, as he scribbled. "I think he's around sixty and just a little taller than me at about six feet. He wears 'Memo Paris French Leather' cologne. It smells like a strong version of the popular 'English Leather' from the 70s. Do you know it?"

"English Leather? Oh, yeah."

"Anyway, if you remember, I smelled the same strong scent on the day of Andre's murder."

"That's right," said the detective. "You certainly have a heightened sense of smell."

"It's a blind thing," I replied. "When I'm close to a person, I sense things more deeply than a sighted person. My remaining senses are heightened, more acute in dangerous situations," I said.

"Okay, my blind consultant-to-be. What'd ya see?"

"I think he has a close association to Philippe Savard, and was promised a share in a rumored pink diamond said to be in Andre's estate. He questioned me about the pink diamond, calling Savard a liar. He pressed me for information, calling me a liar too. (There was a lot of pent up rage in those comments; typical of a left out partner.) Whoever he is, he could've been at the scene and witnessed Andre's murder. Maybe he was the lookout while Savard was burying the crowbar in our yard. King signaled to me that he recognized my attacker as soon as he had him pinned."

I paused to entertain the thought. A living eyewitness to Andre's murder. This was the one thing we were missing, although the state prosecutor had strong forensic evidence against Philippe Savard, and the letter from Charles Dupree. This could be the game changer.

"This is a Hail Mary pass with seconds to go in the game, Mike!" I boasted.

The kind detective was good at keeping me calm and focused. "Before we go for the touchdown, is there anything else that might help us identify him?"

"Yes, one last thing. He has sinus issues. I could hear a whistling sound every time he inhaled. I would check the local walk-in clinics with his description. He's probably had to see a doctor recently."

Detective Mike continued writing, but was unusually quiet. Finally, he set aside his notes and spoke.

"I can hardly wait to have you as my consultant--both you and King. Once we get Savard dealt with and secure justice for Andre, you just name the day."

"Flatter me over lunch, Detective. We're starved, and court will resume soon, You promised, remember? The food truck is parked out front and it smells divine." King barked in agreement.

"I was going to ask you all out to lunch or dinner, anyway. I had something important to discuss with you," said Detective Mike.

"Not again," I said. "Last time we did this, you dropped a bomb on me."

He leaned into Jackson and me and whispered, "Yes, and it's a pink diamond bomb."

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

Clayborne Moore drove his BMW like a crazy man all the way from Lafayette Courthouse to the County Jail, with Ashley Bishop riding petrified in the front seat. She threatened to call a cab for the return flight home.

"Clayborne, I'm going to tell Lana how you drove. I've clawed the dashboard of your new Beemer, I'm afraid."

"Sorry. I'm so boiling mad, I could throttle Philippe Savard. You know, he poisoned me when we were out at lunch on the first day of the trial! I bet when we arrive in his jail cell, we'll see where he hides his homegrown mold. My God, I thought I was going to make Lana a widow, and Tracy--fatherless."

"I'm sorry, Clayborne. I had no idea he did that to you. It doesn't surprise me though. I don't know what to do about all of this. Not really. I've only stayed with Savard because I knew you'd been so ill. Leaving when a team member is down, isn't good--you know?"

"You're cut from good cloth, Miss Bishop."

"Thanks, Boss. Now, take a deep breath, and let's see what we can do with Philippe Savard today. I brought all the necessary paperwork to reduce his charge--that is, if he admits he did it. After that, your attempted murder charge will be thrown into his pot of misery. And don't forget, France is waiting to extradite him for the murder of a business associate. Whether he does or doesn't cooperate, he'll at least be in prison for the remainder of his life, Clay. This thought helps me sleep at night."

"We've got to get him to confess, Ash--we simply must."

"He could say no," Ashley commented. "You know we can't force him."

"I have it on good authority, Philippe Savard has paid off a juror, and I'm pretty sure I know which one."

"Juror number six," they said in unison.

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

Route d'espoir, near the cave hideout, Strasbourg, France. May 23, 1944~

"The name of the road was a good one," thought Andre Dupree as he made the turn. Route d'espoir or Hope Road, led to a better, more narrow route to the cave. There was also a better chance this poorly kept road would have less military travel and no German checkpoints for about fifteen miles.

After that, the pass from Hope Road to the cave through the German-occupied countryside was uncertain, with potential dangers of every kind. David's body was still in the truck bed, covered with nothing more than a burlap sack.

Andre knew he was risking the safety of both Maman and himself, which prompted him to stop as soon as he sighted an acceptable area about five minutes in.

The moonlight shone on an easement, and Andre came to a stop underneath a cluster of trees near a lake. Maman stirred, and tried to sit up and help him. She immediately laid back down again, trembling with chills.

"Maman, rest please," said Andre. "I will bury David as quickly as possible and get you to the cave." Maman had no strength left to argue.

Andre slid David from the truck bed, pulling him by his trench coat. It was blood-soaked, prompting him to hurry. Wild animals were all around. He saw the little glowing eyes of foxes as they scurried about.

He dragged him to the lake area, pausing for a moment to pray, and thanking God for the life of David von Gil. Andre knelt down and kissed his forehead. "Adieu, my dearest friend."

Closing his eyes, he remembered the last time he saw David, driving away from the cave, waving his tweed cap. That would be Andre's favorite memory to hold forever.

He waded David into the water until he disappeared into the murky blackness.

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

The road between Strasbourg and Colmar, France. May 23, 1944~

Leo Fermier pulled into Colmar just in time for his scheduled dairy delivery at St. Paul's Hospital. After that, he would stop and enjoy a shaded picnic with his fellow travelers, Hava von Gil, and her little boy.

He sighted some obliging shade and sent Hava and little Andre in the general direction he thought would be best for their lunch. Leo headed further on down the street to make his delivery. "This won't take but a few minutes," said Leo.

"No worries," said Hava, as she waved.

A street vendor caught her eye, and she ventured across to purchase some fruit. She was beginning to feel shaky as she was about five months pregnant.

Hava contemplated telling Leo more about herself as soon as she knew he could be trusted. So far, she felt like she could. She saw many qualities she admired already in Leo, and she would need a friend if she was to get to Hungary where David's only brother lived.

By Jewish custom, she would seek out a husband among David's brothers to continue their family name. He had one living brother, Ariel, supposedly unmarried, and living in Hungary as of 1942. He was her last option, as many of her family members had been killed by Hitler's hand in both the extermination camps and prison. Her father-in-law was beaten to death on the streets in Berlin by the Gestapo, simply for wearing his prayer shawl; and her mother-in-law had been sent to some sort of work camp. She remained hopeful, and knew this arrangement is what David would want for her.

Hava found some fruit, and also a lovely handmade quilt, paying generously from her coin purse. The vendor noticed her wealth and beauty, and followed her with his eyes.

Hava returned to the picnic lunch and spread out cheese, milk, and fresh grapes on the colorful quilt.

Leo saw them sitting down and waved. He wasn't smiling though, and looked concerned. "Hava, we must eat quickly, and then go. The hospital is under quarantine," Leo said, keeping a safe distance.

"What is it?" Hava asked.

"Rheumatic fever. It's strep throat that can go into the bloodstream and kill very quickly."

"You sound like a doctor."

"I am, or was, a medic and officer in the French Resistance."

To be continued . . . .







Author Notes Go to chapter one.

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


Photo: https://pixabay.com/photos/blindfolded-blind-hair-girl-woman-1732539/


Chapter 26
What The Blind Girl Saw #26

By Sally Law




~**~
"Nothing is permanent in this wicked world -- not even our troubles."
Charlie Chaplin



The events of this murder trial continued to twist and turn, taking on a life of their own.

I tried to remain calm as Detective Mike Lembowsky relayed the most shocking news yet. His voice was just above a whisper as he spoke to Jackson and me over lunch.

"Dr. MacLavish called a few weeks ago while performing Charles Dupree's autopsy. It seems she pulled a full carat-weight pink diamond from his stomach."

