Mystery and Crime Fiction posted October 27, 2019 Chapters:  ...25 26 -27- 28 


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A chapter in the book What The Blind Girl Saw

What The Blind Girl Saw #27

by Sally Law

Book of the Month Contest Winner 

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


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Photo art courtesy of pixabay. https://pixabay.com/photos/oracle-girl-photomontage-witch-2133976/
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