Emily blinked heavily when she opened her eyes. She scanned the room. This wasn’t her cell. This wasn’t her bed. Pale blue curtains hung on either side of her.
The sound of shoes squeaking on lino, monitors bleeping somewhere, that unmistakable antiseptic smell all meant she was in a hospital. But why?
She glanced at the clamp over a finger on her left hand and the IV line attached to a stand. She didn’t feel any pain, so why was she there?
Her hand found the bandage wrapped tightly around her head. When she lifted her left arm, a sharp pain caught her breath. She grunted and lowered her arm.
Emily closed her eyes. She tried to recall why she would be in a hospital.
A nurse appeared at the foot of Emily’s bed. ‘I thought I heard you,’ she said. The nurse checked Emily’s IV feed then proceeded to check all Emily’s vitals, recording them on Emily’s chart.
‘So, where am I and why am I here?’
The Nurse flipped the overturned pages to the front and replaced Emily’s chart. ‘You’re in the Medical Centre…’ she said.
‘I sort of gathered that…but what Medical Centre…?’
‘The prison medical centre. You do know you’re in the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre?’ the Nurse asked.
Emily closed her eyes. Why can’t I remember anything? She opened her eyes to the nurse. ‘Do you know why I am in here?’
The Nurse lifted Emily’s chart from the foot of the bed. ‘You suffered a stab wound to your left upper arm…um…’ She turned a page. ‘You also suffered a contusion to the back of your head and severe concussion.’
‘Why can’t I remember what happened?’
‘That’ll probably be because of the trauma you suffered to your head. Your memory should return with time. You just have to rest up. You have got considerable swelling on the brain that needs to subside.’ The Nurse flipped over the pages and returned the chart. ‘Use the call button there on your bed if you need anything,’ she said then left the room.
For a medical centre this was one noisy, busy place. Whenever she dozed off, something, or someone invariably woke her up; loud voices, someone screaming, or a nurse shining a torch light in her eyes. It was more peaceful back in her cell.
Emily found the light too bright so she spent most of her time with her eyes closed. Sometimes she slept, other times she lay there listening to the sounds.
Voices whispering caused Emily to open her eyes. Two blurry figures stood at the foot of her bed. When her eyes focussed she smiled.
‘If you wanted to get out of the cottage you should’ve just asked…’ Clive said, with a smile that illuminated his face.
Emily watched the nurse leave the room. ‘What are you doing here…?’
‘I was down here for some basic medical supplies…’ Clive said. He lifted his hand to show the plastic bags he carried. ‘So, while I was here…I thought I’d stick my head in and say gidday.’
‘That’s very kind of you…’
‘How ya doin’?’ Clive said, leaning on the end of her bed.
‘I’m OK. Things are slowly coming back to me,’ Emily said. ‘Oh. How did Mandy go at court…I’ve been so worried about her?’
‘Not as well as she expected, I think. She got four years…’
Emily’s eyes slammed shut. Her mind re-visited to Mandy’s smiling face. The laughs she had with Mandy and the worried expression on her face before she left for court.
Clive continued. ‘With time served, she’ll probably do about eighteen months or so. She’s over in gen pop at the moment.’
‘Will she be OK over there?’
‘She’ll be fine. She’s a likeable type.’ Clive regarded Emily. ‘Do you remember much about what happened?’
‘Bits and pieces. I remember Paris stabbing me with a knife…’ Emily touched her left arm. ‘I remember how much that hurt. But I don’t remember too much after that. How is Paris?’
Clive checked over his shoulders. ‘Paris is dead, Emily…’ he said in a quieter tone.
Emily’s mouth fell open as she glared at Clive. ‘Dead…? What happened?’
‘After she stabbed you, you wrestled the knife from her and you stabbed her in the chest. She died from those injuries.’
