Sunday 9 – Monday 10 March 2014
‘I’d like to say that I’m sorry for doing this to you, Ms. Danvers, but I can’t. Robert Carter is your father, and in my experience, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’ Harper was beginning to feel the burden of the weight of the handgun that she had levelled at Adelaide’s head. Her arm started to quiver, and she fought to maintain her aim of the gun. Adelaide did her best to control herself, her face blank and emotionless.
‘Ms. Cahill, I’d ask you to come in and sit down, but as you can see, the movers have been in and cleared out my office space. The best that I can do now is to invite you in.’ Adelaide paused, and waited for Harper to slowly step into the room.
As Harper moved closer, Danvers roughly calculated the odds of successfully launching an unarmed counterassault on the agitated woman. They weren’t good. Even if Cahill had never fired a weapon before, at this distance the chances of a bullet making contact with Adelaide were quite high. She could drop low, and target Cahill’s legs, but a bullet to the spine might not necessarily kill her, and Adelaide had no desire to be a wheelchair bound vegetable.
‘I’d appreciate it if you’d lower your weapon, Harper. It’s making me uneasy.’
‘You’d like that, wouldn’t you?’ Harper replied.
‘Yes, that’s why I said it.’ Adelaide paused, waiting to see if Harper would oblige and lower the gun. When she didn’t, Adelaide changed tack. ‘Why is it that all you nut jobs say the most banal, stereotypical crap? You’d like that, wouldn’t you?’
Riled by the belief that Adelaide was mocking her, Harper stormed across the room, and pushed the muzzle into Danvers’ forehead.
‘And how does this make you feel? Not such a cocky bitch now, are you?’ Harper snapped. Adelaide stood motionless. Harper was clearly much easier to bait than she had anticipated, and any further attempt to push her buttons, and Harper Cahill might just pull the trigger.
‘What is it that you want, Harper?’ Adelaide spoke quietly and decisively.
‘Your father destroyed my family. Did you know that?’
‘My father destroyed a lot of families, Harper, including his own. What makes your family so special?’ Again, Adelaide was quiet and decisive.
As easy as Harper was to bait, she was also easy to calm. This, Adelaide thought, meant that she wasn’t entirely invested in the tough girl persona that she was trying on today. Harper brought her arm, and the gun, down to her side. She sighed.
‘Who am I kidding? I’m not . . . this.’ Harper held the handgun out in front of her, offering it to Adelaide. ‘Take it, please. This is not me. I’m sorry for . . . for being an ass. It just threw me when you said he is your father.’
‘Threw you? Try being related to him. It’s a real bitch,’ Adelaide replied, managing a half-smile. It was enough to make Harper relax.
Adelaide swiftly took possession of the gun, removed the magazine, slipped it into the front left pocket, and pushed the weapon into the back waistband of her pants.
‘Yeah, yeah . . . you definitely win on the shit scale for that one.’
‘So,’ Adelaide said, ‘when you first came to me, you told me some stuff. Given your reaction here, I’m kind of thinking that you didn’t tell me everything. Maybe you left out the most important information?’
‘Do you think Carter will be found guilty?’
‘I think he will, yes. We collected a lot, a lot of evidence against him. We have many witnesses who have agreed to testify against him, and two of them are former employees of Carter Industries. We’ve got the best possible prosecutors in court, and the case is watertight. The jury is made up of intelligent, empathetic people. Robert Carter, and Carter Industries will have to put forward one hell of a case to get out of this,’ replied Danvers.
‘However,’ Adelaide added, ‘juries and prosecutors and witnesses are fallible. So there’s always a chance that things will swing his way.’
Harper lowered her head, the prospect of Carter winning the case against him too much to bear.
‘Harper, I really think that you need to be honest, and tell me everything.’
* * * * *
Eight Months Later . . .
