Tonight’s blog should have been about fears, what shapes them and how they impact our daily lives. It was a carefully constructed article (If I do say so myself) that tackled the issues of childhood trauma and facing those fears. Then unfortunately WordPress happened. Thanks to a issue saving the article the whole thing was deleted. I’m not a huge tech whiz so there may be a small chance that it was my fault somehow but I’m trying to not cry so let’s just leave it at that.
Instead you may consider yourself having read a terrific article and are now thinking, “Wow! That’s probably the best thing I’ve ever read on the internet.” I’m trying to cheer myself up here if you will indulge a girl. Anyway, if you find my article zooming about cyber space feel free to nab it and prove me wrong.
This isn’t the greatest thing you’ll read on the internet but at least it’s a tribute 😉
In the meantime I’d like to continue on the theme of fear with a few words:
They sow doubt and plague our minds.
Fears hold us back; routed deep in our design.
A time comes when we don’t have a choice.
They come at us full on with a screaming voice.
Then we decide to run or to fight.
Do we give in to that all consuming fright?
Face them for the sake of those who rely.
Face them or at least give it a try.
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Bring my your sick. Bring me your troubled. Bring me those that society can no longer cope with, for they will always have a home here at Harbour House.
Elizabeth is a real force to be reckoned with. Some say she should have been the one to lead the BECKINGRIDGE EMPIRE but as she would quite happily state, she wants nothing to do with the running the family business. Her only interest in BECKINGRIDGE TOWER lies with her own investments, her family name and the support of her brother ERNEST.
A former wild child Elizabeth opts for the quiet life mostly but when she does appear in public she is guaranteed give the press reason to talk about her. She is a snappy dresser, bold conversationalist and you will find yourself either loving or hating her. She doesn’t care which.
Although she is impatient and challenging she is also warm hearted. When things are getting out of hand at the Beckingridge Manor it is she who still stands in protection of the family. As her nephew, George, begins to get out of control it is she who calls upon the music teacher, VINCENT BAINES, to try and give him something to focus on.
A large presence in the Shady City like Beck Tower needs a strong leader to steer it through dangerous waters. They call the financial industry in Coldford the Shark Tank and even although Elizabeth has sharper teeth than most it would take a tragedy to find her at the helm.
When Elizabeth’s young nephew starts asking of the murder his mother was acquitted from she feels it’s time to find the disturbed little boy something to focus on. Music lessons might be key.
Trial day five. I didn’t want to find myself there but, like some morbid car crash, I couldn’t help but take a closer peek at the carnage. I was at the COLDFORD CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT. Quietly and discretely Detective HICKES arranged for me to see the BOSS LADY, still held at CPD whilst her trial continued. I had passed AGNES in the hotel I was being held at but since she was also under police escort she could only offer me a pleading look. I thought about what Agnes had told me, so I started to look into some of the trouble TABITHA had been accused of when she was just a girl.
In order to get to the truth, I had no choice but to look into her cold, grey stare and ask her for her honest account of events. She had fought off a rapist as a child, she had stopped her parents selling her into a paedophile ring and she had watched her beloved aunt reduced to incarceration at HARBOUR HOUSE, but none of it gave her licence for what she did in response.
The KNOCK KNOCK club protected the innocent but it also brought carnage. When Hickes gave me entry to her holding, she was still wearing the confident expression she had when I first met her. The events that had occurred through the trial, the prospect of a death sentence that the LAW MAKERS were still fighting for, hadn’t completely removed her bravado.
“Well, well,” she said. “Look who finally decided to show up?”
I took the seat across the table from her. Anger and frustration was boiling over from everything that had happened to me since we first met. “I’m surprised you actually wanted to speak to me. The last time I asked you for an interview you told me nothing. I believe your words were, ‘your newspaper is a rag,’ ”
Tabitha laughed looking to the ceiling, as though remembering her comment made her chuckle all over again. “Well, circumstances have changed. I adapt to suit.”
“My friend is dead because of you,” I chastised her. “Why should I listen to anything you have to say?”
Tabitha frowned. “You mean the reporter girl? Mandy?”
“Her name was Madeline!” I snapped.
Tabitha was unmoved. “Whatever,” she replied. “Did I stab her though?”
“No but you gave her the opportunity. You caused it.”
“Did I stab her though?” She asked again. “As far as I saw it, you got a creepy killer look in your eyes and you went at her.”
I stood then. I had heard enough. “Officer!” I banged on the door and called to Hickes, “I’m leaving.”
Tabitha’s bravado dropped then. She reached out to grab my arm and hissed, “Sit down. Don’t get excited. You should be thanking me. The recording of her attacking you first is the only thing keeping your ass out of the room next to mine.” She grinned. “Wouldn’t that have been cosy?”
“Tabitha…” I warned like a father to a wayward child.
“Fine, maybe she wouldn’t be dead if she hadn’t put her nose in. She could have at least discussed it with you though. Not so much as a, ‘isn’t this weird Sammy? Why are we here in our undies Sammy? What does that gorgeous woman in red want with us Sammy?’ Nope, she was cold. I didn’t do that to her. This city did. I may have put the knife in her hand but she was a girl who knew what it takes to survive. At least she thought she did. It turns out you survived anyway so calm the fuck down. I have to be honest; I had hinged bets on you being long dead by now. REGGIE was rooting for you though. Bravo on proving me wrong. So you live to fight another day.”
I stopped her before she started rambling. “They are going to send you away for a very long time. As well they should.”
“I hear they are looking to have me executed. They wouldn’t have been able to if it weren’t for you sneaking about my club, aided by that rat-faced bitch from BOURNTON so the way I see it we are even, right?” TABITHA returned. “And I hope you are going to explain to the triplets’ dear mother that her precious boy is going down now too because of you.”
I folded my arms and shook my head in exasperation. “You expect me to have sympathy for MARCUS PENN?”
Tabitha shrugged. “I suppose not. He can be a bit of a prick.”
I needed to push forward. “Say what you have to say to me. I can’t stay here. I’m already risking a lot.”
Her expression changed then. There was something softer, something child like behind it. “Since you insist,” she began. “Yes, I murdered my parents but you cannot tell me that people willing to sell their daughter to a bunch of fucking pervos deserve to live.”
