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Plea of insanity, p.19
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       Plea of Insanity, p.19

           Jilliane Hoffman
 

  Tigler paused for a moment. ‘I got a call from the French embassy this morning.’

  Rick shifted in his seat just slightly. ‘The French embassy? What the hell?’

  ‘David Marquette’s a French citizen,’ Tigler said quietly.

  Charley Rifkin shook his head, like he’d just remembered something. ‘Oh, shit.’

  Rick felt his throat dry up. It was an unfamiliar feeling. ‘What?’

  ‘His parents – they’re French citizens, and he has dual citizenship. Somebody called the embassy and raised a stink. Apparently there’s international protocol to be followed by the police when a foreign national is arrested. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations says that the consulate of the foreigner’s country must be notified within twenty-four hours after the arrest and allowed access to the individual. That wasn’t done here. Of course our doctor is actually a dual citizen, so the argument’s going to be that he should be treated like every other American and the convention’s not applicable in this instance.’

  Rick shook his head. ‘No one knew he was a French citizen, Jerry. He certainly didn’t announce it.’ He slapped his hands hard on his thighs. ‘Damn it. Alright, what’s the penalty?’

  ‘That’s a gray area,’ Tigler returned slowly. ‘A pissed-off country’s a sure bet. The courts are apparently split. Some defendants have sought release as a remedy, dismissal of the charges – even executive clemency. Some courts have said that short of an apology and a heartfelt promise by the United States to try and do better with the next foreign criminal, there’s not much else that has to be done, because the treaty does not confer any rights on the individual arrested, rather it’s just a nation-to-nation protocol – a guideline, so to speak– on how foreign nationals should be treated if arrested abroad. But, I’m not gonna kid you boys; it’s a testy situation right now. Real testy. The International Court of Justice in The Hague – the World Court for the United Nations – ordered the US last April to review and reconsider the convictions of some fifty-one Mexican citizens sitting on death row in American prisons in response to a complaint by Mexico that their consulate wasn’t notified of the nationals’ arrests as the treaty requires. So now that you announced today that we’re seeking the death penalty on yet another foreign citizen, I’m sure it will be a really pissed-off country, especially since France, like the rest of the European Union, does not have, and does not support, capital punishment. I’m sitting here waiting for the phone to ring again and someone with a French accent to start screaming at me.’

  Rick wanted to strangle John Latarrino right now, even though Lat probably had no way of knowing Marquette was a dual citizen. There was no computer system that popped out that kind of info on US citizens as a matter of course, at least not on a local level. But he abhorred looking unprepared – ever. And given his rocky past with the detective – who was still sore over a filing decision he’d made a couple of years back– it was a distinct possibility Lat might try and make him look like a fool. Or if not try, then sit back and just let it happen without intervening. But he resisted the urge to pass the blame. ‘I’ll look into it and speak to the consulate. If they’re entitled to access, then I’ll see to it that they get it, Jerry.’

  ‘Good,’ the State Attorney replied. Another sudden and furious downpour blew sheets of rain against the windows. Outside, the skyline disappeared completely. ‘Can you believe this damn weather?’ he said, turning back to the window. ‘I feel like I’ve been looking at rain for a month. We’ve had, what? Eight hurricanes in the past two years? Jesus, where the hell is the sun in the sunshine state?’

  ‘I think even my tan’s fading,’ Rick said, looking down at his hand with a laugh.

  ‘Now I know we’re in trouble,’ Tigler chuckled back.

  ‘I’ll tell you what’s in trouble, boys. My golf swing,’ Rifkin piped in.

  ‘You’ll get time enough to work on that drive, cowboy. How much longer do you have now?’ asked Tigler.

  ‘Let’s see. One year, six months and twenty-two days,’ replied Rifkin with a wistful sigh. He was already in DROP – the State’s Deferred Retirement Option Program. The five-year countdown to monthly pension checks had already begun. ‘But who the hell’s counting, right? How about you, Jer? What are we doing here? You joining me on that course anytime soon, or are you staying in the game?’

