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"Would I be right in thinking that didn't go well for us?" Mikey whispered to Baskin, as Dr. Susan Woods, Child Psychologist, left the stand.
The lawyer leaned over the side of his chair. "Relax. Everything she said is just speculation. She doesn't even know the kid."
"His name is Ethan," spat Mikey, through gritted teeth.
"The Prosecution calls Mr. David Parsons to the witness stand."
Now that name didn't ring any bells. Mikey turned away from Baskin, curious to find out see the next person who was intent on locking him up.
The large wooden doors remained still.
Collectively, the room held it's breath, and counted.
A ripple of noise began somewhere in the middle of the public gallery, and quickly spread.
"Order," cried the Judge. "Order." He struck his hammer again. "Did Mr. Parsons check in yet?"
"Yes! Yes, I did." The doors had just cracked open, issuing forth a flurry of patched elbows, and trailing papers. Somewhere in amongst the chaos, a nervous chirrup apologised profusely to the oogling crowd.
"Mr. Parsons will kindly take the stand without further delay." Judge Sour Grapes sounded pissed, indeed.
The unlikely looking man scrambled over himself to the witness box, and scampered up the short flight of stairs. "Sincere apologises, Your Honour," he clucked. "Had a hard time getting out of work." He sat, giving a self depricating shrug to the non plused faces which were all turned on him, and blushed more than Mikey thought was possible for anyone not related to a tomato.
"Kindly raise your right hand, Mr. Parsons."
The flighty man obeyed, repeating the vow, as he was ordered to do.
Prosecutor Plimpton adjusted her spectacles, so that she was looking over the top of them at her witness, in a most demeaning manner.
"Mr. David Parsons, please, for the benefit of the court, state your age and current occupation."
"Erm, okay. I'm thirty eight, and currently employed as a teacher at Bridgemary Community School."
"And, what do you teach, in relation to the child, Ethan Reynolds?"
"Erm, I take Ethan for geography two- no, three. Three hours a week I take Ethan for geography lessons. I am also his Registration Tutor."
"So, you know the child quite well then. Would you agree with that?"
"Yes. Yes, I would. I see him every day. We chat, sometimes he helps me out."
"Would you say that you know Ethan quite well then?"
"Fairly well. I'd say about as well as a teacher can get to know his student, in two months."
"Thank you. Did you have any contact with the child, Ethan Reynolds, on the day in question, November sixth, of this year two thousand and three, Mr. Parsons?"
"Yes, I did," he replied, his tone becoming stronger, as he relaxed into the role.
"Please describe for us the nature of that exchange, Mr. Parsons."

"It was a Thursday morning, and I was taking my year seven class for their last geography session of the week. Ethan had come to me at the beginning of the lesson, and told me he was feeling sick. I granted that he did look a bit pale, and suggested he take a seat next to an open window during the lesson."
"Did you believe the child when he complained of feeling unwell?"
"Of course.I didn't see any reason for him to lie about it, and as I say, he did look pale."
"Very well. What happened then, Mr. Parsons?"
"Well, after that, I conducted my lesson as normal, until the point when Ethan jumped up, begging to be excused so that he could go to the bathroom."
"What reasons did he give for this?"
"Well, presumably, Madam Prosecutor, he wished to be sick."
She threw him an irritated grimace. "You didn't question?"
"As I say, he did genuinely look ill."
"To your knowledge, Mr. Parsons , was Ethan Reynolds in the habit of telling untruths?"
"Not in my experience, no. He has always been a very honest, and conscientious student. This coincides with the profile we received from his previous school."
"Very well. What happened after the child's visit to the bathroom?"
"I gave him permission to return home, seeing as he was unwell, and by my judgement unfit to be at school."
"And, this is normal proceedure?"
"Fairly normal. Ethan didn't appear to be faking illness, had given notice of being unwell. He had endeavoured to attend school, despite feeling under the weather, and hadn't expressed any wish to leave. It had been my suggestion that he go home, and take some rest."
"Mr. Parsons, did the child seem unusually agitated or nervous about anything, either on the day in question, or in the days leading up to it?"
"No. Not at all, at least not for Ethan."
"Would you care to elaborate, Mr. Parsons?"
"Ethan tended to worry, Madam Prosecutor. To appear nervous, or as though he had something on his mind was generally the norm for him."
"Did he ever voice any concerns to you, during any of your exchanges?"
"Yes, he did. He spoke to me if there was anything particularly troubling him."
"Now, I realise this may be a breech trust on your part, but I remind you this is a court of Law, and with holding any evidence may be construed as perverting the course of Justice, did the child, Ethan Reynolds ever speak to you of the Defendant, Mr. David Michel Mackenzie, otherwise known as Michel, Mikey, or Mike Mackenzie, and also known as Mikey Mack, or of the events of the day in question?"
"No, Ma'am. He did not."
"Not once? Meaning that the child kept his relationship with the Defendant from you?"
"Meaning that he did not choose to give me that information. Yes."
"Are you aware, Mr. Parsons that on the day in question, the child did not in fact stay at home, but instead travelled by ferry boat into Portsmouth city in order to meet up with the Defendant?"
"I am, of course, aware of that fact now, but at the time, no. Definately not."
She strutted back to her table, and sat primly. "No further questions, Your Honour."
The Judge raised an eyebrow to Baskin, who took a few courtsey breaths, allowing the witness to rearrange his seating. Parsons rested, once more comfortable in his seat, and took on the air of a very expectant hatchling.
"Mr. Parsons. In light of the testimony you have just given to my esteemed collegue-" Jessica Plimpton audibly spluttered. "- would you describe yourself as a friend to the child, Ethan Reynolds?"
"I like to think of myself as a friend to all of my charges."
"And, in Ethan Reynolds particular case, whould you say there was any singular closeness?"
"I have a very professional relationship with all of my pupils, Mr. Defender. I don't befriend one over the other. Some students find it easier to talk to a grown up than others, or indeed others of their own age. I believe Ethan to be one of these students."
"But, it is not obligatory for him to accept that friendship, nor if he has accepted is there anything to say how much stock he must put into that friendship. That is, he may choose how close a friend he wants you to be?"
"Of course. I'm not in the habit of badgering students for their company. If they offer, it is a rare occassion that I turn them away."
"So, in effect, if the child had not wished to discussa certain situation with you, he was under no obligation to do so?"
"No. Nor would I have tried to make him."
"Not even if you suspected cause for concern?"
"Well." The man rouged once more, aware that he'd been possibly talked onto the chopping block, and could see the cleaver suspended above his scrawny neck. "If I had been given an indictation that anything untoward was happening to the boy, I would, of course, have involved the appropriate autorities, rather than try to tackle the problem myself."
"Not very charitable of you, Mr. Parsons. What if you were the only person that young Ethan trusted?"
"Objection. Your Honour, the Defence is making an obvious attempt to badger my witness."
"Sustained."
"I withdraw my last question, Your Honour. It was pure curiosity on my part. However, I think you'll find the rest of the cross examination relevant to the case, in order to illustrate the witness' normal procedure for handling suspected cases of abuse."
"Very well. Proceed."
"So, Mr. Parsons, you had absolutely no reason to either suspect Ethan Reynolds of deception, nor of being the victim of abuse."
"No, Sir."
"Nor did he confide in you any details of his friendship with my client?"
"No, Sir."
"Being so close to the child, yourself, in your opinion, do you believe that Ethan would have confided in you, as an adult he both respected and had confided in before, if he felt he was the victim of abuse?"
"I'd like to believe so, yes."
"No further questions, Your Honour."