“They should have been reported to the authorities,” suggested I.
“Oh come on. You heard it from Aggie,” replied the Boss Lady with a laugh. “My Aunt Tee was sent away from Judge Cyclops’ court. They wouldn’t listen. So she took it into her own hands to let the city know how much of a creep Jerry Owen was. It turned out I wasn’t the only one he had tried it on with. There were hundreds of victims between Coldford and the Great States. This all must have happened when you were clearly living in a cave somewhere.”
This was news to me. I was only vaguely familiar with the OWEN family arriving in the city from the small suburb of JAMESTOWN where I grew up. The Owen propaganda machine had went into full force when the Knock Knock Club, led by the BARONESS, started making trouble for Owen Inc. on behalf of Tabitha and the other girls, so very little of the story reached public ears.
“So then what happened?” I pushed as though a reporter back on the story once again.
“Conveniently and surprising no one, my Aunt Tee’s petition to take me away from it all was refused. They should have just let me fucking go but those filthy Owen pricks play dirty. They had so many politicians, cops and lawyers in their pockets it didn’t matter what happened; they came out smelling like roses. Every one knew those roses were fertilised by bullshit but they were too afraid or too handsomely paid to do anything about it. They offered Aunt Tee money. She refused. She still wouldn’t stop calling them out so they burnt the whole fucking club down.
The Knock Knock Club was used to shelter the victims. Then it became a shelter for other victims of abuse, victims of corruption. Yes, the club isn’t exactly the Weir Hotel. Tits and booze and good times, but when you attract the filth of the city it gives you the chance to keep a closer eye on them.
Aunt Tee had a reputation in the Shanties. They loved her. They still do. She and Agnes did a great job but it was never going to last. Those dirty cunts attacked the club. They shot some of the dancer girls, some of the MACKS and even dear old Jack. He was just a compere for the club. What had he done? Just because he was on Knock Knock’s bill. He was an entertainer. He had nothing to do with anything. There was nothing I could have done. I hid out at Dennis’ for a while. Then when he started his shit it reminded me of why I was needed, why the Knock Knock was needed.”
I waited until she had finished. I listened quietly and noted her changes of tone, her true anger and outrage surfacing at the mention of the Owen name. Her true affections surfacing when she mentioned her aunts and even the old club emcee and the dancer girls.
“I’ll tell your true side of the story. I’ll make sure the public knows what you have told me today. It will be up to them to them to decide what to do with it.”
She shook her head and groaned. “Oh my God, with your holier than thou bullshit. Haven’t you been listening? Do you even know who owns the newspaper you work for?”
“You’re not suggesting …”
Tapping her skull she said, “Yes, fucking Owen Inc. Even without a gagging order down your throat they will never let you print anything that sheds light on how evil they are. Didn’t you think it strange that the mayor of the city went missing and the only outlet his wife would let report on it was the COLDFORD DAILY? It certainly wasn’t because of the high journalistic standard; I’ve read some of your shitty stories. Perhaps Madeline should have won the stab off. I’m sure she wasn’t as much of a naïve retard as you are.”
She must have realised she wasn’t going the right way about encouraging me onto her side. She changed her tone slightly. “The Owens wanted to keep the story running through their newspaper so they can control every little detail and get a closer look at what little old me was up to. Why do you think you were even in Knock Knock in the first place? You were an Owen stooge.”
“So what do you propose I do with what you’re telling me?” I asked her.
“I don’t expect you to take what I’m telling you in good faith. Whilst their focus is on me it gives you the chance to do a little digging. Speak to OLIVIA PLATT, Dennis’ ex-wife. She means well and had many Owen victims come through her office as a social worker.” That soft look came over her again, almost human behind the mask. “If you do find her and Milo is with her be discreet. He’s just a kid. He doesn’t have to know how much of a prick his dad is.”
It was a quiet night in the oldest part of town. Elmslie Court in KINGSGATE was taking a breath of cool night air. Micky Doyle had called around to his cousin at three that afternoon. The day had fallen into night. He and Karyn still discussed the spate of attacks that had occurred around the city, including an explosion at the Weir Hotel in City Main as well as the attempts on Karyn’s life. Before they knew it dinner was served.
“That’s why we need to take the hot seat and clean this city up,” Micky concluded. The reference he made was to the mayoral office in Coldford, at an intimidating building called City Face due to the large clock it bore.
Karyn was in complete agreement but given the danger she was in and Micky’s mentor – Derek Gainor – losing out on the election to Jim Feltz they had to be careful.
Feltz had declared himself a friend of the south and a saviour of the Shanties. ‘Regeneration; Rejuvenation; Rehabilitation’ was his campaign promise. At the time the Coldford Express had called him a hope for the south. The chronicle went with ‘a breath of fresh air.’ The Coldford Daily was in support of his competitor. I remember writing a profile piece on Derek at the time. But like many, Jim Feltz felt the heat of the hot seat burn too fiercely. With Tabitha warning him to make good on his promises and Owen Inc. looking to push their own agendas with the might of the north behind them he panicked. He used city money to appease his northern overlords and tried to run before Tabitha and her Headliners found out. When AMBER FELTZ, the mayor’s youngest daughter, came calling at the Knock Knock Club she confirmed her father’s intentions.
Micky Doyle has his eye on the Hot Seat.
“When election time comes around again I’ll be ready,” Micky said over the soft tapping of silver ware on fine china plates.
“If you are going to run for office there is just one thing you should be wary of,” Karyn warned.
The darkness had crept on them so subtly through their discussions that when Cameron switched on the lamp in the corner the light was wild and harsh. It took some time for eyes to adjust and the light to settle into smooth warmth.
“The business with Reverend Owen,” she went on to explain. “It will be brought up if you make a move for City Hall.”
Micky cocked his head as he watched Cameron move vegetables around the plate. “It’s already a problem,” he said. “If I can get on the hot seat I can shut them up for good.”
Cousin Micky is willing to show Cameron the ropes.
“Tread carefully,” warned his cousin.
“Do you believe what they say about him?”
“Not without any verifiable evidence, no. What I’m saying is that it will cause a political minefield and so you will tread carefully.”
Cameron looked up and his eye caught something moving outside.
“Mum?” he said. “I think there is someone at the window.”
