Now and Later ~~ Will Justice Wait?

Grace and Suijnwe both approached Blue and Effete and made their greetings. Joy was sitting upright on the coach, fully alert and looking more her healthy self than she had in quite some time. Angelica and Morris Graver were also there, as well as Able and Moxie. Dr. Sage Wiseman was working late in her office, but told Lucent to please call her immediately with any updates.

“Oh my,” Effete murmured. “And the boys? They got here before we did… Do they…”

“I hope I wasn’t out of bounds, Effete,” Moxie began, “but they could tell something was up, and Rue asked right off the bat, ‘What’s going on?’ So I took them back to their bedrooms and sat them down on the bed, one of each side of me, and … I just told them … as softly and affectionately as I could, but … if I should have waited for you – and I probably should have – please, please forgive me, Effete. I didn’t mean to overstep my bounds.”

“Oh heavens, Moxie!” Effete looked like she was going to fall over. “You’re like their older sister… In fact, if you’ve adopted them, we’ve adopted you, too.” Effete just shook her head. “No, no, no. You had no idea, really, how long I’d be and they wanted to know… They needed to know, and without me here, you were the perfect person to tell them, so thank you, Moxie.” She stepped forward and gave Mox a great, big bear hug, which Moxie returned in like kind. Both were smiling but had tears in their eyes as well. “Where are they now?”

“I told them we’d probably be having some rather serious, adult conversation, mostly what they would consider boring anyway, so I put Bane to the task of cleaning up his side of the room and laying out his clothes for tomorrow while Rue takes his shower, brushes his teeth and gets ready for bed. When they’re both finished with their first assignments, they’ll switch and Rue will clean his side of the room, lay out his clothes for tomorrow, and Bane will shower, etc., etc.” Moxie smiled at her prompt planning and organization. “Then it’ll be bedtime for both!”

“Wow! Job well done!” Effete raised her eyebrows and exclaimed. “But how could I expect anything less from Moxie Keener?” She smiled and they hugged again. “Now on to the serious, adult conversation. Where does this leave us, if it changes anything at all?”

“Actually, it does make some significant difference,” Grace Caring answered, with Morris looking on like an anxious puppy dog. “First, the Honorable Love Fairman was informed of Sloughheart’s worsening condition this evening and the improbability of recovery. She has decided to sign off on your divorce decretal as well as the Riper-Case settlement on your charge of domestic violence, Effete, so this will be over and done with as far as those two cases are concerned. Of course, we were going to meet tomorrow morning with you and Angelica; it is imperative now that the four of us meet with Captain Bernard Ruff at 8:00 a.m. – early, but time is of the essence – and, of course, there will be one other investigator as well as an observatory social worker from the Verdure County Department of Human Resources. Each of you will be deposed separately, but Suijnwe and I will also be in the room with you.”

“We will proceed, of course, to file two separate charges of second degree sexual battery and one first degree misdemeanor charge of criminal psychological manipulation – there is currently no higher charge accessible for criminal psychological manipulation – and if need be, Judge Fairman will put the two cases on the docket ASAP, even if it ends up being, and probably will be, a trial in absentia … that is, so long as Fen Sloughheart lives, in which case his attorney, or court-appointed attorney, would likely represent his interests. This is very touchy, though, and if it comes to it, may very well be struck down by a higher court as violating the principle of natural justice; that is, the right of the accused to be present to answer the charges. Of course, if he dies, well then … the cases die with him.”

“Dies with him?” Morris exclaimed. “What the hell do you mean, ‘dies with him?’”

“Morris, if there is no one alive to put on the defense stand, no one alive to face the charges, whatever they happen to be, there cannot very well be a court case,” Suijnwe tried to calmly explain. “I understand how frustrating…”

“Frustrating! Oh no, no, no, no… Not frustrating, Suijnwe; more like absolutely horrifying and enraging at the same time! Unforgivable, in fact!” Morris looked at Lucent. “Give it to me straight, please. Just what are his chances of pulling though this?”

“They’re giving him, at best, a 30 – 35% chance of living,” Lucent calmly answered. “However, even if he does pull through, there is now a greatly increased probability of some degree of brain damage, which would likely inhibit his ability to testify coherently.” They had all moved into the living room, now dubbed the Keener-Bat Cave, and were sitting in their usual places.

“But … But if he does live, and if the cognitive damage is minimal enough,” Grace interjected, “Fairman is determined to proceed as quickly as possible. No one’s sitting on this … at all, Morris. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have in the situation we’re in, believe me.”

Morris jumped up, flung his hands in the air, and walked out the back door. Blue motioned to Angelica to stay where she was, and he followed the young man out onto the porch. Morris liked Blue and deeply respected him; perhaps he could offer some consolation, or at least bring Morris’ understandable anger down a notch or two. How to do this was another question, but Blue was very much a man who believed that in situations like this, the right words would come … or, rather, be given, and those words would do the work they were meant to do.

“We do have some potentially good news from the around-the-clock work we’ve been doing,” Grace continued.

