CHAPTER 64 - WAIT FOR ME
“On the charges of attempted murder, how does the defendant plea? Guilty or not guilty?”
“Not guilty, Your Honor.” Why does it feel like déjà vu? I think I did this already. Over four years ago.
“On the charges of battery and assault, how does the defendant plea? Guilty or not guilty?”
“I ...” It’s not really much beyond the truth, is it? I did do that to her. I did reduce her to a coma, I ...”
I closed my eyes, my whole living fleeting past me. In the end, I deserve this, don’t I? What I did, what I caused, even indirectly. Hadn’t it been for me, she wouldn’t have gone through all that, hadn’t it been for me, she wouldn’t have been beaten and battered. Even if I can’t even recall whether I really fought her or not, it’s true that she was battered, if not by me, by people she fought because of me. So ... isn’t it my fault?”
“Shall I repeat the question, Mr. Watson?”
I took a deep breath, and decided.
“On the charge of battery and assault, how does the defendant-”
“You must be insane!” My uncle’s voice boomed within the room, causing other prisoners and visitors to turn to look at him, baffled. “What is wrong with you?!” I barely even listened to his curses. I know why I pleaded guilty, I know what I did, I know what expects me, and I’ll embrace it, fully. “I’ve never known a worse stubborn idiot than you, Jake! What do you think you’ve achieved?!!”
“Justice, for once.” I bit back calmly.
“Justice?! How’s that justice?! You didn’t do it! I know you didn’t!” Would you look at that, I managed to make even my uncle lose his shit.
“Oh, now you know me, uncle?” I scoffed. I’d forgotten what it feels like to be able to think, or rather, to speak without thinking. You see, Colin told me this morning. Ever since I was arrested, I’ve used my daily phone call to call Colin, see how she’s doing, and ... today he gave me the good news.
Still coma, but doctors agree that it’s no more irreversible, so she might wake up eventually. It could be today, tomorrow or in 20 years, but she will wake up. So I guess I feel ... somewhat better. Sure, it’s not the same as it would be if she’d actually woken up, but ... it’s better than nothing. My only regret it not being able to sit by her side throughout the whole process, but ... I’ve sent a good enough replacement.
When my uncle left, too angry to still remain there to rant, I guess, I turned to the lawyer Colin sent. “How many chances do I have of getting parole?”
Byron blinked his eyes, surprised. “I ... we’re still in the middle of the trial, we-”
“No. I’ll get convicted, I know that, you know that. If not for this, they’ll keep me in here for violating the terms of my release. Even if I’m not convicted, I’ll still be imprisoned for three years. So, let’s just skip the whole circus and tell me, how many chances do I have of getting parole? At least ... one day a week.” Enough to go see her. Even only for a couple of hours.
Byron bit his lips worriedly, though, seemingly having read through my intentions. “None ... as you say, by engaging in illegal fights, which is the one crime we cannot deny you did commit, and we’ll cling onto that to get you a smaller conviction, or maybe a plea bargain, you violated the terms of your release, so ... they’re not gonna grant you parole. But ... even if you did get it, you couldn’t see her, Jake.”
“Why not?” His face was telltale. “Ah. Right ... they fear I might try to finish the job, huh?”
“Her father was bound to find out eventually, Jake, and ... they convinced him to ask for a restraining order. Normally he couldn’t file it on her behalf, since she’s a major and all, but ... given her conditions ...”
“He seriously did?”
“Jake ...” Byron sighed. “Prosecution told Silvia’s father that you tried to kill her. You think he wouldn’t do whatever he could to keep you away from her? I think he’d fly her back to Italy if that would mean keeping her far from you.”
“But Mr. Banchi knows I would never hurt her, how could he believe-”
“Shall I remind you that you pleaded yourself guilty?” The lawyer argued.
“He was in court when you did.”
“Ah.” So he heard me admitting out loud that I battered his daughter. Of course he would want to keep me miles away from her. “Can you ... arrange a meeting?”
“With Mr. Banchi? No ... it’s impossible. As of now, you’re the last person he’d ever want to see, Jake. And, to be honest, you can’t really blame him, can you?”