As I was trying to process this latest verbal bomb, our iced drinks were served. Thankfully, I had a moment to think before responding.

"So, my assailant was on to something," I said. "I've read stories about criminals swallowing evidence in order to get away with the crime undetected. But a diamond?"

"Yeah. It's my experience that criminals will do anything for money, and this pink rock is worth two million."

"Wow, Detective. What are you going to do with it?" I asked.

"Oh, it's not mine, or for me to decide--it's yours. You're the only living relative of Charles Dupree, and heiress to Andre Dupree's fortune. Everything naturally goes to you--heiress."

I gasped. "Excuse me, did I hear you say I inherited a pink diamond, retrieved from the insides of Charles Dupree?"

"Yes, you heard me correctly. It's secured in the same vault as the white diamonds, for now, and will remain there until the trial is over. For safety reasons, you understand. Without a doubt, Philippe Savard--and his associates--would kill for it."

I sat in stunned silence, unable to speak. I should have been happier--or something. The white diamonds were given as a gift to me from Andre, but now a pink diamond was mine by default. This was just the strangest thing that had ever happened to me.

I shared most of my lunch with King; and he received it obligingly, resting his head on my lap in contentment. However, I was in another world, maxed out physically and emotionally.

As I walked back into the historic courthouse, clarity and calm finally came. I suddenly realized exactly what I was going to do with the wealth I had inherited. For the first time since the trial began, I was peaceful, knowing that God had been working in these circumstances to bring about a desired result. Possibly, I was an answer to someone's prayer, or maybe the answer to many prayers.

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

Philippe Savard was fretful, and this was usually not the case. He was not accustomed to being cornered with no viable options.

As he sat in cell number four, a creepy sense of familiarity hung over him. This was the same cell where Charles Dupree had died.

Since he had been dismissed from court for the day, Savard decided to check on his mold specimens. He grew the hurtful bacteria in his library books, stuffing food particles in between the pages until his specimens turned fuzzy white. Then, he would scrape the toxic residue and carefully place the homegrown mold into discarded salt packets. Philippe Savard was an evil mastermind with a biology degree; and, to the detriment of everyone around him, he had no conscience.

Poor Clayborne Moore just had to learn the hard way.

He was interrupted when the buzzer sounded in his cell. "Hey, Savard, ya got some visitors. It's your two defense attorneys, Clayborne Moore and Ashley Bishop."

"Your English is appalling. Please allow me a few minutes to freshen up."

"Sure thing," drawled the guard.

Savard tidied up his cell, hiding the evidence of his evil doing. He had just sat down on his cot when he heard footsteps echoing down the hall.

"I would say I'm glad to see you both, but then--that would be pretentious," said Savard in a surly tone.

"The feeling is mutual," said Clayborne Moore.

Ashley Bishop nodded out of sheer politeness and made her way to the single chair offered her. She opened her brief and set out the needed documents for their meeting. "We have about forty minutes to talk. Court resumes at two o'clock, Mr. Savard."

Savard reclined back onto the squeaky cot. After admiring his manicure, he spoke. "And just what do you two want to talk about? I'm residing in squalor, thanks to the world's worst defense team," he said, pointing.

"You've dug your hole pretty deep," said Clayborne as he leaned in to his loathsome client, his face flushed red.

"Now, here is the best deal in my opinion. The state of Louisiana has a truckload of forensics with your name written in blood. You admit what you did, but say it was a heist gone wrong, and that you killed Andre Dupree in the heat of the moment. This will lessen your charge to murder in the second-degree. To sweeten this deal, I will withhold my charges of attempted murder. I have a witness from the restaurant who saw you sprinkling something on your food, then immediately switching plates with me while I was on my cellphone!"

Ashley Bishop stood up, then coaxed Clayborne down in her chair. "Here, Clay, take this," she said, offering him a bottled water along with his blood pressure medication.

"Tut, tut. It was just a little salt, Clayborne," Savard said, smiling.

Clayborne gulped down his medication as he walked towards the cell door. "Sergeant Ray, could you step inside here, please?"

"Good afternoon, Mr. Savard, we meet again. I'm Sergeant Dina Ray, and this is my partner, Officer Nate Smith. We have a search warrant, and will be combing your cell for the next hour. It would be a good time to have lunch, if you haven't done so. Or, possibly check out a good library book. I overheard your copy of 'In Cold Blood' is long overdue."

Savard sat up erect, his anger spiked.

"Come with me, Mr. Savard," said Officer Smith, his presence towering from the doorway.

"We will join you, Mr. Savard," said Clayborne, rubbing his hands. "I think you'll find our legal guidance most helpful to your future."

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

On the road between Colmar and Strasbourg, France.
May 23, 1944~

Leo Fermier had washed his hands thoroughly before coming near Hava von Gil and her child. He had just been near a quarantined hospital, stopping short of the door with his dairy delivery. They ate lunch quickly and resumed their travels, planning to head back east towards Strasbourg.

Their polite conversations turned more serious as they drove.

"Leo, there is something I must ask you; and it's not a small thing."

Leo felt a pain in his heart, for he knew he had no claim on this woman, but hoped for a chance in the future. Whatever she asks, I will do.

"I would be honored. What do you need?"

Hava took a deep breath. "I need to cross the border to Hungary, to a town called . . . ." Leo interrupted her before she could finish with her request.

"Mrs. von Gil, is it?"

"Please, call me Hava."

"Hava, have you not read the newspapers? Hitler has occupied Hungary since March of this year. It is filled with violence and unrest, much worse than France. This is not my opinion; it is coming from my French Resistance sources. Absolutely not. I would not subject you to these obvious dangers. It's unthinkable."

Hava sat quietly with her head bowed. This information was new, as she had been in hiding for two years, removed from war news and communications from her family.

Leo continued. "I'm sorry I was so direct. It's my protective way. If you're open to another suggestion, I have one. My large family would be more than happy to welcome you and your son."

"I'm pregnant, Mr. Fermier, and I am willing to search for any living relatives. I am a Jewess."

"I supposed you'd been in hiding. You're very pale."

"Yes, a young man and his family took us in. The fear of the Germans overtaking his family's farm was so great, he suggested we move to another place. A more remote and secluded spot."

"Is that where you were coming from when you hailed me for a ride?"

"Yes."

Little Andre began to cry, so Leo pulled over to stop. Hava cuddled her son in her lap until he fell asleep.

Looking out the passenger window, she saw a beautiful little girl and a young woman walking down the street. The girl was carrying her doll so affectionately, it reminded her of Jeanne-Louise Dupree. She looked again, and then, again. It couldn't be Jeanne-Louise, I don't recognize the woman.

"Leo, where are we?"

"Just outside Colmar. Why?"

"The family that hid us, the Duprees, they had a little girl named Jeanne-Louise. That little girl over there looks just like her," said Hava, pointing.

"I served under a Dupree in the French Resistance. He was killed in 1942, I recall. A fine man, a farmer with a family.

"What was his first name?"

"Armand Dupree. I remember he had a son, Andre, who was crazy for art. He was an accomplished painter at a young age from what I understood."

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

The cave hideout near Strasbourg, France. May 24, 1944~

Andre arrived just after midnight at the cave. Maman was still sleeping soundly, covered with his shirt. Thankfully, the moon shone enough to light his way up the hill to the entrance. The straining truck made more noise in the uphill climb than he would have liked, possibly drawing attention to the hiding place from any passer-by. He stopped and parked just short of the tree clippings used to conceal the entry.

Suffering from exhaustion, Andre moved as quickly as he could to get Maman out of the truck and inside. She awoke to his prodding.

"Andre, are we here?"

"Yes, we are finally home. Hava will help me and you will recover, you'll see," he said in trembling voice.

He pushed the branches aside and moved past the gate he'd built to keep little Andre from wandering outside. Disturbingly, no oil lamp was burning.

"Hava!" Andre called. There was only an echo in the pitch-black cave.

