Emily’s remand hearing was expectedly brief, as most are. Firstly, because it was a straight forward procedural remand hearing for multiple charges of murder. And secondly, the Magistrate had a highly anticipated glass of red waiting for him at the end of his day.
Once Max presented his evidence to the Magistrate in support of his application for remand, it was Emily’s lawyer’s turn.
‘Yes Mr Jervis,’ the Magistrate said in a tone devoid of any interest.
The Lawyer stood. ‘Thank you Your Honour. My client is before the court today facing a number of very serious charges that we will be vigorously defending, Sir. She has never been in trouble with the police before today and the police have not presented any evidence that they have concerns my client will be a flight risk, if bail is granted. The police case is solely based on circumstantial evidence and we believe that we have a strong defence to these charges. So I ask the court to consider applying bail with strict conditions attached.’
The Magistrate adjusted his glasses. ‘I see here Mr Jervis, your client says she has the ability to communicate with people who have passed on.’ The Magistrate removed his glasses. ’Will that be the basis of your “strong defence” at trial…?’
‘It will be Your Honour…My client is a Psychic Medium, Sir. She is one of the very few people who possess this unique ability.’
‘I see,’ the Magistrate mumbled. ‘I read here that your client provided the whereabouts of five murder victims to police…And she learned about their locations when the spirit of each victim communicated with your client.’
‘That’s the gist of it, Sir.’
The Magistrate lifted cynical eyebrows. ‘I hope for your client’s sake, Mr Jervis, she can prove that defence at trial. Until then I am remanding the accused in custody ahead of a hearing at a date to be fixed.’
Following a scribble of his signature, the Magistrate ambled down the steps from his bench and out a nearby door to his waiting glass of red, while the clerk finalised the paperwork.
Emily stood from her seat. She scanned the court room for Boyd, sitting in the public seating area. When their eyes met, Emily broke down sobbing. Boyd rushed to the front of the court to comfort his wife.
Max held up a hand. ‘That’s close enough Mr Davis,’ he said firmly.
Boyd stopped. His pained eyes met Emily’s. ‘Don’t worry Hun, we’re doing everything we can to get you out…Stay strong.’
‘I’m so sorry…I’m so sorry for doing this to you,’ Emily said through her sobbing. All she wanted was to hug her husband.
‘You haven’t done anything…’ Boyd said. He glared at Max. ’You are innocent, and they know it.’
Once the paperwork was completed, Max gestured towards the door beside the Magistrate’s bench. ‘Let’s go,’ he said.
When Max opened the door, Emily turned back to Boyd. He hadn’t moved. Watching the hurt she caused her husband cut deep. She again broke down crying; partly for the pained expression on his face, and partly from the fear of the unknown of what lay ahead.
Max gently guided Emily through the doorway leading into the secure passage between the police station and the court complex. She tried for one last over the shoulder glance at her husband, but the closing of the door deprived her of that last liberty. She was now all alone.
As they moved through the tunnel towards the police station, Max released his light hold on Emily’s arm. He flicked a sideways glance at his prisoner. Her head was lowered and her shoulders were rounded. Her blank eyes watched the ground as they strolled.
‘You OK?’ Max asked.
‘No…I’ve just been remanded for something I didn’t do…So, No. I’m not OK,’ Emily said in a tone filled with a mix of rage and frustration. ‘I just want to go home,’ Emily said, breaking down into tears. ‘I just want to see my husband,’ she sobbed.
None of this was pleasant for Max. Typically, the hardened cop would experience a sense of achievement on the walk back to the cells, having just remanded one of his crooks. Emily’s collar however was different. There was no satisfaction during this walk. There was no confidence he had the right offender. There was only a strong sense of pity and maybe a little sympathy.
At the police station Emily stood at a counter watching an austere male cop record all her possession onto a form. When he was finished, he dropped the pen and rotated the page. He tapped the foot of the page. ‘Sign,’ he grunted. His tone was curt.
Tears welled as she scribbled her signature. She was no longer worthy of respect, or common courtesy afforded the average member of society. To this cop at least, she was clearly a lowlife crook. And that hurt. She dropped the pen onto the form.
‘This way,’ Max said, flicking a finger to their left. Another uniform cop carrying a ring of keys joined them.
