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The Perfect Murder

The Perfact Murder|Short story

Short Story beginning…

If I hadn’t changed my mind that night I would never have found out the truth.

I couldn’t believe that Carla had slept with another man, that she had lied about her love for me and that I might be second or even third in her affections.

Carla had phoned me at the office during the day, something I had told her not to do, but since I also warned her never to call me at home she hadn’t been left with a lot of choices. As it turned out, all she had wanted to let me know was that she wouldn’t be able to make it for what the French so decorously call a cinq à sept. She had to visit her sister in Fulham who had been taken ill, she explained.

I was disappointed. It had been another depressing day, and now I was being asked to forgo the one thing that would have made it bearable.

“I thought you didn’t get on well with your sister,” I said tartly. There was no immediate reply from the other end. Eventually, Carla asked, “Shall we make it next Tuesday, the usual time?” “I don’t know if that’s convenient,” I said. “I’ll call you on Monday when I know what my plans are.” I put down the receiver.

Wearily, I phoned my wife to let her know I was on the way home something I usually did from the phone booth outside Carla’s apartment. It was a trick I often used to make Elizabeth feel she knew where I was every moment of the day.

Most of the office staff had already left for the night, so I gathered together some papers I could work on at home. Since the new company had taken us over six months ago, the management had not only fired my number two in the accounts department but expected me to cover his work as well as my own. I was hardly in a position to complain since my new boss made it abundantly clear that if I didn’t like the arrangement I should feel free to seek employment elsewhere. I might have, too, but I couldn’t think of many firms that would readily take on a man who had reached that magic age somewhere between the sought-after and the available.

As I drove out of the office parking lot and joined the evening rush hour I began to regret having been so sharp with Carla. After all, the role of the other woman was hardly one she delighted in. The feeling of guilt persisted so that when I reached the corner of Sloane Square, I jumped out of my car and ran across the road.

“A dozen roses,” I said, fumbling with my wallet.

A man who must have made his profit from lovers selected twelve unopened buds without comment. My choice didn’t show a great deal of imagination, but at least Carla would know I’d tried.

I drove on toward her flat, hoping she had not yet left for her sister’s, that perhaps we might even find time for a quick drink. Then I remembered that I had already told my wife I was on the way home. A few minutes’ delays could be explained by a traffic jam, but that lame excuse could hardly cover my staying on for a drink.

When I arrived at Carla’s home I had the usual trouble finding a parking space, until I spotted a gap that would just take a Rover opposite the newsstand. I stopped and would have backed into space had I not noticed a man coming out of the entrance to her apartment house. I wouldn’t have given it a second thought if Carla hadn’t followed him a moment later. She stood there in the doorway, wearing a loose blue housecoat. She leaned forward to give her departing visitor a kiss that could hardly have been described as sisterly. As she closed the door I drove my car around the corner and double-parked.

I watched the man in my rearview mirror as he crossed the street, went to the newsstand, and a few moments later reappeared with an evening paper and what looked like a pack of cigarettes. He walked to his car, a blue BMW, stopped to remove a parking ticket from his windshield and appeared to curse. How long had the BMW been there? I even began to wonder if he had been with Carla when she phoned to tell me not to come around.

The man climbed into the BMW, fastened his seat belt, and lit a cigarette before driving off. I took his parking space in part payment for my woman. I didn’t consider it a fair exchange. I checked up and down the street, as I always did, before getting out and walking over to the apartment house. It was already dark, and no one gave me a second glance. I pressed the bell marked “Moorland.”

When Carla opened the front door I was greeted with a huge smile that quickly turned into a frown, then just as quickly back to a smile. The first smile must have been meant for the BMW man. I often wondered why she wouldn’t give me a front-door key. I stared into those blue eyes that had first captivated me so many months ago. Despite her smile, those eyes now revealed a coldness I had never seen before.

She turned to reopen the door and let me into her ground-floor apartment. I noticed that under her housecoat she was wearing the wine-red negligee I had given her for Christmas. Once inside the flat I found myself checking around the room I knew so well. On the glass table in the center of the room stood the “Snoopy” coffee mug I usually drank from, empty. By its side was Carla’s mug, also empty, and a dozen roses arranged in a vase. The buds were just beginning to open.