Andre hurried back to the truck and took out his emergency flashlight. It barely shone, but just enough to help him find the oil lamp. He lit it and saw the bed Hava had made for Maman and Jeanne-Louise. Leading Maman by the hand, he laid her down to rest. A jar of water was sitting on the table, and he gave her a long drink and aspirin for her fever. Maman went back to sleep immediately. He put an extra blanket on her and made sure she was comfortable enough.

Has Hava moved her bed further back in the cave? Surely, that is where she'd gone. She wouldn't have left the cave alone and on foot.

While searching for something to eat, Andre's eyes fell upon the table. A letter was waiting for him in Hava's handwriting. Next to the letter was a velvet pouch with a Star of David embellished on the outside and tied with a jeweled ribbon.

Somehow Hava had known David was gone.

Hava had made sure the promise from David to Andre had been kept, for there with the letter were the promised white diamonds along with a pink one from their family's treasury.

To be continued . . . .

Author Notes Go to chapter one.

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


https://pixabay.com/photos/oracle-girl-photomontage-witch-2133976/


Chapter 27
What The Blind Girl Saw #27

By Sally Law

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

~**~
"You have the freedom and the ability to decide what to do with your life, and that includes learning how to welcome happiness again. It's a conscious choice we each have to make, to emerge from the embers of profound loss and hopelessness, to become the fire that warms us, lights our path, all of it. We can embody that warmth and light."
Becca Vry, author.

~**~
"Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth."
William Faulkner, American writer and Nobel Prize laureate.

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

State Prosecutor, Roy Fitzgerald Owens, rose to the occasion, and wasted no time producing burden of proof in the trial of Louisiana vs. Philippe Savard. The accused was on trial, charged with murder in the first-degree of my dear uncle, Andre Dupree.

The forensic evidence and eye witness accounts brought forth thus far were undeniably accurate, and had been presented in such a way that even the simplest person could follow along.

The undisputed facts of the case were still listed on the white board for all to see. Among the most incriminating to the defense, were the forensics. Over 100 items had been taken from the crime scene, efficiently processed, and readied for trial.

The most important and revelatory were listed at the top of the board.

1) Twenty samples of blood DNA were matched to Phillipe Savard.
2) Phillipe Savard's blood was on the crowbar, identified as the murder weapon.
3) Fresh fingerprints matched to Savard, were retrieved from the pottery shards by the front door.
4) While Savard was being held for questioning, Detective Mike Lembowsky noticed something on his shoes and had them swabbed. It was Philippe Savard and Andre Dupree's blood, mingled together.

I heard cameras clicking and reporters commenting on the board as we were about to begin. They scurried to their places as the door opened, signaling the return of the jury.

The judge followed immediately behind as the baliff announced his coming.

"All rise, the Honorable Judge, Preston Hawthorne is presiding. Case number 2356 is on the docket this afternoon: The State of Louisiana vs. Phillipe Savard."

As soon as the gavel came down, Clayborne Moore and Ashley Bishop immediately asked for a word and approached the bench.

It was a long word and muted to the court attendees. After a few minutes, the judge spoke.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, please excuse me for a moment while I confer with the defense counselors. Prosecutor Owens, you may join us in my chambers, as well," said the judge.

A half-hour passed and the baliff announced the return of the judge.

"Thank you for your patience. This has been quite a day," said the judge. "Counsel for the defense has cited special circumstances, and has asked for an extension. New Information has come to light, and we must allow time for fair and just procedures. Court will reconvene next Tuesday at ten o'clock. You are dismissed."

Just as the jury was leaving, one of the jurors toppled to the floor.

"Siri, call 9-1-1," I said into my smart watch."

In all the hubbub, I overhead it was juror number six--the one who had reportedly stared out the window since the beginning of the trial.

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

Our good friend, Louie Ray, had sent dinner to our home after hearing of my being attacked in the ladies' washroom. Louie was a local restauranteur, and was also the husband of Sergeant Dina Ray.

However, dinner delivery was not the only surprise, as we were assigned police protection 24/7 until the trial was over. Detective Mike Lembowsky had volunteered and arrived right behind us with his luggage and gourmet chew bones for King.

"King, Uncle Mike is here," I said. "We are back on your strict diet once this trial is over, do you hear?" King answered me with a half-hearted bark, but I was much too tired to argue.

Jackson drew me a warm, lavender-scented bath. "The tub of holy scrub is waiting, Sal. You just take your time, and I'll keep dinner in the warmer."

I dearly love that man.

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

Mrs. Velma Watts was not a bad person, per se, but was quickly moving in that direction because of her association with Philippe Savard. She was also known as juror number six. Why she had received money up front to throw the jury's decision troubled her. Oh yes, it was a handsome amount--$100,000! She'd be able to retire from her desk job and purchase a shiny new car. But as the trial went forward, she saw just what everyone else saw. Philippe Savard was guilty; and she was a small creature, tangled in his web.

I'm no better than Judas Iscariot. Those were her last thoughts when panic seized her, causing her to keel over in court.

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

The cave hideout near Strasbourg, France. May 24, 1944.

Andre awoke at first light to an undeniable presence at the cave's entrance. He rubbed his eyes, not fully trusting them to give an accurate report.

"So, you've followed me back for fear of starvation, you beautiful creature. You know, you aren't mine to keep; and I must return you straight away," said Andre to the mare. "I can't possibly afford you, my sweet."

The borrowed mare that guided him to David and Maman had returned. Andre felt terrible that he abandoned the horse in the forest where he discovered Maman hiding from the German soldiers.

"Well, my pet, it looks like we're friends for life."

Andre offered her half of his peach, then set about to check on Maman. A healing broth prepared with wild mushrooms would be just the thing.

Maman was still sleeping, but not as feverish. However, her cough was worrisome, sounding deep and congested.

He was startled by a voice from someone coming up the hill. "Bonjour! Renee, Andre--it's Leo Fermier, the local milkman."

"I remember you, Mr. Fermier." Andre shook his hand in politeness. "How did you know we were here?"

"Hava von Gil sent me to check on you, and bring food."

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

Fermier Dairy Farm, Strasbourg, France. May 24, 1944~

Hava von Gil was settled in at the Fermier's farm as a welcomed guest. It was well past nine o'clock, and she was still fast asleep with little Andre next to her. A knock at the guestroom door made her gasp at the time.

It was Leo, offering her breakfast fit for a queen: fresh baked bread with goat cheese, jam, grapes, and hot tea. He brought enough for three adults--and then some. "My life, where did you get real English tea, Leo?"

"People cannot always afford to pay me, so I get paid in other ways," he said.

She wrapped her shawl around her shoulders to fend off the morning chill. "I see you've already made your early deliveries. Did the Duprees make it back to the cave?"

"Yes," said Leo, as he poured the tea. "Andre seems to be in fair condition, very thin and pale though. However, when I went inside to take a look at Renee, I became very concerned. I have some medical supplies hidden here, from my medical service in the French Resistance. I will return to give her a shot of penicillin as soon as possible. Jeanne-Louise is, or was, at St. Paul's Hospital in Colmar. That was most likely Jeanne-Louise you saw in the street. She is being cared for by the attending physician's wife, according to Andre."

"We must tell them I saw her!" insisted Hava.

Leo had expected this response, and had already given it some thought. "I'm sure Jeanne-Louise is in good hands. My father has delivered their dairy products since I can remember. He knew Dr. Segal personally. Besides, Andre and Renee need to get their strength back before traveling to Colmar. I did not like what I saw today; it was indicative of a starving, war-torn France."

Hava ate quietly, looking at little Andre as he slept. She felt tears slip from her eyes.

"And David--did Andre say how he died?"

Leo lied, and he hated himself for it. "No, he did not give any specifics, only that he gave him an honorable burial. I'm so sorry, Hava . . . ."

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

St. Paul's Hospital, Colmar, France. May 24, 1944~

St. Paul's Hospital was still under quarantine, overflowing with cases of rheumatic fever. Dr. and Mrs. Segal worked as fast as they could to keep the epidemic from spreading, but to no avail. The much needed drug shipment was still delayed with no word of its whereabouts.

