CHAPTER 64: A PARENT’S LOVE
PENNSYLVANIA UPSTATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY – TUESDAY MID-MORNING
I can’t believe that girl has his genes in her! I had, like everyone else, been shocked and appalled by what it’s alleged that he did. But then I noticed a dark haired girl listening to a tall blond man and then next thing she was pulling him out, talking a mile a minute. Then we were called into the chambers and for four hours, he just sat there saying that his Uncle Vic meant for him to have the money and we would have to prove that he didn’t.
When we came back and he was swaggering, I wanted to scream at the injustice of it all. Then kapow! In she came and turned everything on its head.
“Tank tells me that he’s been stupid again. Is it true?” I look up in surprise at Miles, the regular guard, and nod.
“Hmm.” He regards me for a while until it becomes uncomfortable. “Why? It can’t be because everyone has a right to defence, so why?”
“Do you know Edwin Birch or a Belinda Josh?” He nods. “He fired Edwin and Belinda had herself recused. It’s pure ego.” I admit with a smile and he chuckles.
“You’ve put TTPTR on the table though.” He cocks an eyebrow when I look astonished. “Not Malcolm. Yes he wanted to be in but what goes on in chambers, stays in chambers. This was her assistant’s fault. Left the papers on the copier and I spotted it. And…” He listens to his radio and then sighs. “He’s on his way.” He opens the door and looks out. “Ask him about the Petersons.” He says quickly.
“Peter…?” The door opening stops me from finishing the sentence.
“Prisoner Michael Charles Novotny has entered the room. Attorney interview to commence.”
“So your Uncle’s will?” I get right to it. “Explain to me why?”
“I was angry.” He replies and for once, I think he’s being honest. “I had helped mom look after him for years and he just up and gives half his estate to some guy he’s just met!” He sneers. “When I handed over the will, I assumed they would notice but when they didn’t, it was too late to correct it.”
Miles scoffs and Novotny turns to glare at him. “Problem?”
“It’s never too late to be honest! So what did you do with the money?” He demands. I’m surprised by the fury in his tone.
“Not that it’s any of your business but I used it to buy some collectibles…”
“Wow. You bought seven grand’s worth of toys?” I gape at him.
“No. I also paid my rent and other things.” He smiles wistfully. “I bought Brian a really nice jacket but he gave it to Justin.” He growls bitterly.
“Jacket?” I echo and rifle through the papers to the photographs. I look at the picture of the jacket. Oh Novotny, you are so fucked!
“So tell me about the Petersons. How do they fit into your life?”
He rolls his eyes and sighs. “They are suing me for some money but I’m not going to pay them.”
“What money and what for?”
“Well it all started when we tried to get sole custody of our children…”
CHASE, DONALDSON AND DRAPER – TUESDAY AFTERNOON
The family, well the core of it, is silent before finally Brian clears his throat. “He can’t appeal? Are you absolutely sure?”
“Absolutely.” Meriam smiles at them. “The highest judge in the Pitts ordered the review and his colleagues found nothing wrong with them. So the sentencing stands.”
Debs sinks back against the chair. “And what about Vic’s will?” I shake my head and she nods in understanding then grins. “She’s got her brains and his determination. Thank God it’s not the other way around!”
Brian reaches across to take her hand. “So what happens on Thursday? Is Queen back on the stand?”
“Yes. They will resume from where we left off.”
ALLEGHANY COURTHOUSE – THURSDAY MORNING
COURT ROOM 1
There is no jury and no family; it is just counsel and him.
“So I have reviewed the paperwork and evidence, such that it is, and I don’t see any need for a trial.”
Novotny tries, and fails, to keep the small smirk off his face.
“Please stand.” I order. I don’t think I have ever seen someone swagger upright and I see Albert roll his eyes.
“I, Judge Narda Paal find Michael Charles Novotny guilty of will tampering in the case of the estate concerning Victor Grassi.” I watch the colour drain out of his face. “I, therefore, sentence you to a year in prison to be served consecutively to those already handed down. You may sit.”
“But your honour…” He stammers, all arrogance gone. “You said there was no evidence.”
“No I said such that it is, and the evidence that is there is compelling. Since you didn’t dispute it as counsel…”
Suck on that fucker! His arrogance is not only unjustified, it’s also unseemly. Some people, like, let’s face it Kinney, are arrogant but that is warranted. He’s a beautiful man, rich and intelligent. Novotny coattails on it and thinks that it’s okay to imitate such a manner just because he know the man.