As she strolled to the unknown, Emily dragged a finger under each eye to catch escaping tears. ‘Will I be able to get a change of clothes? These are my work clothes…’
‘I’ll arrange for your husband to bring something in for you. Any preferences?’ Max said.
‘He’ll know what to bring in. Will I be able to see him when he brings my clothing in?’ Emily asked with the first sign of hope in her voice.
Emily’s shoulders slumped slightly.
They arrived at a steel cell door. The uniform cop unlocked the door and entered. Max gestured to Emily to follow the cop. She stepped into a brightly lit, large open area of concrete enclosed by four walls. Four women lounged around the perimeter. Each one glared at the unannounced intruder.
‘This is the exercise yard,’ Max said. ‘You’re over here.’ He gestured to the cop standing in the open doorway of a cell. Two other cell doors opened onto the yard.
Emily took a shaky step into the cell, stopping inside the doorway. She glanced over a shoulder to see her police escorts moving away. She was now on her own. She took a typical first time glance around the small confines. There were two single beds, each with a thin grey vinyl covered mattress over the cold concrete base.
A heavily tattooed, waif woman with dark rings under her glazed eyes sat cross legged on one of the beds. Her scruffy bottle-blonde hair with prominent dark roots had not seen a brush in recent times.
Folded blankets and a heavily stained pillow sat on the other bed. Emily slowly edged her way to her bed, while keeping an eye on her frightening cell mate. Emily’s eyes fell to her pillow. Her face screwed up. What are those yellow and brown stains?
Her gaze lifted to the stainless steel toilet over in the corner; no seat and no privacy. Her lip curled.
Emily slid onto her bed and leaned back against a wall. She glanced at her cell mate; same vacant stare into nothing. She decided to try conversation. ‘I’m Emily…’
‘Tell someone who cares, bitch…’ the woman snapped. Her blank expression remained unchanged.
Emily was taken aback. OK. So that’s how it’s going to be…
The thought of being locked up in here at night with that woman was scary. She doubted she would be able to sleep.
With all the time to sit and dwell, regret started to surface and the ‘What ifs’ dominated her thoughts. If only she didn’t go to the cops, she wouldn’t be here now. She would be home with Boyd.
A police woman entered the cell carrying a tray.
‘Get us a smoke will ya,’ Emily’s cell mate blurted.
The cop placed a plate of food on the bed beside the other woman. She moved to Emily’s bed and did the same.
‘I said, get us a smoke? Don’t’ ignore me, pig.’
Emily’s jaw dropped at the arrogance of this other woman.
The police woman glared at Emily’s cell mate. ‘And you wonder why you’re not getting any smokes…’
As the cop moved to exit the cell, the woman used her foot to shove the metal plate of food onto the floor. Emily startled at the sound of metal on concrete echoing inside the small space. Food splattered across the floor.
The cop glared at the woman. ‘Looks like you’ll be hungry tonight…’
‘Get me a fucken’ smoke, bitch,’ she snapped.
Emily held an open mouth stare at the blatant disrespect shown towards this police woman. This cop was being friendly enough. Emily regarded this scary woman. Everything about her intimidated Emily.
The cop looked to Emily. ‘You good?’
Emily nodded. ‘Oh. What time is it, please?’
The cop checked her watch. ‘5pm.’
‘Do you know what will be happening to me?’ Emily asked as her intimidated eyes flicked to her scary cell mate, hoping for a reprieve of some sort.
‘Not sure. The last bus has gone, so you’ll be staying here tonight. Then you’ll probably be transported tomorrow, some time.’
The bus she referred to was the Department of Corrections prisoner transport van.
‘Probably the DPFC…’
‘A fucken’ shit ‘ole,’ Emily’s cell mate blurted.
The cop shook a disapproving head. ‘The Dame Phyllis Frost Centre. It’s in Deer Park. That is usually where women on remand are sent. OK?’
The cop glared one more time at the other woman, then left the cell.
The DPFC sounded more like a rehab centre than a jail. Emily inspected her plate of food. One greasy sausage, one mince hamburger, peas, beans and mashed potato. Under any other circumstances this meal would be unappetising. But this was her first meal since breakfast and she was starving.
