Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Chapter Three Hundred and Seventy: What you believe

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Note: In this chapter,Tink gives graphic testimony which may not be suitable for all audiences.

Tuesday morning — 10:45 a.m.

“Um, okay,” Tink said.

She’d been up on the stand for almost two hours. Since she was the last girl to be assaulted, they had wanted to start the trial with her testimony. In answer to the District Attorney’s questions, she’d gone through all of the horribleness. She’d broken down twice and started to shake violently about a half hour ago. She’d just finished talking about her head injury and how she almost died. She’d just talked about being in a coma for nearly a month.

“We ask the court if we might recall this witness if we need her,” the District Attorney said.

“So ordered,” the judge said.

The District Attorney gave Tink a warm smile and a nod. Tink swallowed hard. The next thing that would happen was the cretin’s defense attorney would ask her questions. Feeling movement, Tink watched Samantha Hargreaves move up to the District Attorney’s table. Samantha was acting as Tink’s attorney. Samantha had told Tink that she would be there in case the Defense Attorney was a real jerk. Samantha had said that the Defense Attorney wouldn’t risk being too mean because he could alienate the jury. Samantha gave Tink a toothy grin. Tink smiled back at her.

“Ms. Lipson?” the judge asked.

Tink turned to look at him.

“Sir,” Tink said.

“Do you know what’s going to happen next?” the judge asked.

“The jerk’s attorney is going to try to make it seem like it was my fault that they beat me up and gang-raped me,” Tink said.

For the briefest moment, the judge flashed her a smile before giving a solemn shaking his head.

“He’s going to ask you questions about what happened,” the judge said. “All we want here is the truth.”

The judge looked at the Defense Attorney, who was moving toward Tink.

“I will not put up with any witness baiting, grandstanding, or storytelling,” the judge said. “I have no problem putting you in contempt of court.”

“Me?” Tink asked in a horrified voice.

“Him,” the judge said.

“Oh,” Tink said. “Sorry.”

The judge smiled at her.

“If you have any questions — any at all — don’t hesitate to stop and ask me,” the judge said. “You remember how to do this?”

“I listen to the question,” Tink said. “Think and then answer.”

“Exactly,” the judge said. “Not too fast, not too slow. Don’t let him bully you into saying something you haven’t thought through.”

Tink nodded. The judge gestured to the Defense Attorney.

“You may begin,” the judge said.

“So, Tiffany, you’re a prostitute,” the Defense Attorney said.

“I am not,” Tink said.

“Objection,” Samantha jumped to her feet.

“Fine,” the Defense Attorney gave her an evil smile. “Tink is a prostitute and Tiffany is not.”

“What?” Tink gave the Defense Attorney a baffled look. “My fairy name is Tink. My father named me, Tiffany. I have two names.”

“Overruled,” the judge said. with a nod to Samantha. “It’s better for her to do this.”

“So you’re a prostitute,” the Defense Attorney said.

“I am not,” Tink said.

“Objection, your honor,” Samantha jumped to her feet again. “The Defense Attorney is badgering about my client!”

“Your pimp is Charlie Delgado,” the Defense Attorney said. “This trick got out of hand and you expect my client…”

“Are you insane?” Tink asked.

“Give her a moment,” the judge said to Samantha. To the defense attorney, he said, “Ask a question or sit down.”

“Yes, your honor,” the Defense Attorney gave the judge a sickening smile. “Are you a prostitute?”

“No,” Tink said.

“Were you ever a prostitute?” the Defense Attorney asked.

“No,” Tink said.

“You expect me to believe that?” the Defense Attorney asked.

“I don’t care what you believe,” Tink said.

“Admit it,” the Defense Attorney said. “This was a trick that you were well paid for and then cried rape afterward.”

Samantha jumped to her feet again.

“That is not what happened,” Tink said. “And when is it that I ‘cried rape’? Was it when I was having a seizure from the hole they made in my skull? Or when I was in a coma for a month?”

