A Hard Rain; chapter five, part three

Leslie presses the letter to her lips as the tears fall down her cheeks.  The last bit of mistrust she had for John melted away.  It still stings that John had kept so much of his life a secret from her, but she no longer doubted that he did it out of love.  She struggles to her feet, Josephine butting her in the shins, and takes the letter into her bedroom so she can place it in her keepsake box.  The last letter she’ll ever receive from John.  And, it’s in his own hand.  She will never throw it away.  She opens her keepsake box and reverently places the letter inside, right on top of John’s smiling face.  She touches the letter, briefly, before closing the box.  Only when she is done does she remember that she has the packet John sent her.  She pulls out a sheaf of papers, most of them computer print-outs, sits down on the bed, and begins reading.

She already knows the basics, of course, though John goes into greater detail.  There are several pieces of paper that has his written commentary on the case.  He reveals that Amy did, indeed, have evidence that her father embezzle money from his campaign.  In addition, he was getting paid to play—meaning he accepted large sums of money to vote a certain way.  Now, this wasn’t very surprising as many politicians take bribes.  However, the shocking part was that Senator Robertson had conspired with other senators to vote en bloc.  He refused to name the other senators, but sources said that Senator Bronson was one of them.  John listed several deals that Senator Bronson had made that were questionable, but every time a case went to trial, and important witness would either clam up or suddenly disappear.  Now, Senator Bronson had higher aspirations.  He had tossed his name into next year’s gubernatorial race just to test the waters, but he was widely expected to be the front-runner in the 2016 election.  All bets were off, of course, if he were found guilty of taking bribes.  The voters might not mind, but the FBI surely would.  The only other comment about Senator Bronson was that he’d been accused of molesting girls over the years.  Leslie scowls.  She pushes that thought to the back of her mind because she doesn’t want to deal with it at the moment.

Leslie consults John’s commentary again.  He writes about how he had looked at the case with an open mind with only one factor—he was not guilty.  Since the media had crafted the narrative that there wasn’t any question as to who was the killer, it was difficult to find information about anyone who wasn’t John—Freddy.  But, looking at the case with the caveat in mind that Freddy wasn’t the killer brought out elements that never would have been questioned otherwise.  John had realized quickly that if someone wanted to set him up, it had to be someone who was close to the Robertsons—and, by extension, close to him.  He knew that the senator had many political enemies, but John dismissed them from consideration.  This wasn’t the kind of hardball that politicians played any more—not even in Chicago.  Besides, Senator Robertson had never evinced any fondness for his daughters, so the only child it would have really made sense to kill to make a point to the senator was Jack Jr.

John spent some time researching the connection between Judge Anthony and the Robertsons.  Like Leslie, he was struck by the conflict of interest presented by having the judge preside over Mrs. Robertson’s DUI trial.  John discovered that even though Judge Anthony and Senator Robertson were golfing buddies, Judge Anthony was originally Mrs. Robertson’s friend—way back in high school.  They lost contact for twenty years, and only when Judge Anthony and Senator Robertson started running around in the same circles did Judge Anthony realize that Mrs. Robertson was his old friend (and old crush), Bel (short for Belinda) Del Monty.  Leslie narrows her eyes, but there is no evidence that Judge Anthony and Mrs. Robertson were anything more than high-society acquaintances in their present lives.  However, John has made a note that he found proof that there is something between the judge and Mrs. Robertson.  Proof?  What proof?  Leslie sees nothing that would constitute proof.  She’ll have to think about it later.  Leslie narrows her eyes even further as she reads that Judge Anthony hadn’t been the first judge assigned to Mrs. Robertson’s case.  When he was brought in, he made an elaborate show of being impartial—to the extent that he was actively hostile towards Mrs. Robertson’s attorney.

