Murder Has Two Faces

by

Tonya S. Coley

 

For disclaimers see Part 1.

Chapter 29

Johnnie's demeanor had changed significantly as she drove from the hospital. She had shifted from happiness back into despair. I have tried to be strong. I've tried to think positively. Damn, I am tired of all this bullshit drama. I want this to be over. Please God, let the truth be revealed. I don't want to leave my family, my friends. She knew that she needed to talk all this frustration out, so she turned Alma's Lexus in the direction of Pizo's house.

She pulled into the driveway of Pizo's new home. He and Diana purchased it when they found out that she was pregnant. Johnnie was glad when he moved out of his apartment and bought the house. She also thanked the spirits that Pizo found Diana. She seemed to settle him down and make him more responsible.

Johnnie rang the doorbell and was greeted by her best friend. "Hey J, come on in." He said, stepping back to allow her entrance. He closed the door and enveloped her in a warm hug. "How are you? How did court go?"

"I'm fine, Pizo." She sighed. "I just needed to be with my favorite person, and talk for a bit."

Pizo smiled.

"So, where is he?" Johnnie asked, jokingly.

"Go to hell, J." Pizo laughed. "He's in his crib. I think he just woke up. C'mon, let's go see him."

Pizo led, and Johnnie followed him into the nursery. He was correct because John was cooing softly, looking up at the ceiling. He had dark, curly hair and dark eyes. Pizo and Diana decided to name him John, after his godmother.

"Hey, John-John." Johnnie said quietly as she leaned over the crib, adoring her godson. "How you doing, little man?"

As if on cue, John focused his attention on her. He squeezed the index finger that was place in his chubby little hand.

"This kid has quite a grip on him, Pizo. He's getting so big. What are you feeding him?" She asked as she smiled and cooed at the baby.

"We've had to add a little cereal to his formula. The formula is just not enough for him." Pizo revealed. "Guess he has his mother's appetite."

"I heard that, Petrillo." Diana said from the doorway. "Hi Johnnie."

"Hey Diana. You look great." Johnnie said, giving her a hug when she walked over to them. "So does John-John."

Diana patted Johnnie's arm. "Thanks, but I have a few more pounds of baby fat to shed." She paused. "Speaking of baby fat, how's Alma?"

Johnnie smiled. "She's doing good, eating everything that's not nailed down. I swear the way she eats makes me wonder if she's not carrying twins. She looks like it too." Johnnie paused, thinking about what she had just said. Shivers ran up and down her spine at the thoughts of what Alma would do to her if she ever found out. "Don't tell her I said that. She'll kill me."

Diana and Pizo both laughed. "Your secret is safe with us, Johnnie." Diana said. The baby started to fuss. "Looks like someone needs a clean up." She looked at Johnnie. "You know, you may be a little rusty, so maybe you should do the honors."

Johnnie sniffed; the odor that burned her nose hairs made her cringe. "Uhm, no thanks. I feel secure in my diaper changing abilities. You go ahead."

"Coward." Diana said as she lifted the baby from his crib and walked over to the changing table.

Johnnie chuckled. "Whatever."

Pizo studied his friend. Although she seemed jovial, he could sense that something was bothering her. "You said that you needed to talk. Why don't we go out into the living room and have a chat, eh?"

Johnnie nodded and followed him out of the nursery.

"That just doesn't sound right, J." Pizo said after Johnnie revealed what happened to Mary. "It seems just a little too convenient."

"I know. I have my people looking into it. I hope that they can turn up something that will help me." Johnnie sighed.

I know that look, partner. "J, you can't get discouraged now." He said softly. "You are innocent, and every free moment I have I use to find evidence to prove it."

"Yeah, I know." She said. "But there aren't any more leads. All fingers point to me. I was there; I had his blood on my clothes. It just looks bad."

"You can't give up. It will all come out in the end, J. You gotta believe that." He assured.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Tori and Alma sat in the kitchen while Ceecee prepared dinner.

"Are you ready for tomorrow, Tori?" Alma asked.

Tori sighed. "As ready as I can be, Alma. I know it will be easy with Bob, but that asshole Abbott rubs me the wrong way."

"I know what you mean. He was relentless, and I lost my cool." Alma added. "He knows just what buttons to push."

Ceecee listened to the conversation. She knew that Tori could be calm, but if her number was rung, then all hell would break lose. God, please help her keep that temper of hers in check. "Baby, just be prepared for what that evil man may have planned for you, and try not to lose it, ok?"