He looked to Micky who frowned in confusion. Micky looked back over his shoulder to the window behind him. Karyn was already on her feet. She strode to the window and glanced out onto the lawns. Through the glare of lights Karyn could see a man lying out on the perfectly kept grass.
Karyn and Micky went outside. Cameron followed close at their heel.
A blonde man in a priest’s collar stirred. He was mumbling something to himself but the words were nonsense.
“What’s wrong with him mum?” Cameron asked.
Micky looked to his cousin. She was observing the figure in great detail. She was remembering every tortured wrinkle on his face, every detail of his dress, and the smell of his breath and the position of his body for future reference. Her lips tightened.
“Do you know him mum?” asked Cameron.
“Help him up,” she ordered. “It’s Jerry Owen.”
Cameron grabbed the priest by his left arm and Micky took the right. As they eased him gently onto his feet he gargled. Drool leaked from the left corner of his mouth. Blood ran down his face.
“Wait,” Karyn’s voice snapped into the night. “Stop.”
She reached up and brushed his hair back to reveal a hole had been drilled into his skull by someone who intended on rendering him dumb but didn’t necessarily have the medical know how. His genitals had been removed.
Karyn growled. Cameron looked to Micky again. In the pocket of the priests shirt was a note written in a childish scrawl.
A cure for a pervo.
I took care of it myself.
“Get him inside,” ordered the Judge. “I’ll call for a doctor.”
So many had come forward with accusations against Jerry Owen thanks to the efforts of the Baroness of the Knock Knock Club – Tabitha’s Aunt Tawny – but there was no evidence, no medical reports and no police findings.
When Jerry’s elder brother, Charles ‘Chick’ Owen, found out he requested that he be given the chance to take care of the situation.
“Little kids? Shit. If I had the sick fuck I would castrate him myself but he’s one of my own, and you don’t go against one of your own on the word of some fucked up little bitch and her boozy clown aunt,” said the eldest Owen, better known as the Cappy, to Micky.
To The Judge he said, “My son, Buddy, has taken over the Kappa So Chapter House. He’s a little erratic at times but he may be just what you need. I’m sendin’ him ova. He’ll make himself useful to you.”
There was no evidence and no confirmation but Judge Doyle knew who was responsible for Jerry Owen’s crude lobotomy. She also knew who had ordered the attacks on her, the recent surge of slander stories in the press about the Owen’s that they had to close down quickly, and the Freefall Massacre. It all resonated from the newly reopened Knock Knock Club and soon the Boss Lady of said club would be made to pay for all of it.
Judge Doyle promised to break the Knock Knock Boss Lady and she will start by removing those closest to her.
In the meantime, the series is free to read HERE on Vivika Widow Online or you can download for kindle by clicking HERE.
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.
Judge Doyle: Presiding
Counsel for the Defendant: Ronald Owen
Defendant: Tabitha MC
Witness: Agnes Wilde
Clerks and Bailiffs
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.”
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!
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!
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?!”
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.”
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.
Judge Doyle: Presiding
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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 …
In the meantime, the series is free to read HERE on Vivika Widow Online or you can download for kindle by clicking HERE.
All was quiet. ERNEST BECKINGRIDGE was still awake. It was only ten thirty but he and his partner Evelyn were taking the jet on an early commission to Luen in the next morning. A well earned break Ernest agreed. The office had kept him busy lately.
“Maybe we could just go to Luen and stay there,” the financial CEO had jested that afternoon as they sat at their usual table in Delphine – a fine dining restaurant in the wealthy town of FILTON.
“Now how would they ever function without you?” Evelyn put to him.
Ernest knew they would manage just fine. If it weren’t for his name and Gramps’ insistence, Ernest would have been the last person chosen to lead the financial powerhouse based at BECKINGRIDGE TOWER. His novelist sister, Elizabeth, would have been a better fit but his own dreams and aspirations came second to the expectations others had of him holding such a powerful family name.
It was a well earned break though because Ernest worked really hard keeping the board happy. They pulled the strings, he danced, he sang and they laughed as money filled their bellies.
Up and coming high fliers MR AND MRS HEATH had managed to gain an audience with Lynette Fullerton of Fullerton Construction and Joshua Coby of Coby Games. In a joint effort to fund a program to revitalise the SHANTIES.
It was a late hour for a meeting but the Heaths had managed to hold them down before making their way to a party being held in the Penthouse for clients and staff. Lynette Fullerton was an old money name in Coldford. Joshua Coby was new money. The young man was overwhelmed when his software development business became an overnight success with its game LONESOME NIGHTS.
“We’re going to have a bit of a chit chat with them before heading upstairs,” Mr Heath explained confidently that afternoon.
Ernest left them to it. The Heaths were hungry. It was they who had managed to convince Joshua that his money would be safest in the hands of BECKINGRIDGE FIRM.
Ernest had just began to doze off when his phone rang.
“Ernie,” Evelyn shook him. “Ernie, baby, answer the phone.”
Ernest fumbled for his spectacles and lifted the phone. The caller I.D. showed the smiling face of his secretary Bernadette.
“Hello, Bern …
Before Ernest could finish his greeting he was met with sobbing. Ernest sat up properly. Evelyn stirred beside him.
“Bernadette? What’s happened? What’s wrong?”
“They fell!” she wailed. “They fell from the roof.”
Ernest’s heart began to beat harder. He could feel his breath deepen.
“Who fell?” he asked.
Bernadette managed to compose herself enough to speak. “I just stepped out to the court yard for some air and a group of them were on the balcony. They jumped!”
Her voice quietened as she pulled away from the phone. “Is that more?” she asked someone beside her. “No!” she screamed. “Stop them!”
More screams erupted. Ernest could hear every note of fear in the voices of the stragglers, smokers and interested onlookers who had crossed the street from the WEIR HOTEL out of morbid curiosity.
“It’s still happening. That was more of them. I can’t get inside the building.”
“I’ll be there in half an hour. Stay where you are,” Ernest ordered.
He climbed out of bed and pulled a green, woolen pull over from the dresser. He slipped into it without removing the blue cotton pajamas he wore to bed.
“What’s happened?” Evelyn asked.
“I don’t know exactly. There’s been some trouble at the tower. People are jumping from the roof.”
