“What the hell are we going to do?!” I asked my attorney.
“Let me think,” He pressed the tip of his thumb against his teeth, starring down at the scattered papers on his desk. After a few moments, without looking at me, he said, “I think you should plead guilty”.
“But I didn’t kill anyone!”
“Of course you didn’t” he snapped, “but this isn’t about the truth any more. They had one job, to get evidence that you killed a man. And they’ve done that, they have a witness that we can’t disprove.”
“You’re supposed to be the best! You saw what happened!”
Andrew glared at me, “I am the best. And I am telling you no one will believe a chicken committed a murder.”
I began to panic, shuffling aimlessly through the papers of my trail, “but you saw it! You can tell them!”
Andrew grabbed my arm, tighter than he needed to, like an abusive spouse, “I can’t be your advocate and your witness”
“You said you could get me off!”
Andrew threw my arm back at me, “Because you said you hadn’t moved the body. I could have won if you’d told me everything when I asked. Is there anything else I might need to know? ”
“Then I’ll get another lawyer.”
Andrew straightened his suit, “How do you think it’ll look if I testify now?”
My heart began to sink. I thought about all of the horrible things murderers deserved and how the next twenty years of my life would be filled with those things.
Despite his constant scowl, the harsh angles of his personality, and the deep, baritone voice that was made for scolding and courtrooms, Andrew was not uncaring. He must have seen the tears welling in my eyes.
“Let me take another look at everything. Go home, take a shower, and I’ll call you in the morning”
I shook my head, noting that he hadn’t ordered me to rest. He knew there was no respite for the damned.
“Can I sleep here again?”
I felt safe in his office, he was my only hope, and the closer I stayed to him, the more I felt he could protect me. It was the only place I would be able to attempt sleep.
Andrew stilled, I could tell – despite only having met him a few weeks ago – that he had stifled an automatic, instinctual, rejection.
“Don’t drool on the couch again.”
I woke in a puddle of my own drool. Oddly well rested. I wasn’t sure what time it was, but I was certain I’d overslept.
I started to remember all of the fear that should have kept me awake when Andrew threw open the door.
He clearly hadn’t slept, disheveled and haggard, his glare was especially hateful.
“You complete moron!” He yelled.
I jumped, feeling suddenly like an animal about to be devoured. In my fearful confusion I said nothing.
“The windows are completely opaque!”
In the seconds it took me to understand the ramifications of what he’d discovered, he stepped forward, panting with rage or because he’d run to kill me, I wasn’t sure.
“Opaque? …Opaque!? Opaque! The windows-!”
Andrew had spent the night going over every piece of paper from my case, back to my house, to the victims house … and back to my office building, the crime scene.
The accounting firm had asked me to install frosted glass that day, it was my day off, so my pet chicken and I stopped in on our way to a vets appointment.
Most of the accountants don’t talk to the maintenance staff, but Joshua was always staying late, overlapping with us, and so when he asked to play with my chicken while he took a break from his weekend overtime, I had agreed without a thought.
I didn’t think handing him my Swiss Army knife, to cut a piece of his lunch to share with the bird, would lead to a ‘murder weapon with my finger prints’. I didn’t think my chicken’s leash would trip him and prove I had ‘restrained him’.
I also didn’t think anyone could slap so hard. Andrew’s back hand sent me into the couch’s arm rest.
“How did you forget you’d just installed frosted glass?!”
The witness was lying. They couldn’t have seen me kill Joshua, and we could prove it now.
“I- I don’t know, a man had just fallen into my knife! I was panicked!”
I pouted, still too grateful and scared to retort.
Andrew had been meeting another client on that floor and entered the conference room I had just finished working on by mistake, accidentally pinched the chicken when he opened the door, sending it into a panicked frenzy, then left to wait for the paramedics at the front door after it had happened. While he was gone I had tried to save Joshua, thinking that removing the knife would do any good at that point.
Justice, the legal system built shabbily around it, and the truth, can never be crystal clear, but at least now, for me, they’re a little less opaque.