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The large viewing screen at the side of the room flickered into life, mimicing the image that was also showing on the tv monitor next to the witness box.
Ethan's sandy blond head was magnified three fold, presumably Mikey thought, so that those at the back could properly scrutinise the frenzy that was about to take place.
He perceived the entire hall leaning forward as one, holding their breaths in anticipation. This was more like what they'd taken days off from work to see. Never mind some crazy old lady. Forget that uterly forgettable psychologist. Who cares about the lonely overworked teacher? Bring out the kid!
Ethan was sat straight on to the camera, waiting patiently for the questions to start firing. He sighed, trying to blow away an irritating strand of hair, and fidgeted. He appeared to be looking around. Perhaps the tv link was two way. Was he looking for Mikey?
I can't see. Move out the way.

Ethan was tired of waiting. He'd watched two films in the time it took for the voice to announce that they were ready for him, and could he set up the camera 'as instructed'. He'd rolled his eyes. What he was two years old now? How much simpler could they have made it? All he'd needed to do was stop the video, and flick the switch which activated the conference mode.
The court room flashed up on the screen, almost instantly, but instead of seeing Mikey, like he'd hoped, he had a wonderful view of some man's butt.
"Ethan, are you set up in there?" said the speaker, in a condescending male voice.
He cleared his throat, tugging at his school tie. "Yes, Sir. Can you see me?"
A crackly murmur sounded over the locked room. "Ethan, do you see us?"
"Erm, no. Just somebody's butt."
There were a few laughs, and Ethan smiled, unable to help himself.
"Silence," the Judge said, causing Ethan to cover his mouth trying to stiffle his giggles, aware that his every move was now being monitored by everyone in the room behind the T.V. screen.
"Oh, excuse me, Ethan. Terribly sorry." Then, an obscure face came in too close. At one point the screen showed nothing but an oversized nose, and Ethan had to surpress laughter once more. The man stepped back from Ethan's screen, and appeared to be adjusting something. A chair, of course, they weren't going to give him the chance to see Mike, or his Mum, or anybody that they didn't put in front of that screen.
He sighed again, as he settled into the chair, clipboard on his lap.
"Now, Ethan," his patronising tones issued forth into the room once more. "I'm going to ask you some questions, ok? This is just you and me having a chat, pretend that there's no one else here, can you do that?"
He nodded, screwing his face a little at his apparent belief that he was in point of fact two years old.
"Now, can you please, in a big loud voice, please tell me your full name, how old you are, and what school you go to?"
"Sure," he answered, preparing to mock the lawyer with immature tones. Then, in his minds eye, his mother's face replaced that of the plastic lawyer, and admonished him for being rude. He checked himself, and went on, "My name is Ethan Reynolds, and I'm eleven years old. I go to Bridgemary community school."
He smiled, sardonically. "Thank you. Ethan, do you understand what it is to tell the truth?"
"Yes."
"And you understand that this is a law court, and that you must tell the truth, at all times?"
"Yes. I've seen in on T.V. Did you want me to swear on the bible?"
He blinked, "Did you want to?"
Ethan smiled, "Yes. I want to do things properly. Do I have to stay in this room?"
He looked scared for a second. "Excuse me, for a moment Ethan." He stood up, leaving the boy with an unobsructed view of a table. It had a glass of water on it, some more papers, and not much else. There was a kind looking lady sitting at it, but she was decidedly alone.
He heard frantic whispers come in over the speakers, suspecting that the attorney was talking something over with the judge. Then-
"If the members of the Jury, the Prosecution, have no objections, then I would like to call the witness, Ethan Reynolds, into the court room."
The lady lifted her head, gaze somewhere beyond and above the camera.
Her voice was muffled, but Ethan heard her say, "No objections, Your Honour."
Yes! Ethan almost cheered allowed.
"Bailiff, please ftech the witness from the secured room."
he listened for the tell tale signs of movement near the microphone before flicking the switch to turn the system off, and then rushed over to wait near the sealed door.