“Malcolm, let in the jury and then in another 10 minutes, let the witnesses take their seats. After that, then the crowd. So all in all that should be 20 minutes…I will be in my chambers.” She nods at us all and stalks out. The prosecution leaves and then it’s just me, him and Tank.
“I don’t believe this shit! I can’t wait for my appeal.” He mutters and turns to face me. “Once again, you said nothing!”
“Once again, you are counsel. Do you actually read anything that you are sent by the prosecution?”
He shifts slightly in his seat. “I know what I need to know.” He bristles.
“So that would be a no then.” I lean back in my seat. “She’s very smart, despite being related to you, I mean.”
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” He barks at me.
“Because of your daughter, you got another year in prison…”
“No, my honeybun wouldn’t do that. That was down to Hunter.” He sneers.
“Hunter may have been in touch with Rodney but if it wasn’t for Jenny asking if he could check the will then… and to think you’ve got them down as character witnesses.”
I can hear the gears of his brain starting to shift. “I’m not sure I want to call them now.”
“Oh.” Out of the corner of my eye, I see Tank shaking. “Anyone else we need to take off?”
“No, just Hunter.”
Tank and I exchange incredulous looks.
MALCOLM – THIRTY MINUTES LATER
Judge Paal was glad of the extra time and we’re now waiting for Debs, as she has insisted I call her, to settle down so they can restart.
“So from where we were on Monday. These items were found in the garage of Astro Ladd, aka Michael Charles Novotny and they are of sentimental or monetary value?”
“To me sentimental; to him most likely, monetary.” She replies coldly.
“Objection! I didn’t sell them. So, therefore, it was sentimental value. I always liked them. I mean, for your extraordinarily bad taste, these were pretty nice.” They all stop and look at him. “What?” he asks.
“You have just admitted you stole them.” Albert tells him slowly.
“No I have…” He begins and then realisation dawns. “Fuck!”
“Does defence wish to cross examine?”
“Mr Novotny, do you wish to cross examine?” Judge Paal asks again.
For once, he looks back at Albert who gives him his ‘what the fuck do you think’ look.
“No you honour.”
“Witness is dismissed.” Judge Paal orders and fails to stop her snicker as Debs smacks him upside the head when she passes him.
“Ma!” He yelps, rubbing the side of his head.
“Trust me if Tank was to move, you’d get more!” She barks as she heads back to her seat.
“I’m due a break.” Tank calls out.
“No you’re not!” Judge Paal retorts, but there’s a smile.
“You sure, your honour?” Tank bats his eyes. “I can swish my stick right outta here!”
“Yes.” She tries to be firm but fails when I snicker.
I can’t help the snort that comes out of my mouth. Meriam has suddenly found the window interesting and Ephie has lost it completely. As has the rest of the courtroom.
“Court…court will come to order.” She bangs her gavel a couple of times and clears her throat hard. But every time she tries to look at Novotny, and sees Tank behind him, she starts to smile.
“Recess!” She barks out. “Court is in recess for 30 minutes to get everything back under control!” She practically runs out, laughing.
“All rise for...” Malcolm waves the jury through quickly, who are either grinning or on the very verge of guffawing. Once the door is shut, he succumbs to the giggles.
Tank stands and takes Novotny’s arm. “Come on.” He pushes him ahead of him and with a walk and a wave worthy of RuPaul, follows him out.
The courtroom erupts.
COURTROOM 1 – AN HOUR LATER
I watch Joan Kinney settle down in the chair next to me. Her pinched expression suggests this is going to be a tough session.
“Mrs Kinney, how would you say Brian was as a child?”
If I was the prosecution, I would have leapt up. But I really hope they don’t and thankfully my wish is granted. I look at Brian Kinney, who is looking at his mother.
“Difficult.” She replies. “He was, and is, a selfish person. He lives against God’s wishes.”
“As do I, but yet you are willing to be a character witness for me. Why is that?”
“You at least have a child. So clearly, you are willing to at least see God’s light.”
“Objection! Brian Taylor-Kinney has a son.” Meriam states calmly.
“What?!” Joan shrieks. “How could you not tell me I have a grandchild?!”
“Mrs Kinney, you don’t ask questions; you answer them.” I point out.