Tori stood up and walked over to her wife, giving her a soft kiss on her lips. "I'll be good, Ceecee. I hope that asshole doesn't piss me off.

"Be good about what?" Johnnie asked as she walked into the kitchen. She leaned over Alma, giving her a brief kiss and then rubbed her belly. Alma smiled and placed her hand over Johnnie's.

"We were talking about how we hope that Abbott doesn't make Tori lose her temper tomorrow, baby." Alma revealed. She noticed the tired look Johnnie's face held. "Are you ok, baby?" She stood up, with a little assistance from Johnnie, and then stroked her face. "How did court go today?"

Johnnie sighed as she pulled Alma close. "Not to good, babygirl. Mary Stevens was found murdered in the showers this morning."

"She is the woman that was hired to kill you?" Ceecee asked.

Tori moved to stand behind her, placing her hands on Ceecee's shoulders. "Johnnie, something is not right about that. Today of all days"

Alma quickly interrupted. "What does this mean, honey?" She asked looking up into the tired eyes of her wife.

"It means that we won't find out who hired her. She won't be able to tell the jury that someone wanted me dead." Johnnie said softly.

"Can't Bob get her testimony in anyway?" Tori asked. "I mean since she isn't able to appear."

"If the testimony had be sworn, there would have been a possibility. But knowing Abbott, he would try to get it ruled as hearsay." Johnnie told her.

The ringing phone halted further conversation. Johnnie released her hold on Alma to answer it. "Hello?"

"Hi, Johnnie, I'm glad I caught you." Laura said.

"Hey. Did you come up with anything?"

"Sure did. Seems a woman named Annette Scott stabbed Mary. Mary hadn't had any contact with her, so it seems as if it were a hit. I have someone going to the prison to interview her in the morning."

"Good work, Laura. You will make sure that a report will be sent to Bob, right?"

"Not to worry, Johnnie. My friend is on top of it."

Johnnie's burden seemed a bit lighter. "Thanks."

Alma looked at her expectantly when Johnnie turned to face them. "Tell us."

"It was a hit. Someone didn't want Mary to testify." Johnnie told them. "Laura has a friend from the SBI who will be going to interview the murderer tomorrow." Unable to discuss the matter any further, Johnnie excused herself to take a shower.

"I think she is feeling the pressure. I can see it in her eyes." Alma said quietly, returning to her seat. "She looks like she is unraveling. Johnnie is trying to hold it together, but I am sensing a change in her."

"Alma, this mess will soon be over, and you two can return to a normal life." Ceecee offered. "There is no way that the jury can find her guilty."