Of course not. If we were talking about my daughter, strike that, if we were talking about Serene, I’d do the exact same thing. Well, I did worse, but I doubt Mr. Banchi will get to wanting to kill me with his bare hands. “Get Colin to speak to him, maybe he’ll listen.”
“Jake ... what do you think this will achieve? You need to focus on the trial.” Byron said. “If there’s one chance we have, it’s if we focus on you violating the terms of your release ... if we’re lucky, you’re only gonna serve the three years left on your sentence.”
“Yes, and having the ...” I hate that word. “Having the victim’s father ... forgive me might help, don’t you think?” Not at all. I just wanna speak to Mr. Banchi, try and see if he’ll let me even one hour with her. Just ... one hour a week. It can’t be that bad. He can be present, they can cuff me hand and feet, anything. I just ... need to see her. But with lawyers you gotta talk their own language. “Maybe I could ... even convince him to testify for me.” Impossible.
Byron stared at me for a long, long, moment, either pondering over my words or thinking I’m insane. He wouldn’t be the first one to think not all the wheels work right in my head. In the end, he took a deep breath. “I have a friend.” Byron started, which bored me and confused me at the same time.
“What does that-”
“I have a friend that is ... so in love with his ... with this other friend of mine, that he won’t even acknowledge reality.” He said.
I frowned. “What reality?”
“That everything he does or says in these ... lovesick moments he has, it’s absolute bullshit. This friend of mine ... he thinks he acts out of reason, that he’s making all the right choices because his reasoning hasn’t in the least bit been affected by his ... feelings.”
“Byron, I’m sorry, but what makes you think I want to hear about your friends’ love lives?”
Byron raked a hand over his face, sighing. “The point is, there’s one thing you can expect from a man in love. To be utterly, indubitably, irremediably stupid.”
“You wanna see Silvia wake up? Good. Work to be there.” Byron spat. “Do not stay here wallowing in your pity party, taking the guilt for something you didn’t do. That’s not the answer.”
“I did commit a felony, Byron.”
“You didn’t try to kill her. Nor did you beat her up. You two engaged in a fair fight, and you happened to win because she’d been weakened by the previous matches.”
“I didn’t win. She collapsed in my arms. She nearly died in my arms. Don’t bullshit me with your lawyer talk, Byron.”
“It’s not lawyer talk, it’s a fact.”
“No, it isn’t!” I snapped, raising my voice, causing people to look at me, and the guard behind me to place a hand over his service weapon. “I don’t know what I did, so I can’t be sure I didn’t do it! I might have blacked out.”
“But you weren’t there! And for God’s sakes, you don’t know me!” You don’t know what’s inside me, you don’t know what kind of demons lurk behind my gaze, hide deep beneath the layers of self imposed control. “You don’t know that when I say I might potentially snap and do something that awful, it’s actually true. So I may not remember it, but I might have done it. The sole possibility is enough for me. She’s lying in a coma because of me, so I don’t care, I’ll take what comes. I just ... I just need to see her.” I dropped back against my chair, exhausted.
Whether they find me guilty as charged or not, I’ll still have time to serve. Whether I spend life in prison or only three years, I need to see her. I need to know I can await ... I don’t know, a Saturday or something. Just one.
“I think he did it.” Juror number 2 stated, playing with his baseball ball. “I mean, have you looked at him? He did it!”
“Oh, please, you’re just jealous because he’s gorgeous and you can’t even get a woman to text you back.” Juror number 7 scoffed, crossing her legs.
Juror number 2 sent her a dirty look. “Oh, he’s handsome, alright, but if he then kills his girlfriends-”
“Did you even listen? She’s not dead.”
“Ohhh right ...” Juror number 2 gave out a humorless laugh. “She’s in a coma. She’s not dead, so he’s innocent? Is that what you’re saying?”
“I’m saying I don’t trust the testimonies given by a bunch of crooks.” Juror number 7 scoffed, pouring herself some water. “Who knows what they were promised.”
Juror number 2 laughed. “You watch too much TV.” He claimed, gaining a dirty look from Juror number 7.
