The Cup Bearer
"Mr. Grafton, you may open the case for the defence?"
"Thank you, M'Lord. Members of the jury, this is a case in which the defendant is charged with the murder of his step father. You have already heard and, I hope, dismissed the testimony of Peter Grafton from your minds as that of a man seeking vengeance. The witnesses I am about to call will tell of my client's good character and I hope that, after hearing all the evidence I am about to present, you will return a verdict of the lesser charge of manslaughter under the most extreme provocation. I now call Jose Gomez."
In the public gallery, Shana listened to Gypsy's brother being questioned by Edward who gently drew out of the nervous lad, the details of how his father had arrived in England, and how he had started to molest him, blackmailing him into silence. No, he didn't know at first that he had done the same thing to Gypsy. That was revealed later when his father began abusing his little brother, and the family found out that Gypsy had been using himself, unsuccessfully, as a shield to protect the rest of the family. Mr. Duffy tried to shake his testimony with penetrating questions, but Edward and Barry had schooled him well enough.
The other witnesses included Maria, Rudkin and two seamen who had worked with the deceased and had ended up in hospital because of his sexual cruelty. James MacCaffrey gave a glowing report of Gypsy's life as a pupil at Trentham High school, and also read affidavits from his skating and dance tutors. Then the time came, on the third day, when Edward called Gypsy to the stand.
"Will you tell the court your full name?"
"Gypsy Diaz Lupino O'Riley."
"Are you known by any other name?"
"I was born Emilio Gomez. I changed my name last year."
"And you once lived at eight Visick Street, Trentham in Cheshire?"
"Did you, on the twenty sixth of December nineteen ninety five, murder your stepfather, Guido Gomez?"
"No, it was an accident. He was drunk and he stumbled, and fell on the sword."
"Gypsy, the murder weapon has been identified as a Japanese short sword. I refer to exhibit E, M'Lord. Gypsy, do you recognise the sword?"
"Yes, it's mine."
"Where did you get it?"
"It was a gift from my late foster father, your own brother."
"Where was it usually hung."
"On the wall above my bed."
"In your bedroom at eight Visick Street, Trentham?"
"How did you come to be at your house in Trentham on the twenty-sixth of December, when you were supposed to have stayed at Northwood Hall till the twenty eighth?"
"I was taken ill on Christmas Day, a stomach bug I think. I didn't want the MacCaffreys to make a big fuss, so I left a note on my bed and slipped out of the hall as soon as the front doors were unlocked. I walked for miles before I got a lift as far as Bury. From there, I hitched a lift in a car as far as Warrington, and got another lift in a van the rest of the way. The driver said he was only going to Altrincham but he was kind enough to take me all the way home."
"You almost had an accident didn't you? Would you tell us about that?"
"We were almost run off the road by a white transit van, just south of Altrincham. It had been on our tail since we left Warrington. The driver of the van I was in reported it to the police. We got to Visick Street around lunchtime. As I was unlocking the front door to my house I noticed a white van parked down the street. It had a cracked rear window, like the one that almost crashed us."
"Did the van driver notice it as well?"
"I couldn't ask him, he'd already driven off."
"What happened next?"
"I intended phoning the police about it but as I walked in through the front door, something it me on the back of the head and I blacked out. When I came to I was lying on my bedroom floor. My head hurt a lot. Guido was standing over me with a bottle of rum in his hand. He yelled at me to get up and when I couldn't, he started kicking me."
"Where did he kick you?"
"In the ribs, my back, my kidneys, my head, my genitals, anywhere he could."
"M'Lord, this is supported by evidence given earlier by the medical witness as to the injuries sustained by the defendant. Gypsy, did he say anything while he attacked you?"
"Yes, he said he had orders to kill me, but first he had to contaminate the evidence, something like that. My head hurt a lot and my ears were ringing."
"Do you know what he meant?"
"You are a black belt in judo and karate, why didn't you defend yourself?"
"I hurt too much, inside and outside. It hurt to move."
"I see, carry on."
"I blacked out again, and the next thing I knew, I was lying on my bed. He'd stripped me and he … I'm sorry, I,,,I."
"Take your time."
Shana watched Gypsy's head drop as he said quietly, "he was raping me."
"Did this happen just the once?"
"No. Three times, maybe more."
"Were these attacks of a brutal nature?"