Marie Segal called her twin sister, Carine, to see how she and Jeanne-Louise were getting along; but there was no answer. She would try again later. Marie felt so tired. If only I could lay down and close my eyes for a few minutes . . . .

Jeanne-Louise was in safe keeping and getting stronger by the day. She missed Maman, and her brother, Andre; but she liked her new friends and the abundance of food.

Life continued to change for the five-year-old girl and youngest of the Dupree clan. She held her dolly close as she went for a walk in the sunshine with Miss Carine.

Fate, however, has a strange hand, and was pulling her away from those she loved the most. The allied invasion of Normandy was not far off, nor was the liberation of Paris from German occupation--at last. Jeanne-Louise Dupree would be caught up in circumstances beyond her control, altering her family's future. She would never see her precious Maman and Andre again--a sad result of the woes of war.

To be continued . . . .

Author Notes Go to chapter one.

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



Photo art courtesy of pixabay. https://pixabay.com/photos/oracle-girl-photomontage-witch-2133976/


Chapter 28
What The Blind Girl Saw #28

By Sally Law

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

~**~
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 . . . .

Author Notes Go to chapter one.

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



West Feliciana Parish in Louisiana is known as Death Row. Louisiana's death penalty is still in force at the writing of this story.


Chapter 29
What The Blind Girl Saw #29

By Sally Law

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

~**~
"Dog is God spelled backwards." Written to me in 2018 by Dean Kuch, famous FanStorian.

~**~

Afternoon court had proved to be quite beneficial for the state's case against Philippe Savard.

I would be given a great gift, greater than I could have imagined at the time. My guide dog, King, would be the bearer of this unexpected surprise.

As I was wrapping up my opening testimony, the jury's foreman asked me a question.

"Mrs. Law, do you think King knows who murdered Andre Dupree?"

I tried to remain calm as this colossal door of opportunity opened right in front of me.

"Yes, I certainly do."

"Do you mean to say, King told you who did this?"

"Yes, sir, you understood me correctly."

I was fully prepared to show the jury just now remarkable my dog was; and that he had gathered scents, sights, and sounds from the day of the murder.

"Mr. Foreman, you may ask King who killed Andre," I replied. "Say his name before the question, so he knows you're speaking directly to him."

Suddenly, I realized I had spoken out of turn. "Please forgive me, Your Honor. Is this acceptable to you?"

"You've piqued my curiosity. You may proceed, Mrs. Law," said the judge.

The foreman spoke clearly and with authority. "King, who murdered Andre Dupree?" King let out a whine, followed by two barks. "King, obey," I commanded.

I released King from his leash so the jurors could see that I wasn't coaxing him. He made his way quickly to the other side of the courtroom where Clayborne Moore and Ashley Bishop were seated. He then placed his paw on the unoccupied seat of Philippe Savard.

"If I hadn't seen this with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it," whispered the foreman.

The courtroom fell silent.

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

Colmar, France. June 7th, 1944.

Jeanne-Louise Dupree awoke to car doors slamming and voices speaking in hurried tones. She slipped from her bed and quietly opened the door, peeking through a small crack.

"We must leave now, Carine, and take Jeanne-Louise with us," said Marie Segal. Jeanne-Louise suddenly appeared in the center of the living room, clutching her dolly.

"Miss Marie, where are Andre and Maman? Have you come to take me home?"

Marie pulled up a chair and sat, unable to disguise her emotion. "No, child, I'm so sorry--they are dead. Your farm was burned by German soldiers, dear girl. Your maman and Andre have gone to God."

Carine teared at the sight of her sister comforting her little patient, and knew Marie had been overtaken by something supernatural--a parental love shared between a mother and her child.

"Francois and I want to adopt you. This kind man is the local magistrate, and will make sure it is done properly. That way, no one will ever take you away from us."

Jeanne-Louise crawled into Marie's lap and sobbed until she could cry no more.

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

Fermier Dairy Farm, Strasbourg, France. June 7th, 1944.

Leo gladly gave up his bedroom to Maman and her need for rest. Both he and houseguest, Hava von Gil, had agreed her illness needed constant attention. Complicating her physical condition was the stress of being separated from Jeanne-Louise.

The foul weather had finally cleared, so Andre decided to venture to the barn and help Leo repair his radio. Both men were anxious to hear word of the allied invasion, knowing it would be a bloody war for France's liberation.

Leo had observed the abundance of military explosives being transported from Germany through Strasbourg. Intelligence, via the French Resistance, said the Germans knew of the invasion beforehand, and had buried landmines all along the beaches of Normandy.

Radio waves had been obscured for days, and Leo thought it had been from the weather. Andre wasn't so convinced, and suspecting faulty wiring, offered his assistance.

Andre tinkered with the radio, then gave it a slap. "I think I have it, Leo. Pull up a stool." Andre adjusted the dial until he heard a familiar broadcast.

The war news was cut short when Leo heard a truck coming down the path to his barn, screeching to a halt. He recognized the man, a zealous Nazi sympathizer and traitor to his countrymen.

"Andre, grab a weapon and head out back. Get the women into the hidden room as quickly as possible," prompted Leo.

Andre ran as fast as he could for the house. All he said to Hava was, "Nazis! Quickly--into the room!" He lifted Maman and carefully laid her inside the space and closed the door; racing back to help Leo.

Shouting was coming from inside the barn, along with a loud crack from Leo's bullwhip.

Andre rounded the corner to see Leo, standing with teeth clenched, whip wrapped around the prostrate intruder's bleeding neck.

"I have a message for der Fuehrer: Get the hell out of France, and take the Vicheys with you!!"

Leo pulled the whip from the traitor's neck, drawing more blood. He then disarmed the man, tossing his weapons to Andre.

"Get up!" shouted Leo. He whipped the Nazi collaborator to the truck and threw him inside. "You have one minute before I blow out your tires."

The badly beaten man left the way he came.

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

The Ghetto of Budapest, Hungary. June 1944~

Jewish cantor, Ariel von Gil, suspected death was imminent. It hurt to cough; and when he did, more red was visible.

Memories flashed of the days before the rise in anti-semitism: family sitting around the table; the voice of his father as he read to them after a delicious supper. How could such hatred grow and thrive in the hearts of so many?

His thoughts turned to the Psalms, the written prayers of the shepherd boy anointed as king over Israel. He knelt one last time to pray for his mother, Deborah; his brother David; and David's wife, Hava.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

The cantor gave up his spirit to the long awaited place of peace.

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

Finally, the missing piece to the prosecution's case had fallen into place after weeks of trial.

An eye witness to Andre's murder was set to testify tomorrow, and I was never more relieved, as it would add credibility to my previous testimony. A third person was at the scene of his murder--someone who saw a whole heck of a lot. I was pretty sure it was the same man who questioned me about the pink diamond as he held me forcefully against the wall in the ladies' washroom. I'll be very interested to hear what he has to say about that, and how the same pink diamond wound up inside Charles Dupree. This man's testimony should be enlightening, hopefully nailing Savard's sorry behind to the wall for good.

I remained confident, knowing we were nearing the end of the trial with a good possibility of a guilty verdict and justice for my Uncle Andre.

However the trial might turn, I knew I'd given it my all. It was in God's hands now.

Andre would never be forgotten, as I had decided his former residence would be the perfect place for an art museum. I saw it so vividly in a night vision: his gaudy green settee where visitors could sit and enjoy his art collections.

I heard his voice in my head once again, and held those sweet memories close as I went off to sleep. "Ma chere, help me. What is an eight letter word for love?"

"Pastries," I replied.

To be continued . . . .

Author Notes Go to chapter one.

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


Art: Seven Butterflies Illustration https://www.pexels.com/search/sketch%20art/


Chapter 30
What The Blind Girl Saw #30

By Sally Law

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

~**~

It's every man's business to see justice done. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


Burden of proof. In criminal trial law, this 'burden' is carried by the State Prosecutor's Office, and is an important element in securing a guilty verdict.

