Danielle watched in satisfaction as the jury foreman delivered a verdict of guilty for, Sam Franklin. Mr. Franklin turned to begin cursing and threatening the jury, his long lank unkempt dark hair swirling about his head, making him look even crazier. His lawyer tried to calm him, only to be shoved away by the loudly cursing Franklin. The jury had taken only an hour to deliberate before finding Mr. Franklin guilty of murdering his boss and co-workers. The judge Matthews banged his gavel loudly as the court bailiffs forced Mr. Franklin to resume his seat. Danielle pulled out her sketch pad and quickly began sketching the scene before her, Judge Matthews speaking to the jury foreman, asking him if the jury was unanimous. The older man, who was the foreman, nodding as he said yes the verdict had indeed been unanimous.
Danielle quickly finished the sketch as judge Matthews told the foreman he could sit down and then turned his attention back to Mr. Franklin. Judge Matthew ordered Mr. Franklin to stand as he repeated the verdict, then told Mr. Franklin he’d be kept in jail until his sentencing hearing the following week. Mr. Franklin let out a long string of profanity and tried to leap across the desk before him to attack judge Matthews, as four burly bailiffs wrestled him to the floor and handcuffed him, before dragging him to his feet and out of the court room. The judge, apparently unfazed thanked the jury for their service and dismissed them.
Danielle neatly tore the drawing from her sketch book, before stuffing her notebook in her messenger bag and snapping it closed. She stood and handed the sketch to Dave Bradley as he stood behind her snapping closed his own note book. Dave worked for the Herald, one of the two newspapers in Silver City. Dave covered the crime beat and all the criminal trials in town, Mr. Franklin’s murder of his co-workers had been the major news in Silver City for the past two months. The fact judge Matthews had banned cameramen and television reporters from the court room had been a boon to Dave, letting him get the scoop every day, it was also a plus to Danielle. Dave bought her courtroom sketches to go with his bi-lines and paid cash, which was a plus to Danielle as she needed the money.
Dave gave the sketch a once over and shook his head before carefully rolling it up and slipping it into a plastic tube in his back pack. “You’re good Danny, I mean really good. If you ever get tired with the whole profiling thing you could make a mint as an artist.”
“Thanks Dave but I like my job.” Danielle replied, but she was flattered by his praise.
Dave shrugged. “I’d buy you a drink but I have to make my dead line and get this on the net. Look I feel terrible but I’m tapped out, can I mail you a check this time. You know I’m good for it.”
Danielle stifled a sigh and plastered a smile on her face. She’d been counting on the money from her sketch to buy groceries. It would be two weeks before the city paid her for testifying in today’s case and her bank account was almost tapped out.
“Sure that’s fine.” Danny replied, she hated being broke all the time, but it was her fault for pursuing her third degree. Her flaky aunt Eddie told her she was an over achiever, but aunt Eddie never did anything except her art. Aunt Eddie hadn’t even graduate from high school she’d dropped out her senior year to live in an artist commune, not that Danielle didn’t love her crazy aunt.
“Thanks, well if you change your mind there is always a job open for you at the paper.”
“Are you trying to steal my best profiler?”
Danielle turned to see Paul Dasher the assistant D.A behind them, a smile splitting his tanned face. Paul was attractive if you liked the country club golf pro type, he also was ambitious and nearly as bad a workaholic as Danny was.
“Just suggesting she could use her talent somewhere away from all the crazy weirdoes and death, I’ll see you get that check, got to make my dead line.” Dave gave her a smile then hurried away, leaving her alone with Paul.
“I owe you one Danny, you made my job easy. Your testimony really put the nail in Franklin’s coffin. When you walked us through the crime scene and what he’d done it was like you were there.” Paul used his left hand to rake his long sandy bangs back from his face. “How you do it I don’t know.”
Danny looked past Paul to the back of the court room, to the space between the jurors box and the judge’s bench, in the corner, unseen by everyone but her where the five people Mr. Franklin had murdered. Three men and two women, they looked as they had in the instant of their death’s with horrible gaping wounds and missing limbs. Danny shrugged and looked back up at Paul, the ghosts didn’t bother her, she’d been seeing the dead since she was six.
“Professional secret.” Only two people in Silver City knew she was a medium and a psychic and they were both sworn to secrecy.