"After the third time, what did you notice about the deceased?"
"I couldn't see him because of the pain in my head, but I could hear him falling about the room, as if he was drunk. Every time he came near me, he reeked of rum. He kept on saying over and over again that he was going to kill me but he had a job to do first. I had to do something to protect myself. I remembered my sword. I managed to roll over onto my back and I reached for it. I pulled the whole thing off its hook and managed to pull the sword from its scabbard; I don't know how. I heard Guido coming towards the bed, and I lifted the sword in front of me to try and scare him away. I said, "Stay away from me," but he just kept on coming. The next thing I felt was something warm and wet hitting my face and I heard him yell. This warm stuff fell all over me. Then I heard him fall and I blacked out again. When I woke up the sword was stuck to my hand. I was cold and in a lot of pain, and I was covered in blood. My head hurt the worst. I knew I had to get help so I crawled out into the hall and I phoned my friend Sandy Roberts."
"If you were in so much pain and you could hardly see, how did you manage to dial Sandy's number correctly?"
"All I had to do was press number one."
"Members of the jury, you will remember the statements made by Mr. Evan Roberts and his son, who received a phone call from Gypsy in the early hours of the morning. Now, Gypsy, you said in your statement that you arrived at Visick Street around one PM and your step father is said to have died around eleven PM. When you regained consciousness, was it daylight or night?"
"It was dark."
"And when you finally made the phone call?"
"It was dark, and it was also very cold. The heating normally goes off around midnight and comes back on at seven in the morning."
"Was the house warm when you arrived at the house?"
"You were the last to leave the house at Christmas. Did you switch off the heating?"
"Are you sure? Could you have left it on by mistake?"
"No, I went through the same procedure as I do when I know the house is going to be unoccupied for a few days, I switch off all power except for the fridge freezer, turn off the water at the main stop cock, and check the windows are locked."
"So someone must have turned the power and the water back on."
"Could Guido have done this?"
"He certainly knew where the main power switch and the stop cock were, I showed him myself."
"Have you any idea how the deceased came to be in your house?"
"You didn't let him in?"
"When he forced you to give him a home in the early part of last year, was he given a front door key?"
"Yes, my mother gave him one against my wishes."
"Was the key found in among his possessions when he disappeared?"
"Is it possible he had a duplicate made and used this duplicate to gain entry to the house?"
"I never got round to having the locks changed so, yes, it's possible."
"Thank you, Gypsy, no further questions at this stage, M'Lord."
"Thank you, M'Lord. Gypsy, are you a male prostitute?"
"Were you ever one?"
"Not by choice, and I never received any money for it. I was kidnapped and kept in a sex club"
"Really! I have here a copy of a police report about your involvement with the deceased earlier in the year; exhibit C, M' Lord. Gypsy, after hearing the evidence put forward by Peter Grafton about your early life, one wonders if you killed the deceased to stop him revealing the fact that you are not as innocent as you would have people believe. Isn't it more likely that, with your pretty looks, you liked acting the innocent virgin, to satisfy those who lust after fresh young conquests but hate the thought of being caught?"
"Objection, M'Lord. My learned friend is trying to smear my client's character. He is basing his facts on the statement of an unfrocked bishop who is an acquaintance of the deceased and was used by him to blackmail my client into working as a prostitute, and who is at the moment in police custody on charges of child abuse."
"Objection sustained. Mr. Duffy?"
"Thank you, M'Lord. Gypsy, after rescuing you from this sex club, why did Anthony Grafton befriend and later foster you?"
"He wanted to keep me off the streets and give me a fresh start. He also wanted to protect me from someone who wanted to kill me."
"Really? Why should anyone want to kill you?"
"They wanted to stop me telling the police what I knew about the sex club. It's likely they're still after me."
"Yes, Mr. Grafton?"
"The defendant is referring to incidents concerning the murder of my brother, Anthony. Investigations are still continuing. A report has been submitted to your office."
"Thank you, Mr Grafton. Mr Duffy, please get to the point of your argument.
"No More questions M'Lord."
"Thank you, Mr. Duffy. Mr Grafton?
"That concludes the case for the defence, M'Lord.
"Thank You Mr. Grafton. We will adjourn the trial till ten o'clock tomorrow morning."