Without it, the guilty may go scot-free, not receiving any penalty for their actions and the rights of the victim not upheld. The accused, or sometimes referred to as the defendant, is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the prosecutor.

The defense attorney carries the responsibility to defend the rights of the accused, and has the ability to cross-examine each witness.

The jury weighs all the evidence, then convenes to discuss the facts of the case privately. The hopeful outcome in a felony murder trial is a unanimous verdict.

But as in real life, not everyone sees things through a clear lens. Each person has his or her own way of making assessments; and, when grouped with others, it can be a long process to come to an agreement.

I once served as a foreman for an assault and battery case where one of the jurors didn't like the outward appearance of the defendant. After four hours and ten styrofoam cups of Maxwell House, I finally delivered the obvious not-guilty verdict on behalf of the jury.

Today, a man stepped forward to give sworn testimony of his involvement in the murder of my uncle, Andre Dupree. His name is Paul Bellamy. I tangled with this man in the ladies' washroom earlier in the trial. According to my husband, Jackson, he still looked like he'd just been thrashed.

Although I wished my encounter with this man had not been so frightening, I was hoping we all could view him as someone who had heard and seen things others did not. Most of all, I hoped he could add to the state's case against Philippe Savard.

Detective Mike Lembowsky offered to sit with King in a soundproof booth so he wouldn't interrupt today's court. There was no doubt in my mind we could easily replay the scene from the ladies' washroom, with my hundred pound German Shepherd pinning Mr. Bellamy down once more.

The witness was sworn in shortly after the opening and greeting by Judge Hawthorne.

Prosecutor Owens was relaxed, and his tone, disarming. He came across as sincere, wanting to get to the crux of the matter.

"Thank you for your attendance in court today, Mr. Bellamy."

"You're welcome," he replied.

"Please tell the court, did you know Andre Dupree personally?"

"I had never laid eyes on Andre Dupree until I saw him bludgeoned to death, lying on the floor."

"Were you acquainted with either Charles Dupree or Philippe Savard?"

"I was acquainted with Charles Dupree only by way of Philippe Savard. Mr. Savard and I were business partners at one time."

"I see," said Prosecutor Owens. "Could you please expound on this business partnership?"

"We would purchase antiques and other valuables and resell them for a profit."

"And would you describe this partnership with Mr. Savard as a corporate one, or nothing more than a gentlemen's handshake?"

"Strictly a gentlemen's handshake. We had no official papers drawn up between us."

"How did you split your profits?"

"That is where I wish I'd been smarter about the ways of Phillipe Savard. He was always withholding money that was due me. My overdue paycheck was to be from the artwork coaxed out of Andre Dupree and sold to online bidders."

"Please recall for us the day of the murder, beginning with your arrival at the Dupree residence."

"I arrived by cab a few minutes after Charles Dupree and Philippe Savard. I was originally to deflect any visitors coming by while Charles and Savard met with Andre. I was shocked to see the front door ajar and Andre Dupree lying there bloodied and still. I took off my shoes and stepped inside. Charles was hysterical and left almost as soon as I came in. Savard grabbed me and demanded I search behind every painting in the studio for the suspected diamonds. He disappeared to the master bedroom where he uncovered a secret chamber where a single pink diamond was found. Savard mentioned the diamond was a gift to Andre for hiding a family of Jews during the war. Anyway, I never found any other diamonds in the residence that day. When we went outside to dispose of the crowbar, Andre's blind next-door neighbor, Mrs. Law, interrupted us. She called her German Shepherd just as Savard was going to silence her--kill her. We heard sirens and left hurriedly after burying the crowbar."

The entire courtroom erupted. Jackson reached over and held me close as we both shuddered at the thought.

"Order in the court! This is a murder trial, ladies and gentlemen; and we have to navigate some difficult waters. Please, everyone try to control your outbursts as we proceed," said the judge. "You have the floor, Mr. Owens."

"Thank you, Your Honor. The story doesn't end there, does it, Mr. Bellamy?"

"No sir, it does not."

"Did you and Mr. Savard have a meeting with Charles Dupree later in the day at Mouth of the South Cafe in downtown Lafayette?"

"Yes, and it was a strange one."

"How so?" inquired Mr. Owens.

"I had just come into the cafe and noticed Charles right away. He was intoxicated, sitting at the bar. I offered to call him a cab, then escorted him to the door. After he left, I sat down with Savard. He told me he had taken the pink diamond and fed it to Charles during dinner, unbeknownst to him. I asked Savard why he would do such a stupid thing. He said it was a 'guarantee' Charles would make it to Paris the next day, the diamond lodged inside of him. He promised me a cut from the sale as soon as we were back on French soil--my payment in exchange for my silence. In the meantime, Charles and Savard were arrested within hours of each other, charged with Andre Dupree's murder. I was a fool to believe the psychopathic liar, thinking some of the proceeds from the diamond's sale would come to me."

"Why did you agree to come today and give sworn testimony?"

"I forcefully questioned Mrs. Law in the ladies' washroom wanting to know what happened to the pink diamond. I read in the local newspaper, she had inherited the entire Dupree estate, and assumed she must've had it in her possession. She sincerely didn't know, and I felt painfully sorry for asking. She dropped the assault charges and sent word asking me to step forward with any information regarding her uncle's killer."

"Thank you, Mr. Bellamy. I'll turn the cross-examination over to Defense Counsel Moore at this time."

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

Fermier Dairy Farm, Strasbourg, France. July, 1944.

A new family unit had formed in the war-torn countryside of Strasbourg. Andre Dupree and his Maman, Renee, were staying with a newfound friend they had grown to love and appreciate more by the day--Leo Fermier. Also making their lives worth living again, was the kind and tender Hava von Gil. The widowed Jewess was soon to birth another child, yet went about her days on the farm with joy and strength. She attended to Maman, and was unswervingly dedicated to her recovery.

The allied invasion had been successful and the Germans were leaving France. It would take years for France to recover; but it would survive, person by person, and family by family.

The Duprees had much still ahead of them to overcome. Their farm and home were burnt beyond recognition. No doubts were entertained as to why the German soldiers had left such a cruel parting gift.

The whereabouts of Jeanne-Louise Dupree were still unknown, as St. Paul's Hospital in Colmar had closed around the first week in June. When Leo inquired about the hospital's dairy order being cancelled, he was told Dr. Segal, along with his wife and child, had suddenly left for Switzerland. Leo was surprised by this news, as he had never heard the doctor speak of a child.

It was on this July day that these war refugees bonded and came together for years to come. Hava went into labor early, Leo by her side.

"Leo, something is wrong. Please see if you can maneuver the babe."

Leo had seen this before many times in his hospital training. He had delivered two babies already in his short career as a medic. But his emotions were running high as the hours of difficult labor passed.

"Hava, let me know when you feel the next contraction." Leo leaned her forward and placed pillows behind her back. He held her hand as he tucked a few loose strands of hair behind her ears. Oh, how he wished this child was his, and this loving woman, his wife.

Hava let out a gasp. "Now--Leo!" Leo moved to the front of her and placed his hands on her abdomen and pressed down. The baby girl came out effortlessly.

Hava prayed aloud as she received her newborn from Leo's hands. Leo teared at the precious sight and quickly became overwhelmed. As he started to leave the room, Hava called to him. "Leo, please come here."

It was then, he saw it--felt it.

"Leo, thank you. I owe you my life." She signaled for him to come closer.

Leo was sure this was a dream, a sweet one, but a hope induced dream nonetheless. She pulled him close and kissed his cheek. Leo wiped away love's tears before she could see.

"Isn't she beautiful, Leo?"

"Just as beautiful as her mother," Leo replied.

They sat together while Leo bathed the baby and wrapped her snuggly in a blanket. I thought I knew what love was all about, until now.

"Let me know when you want me to bring in the boys and Maman. I'm sure they're fit to be tied. After that, I'll get Maman to help you with a bath while Andre and I prepare a special dinner," Leo said smiling.