“Oh no!” Evelyn gasped climbing out of bed. “Are you going down there?”
Ernest was now pulling a pair of faded blue jeans over his pajama trousers.
“I have to,” he said.
He tried to bend over to finish dressing. His glasses slipped off. Evelyn crossed the room, lifted his spectacles and affixed them back onto his face for him.
“I’ll come with you,” she stated.
Ernest shook his head. Now he was finally looking a bit more put together.
“I need you to stay here in case the police call.”
By the time Ernest Beckingridge got to the tower that bore his name it was over. The fallen 59 they called them. Clients and staff of the firm, Mr and Mrs Heath included. it would take a lot of cleaning up. Not just the blood, bodies or despair that littered the court yard where the statue of Jeffrey Beckingridge stood.
It was a long way down from the top.
Ernest is called to give evidence in the trial of KNOCK KNOCK Boss Lady, Tabitha. Giving an account of an event known as the Free Fall Massacre.
Click HERE to read Knock Knock Episode 17:
The rest of the series is free to read HERE on Vivika Widow Online or you can download for kindle by clicking HERE.
That’s not the only trouble at Beckingridge Manor. Ernest’s son, George, has been a complete handful lately. Enlisted to help is handsome, talented music teacher VINCENT BAINES in the hope that music lessons can give the little boy something more positive to focus on.
A husband and wife team. Mr and Mrs Heath are the dynamo duo of the BECKINGRIDGE FINANCIAL FIRM. They are the leading investment consultants and have brought more clients in in their time that most of the other long standing members of the team.
The live fast. They sell hard. They fall far.
They enjoy a fancy life in the expensive FILTON district. In order to keep that up though someone has to pay. That’s where the wide smiles for their clients come in. They will sit you down, offer you a cup of tea and before the end of the meeting you will be rest assured that your money is in the safest hands in the Shady City. After all, with a son, Taylor, to put through University the Heaths know the importance of money and the family unit.
BECKINGRIDGE TOWER may seem intimidating, cold and soulless even but let the Heaths explain the exciting vision they have for your money and you will feel like you are in your own living room. You will become part of the Beckingridge family.
But wait! Before you sign on the dotted line let us just offer one last piece of advice. The Shady City functions on COLD HARD CASH. The larger the pile you have the further you have to fall.
It was an event known as the Free Fall Massacre. Beckingridge Tower would never be the same. Those passing would remember the bodies of the fallen 59 that littered the court yard.
Complete season 1 of the Knock Knock graphic novel series is free to read HERE.
It was a bleak day. Not just weather wise. I was watching from a window that looked out upon the entrance of the COURT HOUSE as day one of the trial dawned. It was like waiting for the hearse to arrive at the graveside. The crowds had already begun to gather in front. Some of them were morbidly curious onlookers. Some of them were protesters. A violence was brewing between those who were there in support of TABITHA and those who wanted justice to be done quickly and efficiently. The toxic mixture of outrage and revolution was flowing through them.
“You want to see her put on the performance of her life?” asked Lydia.
I smiled at the idea. Even then both of us expected Tabitha to arrive with airs and graces. I wanted to get a close observation but, as a witness, I had to be kept under lock and key with Lydia, who had been instructed by her superiors to accompany me at all times. I was glad to have her with me. At night in the hotel room I was contained in, my mind gave way to lonely thoughts.
To my surprise, although there were many calling the Boss Lady a murdering psychopath and baying for her blood, there were so many others who still hailed her as some kind of hero. She was a hero to the people of the Shanties for being bold enough to provide them with what they needed to survive. She was a hero to victims of sexual assault and violence given her own story, and her willingness to do whatever it took to open people’s eyes to what was a huge problem in the Shady City. That was no excuse though. In the eyes of the law two horrific crimes do not cancel each other out. She wasn’t in the Shanties any more. She was in the north, and there she was seen as a monster.
I was busy watching a woman screaming angrily, “Just take her out and hang her!” She had a child of about eight by her side doing the same thing. They could have been genuine but there was something set-up about those particular protesters, something that didn’t look quite right to me. Their clothing, positioning, banners and dialogue was all too neat. It wasn’t beyond the OWEN family to have set up stooges among the protestors to deliberately heighten the emotion.
“Here she comes,” said Lydia with a hand on my shoulder, pulling me from my thoughts.
Cries of blood lust rang out as the crowd pushed forward.
Clang! Metal shuddered as someone outside hurled something heavy at the transport van. It caused Tabitha to jerk forward feeling as though it would hit her head. She could hear the angry voices outside, although slightly muffled. They called her the slut of the Shanties. They wanted to hang her. They wanted to burn her like a witch of old. Mob mentality had consumed them completely. More bangs against the walls as the transport drove through the crowd to the entrance of the Court House.
Fists were pounded against the sides. There was a splat as someone threw the rest of their latte at the narrow windows. She would never admit it to anyone but Tabitha had never felt so alone. There was no one around to support her. No Penns, no aunts and not even DENNIS. It had all come to being enclosed within a metal box. The rabble of hatred heightened and the venom became more potent.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
The crowd had pursued the van to the door.
“Get her out!” they chanted. “Get her out!”
Tabitha wanted to remain within the metallic tomb but the van shuddered to a halt.
The two escorting Bailiffs took their time from the slam of their doors to walk around the van and open up the back doors.
Clank, twist and suddenly the rabble became roars. As Tabitha’s eyes adjusted to the light she could see the sea of hatred she was cast into.
Without saying a word the Bailiffs fetched her and pulled her onto her feet. She was dragged out of the van. They slapped at her, the pulled at her hair and they kicked at her.
There was a plant though. There was one among them on Owen Inc. coin to deliberately keep the crowd irate. It was he who threw the can of soup – full. It hit Tabitha across her face causing her to fall over. The Bailiffs halfheartedly pushed the crowd back but whilst they were lifting Tabitha onto her feet, another – feeling bold because of the rabble-rouser – ran at her and kicked her in the face.
Before the violence of the crowd escalated further the Bailiffs finally rushed her inside to await her trial.
It was a long and painful walk from CPD custody into the hands of the Law Makers. The wounds were not nursed. She wasn’t even checked for damage. Judge Doyle wanted Tabitha to remember she was now in her domain.
