Category Archives: Knock, Knock EP 20: All Rise

Knock Knock: Episode 20: All Rise

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As the weeks went on the support for Tabitha outside the Court House began to gain traction. Those who were protesting against her and calling for her head began to hush. For the first time since the trial began it started to look as though there was a chance the jury would dismiss her of some, if not all, of the charges against her, putting her back on the street, furious at the inconvenience and more dangerous than ever. I heard that the Penn triplets were being set with their own charges but it would be some time yet before they would be held by Coldford Correctional – a large, gloomy prison at the tip of Bournton better known as The Boss because of the way it gazed down over the northern town.

Saving one of those closest to Tabitha for the last, Ronnie called Agnes to the stand. He hoped that a motherly perspective on his client would leave warmth in the Jury as his last bid for her freedom.

ATTENDANCE:

Judge Doyle: Presiding

City Prosecutor

Counsel for the Defendant: Ronald Owen

Defendant: Tabitha MC

Witness: Agnes Wilde

Clerks and Bailiffs

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Ronnie Owen: “You have known the defendant for most of her life, correct?”

AGNES WILDE: “I was there when Tawny got the call to tell her she had become an aunt. She had been estranged from her brother Rob for a few years. We had just set up the Knock Knock Club at the time.”

RONNIE OWEN: “Have you ever seen the defendant become violent?”

Agnes Wilde: “She can have a bit of a temper but no I have never personally seen her become violent. What people fail to realise is that she needs help. Her parents cared nothing for her. If she didn’t have something of a temper, who knows where she could have ended up? She fought off predators, dirty dealers, embezzlers and filthy swine of all descriptions. That wasn’t just for her, but for others too. If she didn’t have something of a temper she would have been lost in the filth of this city and countless other lives ruined too.”

Ronnie Owen: “Are you saying she truly cares?”

Agnes Wilde: “I have never known a girl who cares so much. She just has her way of doing things. When the talk of the bid to take over the Shanties first came to light, Tabitha did what she could to help the people. Mayor Feltz had sold out on his campaign promises. Already Swantin was unaffordable for the people of the Shanties and they would have nowhere else to go. Tabitha did as her aunt would have done. She protested against it. She fought so that those people, families, weren’t without a home.”

Ronnie Owen: “And what was the response?”

Agnes Wilde: “Power to the Shanties was cut. They said it was a surge but we all knew it had been deliberate. We were the only area affected. Tabitha brought them together. She used the resources of the club to warm them and feed them. Without that, the elderly and young babies could have perished. She held against them until the power was restored.”

Ronnie Owen: “No further questions.”

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The City prosecutor was like a ravenous vulture. He observed Agnes for a few moments before beginning his cross-examination in the hope it would set her on edge. The Broker maintained her composure.

City Prosecutor: “It’s a pretty picture you paint for the jury. A noble hero the defendant seems. ‘Just has her way of doing things,’ you say. Tell me; are fifty-nine people dead at Beckingridge Tower just her way of doing things? Is the brutal murder of her own parents just her little bit of a temper? What criteria does she use to decide who is innocent because from what I can see for every person she has ‘saved’ another is dead or beaten and tortured in a most horrendous fashion.”

Agnes Wilde: “You don’t understand.”

City Prosecutor: “I don’t think you understand Miss Wilde. She is a sadistic, psychopathic monster who needs to be punished. Neither you nor your partner was ever fit to do so.”

Agnes Wilde: “How dare you!”

JUDGE DOYLE: “Order! Counsellor you will not antagonise the witness.”

City Prosecutor: “My apologies ma’am.” Turning his attention back on Agnes. “Did you know anything about the deaths of Rob and Linda McInney?”

Agnes Wilde: “No. I heard they had taken off after the investigation and left Tabitha behind.”

City Prosecutor: “Strange. We have a recording from HARBOUR HOUSE in which you are speaking to your partner. TAWNY MC INNEY clearly asks you to go the house and fetch the defendant. Did you fulfill that wish?”

Agnes Wilde: “Yes but there was no one there when I got there.”

City Prosecutor: “So you visit the house. The parents are gone and Tabitha has disappeared off the face of the planet?”

Agnes Wilde: “That’s correct.”

City Prosecutor: “Did you look for her?”

Agnes Wilde: “Of course I did. Normally when she was in trouble she ran to the Knock Knock Club to me or Tawny.”

City Prosecutor: “But she didn’t this time?”

Agnes Wilde: “No.”

City Prosecutor: “Why not?”

Agnes Wilde: “Because it was not much more than a pile of ash and rubble. It had been burnt down and there are people in this court today who know why that was and who was responsible.”

City Prosecutor: “Let’s not get off track. We’ll get back to the issue at hand. Were you aware of what Tabitha had done to Court Clerk Melanie Wallace?”

Agnes Wilde: “No I was not.”

City Prosecutor: “In the video she clearly berates the victim before delivering a death sentence. How do you feel about that?”

Ronald Owen: “Objection! How Miss Wilde feels about it is irrelevant.”

Judge Doyle: “You have already been warned about this Counsellor.”

Satisfied he had countered Ronnie’s ‘Saviour of the Shanties’ pitch, the City Prosecutor turned back to his bench.

City Prosecutor: “No further questions.”

***

“You took your feckin’ time!” PADDY groaned to his brother Kieran.

Kieran drew on a joint. “Calm yar tits,” he said. “We got ya didn’t we?”

“Cutting it mighty fine.”

Kieran passed the joint to Paddy who took a drag and let the calm wash off the stress of the CPD holding.