Emily cupped her forehead. ’I stabbed her…?’ Emily asked. ‘I have absolutely no memory of that. I remember how much it hurt when she stuck the knife in my arm…but I don’t remember anything after that.’ Emily’s eyes flared. ‘Wait…If she’s dead and you said I stabbed her…does that mean I’m looking at — ’
Clive held up a hand as he interrupted. ‘Self-defence,’ he said. ‘There was CCTV footage of the whole incident. The investigation found you acted in self-defence. Do you remember Trevor…?’
‘Yes. He’s nice.’
‘Well, he was on duty at the time. He left you and Paris in the cottage unsupervised while he took — ’
‘Mandy to her court transport…I remember,’ Emily said, finishing Clive’s sentence. She was excited she could finally recall something else.
‘Well they came down heavily on poor old Trev over what happened…Basically, because someone died…they sacked him…’
Emily rolled her eyes, then closed them. She felt sorry for Trevor. He was one of the nice ones. ‘What did he do wrong?’
‘Left his post. We can’t leave the cottage without someone relieving us first…’ Clive checked his watch. ‘Anyway. I must get back. I’m glad to see you’re doing OK. I’ll probably see ya back at the cottage when you’re all better…’ he said. With a departing wave, Clive left her room.
Emily gently touched the back of her head. ‘Well…when I hit my head I spilt it open on the solid wall. I received twelve stitches or staples, I don’t know what they call them, here in the back of my head. And I got six stitches here in my left arm,’ Emily said. ‘But I’m OK, now. They’re taken healing well.’ she reassured. ‘Just a little tender on both places.’
When Boyd heard Emily had been admitted to hospital he wanted to visit his wife. Unlike hospitals on the outside, there were no visiting times in prison hospitals. He had to wait until she was discharged before he could travel up to see for his own eyes that she was OK.
Today’s box visit was Boyd’s first chance to see his wife after she was attacked almost two weeks ago.
‘You said the other woman, the one who attacked you, died…’ Boyd said. ‘How are you coping with that? That wouldn’t be easy having that on your conscience.’
‘I try not to think about it, Hun…She tried to kill me…It still makes me shudder. For some reason, I’m still here and she’s not.’
‘I’m so glad you’re OK. They wouldn’t let me talk to you. They wouldn’t let me come up to see you. I was going out of my mind with worry. They wouldn’t tell me what happened…only that you’d been in an altercation with another inmate and you were in hospital.’ Boyd’s eyes welled. His lips quivered. ‘I was so scared. I thought the worst Em…I thought I was going to lose you.’
Emily placed her hand on the glass. Boyd did the same. ‘You’re not going to lose me, Hun. I’m still here,’ she said. ‘I’ve got too much to live for with you waiting for me…Besides, after next week when they throw my case out, I will be able to come home and we can get things back to normal again…’
‘You have no idea how good it is to see you, safe and well…’ Boyd said.
Emily smiled. She didn’t have to talk. She was happy just being able to look at her husband.
Boyd wiped an escaping tear. He sniffed. ‘While I think of it…’ he began. ‘I spoke with Duncan last week. He has reviewed the police evidence and he believes it is a weak case against you. He is going ask for the charges to be dismissed. So fingers crossed.’
‘Let’s hope so…’
Their visit time seemed to evaporate. It didn’t seem long before the knock on the door resonated within the small space and their time was over.
Emily and Boyd said their goodbyes and Emily left the box. She was buoyed by the thought that after next week this could all be over and she could return to her life.
Emily sat in a cell in the Geelong police station with her tear-streaked face buried into in her hands. Her reddened eyes and melancholic expression corroborated how the day’s events failed to go as planned.
When Friday morning arrived, the day of Emily’s committal, she rose early. Attending court intimidated her, but she was excited to get the case out of the way and move on with her life.
Certain it would be the last time, she even tolerated the prison van’s uncomfortable steel seat during the long ride down the highway to Geelong.
The committal started as Duncan had explained to Emily. The police presented their evidence first. It wasn’t strong and relied heavily on how Emily provided police with the locations of the bodies of the seven missing persons. The police argued that only the murderer, or persons involved would know where the bodies were located. They questioned Emily’s claimed ability to be able to communicate with people who had passed on. They also challenged Emily and her defence team to prove such an ability existed.