“I like that, I was wondering if I could buy you dinner, steak and some wine. Maybe go back to my place latter for a few laughs.” Paul gave her a grin.
Danny didn’t need to be a telepath to know that when Paul said a few laughs he meant a quick roll in the sack. Danny forced a smile as her stomach did a flip flop at the thought of being naked with Paul. The truth was she’d never been with any man; she’d never even had a boyfriend. Everyone assumed because she’d studied in Europe and worked closely with cops several days a week she was experienced. But they were wrong; to be with a man she’d have to let him touch her, the idea made her cringe. There were also her scars, scars she was ashamed to show anyone, knowing she’d have to explain how she’d come by them. She’d have to explain how she’d been stabbed as a child by a crazed maniac and left to bleed to death in the snow. She also knew Paul thought he was God’s gift to women and had been sleeping his way through the secretaries and court reporters for the past four years; she had no desire to be another notch on his head board.
“No thank you, I have a paper to edit.”
“Ah come on Danny, I’ve asked you at least six times, you always turn me down.” Paul reached to take her arm and she stepped back, moving down the length of the wooden bench. She didn’t like to be touched, it was another reason she didn’t have a boyfriend. Touching another was always fraught with problems, especially for her. The research center aunt Eddie had dragged her to after her near death experience had told her aunt that Danny wasn’t crazy when she spoke of seeing dead people, that Danny was not only a medium but an empath and a low level tactile telepath. Which was a fancy way of saying if someone touched her she could often feel what they felt, and sometimes actually heard their thoughts. She defiantly didn’t want to know Paul’s thoughts.
“I’m flattered but no, I’d prefer to keep our relationship professional. It would hurt my credibility if it got out we’d had a relationship.” Danny replied holding her bag in front of her like shield.
“Ah come on who is going to know. Besides it would be fun, you need to loosen up you know.” Paul gave her a grin.
“No thanks Paul really, let’s just keep this professional.” Danny replied.
Paul shrugged. “Fine but you don’t know what you’re missing. Catch you around Danny.”
Danny watched Paul go and relief swept her, she hated being put in that position hated having to feel the way Paul made her feel. She did need to loosen up, but just not with a man like Paul. When she eventually lost her virginity it would be with a man she trusted and respected, and one who respected her. Danny gave a mental sigh, though at twenty four the odds of finding a man like that seemed slim. She she’d had offers before, but none with any one she was even remotely interested in. She’d worry about her love life latter, right now there was something far more important to do, putting five lost souls to rest.
Danny walked towards the back of the court room, where the five souls stood huddled together. She was grateful it was a Friday afternoon that meant people were thinking of the week end and hurrying home to enjoy their lives, it also meant no one would slip into the court room to observe her talking to and starring at empty air.
“It’s over, I kept my promise, he’ll be punished now. You can all move on.” Danny slipped her bag over her shoulder as the spirits starred at her. One of the female spirits shook her head, the action making the gaping wound in the side of her neck more visible. It was a good thing Danny had a strong stomach and was use to such gruesome sights.
“He won’t let us leave.” The woman pointed with her ghostly hand at one of the men.
Danny recognized the man, in life he’d been Harry Winston, the manager of the people behind him. While Harry had been an unassuming looking man in life, he’d died trying to save his employees, it appeared that even in death he was looking out for them.
“It’s over Mr. Winston; you did everything you could and more.”
“My family, my wife?” The anguish and pain were evident in the spirits plea.
Danny remembered the man had a wife and two young children, left fatherless by his death. “They will be all right. The company you worked for has agreed to pay your family your salary and benefits for the next twenty years; it’s the same for all your families. In addition the community has rallied about your families; they’ve raised funds to help with your last expenses. Your families will be provided for; you can all go on now.”
Mr. Winston looked at the other spirits then nodded, the other spirits began to fade and Danny took a step back. Mr. Winston was the last to go; he turned to look at her. “Thank you.” His voice was a whisper in her mind then he was gone.
Danny sniffed back her tears of combined happiness and sadness, and fought to compose herself as she put her mental shields back up. She was happy that they all could move on, but sad they would never see their families again, especially Mr. Winston who had a pretty little wife and two young children. No, that wasn’t completely true, they would see them again, once their families had passed on. Danny knew there was an afterlife, she’d died twice already and seen what was to come; death didn’t scare her, only living did.