“Ma wanted you to say hello to Uncle Michael if you went down. Block H I believe he’s in. Guess that reunion will have to wait,” jested Kieran. When Paddy passed the joint, Kieran had one more puff before stubbing it out and slipping it into his pocket.

“We had better go,” Kieran urged his brother.

Paddy stretched out the tension in his muscles that had gathered from being held in a CPD transport van. The van had been stopped en route north.

“Is he raging?” Paddy asked.

Kieran raised his eyebrows. “Oh he’s really feckin’ raging alright.”

The rooftop of an industrial unit that was closed for the night offered a panoramic view of the city, from the dregs of the south to the grandeur of the north. The wind was cool.

Whack! Whack! Whack!

The first hit had been hard but it wasn’t a killing blow. It would have been better if it were. The chain rattled as it whacked again.

Whack! Whack! Whack!

CPD officer Gabe had no choice but watch knowing he would soon follow in a similar fate. Perhaps worse? Either way it had all come down to this.

Whack! Whack! Whack!

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Hickes was a good man. He had so much to give the city. He wasn’t even meant to be on shift that night. He only came to lend extra support in the transporting of Paddy Mack. When the transport left CPD behind that’s when it all went awry.

Whack! Whack! Whack!

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He finally finished with Hickes. His breath was heavy. Now that the heat of the summer had broken, a mist escaped his lips. Gabe closed his eyes as the click, click, click of the finely crafted shoes drew closer. Paddy and Kieran Mack stood behind him watching. The bloodied chain that had beaten Hickes to death was clenched tightly around his fist. Gabe opened his eyes again as the chain jingled close to his face. A tall, formidable figure was Reginald Penn. He caught his breath and pointed the chain at Gabe.

“Where’s my fucking boys?!”

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***

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Lydia sat across from me in my usual booth in BOBBY’S LUNCH BOX. She watched on as I sat in quiet contemplation. I dare say the entire affair, from the moment I received the invitation to the KNOCK KNOCK CLUB, was starting to tell on me. I believed then it was reaching a conclusion. If I had known then all that was still to come, I don’t know if I would have found the spirit to carry on but carry on we must and carry on I did. The fate of Tabitha and all those who supported her was under the hammer of the LAW MAKERS and that hammer was set to fall soon, smashing everything within its range.

“I wonder how long the jury will take,” I mused to myself more than the agent. We had already been waiting an hour and a half. I didn’t suspect they would take long in deciding. Tabitha was after all guilty as sin by her own admission.

As though Lydia could sense what I was thinking she said, “She needs to be put away.” Her bouncy accent from the northern town of Bournton did a lot to cover any bitterness that should rightfully have been there. She did go through a lot to bring the Knock Knock Boss Lady in. Tabitha was a mean queen who needed to be locked away.

“I know,” I agreed. Even now I still have no doubt she needed to pay for her crimes. “It’s just how it’s being done. It’s not right.”

The Law Makers were pulling everything they could from the woodwork in order to solidify their hold on Tabitha. They were campaigning to reinstate the death penalty in Greater Coldford, they were punishing her for shedding light on the dirty deeds of their friends in high places, they were going to kill her for it and her only defence was a man who shared the same elite family name as the ones Tabitha was calling out in the first place. It wasn’t right. Justice in this case was a big bad wolf and she had blown down two houses already. The MACKS were still licking their wounds from the raid on the club and the only Penn not in custody, Reggie, had disappeared. Now they had hungrily set their sights on the final one. The bricks of the Knock Knock Club had already been smashed through so it wasn’t likely it would hold.

Lydia shook her head. “Don’t let her get to you. I’ve seen her manipulate people. She is a murderer.”

I could understand Lydia’s concern. Tabitha did have her way of getting to people. It was how she had managed to function so effectively. Lydia had learned from Detective Hickes that had I managed to get an interview with her where she gave me her version of events. My concern then wasn’t for Tabitha. It was for the countless people that the club had protected, fought for. My concern was for the many still in power that wouldn’t answer for corruption, murder, paedophile rings and exploitation of the poor. With Tabitha gone their power would only grow. I had as much reason to hate Tabitha as anyone, for the position she put me in with Madeline, for what happened to SARAH, for all of it. However, every time I looked at her with her childish attitude, her girlish gap tooth grin, all I could see was a scared little girl begging her aunt not to send her back to parents that would sell her into prostitution. Society failed that little girl and many like her. Until I revealed the truth, it was all I was ever going to see and time was running out.

“My job was to get the information they needed and to keep you safe. What happens beyond that is out of our control. She put the nail in her own coffin with the murder of a Court Clerk not to mention the other bodies she has left in her wake,” Lydia explained.

I couldn’t argue with the agents logic. Even Ronnie Owen couldn’t declare the witnesses as liars. Tabitha had done all of those things and was accepting her charges like it was her C.V.

“It’s not what’s happening in the court that bothers me,” I said. Although, if they had been so sure of a clean cut case they wouldn’t be shutting down every law firm that would opt to defend her and planting their own. “They came in heavy handed to the club. They were after Tabitha but they brutally beat their way to her. They have placed a gagging order on me. What are they worried I’ll say? The truth? They have left her with an Owen as her last line of defence. The very ones who are calling to hang her in the first place.”

Lydia had pursed her lips. She was taking what I was saying on board but she was still unmoved by it.

“Ronnie is different from his brothers,” she said.

“I know that. You know that. But the public doesn’t. That kind of atmosphere eats at a jury. The Cappy has cleverly made it seem like they are playing a fair game by having his brother defend her, but their fear and respect for the Owen name would shut them down – guilty, done, no more questions. That has been the Law Makers play all along. A farce of a trial to make an example of Tabitha and anyone who would question their running of the city, leading to a decision that has already been made.”