Mikey swallowed. He desperately hoped that Ethan khad some idea of what he was doing, setting himself up for the slaughter, in person.
He turned, eyes fixedly on the doors once again. He held his breath as they were opened, jittering under the meagre force which was pushing on them. The bailiff came up behind the just emerging child, and nearly sent him sprawling to the floor, as he shoved at the door from above the boy's head.
Ethan didn't even flinch, instead striding straight up to the witness box, eyes full forward, head high, against the whisperings in the gallery.
He waved to the Judge as he climbed the steps, and sat, with a detremined thump, into the chair.
Baskin removed the chair from in front of the T.V. display, which was now a void of static and snow. He pushed the button, and wheelled it to one side also, before taking a seat on the edge of the Prosecution Table.
Jessica Prosecution huffed, before sliding over to a seat at the other end of the table, in order to be able to see Ethan properly.

A court room attendant handed a thick black book to Ethan. He placed his left hand upon it with out the slightest hesitation, and raised his right.
"Do you, ethan Reynolds solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?"
"I do," he said, decisively.
Sharkie cleared his throat, giving Mikey the impression that the man hadn't had much experience of talking face to face with a head strong pre-adolescent. "Okay, Ethan. Now, how would you describe your relationship with Mr. Mackenzie?"
"I would say that he was one of my best and only friends, Sir."
"You would? Okay. And, how did you and my client-"
"Mikey," Ethan reminded him, helpfully.
"Erm, yes, okay, I'll call him Mikey. How did you and Mikey become such close friends, Ethan?"
"We met in an internet chat room. And after that we started using an instant messenger client, and sending emails to each other."
"How long, would you say, Ethan, before Mr.- I mean, Mikey, before Mikey came to England, would you say that you'd been 'chatting'?"
He appeared to think for a minute. "It was just after I started at my new school, so that would make it, about three months, Sir."
"Three months. And, in that time, Ethan, did Mikey ever talk about anything, or hint at anything, that made you feel uncomfortable, or scared?"
"No, Sir. He did not."
"Did he ever try to give you things, or ask you for anything?"
"He asked my advice once. Does that count? Oh, and he gave me some-"
"Advice about what Ethan?"
"About some problems I was having at school. With some boys. Oh, and he tried to help me with my algebra a couple of weeks back. He got some books, so he could got through it with me."
"What advice did he ask for, is what I meant, Ethan."
"Well, that's personnal stuff, Sir. Friends are supposed to tell other people personnal business."
Mikey tried to disguise a grin.
"You are in court, Ethan."
"It was about his career, but I'm not going to tell you any more. All you need to know, is that it was nothing bad, right?"
"Fair enough, Ethan. Now, I'm sure you know what we're trying to disprove here, and no one knows what happened on the sixth better than you do, right?"
He rolled his eyes, hoping he wasn't going to get into too much trouble. "Yes, I know, and I know that none of it is true."
"None of it? You didn't meet up with Mikey at Portsmouth Harbour? Why don't you tell us what happened that day, starting from when you got up?" He folded his arms, tilting his head slightly, as if expecting a long rambling juvenile recital of hero worship.

Ethan, countering the stance, sat prouder in his chair, masking his aprehension. "Okay. I got out of bed, and got dressed really quickly, then ate some cereal. I went to school early, and helped Mr. Parsons set up for the day."
"You were eager to get to school. Why?"
"Well, I was excited. I'm not going to lie about it, Sir."
"Very admirable. Now, we heard earlier that you had a bout of sickness that day, was there any truth in that?"
"Yes. Yes, I was sick that day."
"On purpose?"
"Yes, and no. I'd planned to fake an illness, so that I could get out of school, but I guess I was so nervous, and excited, that I made myself sick instead."
"Hmmm. Were you...That is, did Mikey ask you to do that?"
"No. It was my idea. I told him that I could meet him at the station, he said okay, and the rest was my idea. He didn't even know about that stuff."
He looked at Mikey, then, embarrassed. Mikey gave him a wink, and Ethan, appeased looked back to the Shark with questioning eyes.
"Yes. Now, what happened after you left school, Ethan?"
"I went home. Mum was at work, so I changed out of my uniform, raided my piggy bank, and left to get the bus into Gosport-"
"What about the note Ethan?"
"Oh, yeah. I forgot about that," he said giggling.