In the gallery, Shana clasped her hands tightly in her lap as, below her, Gypsy sat between two officers, pale and worried, and looked as if he would collapse at any moment. He had glanced up at her a few times while Mr. Duffy's summed up the case for the prosecution, and had tried to smile, but Shana knew he was feeling very low. For two nights now, he had been held in a young offenders unit, and the reports from Edward had not been good. Despite the efforts of Monclare and Rosscroft himself, her husband's nutritional needs had barely been met with. No wonder he looked so pale.
Edward Grafton rose to summarise the case for the defence. "Members of the jury, you have heard several prosecution witnesses testify as to the defendant's early life as a child with no illusions about his sexuality, but may I remind you it is not his morals that are on trial here, it is whether or not he did indeed kill his stepfather with intent. The defendant was lying on his bed, in great pain and unable to see his assailant which he would have to do if he intended to kill him. The deceased was falling about the room in a drunken state; the pathology reports you have seen and heard indicate the high levels of alcohol found in his body, and the police reports indicate there was a reek of rum about the room where the event took place. You will also remember being told that there was an empty rum bottle in the room. The defendant was blind at the time of the incident from a fractured skull and a brain haemorrhage.
You may ask yourselves at this stage, how on earth the defendant managed to arm himself with the sword. I'm sure many of you have experienced moving around your bedroom or somewhere else in your own home and knowing exactly where everything is by touch because you are so familiar with the place. Being temporarily blinded did not prevent my client from seeking out the only weapon available, the Japanese short sword hanging on the wall behind his bed. Put yourselves in his position and ask yourselves what would you do to defend yourself against a monster who has raped and beaten you so badly you are blind and in agony from your injuries? You know where the sword is and you reach for it; you pull the scabbard away from the wall and you draw the weapon. You hold out the sword as a warning in the hope that your assailant will leave you alone. Instead, the man stumbles and the raised blade catches him in the throat. You have been attacked by a man far bigger than yourself and known to have caused others a great deal of injury. He has raped you several times and you are desperate to stop it happening again, so you use the only weapon to hand, your Japanese short sword. A man in full command of his faculties would keep well away from such a weapon. I put it to you members of the jury that Guido Gomez died from his own drunken stupidity when he fell against the tip of the sword, and I ask you to return a verdict of not guilty. That is all, M'Lord."
Edward was about to sit down when there was a commotion at the back of the court, and a note passed to Edward who held up the note and said, "M'Lord, I wish to submit new evidence which has only just arrived from Tamarigo, the island where my client was first attacked. I beg permission for this evidence to be presented to court."
"And how will this evidence affect the outcome of this case?"
"M'Lord, it will prove conclusively, Guido's earlier involvement with my client."
"And where does this evidence come from?"
"From the first lady of Tamarigo, Mrs. Susannah Monzanoz; with the full support of her husband the president of Tamarigo Nikolas Zapata Monzanoz."
A ripple of excitement ran through the court as the Judge had a few words with the clerk of the court. Eventually, he said, "Council will approach the bench." Shana watched with hands clenched in her lap as Duffy joined Edward in a lengthy discussion with him. At the end the judge used his gavel to gain the attention of the court. "This court is adjourned for fifteen minutes to give the ushers time to set up such equipment as may be needed for this evidence to be given. In the meantime, no one leaves this room."
When the hearing resumed, a large video screen had been erected beside the judge's bench, at an angle so both the judge and the court had an uninterrupted view. A cameraman stood ready with a video camera on his shoulder. The judge nodded to him, and the man trained the camera on Edward, and gave him the thumbs up.
A very distinguished looking lady, with short blonde hair and a pixie face, appeared on the screen, and Shana watched as Gypsy's face light up with an expression of astonishment.
Edward Grafton addressed her politely. "Good morning, Ma'am. Thank you for honouring this court with your presence. For the benefit of the judge and jury, may I ask you to introduce yourself?"
After a few seconds time laps, the lady said, "Certainly Mr. Grafton. I am Susannah Marie Monzanoz, First lady of Tamarigo. Here beside me is my mother in law Anna Usavio Monzanoz. Anna is head of Medical facilities at the hospital we are filming from." There was a hushed murmur as members of the court realised that this lady was not someone to be handled lightly.
"Good morning, Madam Monzanoz," the judge addressed the camera zooming in on him. "Thank you for joining us this morning. May I ask what evidence you have to offer for the defence in this case?"
"Your Honour, I think I will let my mother in law explain."