Many a broken spirit had entered the draughty, emotionless halls of the Court House. Even more were broken before the bench of JUDGE DOYLE. The question on my mind then was how long would Tabitha’s spirit stand under the scrutiny of the Judge’s icy gaze.
Being unable to attend the trial personally until it was time for my own statement the following account is made up of the statements of those in attendance and court transcripts.
The hall was awash with nervous energy as Tabitha’s trial came to session. The only one who seemed unaffected by it was the lady herself who sat on her bench as though ready to watch a production play out before her.
Judge Doyle: Presiding
Counsel for the Defendant: RONALD OWEN
Defendant: Tabitha MC
Clerks and Bailiffs
Clerk: “All rise! Court is now in session. Judge Doyle presiding.”
In a flurry of black robes, The Judge entered the room and for a moment the slightest breath could be heard. Karyn Doyle took her bench; her terribly scarred left eye and the wound on her neck on full display. Tabitha glared at her but The Judge didn’t respond.
The trial was opened under the proper procedure. The charges were read:
Embezzling city funds.
Murder in the second degree.
Murder in the first degree. Three counts.
Judge Doyle addressed the murder charges first.
Judge Doyle: “Murder in the second degree of Mel Wallace – a clerk of this court.”
Mel had been the woman I had gotten the video of. Tabitha and MARCUS PENN had taken her to Clifton Alley running along the side of the club and had slit her throat. The video footage of this incident had been the final piece of evidence the LAW MAKERS needed to bring Tabitha in. It was second degree because the eldest Penn triplet had been the one to wield the killing blow.
Judge Doyle: “Murder in the first degree of Rob and Linda McInney, as well as Lynn Watson.”
Rob and Linda were Tabitha’s parents. It had been Dennis who had told me of their demise at the hands of their daughter as well as the nanny who had been put in charge of the wayward girl.
The Judge addressed Ronnie Owen as Tabitha’s counsel.
Judge Doyle: “How does your client plead?”
Ronnie Owen: “Ma’am, I would like to ask the court to allow us more time to prepare for this trial. There are extenuating circumstances and my client warrants a proper defence.”
The City Prosecutor stepped forward.
City Prosecutor: “Ma’am, the defendant was read her rights upon arrest. She was informed of all charges and my colleague has had ample time to prepare.”
Doyle addressed Ronnie.
Judge Doyle: “Is your client ill informed?”
Ronnie Owen: “No ma’am but on the charges of first degree murder there was an investigation at the time. John Watson, husband of Lynn confessed to the murder of Rob and Linda McKinney as well as Lynn Watson.”
Judge Doyle: “The confession was revoked and further evidence found. There is no statute of limitations on those charges.”
Ronnie Owen: “Ma’am I call for a mistrial until I can be properly prepared for this new evidence,” he tried.
The man with the Owen name really did try.
Doyle’s lip curled.
Judge Doyle: “I suggest, counsellor, that you make your client aware that there are consequences for her actions. The charges stand. If you are under prepared then you need to familiarise yourself with your client’s case history.”
It seemed Dennis had tried to navigate his way around CPD by telling them everything he knew about the death of Tabitha’s parents, including where they were likely to find the remains. His testimony gave the Law Makers reason to add the murder to Tabitha’s charge sheet, potentially sending her away even longer. The coroner’s report confirmed stab wounds. The nanny’s husband was pardoned and released. He suddenly had a solid alibi for the night in question.
Ronnie was not done.
Ronnie Owen: “As far as the charges of inciting violence, the so-called Free Fall Massacre was not a massacre at all. It was declared a terrible, drug induced accident at the time.”
The Free Fall Massacre was an incident that occurred at the Beckingridge Tower just as the Knock Knock club reopened. There were whispers of Tabitha being the cause of the deaths of 59 people.
Judge Doyle: “How does your client plead?”
Ronnie Owen: “Ma’am I do urge the court to approach this matter with a clear head.”
Judge Doyle (unmoved): “How does your client plead?”
Ronnie Owen: “Not guilty, ma’am on all charges.”
Judge Doyle: “Return to your benches counsellors, and we will begin.”
Both lawyers gave their opening statements. The City Prosecutor as expected painted Tabitha as a monster. He described her as spoiled, murderous and lacking moral conscience. He asked the jury to consider that she didn’t care for the people of the Shanties the way she would have it seem. He asked the jury to consider the bodies she was responsible for but not yet charged with.
Ronnie called objection on this.
The Judge sustained. The trial was to be kept to the matters at hand.
The City Prosecutor mentioned my own part. He also discussed the death of Madeline and the statement I had given to the police at the time, discussing Tabitha having put the knife in Maddy’s hand, forcing me to defend myself against her.
Throughout the statements, Tabitha kept her gaze forward to The Judge. Doyle ignored her. During the City Prosecutor’s statement she was seen whispering something to Ronnie. I found out later that she was asking, “Where the fuck did they find Ma and Pa?”
In Ronnie’s opening statement he asked the jurors to keep an open mind. He urged them to remember the shelters, food programs and support the Knock Knock club provided.
“That wasn’t that psycho bitch that did that. That was the Baroness,” someone in the audience called out.
Doyle slammed the gavel down. The noise of its fury echoed.
Judge Doyle: “I will have no outburst in my court room. Do that again and you will be removed.”
(She turned to the sea of judging faces that were the jury). “The jury will disregard that comment.”
Ronnie continued. He played the angle of desperation anyone who had been to the Shanties would be familiar with. I wasn’t sure how much the jury would buy the rags to hero, standing for the little man story of Tabitha’s. She was, after all, a girl from Filton with every possible advantage that money could buy.
Even if he stood there all day explaining Tabitha’s reasoning, what her aunt tried to do for her, and those she had protected in her own sordid way; her parents were still butchered, the Free Fall Massacre had still happened and Mayor Feltz and his seventeen year old daughter Amber were still missing. This was all at Tabitha’s hand. The trial was going to be sticky.
I was most curious to find out Chick Owen’s thinking behind allowing his brother to defend her. It would have been so easy to put an Owen in there and watch her fall but from what I could see Ronnie was defending her to the best of his ability. Being kept in confinement at the time prevented me from calling on The Cappy to find out.