  Jerry Tigler sighed. His red, plump face had deflated, as if the last of the laughter had been squeezed out of the tube. Tired lines sliced across his forehead, pulling at his mouth and crinkling his blue eyes. He looked every minute of his sixty-seven years right then. And a few more for good measure. ‘I’m done, Charley,’ he said, shaking his head slowly. ‘Thirty is enough.’

  ‘No. It’s a damn legacy,’ insisted Rifkin.

  ‘I don’t know about that.’

  ‘You’re gonna be missed, Jerry,’ Rick joined in.

  ‘I don’t know about that either. What I do know is that I’m not up to another campaign. The last one kicked my old, tired ass.’ Tigler looked at Rick. ‘Which brings us to you, young fellow. You’ve done exemplary work here in this office. You know that. You’re one of my closest confidants. And while I’ve offered this opportunity to my good friend and golf partner, over here, he doesn’t seem to want to put the target on his back at this stage in life.’

  Rifkin waved a dismissive hand in front of him. ‘My biggest challenge in a year and a half is gonna be to break a seventy-seven. I don’t need to be managing any more headaches. My wife already gives me enough of those,’ he chuckled. ‘Thanks again, Jerry, but I’m still gonna pass.’

  ‘I don’t want to see this office go to the wrong party, Rick,’ Tigler began, smoothing his hair back, subtly checking it to make sure his hairpiece was still in the right place. ‘I want to pass the reins while I still have enough clout with the Governor to pass them. And I want to give the person I pass them to enough time to prove himself to the citizens of this county, the folks in this building, and the all-important moneymen in Tallahassee, before he’s forced to actually put his name on a ballot and take a chance at the polls in 2008. What you want is to get in there, prove yourself and scare off any challengers early on.’ He wagged a cautionary finger at Rick. ‘There’s a lot of people that count on stability in this office, Rick. They need it. And they need a name and a face of a leader they can identify with – align sides with – so they don’t go out trying to place bets on the wrong pony because they’re unsure of the future.’

  Rick nodded. He felt the excitement bubbling inside him, like when a jury was about to come in with a verdict; he could always tell by the looks on their faces when they’d come backas charged. Always. Now he was looking at Jerry Tigler’s tired face in this tired room and he knew the next words out of his mouth.

  ‘With twenty years in this office, Rick, you’re well-respected by the staff, the attorneys, the defense bar and the bench. I don’t need to go into your management skills – you’ve paid your dues as Division Chief in the pits and as Assistant DC in Major Crimes. We all know that. You’re a hell of a leader; Charley is always singing your praises. I think you know the system, the politics and, most importantly, the people. I also think your surprising choice of a trial partner on this Marquette case was wise, too. She’s green, but that might make the lawyers in division not feel so isolated now. Morale’s been a big problem the past few years around here, with those in division feeling like they’re underpaid and overworked while the specialized unit attorneys – especially the elite in Major Crimes – rest on their laurels and kick back with a caseload of ten. I think your trying this with her can make Major Crimes attorneys look more accessible. In the end I think that will make you look more accessible to the pits, and that’s ultimately what will be important in your run in 2008.’

  ‘Thank you, Jerry. I appreciate your confidence,’ said Rick, drawing a slow breath.

  ‘So you know where I’m going with this. Are you game for the chance?’ Tigler finally asked.
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  ‘As I think I’ve made it clear before, I am more than ready for this opportunity. I welcome the challenges that running this office can bring.’

  ‘Good, good,’ Tigler said, nodding his head slowly, as though finally accepting what he’d just said himself. ‘Then I’d like to start the transition; get you familiar with the ins and outs – the headaches, as Charley, here, likes to say – of daily life in my chair. I’m planning on making my departure official next September. I’d like to get your name in Jeb’s ear now, so there’s no hiccup when I make my announcement. I’m having lunch with him next week when he’s in town. I want to drop it then. What’s the time frame on Marquette?’

  ‘February.’

  ‘It won’t go then, will it?’

  ‘Probably not, but Farley can be funny. If Mel doesn’t look for a continuance, he could push it,’ Rick said with a shrug. ‘Most likely the summer.’