Tears slowly rolled down Alma's cheeks. "Innocent people have gone to jail before. Johnnie has seen it happen too many times. She knows it can happen to her." She paused as she wiped the tears from her face. "As long as Johnnie and I have been together, I have never seen that type of fear in her eyes. That is until now."

~~~~~~~~~~~

" Make me wanna holler, throw up both my hands

Make me wanna holler, and throw up both my hands"

Johnnie stood in front of the bedroom window, looking out at nothing in particular as Marvin Gaye played in the background. I am so tired of this shit. I didn't do anything to deserve this.

" Make me wanna holler, the way they do my life

Make me wanna holler, the way they do my life

This ain't livin', this ain't livin'"

Alma stood outside the bedroom door and listened. She's playing Marvin Gaye. This is bad.

You can't let them lock you up. You'll go crazy in there, cooped up for 23 hours a day. You'll die. Johnnie thought.

"This ain't livin', naw naw naw naw"

If you just end it, then you won't have to rot away in prison, and eventually Alma will be able to move on with her life.

At that very moment, Johnnie saw her wife burst into their bedroom.

"Don't you dare think thoughts like that, Johnetta Ameryce Green!" Alma yelled as she rushed toward her, tears streaming down her face. "You promised me."

Johnnie stammered. "Alma, I"

"Alma what?" She yelled. "I know what you were thinking. You promised me that you wouldn't give up."

Johnnie picked up the remote and turned the stereo off. Her heart was heavy. "Alma, it looks bad. I won't be able to take it on death row."

"Do you think that I will be able to love another if you leave me?" She demanded, her body trembled with rage and fear. "Even if you take your own life, I will never be able to love another."

How could you know what I was thinking? "Alma I"

"Alma what?" She yelled again as she moved to stand directly in front of her wife, mere inches from her face. Johnnie opened her mouth to speak, but Alma's raised hand stopped her. She looked unswervingly into fearful eyes "Not another word. You are going to listen to me. I'm only going to say this one more time. You are not going to jail. You are innocent. If you even think about doing what you were thinking, you won't have to because I will do it." She said, poking Johnnie in her chest to make her point. "Where is the strong, determined woman that I married?"

Johnnie listened to Alma's tirade, lowering her head only to have Alma lift her chin. "Alma, I am tired. I don't think I have any more fight left in me, baby." She said quietly. "All this has been too much for me to take. The feeling that I get from some of those jurors is they can hardly wait to go into deliberations to find me guilty."

Alma studied her exhausted wife. She placed her hands on her shoulders. "Querida, why didn't you just talk to me? You could have gotten this off your chest instead of letting it build up inside." And why did you pick that song to listen to? Of all the songs to listen to, why the song most full of despair? "Honey, I am right here with you. When you hurt, I hurt." She led then to the bed and sat down, pulling her wife down to sit next to her. "Talk to me."

Johnnie felt the smaller hand grip hers. She looked into Alma's eyes, and the floodgates opened. "Baby, we both have seen this happen; an innocent person goes to jail, to wither away and die." She paused, wiping her tearstained face. "Death row is worse than being in the general population. Staying in that cell 23 hours a day, I don't think I could handle it. Being locked away like an animal, unable to come and go as I pleased would kill me." She stroked the back of Alma's hand with her thumb, and then looked at her. "Unable to be with my wife, or touch you like this." Her hand moved to cup a soft cheek. "I would die."

Alma listened as the strong contralto voice broke down into a whisper. She would surely die. She is a free spirit and to be locked away break her. "Querida, to say that I know how you feel would be a lie, because I have no idea what you must be going through. All I know is that I love you, and I will always be here for you. We must trust that the powers that be will allow the truth to be revealed." She wrapped her arms around her trembling wife and placed a kiss on her cheek. At that time, the baby kicked and Johnnie felt it against her side.

"You too, Little One?" Johnnie asked, placing her hand on Alma's belly. She leaned down, placing her head near her hand. "I hear you." She pulled away and looked at Alma. "I hear you too, my wife."

~~~~~~~~~~~

Karen sat on the floor in her living room, taping up boxes. Maddie had stepped outside to get the paper. Karen heard Maddie gasp, and ran immediately over to where Maddie stood. "What is it?" She asked, frantically. "Is it news about the trial?"

Maddie was dumbstruck and could only nod her head. Karen took the paper from her and read the headline. "Oh shit!" She exclaimed as she continued to read. "This can not be happening." She handed the paper back to Maddie. "I'm going to make some calls, I'll be right back."

Maddie watched her lover go into the kitchen, the looked at the paper again. Witness in Green Murder Trial found Dead. Maddie stared at the headline in disbelief.

"Dave, now you know that there is a dead cat on the line. Something is not right with this." Karen said to her former editor, Dave Boliek.

"I know Karen, and we are on it." He revealed. "I'm beginning to think that the Green woman is innocent. First someone tries to kill her in her cell, then the woman who attempted it is murdered before she can testify."

Finally, someone is on board. "That's good to know, Dave." She paused. "As soon as you hear anything, you will call me, yes?"

"I will, Karen."

"Thanks, Dave. Goodnight."

"Nite, Karen."

When Karen finished her call, she went back out into the living room and saw Maddie sitting on the sofa crying. She walked over to her and kneeled in front of her. "What is it, Maddie?" She whispered softly as she wiped Maddie's cheek.

"You know, if I hadn't been such a bitch and badmouthed Johnnie while I was still the DA, then maybe public opinion about her wouldn't be so bad." She tearfully revealed.

"Baby, I can only imagine what you are feeling right now, but believe me when I tell you that the things you said did not sway public opinion about Johnnie. Ballantine, the asshole he was, was loved by many of Wilmington's population. The fact that Johnnie is a lesbian only added fuel to the fire."

Maddie looked at her hands that she held clasped in her lap. "But, if I hadn't said those awful" A soft finger placed gently on her lips interrupted her.