The police did not call many witnesses.
When they were finished leading their evidence it was Duncan’s turn. He initially moved to have the case dismissed through lack of evidence. The Magistrate however rejected that motion.
Duncan eloquently presented their defence to the court. He attacked the police handling of the case. He highlighted that the police case failed to link Emily to any of the seven victims.
He went to great lengths in his articulate manner, to highlight that Emily was never a suspect and in fact, police had never heard of Emily Davis before she provided them with her list of names.
When Duncan put forward to the court that the police only arrested Emily because she came forward to try and help the victims by providing the locations of where their bodies could be found, the Magistrate gave his first indication that things were not going to end well for Emily.
‘I find the fact your client knew the location of all seven victims particularly relevant to the charges, Mr Jervis,’ the Magistrate said. ‘Police allege the accused knew of these locations because she was the murderer…You claim she knew where the victims’ bodies were located because the victims themselves…or more appropriately, the ghosts of the victims, told the accused where their bodies were.
‘Unless you can demonstrate to the court today that your client has these psychic abilities you speak of...the ability to speak to people who have passed on, then based on the evidence presented before me today, I am prepared to send this case to trial in the Supreme Court, before a Judge and Jury. Are you able to demonstrate your client’s psychic abilities?’
Duncan’s gaze shifted to Emily’s big brown eyes staring back at him from the dock at the side of the court. She recognised that expression. It was his if you’ve got something, now is the time to say it, look. She briefly shook a conceding head. She expected that moment was coming. She had discussed it with Duncan numerous times. He believed the only weakness in their defence would be if the court asked for demonstrated proof of her skills. If it was asked and they failed to provide the proof, they would be sent to trial.
Well the time had come. The court asked and they could not provide.
Duncan gave one last effort. ’I’m afraid that the proof you ask for Your Honour is not tangible. It is not something that can be analysed, or weighed like a confiscated drug. It is not something one seizes, or photographs and it certainly cannot be sealed into an evidence bag and presented to the court.
‘We are talking about a level of consciousness through which my client communicates with persons who have passed on. How does the court expect us to demonstrate this unique ability when these events occur as cognitive activity through my client as a medium?’
’I take it then Mr Jervis that you will not be providing a demonstration of your client’s “unique” ability to this court today…’ The Magistrate said.
Duncan gave it his best shot. The Magistrate had clearly made up his mind. ‘No Your Honour,’ Duncan said, then slipped back into his chair.
The Magistrate commenced his summary. ’The police have presented evidence to show that the accused had knowledge of the location of seven murder victims, each of whom were long term missing persons. Their evidence presented that only the person who took the life of each victim would know where their bodies were buried, or dumped, as the case may be.
’The accused knew the location of each of the seven victims. This was proven by a list she gave to the police. The police made numerous references to this list as, “Emily’s List”. This “Emily’s List” recorded the location of each victim’s body.
’The defence states that the accused is a psychic medium and has the ability to communicate with deceased persons. And it was through this psychic ability, she was visited by each of the seven victims, who in turn told her where their bodies were located.
’At the outset of this sentence, I used the word “states”, as in “the Defence states”, because the defence has not presented any evidence to demonstrate the accused’s special abilities. If they had been successfully able to do so, I would have found in favour of the defence and dismissed the charges.
‘In the absence of any such evidence before this court to demonstrate the accused’s psychic ability, I have no option but to commit this case to stand trial before a Judge and Jury in the Supreme Court at a date to be fixed. Remove the prisoner.’
That was what Emily had been reduced to in the eyes of society — a prisoner; a demeaning label to someone valiantly trying to defend her innocence. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?
Duncan and Emily discussed this outcome as a possible worst case scenario. Deep down she didn’t want to consider it. She focussed on the positive outcome. She hoped the court would dismiss all charges and set her free to return to her life.
