Deadly justice, p.13
Deadly Justice, p.13Darrell Case
In his jail cell in Harrisburg, Peter Rule tried to concentrate on the words. He leafed through the pages of the paperback again. This book wasn't his. He longed to run his hands over the rich leather cover of his own Bible, to read the passages he’d underlined during his morning studies. Using the Bible the correctional officer had given him, he searched for answers. If not for an answer, at least for comfort.
He gave up. Lying the book on the bunk, he peered through the small barred window. How could this happen? He believed in law and justice almost as much as he believed in letting God rule his life.
When Police Officer Tome Harper had come to Peter’s door, he welcomed him in. He thought it odd when Tome declined.
Tome's face was twisted in a miserable expression. As members of the same church, Peter and his wife prayed for Harper every day. Many times Tome had testified to his having God's protection in dangerous situations.
“I've got to bring you in.” Tome had said. He forced the words through unwilling lips.
“What are you arresting me for? Boring your son in class?” Peter was shaky. Harper didn't smile. A chill rippled through him.
‘Peter I have to warn you anything you say could be used against you if this comes to trial. Also I'd advise you to get a lawyer.”
“What's this all about, Tome?”
‘Do you know Amber Santiago?”
“Of course, she's one of my brightest students, at least she was.”
“Did you know she's pregnant?”
“No. No I didn't,” Peter said, shaking his head. “That is so sad.’ Amber attended another church across town, a liberal church with a gay pastor.
“Who is the father?” Peter asked.
“She says you are,” Tome said, looking down. Most days he loved being a cop, helping people in trouble, keeping the peace. Today he hated it.
Peter's face turned white and mouth dropped. He was nauseous. “Why, why, why I never....”
“Peter, don't say anything. If you do, I’ll have to put it in my report and the prosecutor will use it at the trial.”
“Tome, you know me, we've been friends for years,” Peter said trembling all over. “You know I would never touch one of my students.”
“That's why I asked them to let me bring you in.”
“Can I call Barb? She and Toby are shopping for shoes,” he asked, his voice quivering.
Peter stumbled to the phone. The conversation was brief and tearful. Putting the phone down Peter turned to his friend. Numbly he asked, “Do I have to wear handcuffs?” Tome laid his hand on Peter's shoulder. “Not til we get to the jail.” Lying on the cell bunk that first night he thought, `This will be a good lesson to teach my government class.’ Reality didn't hit him until the next day. “I'll be out by morning,” he told himself.
The days in that cell turned to weeks, the weeks to months. Without his even being convicted, the school board fired him.”
`Come on Amber, tell the truth,’ he pleaded in his mind. Barb visited him faithfully every Saturday. “It’ll be alright. The whole church is praying for you,” she told him, her eyes caressing him through the glass. He believed her. Surely God would not allow him to go to prison for something he didn't do.
The trial was a farce. If he saw it on a comedy channel, it would have been a riot. Amber was the prosecution's only witness. On the stand with tears, coursing down her cheeks and several balled up tissues in her hand she claimed to that she’d had an abortion. At the end of her testimony the judge asked Peter’s court-appointed lawyer if he had any questions. The court- appointed lawyer looked at His Honor with a half-smile. "No, no questions."
“Are you crazy?” Peter whispered furiously. “This is our chance. Grill her. She's lying about me and the abortion.”
“That poor girl has been through enough.” The lawyer whispered but loudly enough for the jury to hear.
‘Aren't you going to ask her about the clinic?” Peter pleaded, his stomach churning. “I gave you the names of the students who’ll testify she’s lying.”
The attorney frowned at him.
“You may step down young lady,’ the judge said with a sad smile. Amber nodded her eyes downcast. As she passed Peter, she stuck her tongue out the side of her mouth.
“Call your next witness.”
“The defense calls Mr. Peter Rule.”
His lawyer had tried to dissuade him but Peter was determined to have his way.
Looking intently into the faces of the jury, he told his side of the story. Their expressions caused his heart to plummet. Hidden by her one hand a woman juror flipped an unlady- like gesture at with the other. Peter’s voice faltered. He tried to recover and failed miserably.
The deliberations took 45 minutes including a bathroom and coffee break. Peter stood unsteadily, his body quaking as he waited to hear the verdict. Looking directly at him, the female foreperson said firmly, "Guilty."
His knees buckled. He sat down hard on the wooden chair hurting his tailbone. In the gallery, Amber smiled wickedly and glancing back Peter caught it. As if someone had switched on a light, he suddenly understood; this was her revenge for the lecture he had given her about remaining pure for the Lord.
Deadly Justice by Darrell Case / History & Fiction have rating 2.6 out of 5 / Based on39 votes