Lydia sighed. Her phone had been laid down on the greasy table in front of her face down so she lifted it to check if the jury had returned. With no notifications she laid it back down.

“She can’t be saved,” she warned me.

At first, I hadn’t understood whom she had meant. My mind initially went to Sarah, an innocent kid gunned down in the street. I never thought of Tabitha has needing to be saved. When I realised who she meant I scoffed.

“My sympathy for her stretches as far as those who she will leave behind. Her Aunt Agnes will be a sitting duck and her Aunt Tawny has suffered plenty already from what I can tell. You misunderstand what I mean,” I assured her. “If they can do this to someone like Tabitha then where does it end? Exaggerated charges against anyone who doesn’t bow to their will? The Shanties torn down? The Owen family owning the entire city? What happens to people like you and me?”

“You really believe that she had that much influence?”

“If she didn’t the Law Makers wouldn’t be going to the extent of pushing for the death penalty.”

Lydia agreed; I know she did but she was a logical, formulaic thinker and to her it was a matter of one monster at a time.

Lydia smiled. She could see the tension of the trial, everything that had happened to me personally was beginning to take it’s toll. When I first entered the Knock Knock club I had expected to find a seedy club hiding the mayor. I had no idea it would have come to what it had.

“I bet she’s already planning on having her prison jump suit made in red,” she teased.

I laughed despite myself. She was jesting of course but nothing would have surprised me as far as the Boss Lady was concerned.

“She’s probably asked for long cuffs so she can stand with her hand on her hip,” I added.

Lydia laughed heartily. Her laughed eased the tension a little. It made what was to happen next a little easier.

Her phone bleeped. The rattle of it on the table caused a shudder down my spine.

“Whatever happens next we’ll be ready for it,” she said. She checked the screen. “The jury is back.”

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***

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A cold breeze blew through the courtroom that day. All the talking, protesting and explaining had been done. All that was left was for the decision to be announced and so with that the hall sat in uncomfortable silence.

All that could be heard was the tapping of Sunday best shoes across the polished floors as the jury filtered back into their bench. Ronnie noted the concern on the foreman’s face. He had a fate in his hands and that can make some of us uncomfortable. The foreman was such a man but he dare not refuse the call of Judge Doyle.

Two large presences collided and only one of them would leave the Court House a victor that day. The stage was set but even with the odds stacked against her, Tabitha still fancied she would come out on top. She always did.

ATTENDANCE:

Judge Doyle: Presiding

City Prosecutor

Counsel for the Defendant: Ronald Owen

Defendant: Tabitha MC

Clerks and Bailiffs

The first to break the cold silence was the judge.

Judge Doyle: “Will the foreman of the jury stand.”

The foreman obeyed.

Judge Doyle: “Has the jury reached a verdict?”

Foreman: “Yes ma’am.”

Judge Doyle: “How does the jury find the defendant?”

Foreman: “On the charges of embezzlement of city funds we the jury find the defendant guilty.”

Tabitha rolled her eyes. That was the least of her concerns. The Judge chose not to chastise her for not taking it seriously enough. She knew the worst was yet to come.

Foreman: “On the charges of murder in the second degree of Melanie Wallace we find the defendant guilty”

This wouldn’t have come as a surprise with the clear evidence I had provided. Dennis had managed to find himself some leniency for his part having objected to it at the time and for providing his testimony.

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Foreman: “On the charges of murder in the first degree of Robert McInney, Linda McInney and Lynn Wilton we find the defendant guilty.”

There was no statute of limitations on murder charges in the City of Coldford.

Foreman: “On the charges of inciting violence and orchestrating the event known as the Free Fall Massacre we find the defendant guilty.”

What happened next will forever be on my conscience. I wasn’t there but reading the transcripts I can see the scene unfold. It was a long time coming but like death it is something you will never be prepared for. The time for sentencing had come.

Judge Doyle: “Will the defendant rise.”

Tabitha obeyed this command. She had no choice. The room hushed in anticipation.

Judge Doyle: “For too long you have run amok in this city without any consequences for your actions. Today you will learn that if you break the law you will be punished. You wished to stand as a symbol. I’ll allow that. I will hold you as an example to anyone who thinks that they are above the law. I have been granted power by the city to punish you to the fullest extent. I hereby sentence you to death by lethal injection.”

The courtroom burst into a noisy rabble broken only by the rhythmic slamming of Judge Doyle’s gavel. When the noise dissipated she continued.

Judge Doyle: “You will be confined to the Monte Forte until your date of execution has been confirmed.”

As I read through the transcripts my heart began to race. I knew there was no way Tabitha would not attempt to have the final say. My thoughts were correct because as she was being escorted away to her final resting place before death she scowled at the Judge.

Tabitha: “You can prick me with all the needles you want. You and I both know this isn’t over.”

The Judge engaged her but she remained cool and steady.

Judge Doyle: “It is over. This is my courtroom and my word is final.”

Tabitha: “You’re a cunt. You were born a cunt and you will always be a cunt!”

The bailiffs moved to put pressure on her but the Judge stopped them.

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Judge Doyle: “I am also revoking the care of Harbour House for Tawny McInney. She too will be brought before me to answer for her crimes.”

When the trial began I asked myself what it would take to break the Knock Knock Boss Lady. It seemed that was it. The Judge had her but broken things can have sharp edges. Tabitha grabbed a chair and launched it at the unkillable Judge Doyle. The immovable hand of justice didn’t budge as the chair crashed beside her.

TABITHA began screaming in a chilling, unprecedented display of fury.