"Maddie, it's not your fault. You've got to believe that." Karen said.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Myra quietly sat in the backyard as she watched Annie perform her nightly ritual. She listened to her lover's voice as it rose and fell; she could hear the pitch and tone change as she chanted. Myra could also hear the tears in Annie's voice. She stood when she saw Annie move from her kneeling position to stand. Myra took a few steps toward Annie, but stopped when she heard her chanting again. She watched as Annie chanted and danced in a tight circle around the small fire that she had built. The large woman's dance was as graceful as a ballet; her chanting was like a song, smooth and fluid. Each step that Annie took was in complete rhythm with the words that she spoke in her native tongue. Myra watched in amazement, though she was unable to understand a word that was being spoken. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. She thought.

~~~~~~~~~~~

"I don't know what happened." The man revealed to Peters over the phone. "I guess things got out of hand."

"You're damned right they got out of hand." A flustered Peters yelled. "Now people are going to be digging around even more." He paused. "They were only supposed to beat her up, make her reconsider about testifying. How could you be so stupid?"

"Me? I didn't kill her."

"Yeah, but that goon you hired did." Peters spat. "Didn't you tell them that she was only to be roughed up?"

"Yes."

"Then what the hell happened?"

"That chick was no slouch. It may have come down to her life or Mary's."

"Can anyone trace this back to you?"

"No."

"Good. I would hate for you to get in trouble." Peters sarcastically said.

The man chuckled humorlessly. "If I were you, I'd be concerned about getting a visit from one of your friends in New York."

Peters shuddered at the thought.

Chapter 30

Pizo somberly walked into the squad room, still thinking about the events that Johnnie had told him about the previous day. He walked past his former partner without uttering a word. They had not spoken since Pizo went to the captain and requested a new partner. Captain Hill had heard what had transpired in booking between the fledgling duo. Although he was reluctant to end a partnership due to personal differences, he had no other choice but to comply with Pizo's wishes when Pizo threatened to leave the force if he didn't.

After getting settled at his desk, Pizo looked up and saw Drew talking to his new partner, a young woman in her late twenties who transferred from the 15th precinct. He noticed the differences in their builds. Where the young woman was tall and lithe, Drew dwarfed her with his height and bulk. Drew's attention was taken from his partner when he felt eyes upon him. His eyes met Pizo's and a moment of sorrow washed over him. Pizo, still very angry with him, diverted his eyes to the files on his desk. When he looked up again, Drew and his partner were gone.

He has the makings of becoming a very good cop. Pizo thought. Too bad he is such an asshole. His phone ringing deterred any further musings concerning Drew. The call was from a friend who had connections in the Prison system. After getting the name of Mary's murderer, he quickly booted his computer to find out all he could about Annette Scott.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Tori sat in the witness box, waiting for Abbott to begin his cross-examination. Bob's direct questioning had gone smoothly. She steeled herself for what was bound to be a heated exchange between the arrogant prosecutor and herself.

Abbott watched the impeccably dressed witness as she answered questions from the defense. Something stirred in him, making it quite clear that this witness was one not to be trifled with. Her strong presence on the stand, her cool demeanor, and self-confidence worried him. I don't think I will be able to get this one to crack. He thought. Do I want to evoke a temper from this one? It's probably just what she is expecting. He looked over at Johnnie, and then looked back to Tori. No, I don't think so. I will just ask my questions then get her off the stand as quick as possible. Wooten doesn't have many more witnesses to go and we can put this trial to bed.

Judge O'Connell cleared his throat, drawing Abbott from his musings. "Mr. Abbott, do you have questions for this witness?"

"My apologies, Your Honor." He stood, straightening his jacket and tie. "Yes, I do." He walked slowly toward the witness stand, noticing that he was being sized up by Tori. "I will make this as brief as possible, Ms. Krisp."