Emily paused before every mouthful to regard her cell mate, to check she wasn’t coming over like a school yard bully to steal her meal, because hers was scattered across the floor.
The other woman didn’t move. In fact, she never changed her expression the entire time Emily dined.
Emily had never experienced someone like this woman. She often read about the effects illicit drug use had on a person. Now she had witnessed it first-hand, and it was sad; a wasted life.
A female cop collected the dinner dishes while a male cop cleaned and mopped up the spilt dinner. Emily’s cell mate remained unmoved throughout. She sat holding a blank stare on the ground in front of her.
While the clean-up was on, a second male cop entered the cell carrying a large plastic rubbish bag. ‘Your husband bought in a change of clothes for you.’
‘Is my husband still out there..?’ Emily said with renewed hope in her voice.
‘No. He dropped it off and left.’ Emily’s disappointed shoulders dropped.
The cop placed the bag on the foot of Emily’s bed. ‘When you’re changed, place what you’re wearing back in there.’
‘Thank you so much,’ Emily said.
She inspected the bag contents while waiting for the male cop to finish cleaning up the floor and leave the cell. In her world, privacy, not just from males, but also other females, was not only a common right, it was an expectation.
She was never comfortable stripping naked in front of other women, not even in the change room at the local swimming pool. But that world she grew to know so well, had gone. The CCTV camera in the corner was testament to how things were going to be from now on.
After carefully changing into her more comfortable street clothes, keeping her back to the prying camera, the same male cop appeared and collected the bag. When he left the cop closed the cell door, followed by the sound of the heavy lock securing the door and keys dangling.
A sense of claustrophobia washed over Emily. She was trapped like a mongrel dog in a pound. Everything seemed surreal. She expected to wake up and it would be all gone. Emily’s wandering gaze shifted to her cell mate, still sitting crossed legged, staring blankly at the floor.
Without warning the cell’s lights went out. Emily gasped. The darkened walls suddenly felt like they were closing in on her. After a few minutes her eyes adjusted. The room was not totally dark.
Emily made up her bed and climbed under the blankets. It took several minutes of lying with her hands supporting her head before she succumbed and allowed her head to come in contact with that pillow.
While lying staring at the darkened ceiling Emily’s thoughts were of her husband. How was he coping? When would she see him again? Her eyes welled up. Her nose ran. She sniffed as her sadness engulfed her.
‘If I hear one fucken’ sooky tear come out of you, bitch, I’ll come over there and smother ya fucken’ head with that pillow. Ya hear me?’
Emily’s eyes flared. Her mouth fell open. She dragged the covers up under her chin. She had never been exposed to aggression or violence, not even through her school years, so this was particularly intimidating. ‘Yes. I hear you.’
The knot in her stomach just quadrupled. She was too frightened to close her eyes. She shared a cell with the real-life boogey woman.
For several hours Emily lay awake with the covers up under her chin and her eyes fixed firmly on her sleeping cell mate. Emily’s heart rate raced every time the other woman moved in her bed. In the end fatigue eventually won out and Emily slept.
The following morning Emily woke when the cell lights flickered on. She quickly glanced at her cell mate opposite. Still asleep. Emily sighed her relief.
She threw her legs onto the floor and stood. She stretched into a long yawn. Her eyes locked onto the cold, uninviting steel toilet bowl. She needed her morning pee, but that toilet was right up there with public toilets, and Emily didn’t do public toilets.
In the end, she had no choice. She either used that toilet, or peed her pants. Emily moved over and inspected the toilet. Her face distorted. Being a self-confessed germaphobe, she felt dirty just looking at it. She tried not to think of the type of people who had used it before her.
Her eyes lifted to the ceiling mounted CCTV camera in the opposite corner. The short nib wall beside the toilet offered a modicum of privacy from the prying eye of the camera, but only just. The wall however did not offer any privacy from her cell mate. It was like having no door on a public toilet cubicle.
Emily squatted over the toilet. There was no way she was touching that steel bowl. When she was done she sat back on her bed. Her eyes scanned the cold concrete walls of her cell. I wonder what the time is…
She didn’t have to wait long to find out. The sound of keys and a metal door latch drew her attention the cell door. The door opened. Light from the exercise yard bled into through the door. A female cop carrying a tray entered the cell.
