David Edelstein had a serious problem.
It was Friday, four days since he’d taken on the cut and dried case of attempted rape and assault; the medical evidence was plain for anyone to see, medically detailed and police reported.
His chief suspect had both motive and opportunity, and had formally been identified by a witness and the victim who knew him well. Not surprisingly, because this suspect did not have an alibi, he claimed to have been warmly tucked into his bed at the time of the assault.
At its outset, it had appeared to be the easiest criminal case he’d ever be asked to prove. It had seemed far simpler than the civil case of spiking illicit drugs through an undetermined medium into Catherine that he’d brought against him on her behalf less than a week earlier.
The police report of this assault charge, though both detailed and thorough, left David with no more than bare bones upon which to build his case;
There had been no forced entry... there had been no signs of an exit through the window as alleged; and the accused assailant’s body indicated no identifiable bruising or scraping, which it should have sustained during the claimed reprisal and escape.
And finally, there had been no hair, skin, prints or blood anywhere on the property in spite of the victims’ claims that the attacker was not wearing gloves.
“If I didn’t know these girls personally,” David had told his colleagues during the morning briefing, “I’d be certain that they were pulling our chain. This looks a hell of a lot more like a two-story fall and a subsequently opportunistic attempt to frame some wealthy innocent guy.”
Fortunately for Catherine, an instinct within David told him that something far more sinister was afoot than met the eye.
Then, during the ensuing week, all of their evidence relating to both cases had quickly evaporated like mist ahead of a warm wind;
When it eventually did arrive, the emailed report from Kevin concerning the patch had been vague. He’d revised his findings in their written form, the contents being remarkably different from his previous verbal assurances.
“A chemical of unusual structure was identified, but proved too similar in its structural components to common human hormones, particularly ATP C10H16N5O13P3 to be deemed a narcotic. The concentrations of the active ingredient proved too rarefied to be properly identified...”
Kevin had also developed a strange aversion to the idea of testifying. Neither David nor Catherine had any success in altering his resolve on that score;
“I’m sorry Mr. Edelstein, but I’ve got my career to consider. When I spoke to you previously, I hadn’t realized that the university has arrangements with LifeGames to use their facilities. I made inquiry and it was impressed upon me that my future prospects might be… well… limited if I did testify.”
Kevin’s cold feet had caused a red light to pulse brightly in David’s own mind. He’d rummaged through back-copies of the prestigious Weekly Law Journal and, sure enough, he found an article naming LifeGames as holding a major contract with the justice department. The contract had been for the training of all judges within their jurisdiction.
David thought it prudent to ask some questions around town;
“Excellent program, David! LifeGames is really top class. They’re just opening their doors to private practice and you should try to get yourself onto one. In fact, I was told that this month’s Journal will carry an extensive editorial about them. The bigger firms are already signed up. You don’t want to be left out, and, no... no, no, and NO....! You definitely don’t want to go up against them in court! Not for anything.”
It was the same response that David got no matter where he made his enquiries within the hierarchy of justice.
Even Alex, the original fly-in-the-face-of-authority Private Investigator, had been adamant about avoiding further involvement.
Something had rattled him like nothing David had ever imagined possible. Somebody had been so successful at convincing him to keep away from this case, that David could hear live panic in Alex’s voice as he desperately tried to cut the telephone call short.
David had pressed the matter as far as it could go but there was nothing more he could get out of Alex.
Catherine’s pathology report had been as equally dismal in its vagueness as all of the other crumbling pillars that were supposed to support a watertight case;
The results pointed to Catherine as an alleged “...extremely hyperactive individual” and vague convoluted language managed to say much and mean nothing at all.
When pressed, the pathologists could not elaborate any further. The tests were medically inconclusive.
“Catherine, I don’t know what more I can do,” David’s voice was filled with despair. “You know that I would never run from a fight, but our armory is depleted at this point... In fact, I’ve just been on a long call to a Brigadier, Judge Advocate Brown, of the Judge Advocate General's Corps... you’ll probably know them as J.A.G... they’re the legal branch of the military. Now, he’s one of the top prosecutors within the forces. On Monday when I briefed him regarding the case, he was very interested. By Wednesday he’d personally reviewed General Daly’s file and he’d looked into a bunch of other pending cases that precede Daly’s, which, incidentally, had been neatly hushed up. He was positive that there was good cause for a full investigation.”
Even speaking across the telephone lines, David could sense Catherine’s dejection, but as much as it hurt him he had no option but to continue with his brief to her.
“…However, this morning when I spoke to him, he was hesitant and non-committal on the subject… like it was a non-issue. I got the distinct feeling that he was afraid to press any further ahead with the subject. He mentioned that the Pentagon have already assessed the inherent dangers associated with Time Dilation, and they’re apparently satisfied that the risks are within an acceptable range for losses to psychological breakdown…”
There was a long pause.
Eventually she spoke, “Well then… what do you suggest that we do David?”
The swelling of Catherine’s lips had abated dramatically during the six days since the attack and her voice had restored itself to its original incisive tone. With her voice so clear, it betrayed the flutter of fear borne of intimidation.
“The criminal case for assault that you laid is in the hands of the Justice Department. They’ve sent it to the District Attorney for review. Even though much of the evidence has disintegrated, it’s a fair case but I must caution you that there’s still a lot of work to go into it. What we can do right now is to gain an urgent court interdict against Torrington coming within a certain radius of you. We can also expand our civil case to sue him for damages arising from the assault. As you probably know, a civil case allows much more latitude for establishing circumstantial guilt than criminal cases do. I think that will be our best short-term solution.”
“And a long-term solution?” Catherine’s gut twisted with frustration as she guessed the answer for herself.
“Frankly Catherine, I don’t know. To make a proper case out of either of the charges we’ll need much more evidence than we’ve got. Every time we get it, it evaporates.”
Catherine was silent for a moment. Then she had another idea;
“What if I took this to the FBI or the Drug Administration people? Don’t you think they’d have pull?”
“They’d have plenty of pull all right,” David sighed. “But I’ve been looking at LifeGames’ list of clients out of last years issue of Forbes. There isn’t a law enforcement agency whose top people haven’t been through the mill down there. It seems that everybody who is anybody is required to go through this cursed company’s programs... And that includes the press!”
“You mean to tell me that Kenneth Torrington has monopolized the entire machinery of justice within the free world?” Catherine’s frustration was at boiling point.
“Unfortunately. Yes...” a man of the law, David clung more closely to definitions. “But I think that monopolized is a little strong. Well connected would most probably be more accurate.”
“In this world David, that’s the same fucking thing! When we can’t get justice from the seats of power, because those goddamned seats of power derive the basis of their power from the precise thing that we need protection from... then what is that if it isn’t monopolization of the state by an individual person?”
She’d just told him that the man he’d insulted a week earlier had him by his short-n-curlies, so he resolved to prize that grip loose, even if it meant loosing handfuls.
“Caution is the better part of valor, Catherine. We’ll have to take it slowly, but don’t you worry we’ll get this bastard. God knows how, but he’ll get his just rewards, darling.”
David was his old bearish self again.