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

Clayborne Moore had very little defense left for his loathsome client.

Mr. Bellamy had confirmed the forensic evidence and sworn testimonies, including the letter brought forward from Charles Dupree penned from prison. The story sounded almost identical to what Charles had recounted. The funny thing was, Charles had never mentioned Paul Bellamy in his letter. It could have been that Charles was so distressed that he simply didn't see him there. It was a possibility, as people are prone to miss obvious things during times of trauma.

Mr. Bellamy had described Charles as hysterical, and that he'd left his father's home in a hurry.

Clayborne paused for a moment to re-read the letter from his trial notes, focusing on one section.

On the morning we arrived at my father's house, we had planned to knock him unconscious with the flower pot and steal a few of his paintings. I got into it with Savard on the front porch, and he cut his hand on some broken pottery shards. He went into the garage and retrieved a towel along with a crowbar. Then, running back and through the open front door, he jumped my dad as he was walking away, hitting him so hard with the crowbar that it killed him instantly.

I will have to live with that ghastly sight until I die--which I suspect will be soon.

He walked past my dad without emotion, and began to check behind the paintings for the rumored white diamonds. But, I was so distraught--hysterical really--that I couldn't join him in the search. I left him there, walking as fast as I could to catch the next train.


"Mr. Moore, do we need a recess at this time?" asked Judge Hawthorne.

"No, Your Honor. I'm just refreshing my memory."

"Proceed, Counselor."

"Mr. Bellamy, I just read Charles Dupree's letter; and it doesn't mention your presence at all. Can you explain that?"

"Like I said, I had just stepped inside the door as Charles ran from the house. I don't think he saw me; but, if he did, he knew I had nothing to do with Andre Dupree's murder."

"How did you communicate with Philippe Savard?"

"I had a burner phone, and I also emailed Savard from a ghost account."

"Mr. Bellamy, what is your assessment of the crime scene? Specifically, did it look like a well-planned murder, or something done in the heat of the moment?"

"I was told it was a meeting, not a diamond search with a murder to clean up. Savard and Charles Dupree must've fought because Savard was bleeding all over the place. To answer your question, I'd say it was most likely portrayed to Charles one way, but, once inside the house, Savard let loose his fury on the old gentleman as planned. I also realized that day, Savard has no conscience--not a drop."

To be continued . . . .

Author Notes Go to chapter one.

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



Art: https://pixabay.com/vectors/pointing-index-finger-hand-left-29723/


Chapter 31
What The Blind Girl Saw Finale

By Sally Law

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

~**~

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost~ The Road Less Traveled

~**~

The courtroom was as packed as it had ever been. The trial for the murder of my uncle, Andre Dupree, pressed forward into the sixth week.

Spectators were standing on the courthouse steps trying to get a glimpse of me and my family--especially my showstopping dog, King.

Paul Bellamy's testimony had corroborated, in accurate detail, the events from the day Andre Dupree was murdered, and were identical to the letter penned from Charles Dupree.

However, Charles had failed to mention Paul Bellamy and his involvement on the day of the murder. This created a hole in the state's case against Philippe Savard, and allowed for reasonable doubt to take hold.

The formidable Roy Fitzgerald Owens would not be sidelined, and dug deep into his years of experience to close this gap. He kept his sights set on a guilty conviction.

A surveillance camera recording from the day Philippe Savard had dinner with both Charles Dupree and Paul Bellamy was ready for viewing as court resumed.

A picture or two, with a professional lip reader, really is worth gold.

"All rise. The Honorable Judge Preston Hawthorne is presiding," announced the bailiff.

Loren Townsend, a retired speech pathologist and local expert on video camera surveillance, was called forward and sworn in.

To avoid confusion in today's video, photos of every person who was present at Andre Dupree's residence on the day of his murder were displayed front and center. Paul Bellamy, also known as my washroom attacker, was the most recently added photo. He had just given sworn testimony, admitting his involvement in Andre's murder, turning state's evidence in exchange for immunity to prosecution.

Unfortunately, my washroom attacker didn't look too good in the photo, which had been leaked to the Lafayette Township Gazette. This morning's front page read: "What The Blind Girl Clawed."

Personally, I wanted to hide under the courtroom's antique furniture. But, if I won justice for my uncle, then it will be worth it.

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

Fermier Dairy Farm. Strasbourg, France. Late September, 1944~

Life had improved for Andre Dupree, but his littlest girl, as he called her, was still missing. Jeanne-Louise seemed to have vanished into the depths of France. He promised Maman he would never give up the search for her--no matter what. Their hearts ached to see her and hold her once again. This war had proved to be cruel, separating the five-year-old from her maman and older brother.

For whatever reason, Andre decided to mount his mare and venture down to his family's farm. The last time he was there, it was occupied by drunken German soldiers having a book burning party.

Leo saw him preparing to leave and stepped in. He was not his father, but he felt compelled to say something.

"Where are you off to, Andre?"

"I miss my home and farm. Perhaps there are some books remaining that weren't scorched. Photos of our family were left on the mantle, and I was hoping to bring them here. Am I crazy?"

"No, you're not. I completely understand," assured Leo. "But please wait until I can go with you. I'm not ready to leave the women alone--not just yet. France is still a dangerous place."

"You love her, don't you, Mr. Fermier?"

Leo was taken back by Andre's observations. "Yes, but I haven't told her, not with words. I hope Hava sees it in my actions."

"Ask her," Andre said, plainly. "I think you might be pleasantly surprised. Don't let her go."

"How old are you, Andre?"

"I'm fifteen going on thirty! War has aged me, I do believe. Just allow yourself to look in Hava's eyes for a moment and you'll see it. She loves you."

The young man was right, and Leo knew it.

"I can see why David and Hava named their son after you, Andre. You have a quality about you."

"I'm the only son of my parents. I recognize true love when I see it. My father and mother would look at each other that way," Andre said, smiling.

Leo weighed his young friend's good advice. He tiptoed to his bedroom while Hava was out in the garden with Maman and little Andre. Baby Rachel, who was the exact likeness of her mother, slept soundly in the bassinet. Leo loved to watch her sleep, and listen to her soft baby sounds. He tucked the blanket around her as if she were his own.

Moving quickly, Leo opened his armoire to search for the amethyst ring his mother once wore. His hand felt around for the enameled box he knew was stashed in the top drawer. "Aha! Here it is."

He pulled out the cloisonne box and sat in the light to examine its contents. To his surprise, there were several rings, each one with precious stones. He admired them all, but the most beautiful one was the diamond. Leo couldn't believe it. It was as if it had been there all this time, waiting for him as Hava was that day on the country road.

Leo slid the diamond ring into his pocket, just as Hava came inside to check on Rachel.

"Excuse me, Leo. Do you need your room back? You've been so kind to let me use it."

"No. You and the children are welcome to stay in here for as long as you like. I was searching for something that belonged to my mother." They stood in silence, unable to turn their eyes away from each other.

"You must know by now, that I love you, Hava. So much, it's overwhelming."

Hava cocked her head to one side. "Well then, what should we do with this overwhelming love between us, Leo?"

"Would you marry me? Can you marry a gentile, or is this forbidden by Jewish law?"

"The law of love is the highest law that exists. I love you, Leo Fermier; and I will marry you without hesitation."

Leo knelt next to where Rachel was sleeping. "Yours is the face I look for every morning and the last voice I hear in the house at night. Your sweet humming and tender words fill my dreams. I never want to be without you." Leo wiped tears on his sleeves as his voice trembled. "I love everything about you, and I adore your children. Will you marry me?"

Hava held out her left hand in acceptance, and sealed it with a kiss--a good, long kiss.

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

Colmar, France. Late September, 1944~

A sedan loaded with suitcases and personal belongings was headed south from Colmar, making its way to the Swiss border.

Jeanne-Louise sat securely with her only possession from her previous life--her dolly. She never went anywhere without the special gift she had received from Papa Noel.

Jeanne-Louise Dupree was now Jeanne-Louise Segal according to her papers, officially adopted by Francois and Marie Segal.