I have always been quick to chide, and the sight of the flowers made it impossible for me to hide my anger.

“And who was the man who just left?” I asked.

“An insurance broker,” she replied, removing the mugs from the table.

“And what was the insuring?” I asked. “Your love life?”

“Why do you automatically assume he’s my lover?” Her voice had begun to rise.

“Do you usually have coffee with an insurance broker in your negligee? Come to think of it, my negligee.”

“I’ll have coffee with whom I damn well please,” she said, “and wearing what I damn well please, especially when you are on your way home to your wife.”

“But I had wanted to come to you—”

“And then return to your wife. In any case, you’re always telling me I should lead my own life and not rely on you,” she added, an argument Carla often fell back on when she had something to hide.

“You know it’s not that easy.”

“I know it’s easy enough for you to jump into bed with me whenever it suits you. That’s all I’m good for, isn’t it?”

“That’s not fair.”

“Not fair? Weren’t you hoping for your usual at six so you could still be home at seven in time for supper with Elizabeth?”

“I haven’t made love to my wife in years!” I shouted.

“We only have your word for that,” she spits out with scorn.

“I have been utterly faithful to you.”

“Which means I always have to be to you, I suppose?”

“Stop behaving like a whore.”

Carla’s eyes flashed as she leaped forward and slapped me across the face with all the strength she could muster.

I was still slightly off-balance when she raised her arm a second time, but as her hand came swinging toward me I blocked it and was even able to push her back against the mantelpiece. She recovered quickly and came flying at me again.

In a moment of uncontrolled fury, just as she was about to launch herself at me, I clenched my fist and took a swing at her. I caught her on the side of the chin, and she wheeled back from the impact. I watched her put an arm out to break her fall. But before she had the chance to leap back up and retaliate, I turned and strode out, slamming the apartment door behind me.

I ran down the hall, out onto the street, jumped into my car, and drove off quickly. I couldn’t have been with her for more than ten minutes. Although I felt like murdering her at the time, I regretted having hit her long before I reached home. Twice I nearly turned back. Everything she had complained about was fair, and I wondered if I dared phone her from home. Although Carla and I had only been lovers for a few months, she must have known how much I cared.

If Elizabeth had intended to comment on my being late, she changed her mind the moment I handed her the roses. She began to arrange them in a vase while I poured myself a large whiskey. I waited for her to say something since I rarely drank before dinner, but she seemed preoccupied with the flowers. Although I had already made up my mind to phone Carla and try to make amends, I decided I couldn’t do it from home. In any case, if I waited until the morning when I was back in the office, she might by then have calmed down a little.

I woke early the next day and lay in bed, considering what form my apology should take. I decided to invite her to lunch at the little French bistro she liked so much, halfway between my office and hers. Carla always appreciated seeing me in the middle of the day, when she knew it couldn’t be for sex. After I had shaved and dressed I joined Elizabeth for breakfast and seeing there was nothing interesting on the front page, I turned to the financial section. The company’s stock had fallen again, following City forecasts of poor interim profits. Millions would undoubtedly be wiped off our stock value following such a bad piece of publicity. I already knew that when it came to publishing the annual accounts, it would be a miracle if the company didn’t declare a loss.

After gulping down a second cup of coffee, I kissed my wife on the cheek and made for the car. It was then that I decided to drop a note into Carla’s mailbox rather than cope with the embarrassment of a phone call.

“Forgive me,” I wrote. “Marcel’s, one o’clock. Sole Véronique on a Friday. Love, Casanova.” I rarely wrote to Carla, and when I did I only ever signed it with her chosen nickname.

I took a short detour so that I could pass her home but was held up by a traffic jam. As I approached the apartment I could see that the holdup was being caused by some sort of accident. It had to be quite a serious one because there was an ambulance blocking the other side of the road and delaying the flow of oncoming vehicles. A traffic officer was trying to help, but she was only slowing things down even more. It was obvious that it was going to be impossible to park anywhere near Carla’s apartment, so I resigned myself to phoning her from the office. I did not relish the prospect.

I felt a sinking feeling moments later when I saw that the ambulance was parked only a few yards from the front door to her apartment house. I knew I was being irrational, but I began to fear the worst. I tried to convince myself it was probably a road accident and had nothing to do with Carla.