“I…” the Defense Attorney started to say.

“How about when your client broke out my front teeth to make it easier for him and his buddies to force their dicks in my mouth?” Tink asked. “Or maybe it’s when he did this so I would stop screaming?”

Tink jumped to her feet and pulled her top up to show a jagged scar that ran down her right side. The jury gasped and the Defense Attorney started to scream. The judge banged his gavel and Samantha Hargreaves was yelling at the judge.

“Your client gave me this with the pointy toe of the silver tipped boots he’s wearing today. Look, they’re a perfect match for the cut,” Tink pointed to the defendant’s boot. She looked the defendant straight in the eye and added, “Thought those boots would scare me. Not a chance. I’m not afraid of you.”

Breathing hard, Tink stopped talking. She glanced at Samantha Hargreaves. Samantha’s face was red and she was yelling. She glanced at the Defense Attorney. His face was a mask of cruelty. He looked like, given the chance, he would have punched Tink. The District Attorney was on his feet, but he looked like he’d just swallowed a canary. The judge was pounding his gavel and yelling for order.

Tink began to panic. The world darkened and her breath tightened. She glanced at the jury and they were looking at her, which made her panic more. Her eyes floated over the crowd in the audience. A few reporters were taking notes. A few supporters of the rapist were sitting just behind him. Somehow, over the din of voices, Tink heard Heather clear her throat. Tink’s eyes flicked to the back.

Heather and Blane had been sitting near the door. Right now, her parents were on their feet. Jill was standing next to Heather and Sandy was standing on Jill’s the other side. Sandy looked furious. Jill looked worried, but Heather looked…

“Isn’t this ridiculous?” Tink heard Heather’s voice in her head. “Stupid man thought he could make you look bad so this would just disappear.”

Tink covered her mouth so no one could see her smile.

“How are you doing this?” Tink asked into her hand.

Heather’s eyes flicked to the statue of justice on the judge’s desk. When Tink looked, the woman transformed into the Goddess Hera. Tink grinned when Hera waved at her.

“You’re not alone,” the little statue Hera said.

Tink nodded. She squared her shoulders and leaned back in her chair. When she did, the adults stopped screaming. The judge turned to her.

“Are you all right, Ms. Lipson?” the judge asked.

“Yes, sir,” Tink said. “I was a little… rattled, scared, but… it’s nice to see my parents. They’re in the back there.”

Tink pointed. The judge, the District Attorney, and the Defense Attorney turned to look. Not one to miss an opportunity to be heard, Samantha Hargreaves voiced her objections again.

“Can you continue?” the judge asked.

“Yes, sir,” Tink said. Her eyes flicked to Heather and Blane, who both smiled at her, and then to Hera in the statue. “I can continue.”

Heather and Blane sat down in their seats. Sandy stayed standing for a minute before Jill pulled her back down into her seat. Samantha Hargreaves and the District Attorney were still standing.

“You,” the judge pointed at the Defense Attorney. “This is your one and only warning. If you cannot contain yourself, you will see the inside of my jail. You’ve got that?”

“Yes, sir,” the Defense Attorney pretended to be regretful.

“Ms. Hargreaves?” the judge asked.

“Your Honor?” Samantha asked.

“Your client has said she can continue,” the judge said. “As you know, we have a lot to get through. Are you all right if she continues?”

Samantha looked at Tink before nodding.

“Yes, your honor,” Samantha said.

“Here’s how we’re going to continue. You, sir.” The judge pointed at the Defense Attorney.

“Your honor?” the Defense Attorney asked.

“You will ask the witness questions,” the judge said. “You will not make statements or tell stories or accuse this child of one thing. Do you understand?”

“Yes, your honor,” the Defense Attorney said.

“You may proceed,” the judge said.

“I’m just wondering why, after being paid to have sex with all comers, you decided that you were raped,” the Defense Attorney said.