The view shifted to a grey haired lady who smiled and said in a thick accent, "A young patient was brought to this hospital suffering from the very last stages of Aids. He knew he was dying and was in a very agitated state saying he wished to make a confession. A priest was contacted and prepared to hear his confession before offering the patient the Viaticum. The patient said his confession concerned a friend of his, Emilio Gomez. The Chief Warden of Tamarigo, Estoban Delgado, took his statement and on reading it I decided that it had a bearing on an investigation being conducted by an agent of Mr Grafton's, a Mr Don Clooney. My husband contacted Mr. Clooney and he advised that the young man's evidence was important enough for us to request this video link." The view shifted to a bedridden young man whose thin and ravaged body told a story of sickness and suffering.
"Bennie? Oh, My God!" Gypsy's gasp of shock broke the silence of the courtroom as the camera showed Anna Monzanoz moving to the bed and raising the young man in her arms so he could speak. On the other side of the bed, a young man in the garb of a catholic priest, stood holding in his hands a small cup and a dish holding some bread.
"I am Benito Estevez, Emilio's friend." The young man's voice was weak and breathless as his black rimmed eyes stared into the camera. "This is my final confession. I have…just received…the viaticum…and can only tell …the truth. I… was the one who was forced to…trick Emilio into…working for Senor…Antony."
"And who was it who forced you to do this?" Edward asked him gently.
"His son, Peter."
"Thank you, Benito. We will let you rest now."
"Wait. I wish to say something further. I wish ... to say to …Emilio, I am sorry. I knew … what Guido was … doing to you, and … I could have … stopped it … I was his lover … and when we …were together … he boasted about what he did to you. I am so sorry Emilio … and I beg your forgiveness."
Gypsy rose to his feet and the judge signalled to the cameraman to face him so Gypsy could address the camera in a voice shaking with emotion. "I forgive you Benito. You were the only one who showed me any affection, and I will always love you for that. Go in peace, my friend." As he collapsed back on his seat with his face in his hands, the camera panned back to Edward, who thanked Benito and the two ladies for their time and effort, while the judge and most of the court dealt with moist eyes.
The jury came back in after only fifteen minutes deliberation. Shana watched as the two police officers helped Gypsy to his feet, to listen to their verdict.
"To the charge of murder, not guilty."
"And to the lesser charge of manslaughter under extreme provocation?"
The judge smiled at Gypsy and said, "Gypsy Diaz Lupino O'Riley, you have been found not guilty of the murder or manslaughter of Guido Gomez. You are free to leave this court."
Gypsy wilted, and Shana led the rush from the gallery to find her husband being carried out of the courtroom to an anti-room where they found Sean administering a cup of sweetened fruit juice. With tears in his eyes, Manuel gathered Gypsy to him, and held him while he wept tears of relief. Then Erskine pushed Shana forward and she embraced both her husband and father in law. Sean tapped her on the shoulder and said, "I've already phoned the Rosscroft, they're sending an ambulance for him."
As soon as Gypsy was settled into their bed at the Rosscroft, Shana was grateful that everyone, including Manuel had left them alone. Gripping Shana's hand as if he thought she would go away and leave him if he didn't, he said, "I never want to go through anything like that again. It was terrible, even when I knew I was innocent; but what about us?"
Shana kissed him. "What about us?"
Gypsy sighed. "Do you still want to stay with me? I'll understand if you don't."
"What on earth are you going on about, you silly goose?" Shana laughed and held up her left hand with his ring on it. "We're married, remember? This says you've got me for ever, and we're going to have a wonderful time together; just like on our first night. We've got a lot of living to do, including a few plans Erskine has come up with to set you on the road to stardom."
"Oh? Such as?"
"A part in a film."
"Just a small budget one a friend of Erskine's is making. He needed someone your age who could understand all about child abuse, and it's aimed as a warning to gullible youngsters. I don't know whether you should do it, and Erskine says he'll understand if it brings back too many unhappy memories for you,"
Gypsy shook his head. "I want to help kids like me. If Erskine wants me to, I'll do it. I'll even do special concerts to tell my story if it will do any good." Gypsy smiled and pulled her close. "So, if I'm going to start work soon, and you want to stick with me, I think you'd better take me home."
Well that's it, folks; the end of THE CUP BEARER but the story continues in Pluto's Child, coming soon.
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