Mystery and Crime Fiction posted July 29, 2019 Chapters:  ...16 17 -18- 19... 


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A chapter in the book What The Blind Girl Saw

What The Blind Girl Saw #18

by Sally Law


The author has placed a warning on this post for 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 . . . .


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



Maman is French for mama or mother.

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