Tabitha: “You fucking bitch! I will tear you apart if you hurt her! She has done nothing and you know it. I will rip your fucking lungs out!”

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The tirade continued. The Judge allowed Tabitha to scream and attempt to shake off the bailiffs like a child in the midst of an extreme tantrum. When she stopped for breath Doyle finally addressed her.

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Judge Doyle: “I told you that you do not get the final say in here. Sentence has been passed. Take her away.”

They thought they could hurt her but still she stands. They thought they could outsmart her but still she stands. They tried to kill her but failed. Justice is immortal and so still she stands.

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And so season 1 has ended not don’t worry folks. We’ve got plenty more where that came from. We’ll be back so keep your eyes peeled …

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In the meantime, the series is free to read HERE on Vivika Widow Online or you can download for kindle by clicking HERE.

KNOCK, KNOCK: Episode 1: Welcome to the Club

Knock, Knock: Episode 2: Don’t Come Knockin’

Knock, Knock: Episode 3: Sleep Tight Sam

Knock, Knock: Episode 4: Take A Bow

Knock, Knock: Episode 5: A Room With A View

Knock, Knock: Episode 6: Picking Up Strange Women

Knock, Knock: Episode 7: No Kids Allowed

Knock, Knock: Episode 8: Kids These Days

Knock, Knock: Episode 9: Shootin’ The Breeze

Knock, Knock: Episode 10: Calling Last Orders

Knock Knock: Episode 11: Shady City Blues

Knock Knock: Episode 12: Going Down

Knock Knock: Episode 13: Got the Fever

Knock Knock: Episode 14: Laying Down the Law

Knock Knock: Episode 15: Still I Stand

Knock Knock: Episode 16: Start Spilling

Knock Knock: Episode 17: High Fliers

Knock Knock: Episode 18: Taking Care of Business

Knock Knock: Episode 19: Take the Edge Off

ut wait, there’s more!

Coming 2020

Check in to Harbour House for relaxation and recovery in the explosive new novel.

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Knock Knock: Episode 19: Take the Edge Off

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Trial day eight. They had covered the Free Fall massacre extensively. Ronnie argued that Tabitha had been there purely as a guest. He even presented an invitation as evidence. The time came to return to the issue of TABITHA’s parents and the video of the murder of MELANIE WALLACE that Lydia and I had risked our lives to obtain. The prosecutor took the lead. On a large screen at the front of the hall, a screen grab of the murder of Melanie was shown. She was on her knees, Tabitha holding her and MARCUS ready to deliver the killing blow. Dennis stood idly by, unable to do anything to stop it – lest he join her. Melanie Wallace was a clerk of the Court. She had been instructed to deliver a note of intent to the Knock Knock club and its supporters. Apparently Tabitha had taken it personally. ‘Send her back to Cyclops in a fucking box,’ she had said at the time. Mel had been nothing more than a runner in this on-going war. Her only crime had been declaring herself on the side of the Law Makers, whilst Tabitha declared herself to be fighting the good fight on behalf of the good side of the Shady City. I wasn’t sure there was such a thing as the good side.

ATTENDANCE:

JUDGE DOYLE: Presiding

City Prosecutor

Counsel for the Defendant: RONALD OWEN

Defendant: Tabitha MC Clerks and Bailiffs

City Prosecutor: “Please excuse the delay ma’am, but my next witness wasn’t present in court. I am to understand he has arrived now.”

Judge Doyle looked to the back of the room where the doors were being opened to allow a new arrival.

City Prosecutor: “The prosecution calls DENNIS PLATT to the stand.”

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Dennis looked weary in morose clothing with blood shot eyes. Without his signature hat he seemed smaller, thinner. He gave a fleeting glance to Tabitha who scowled back at him. As the trial pressed on she was beginning to lose her composure more often. She was worried. Dennis took the witness bench.

City Prosecutor: “Can you state your position with the Knock Knock club for the court.”

Dennis Platt: “I was acting manager.”

City Prosecutor: “Did you try to stop the murder of Miss Wallace?”

Dennis was shaking his head.

Dennis Platt: “Not as much as I should have. I did warn her but she wouldn’t listen.

The prosecutor stroked his chin. He turned and observed the expressions on his jury.

City Prosecutor: “How did you come to meet the defendant?”

Dennis Platt: “I was organising some importing/ exporting at the time through Chamberlain Docks. One night I was coming home from a late delivery and I saw her. She was young, alone and in a dangerous area. I took her to my ex wife, who is a social worker, for some help.”

I had heard testimonies like it so many times over the years as a reporter. Dennis’ response was fixed, detailed just enough to avoid further question but limited to the point of not really telling anything. It was very rehearsed.

City Prosecutor: “What was she doing there at such a late hour?”

The prosecutor asked this as though that was the issue with the statement.

Dennis Platt: “She told me she was looking for her aunt. She was trying to get the ferry to Hathfield Bay.”

Dennis kept his focus ahead, without looking at anyone in particular.

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City Prosecutor: “Just to be clear, her aunt being Tawny McInney? The Baroness of the Knock Knock club, correct?”

Dennis Platt: “Yes, that’s correct.” He nodded in agreement.

This time the prosecutor looked for the expressions of the gathering.

City Prosecutor: “Did she mention her parents?”

Dennis Platt: “Not at first. She wouldn’t tell Olivia why she had left home. All she would say was she wanted to find her aunt.”

The prosecutor interrupted him then, turning to the jury and addressing them directly.

City Prosecutor: “Would the jury please note that the aunt referred to is the elder sister of victim Rob McKinney and sister in law to victim Linda McInney,” Returning to Dennis and urged him to continue. “Please carry on.”