She turns to glare at me and I hold her stare until she looks away.
“So your son forgets to tell you that you have a grandchild. So it could be reasonably assumed that he would forget other things, correct?”
“Objection. Leading the witness.” Meriam calls out.
Novotny glares as me. “The witness will answer the question…”
“No, the witness will not. When I say sustained, it means you don’t continue. Last warning Mr Novotny.”
“Fine. Your honour.” He snarks and then waits, actually waits, for me to do something.
“Continue to your next question, Mr Novotny.”
“How did you meet Justin Taylor?”
“Objection! Relevance?” Meriam stands.
“Overruled.” There is a gasp of surprise. “I’m curious.”
“I met him when they had just finished well…fornicating.”
“I see. And how did you feel about this?”
“Ashamed but unsurprised. Brian had always been a spiteful boy.”
“I’m merely…sorry what?”
“Overruled, which means you can continue where you are going.”
“What they did was against God’s holy scriptures!” Joan announces. “And they will burn in the Devil’s fire for eternity. But he would prefer that than to spend time with his own mother. He has all this wealth and riches but does he share it with his proper family? No he doesn’t. And what he did with his nephew as well! Well that was shameful!”
“And what was that?” He asks, oh so sweetly.
“That he abused his nephew of course…”
Meriam is up like a rocket. “Objection…”
“Overruled.” I reply and Meriam looks incredulous.
“Thank you, your honour.” He smarms. “No further questions. Your witness.”
Meriam is still stupefied and slowly approaches the stand. “Mrs Kinney going along the lines of the previous counsel’s questioning.” She begins carefully. “Tell me about Mr Kinney-Taylor’s childhood.”
“He used to antagonise his father. Always answering back so obviously that had to being corrected.” She looks around the court for understanding. “It was outside influences.”
“And they would be?” She asks.
“That Novotny man, of course. Brian wouldn’t have turned out the way he did if he hadn’t been looking after him. Always causing problems. Lighting fires and then running away. Nasty little arsonist, I used to call him. The amount of times he was actually doing his homework, you’d think he didn’t have a brain.”
“So Brian Taylor-Kinney did his homework for him?”
“Yes. He always had to help him. No matter what, no matter when.”
Meriam starts to smile. “You mentioned the assault on his nephew. What happened?”
“He…” She shudders. “Touched him.”
I look around the court and the jury.
“So why is he over there and not in jail?” Meriam asks.
“If he had assaulted his nephew in the way you say, surely he would be in jail?”
“Well…” She begins slowly. “Maybe. Maybe, he’s served his sentence.”
“No. He’s not in jail because there was no assault, therefore no sentence. What made you think he had been charged with anything?”
“Because that was what I assumed. After all he’s fornicating with a man, so a child would not be an issue!”
The court rumbles with annoyance. I bang my gavel to bring them to order.
“Mrs Kinney, why are you here for Mr Novotny? I mean you clearly don’t like your son, let alone gay men, so why?”
“He owes me! I gave birth to him and I want him to acknowledge me, us, now he has his riches.”
Meriam and I stare at her incredulously. “No more questions. Your witness.”
Novotny stands up and turns to the prosecution. Nobody looks in his direction.
“Mrs Kinney, was the last time you saw your son when you found him in bed with that boy?”
“No I saw him another time.”
“When was that? Think carefully for a minute.” He looks at Brian.
“When he got cancer and I was told by your mother. That was embarrassing enough but when you told me where it was, I knew it was God’s punishment and I told him so.”
“And where was it?” He keeps looking at Brian as if daring him to say anything.
“Stop. I have allowed this long enough. Mr Novotny, where are you going with this because I can’t see anything that relates to your character? In fact, you seem to be attempting to denigrate the character of Brian Taylor-Kinney. Who is not on trial here, in case you hadn’t noticed?”
“Your honour I am seeking to…”
“Actually, I think the world needs to know how God works. His words should be obeyed and when they are not, then they get stricken down like he deserved and…”
“Mrs Kinney, let me ask you a question. What about murderers? Surely they should be denigrated more, after all thou shalt not kill is a commandment, is it not?”
“And thieves. Thou shalt not steal also a commandment, correct?”
“Of course it is!”
“And thou shalt not covet your neighbour’s ass?”
“Indeed.” She replies, haughtily.