“Bailiff?” the judge pointed to the Bailiff. “Please take the Defense Attorney into custody. Twenty-four hours should help you remember to respect the rules of this court.”

The Defense Attorney started to protest and the judge just pointed to him with the gavel. The bailiff took the Defense Attorney out of the court. The assistant Defense Attorney got up from the table.

“Do you remember my instructions?” the judge asked.

“Yes, your honor,” the woman said.

“A toe out of line and you will join your colleague,” the judge said.

“Yes, your honor,” the woman said.

“You may proceed,” the judge said.

“Are you a prostitute?” the woman asked Tink.

The judge banged his gavel. The jury looked worried.

“This witness has answered that question,” the judge said. “Would you like me to have the question and answer read to you from the record?”

“No, your honor,” the woman said.

“Do you have another question for this witness or shall I dismiss her?” the judge asked.

“I… uh…” the woman ran back to the table. She grabbed a legal pad.

“This looks like a good time for a break,” the judge said. “Jury, you have your instructions. I want to see all of the attorneys — every last one of you — in my chambers.”

The judge banged his gavel. In a flow of robes, he disappeared. Tink sat for only a moment on the witness stand before Samantha arrived. The assistant Defense Attorney tried to get to Tink, but Samantha blocked the way. A small woman, Samantha still managed to keep the assistant Defense Attorney away from Tink. The assistant Defense Attorney said something but at that moment Hera started singing. Tink heard only the Goddess’s lovely tune.

“Did the statue move?” Samantha asked under her breath.

“It’s Hera,” Tink said.

“Good to know,” Samantha said. “I have to go with them. Are you all right?”

Tink nodded and smiled.

“Go to lunch with your parents,” Samantha said. “I’ll call you if anything happens.”

Tink nodded. Samantha followed the District Attorney out of the courtroom. Tink went to where Heather and Blane were waiting for her. They were leaving the courtroom when a group of photographers started yelling at Tink. She felt panic closing in again.

Blane grabbed Tink’s left elbow and Heather grabbed her right. They marched her right passed the photographers. Heather and Blane stayed at her side as they walked out of the courtroom and into Civic Center Park.

“Where are we going?” Tink asked.

Heather smiled. She nodded toward a bench where Charlie, Wanda, and Ivy were sitting. Delphie was opening a cooler filled with sandwiches and sodas. Charlie’s friend Dale arrived with bags of chips.

“I thought you could use some air,” Heather said.

Tink smiled and ran forward to say hello to her friends. For the first time since she woke up in the hospital, she was absolutely sure that she was going to get through this.


Tuesday mid-day — 12:45 a.m.

“Hi,” Sandy said as she walked into the Castle kitchen.

Delphie’s head was in the refrigerator so she didn’t hear her. Sandy stood at the counter for a moment. Delphie turned around to get the rest of the left over picnic. She squealed and jumped when she saw Sandy.

“Sorry,” Sandy said. “I said something but you didn’t hear me.”

Delphie gave a nervous laugh. She shook herself head to toe before scowling at Sandy.

“What’s happened?” Delphie asked. “Is Tink…?”

“Nothing,” Sandy said. “They are doing some court procedures. Samantha filed those documents to protect the kids who are testifying. The defense filed documents against the court. The judge dismissed the jury for the afternoon. Everyone is due back at three or so.”

“Just another game,” Delphie said.

“That’s what Samantha said,” Sandy nodded. “She thinks the defense is trying to unnerve Tink so they’re letting her linger today. She doesn’t think the court will convene again until tomorrow morning.”

“Another awful night for Tink,” Delphie shook her head in empathy for the girl. “We should have them over. Make a party out of it.”

Sandy grinned at Delphie, and Delphie nodded.

“I’ll call Jacob,” Delphie said. She moved toward the phone.