Tori sat back in her seat. She glanced over at the jurors and noticed that a few of them seemed to perk up when Abbott began speaking. I guess those are the jurors that have already made up their minds. She thought. Get on with it, asshole.

"Ms. Krisp, you stated in previous testimony that you were with Detective Petrillo when Ms. Green was found wandering the streets in the vicinity of the mayor's office. Can you tell us again the demeanor of the defendant?"

What are you, fucking stupid? I just answered that fucking question less than 10 minutes ago. "She was highly intoxicated, and staggering in the middle of the street."

"She looked as if she had been in some sort of struggle?" He asked.

"Yes."

"She was covered in blood?"

"No, she had blood on her clothing. She was not covered in it."

Annoyed, Abbott turned to the judge. "Your Honor, would you please instruct the witness to answer the question and leave out the commentary."

O'Connell leaned forward in his seat. "Mr. Abbott, I would say she answered the question properly."

Abbott unbuttoned his jacket and shoved his hands in his pocket, trying to reign in his growing contempt for Judge O'Connell. He was used to getting his way in his previous trials. "Yes, your honor."

Tori looked at Johnnie, and Johnnie gave her a small wink. A brief smirk crossed Tori's face before she turned her attention back to Abbott. She could see that he was pissed.

Abbott walked over to his briefcase, pretending to look through his files. It's obvious that I am not going to get anywhere with this one. What didn't Wooten cover in his direct? Think, Abbott, think. It was if the lights came on in his mind. He smiled, and went back over to the witness stand. "Can you tell us what you noticed about Ms. Green the following morning, Ms. Krisp?"

"She had a terrible hangover." Tori stated flatly, causing members of the jury to chuckle.

"Were you with her when she first heard of the mayor's death?"

"Yes." Tori began to get a little nervous.

Abbott could sense the change in this witness. "What was her attitude?"

"Objection. Calls for speculation." Bob said.

"Sustained." O'Connell ruled.

"I'll rephrase, Your Honor." Abbott said. "How did she find out? What did she say when she heard that Mayor Ballantine was dead?"

Tori shifted in her seat. "We were all watching television when there was a news bulletin reporting of the mayor's death. My wife asked if he was the one at the funeral. She said yes, that's him."

"Is that all she said?"

"Yes?"

"I find that hard to believe, Ms. Krisp."

The hairs on the back of Tori's neck stood on end. One of the things she hated was being called a liar. Her impassive gaze turned into an angry glare. "That is all she said." She hissed through clenched teeth.

Oh shit. Johnnie thought. Here we go. Keep your cool, Tori. She leaned over to Bob to whisper in his ear. "Bob, if he keeps pushing her, she will lose it. Tori hates being called a liar."

"There's nothing I can do, Johnnie." Bob said quietly.

Johnnie looked back at Tori and Abbott.

"Are you sure that Ms. Green made no other comment about the death of Mayor Ballantine?" Abbott asked, feeling that she was lying to cover for her friend.

"I am positive." Tori answered, trying desperately to keep the venom out of her voice.

"How can you be so certain? Do you need time to think?"

Tori had a death grip on the arms of her chair, holding tightly to keep from reaching out and smacking Abbott. "No, I don't need time to think about it. She didn't say anything else because the doorbell rang. It was the police."

Deflated, Abbott stepped back. "No further questions."

Judge O'Connell could feel the tension in the air. "The witness is excused. Well will take a fifteen minute recess." I need some aspirin.

Tori steeped down from the witness stand and headed straight for Abbott. Johnnie could see that Tori had hell in her, and quickly stepped in front of her to ward off the confrontation.

"You did good, buddy. I liked the way you held your temper in check while you were on the stand." Johnnie said, placing a calming hand on a tense shoulder. She moved close to Tori's ear. "Let it go. He's not worth it." She whispered.

"He practically called me a liar, Johnnie. You know how I hate that shit."

"I know."

"Fucking asshole."

Johnnie kept her hand on Tori's shoulder. "You know, Ceecee is going to be relieved that you didn't lose your temper today."

This seemed to pull Tori from the dark place she was headed, creating a minuscule smile on her face. "Yes she will."

"Because you were good, she won't have to cut you off." Johnnie joked, trying to ease the tension that filled her friend.

Tori smiled broadly. "Yeah, gonna be a hot time in the old town tonight."

Johnnie laughed. "C'mon, let me buy you a cup of coffee."

