Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The Best Medicine by Dellani Oakes – Part 36


Morgan had opted for a charcoal suit with a dove gray shirt and gunmetal gray tie. His handkerchief was gunmetal gray trimmed in dove gray. Tanya felt somewhat under dressed in her navy serge with smartly pleated skirt.
Caden and Morgan took their places at the table. Hal and Tanya sat directly behind them.
The bailiff called, "All rise."
The trial began, each lawyer presenting his case to the judge. Judge Morse was a morose looking man. He had a sallow complexion, and dyspeptic manner. He listened closely to each presentation before frowning at the lawyers and their clients.
"So, it's a matter of deciding who gets the money?" He frowned at Vanessa, brows drawn in an angry W.
Vanessa was conservatively dressed, for her, in a suit that looked like it was vintage 1985. Hot pink with black piping, it had padded shoulders and huge gold buttons. Her pleated skirt was only slightly longer than than the jacket. Her legs were clad in black, sparkly hose, and her patent leather stilettos matched the suit. She looked like a blonde Amy Winehouse.
"Young man," he directed at Morgan. "Do you need this money?"
"No, Your Honor. In fact, I planned to donate it to charity. I have a comfortable income as a surgeon."
"And your family's filthy rich, isn't that right?"
Morgan quirked a slight grin. "I wouldn't say filthy, sir, but yes. There's a lot of money."
The judge nodded, pulling at his lower lip.
"And you." He pointed at Vanessa. "Do you need the money?"
"It's not a matter of needing, Your Honor," the lawyer jumped in.
"She can answer herself. This is my court. We do things my way."
"Yes, Your Honor, but—"
"Then let her answer. Well?"
"I don't come from a rich family, Your Honor," Vanessa answered, trying to sound meek. "My dad was a janitor. My mom worked as a waitress."
"And what do you do for a living?"
"I'm a dancer." She tossed her head, big hair hardly moving.
"Ballet, jazz, modern—exotic?" The judge demanded.
Vanessa reddened. "What do you take me for? I work at the city dance college. I'm one of the tap instructors."
The judge nodded. "Not a very lucrative job, I take it?"
Vanessa shrugged one well padded shoulder. "It pays okay. I meet my bills."
"But the money from this song could help," the lawyer interjected again.
Judge Morse waved his words away. "You, don't talk." He turned to Morgan. "Dr. Fellowes, what charity were you planning on donating to?"
"My mother died in an accident when I was a boy. My younger brother was delivered six weeks early, by skillful surgeons at the hospital where I work. Their neonatal ward is top of the line, but needs new equipment and money to cover expenses for those who can't pay. The little bit from the royalties would go to them, Your Honor. It's all in the paperwork. I already donate on a yearly basis to the NICU."
The judge perused the information in front of him, taking his time. No one spoke as he muttered and read bits aloud.
"This is quite an impressive list, Dr. Fellowes. How long have you been donating to the NICU?"
"For ten years, sir. I had a trust fund that matured when I turned twenty-four. I've channeled a percentage of that money to the hospital ever since."
Judge Morse nodded. He gazed at Vanessa over his glasses. "Do you give to charity?"
Vanessa's mouth fell open, her jaw working quickly as she tried to form words. Her lawyer tried to speak, but the judge glared at him, shutting him up.
"Well?"
"No." She blinked. "Your Honor."
"If I awarded you this money, what would you do with it?"
"I hadn't really thought ahead."
"Do you have any idea how much money there is?"
"N-no. I just thought—"
"You just thought you'd take your rich, ex-boyfriend to court, to win some piddling amount of cash from him, to hurt him. You thought maybe you'd turn the knife a little more? I know the history of this song, Miss Leahy. I heard the same interview, with his younger brother, that you did. Did you even know about the song before that moment?"
"No," she mumbled.
"Did Dr. Fellowes ever discuss the song with you, when you were dating?"
"No." She turned her head away.
"In this courtroom, Miss Leahy, I'm addressed as Judge, sir, or Your Honor. Is that clear?"
"Yes. Your Honor." Her manner changed abruptly, turning almost feral.
"So, how do you know you had anything to do with this song?"
© 2020 Dellani Oakes

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