Dennis Platt: “She stayed with us for a while. Olivia tried to get her some help but she wouldn’t let her call Child Services.”

The prosecutor leaned on the witness bench and observed Dennis closely.

City Prosecutor: “She eventually admitted to you that she had murdered her parents and her nanny. Correct?”

Ronnie Owen: “Objection Ma’am, the prosecution is leading this witness.”

Judge Doyle: “Over ruled,” said she but she continued, “I do ask the prosecution choose their wording more carefully.”

The prosecutor stood straight, his spine like an iron rod.

City Prosecutor: “I do apologise ma’am.” He returned his focus to Dennis. “So what did she tell you about the night her parents died?”

Dennis Platt: “She gave me every detail.”

City Prosecutor: “She admitted to murdering them and the nanny?”

Dennis Platt: “In cold blood.”

Dennis went on to explain the event as he had told it to me. When he had finished the City Prosecutor gave a satisfied grin.

City Prosecutor: “No further questions.”

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Tabitha whispered something to Ronnie. She was frowning severely. The lawyer remained focused. He stood and with a clear of his throat he took his turn to address Dennis.

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Ronnie Owen: “Mr Platt, can you please tell the court how you came to be the manager of the Knock Knock Club, leaving a wife and young child behind?”

City Prosecutor: “Objection ma’am!” He barked. “Irrelevant to this case.”

Ronnie Owen: “It is very relevant ma’am. If the jury are to take Mr Platt at his word, they need to understand his connection to the defendant.”

Judge Doyle: “Over ruled. The witness will answer the question.”

Dennis Platt: “She was desperate to re-open the club. She threatened my wife and child if I didn’t help her.”

Ronnie Owen: “I find it difficult to believe that a young girl could hold you under duress and for so long, just by a threat.”

Dennis seemed to gather from a well of strength. He growled and snapped back at the lawyer.

Dennis Platt: “Then you ought to ask your brother what she’s capable of. Jerry, isn’t it?”

Ronnie ignored the statement. He had his angle for removing any legitimacy in Dennis’ statement and he wouldn’t be detracted from pulling on that thread.

Ronnie Owen: “Isn’t it true that you weren’t such a noble rescuer but simply took a shine to a young girl you found on the docks? What way was she dressed that night? Looking promiscuous, was she? Did taking her home seem like the sensible thing to do?”

Dennis Platt: “I told you, Liv was a social worker. She had experience with little girls in trouble.”

Ronnie had his bite. It was time to start reeling in the rod.

Ronnie Owen: “Little girls, troubled girls, you had experience in that too, didn’t you?”

City Prosecutor: “Objection! Counsellor is badgering the witness. He is not the one on trial here ma’am.”

Judge Doyle: “Sustained. Do get to your point counsellor.”

Ronnie shrugged.

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Ronnie Owen: “Apologies ma’am.” Returning to the witness. “Is it true that the only reason the defendant was able to coerce you into staying at the Knock Knock Club was because you attempted to assault her and she threatened to tell your wife?”

Dennis was becoming irate.

Dennis Platt: “She needs to be locked away.”

Ronnie still stayed calm. Dennis didn’t have anything to lose at that point but Tabitha did. Her best chance rested on a statement from a man who hated her, pulled forward from a man who shared the name of the one’s who had put her there in the first place.

Ronnie Owen: “Is it true that your business, the business at the docks, was bringing girls into prostitution?”

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Dennis immediately denied. He may not have anything left to lose but it would take a long time for the virus coursing in his blood to destroy the survival instinct.

Ronnie Owen: “I could name some of your clients.”

Dennis’ eyes widened. He was deciding whether or not Ronnie would throw his own brother Jerry under a bus in order to bring an end to the Headliners. He had had dealings with Jerry in the purchasing of girls, foreign girls looking for a new life in the city, young girls, under age girls for particular parties with particular tastes, boys too. Ronnie wouldn’t want that kind of dirty laundry aired in court surely? The Cappy had fought hard to make sure that that kind of knowledge of his brother didn’t become public. Dennis wondered then how far Ronnie was willing to go to win the case for his client. Now that he had Dennis pulling back in fear Ronnie ended his questioning before the City Prosecutor could raise any objections.

Ronnie Owen: “No further questions.”

It seemed Ronnie wouldn’t bring it up. It was unlikely Judge Doyle would let it stand anyway but the expression on Dennis’ face was enough to plant doubt in the jurors. The women on the jury carefully selected by Ronnie were glaring at Dennis. Ronnie went on to detail Dennis attempted assault on Tabitha and how she overthrew him. It was now time to play another hand in the hopes of swaying more onto Tabitha’s side.

Ronnie Owen: “If the court will indulge me, I call CHLOE GROVER to the stand.”

Led by a surprisingly gentle Bailiff the nineteen-year-old girl, Chloe, took the stand. Her head was bowed and her shoulders hunched.

Ronnie Owen: “Good morning, ma’am. We’re going to discuss some things that may be a little difficult for you but we’ll keep it as brief as possible. Is that okay?”

Chloe Grover: “You can call me Chloe. That’s my name.” She smiled at Ronnie but bowed her head again when she noticed the jury were watching her.

Ronnie Owen: “What is your relationship with Dennis?”

Chloe looked up as though she didn’t understand the question so the lawyer rephrased.

Ronnie Owen: “How do you know Dennis?”

Chloe Grover: “I love him. I love him so much. Is he okay?”

Ronnie Owen: “He’s fine but I need you to tell the jury what he made you do.”

Ronnie spoke softly. Chloe responded well to him.

