"We wanted to check on our favorite patient. How are you doing?" Eilene avoided saying feeling, because he was obviously in pain.
"Did Dr. Lister give you an update on court?"
"No, she hasn't been by."
Eilene gave him a full report. Wincing, Anton managed a smile.
"God. I don't wish bad on most people, but some folks don't learn without a smack down.
"True," Newton said. "Look, I know you don't want the drugs, but being in pain slows your healing. As a man who's been in more than one infirmary, my advice is to ask the doc to dial it back a little, or give you something that's not as strong."
"Really? I can do that?"
"You were really wounded?"
Newton raised his shirt. He pointed to several scars on his chest, abs and back. "Shot three times, stabbed, cut, kicked by a camel, which broke five ribs—those f**kers have huge feet. And another bullet hole that I don't show anyone in public."
"Shot in the ass?" Anton asked, chuckling.
"No. Let's say I'm lucky I lived through it, and all the equipment works."
Anton hissed, covering his groin.
"Body armor doesn't cover nearly enough," Newton said, clapping the other man lightly on the shoulder.
"Okay, send her back in, and I'll behave."
Eilene gave him a kiss on his undamaged cheek. "Goodnight."
After the police, and the nurse left, Anton lay back, for once not slipping into oblivion. The case with Oats was good news, but better news would be for them to drop the charges against him. They had no real proof. A miracle might clear him. He could get on with his life—preferably with Tabitha.
He wondered, as he finally drifted to sleep, "Should I tell her the truth about who I really am?"
Tabitha had spent the hours after court, talking to the police chief and district attorney. Now, early evening, they were still talking. She wanted the charges against Don Winthrop dropped. They had no real proof, except for a sketch that looked marginally like him. The testimony of the couple from the campground fell apart. It had been their opinion, after all, not fact. There was no forensic evidence to support their claim. The video wasn't definitive enough, it was still hearsay. Even if it was Don on the video, there was no proof that he was the kidnapper.
"The necklace is back, correct?" Tabitha asked the police chief—again. She was having trouble getting the men to focus. They were too intent on what they didn't have, to focus on what they had. "You have men in custody."
"But not the guy who kidnapped you. You said it was the waiter."
"I said it might have been, not that it was." Concealing an exasperated sigh, she sat up straighter. The chairs in the DA's office were an attack on good posture.
"But the sketch!" the DA fussed, shaking it in front of her.
Tabitha slapped it to the desk top, pointing at it. "His was the last face I saw before passing out. He was on my mind. I spoke to my abductor, but he was wearing a mask. I'm sure it wasn't Donald Winthrop."
"You'd swear to that in court?" the DA asked.
"Must it get to court? You have no hard evidence, just wishful thinking. You have perpetrators in custody. Found with evidence in hand." She tapped a photo of the Tangiers Ruby.
"Unconscious. And Butler claims someone else stole it for him."
"And is there evidence that such a person exists? It's easy for him to make a claim. I could make a similar claim, and it would be just as ephemeral."
"You sure you're not a lawyer?" the chief asked.
"I am Israeli. There are more lawyers per capita, than any other country. My father, brother, uncles, cousins, and several aunts, are lawyers. I was groomed in the law from childhood. I became a doctor, simply to rebel."
The DA chuckled. "Some folks smoke crack...."
"What do you think, Simon?" the chief asked.
"The doctor's right, Manny. We really don't have a case. And after this blight from Oats, we couldn't seat an unbiased jury if we went to Manitoba!"
Manny perched on the edge of Simon's desk, crossing his arms. "Say that we drop charges, how public do we make this?"
"Very low profile. Just pull it off the books. That dumb ass, Oats, gave us enough of a PR nightmare. If word gets out that he strong armed an innocent man?" He shuddered, turning pale. "Jesus! We'll all be homeless!"
"Make it happen," Manny said, standing.
"Gentlemen," Tabitha spoke softly, but clearly. "May I get this agreement in writing? To ease Mr. Winthrop's mind. He's been traumatized by this entire affair. It's been preying on his mind. Being in the shadow of guilt, has hampered his healing process."
©2021 Dellani Oakes