“I think Lisa is right.” Juror number 1 butted in, shrugging. “The prosecution’s witnesses were all criminals.”
“Um ... hello? This happened during an illegal fight? The circle is criminal, the people in it are criminal. Just because they’ve committed crimes, doesn’t mean they’re lying.” Juror number 9 argued.
“Either way, I don’t believe he did it.” Juror number 7 claimed, sure of herself.
“Why? Because he’s too gorgeous to be a murderer?” Juror number 2 scoffed. “Sorry, attempting murderer.”
Juror number 7 rolled her eyes. The rest of the jury began murmuring amongst each other, which gave her a chance to think to herself for a moment. The charges were of attempted murder, battery and assault. Juror number 7 was utterly sure the defendant did not attempt to murder his girlfriend. All those talks about how he held a grudge because she’d broken up with him, had an abortion he disagreed with, it was all bullshit, the juror thought. But how to convince the other jurors?
“Okay, let’s put it to a preliminary vote, shall we? That way we know how can we proceed.” The chief juror said. “By raise of hands, who thinks he’s guilty as charged?”
“Shouldn’t we split the charges?” Juror number 7 asked out loud, worried the others might be influenced by the ominous phrasing. Some groaned at her comment, but some others agreed.
“Alright, so, by raise of hands, on the charge of attempted murder, who’s for guilty?” The chief juror frowned when he saw only one hand had been risen, by Juror number 2. No surprise there, he thought. “And ... for battery and assault? How many for guilty?” The number changed drastically. The chief juror was flabbergasted. “Okay ... so 10 jurors out of 12 think he beat and battered his girlfriend as well as other people, but only one believes he attempted to murder her.” Maybe it wouldn’t take that long after all, he thought, he may even go to his date.
“A plea bargain.” I repeated, savoring the words in my mouth.
“The jury is still undecided, so the prosecution is worrying that they might ... swing your way.”
“So why should I take a plea bargain if the jury might decide in my favor?”
Byron took a deep breath. “It’s not sure they will. And the charges are ... heavy. It’s a complicated matter here, you-”
“How long?” I’m tired of all this circus. I wish I could just go back to what’s more important.
“One year in jail, one year probation.”
I frowned. Much better than I expected. “I thought you said they wouldn’t give me probation, I would just remain until-” Wait ... I know how this works. “Ok, where’s the catch?” Either Byron is incredibly good as a lawyer or there’s something I’m missing.
On cue, my lawyer inhaled deeply as he took out some papers from his bag. “You ... need to help them with Sokolov’s case.”
“To be honest, I think it’s the main reason why they prosecuted you in the first place. I mean, the ignored you for over 9 months, then in the last 4 they decided you were to be prosecuted? Of course there was a reason behind it.” He sighed. “Not that ... well, I mean ...”
“I did deserve to be prosecuted, yes, I know. So ... if I help them bring down Sokolov’s organization, I get only 2 years?”
“You don’t need to decide now, you have-”
“Jake ... think about it, it’s not so easy ... the man has many connections, if you stand against him-”
“The man, as you call him, forced my girlfriend to abort my son. He forced her into 26 matches that heavily debilitated her right after she’d had the abortion. I don’t care if he’s gonna go after me, he’s lucky he’s still alive as it is.”
Byron grimaced. “I didn’t hear that ...” He grumbled. Lawyers ...
“So, how long will it take?”
“Are you sure-”
“Yes, Byron, yes! I’m damn sure!”
He sighed, handing me the papers. “You just need to sign these and ... it’s done.”
Needless to say I eagerly did. I thought it would drag on forever, and yet ... can’t say I’m not relieve. I know, I said I deserved to rot in prison, but ... Colin came with more good news yesterday.
Silvia is starting to give signs of recovery. I mean, still coma, definitely still coma, but she’s ... she’s closer and closer to pulling through. I don’t want her to wake up to me being in prison, but ... I guess I can live with that if it means seeing her awake soon enough. So ... one year. 12 months, 19 hours, 7 minutes. Wait for me.