Chloe Grover: “You mean the friends he sent to my room?”

Ronnie Owen: “Exactly. What did those friends want from you?”

Chloe looked a little confused. She was a soft hearted, simple-minded girl.

Chloe Grover: “I had to give them special cuddles. Dennis needed money and I wanted him to be happy.”

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Ronnie Owen: “Did you make money from the friends?”

Chloe Grover: “I didn’t need money. Dennis took care of me.”

Ronnie Owen: “How many of those friends came to your room?”

Chloe shrugged like a small child being chastised by a teacher.

Chloe Grover: “I don’t know. The man with the pony tail and glasses said it was five hundred but that’s a really big number.”

City Prosecutor: “Objection ma’am! Dennis Platt is not the one on trial here.”

Ronnie Owen: “It is relevant to the case here. I need the jury to fully understand the circumstances in which he met the defendant and his actions that brought them both to the Knock Knock Club.”

Judge Doyle: “Over ruled. I urge you to keep your questioning relevant though counsellor.”

A recess was called to allow the jury to catch their breath. The day was far from over.

***

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With Tabitha’s words still ringing in my ears I went in search of Olivia. Word had it that she was at CPD working closely with them on some youth projects. I got a confused look from the receptionist when I asked for Olivia Platt. It seemed she no longer used her married name and I didn’t know what her maiden one was.

“Do you mean Liv Hickes? The social worker lady?” She asked. I smiled. “That’s right.”

I didn’t want to seem like Olivia and I had never met. Visiting the social worker to check on Chloe gave me some cover should the Law Makers question why I was at CPD.

On instruction of HICKES I was directed to the second floor at the end of a long narrow corridor where Fullerton Construction were adding renovations. It was well lit and inviting. It left the feel of a police station behind.

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I knocked on the door. Olivia’s soft voice invited me in. She sounded calm and composed. When I opened the door I found Hickes was there too. He greeted me with a smile.

“Sorry to interrupt,” I said. “I was hoping to have a quick word with Olivia.”
Olivia was the handsome, polite woman Dennis described.

“You’re alright Sam,” Hickes confirmed, easing Olivia’s suspicions of me. He turned to Olivia. “This is the reporter I was telling you about.”

Olivia still said nothing. Hickes laid a hand on her shoulder. “He’s been through a lot.”
“I heard some of what you’ve had to deal with Sam,” Olivia spoke up. “I’m so sorry about your wife.”

“I hear you haven’t had it easy either. Dennis told me.”

Olivia’s eyes widened at the mention of her ex husband so I changed my angle.

“How is your son, Milo? Is he doing okay?”

Olivia eased off. “He’s fine. Thank you.”

“Speaking of,” said Hickes. “I had better go get little mister. He’ll be getting out of school.”

Olivia smiled as she looked up at him. “Thanks sweetie,” she said.

“I’ll see you tonight,” he offered her a quick kiss.

Leaving the room he stopped beside me.

“Get straight to your point and don’t upset her,” he warned. “The only reason I’m letting you in here is because Lydia trusts you.”

“I just want a quick word,” I assured.

“Just be careful,” he finished before leaving Olivia and I alone in her office.

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“It’s not my intention to upset you,” I began. “I realise that I am putting us both at a lot of risk by being here but I wouldn’t if I didn’t think it was important.”

“Would you like some coffee?” Olivia asked pointing to a coffee maker in the corner.

“No thank you,” I replied. I had been drinking so much coffee from the hotel that I was starting to feel a little jittery.

“So you spoke to Tabitha?” It was the social worker that opened the dialogue.

“Yes,” I admitted. “She only has warm regards for you. It was she who urged me to speak to you.”

Olivia shook her head. “What happened to that girl was …”

I wasn’t sure if she meant the forced induction into a paedophile ring by her parents or the attempted rape by her ex husband so I tread carefully.

“When Dennis left with her did you know where she had gone and why?” Olivia’s brow tightened. Her swimming eyes clouded.

“I went to the Knock Knock club when it reopened. A dancer girl threatened me with a knife. She told me if I ever came back looking for Dennis or Tabitha, she would open my throat.”

“Believe it or not I think that was Tabitha’s way of protecting you,” I said.
Olivia seemed to agree.

“She was a very troubled little girl. One of my biggest regrets in life was failing to help her.” It was time. I had to ask.

“Do you know what Dennis tried to do to her?” Olivia sighed. She was close to weeping but she held back.

“I had my suspicions that something had happened between them. I guess that was confirmed when they left.”

“Dennis was a prolific paedophile,” I confirmed. I was conscious of my limited time and as painful as it was for her I had to break through barriers quicker. “He tried to rape her and she enslaved him as a result. She took him away from you and Milo to protect you.”
Here Olivia did become emotional.

“Those girls!” She cried. “I wanted to help them and instead I delivered them into the hands of a predator.”

I spoke softer. “You weren’t to know.”

Olivia would hear none of it.

“It was my job to protect those girls and I failed them. I failed Tabitha and I failed others. There was a girl in my care. Alana her name was. She was a sweet girl from the Shanties trying to improve her life. She was trying to leave drugs behind. She had been an addict since age twelve. At first she got along with Dennis really well. I remember being so proud of how good he was with her. They became so close. They had their own inside jokes and little skits they’d play out. Alana was such a loving girl. Her circumstances hadn’t broken her spirit but one day it all changed. She was fifteen. She had been clean for a while. She even began a course at City College. She was doing so well but something between her and Dennis changed. They were no longer close. When I asked Dennis about it he told me that she had come on to him strongly, mistaking his affection for lust. I tried to talk to Alana but she became angry with me and violent. She had to be moved on. She had a history of that kind of behaviour. When I think of what could have happened to the girls in my care, girls even younger and more vulnerable…”

“You mustn’t blame yourself,” I put in.