“Both of which Mr Novotny has done, according to the evidence.”
“So why are you supporting a man who has gone against the Holy Scriptures? Surely all of God’s words should be obeyed, not just the ones you don’t like.”
“Who wrote the bible Mrs Kinney?”
“God did! They are his words.”
“Written by man. Mrs Kinney, all you’ve proven by sitting there is that you are resentful of the fact that your son has made good, in spite of you. He’s happy and you are not. Witness dismissed! And Mr Novotny, you need to remember that the point of a character witness is that they are supposed to bring out the best in you. Not highlight your inadequacies.”
“I haven’t finished.” Mrs Kinney exhorts. “This court needs to…”
“Mrs Kinney, you will be held in contempt and taken to the cells, if you say one more word!”
“I will speak for her then!” A heavyset woman shouts. “This den of…”
“Remove that person and hold her in the cells!” I demand.
“You will…” Mrs Kinney begins.
“And that one!” I order.
Five minutes later, both of them have been removed.
“Do you have another witness to call?” I peer over my glasses at him.
“No your honour.” He mumbles.
“Prosecution rests your honour.” Meriam states.
TREEHOUSE – EARLY EVENING
Debs and Jen are helping me carry stuff from the kitchen. We have just plated up when the door knocks. I head to open it and am surprised to see Ronald Peterson standing there.
“Uh Jen!” I call out, not letting him in.
“Ronald, what are you doing here?” She looks at me and I move to one side as he enters.
“I just wanted you to, well if you could, give this to Gus.” He hands over a piece of paper. “It’s my number. I think that my marriage to Nancy is over. Irregardless if it is or not, I would like to get to know Gus and, if she would like, Jenny.”
“I would like that.” Jenny’s voice makes him jump.
“Me too.” Gus takes the number from his grandmom.
“Well that’s…” He clears his throat. “That’s great. I will see you when you want to see me. Thank you.” He heads back down the path.
“Wait!” Gus shouts. “Do you like pizza?”
“I haven’t had pizza since I was in high school.” He chuckles. “It wasn’t allowed.”
“Then now is a good time to start, don’t you think?” Mel goes to meet him. “Hi, my name is Melanie Marcus and you are?”
An hour later, the pizza is done. Now we are laughing and joking and Ronald is chatting to Jen and Debs. I catch him looking round in amazement and sometimes shaking his head.
“What is it Ronald?” Brian asks, looking up from painting Justin’s toenails.
“How the hell did she think you two would ever be together?”
Brian shrugs and blows on Justin’s toes causing Justin to giggle and swat his head.
“I’m sorry for not stopping her Mel. Maybe if I had, well we’ll never know. It wasn’t until it meant the end of her world that she started to kick back against Lindsay.”
“Mothers and their daughters.” Mel sighs.
“Well I doubt you will let me treat our daughter like that.” I state.
“What daughter? You don’t…” Debs starts and then starts to smile.
“So Emmy, you won’t mind if I slack off for say a year? After all I will be looking after your goddaughter.”
The room goes quiet and slowly Faal turns round and pushes up my shirt and looks at the little bump that is our daughter.
“It wasn’t going away no matter how much I exercised so I went to the doctors. So yeah Captain Supersperm. You knocked me up. About four and a half months. Remember when you said that it would be fine and it couldn’t possibly happen…”
I feel the tears on my stomach and lift his head. “Happy?”
“Fuck me.” He manages to get out.
“Promise me you’ll stop me from spoiling her? Promise me.”
“If you don’t spoil her. Her godfather will!” Emmy sobs from Drew’s arms.
“Lindsay is going to go apeshit.” Mel snickers.
“Shame that.” Faal remarks drolly whilst nuzzling my stomach. All assembled, including Ron, couldn’t help the giggles that thought brought about.
“I would love to be a fly on the wall when she finds out that all of her carefully laid plans and manipulations resulted in the sweetest little addition coming to the family,” Ron says, still chuckling while imagining Lindsay’s head exploding. “I think it will be worth the price of admission.”
“Hmm… I think I have just the way to let her know…” Brian and I smile evilly at each other. No one but Justin catches the gesture.
“What? What are you two planning?” He asks, eyebrow raised. I can see the smoke from the gears in Brian’s brain swirling.
“I’ll tell you later.” Brian says and that begins a new round of laughter.
Fucking hell, we’re diabolical!