Sharkie cast him a stern look, before holding up yet another plastic bag, this one containing a pice of lined paper, slightly crumpled. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Exhibit B. A handwritten note, addressed to 'Clare', informing her of a change of plan, whereby the child is said to be spending the night at a friend's house." He passed it along the line, before taking it back to the witness stand.
"Ethan, is that your handwriting?"
"Yes, it is. And, can you confirm that it says what I just described?"
"Yes. It does."
"Why did you write this note, Ethan?"
"So, that no one would worry if I was late home."
"If? Meaning you weren't sure whether you were in fact going to be late home?"
"Yes, I wasn't sure if I was being tricked or not."
"And, after reviewing the events of that day, do you believe you were tricked?"
"Not. At. All. Mikey was, and is exactly who he had told me he was."
"Very good. Now, you did it. You got out of school. You've gotten rid of the babysitter. You make it to Portsmouth Harbour train station, and Mikey Mack is, in fact, there. What did you do in the time that you spent with Mr. Mackenzie, on that day?"
"We hung out mostly. I took him around Portsmouth, and showed him things, like the Victory, and Old Portsmouth. It was fun, we had a burger and looked around the shops a bit."
"Did Mikey buy you anything then?"
"No," the kid looked affronted, and Mikey had to put a lid on another grin. "I paid for my own food, Sir."
"Okay. Then, what? You went home?"
"Yes. I invited Mikey back to my house to meet my Mum."
"And, did you know that Mikey had booked into a room at the place where your Mother works?"
"No."
"Did you ever tell him where your Mum worked?"
"No."
"Do you think he knew?"
"No." His voice was becoming more tense, agitated.
"Why not?"
"Because, he would have told me. That's what friends do."
"Okay, Thank you, Ethan." Baskin turned to the Judge, "No further questions." He returned to his seat looking satisfied.

Jessica stood, and assumed the exact position that her opposition had just vacated, as if in direct defiance.
"Hello, Ethan."
"Hi."
"I just going to dive right in here, okay?"
Ethan motioned for her to go ahead. "Good.Now, there's something particularly bothering me, about what you just told Mr. Baskin, Ethan. You went to great pains to get out to see Mr. Mackenzie on that Thursday, without anyone of authority finding out. Why was that, Ethan?"
"Well, for a start, I knew they'd worry, and I also knew they didn't need to. So, why worry them, right?"
"Hmm, how could you have been so sure?"
"I just knew. When you're friends with someone, you trust them, don't you?"
"Yes. I suppose you do. Did you perhaps think that someone might stop you?"
He gave her an incredulous scowl,"Er, yes. I didn't think anyone would let me do it. Of course, they have stopped me."
"Yet, you went ahead, in breech of everyone's trust in you? The trust that you hold such a high priority in your relationships?"
"Yes. I went ahead. It was a special circumstance, Miss. But, one that wouldn't have actually harmed anyone. I was confident of being able to catch up with my school work. Clare got a night off out of it, and Mum was at work."
"Yes, Ethan, about that. When did your Mother actually find out about your relationship with Mr. Mackenzie?"
"Friendship," he corrected. Mikey winced, it was never a good idea to antagonise the opposition. "She found out when she came home from work, and blew her top."
"Blew her top? This is, she disapproved?"
"Yes. She disapproved. At first. Once she'd calmed down, and let Mikey explain, then she was fine with it."
"Indeed. She allowed Mr. mackenzie to spend the night, didn't she?"
"Yes. He made breakfast the next morning."
"And, where exactly did he spend the night?"
"Objection," Sharkie shouted, making Ethan jump. "Sorry," he muttered, noticing this reaction. "Your Honour?"
"Over ruled. Ethan, please answer the question as well as you can."
"He slept on the couch, in our front room. We'd been talking until late, and Mikey had missed the closing time for check ins at the place he was staying."
"Did he ask to stay?"
"No. Mum offered to put him up for the night."
"Did he offer her, or did she ask for any money?"
"OBJECTION!"
"Sustained. I remind you, Miss. Plimpton, that you are in a court room, and not conducting a tabloid review. The actions hereafter, of Miss. Reynolds, are not relevant for this hearing."