Like many other cities, Chicago was making a show of getting tough on crime.  In addition, there had been grumblings that there were two justice systems in Chicago—one for the rich and powerful, and one for the poor and disenfranchised.  Several people in the know speculated that Judge Anthony was going to make an example of Mrs. Robertson to show that justice was, indeed, blind.  It certainly seemed that way throughout the trial as the judge even threatened to put Mrs. Robertson’s lawyer in jail for obstruction at one point.  Senator Robertson didn’t attend the trial, but he was quoted as saying that while this wife had made a terrible mistake, he didn’t think jail was the answer.  He said she needed help.  That sparked an outcry from progressives who were quick to point out that conservatives were always tough on crime—until it was one of them who had committed the crime.  The person Mrs. Robertson had hit hadn’t died, but he was still in critical condition.  If he died, manslaughter charges could be added to the charges Mrs. Robertson already faced.

When it was time for a verdict, the jury only took an hour to deliberate.  They found Mrs. Robertson guilty.  The judge read the verdict and thanked them for doing their civic duty.  Then, he gave a speech on how Mrs. Robertson was an upstanding member of society and how she had demonstrated remorse throughout the trial.  He talked at length about how justice should not be vengeance and other such crap.  Finally, he delivered the verdict of alcohol treatment, two years’ probation, and restitution for any hospital bills the man who had been occurred.  It shocked the city, not to mention the media.  How the hell had the judge gone from threatening to throw the book at Mrs. Robertson to not making her serve any time?  Though the media fulminated and scurried around for days trying to find out the reason behind the judge’s bizarre decision, they found nothing.  People on the left were howling for a mistrial, but that came to nothing, either.  And, when the pedestrian made a full recovery, the story fell out of the news completely.

“Fascinating.”  Leslie takes the papers and goes to her computer room so she can look something up.  She remembers both these names from one of the many articles she had read on Amy’s murder, and with a bit of patience, she tracked it down again.  Just as she had thought, it was an article of Senator Robertson’s cronies offering condolences and pompous reflection on the state of society after Amy’s murder.  Leslie glances back at John’s commentary and sees that the other two names in the article are also in the commentary.  In fact, John has narrowed down the suspect list to these four men.  Men.  No woman on the list.  However, that doesn’t mean a woman wasn’t involved in Amy’s murder, or that John had identified all the suspects.  It just meant that these four men had captured John’s attention for whatever reason.  Leslie reads what he’s written about State Prosecutor Erickson and Chief-of-Police Matthews.

Apparently, the article Leslie had read had exaggerated the closeness of Prosecutor Erickson and Senator Robertson.  They had golfed together before, but it wasn’t a regular outing—it happened when one of them showed up at the club solo and there was a foursome that needed to be rounded out.  Of course, they moved in the same social circles, but that wasn’t unusual.  John concluded that there was no reason why Prosecutor Erickson shouldn’t be handling Amy’s case.  Still, Leslie can read between the lines—John isn’t convinced that Prosecutor Erickson is on the up-and-up.  Therefore, John added him to the suspect list—so Leslie will include him as well.

Finally, Chief-of-Police Matthews.  This is the man who intrigues Leslie the most because she cannot fathom how any minority can be a part of the current GOP.  Then again, Chief-of-Police Matthews has a second house in Cape Cod as does his friend Judge Anthony, so perhaps the overriding issue for him is money.  Then, it would make sense for him to be a Republican.  In addition, he is not a social conservative as far as abortion, affirmative action, gay marriage, and a plethora of other social issues.  In fact, from what she reads in John’s commentary, Leslie can’t understand why Chief-of-Police Matthews is a Republican at all.  He gives money to Amnesty International, for Christ’s sake!  The only blemish on his record is that he received a general discharge when he left the army.  He had fought in the first Gulf War with honors, so it is strange that he was not honorably discharged.  John had done some snooping around, and he noted that there were rumors of Chief-of-Police Matthews engaging in inappropriate behaviors for a commissioned officer, but John was unable to find out the exact nature of these supposed inappropriate behaviors.  Leslie notes one other interesting tidbit—he and Senator Robertson had been roommates for a year at Wheaton.

Leslie stops reading for a minute and digests the information.  She has a gut feeling that Amy’s murderer is on this short list.  Or, if not, it’s someone close to one of these four men.  However, Leslie also has a strong feeling that a woman is involved, however tangentially.  She decides to focus in on these four men while remembering that John may not have been right.  With that, Leslie puts aside the case and starts doing the chores she needs to get done before her flight.


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