“And thank you, Grace and Suijnwe, for everything you have done and are doing,” Joy spoke almost apologetically. “You have certainly gone above and beyond the call of duty to help in every possible way … and no few people here appreciate that fact.” Angelica shot Joy a look that seemed to say, If you expect me to jump on the ‘Oh bless your hearts, you’re so wonderful’ bandwagon, count me out! I’m not kissing their feet when I know damn good and well they haven’t really done anything for us yet.

“You’re most welcome, and the good news comes in two parts,” Grace looked at Effete. “From our investigations it would seem, from fairly reliable sources and good circumstantial evidence, that Fen actually drew up a simple, straightforward will early on in your marriage, and had it notarized. He allegedly named one Portly Eatmuch as the executor, but Mr. Eatmuch died some six years ago. However, his widow, Willowy Stark, has agreed to allow us to thumb through all of his files, and she tells us he was a very well-organized man. She also vaguely remembers him mentioning something about the will and the fact that he simple proposed to leave everything to his dear wife, especially since he didn’t plan on dying anytime soon anyway, so it wouldn’t really matter. Well, we’ll have two people on it from sun-up to sundown tomorrow, if necessary, and the next day, too, but we will find that notarized will.”

“Wow!” Angelica exclaimed from where she was curled up in one of the easy chairs. “Looks like you might hit the ole jack-pot! Take ‘em to the cleaners!” Effete shot Angelica a look that definitely said, I’ve been through 10,000 times more than you have, and I’ve suffered far more than you can imagine at the hands of that swine, so don’t you dare pop off another smart ass remark about this, bitch! By the look on her face, Angelica got it and kept her mouth shut.

“Also, Ms. Ileana Glumsurf, secretary at Ebenezer Bible Church, evidently gave quite a long and revealing statement to the investigators today. When it all finally came down to it, precious ole Glumsurf knew an awful lot and was downright frightened by just how much trouble she might end up in for not coming forward to someone sooner – the church or law enforcement or both – and, of course, she was right … which Captain Bernard Ruff made quite plain to her. At any rate, her affidavit statement is quite revealing to say the least … just one more nail in the coffin lid, no pun intended.”

“We may as well tell you, too,” Suijnwe picked up, “that we have reason to believe Fen Sloughheart has been … shall we say, ‘squirreling away’ funds under an assumed name, evidently with the help of an unsavory, disreputable ex-FBI agent, who happens to be a member of his church. Of course, this fellow got his piece of the pie, but what was left for Fen might turn out to be rather substantial… We’re only just beginning down this investigative track, so no one hold their breath.”

“Speaking of holding our breath, it seems like most of us have been doing that for days upon days now. Maybe it’s time to exhale, you know?” Joy took the lead now. “Let it all out … try to center ourselves and calm down… I think we’ve all needed this for quite some time now, in my professional, pastoral opinion,” Joy smiled kindly, “especially as we continue wading through thick, traumatic waters, in the dark of confusion, on the threshold of despair. Now would be an excellent time to pause, take a step back, and prayerfully re-commune ourselves.”

“An excellent and, may I say, inspired suggestion,” Suijnwe agreed, while everyone else in the room assented with at least a nod of their head, except for Angelica. She got up and headed for the back door to join Morris and Blue, but Suijnwe quickly turned her plans around. “Yes, please ask Blue and Morris to come in and join us, Angelica. We all need to be together now.” Angelica did not look at all pleased, but she complied.

When everyone was inside and seated, Joy simply asked them to close their eyes, inhale and exhale, slowly and deeply, while focusing on something, anything peaceful and pleasant. After some time passed – who knows how long – Joy began praying intentionally, thoughtfully, tranquilly, and melodically:

“Great and ever-present, mothering God … Everlasting One …
“Spirit of wind and rain, earth and fire … Creatrix Eternal …
“Christ Lord and Redeemer … Food Angelic and Living Water …
“Come … Come spread your wings round about us …
“Come … Come overshadow us by your almighty hand …
“Come … Come drive all darkness, doubt and fear away …
“Fill us … And in your light let us see Light …
“Fill us … And in your love let us live Love …
“Fill us … And in your life let us love Life …
“Majestic and nurturing God … be for us what we cannot be …
“Mysterious and cherishing God … help us be what we can be …
“Mighty and adoring God … work with us in the work we do …

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …

“Mothering God … Shepherd Son … Sweet Spirit Holy,
“Ever One God … world without end … come to us in this hour …
“Do for us exceedingly, abundantly more than we can imagine …
“For your honor and glory … for the good of your people …
“For the blessing of the world … for the great benefit of those here …
“Great Physician … graciously work healing in our lives …
“Crystal Stream … mercifully feed the roots of our lives …
“Noble Captain … kindheartedly lead, guide, and direct us …
“Yes, this night … this night … and tomorrow … and tomorrow …
“And in all of our tomorrows …
“Amen.”

Calm permeated the room. All was silent.

*

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One thought on “Now and Later ~~ Will Justice Wait?

  1. Well so it is getting there. Still what was ever decided about Morris. Either somehow I missed it, Or it was spelled out.

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