Olivia disagreed. “Why shouldn’t I? I was supposed to be their protector. Where does the blame stop if not with me?”

“We can’t change the past but we can learn from it and better equip ourselves to stop things like that happening again. The city needs people like you, people with compassion. It’s not for cold hearted monsters like Doyle or even lunatics like Tabitha to make changes, it is for people like us.”

Olivia gave it some thought.

“What is it you want to know?”

“I would like to know any details you have of Owen victims that came to you. Tabitha is likely going down for a long time but we can still find justice for the others. Will you support me?” Olivia smiled. “Of course.” I wanted to end on a more positive note. The discussion would have given Olivia a lot to think about, leaving a sour taste in her mouth. “As despicable a human being as Dennis was, there is something in his words that ring true. He loves his son.” Olivia took a deep breath. Her eyes glanced towards the window, which gave view of the wider city. “In the interest of telling the whole truth I would like to hear anything Tabitha told you about her parents.” “You can’t write anything just now,” Olivia reminded me. “No,” I agreed. “But when the trial is over there is nothing that will stop me.” Olivia smiled warmly. “Maybe you’ll take that coffee now then.”

***

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PADDY MACK – head of the Mack clan since his father Brendan slipped into retirement – had heard from the CPD officer who brought him cigarettes that the LAW MAKERS were campaigning for the death penalty for Tabitha. The officer watched for Paddy’s reaction but he said nothing. His expression remained vacant. The CPD officer assumed he was worried about his own dynasty. If the KNOCK KNOCK CLUB fell, the DISTILLERY wouldn’t be far behind it. The closed sign across the Auction House was already sending chills resonating to the Shanties. The Mack leader was in the perfect position for negotiations to begin.

It was four pm, Paddy guessed. His room in CPD holding was windowless so it was hard to tell for certain. When the CPD officer stopped by he began to make arrangements to call home.

“It’s just for ma ma,” he told the officer. “She’ll be worried. I just want to let her know I’m still alive.”

The officer groaned. “Fine,” he agreed. “As long as it’s just your mum.”

The officer escorted him to the phones. He stood beside him the entire time.

“What’s he doing Frank?” asked another officer passing.

Frank grinned, leaning on the wall beside Paddy. “He’s phonin’ his ma,” he said, imitating the harsh BELLFIELD accent Paddy had. They both chuckled.

Paddy rolled his eyes and shook his head. “I really need you two cunts right now,” he mumbled sarcastically.

The phone only rang a couple of times before Annie Mack answered.

“It’s Paddy, Ma,” he said.

“Oh sweet baby Jesus! Are you okay?”

“I’m grand. I just wanted to let you know I’m fine.”

Annie was close to tears. He could hear it in her voice.

“I’ll be out soon enough,” the son replied.

“Yer father is just about going spare. He’s been calling CPD but they won’t entertain him.

He gave Kieran a right hiding for letting you get lifted.”

“It’s all going to be sorted Ma. I’ll just have to behave meself,” Paddy injected some humour and confidence to help raise Annie Mack’s spirits.

CPD officer Frank pointed to his wrist.

“Listen, Ma, I have to go but I’ll be home soon.”

Paddy took note of Officer Frank’s raised eyebrows, which suggested ‘not in this lifetime boyo’

Annie sobbed. “Are ya sure yar alright?”

Paddy smiled. “I told ya I’m grand. Tell Da to stop phonin’ or the filth are gonna have him too.”

Frank glared at him. Paddy smiled and raised a finger.

Annie giggled. “He won’t be happy until they wheel him in beside ya.”

Paddy was warmed at the image of his outspoken yet wheelchair bound father being brought in to CPD still shouting the odds.

“Ya bunch of wankers!” he would be yelling. “I’ll take the lot of ya!”

After hanging up and being taken back to his holding cell Frank made a phone call of his own.

“He wants back to his family,” he said. “The time is now.”

At five Paddy received another shadow. He rested his eyes on the doorway where a shadowed figure in a Law Makers blazer loomed. They were one of what was known as the Sharp Suits. They were special members of Judge Doyle’s Law Makers, authorised to dispense justice as they saw fit.

“Good afternoon, Mr Mack,” a cold, emotionless voice said.

“I’ve already told your lot I’ve nothin’ to say,” Paddy returned.

The figure was unmoved. “Then allow me to do the talking,” they suggested. “The Mack Distillery is a big concern in Coldford. We would hate to see it shut down.”

“You can’t do that,” Paddy retorted.

The figure continued to observe him.

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“I’m afraid we can. With criminal activity flowing through the Knock Knock Club and your brand being one of its biggest suppliers we would have no choice but to shut the distillery down pending further investigation.”

“You would put hundreds of people out of work,” pleaded the Mack owner.

The shadowed frame loomed a little closer. A cold breeze charged in from the corridor outside.

“The unemployment situation in the city isn’t Judge Doyle’s priority at the moment. As head of the Mack Clan it is really up to you to protect those people and you can’t do that in here.”

Paddy scoffed. “This is were ya put me.”

Long arms spread from the figure, across its chest. “It doesn’t have to be that way,” they said. “You don’t have to sacrifice your own future and that of your own people. You do realise the club wouldn’t offer you the same courtesy if it meant saving themselves.”

“I’m in a bit of a hurry. I got places to go. Could you get to your point?” Paddy said with minimal amount of jest.

A citation was laid on the floor at Paddy’s feet.