‘Good Morning,’ Emily said, as though she was receiving room service at a hotel.
‘Morning.’ The cop’s reply was perfunctory. The cop placed a plate of food and a tin mug containing a milky coffee on the bed beside Emily. Emily inspected the breakfast. She was surprised to see scrambled eggs on toast.
‘Could you tell me the time please,’ Emily said.
The cop placed the other meal on the floor beside the other woman’s bed. She checked her watch. ‘8am,’ she said.
‘Thank you so much,’ Emily said.
‘Walters…’ the cop said, firmly. The other woman failed to move. ‘Walters…’ The cop repeated, this time with more feeling.
‘I’m awake,’ a voice blurted from under the covers.
‘Breakfast,’ the cop said then exited the cell, leaving the door open.
Breakfast was surprisingly edible. The exception was the tin cup of cold, instant coffee. It left a bitter after taste and was a far cry from the barista served coffee she enjoyed daily with Naomi at morning tea break.
After breakfast Emily moved to the cell door. She paused to glance outside. Two other women sat against a wall. Emily took her first steps into prison life. The women briefly glanced at Emily then returned to their in-depth discussion.
Emily moved to the opposite end of the yard and sat back against a cold concrete wall.
Throughout the long, boring day some more prisoners arrived and some prisoners left, but Emily remained. She people-watched to help pass the time. One thing was constant, she was nothing like any of the other women in there with her. Each one of them was rough and unrefined. They all swore worse than most men Emily knew.
It was well into the afternoon when a male cop entered the exercise yard and scanned the occupants. He stopped when his eyes met Emily. He pointed to Emily, ‘Davis,’ he said, then jabbed a thumb over his shoulder. ‘Time to go…’
She climbed to her feet. ‘Where to?’
‘Your new home,’ the cop said. He extended a hand to the external cell door.
Emily walked through. ‘Where’s my new home?’
She remembered the female cop last night said that same acronym. ‘That’s a remand centre, or something, isn’t it?’ Emily said.
‘It’s a maximum security prison,’ the cop said.
Emily stopped walking. Her jaw dropped. She glared at the cop. The cop ignored her glare and kept walking. ‘Am I being moved to a maximum security prison…?’
‘That’s right. Keep moving please.’
Her heart rate quickened. Her mouth became dry. She didn’t want to be in a maximum security prison. It was bad enough staying in the police station cells with those other rough women. What would it be like in maximum security? That’s where they send hardened criminals.
The cop escorted Emily to a secured sally port. A large white van, similar in size to a motor home, was parked in the garage. On each side of the van there were two doors and rows of aeroplane style windows that ran the length of the van. The cop escorted Emily to the driver’s side of the van.
The cop opened the door closest to the rear. He gestured for Emily to enter. Emily stepped forward and frowned as she glanced up into the small room. She looked back to the cop for reassurance. The cop gestured to step up.
Emily climbed up into the small pod. Once inside, the cop slammed the door behind her. The small 1.5 metre by 1.5 metre steel room had two small port hole windows — one in the door and one beside the door — that allowed limited light in. Two steel hinged seats sat vertical against a wall. Harness style seat belts dangled loosely beside the seats.
She glanced back out the window, heavily scratched with names and other graffiti. She wondered if the cop got the right vehicle. This was more suited to transport stray dogs, not people. Prison system’s version of cattle class.
Emily lowered one of the seats and sat. The cold, unpadded steel was hard on her bum. She remembered the female cop said the DPFC was in Deer Park, which she knew was over one hour away. So it was going to be a long, uncomfortable ride on these seats.
After fifteen minutes voices could be heard outside Emily’s pod. She glanced out the window as her door flew open. ‘Get in and shut up. I’m sick of listening to ya,’ a cop said.
A young woman in her mid-twenties quickly climbed up into the pod, lowered the other seat and slumped down onto it. She extended her legs, crossed her arms and shut her eyes. She had clearly done this before.
Being new to this life, Emily had no idea what the protocols were. Does one talk to their transport buddy? Or would she beat me if I tried? Silence was the safest option.
A few minutes later the prison transport van started up and she was on her way.