And with that Ronnie was pulling every lawyer trick he could, starting with a little public relations damage control. The trouble was, Tabitha was as guilty as sin. How long would the crowds outside calling her name stand in solidarity when the final hammer fell?
A chilling breeze blew through the Court Room. There was no comfort to be found in the dungeon of mahogany benches. Even the thick wine-coloured curtains that hung over the windows offered little cheer. The Boss Lady herself watched from the defendant’s bench like some wild animal in a zoo. There was anger in her grey eyes, that much was obvious but there was something else there too. It was something deep rooted. Fear perhaps? Like most cornered animals her first thoughts were escape.
Judge Doyle: Presiding
Counsel for the Defendant: Ronald Owen
Defendant: Tabitha MC
First Witness: EB
Clerks and Bailiffs
City Prosecutor: “The city calls their first witness, ma’am.”
There was a shuffle from the benches and a murmur of voices as a middle-aged man with greying, fair hair, dressed in a grey pin stripe suit crossed the aisles and was first to step up to the witness stand. He had warm features but great bags underneath his eyes. He was a man who had seen a lot. His shoulders were hunched like he had the weight of the world on them.
City Prosecutor: “Mr Beckingridge, you are CEO of the Beckingridge Financial Firm correct?”
Ernest Beckingridge: “Yes sir, that’s correct.”
City Prosecutor: “Can you please tell the court what happened the night of the Free Fall
The prosecutor looked back at the jury and scanned their faces for reaction.
Ernest looked to Tabitha.
Ernest Beckingridge: “My partner and I weren’t in attendance. We were going to LUEN on an early flight the next morning.”
Ronnie stood and raised an objection.
Ronnie Owen: “Ma’am, I fail to see what relevance this witness testimony has when he wasn’t there at the time.”
City Prosecutor: “The witness has a keen insight into what happened. Not just on the events of the Free Fall but also what happened afterwards.”
Judge Doyle: “Overruled. Mr Beckingridge you will answer the question.”
Ronnie sat back down as Ernest cleared his throat. He took a sip from the glass of water that had been provided for him.
Ernest Beckingridge: “I was awoken around eleven pm by my secretary Bernadette. She informed me that clients had been leaping from the top of the tower.”
City Prosecutor: “Did she explain as to why?”
Ernest Beckingridge: “A number of years ago an employee of the firm embezzled a large amount of money from the company. The case is still ongoing. We were lucky to have a new investor pull us out of the water as it were.”
The City Prosecutor stroked his chin.
City Prosecutor: “And these replenished accounts were the ones the defendant stole from?”
Ernest Beckingridge: “Yes sir.”
The prosecutor raised his voice so that it boomed across the hall.
City Prosecutor: “Could you please tell the court who had been this guardian angel for the firm? Where had this rescue investment come from?”
Ernest Beckingridge: “OWEN Inc.”
The main entrance to Beckingridge Tower. Statue of founder Jeffrey Beckingridge AKA Gramps.
It’s easy to get lost in the numbers at Beck Tower.
“We’ve got a great chance here,” said Mr Heath to his wife.
Mrs Heath agreed. It was a huge opportunity for them. It was one of the biggest investment accounts they had ever handled but her mind had been elsewhere. “Have you heard from Taylor?” she asked.
Their son, a 21-year-old finance student at FILTON University, was supposed to be coming home to their City Main apartment for the weekend but he never turned up that afternoon. They had of course tried contacting him but received no response.
“He’s a man now,” Mr Heath reminded her. “He’s probably gone off with his friends for the weekend instead.”
“But it’s not like him not to call and let us know,” replied she.
Mr Heath glared at his wife. She was thinking of checking her phone again.
“This is the fifth time,” he barked. He was counting. Mrs Heath reached into the Luen designed clutch bag she carried, encrusted with real diamonds and removed a silver device. Still no notifications.
“Albert is waiting at home for him in case he turns up. He will be fine,” assured Mr Heath. What his wife didn’t know was that Taylor and some of his uni friends had been tasked with couriering some poor quality heroin into the Shanties – ‘needles’ they called it locally, because it was mostly injected. Mr Heath was beginning to think Taylor and his friends hadn’t taken the proper precautions. Their instructions had been to wear old clothing, not to wear jewellery or carry expensive items and speak to no one but their contact. Mr Heath didn’t like involving his son, but a group of youngsters could blend in better at Kirkton Apartments – where the exchange was to take place – than a business man from the north would. Besides, one day Taylor would take over his father’s business and so he had to learn all aspects of it. Taylor was no stranger to it anyway. He had been an effective courier since age twelve. He enjoyed the money and unlike many of his peers he didn’t have everything handed to him. He had to take on his share of the work. He earned his lifestyle and at great risk sometimes. Taylor Heath was not pampered through life – no sirree. Still, the Shanties were dangerous and it had been the first time Taylor and his friends had taken goods that far south. But it was also where the call for needles was highest. The people of the Shanties didn’t want to escape the poverty trap. They wanted to hide themselves and lie in it.
But they had bigger concerns. They had brought in Lynette Fullerton, of the Fullerton Bridge and the construction company that handled the biggest projects across the city. A stern old bitch with a real nasty bite Mr Heath observed, but with enough money to make life very sweet indeed. There was also Joshua Coby. New money. The young man was a software developer and when his apps and game designs went big he made more money than he’d ever seen in his life. More money than he could handle suggested Mrs Heath. That’s where the husband and wife team came in. They would be able to help him manage such a big fortune.
The Beckingridge Financial Firm had set sights on a project in the south that would brighten the area; make it a trendy spot for good time folk rather than a den for thieves and whores. It had been done before in Swantin. The Chamberlain Docks still belonged to prostitutes and traffickers at night but during the day there was a buzz in the place and the fashionable walked the streets.
To do this the firm needed investment in construction and design. That’s where the mismatched team of Fullerton and Coby would come in. The Heaths were experts at forming relationships.
Tabitha stood watching over the meeting. They were losing the support of Lynette Fullerton.
“Your family brought the city together. They built bridges Mrs Fullerton. We would love for you to be a part of connecting the north and south,” Mr Heath was saying, linking his fingers together to demonstrate his point. Fullerton was still sneering at the very idea of being associated with the Shanties. Now it was Mrs Heath who was making the plea.