It was then that I spotted the police car tucked in behind the ambulance.

As I grew up with the two vehicles I saw that Carla’s front door was wide open. A man in a long white coat came scurrying out and opened the back of the ambulance. I stopped my car to observe more carefully what was going on, hoping the man behind me would not become impatient. Drivers coming from the other direction raised a hand to thank me for allowing them to pass. I thought I could let a dozen or so through before anyone would start to complain. The traffic officer helped by urging them on.

Then a stretcher appeared at the end of the hall. Two uniformed orderlies carried a shrouded body out onto the road and placed it in the back of the ambulance. I was unable to see the face because it was covered by the sheet, but a third man, who could only have been a detective, walked immediately behind the stretcher. He was carrying a plastic bag, inside which I could make out a red garment that I feared was the negligee I had given Carla.

I vomited my breakfast all over the passenger seat, my head finally resting on the steering wheel. A moment later they closed the ambulance door, a siren started up, and the traffic officer began waving me on. The ambulance moved quickly off, and the man behind me started to press his horn. He was, after all, only an innocent bysitter. I lurched forward and later couldn’t recall any part of my journey to the office.

Once I had reached the office parking lot, I cleared up the mess on the passenger seat as best I could and left a window open before taking an elevator to the washroom on the seventh floor. I tore my lunch invitation to Carla into little pieces and flushed them down the lavatory. I walked into my room on the twelfth floor a little after eight-thirty, to find the managing director pacing up and down in front of my desk, obviously waiting for me. I had quite forgotten that it was Friday, and he always expected the latest completed figures to be ready for his consideration.

This Friday it turned out he also wanted the projected accounts for the months of May, June, and July. I promised they would be on his desk by midday. The one thing I needed was a clear morning, and I was not going to be allowed.

Every time the phone rang, the door opened, or anyone even spoke to me, my heart missed a beat I assumed it could only be the police. By midday, I had finished some sort of report for the managing director, but I knew he would find it neither adequate nor accurate. As soon as I had deposited the papers with his secretary, I left for an early lunch. I realized I wouldn’t be able to eat anything, but at least I could get hold of the first edition of the Standard and search for any news they might have picked up about Carla’s death.

I sat in the corner of my local pub, where I knew I couldn’t be seen from behind the bar. A tomato juice by my side, I began slowly to turn the pages of the paper. She hadn’t made page one.

She hadn’t made the second, third, or fourth page. And on page five she rated only a tiny paragraph. “Miss Carla Moorland, aged 31, was found dead at her home in Pimlico earlier this morning,” I remember thinking at the time they hadn’t even got her age right. “Detective Inspector Simmons, who has been put in charge of the case, said that an investigation was being carried out and they were awaiting the pathologist’s report but to date, they had no reason to suspect foul play.”

After that piece of news, I even managed a little soup and a roll. Once I had read the report a second time I made my way back to the office parking lot and sat in my car. I wound down the other front window to allow more fresh air in before turning on The World at One on the radio. Carla didn’t even get a mention. In the age of semiautomatics, drugs, AIDS, and gold bullion robberies the death of a thirty-two-year-old industrial personal assistant had passed unnoticed by the BBC.

I returned to my office to find on my desk a memo containing a series of questions that had been fired back by the managing director, leaving me in no doubt as to how he felt about my report. I was able to deal with nearly all his queries and return the answers to his secretary before I left the office that night, despite spending most of the afternoon trying to convince myself that whatever had caused Carla’s death must have happened after I left and could not possibly have been connected with my hitting her. But that red negligee kept returning to my thoughts. Was there any way they could trace it back to me? I had bought it at Harrods an extravagance, but I felt certain it couldn’t be unique, and it was still the only serious present I’d ever given her. But the note that was attached had Carla destroyed it? Would they discover who Casanova was?

I drove directly home that evening, aware that I would never again be able to travel down the street Carla had lived on. I listened to the end of the PM program on my car radio, and as soon as I reached home switched on the six o’clock news. I turned to Channel Four at seven and back to the BBC at nine. I returned to ITV at ten and even ended up watching Newsnight.

Carla’s death, in their combined editorial opinion, must have been less important than a Third Division football result between Reading and Walsall. Elizabeth continued reading her latest library book, oblivious to my possible peril.