Doctor Segal had accepted the administrator's position at the city hospital in Bern; and a new life had already begun for him.

He was a Frenchman through and through, and knew he would return to Colmar one day. But in the meantime, he had to think of his family and their personal well-being. His sister-in-law, Carine, was traveling with them; hoping to start over, as well.

The neutrality of Switzerland was a welcome sight, along with its natural beauty, mountain landscapes, and the crystal blue Aare River winding through Bern.

The first thing was to check into his new position at the city's largest hospital and settle his family into the adjacent house. His second concern was to find a private school for Jeanne-Louise. The child abandoned to their care months ago was already reading, and had a keen mind for many things.

The grey Renault neared the Swiss border after two solid hours of driving. One of three guards approached their car to inspect and question them, as they did everyone attempting to come into the country.

"Bonjour. Your papers, please, and a form of identification."

"Bonjour," said Dr. Segal, and handed over the required documents.

"And this little girl, she is your daughter?" questioned the guard.

"Yes, a war orphan. We just finalized the adoption. Here are her papers."

The Swiss border guard studied the documents as if he were in no hurry. A German truck driver was waiting rather impatiently behind the Segal's car, honking and yelling. The guard said something to the man in German, then signaled for him to pull his truck over to one side.

"That truck driver is in trouble now, for honking and swearing at us like that," commented Jeanne-Louise.

To their complete shock, their five-year-old had understood German.

The hospital in Bern was much larger than the one in Colmar, but the physician's housing was something positively medieval. They all agreed on one thing: the rose garden was lovely. But the kitchen was cramped together, and the stairs so narrow the good doctor could hardly make it upstairs and back down again. Having a size twelve shoe was laughable on most days.

Jeanne-Louise loved her little nook of a room with its slanted ceiling and a cut-out where her dolly could sit. A small window let in the morning sunshine.

The Segals were adoring, loving, and kissed away her pains, except for one.

Late at night when the house was all settled and quiet, Marie Segal could hear her daughter crying and calling out his name. "Andre, mon frere!"

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

After Prosecutor Owens had familiarized the court with the upcoming video, the lights were lowered.

The video began with Philippe Savard and Charles Dupree dining at 'Mouth of the South' cafe. Charles had excused himself after ordering and headed towards the men's restroom area.

Savard reached into his sportscoat and pulled out a velvet pouch.

The camera zoomed in at this point and you could see a small Star of David etched on the outside. Savard fished out something from it, and was unable to control himself from admiring his prize. There was no mistaking it for anything else. The pink diamond sparkled as it caught the overhead light. He quickly put it into Charles' dinner and looked around nonchalantly.

Not long after that, Charles returned to their table and began eating. A few bites into his meal, he appeared to have swallowed something. He signaled to the waiter, coughing and sputtering, requesting more ice water.

The video was stopped at the next portion as a warning was issued by Judge Hawthorne. "Ladies and Gentlemen, it gets rough here, but please hang on. We must get to the bottom of these things. Proceed with your video, Mr. Owens."

Up came the dialogue. It was if the court was viewing a movie in closed captioning. It resumed, but now with the audio conversations in the voice of Mr. Townsend.

Charles Dupree: What was that? It felt like I swallowed a rock.

Philippe Savard: You did swallow a rock. Your daddy was holding out on this big diamond. It will come right out when you are back in France in approximately 24 to 32 hours.

Charles Dupree: You fed me--a what?

Philippe Savard: A beautiful pink diamond worth a fortune! No worrisome searches at the airport. You'll barely feel it.

Charles Dupree: You did not! I think you'd say or do anything at this point. I want nothing to do with you, or any of this.

Philippe Savard: Not so fast. Sit back down, Charlie. We have some loose ends to tie up. I want those white diamonds and the rose painting. I swear-- I'll kill her! The hubby and that damn dog, too.

Charles Dupree: No! She's more than my dad's neighbor, she's my cousin. It's not enough that you killed my father? I'll get the white diamonds and the painting; then meet you in Paris. After that, we are through. I don't ever want to see you again!

Philippe Savard: You say that now, but you"ll be back. Alcohol addictions can be so . . .costly.

The video footage continued on to the bar encounter between Paul Bellamy, Charles Dupree, and the bartender.

Paul Bellamy: Charles, are you doing okay? May I call you a cab?

Charles Dupree: No, Paul, I just need another drink.

Bartender: No more drinks for you, Mr. Dupree. I have some hot coffee on the way.

Charles Dupree: Well, Paul, I guess I'd better get on with my next endeavor or I'll have more blood on my hands. Can you help me?

Paul Bellamy: I see a few cabs parked out front. Here we go, just hold my arm.

Then the last encounter between Philippe Savard and Paul Bellamy rolled on.

Paul Bellamy: I'm concerned about my involvement in today's murder. This is going to cost you, Savard.

Philippe Savard: I just made sure we'd all be taken care of. I fed the pink diamond to Charles just now. He forgot for just a moment that I own him. Now, don't you forget that I own you as well, Paul. You'll get your payment as promised, if you remain patient.

The courtroom went silent, except when I let out a yelp.

Relief washed over me. Philippe Savard had finally been caught on tape. But equally revealing was that my cousin Charles had not only changed; he had saved my life. Uncontrollable tears rolled down the front of me when I realized my life could have been taken in an instant, along with Jackson and King. Diamonds, artwork, and things of this world seemed insignificant in comparison.

After today, the trial would turn on Philippe Savard, and no defense in the world would be good enough to save him. I couldn't see with my eyes, but I could feel it.

Savard had been banned from court on contempt charges, so his testimony was read aloud by Ashley Bishop. It fell on deaf ears, and a story I don't think she or Clayborne Moore could stir themselves to believe.

Judge Hawthorne asked Mr, Owens if he had any cross-examinations for Philippe Savard. He stated so eloquently, "The state has presented a strong case from the first day. There is nothing more to be said, and no more questions to ask. I hope the jury is satisfied, and is eager for deliberation."

Court recessed until the jury was ready to bring back their unanimous decision. Jackson, King, and I went home, tired, but satisfied.

This trial had brought our community together in many ways; and, in the end, we were stronger because of it. I know I was.

Justice would be served, and many would alter or change their careers because of the extraordinary life of Andre Dupree. He had taken the road less traveled and it had made all the difference.

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

Two days later, the verdict was handed down by the foreman in the case of Louisiana vs. Philippe Savard.

"Mr. Savard, please rise and face the jury as your verdict is read," said Judge Hawthorne. "Have the members of the jury reached their decision?"

"Yes, Your Honor. We, the jury, find Philippe Savard, guilty of murder in the first-degree."

A shout rang out, and no one louder than the blind girl.

To the Epilogue . . . .

Author Notes 'Mon frere' is French for 'my brother.'
Art: Woman's Black Hair, https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-s-black-hair-2807495/


Chapter 32
What The Blind Girl Saw Epilogue

By Sally Law

~**~
First, I would like to thank you all for reading my novella and making this a life changing experience. I appreciate each and every one of you.

A. Willow Bends, Alex Rosel, Allcreator Litt Dear, Barbara1, barkingdog, brenda bickers, BeasPeas, Ben Colder, Bill Pinder, Carla Trinklein, Cedar, christiecookie999, Cindy Warren, country ranch writer, Debbie Pope, Debra White, Diana L Crawford, damommy, djeckert, Dorothy Farrell, estory, FM Wright, Gail Denham, Gert Sherwood, Heather Luke, Ideasaregems-Dawn, Iza Deleanu, Janilou, Jannypan, Jose Maria Garcia, JudyE, juliaSjames, kahpot, Karen Luciana, Kathleen Washnis, Lady Jane, LaRosa, Lance Loria, lauralumummu, Leanna P, light, Liz O' Neill, Loren, LovnPeace, lyenochka, Mary Kay Bonfante, Mastery, Meia (MESAYERS), meeshu, Miranda Langston, Mistydawn, Mrs. KT, Mustang Patty, Mystic Angel 7777, Pam (respa), Patty Palmer, patcelaw, Phil Nelson, PoemsofDD, poetwatch, Raffaelina Lowcock, RShipp, Ricky 1024, Robert Zimmerman, robyn corum, Rosemary Everson1, royowen, Roxanna Andrews, RP Saxena, rwilliam, Sandra Elizabeth Williams, sandramitchell, Sankey, Shaffer40, Sharon Haiste, Spangle, Supe, Susand3022, Susan X Smith, Sylvia Page, Tammy Novella, tfawcus, Therese Caron, Tina Crute, Tootie, Tootsie55, 24 Chas, Ulla, WalkerMan, and lady, Y. M. Roger.