Instead, she would be returning to jail. Emily stood from her seat. Her hands covered her mouth as she burst into tears. Her eyes locked onto Boyd, who had also stood from his seat.
The female Corrections Officer seated in the dock with Emily gently grabbed Emily’s arm. ‘Let’s go,’ she said as she gestured towards the door at the back of the prisoner dock.
Emily’s eyes remained on Boyd as she moved to the door. The tears in her husband’s eyes was the last thing she remembered before disappearing through the door.
After spending the balance of the day in the Geelong police station cells, then enduring the uncomfortable sixty minute ride on a cold steel seat, Emily returned to the one place she never wanted to see again.
Once she stepped inside the cottage with her escort, Emily ignored anyone in her path — including Clive on the front desk — as she stormed into her cell and flopped face down onto her bed. She buried her head into her pillow.
No longer could she fight the melting pot of pent up emotions consuming her. Overwhelming disappointment, fear, anger, frustration and embarrassment all flooded out with the salty tears being absorbed into her pillow.
Several hours passed while Emily remained in her self-imposed isolation. She’d rolled onto her back with her fingers locked behind her head, staring at the ceiling. All she could think of was the loss of the life and the freedom she once knew.
She thought about how a manifestly flawed justice system that locked away innocent people had deprived her of precious time with her husband. She nearly lost him once to a horrific car accident. She didn’t want to come through all that only to lose him for something she didn’t do.
Emily’s focus shifted to Clive when he appeared in the doorway to her cell. He held a cup in each hand. ‘I thought you could use this…’ he said approaching Emily. ‘White and none, if I’m not mistaken.’
Emily swung her feet to the floor as Clive approached. She accepted the cup. ‘You are so nice, Clive,’ she said then took a sip.
Ever the professional, Clive remained standing near the cell door. To be seen sitting on a female inmate’s bed would border on inappropriate behaviour for the friendly guard, even though his intentions were nothing but genuine. As it was, he probably crossed some sort of line making Emily a coffee and taking it to her in her cell.
‘I’ve gotta say Emily…I was a little disappointed when I heard you were coming back. I genuinely hoped for your sake that I never saw you again.’
Clive’s warming, heartfelt words were a silver lining to all her darkness. For the first time in a while, a semblance of a slight smile appeared on her face. ‘You are so sweet, Clive.’ She held her cup with two hands as she sipped her coffee.
‘Look,’ Clive began. ’He leaned a shoulder on the door frame. ‘For what it’s worth…I don’t know you very well…but, from what I’ve seen of you from your time in here, you don’t strike me as the type of person who was capable of doing the things they’re saying you did. You’re too kind, too genuine in nature. I’m telling you this because…I believe you will beat this at trial…’
Emily rolled her eyes. Her head lolled forward. She now had her doubts after losing today’s committal.
Clive continued. ‘Trials are completely different to committal hearings… They have a judge and a jury…people who just like you, have real emotions. The police have to prove to this jury, beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. I’m confident the jury will see what I see and set you free.’ He took a sip.
Emily’s welling eyes fell to the floor. Her lip quivered. Whether she realised or not, she needed to hear those words of comfort and reassurance. They gave her a glimmer of hope at a time she was at her lowest.
‘You’re way too kind to be a prison Guard, Clive. I always thought prison Guards were supposed to be tough and rugged and uncaring towards prisoners under their charge…’ Her glistening eyes moved to Clive. ‘You proved me wrong with that generalised impression. You are a genuine, caring person who is good at his job. Thank you so much.’
Clive pushed himself from the door frame. He held out his hand to Emily. ‘I’ll take care of that for you…’
Emily drained her mug and handed it to Clive. ‘Thank you. You have no idea how much you have helped me after today…’ Emily said.
Clive’s mouth straightened. ‘Glad I could be of help.’ With a nod and a cup in each hand, he left the cell.
Emily fell back onto her bed. Thanks to Clive’s kind words of encouragement, she now had renewed hope that this would all end favourably.