I slept fitfully that night, and as soon as I heard the papers pushed through the mail slot the next morning I ran downstairs to check the headlines.

DUKAKIS NOMINATED AS CANDIDATE stared up at me from the front page of The Times.

I found myself wondering, irrelevantly, if he would ever be president. “President Dukakis” didn’t sound quite right to me.

Reding News Paper|Short Story

I picked up my wife’s Daily Express and the three-word headline filled the top of the page: LOVERS’ TIFF MURDER. My legs gave way, and I fell to my knees. I must have made a strange sight, crumpled up on the floor trying to read that opening paragraph. I couldn’t make out the words of the second paragraph without my glasses. I stumbled back upstairs with the papers and grabbed the glasses from the table on my side of the bed. Elizabeth was still sleeping soundly. Even so, I locked myself in the bathroom, where I could read the story slowly and without fear of interruption.

Police are now treating as murder the death of a beautiful Pimlico secretary, Carla Moorland, 32, who was found dead in her flat early yesterday morning. Detective Inspector Simmons of Scotland Yard, who is in charge of the case, initially considered Carla Moorland’s death to be due to natural causes, but an X-ray has revealed a broken jaw which could have been caused in a fight.

An inquest will be held on April 19th. Miss Moorland’s daily, Maria Lucia (48), said— exclusively to the Express that her employer had been with a man friend when she had left the flat at five o’clock on the night in question. Another witness, Mrs. Rita Johnson, who lives in the adjoining block of flats, stated she had seen a man leaving Miss Moorland’s flat at around six, before entering the newsagents opposite and later driving away. Mrs. Johnson added that she couldn’t be sure of the make of the car but it might have been a Rover ….

“Oh, my God,” I exclaimed in such a loud voice that I was afraid it might have woken Elizabeth. I shaved and showered quickly, trying to think as I went along. I was dressed and ready to leave for work even before my wife was awake. I kissed her on the cheek but she only turned over, so I scribbled a note and left it on her side of the bed, explaining that I had to spend the morning in the office as I had an important report to complete. On my journey to work I rehearsed exactly what I was going to say. I went over it again and again. I arrived on the twelfth floor a little before eight and left my door wide open so I would be aware of the slightest intrusion. I felt confident that I had a clear fifteen, even twenty minutes before anyone else could be expected to arrive.

Once again I went over exactly what I needed to say. I found the number in the L-R directory and scribbled it down on a pad in front of me before writing five headings in block capitals, something I always did before a board meeting.

BUS STOP COAT NO. 19 BMW TICKET

Then I dialed the number.

I took off my watch and placed it in front of me. I had read somewhere that the location of a telephone call can be traced in about three minutes.

A woman’s voice said, “Scotland Yard.”

“Inspector Simmons, please,” was all I volunteered.

“Can I tell him who’s calling?”

“No, I would prefer not to give my name.“

“Yes, of course, sir,” she said, evidently used to such callers.

Another ringing tone. My mouth went dry as a man’s voice announced, “Simmons,” and I heard the detective speak for the first time. I was taken aback to find that a man with so English a name could have such a strong Glaswegian accent.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

“No, but I think I can help you,” I said in a quiet tone which I pitched considerably lower than my natural speaking voice.

“How can you help me, sir?”

“Are you the officer in charge of the Carla-whatever-her-name-is case?”

“Yes, I am. But how can you help?” he repeated.

The second hand showed one minute had already passed.

“I saw a man leaving her flat that night.”

“Where were you at the time?”

“At the bus stop on the same side of the road.”

“Can you give me a description of the man?” Simmons’s tone was every bit as casual as my own.

“Tall. I’d say five-eleven, six feet. Well built. Wore one of those posh City coats—you know, the black ones with a velvet collar.”

“How can you be so sure about the coat?” the detective asked.

“It was so cold standing out there waiting for the No. 19 that I wished it had been me who was wearing it”

“Do you remember anything in particular that happened after he left the apartment?”

“Only that he went to the newsstand opposite before getting into his car and driving away.”

“Yes, we know that much,” said the detective inspector. “I don’t suppose you recall what make of car it was?”

Two minutes had now passed, and I began to watch the second hand more closely.

“I think it was a BMW,” I said.