“First,” Sandy said. Delphie turned to look at her. Sandy took a check out of her pocket. “I wanted to give you this for rent for the last two years.”

“What?” Delphie asked. She put her hands on her heart to not receive the check. “You don’t have to…”

“We’d like to,” Sandy said. “You rescued me when Aden went to prison. Nash and Noelle. We were planning on leaving town. I would have died if I hadn’t been right here in this magical home. When Sissy and Charlie came along, you just made space for them. You never asked for anything.”

Delphie’s eyes welled with tears.

“We have been so overwhelmed with medical bills and… everything,” Sandy said with a nod. “We haven’t been able to pay rent. We’ve missed food bills sometimes.”

“You always catch up,” Delphie said.

“I know,” Sandy said. “But…”

Sandy sighed. She set the check on the counter and held her hands out. Delphie released her heart and took Sandy’s hands.

“Schmidty sold my mother’s creation for a few hundred million dollars,” Sandy said.

“What?” Delphie looked confused she shook her head. “I knew it would sell but…”

Hundreds of Millions of dollars,” Sandy said.

“How… what…?” Delphie asked.

“Her project is set up in six pieces,” Sandy said. “They go together beautifully like phases of life. Seth has been hired to split them up and make them into something… a movie series, I think. I don’t know.”

“Wow,” Delphie said. “What are you going to do?”

“We wanted to make real college funds for the kids,” Sandy said. “I mean, we had these anemic funds that would have paid for one pizza or…”

Sandy shrugged.

“I went to the bank to make real accounts, but it turns out that Seth has already done it,” Sandy said. “Nash, Noelle, and Teddy too. A percentage of what he makes goes into these funds.”

“And you didn’t know?” Delphie asked.

“There’s a percentage of his money that’s controlled by an investment banker. I keep track that the money going in matches what he has but otherwise it’s all controlled by this guy in New York,” Sandy said. “It’s supposed to be a retirement, injury, long term care, life insurance, that kind of thing. He added these funds to that set.”

“The kids don’t need your money,” Delphie said.

“No,” Sandy said.

“I don’t need your money,” Delphie said. She stood up straighter and stuck her chin out.

“You do,” Sandy said. “We do. Since Lipson had trouble with the state, we’ve all been pinching pennies.”

“Your kids had really taken up the slack!” Delphie said.

“Please,” Sandy picked up the check and held it out to her. “It’s important to me to repay your generosity and kindness.”

“Why?” Delphie asked.

“Because we want to stay,” Sandy said with a smile. “We talked about moving, buying a house, or whatever, but we really love living here. You’ve made a real home for us. The first that Sissy and Charlie have ever known. Nash and Noelle won’t hear of us leaving.”

“You want to stay?” Delphie’s hands went back to her heart. She gave Sandy a watery smile.

“But we want to be full partners,” Sandy said. “We have some money now so we can help with the rehabilitation and pay for the niceties.”

“Like new trees to replace the apricots that died?” Delphie asked. “Jacob said we’d have to replace them with saplings. I might not live long enough to eat my own apricots again!”

“Like new trees,” Sandy said.

She shook the check at Delphie, who took the check.

“It’s so much!” Delphie said.

“We took the average rate for rent by square footage and figured out what our place was,” Sandy said. “It might seem like a lot, but it’s fair.”

“Are you sure?” Delphie asked.

“I’m absolutely sure,” Sandy said. “We’ll start paying every month too.”

“You’ll have to talk to Jake about all of that,” Delphie said. She waved the check. “New trees for me!”

Delphie smiled and set the check on the counter.

“If you’d like, I can take you to the bank,” Sandy said.

“Oh,” Delphie blushed. “I don’t have a bank account. Jake will take care of it.”

Sandy winced.

“You already tried to give him a check?” Delphie asked.

“Aden did,” Sandy said. “He refused it.”

Delphie smiled at her.

“Cash?” Sandy asked.