Har! Stick that in your pipe, Lady!

The chewed out attorney balled her fists, as she tugged down on the hem of her keen edged jacket.
"Ethan," she began again, her voice strained. "Did Mr. Mackenzie ever request that you keep your relationship a secret?"
"No."
"Did he ever imply that he didn't want people to know?"
"No," Ethan hestitated for a micro second. Inwardly Michel prayed that she hadn't noticed, but obviously today was out to get him.
"You seem uncertain, Ethan. Did Mr. Mackenzie ever ask you to lie for him?"
"No. Not ever."
"Did he ever lie to you, Ethan?"
His proud, straight backed stance wilted a little. "Yes. When we first started chatting, he lied to me about who he was."
"Go on. What did he tell you?"
"He told me that his name was James, Jimmie. And that he was thirteen."
"I see," she enthused. "Not very trust worthy. how was your reaction to being so deceived?"
"Well, I was obviously suspicious at first. And, then I was angry, until I saw why he felt he needed to lie."
"And, what was the reason, that you saw?"
"Look, Mikey Mack is famous, right? If he went around telling everyone on the net who he was, he wouldn't get any peace. Pretty much like what happened when people found out he was in England. I kind of understood, why he must have wanted to avoid that. I've had it for a little while, and it's horrible. I could imagine that it was annoying to have that every where you went. I knew it had taken a lot of guts to tell me the truth."
"You said earlier that on the day in question, that you still, even after the trouble you went to, weren't sure whether or not you were being tricked. Is that to say that you still didn't completely trust, Mr. Mackenzie?"
"Lady, we'd only met online. It was a big step, the same as meeting anyone in real life for the first time. Add that to the fact that I had to believe that this person was one of the worlds most famous movie stars, and think about how much it was to ask for complete trust. The point is, I trusted enough, and that my faith in Mikey was absolutely justified."
She contemplated this statement, reviewing mental notes.
She sighed, unable to come up with anything else. "No further questions."
"Thank you, Ethan," said the Judge. "You may go back to the room you were in before to wait for your Mother. Baskin?"
"Er, yes," stuttered Sharkie, rising to his feet. "For my next witness, I call, Miss Pamela Reynolds."

Pamela jumped up, upon hearing her name called. She snubbed Nails, all attempts at pretense abandonned, now that she no longer need spend time in his company, and thrust open the doors.
She stopped in her tracks, seeing her son abling towards her. Her inquiring eyes met with those of the Judge, who bowed his head, "Your son was kind enough to offer a face to face testimony, Miss. Reynolds. I trusted that this was okay, seeing as you were unavailable to ask."
She smiled at Ethan as he was escorted past, giving him an approving wink, and proceded to take her stand.
She was sworn in, and Baskin began immediately, incited by Ethan's admirable testimony.
"Miss. Reynolds, can you describe to me, please, the events of the day in question, the sixth of November, two thousand and three?"
"Starting from when, exactly?"
"Say from when your son came down for breakfast, and in particular relation to his behaviour."
She acknowledged that she understood, and waited until the doors had closed behind the sandy blond head, before commencing.

"Ethan came down for breakfast at around ten minutes past eight, which is very unusual for him. He normally is still in bed at that time, and doesn't come down to breakfast until at least half past eight. He rushed his cereals, and I think I mentioned that it was unusual behaviour, and made a quip about him having a girlfriend. Ethan became embarassed, and I changed the subject, telling him that I'd be late home, and that the babysitter would be looking after him until I got home that evening. He left for school shortly after, I'd say at about half past eight. I didn't see him after that, until I got home."
"Home from work?"
"Yes, I left the house at quarter to eleven, and finshed work at about seven, getting in at about ten past."
"This was when you found the Defendant in your house, alone with your son?"

Word Count:

46,305



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

--Jasmine


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