“Do you remember the color, by any chance?”

“No, it was too dark for that.” I paused. “But I saw him tear a parking ticket off the windshield, so it shouldn’t be too hard for you to trace him.”

“And at what time did all this take place?”

“Around six-fifteen to six-thirty, Inspector,” I said.

“And can you tell me … ?”

Two minutes, fifty-eight seconds. I hung up. My whole body broke out in a sweat.

“Good to see you in the office on a Saturday morning,” said the managing director grimly as he passed my door. “Soon as you’re finished whatever you’re doing I’d like a word with you.”

I left my desk and followed him along the corridor into his office. For the next hour, he went over my projected figures, but however hard I tried I couldn’t concentrate. It wasn’t long before he stopped trying to disguise his impatience.

“Have you got something else on your mind?” he asked as he closed his file. “You seem preoccupied.”

“No,” I insisted, “just been doing a lot of overtime lately,” and stood up to leave.

Once I had returned to my office, I burned the piece of paper with the five headings and left to go home. In the first edition of the afternoon paper, the “Lovers’ Tiff” story had been moved back to page seven. They had nothing new to report.

The rest of Saturday seemed interminable, but my wife’s Sunday Express finally brought me some relief.

“Following up information received in the Carla Moorland ‘Lovers’ Tiff’ murder, a man is helping the police with their inquiries.” The commonplace expressions I had read so often in the past suddenly took on a real meaning.

I scoured the other Sunday papers, listened to every news bulletin, and watched each news item on television. When my wife became curious I explained that there was a rumor in the office that the company might be taken over again, which meant I could lose my job.

By Monday morning the Daily Express had named the man in “The Lovers’ Tiff murder” as Paul Menzies, fifty-one, an insurance broker from Sutton. His wife was in a hospital in Epsomunder sedation while he was being held in the cells of Brixton Prison under arrest. I began to wonder if Mr. Menzies had told Carla the truth about his wife and what his nickname might be. I poured myself a strong black coffee and left for the office.

Later that morning, Menzies appeared before the magistrates at the Horseferry Road court, charged with the murder of Carla Moorland. The police had been successful in opposing bail, the Standard reassured me.

It takes six months, I was to discover, for a case of this gravity to reach the Old Bailey. Paul Menzies passed those months on remand in Brixton Prison. I spent the same period fearful of every telephone call, every knock on the door, every unexpected visitor. Each one created its own nightmare. Innocent people have no idea how many such incidents occur every day. I went about my job as best I could, often wondering if Menzies knew of my relationship with Carla, if he knew my name, or if he even knew of my existence.

It must have been a couple of months before the trial was due to begin that the company held its annual general meeting. It had taken some considerable creative accountancy on my part to produce a set of figures that showed us managing any profit at all. We certainly didn’t pay our stockholders a dividend that year.

I came away from the meeting relieved, almost elated. Six months had passed since Carla’s death, and not one incident had occurred during that period to suggest that anyone suspected I had ever known her, let alone been the cause of her death. I still felt guilty about Carla, even missed her, but after six months I was now able to go for a whole day without fear entering my mind. Strangely, I felt no guilt about Menzies’s plight. After all, it was he who had become the instrument that was going to keep me from a lifetime spent in prison. So when the blow came it had double the impact.

It was on August 26 I shall never forget it that I received a letter that made me realize it might be necessary to follow every word of the trial. However much I tried to convince myself I should explain why I couldn’t do it, I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist.

That same morning, a Friday I suppose these things always happen on a Friday I was called in for what I assumed was to be a routine weekly meeting with the managing director, only to be informed that the company no longer needed me.

“Frankly, in the last few months your work has gone from bad to worse,” I was told.

I didn’t feel able to disagree with him.

“And you have left me with no choice but to replace you.” A polite way of saying, “You’re fired.”

“Your desk will be cleared by five this evening,” the managing director continued, “when you will receive a cheque from the accounts department for 17,500 pounds.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“Six months’ compensation, as stipulated in your contract when we took over the company,” he explained.

When the managing director stretched out his hand it was not to wish me luck but to ask for the keys of my Rover.

I remember my first thought when he informed me of his decision: At least I would be able to attend every day of the trial without any hassle.