  ‘Winning that case would be a good note to start on, Rick. Free publicity can make you a household name quicker than any paid political advertisement. The quicker, the better.’ He stood up and walked out from behind his desk.

  ‘Congratulations, Ricky,’ Rifkin said with a big smile, rising and shaking his hand. ‘You’re the man.’

  ‘Yes,’ Tigler said, taking his hand and shaking it as well. ‘Congratulations are definitely in order.’

  34

  Somewhere in the distance – somewhere in this cold, putrid, green maze that he was trapped in – he heard the gritty click of the guard’s heels start up again. Slow and easy, they made their way down empty, fluorescent-lit cement hallways, silencing all in their path. Click, click, click. Coming this way. Coming his way, he knew.

  He cocked his head and listened intently until his brain began to hurt. There were two sets of footsteps now, walking almost – almost – in sync. The heavy click, click, clicking slowed to a shuffle, and then stopped. An electric jolt of adrenaline seized his chest and froze his body. Somewhere along the parade route, the heels must have paused to observe one of the crazed zoo animals they’d caged.

  Although he couldn’t see them, he could definitely picture his captors, peering through thick iron bars into squalid cells that were always brightly lit – 24/7 – shaking their clumsy utility belts for attention. With mace cans at the ready, and black steel asps dangling from their sides like menacing third arms, their suspicious eyes searched for a reason to call in an extraction team. Sadists, every one of them. He could hear their radios, chirping and squawking, blurting out strange codes. If they found something, he knew the screaming would begin, but he never knew why, and he didn’t want to know.

  In the thick fog that swirled inside his head, it took minutes – maybe hours for all he knew – for the footsteps to make their rounds. For him, time had no reality anymore: no significance, no consequence, no definition. And that frightened him, perhaps most of all, as he sat on the cold cement floor waiting for them to come for him. He closed his eyes and drifted off.

  The drugs they fed him were drowning him alive, making his head feel as if it were trapped in the spin of a crushing wave. Lucidity would be there one moment, and then suddenly a wave would buckle him at the knees and drag him under into the murky blackness. Just above the surface, and a fingertip out of reach, was the world he’d slipped away from. He could see the watery shadows, the blurred faces. He could hear the distorted, muffled drone of their conversations as he tumbled over himself, but he couldn’t reach them. He was forced to watch in horror as life went on as though he’d never even gone under, as though he were not being pulled further and further out to sea. The screams of despair only sounded in his own head.

  He opened his eyes and realized with a frightening start that the click click clicking had gotten much closer. He felt the panic grab at his throat. Where were they now?

  The man in the cage next door began to scream. The blood-curdling shrieks ripped at the inside of his brain like a sharp bread knife. It was impossible to think, hear, feel, breathe, in here.

  The footsteps slowed to a shuffle and then stopped. The keys jingle-jangled, the radio squawked. He felt eyes crawl over his person, and he heard the muffled, heavy breathing of those who watched him.

  ‘This him?’ asked a voice filled with disgust.

  ‘Yep. Yo, Marquette, get up. Let’s go, Doc. Time to go again. Pisses me off,’ he said to the other guard. ‘We just got him ready for court this morning, and now they want him out again.’

  ‘Where the fuck’s his clothes?’

  ‘Suicide watch,’ said the one jingling his keys. ‘No nooses on this floor. I guess you never worked on nine before.’

  ‘How’s he supposed to make a noose out of a jumpsuit? Where’s he gonna hang himself from anyway?’

  ‘You wouldn’t believe what they do on this floor. Crazy fucks. I saw one guy stuff his own shit in his mouth once, then choke to death on it. That’s why they’re up here, man. That’s why he don’t have no clothes. We’re saving him from himself. From choking on his panties,’ he laughed.

  Jingle coughed up a wad of phlegm and spit it on the floor in the cell. It landed next to his foot, oozing slowly toward him, white and frothy. He watched it out of the corner of his eye, as it melted and spread. He felt the anger rise up in him, like the crushing wall of a tidal wave. When it touched his toe, he wanted to stand up and scream. He wanted to take Jingle’s fat neck in his hand and put his nose into his own spittle – like a dog – and rub it around until it finally broke off.