After such a long and damning trial, the media was ravenous for anything that they could get their hands on about Robert Carter, and Carter Industries. On the day of the verdict, reporters, journalists, photographers, and cameramen filled the court room, spilling out into the hallway, and out onto the steps of the court building. It was nearly impossible for anyone who was related to the case, whether they were attorneys or prosecutors, or witnesses and family members to make their way easily through the throng of media representatives.
Adelaide and Harper had arrived much earlier than most of the media, and they had been forced to battle their way through the vultures that had camped out overnight. Now that the verdict had been read, it was going to be hell trying to get out of the room let alone the building.
‘I suggest that we wait here until the press have moved outside, and then we wait until the customary speeches on the steps have been made. Once they’re over and done with, then we move,’ Adelaide said. Harper nodded in agreement, too exhausted to say anything in reply, the events of the last few years finally taking their toll on her.
‘You know, Harper, your testimony and the evidence that you collected of your own accord went a long way towards the Department of Justice being able to get this verdict.’ Adelaide patted Cahill on the shoulder, but it did little to alter Harper’s solemn mood.
‘Do you think that he’ll get a tough sentence?’ Harper asked.
‘Well, given that he maintained his innocence for the duration of the trial, and he displayed no remorse, yeah, I think the judge will give him a long sentence,’ replied Adelaide.
‘Good. He deserves a long sentence. So many people were hurt, and so many people died because of his greed, and I really hope that when he goes to prison some bad ass mo’fo makes Carter his bitch.’
Adelaide couldn’t help but laugh at Harper’s choice of words. Finally seeing some light in the situation, Cahill joined in the laughter.
‘So it seems,’ Harper said when her laughter died down, ‘that your plan of faking Mike Albright’s death was enough to get Carter to show more of his hand.’
‘I almost can’t believe it myself, to be honest. He clearly thought Henry was trustworthy enough to let him in on the types of jobs that he used to get Mike to do. But, I have to say, I was shocked to learn that my own father had basically put a hit out on me. Had it not been for Mike deciding to get out of Carter Industries, we never would have known that there were cops on the Carter Industries’ payroll.’
‘And you never did tell me about Henry the behemoth.’
Adelaide smiled. Henry had been her idea.
‘Henry and I met a long time ago,’ Adelaide said, ‘and we kind of hit it off from the very start. We went to law school together, and then he joined the Marines and went away. His last tour finished a few years ago, and he applied for a job at the Justice Department. I was just starting my investigation into Carter Industries, and we needed an inside guy, and Henry was perfect for it. The rest, as they say, is history.’
‘And you father never knew that Henry was really working for you?’ Harper asked. Adelaide shook her head.
‘No, I don’t believe he did. Anyway, that’s all behind us now. It’s time to move on with life, and forget about Robert Carter, and Carter Industries.’
‘Easy for you to say,’ replied Harper, ‘you still have some of your family left. Robert Carter took all of mine.’
‘I know, and I’m very sorry that he put you through all the pain that you endured. But you have to focus on the fact that we won, and he will go to prison for a very long time.’ Adelaide knew that he words wouldn’t particularly mean a lot to someone who lost everything at the hands of her father.
‘Come on,’ Harper urged Danvers, ‘it looks like we might have a bit of space to get out of here now.’
Adelaide took Harper by the arm, and they worked their way through what was left of the crowd of reporters.
As they left the building without so much as a head turn from the media crowd, Harper couldn’t help but think of her parents, and two year old son who had all died horribly in a building fire in one of Robert Carter’s apartment blocks. Despite the joy she felt at knowing Carter had been found guilty by a jury of his peers, and would possibly spend the rest of his life in prison, Harper’s deep sense of guilt and overwhelming sadness would never be lifted as long as Carter was alive. Her only hope now, was to make sure that Robert Carter never lived to see his parole date. But that task would have to wait for now, at least until after he was settled in prison, and the media frenzy surrounding his trial had died down.
Harper could, and would, wait because Robert Carter was no longer untouchable.
. . . The end . . .