“Just leave it to me,” Delphie said. “I’ll talk to him. He knows we need the money. He mostly doesn’t want you guys to leave. We all love having you here.”

Sandy smiled.

“What else are you going to do with the money?” Delphie asked.

“Well, you know how Honey and MJ’s apartment building for disabled is on hold,” Sandy said.

“Ran out of money,” Delphie nodded.

“We’re going to join them as investors,” Sandy said. “We’re going to buy more of Lipson Construction too. I can pay off my bill to Jacob for my studio and look at expanding.”

“That’s right, the shop next to you is open,” Delphie said.

Sandy nodded and smiled.

“Mostly, we want to invest in our town — our community and friends,” Sandy said. “When I had nothing, my community reached out and helped me. Now that I can, I want to help — starting with my friends and family.”

“You know Blane lost his treatment room,” Delphie said in a sly voice. “It flooded in the last storm.”

“That’s why I thought I could expand,” Sandy said. “We could make a nice treatment center next door then…”

“Tink’s brother could move in with them,” Delphie said.

Sandy nodded.

“They need more space,” Sandy said. “Heather’s going to let us help them either get another house or add on to theirs. I owe her… so much… that… I’m just glad she’s letting me help.”

“I like the way you think!” Delphie said.

Delphie hugged Sandy.

“I need to get to the studio,” Sandy said as she moved away from Delphie. “I’m so behind that people want to come in when I’m available. I have a couple of hours so I can see a couple of people.”

“Good thinking,” Delphie said.

Sandy smiled and turned to leave. She was half way through the living room when Delphie ran up behind her.

“Thank you,” Delphie said. “Really, this will help a lot.”

Sandy smiled.

“You’d better hurry!” Delphie said.

“Oh,” Sandy said and ran out of the house.

Laughing, Delphie returned to the putting their picnic away.


Tuesday afternoon — 3:45 p.m.

Tink shifted uncomfortably in the chair. She’d been called up here right after they’d returned to the court at three. She’d been sitting here while the lawyers did this or that. No one had talked to her or asked her any questions or anything. She’d just been sitting here while everyone argued. Her butt had fallen asleep a half hour ago.

The judge banged his gavel.

“It’s getting late,” the judge said. “You need to wrap this up or we’ll adjourn.”

“Judge, I…” a new defense attorney started to ramble.

Tink watched the clock. She remembered this story that Albert Einstein figured out his great theory of relativity when he was staring at a clock. The great Einstein realized that time seemed to drag when things were slow while time seemed to speed up when he was having fun.The long hand of the clock clicked over to four o’clock.

“Ms. Lipson?” the judge asked.

Tink shook herself out of her bored meditation. Her eyes flicked to the judge. He gave her a kind, understanding smile.

“We’re at a point where we can adjourn for the day,” the judge said. “That would mean that you’d have to come back tomorrow morning.”

Tink nodded.

“Do you feel fit enough to answer a few more questions?” the judge asked. “The defense assures me they only have one or two more.”

“I’d rather do it today if that’s okay,” Tink said.

“Of course,” the judge said. “Defense?”

Tink sat up straight in her chair. Even though she willed it not to, her heart pounded in her chest. Samantha Hargreaves leaned forward to be ready in case something happened. The District Attorney set down his expensive pen on a blank page of a legal pad. He leaned back with practiced ease. The jury shifted in their chairs.

All of the defense attorneys stared at Tink. Feeling their malice, Tink licked her lips and swallowed hard. She glanced at the statue and saw Hera scowling at the defense attorneys. She looked back and the defense was whispering among them.

“Defense?” the judge asked again.

“Sorry, your honor,” the assistant defense attorney said. “We need just a moment.”

Tink looked at the clock and it said four-o-seven. The thought that she’d been sitting here for more than an hour only served to make Tink more anxious. Feeling movement, she glanced back at the defense table.

“We have no further questions for this witness.”

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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