The Elite Murder
It was business as usual for Arthur as he marked the date - 26 May on the calendar. He then continued ahead to heat the bath before Mr Rutherford was back from work. Junior master Rutherford was nowhere like his father, except for his tall stature. People did say the ‘like father, like son’ narration, owing to their profession, but having served both of them for decades now, Arthur was the perfect judge. He knew the two attorneys, each best of his own time, were diametrically opposite in their definition of justice. They never crossed each other professionally, since Simon Rutherford passed away before Henry, the junior Rutherford, ever gave his first argument. Being their house slave, Arthur had practically been in every phase of Henry’s life. From his birth to his first court argument and now his biggest case - he was always there. Perhaps this was why Henry never treated Arthur like a servant. As Arthur set the fireplace, he heard the automobile pull up. He went with his usual warm smile to welcome his Master.
It was a hard day at work for Henry, and the aura carried all the way back home with him. As he moved out of his car, Arthur welcomed him in his routine cheerful tone- “Master Henry, Pleasant evening, isn’t it? Let me get that coat for you. The bath is set, and the fireplace is cosy enough to relieve your stress.”. Not even bothering to acknowledge, Henry threw the coat across and went ahead to the amenities. After an hour of brooding by the fireplace and gulping through the scotch glass, Henry still was not calm. Arthur noticed this and in his polite but concerned tone asked- “Sir, If I may, sometimes even the best of alcohol cannot match a friendly conversation. If you have something bothering you, these ears have been the best of listeners for a long time in this house now”. It took a few seconds for Henry to even notice another presence in the room. He pulled himself together and said- “Ah! Arthur, just the person I wanted to see. Not a pleasant day, definitely not. Your kind doesn’t want to be saved, I guess. Do you know what Robin said to the judge today? He blabbered that The Uprising is the way! To say that out in the open, in front of an audience and a racist judge! He is one inch away from the noose. And honestly, I am done trying to save him”. Arthur understood this ambush from the young fired up attorney more than anyone else. The Uprising, a fringe group of slaves who stood for the oppressed and rebelled against the White domination, had been more active now than ever. This entire case was just an offspring of the same. Robin had been a house slave in the much dreaded Campbell place. It was a nightmare. The Campbells had a history of using slaves for their fetish pleasures. It was rumoured that even children in that place were hostile to the slaves. As an aftereffect of such heinous torture, Robin looked like a ghost. His colourless face always reminded Arthur of how lucky he was to serve the Rutherfords. Hence, when Samuel Campbell was found dead with multiple stab wounds, everyone in the town, including himself, believed that Robin had lost it. The Uprising put up his posters and hailed him as their hero. The Police needed no more waiting, and they hurried to arrest poor Robin. Arthur’s ears still echoed with the shrieking voice of Robin, pleading with every person present that he didn’t do it. That he never could gain neither the courage nor the darkness to do any such thing. But little did he realise, after spending all the years in this wretched society, that darkness was never considered an internal thing here. All it mattered was what colour the naïve human brain translated into the eyes.
Henry was the only person who believed in Robin. Call it the effect of a generation of rivalry with the Campbells or the fact that Henry was one of the few white people who were still humane in the town, he became Robin’s guardian angel. Whenever Arthur asked him why he risked the hostility of the entire town, the young attorney always said - “It’s his eyes Arthur, the eyes of an innocent man. Why follow an entire life of adulating justice, if you don’t mean it here”, and he would poke Arthur’s chest pointing towards the heart. But today was different. The eyes of Henry showed such helplessness that it yearned for support.
Henry took a sip of the scotch and began narrating the day’s events- “Let me tell you an interesting story, Arthur....” As he began, there was a knock on the house door. Arthur went to attend the guest, wondering who could bother his master at that odd hour. His curiosity was gone the very moment he felt the weird smoke hit his nose. It was Desmond, there was not an ounce of doubt in that. As he moved his fingers across the doorknob, Desmond entered and taunted Arthur- “Ah!, Still alive, I see. No idea what it is with you guys- it’s like your lazy ass lives forever”. Arthur with his formal smile replied - “Welcome home, sir. Thank you for your concern about my health. Maybe it results from all the work we physically do at your houses”. Understanding the sarcasm in his tone and clenching his fist in anger, Desmond moved on to the directed room where Henry sat, drowned in thoughts.
As he saw his childhood friend’s bulky torso approaching his room, there was a smile across Henry’s face. Desmond was his closest buddy. Yes, he was also an arrogant brat, but he mainly was harmless. All the slave hate talk he did only proved more that he was terrified of them. As he offered a glass of scotch to the guest, Desmond said- “I tell you, Henry, you got to be more strict towards the slaves, especially Arthur. The pure arrogance he displays is bloody insulting. I have to digest my anger each time. If I had my way, his entire family would be out of town by now.” As he continued his slave-bashing, Arthur, who was standing just outside, overhearing all this came in, cleared his throat and said- “Master Bayne, here is something for you to savour with your drink.”. Desmond, startled for a second, recovered and replied- “There you are, Arthur. I was just telling Henry how lucky he is to have you. You are an example to the rest of your kind.” Henry and Arthur exchanged smiles through eye contact and Arthur exited the room. Waiting for a few minutes to make sure Arthur was not eavesdropping, Desmond turned towards Henry and in a tense tone said - “Mate! Listen to me attentively. This complete Campbell case will drown you. I saw the whole thing at the court today. That bloody lowlife doesn’t want to live, and it’s looking like he is dragging you down to hell. Everyone at the court is done with this stupidity. Why? Just why do you want to ruin your life with this? Let go, my friend, let go. Let me arrange some stress buster for you. How about a private conversation with Ms Elisa? Come on, you deserve a break.”. Though the eye-wink by his friend when mentioning Ms Elisa brought a chuckle in Henry, he stated- “Desmond Haynes, the Sheriff of this very just town, the famous procurer of beautiful women, and unfortunately, my dearest friend. Get this into your head - I have decided. Even if my whole personal life is going into the drain because of this case, I am going to fight it. I will never stop until I bring justice to my client.”. Desmond comprehended the firmness in his buddy’s tone, and knowing him all these years, he did not need another example of Henry’s stubbornness. Henry further questioned - “Well, Sherif, do you have any suspect in mind?. The man rubbed many people the wrong way. We all know he killed his first wife. It’s an open secret. And the accident surrounding the second’s death affected not just one, but so many other lives. And now the third. The poor young lady. What if he pushed her to an extreme step, and this was survival instinct?”. Sheriff understood that the conversation between two friends had ended and now this was between two colleagues. He replied accordingly.- “Hmm. You are right about Samuel being the devil of the town. But poor lady Mrs Campbell is as innocent as they come. She is drowned in sorrow and I had to console her myself. In both my personal and professional opinion, Robin had the utmost grudge against the victim. Look, I am not saying he wasn’t completely wrong, given their history, but it is what is. An open and shut case.” Henry replied - “ That would favour you, wouldn’t it? Blame the slave and you have a murder solved without breaking any sweat.” Desmond had heard enough and grabbing his coat, began leaving the Rutherford place. He bid goodbye with a sly remark for Henry - “Well, the night is still young and so am I. So I will leave you two old men to sit back with sulking faces. See you at the court!”.