~~~~~~~~~~~

Laura sat in a booth at Madison's Steak House waiting for her friend Martin Blum, who worked for the North Carolina Prison Systems. He was an investigator with the correctional facility in Wilmington.

"Sorry I'm late, Laura." Martin said as he leaned in to kiss Laura's cheek.

"No problem. Marty. How are you?"

"I'm fine, and you?"

"Could be better, but under the circumstances..." She offered, shrugging her shoulders."

Martin patted her hand sympathetically. "I understand. You and she have been friends for a long time."

"Yes."

"Well, I had a chat with Annette Scott. She says that it was accident. They were fighting, and it got out of hand."

"Do you believe that?"

"No."

"When Annette was discovered, her clothes were wet."

"Meaning?"

"She was not in the shower to take a shower. She was there intent on possibly killing Mary."

"No shit." Laura said sarcastically. "So what happens now?"

"Ms. Scott may become a permanent resident of the facility. Here is my report."

"Thanks, Marty. I owe you one."

~~~~~~~~~~~

Myra stopped by to check on Alma. She was very happy to see her friend. "How are you, Alma?" She asked as she gave her a hug.

"I'm ok, but I will be even better when this trial is over and Johnnie and I can get back to our lives."

"I hear you." She offered, rubbing Alma's upper arm. "Where's Ceecee and Tori?"

"Tori is testifying today, and Ceecee has gone out to get us some Thai food for lunch. I'm sure that there will be plenty. Would you like to join us?"

Myra smiled. "I would love to." She and Alma sat on the sofa. "How is Johnnie holding up in all of this?"

"She seemed to be doing well until yesterday." Alma revealed. "I trust you saw what happened to the woman that tried to kill her when she was in jail, yes?"

"We both saw it. Terrible shame."

"Indeed. Well, when Johnnie got home, she was not herself at all. When she went into the bedroom, I could feel that something was not right, so I followed and listened outside the bedroom. She was listening to Marvin Gaye. His 'What's Going On' CD."

"Uh oh, definitely not a good sign."

"Tell me about it. Anyway, all of a sudden, it was as if I could hear her thoughts." Alma's voice grew quiet. "She was thinking about killing herself."

"Oh no." Myra paused. "Well that explains it."

"Explains what?"

"Every night since the trial started, Annie has done some sort of ceremony. She builds a fire just after sunset, sits in front of it, and chants. I have watched because I want to learn more about her culture. Last night, she did something that I had never seen her do before. She stood up and started dancing around the fire. It was the most beautiful dance I had ever seen." She said. "She must have sensed what Johnnie was feeling, because she wept the whole time."

Alma listened in amazement as Myra told her of what happened. "You know Annie's father was a Shaman, don't you?"

"Yes."

"I must thank Annie for what she has done for Johnnie. I knew that it had to be something that kept Johnnie together through all this."

Ceecee returned with the food. Myra ran out to the car to help her with the three large bags of delicious smelling food. They ate and talked, Alma eating more than her share.

Tori arrived and greeted them, giving Ceecee a passionate kiss. Luckily for her, Ceecee had saved her a plate of food, which she happily dug into.

"How did everything go, baby?" Ceecee asked.

"About as smooth as could be expected. He pushed my button, but I held it together." She revealed through a mouthful of food.

"How was Johnnie?" Alma asked.

Tori put her fork down, and placed her hand over Alma's. She told them that Johnnie was at her lowest last night. "Alma, she seemed fine."

Alma blew out a sigh of relief. "Thank you, God."

~~~~~~~~~~~

Laura went to the hospital after having lunch with Martin. Glenda and Mike met her in the ICU waiting area.

"How did it go?" Mike asked.

"Well, from what Martin told me, it was no accidental stabbing. Mary was in she shower when the Scott woman stabbed her. I mean, why go into the shower and fight with someone. She knew that Mary would be vulnerable." Laura told them.

"Can I see that file, Laura?" Glenda asked.

"Sure." She handed the file over to her.

Glenda opened the file and gasped. "Shit, this woman is huge, 6 feet tall, 255 pounds. Why would she need a knife?"

"My point exactly." Laura said.

"Sounds like a hit to me, ladies." Mike said quietly.

Mark held and stroked Tracy's hand. He talked of mundane things, prattling on and on about nothing in particular.

We're almost there. C'mon and help me.

I'm tired. We have been at this non-stop. I need a break. I need sleep.

Sleep when we are dead, but as for now get off your ass and help me.

Ok, ok.

Laura sat at Tracy's bedside, filling him in on what has been going on at the trial and telling him of Mary's murder. She slipped her hand into his larger one. As she continued to talk, she noticed that he had gripped her hand.

"Oh my!" Laura exclaimed. "That's it Tracy, come back to us."

She made a move to get the nurse, but Tracy refused to let go of her hand. She rang for the nurse, and by the time the nurse entered the room, Laura's tears streaked down her cheeks.

Hold on Johnnie, I'm coming.

To be continued in part 16

Lyrics to Inner City Blues by Marvin Gaye were used without permission.

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