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“You are called to provide evidence against Tabitha and the Knock Knock Club.”

“You want me to take the stand against her?”

“It’s been a long time coming. Consider what would happen if the shoe were on the other foot.”

“She’d never let the distillery fall,” said Paddy, but he wasn’t sounding as confident.

“Are you sure about that? She’s already pointed fingers at your brother Kieran for violating licences in the hope of some leniency.”

Paddy refused to believe that. “You talk shite,” he said.

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“It seems you don’t know your Boss Lady as well as you think you do. The south is in enough upheaval. The distillery is bigger than the Knock Knock Club. If you cooperate it can continue to produce the finest whiskey in the Shady City. Testify against Tabitha and you can return home to your family. You can continue to run the distillery and we all raise a glass of Macks in your honour.”

“You would let me go?” The hook was set. There was a bite.

“For your sake and for the sake of your workers it would be best. Call it letting one fish go to make a bigger catch. You’re not the one Judge Doyle wants at this point. Don’t put yourself on the rack.”

Paddy read over the citation.

“Fine,” he agreed.

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***

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As the trial drew on Judge Doyle sought to put the final nail in Tabitha’s coffin. She opened her courtroom with the promise that the Boss Lady would be broken before her bench. Despite the overwhelming evidence against Tabitha and the strong likelihood that she would be behind bars for a long time, the Judge was still not satisfied. She wanted to break Tabitha of the bonds she had in the Shanties. She wanted to show the people their queen was nothing more than a murdering sociopath who was leading them to lawlessness. She would start from the strongest top branches of Tabitha’s alliances and work her way down. The Auction House snapped. Next up was the longest spanning bond between the Headliners and the Knock Knock Club. The agreement between the Mack Distillery and the Knock Knock Club was the first one reached when the club opened. A photo of Agnes, Tawny, Brendan and Annie hung in the balcony area of the club. That was a different generation though. That was a long time ago. Things had changed. A lot had changed since those photos had been taken. A lot had transpired since the four smiled and the lens flashed. Tawny and Agnes were not their niece. Brendan and Annie were not their son. As Paddy was led to the stand, he offered Tabitha no eye contact.

ATTENDANCE:

Judge Doyle: Presiding

City Prosecutor

Counsel for the Defendant: Ronald Owen

Defendant: Tabitha MC

Patrick Mack: Witness

Clerks and Bailiffs

City Prosecutor: Your family brand has been suppliers to the Knock Knock Club for a generation now.

Patrick Mack: That’s right. Agnes Wilde struck the deal with the distillery when the club first opened. My da was good friends with the Baroness. Tawny, I mean.

City Prosecutor: That arrangement continued when the defendant took over.

Patrick Mack: No reason that it wouldn’t.

City Prosecutor: Having such a close relationship with the club and the defendant I assume you saw a lot of the comings and goings.

Patrick Mack: I saw everything.

The City Prosecutor couldn’t help but grin. Never before had he had such a dish served up on a case. He could taste the verdict and it was sweet on his tongue.

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City Prosecutor: Could you detail for the jury exactly what you saw?

Paddy did look over to Tabitha. She maintained his gaze but her expression was difficult to read.

Patrick Mack: I saw your lot ruin good people and Tabitha was the only one to pick up the pieces.

The City Prosecutor turned. He was frowning severely. This was not the statement they had prepared.

City Prosecutor: Mr Mack you are making a mockery of this court.

Patrick Mack: No. What is fecking funny is you think I will sit here and tell you that

Tabitha had no reasoning behind what she did. She’s a feckin animal yes, but you need an animal to fight against cunts like you.

City Prosecutor: Enough!

Judge Doyle slammed her gavel.

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Judge Doyle: If you do not take this seriously I will hold you in contempt.

Patrick Mack: Then hold me in fecking contempt. I swore to tell the truth, the whole truth, and that truth is you are all cunts. Especially you.

Paddy leaned forward and dared to address the Judge directly.

Patrick Mack: I saw Tabitha open up the club to the homeless, stop a deal that would see countless others on the street and protect those who needed it, which is more than you feckers ever did.

The gavel was slammed again.

Judge Doyle: Hold him in contempt.

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The Bailiffs escorted Paddy from the stand. He tipped Tabitha a wink as he passed. Her lips formed a smile. Breaking the Mack bond with the Knock Knock Club was going to be harder than Judge Karyn Doyle thought.

Coming next: The verdict is in and as season 1 comes to a close we just have one final question – Guilty or Not Guilty?

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In the meantime, the series is free to read HERE on Vivika Widow Online or you can download for kindle by clicking HERE.

KNOCK, KNOCK: Episode 1: Welcome to the Club

Knock, Knock: Episode 2: Don’t Come Knockin’

Knock, Knock: Episode 3: Sleep Tight Sam

Knock, Knock: Episode 4: Take A Bow

Knock, Knock: Episode 5: A Room With A View

Knock, Knock: Episode 6: Picking Up Strange Women

Knock, Knock: Episode 7: No Kids Allowed

Knock, Knock: Episode 8: Kids These Days

Knock, Knock: Episode 9: Shootin’ The Breeze

Knock, Knock: Episode 10: Calling Last Orders

Knock Knock: Episode 11: Shady City Blues

Knock Knock: Episode 12: Going Down

Knock Knock: Episode 13: Got the Fever

Knock Knock: Episode 14: Laying Down the Law

Knock Knock: Episode 15: Still I Stand

Knock Knock: Episode 16: Start Spilling

Knock Knock: Episode 17: High Fliers

Knock Knock: Episode 18: Taking Care of Business

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