Pamela Reynolds splashed the cold water on her face, once more.
She felt violated, all she wanted to do was scrub herself clean, but of course she could not do that. She'd removed her shoes upon entering, kicking the to the far wall of the rest room. The warm carpet felt safe to her stockinged feet, and as she stood at the sink unit, staring out the demons in her reflection, she wiggled her toes, girlishly.
The repeated rinsing had removed most of her make up. She sighed, as she rumaged through her inadequate shoulder bag, hoping to find at least a lip stick, at most one that matched her out fit.

No such luck, for us, eh, girl?

Coral Pink Fizz in hand, she light footed over to the towel dispenser, and dried herself ready to reapply her inadequate war paint. It was nothing special, the toweling, but it felt almost as good as the carpet, slightly crisp and grating against the bare skin of her cheek. An anchor to reality, almost.
She crossed back to the sink, glancing at her watch. They'd surely call her in soon, she hoped her unwelcome admirer had made himself scarce. She traced the outline of her mouth with the unsightly shade, actually more than impressed with the steadiness of her hand.

Phew. Okay, let's take stock, Pammie girl.
You're in court. Your son is locked in a room somewhere, watching videos that he probably shouldn't be. There's an amourous black behemoth, probably outside, trying to. Well, I don' know what he was trying to do to be honest. Good job I didn't give him the chance, I think. What else?
Your skirt's too short. Your shoes are too smal. You lipstick, although expertly applied, is a shade too loud. And everyone's going to look at you, including Movie Mack, and you're one step away from nervous wreck!

She contemplated hiding out in a cubicle until the trial was over, but knew in her mind that she was just being neurotic.
She fetched her dog-eared court shoes from the heap they'd landed in, and wedged her feet into them, blisters screaming in protest. Adjusting her skirt a little more, and snatching her bag from the counter top, she opened the door, and strode out, as gainly as she could under the circumstances.

She drew breath, cut off by the sight of Tony Neilson's palominic* contour, lent against the window pane opposite the door she'd just come out of. His expression was pensive, as he looked out, onto the street below, thinking thoughts that Pamela dreaded to imagine. She held her breath, conscious of the fact that he'd not noticed her abrupt appearance, and not wishing to alert him to it.
She squeezed her eyes shut, against the whispering creak of the door behind her, truly feeling like the proverbial rabbit in the headlights. It was matter of time. There was no way she could get back the the benches outside the court room without him seeing.
She had to control the situation, retain the upperhand. After all, what was the worst he could do, in a building full of police men, barristers, Judges? A plethora of potential witnesses, just a scream away.
"Mr. Nails, I do hope you don't make a habit of lingering outside of public conveniences. People might...talk."
He wheeled around, obviously startled that she'd managed to sneak up on him.
His reaction made her feel safer, somehow. All that she had to do was keep abreast of his expectations.
"Miss. Reynolds, I-"
"I know. I understand," she reassured the beast. "It's your way, right?"
He creased his face, trying to fathom the tender hand on his arm.
"Now, kindly escort me back to the bench, and we'll just keep this little indiscretion between us. Deal?"
There was nothing to do but nod and yield to her, as she grasped his arm, linking their elbows, and steered him down the stair way.

(* a possibly made up word...Oh, well, never mind!)

Word Count:
43,006



------
It's not easy having a good time. Even smiling makes my face ache.- Frank N. Furter.

--Jasmine


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