“All the way to City Hall there have been cries to rejuvenate the south. On his campaign trail Mayor Feltz has made great strides in showing what improvements it could make to the poorest in the city.”
Lynette scoffed. Mrs Heath bit her lip. She probably shouldn’t have brought politics into it. She chastised herself. How likely was it that a Fullerton was a Feltz supporter anyway?
Joshua took over. “I can see what you are trying to do,” he said thankfully. “The Fullerton Bridge worked wonders for the Cardyne area. It made us part of the Coldford community.”
Mr Heath beamed. “Yes and we can do the same again. We could be at the forefront of a new, modern Coldford.”
Lynette Fullerton provides some tough negotiations for the Beckingridge Financial Firm.
The door to the balcony opened briefly, allowing loud music and screams to enter briefly. The meeting downstairs continued uninterrupted. The door had closed again as quickly as it opened.
Tabitha rolled her eyes. “What a fucking douche bag,” she said referring to Mr Heath.
REGGIE PENN crossed the overpass carrying a woman over his shoulder. Drugged? Drunk? Probably both. She was one of the BECKINGRIDGE FIRM workers from the party upstairs. Reggie’s skin was ghoulishly pale in the low light compared to Tabitha’s darker complexion.
“It’s going to break,” he said.
Tabitha raised an eyebrow. “I bet you it doesn’t.”
Reggie looked down at the meeting below. “Drink says it does.”
Tabitha smiled. “You’re on.”
Reggie carried the woman to the ledge and launched her over the side. She plummeted down and crashed onto the table below.
Meanwhile, downstairs shock had captured the meeting as the four stared at the body.
“What the?” Mr Heath recognised her. She was one of the client support team. They assumed she had gotten too drunk and accidentally fell from the over pass.
“I’ll call an ambulance,” said Mrs Heath. All Mr Heath could think of was that there was no way they were getting their investment now.
“Well, hello cunts.”
The meeting was interrupted once again. A young woman, probably in her early twenties had entered from the upper floor. She was wearing an expensive red dress and grinning at them with a gap-toothed smile that seemed more chilling in its whimsy.
“What’s going on here?” Mr Heath demanded to know.
Tabitha looked at the body of the client support girl. “I’d say it looks like you’re fucked. All four of you.” She turned to Joshua Coby. “Well, except maybe you. I actually kinda like you.”
“I’m calling the police!” Lynette announced.
“Oh shut the fuck up you ugly old troll,” Tabitha growled.
Mr Heath raged. He charged across the room to the girl. He drew himself closer to her but she was not intimidated. Instead she wrinkled her nose.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” she said. “What have you sprayed yourself with?”
Mr Heath growled, “You’re dealing with a very dangerous man here.”
Tabitha chuckled. “Is that so?”
“You’re done!” Mr Heath yelled. “You’re done!”
Before he could strike Tabitha there was a firm grip on his hair, tugging at the roots and his head was pulled back so sharply pain fired through the muscles of his neck. He had made an insurance claim for whiplash before. It seemed this was what it actually felt like.
“Who’s done?” asked Reggie, scowling at him.
“I was just getting started,” commented Tabitha matter-of-factly. “This fucker is killing my groove.”
Mr Heath began to sob. He lost care of looking like he was in control for the sake of his wife and clients. Beckingridge was so large and vast it was unlikely anyone could hear him.
“Please,” he begged. “What do you want?”
Tabitha shook her head at Reggie. She opened her arms and shrugged.
“Now he asks.”
Reggie laughed. He flicked Mr Heath’s bottom lip.
“Bluh bluh bluh. Help me!” Imitated the youngest triplet in a high-pitched voice.
Tabitha turned to the others at the table.
“You may want to listen up because I have my own pitch to give.”
Still with a firm grip of his hair, Reggie led Mr Heath back to his spot at the table. Lynette recognised Reggie. He was one of Reginald Penn’s triplets but she wasn’t sure which one. Not that it really mattered.
She had had dealings with the Penns before, or at least her son did. Francis was leading the Fullerton Construction team and they had just bought a prime piece of land in the north of Coldridge Park. It was the same area the Faulds Building, within which the Penns lived in the penthouse, looked onto.
“That’s a shame,” Rita, the mother, had mused when she saw the construction signs go up. “I really like that part of the park. It is always kept so nice and it’s so lovely in spring.”
The beautiful garden she had started a committee to plant was to be bulldozed over to make way for industrial units.
Reginald wouldn’t stand for Rita looking onto grey buildings that would no doubt lie empty for some time attracting the artist youth and their spray cans. He wouldn’t have her beautiful view from the top of the city spoiled. She would keep her gardens.
Reginald approached Francis with request to move on but he refused.
The equipment was brought in. The area was blocked off.
Reginald made another bid for him to move on but the Fullerton blood was thick and stubborn. Francis still refused.
Then, the day before construction was to begin the fences, signs and pop up office were taken down. By noon that day it was as though Fullerton construction had never been there. Lynette received a call from Francis’ wife Hannah. He had been taken to Coldford General Hospital. His right arm and four fingers on his left were missing. He said it had been an industrial accident but Lynette knew that wasn’t true.
“You may want to take a seat,” Tabitha urged. “I’m heading this meeting now.”
The table was set.
“Who are you?” Asked Lynette.
“I’m just a simple girl who wants to make you a counter offer. You see the so-called rejuvenation project these fucktards are talking about is a crock of shit. It would raise property prices in the area but in doing so put thousands of people out of a home. The houses would become unaffordable for the poorest like they did in Swantin. Where else are they going to go?”
“What else do you suggest?” asked Joshua. He was trembling but he tried to remain focused.
He spoke to the Boss Lady but he kept his eye on Reggie Penn, who was now pushing Mr Heath into his chair so forcibly his head was almost in his lap.
“Either you splash the cash or give your life.”
“You cannot threaten us!” Lynette sneered.
“Who’s threatening?” Tabitha asked. She turned to Reggie. “Did you hear me threaten anyone?”
Reggie shrugged his shoulders with a smile.