Elizabeth took the news of my firing badly but only asked what plans I had for finding a new job. During the next month, I pretended to look for a position in another company but realized I couldn’t hope to settle down to anything until the case was over.

On the morning of the trial, all the popular papers had colorful background pieces. The Daily Express even displayed on its front page a flattering picture of Carla in a swimsuit on the beach at Marbella: I wondered how much her sister in Fulham had been paid for that particular item. Alongside it was a profile photo of Paul Menzies that made him look as if he were already a convict.

I was among the first to be told in which court at the Old Bailey the case of the Crown v. Menzies would be tried. A uniformed policeman gave me detailed directions, and along with several others, I made my way to Court No. 4.

Once I had reached the courtroom I filed in and made sure that I sat at the end of my row. I looked around thinking everyone would stare at me, but to my relief, no one showed the slightest interest.

I had a good view of the defendant as he stood in the dock. Menzies was a frail man who looked as if he had recently lost a lot of weight; fifty-one, the newspapers had said, but he looked nearer seventy. I began to wonder how much I must have aged over the past few months.

Court inside|Short story

Menzies wore a smart dark blue suit that hung loosely on him, a clean shirt, and what I thought must be a regimental tie. His gray thinning hair was swept straight back a small silver mustache gave him a military air. He certainly didn’t look like a murderer or much of a catch as a lover, but anyone glancing toward me would probably have come to the same conclusion. I searched around the sea of faces for Mrs. Menzies but no one in the court fitted the newspaper description of her.

We all rose when Mr. Justice Buchanan came in. “The Crown v. Menzies,” the clerk of the court readout.

The judge leaned forward to tell Menzies that he could be seated and then turned slowly toward the jury box.

He explained that, although there had been considerable press interest in the case, their opinion was all that mattered because they alone would be asked to decide if the prisoner were guilty or not guilty of murder. He also advised the jury against reading any newspaper articles concerning the trial or listening to anyone else’s views, especially those who had not been present in court: Such people, he said, were always the first to have an immutable opinion on what the verdict should be. He went on to remind the jury how important it was to concentrate on the evidence because a man’s life was at stake. I found myself nodding in agreement.

I glanced around the court hoping there was nobody there who would recognize me. Menzies’s eyes remained fixed firmly on the judge, who was turning back to face the prosecuting counsel.

Even as Sir Humphrey Mountcliff rose from his place on the bench, I was thankful he was against Menzies and not me. A man of dominating height with a high forehead and silver-gray hair, he commanded the court not only with his physical presence but with a voice that was never less than authoritative.

To a silent assembly, he spent the rest of the morning setting out the case for the prosecution. His eyes rarely left the jury box except occasionally to peer down at his notes.

He reconstructed the events as he imagined they had happened that evening in April.

The opening address lasted two and a half hours, shorter than I’d expected. The judge then suggested a break for lunch and asked us all to be back in our places by ten past two.

After lunch, Sir Humphrey called his first witness, Detective Inspector Simmons. I was unable to look directly at the policeman while he presented his evidence. Each reply he gave was as if he were addressing me personally. I wondered if he suspected all along that there was another man. Simmons gave a highly professional account of himself as he described in detail how they had found the body and later traced Menzies through two witnesses and the damning parking ticket. By the time Sir Humphrey sat down, few people in that court could have felt that Simmons had arrested the wrong man.

Menzies’s defense counsel, who rose to cross-examine the detective inspector, could not have been in greater contrast to Sir Humphrey. Mr. Robert Scott, QC, was short and stocky, with thick bushy eyebrows. He spoke slowly and without inflection. I was happy to observe that one member of the jury was having difficulty staying awake.

For the next twenty minutes, Scott took the detective inspector painstakingly back over his evidence but was unable to make Simmons retract anything substantial. As the inspector stepped out of the witness seat, I felt confident enough to look him straight in the eye.

The next witness was a Home Office pathologist, Dr. Anthony Mallins, who, after answering a few preliminary questions to establish his professional status, moved on to answer an inquiry from Sir Humphrey that took everyone by surprise. The pathologist informed the court that there was clear evidence to suggest that Miss Moorland had had sexual intercourse shortly before her death.

“How can you be so certain, Dr. Mallins?”