  But he didn’t.

  ‘Me?’ Jingle continued, wiping his mouth with the back of his sleeve. ‘I say let him fucking kill himself. Guy offed his whole family, including a little freakin’ baby. Save the taxpayers’ money for once – let him do it himself. But I ain’t in charge, man.’

  ‘Thank God for that,’ said the other guard with a short laugh. ‘Well he ain’t coming downstairs like that. Is he violent? Do we need additional restraints?’

  ‘Ain’t given no one trouble. Yet. He don’t say nothing. He don’t do nothing. He just sits there like that. You can fart in his face and he don’t fucking move,’ Jingle chuckled. ‘Freak.’

  ‘Well, let’s get him dressed,’ the other guard said with a sigh, and looked at his watch. ‘He’s got company, and I’m betting that his lawyers don’t want to see him like this neither.’

  35

  ‘I have to warn you,’ Mel said, as he signed the log and waited for the CO to give him back his ID. ‘This is a jail, not a hospital, Alain. As you can tell from this morning in court, David’s in a fragile state. It’s been difficult communicating with him.’

  ‘Why is he still in here, Mr Levenson?’ Alain Marquette demanded, a frustrated, angry frown on his face. ‘That is my question. Why is he still in here?’

  ‘They will not bring him to visiting hours, Mr Levenson,’ said Nina Marquette softly, running her hand gently over the lapel of her husband’s jacket as she tried to soothe him. ‘This upsets us, not being able to see our son when we should be permitted to see him. Weeks he has been here and we have not been able to even speak with David. I don’t think that is right.’ She turned to her husband, and said in a quieter tone, ‘Alain, I’homme essaie de nous faire plaisir. Nous devons être patients ou alors nous ne reverrons jamais David. Les tribunaux américains rendent les choses très difficiles.’

  No one offered to translate.

  David Marquette’s mother nervously clenched and unclenched the tissue that she held in her small palm. The reception area of the Dade County Jail was filled with all sorts of sordid, dirty-looking people, and she wished she hadn’t worn her good jewelry. Every eye was fixed on her, probably wondering what she was here for, how much money she had in her purse to bond someone out. She ran a finger over her nose, aware that it was still bandaged and bruised where she’d broken it weeks before. Perhaps they thought her a crime victim.

  Thick bulletproof glass separated the waiting area from the cluster of green-uniformed correction o
fficers on the other side. A bold-faced sign above the glass warned that all weapons would be confiscated, all violators arrested and prosecuted. Circled pictures of guns, knives and bombs with black lines drawn through them illustrated what a weapon was for those who could not read. Although the jail was also filled with correction officers, she felt no safer. They watched her, too. She remembered what her father had warned her once: Never stare down an animal, Nina. They will get angry and bite. So she looked down at the dirty floor and at the tips of her designer boots, focusing on the wet spots the rain had made on the suede accents.

  ‘It’s up to the discretion of Corrections to allow an inmate visitors,’ Mel continued patiently. ‘David hasn’t been allowed. That’s a problem, but one, unfortunately, that I have no control over. I’ve been able to get in to see him when I need to, and that’s what matters.’

  Mel Levenson had been in and around the criminal justice system for close to three decades now, and there was no doubt that, in Miami, he was the best at what he did. Mel could afford to be selective with his clients because his clients could afford to be selective. But privilege, he’d found, came with its own set of problems – most clients had no experience with the criminal justice system, which virtually guaranteed Mel some shocked and outraged relatives to deal with at the end of the day. Outraged at a system that strip-searched Uncle Joey after he was arrested for securities fraud. What did they think would be up his ass? Stock certificates? He’s not a real criminal. Outraged to find out that horrible jail conditions and toothless cellmates named Bubba really did exist. The system that had been falling a part in front of them on the front page of the paper their entire lives suddenly had to be fixed yesterday. Over the years, Mel had learned to listen to the rantings, but never to feed them – after all, it was the relatives who usually footed his bill. But today was a little different. Given what his client was charged with, it was difficult to feign outrage because the man couldn’t get a bond or visit with Mom and Pop on a Sunday afternoon.

 
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