My attorney, Bob Mathews, underdoes his jacket button to free his bulging belly as he sits across from me. Under his glasses, his hooded eyes twitch. I can’t decide if it is an involuntary habit like Tourettes or if he’s just tired. Either way, you can tell that he’s been a public defender for most of his life and has lost some of his lustre for it.
As I rehash the events leading up to my arrest, he leans absently back on his chair, causing the fabric along his shirt to stretch and reveal pockets of body hair. When I pause, he doesn’t interject. It is hard to know when to stop talking. The effect causes me to divulge even more than I did with the police. As I reach the bloody climax of last night, he creaks forward in his chair, takes off his glasses and wipes his eyes with his large, bulbous hands.
My dad chirps up before I can get a word in, “So how bad is it?”
“The problem is Lucas’ account does not marry up with Sophia’s statement. Lucas has already confessed to unlawful entry and assault. Fortunately, we aren’t looking at attempted murder.”
“But I didn’t intend to kill anyone!” I object.
“I know that, but under the circumstances, they could argue as such.”
“Then why aren’t they?”
“I guess that the police are working on other charges - charges they have a better chance of gaining a conviction with.”
“Such as?” my dad barks.
“Well, stalking for one.”
I can’t believe my ears. Sophia and I are friends, more than that. People at school can testify to that. As soon as the thought enters my mind, I remember who I am. Of course, no one would care enough about me to do that. It is my word against Sophia’s.
“Lucas and Sophia are friends,” my father announces, responding to my internal struggles.
“Do friends spy on each other? The court could twist everything Lucas did to show that he manipulated her into forming a friendship, but his real motivations were predatory.”
The portrait he paints is so accurate, why would anyone side with someone like me? Deep down I always knew what I was doing was wrong, but never did I intend to physically hurt someone. I am obsessed with Sophia and obsession can be misconstrued so easily. A headache rages in my frontal lobe. I thought my feelings for Sophia were mutual.
“Why would she lie?” I enquire openly, “This all makes no sense. Sophia and I were becoming so close. She wouldn’t pull a stunt like this unless she had a good reason to.”
Mr Mathews exhales with a sigh and scratches his receding hairline.
“I’m no psychologist but Stockholm syndrome comes to mind. Could be an angle for us. The only problem is, we’d need to prove that the abuse has been going on for years. Fred has no priors and Janice is standing by him.”
“If I could just talk to Sophia myself, find out what she is so afraid of, I know I’d be able to get her to admit the truth.”
“I won’t lie, Sophia changing her story is our best solution here. We could negotiate your charges, since you’ve already pleaded guilty, and we could even mitigate the need to go to trial.”
Doing so lawfully is out of the question according to Mr Mathews. My only glimmer of hope at the moment is that he is certain that I’ll make bail. Like Fred, my record is clean (on paper at least), and so Bob says, my youth will also work in my favour.
Mr Mathews leaves the room to file the paperwork for my bond. It gives me some alone time with my dad. I need to ask him to do me a favour. I have a feeling the room is being recorded, but the reward outweighs the risk.
“Dad, I need you to speak to Sophia, find out what is going on. You know everything now – all of it. Ask her to show you her sketchbook. You’ll see, she feels the same way about me that I feel about her.”
My dad takes me in his arms and tells me he will do his best. As he pulls away, still inches close, he asks if there is anything that might prove my version of events. My mind whirls as I fight against the throbbing pain.
After several seconds I reply, “Ask her about Richmond, something happened there, I just know it.”
The click of the door interrupts our conversation and in steps a police officer eager to return me to my cell. My time is up.
As they lead me from the room, I call back to my dad, “Tell mum that I’m doing fine, okay?”
He nods without answering, coughing back tears. I’ve never needed my dad more. My entire destiny rests with him, and there is no way of knowing if he’ll succeed.