As most of you know, I am legally blind in real life and have recently taken up writing. This story is loosely based on my real descent from sighted to blind, and the way my other senses have stepped forward to help. It's a phenomenon really, and one I'm still adjusting to. If I can write as impaired as I am, anyone can. I hope reading my work has inspired you in your own writing.

My special thanks~

The love of my life, my husband, Jack.

He cries at all the good parts and laughs at all my jokes. He is my biggest fan and even helps me with HTML codes! I married him because I couldn't live without him and so I could kiss him anytime I want.

My precious family.

Jack, Jared, Adam, Aaron, Crystal, Joshua, Caleb, Tyler, and Sophia. I love you all so much!

My son, Aaron.

He is also my publisher, and presented me with a rough copy for a Christmas gift, just so I would be able to see and hold it in my hands. A dream come true. Thank you, son.

My friend, WalkerMan.

Thank you so much, Mike. I appreciate your final copy editing. Your expert help getting this to publishing has been amazing! You remain my constant encourager.

To my God and Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you for handing me a pen and giving me the heart to do this. For your glory, my Lord.

So, what happened to everyone?

The courtroom crowd~



Philippe Savard was extradited to France on other criminal charges. It sounds like the same song, second verse. Manslaughter, conspiracy, fraud, and arson were added to his awaiting list. He'll be in France's court system for a long time in my estimation. When France finally lets him go, he will serve out his life sentence in the Louisiana State Penitentiary with no chance of parole.

Charles Dupree died in Lafayette Township Prison and never actually appeared in court. He had turned state's evidence after being arrested and incarcerated. As he neared death, he penned a letter to me detailing his father's murder at the hands of Philippe Savard. It was his final request that I turn the letter over to the court as evidence. He had also repented of his ways, and asked Jackson and me for our forgiveness for his involvement with Philippe Savard. According to the forensic files, he passed away just as he finished the letter.

Charles Dupree's cause of death was internal bleeding from a diamond lodged in the lining of his stomach. Pancreatic inflammation was compounding his physical problems as well, hastening his death.

Paul Bellamy was escorted back to France. He awaits conspiracy and mail fraud charges.

Juror, Velma Watts, returned the money Philippe Savard had given her to throw the jury's vote. She wholeheartedly voiced her opinion concerning his guilt of murder in the first-degree.

Clayborne Moore and Ashley Bishop went to work for the Louisiana State Prosecutor's Office, almost as fast as they left the courtroom.

Clayborne Moore has attempted murder charges ready to be taken up by the State Prosecutor's Office for Philippe Savard when he returns from his "Tour de France." He, too, has a surveillance video from his lunch poisoning from Mouth of the South Cafe. The added bonus was evidence gathered from Philippe Savard's jail cell where he grew the toxic mold used to sicken Clayborne.

Dr. Marie MacLavish always threatens to retire, but openly admitted to me in private, "I will quit my practice when I give up my coffee, and as we both know--that's never going to happen!"

Roy Fitzgerald Owens is still a presence to be reckoned with, and leads the Louisiana State Prosecutor's Office in my next novella.

Judge Preston Hawthorne will be back in my next novella, too. He took a little vacation after the trial and went fly fishing.

Detective Mike Lembowsky bought Andre Dupree's home since we couldn't rezone it for an art museum. Really, I think he just wanted to be closer to King. He loves it, and stays busy with the renovations.

The kind detective also wasted no time offering me a consultant position with the Lafayette Township Police. Jackson and King were naturally included in the offer and will be by my side solving crimes.



As for me, I inherited the pink and white diamonds along with the Dupree estate and artwork totaling over three million dollars. I bought a historical home in Lafayette Township and now have the beginnings of the Andre Dupree Museum of Art. Everything he ever painted will be featured, as well as the gaudy green settee. On the weekends, French pastries from 'Mouth of the South's' bakeshop will be served to our visitors. That, of course, was King's idea.

We still live at 17 Main Street, and enjoy sitting outside watching King chase the butterflies as they light upon the bougainvilleas. We're going to take a little vacation before consulting for the police. We certainly need it.

The French Forget-me-nots~



Hava von Gil and Leo Fermier married in October of 1944 in a civil ceremony. Andre stood up as their best man. Andre lived and worked with them on their family's dairy farm until 1949.

Leo and Hava had one more daughter, Leona. They migrated to Israel in 1949 where they lived until 1998, dying within weeks of each other after sharing a long and happy life.

Andre von Gil became an engineer and later joined the Israeli Air Force. He died in a jet crash in 1982 at the age of forty.

Rachel von Gil-Klein is still living at the age of 75, a widow with grown children and grandchildren.



Renee Dupree (Maman) never fully recovered from the loss of Jeanne-Louise. She died June 1, 1949. Andre set white roses all around her grave. "To the purest and sweetest heart of them all," he said.



Jeanne-Louise Dupree was thought to be a war orphan and was legally adopted by Doctor Francois Segal and his wife, Marie. When Jeanne-Louise was ten, her parents died within a year of each other, leaving her in the care of Marie's sister, Carine La Fontaine. Jeanne-Louise returned to France at seventeen and married right away after falling in love with an American soldier. They had one child, Sally Jeanne-Marie. My mother, Jeanne-Louise, died shortly after I was born from her pernicious anemia. My father needed help, and brought me back to the United States to raise me.



Andre Dupree drove the rebuilt truck into Paris and set his sights on working at the Louvre museum. He landed a job as one of the many who cared for the day-to-day workings of the world's most famous art museum. At the tender age of nineteen, he was promoted very quickly through the ranks to Head Groundskeeper. He was also a street artist and performed pantomimes to earn extra money.



Andre married a young Parisian woman named Ava Bouchard. It was love at first sight for Andre. There was something about her that reminded him of all the women he had loved and admired. They had one son, Charles. Tragically, Ava was struck by a cyclist and killed while crossing the street in Paris. Andre raised Charles almost singlehandedly until he graduated from high school in 1976 and left home. Andre blamed himself for Charles's alcoholism, although there was no truth in it.

Andre kept his promise to Maman to find Jeanne-Louise, which ultimately led to me. He spent decades searching through adoption records and finally hired an expert private investigator. He found me happily married and living in Louisiana.

Andre left his position at the Louvre and made his way to America in 2002. We became fast friends when he moved in next door to us on Main Street in Lafayette Township. My life is better now than it has ever been, just from knowing him.

From Ben Coltrane, Andre's attorney, I finally learned why Andre never told me he was my uncle. As Mr. Coltrane was drawing up Andre's will, Andre explained, "Why disrupt her happiness with my sorrows? She will learn of these things soon enough."

The End ~



Author Notes All art is from FanArt Review.com.

Top art: "Let's Face It" by booklotto on FanArtReview.com.

1) "Beauty of the Beak" by Envision on FanArtReview.com.
2) "Yes, Sir, I can Boogie" by avmurray on FanArtReview,com.
3) "Forget-me-Nots & liquid diamonds" by Susan F. M. T. on FanArtReview.com.
4) "White Roses 3" by Galis G on FanArtReview.com.
5) "Mantis" by kmyoung3 on FanArtReview.com.
6) "The Eiffel Tower" by Stringbean on FanArtReview.com.
7) "Tender Moment" by dragifortuna on FanArtReview.com
8) FanArtReview.com


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