“I don’t threat. I make promises and I promised the good people of the south I would bring them compensation.” She sharpened her attention to the party-goer. “Did you know that your granddaughter is befriending girls in my neck of the woods, deliberately getting them hooked on drugs and coercing them into starring in porn films? After she makes money from them she leaves them high and dry, addicted, and humiliated without a pot to piss in. You will pay for the lives you and your like have ruined one way or another. You could say I’m collecting for charity. I just happen to be a little aggressive in my fundraising.”
“Why should we give anything to you? Get out of here!” barked Lynette.
Reggie snarled at the construction heiress but Tabitha shook her head signalling for him to take no action. He kept his eyes on Lynette but he was patting Mr Heath’s head and stroking his hair so roughly he was pushing his head into his lap again.
“It’s a pity this place is so damn big you can’t hear what’s going on upstairs.”
‘The party?’ Mr Heath thought. ‘Did those upstairs get started on the closing deal festivities already? Did they know what was happening?’ He had heard some music earlier and raised voices but it was a party. That was to be expected. As their captor said Beckingridge Tower was large and a company on such a grand scale needed their walls thick enough and ceilings high enough so that no one could overhear the decisions that were made in that room that affected millions of lives.
Reggie produced a phone from his back pocket and threw it across to Tabitha who caught it in her well-manicured talons. She pushed buttons and switched on the loud speaker. The ring echoed around the hall, much like being caught inside a church bell.
All eyes were on Tabitha. Even Mr Heath who Reggie had allowed to straighten his back but had wormed his fingers around locks of his hair so that his head was held in place.
“Hello?” Marcus’ cold voice, absent of emotion, came through the speaker.
“Hello handsome,” Tabitha said as though they were having a pleasant conversation elsewhere. “How are you?”
“Fine,” was the eldest triplet’s cool reply.
Things were not fine. Men, women – colleagues of the Heaths – were screaming and crying out. Above the music they could hear a woman’s gargling shriek that sounded as though she was being gutted.
“Negotiations here are starting to get a bit sticky so could you show these people just how fucking serious I am?”
“Alright, take a look to the window there and you will see what your other option is,” said Tabitha.
This time, as mighty as the Beckingridge Tower stood screams could be heard as bodies fell past from the upper floor of the penthouse suite.
A wave of confusion washed over the meeting room. They found it difficult to believe what their own eyes had just shown them.
“So?” Tabitha asked. “What’s it to be?”
Bodies rained from the tower that day. The rich elite of the city were given the choice. Their lives or their money. Most chose to go broke.
“Maybe having nothing will teach them a bit of humility,” Tabitha had said at the time, which was an ironic statement from one of the most egotistical people I’ve ever met.
“Well there’s some cheques that won’t bounce,” said Reggie with a sardonic grin.
Allow me to offer some rational thinking. Most of those affected by the massacre were owners of corporations and large firms. To give away every penny wouldn’t have just left themselves in dire straits, it would shock wave into their workers and clients, and so some brave souls would have chosen not to let that happen. It was this shock wave Tabitha had been hoping for. She wanted to hit Owen Inc where it would feel it most.
Refuse or not. Donate or not. Support their poorer neighbours in the south or not. Either way, blood stained the courtyard of Beck Tower. No charges were brought at the time against Tabitha because she wasn’t in the same room. The Penns avoided arrest because the team they had brought with them served witness that the party was drug and alcohol fuelled and things got out of hand.
Toxicology reports confirmed this. No one who survived dared point the finger. Life was going to be difficult enough without their wealth to prop them up though hard times. The police couldn’t do anything because no physical coercion could be proven. Forensic accountants couldn’t do anything because the funds that had been taken were officially registered as charitable donations. As the Beckingridge Firm stock prices plummeted too, Owen Inc. who had invested heavily were almost brought to financial ruin.
Quickly following the Free Fall Massacre were the attacks on Judge Doyle. Three times the Headliners tried to kill her. They cut the brakes of her car and watched as it rolled into the lake. She didn’t drown. She crawled back out of the lake and still she stood. An assault in City Main as she left her offices slit her throat but she managed to escape, seek help and still she stood. Finally, with help from the Macks they tried to catch her in a car bomb. The explosion detonated as expected. They managed to take her eye but The Judge lived. After all was said and done still she stood. The newspapers at the time reported on the assaults. They started to refer to her as the unkillable Judge Doyle.
And so with a political candidate in Mayor Feltz and the Beckingridge Firm at heel, Tabitha had a vice like grip on the city. But politics are dirty and Beckingridge Tower could fall in so many different directions. Enter an iron judge to remind the Boss Lady just how the rules were made.
Coming next: Whilst we catch our breath we’ll let the Law Makers take care of business.
In the meantime, the series is free to read HERE on Vivika Widow Online or you can download for kindle by clicking HERE.
When you are the biggest financial institution in the Shady City it makes you a target for those who look to gain by any means necessary.
Ernest Beckingridge didn’t want any of it. He wanted to be a magician but Gramps scoffed at the idea so he was shackled into a suit, a power tie wrapped around his neck and locked in the dungeon that was the penthouse office of Beckingridge Tower.
Standing as one of the tallest buildings in the city, Beckingridge Tower is home to the wealth of the most powerful families of Coldford including WEIR, OWEN, and DOYLE. It takes a pretty big place to hold that kind of responsibility.
If you want to take a peek inside Beckingridge Manor check Vivika Widow’s best selling thriller MAESTRO. Click HERE to read the full story.
If you follow the money trail you may find it leads you to the Knock Knock club. Ernest and the Beckingridge family will be having an impact in the hit graphic novel series.
Complete season 1 of the Knock Knock graphic novel series is free to readHERE.
It doesn’t have to be this way with such beauty around.
But it takes a sacrifice to see the colours so profound.
Carrying negativity can be such a heavy load.
Leave it behind. It is support you are owed.
As you move on from this place to THAT,
and you take with you the emotions you tried to combat,
Remember it is your presence that continues to live on.
The art and joy you created will never be gone.
In Loving Memory of D Laigo.
David Finn was once described as a Coldford’s most promising young talent. An addiction and a self destructive nature caused a very public fall. In order to reach those lofty heights again he’ll have to leave behind his negativity with the help of coy farm girl, JULIA HARVESTER. His latest MUSE.