“Because I found traces of blood group B on the deceased’s upper thigh, while Miss Moorland was later found to be blood group O. There were also traces of seminal fluid on the negligee she was wearing at the time of her death.”

“Are these common blood groups?” Sir Humphrey asked.

“Blood group O is common,” Dr. Mallins admitted. “Group B, however, is fairly unusual.”

“And what would you say was the cause of her death?” Sir Humphrey asked.

“A blow or blows to the head, which caused a broken jaw, and lacerations at the base of the skull which may have been delivered by a blunt instrument.”

I wanted to stand up and say, “I can tell you which!” when Sir Humphrey said, “Thank you, Dr. Mallins. No more questions. Please wait there.”

Mr. Scott treated the doctor with far more respect than he had Inspector Simmons, despite Mullins’s being the defendant’s witness.

“Could the blow on the back of Miss Moorland’s head have been caused by a fall?” he asked.

The doctor hesitated. “Possibly,” he agreed. “But that wouldn’t explain the broken jaw.”

Mr. Scott ignored the comment and pressed on.

“What percentage of people in Britain are blood group B?”

“About five, six percent,” volunteered the doctor.

“Two and a half million people,” said Mr. Scott, and waited for the figure to sink in before he suddenly changed tack.

But as hard as he tried he could not shift the pathologist on the time of death or on the fact that sexual intercourse must have taken place around the hours his client had been with Carla.

When Mr. Scott sat down, the judge asked Sir Humphrey if he wished to reexamine.

“I do, My Lord. Dr. Mallins, you told the court that Miss Moorland suffered from a broken jaw and lacerations on the back of her head. Could the lacerations have been caused by falling on to a blunt object after the jaw had been broken?”

“I must object, My Lord,” said Mr. Scott, rising with unusual speed. “This is a leading question.”

Mr. Justice Buchanan leaned forward and peered down at the doctor. “I agree, Mr. Scott, but I would like to know if Dr. Mallins found blood group O, Miss Moorland’s blood group, on any other object in the room?”

“Yes, My Lord,” replied the doctor. “On the edge of the glass table in the center of the room.”

“Thank you, Dr. Mallins,” said Sir Humphrey. “No more questions.”

Sir Humphrey’s next witness was Mrs. Rita Johnson, the lady who claimed she had seen everything.

“Mrs. Johnson, on the evening of April 7, did you see a man leave the apartment house where Miss Moorland lived?” Sir Humphrey asked.

“Yes, I did.”

“At about what time was that?”

“A few minutes after six.”

“Please tell the court what happened next.”

“He walked across the road, removed a parking ticket, got into his car, and drove away.”

“Do you see that man in the court today?”

“Yes,” she said firmly, pointing to Menzies, who at this suggestion shook his head vigorously.

“No more questions.”

Mr. Scott rose slowly again.

“What did you say was the make of the car the man got into?”

“I can’t be sure,” Mrs. Johnson said, “but I think it was a BMW.”

“Not a Rover, as you first told the police the following morning?”

The witness did not reply.

“And did you actually see the man in question remove a parking ticket from the car windshield?” Mr. Scott asked.

“I think so, sir, but it all happened so quickly.”

“I’m sure it did,” said Mr. Scott. “In fact, I suggest to you that it happened so quickly that you’ve got the wrong man and the wrong car.”

“No, sir,” she replied, but without the same conviction with which she had delivered her earlier replies.

Sir Humphrey did not reexamine Mrs. Johnson. I realized that he wanted her evidence to be forgotten by the jury as quickly as possible. As it was, when she left the witness box she also left everyone in court in considerable doubt.

Carla’s daily cleaning woman, Maria Lucia, was far more convincing. She stated unequivocally that she had seen Menzies in the living room of the apartment that afternoon when she arrived a little before five. However, she had, she admitted, never seen him before that day.

“But isn’t it true,” asked Sir Humphrey, “that you usually only work in the mornings?”

“Yes,” she replied. “Although Miss Moorland was in the habit of bringing work home on a Thursday afternoon, so it was convenient for me to come in and collect my wages.”

“And how was Miss Moorland dressed that afternoon?” asked Sir Humphrey.

“In her blue robe,” replied the cleaning woman.

“Is this how she usually dressed on a Thursday afternoon?”

“No, sir, but I assumed she was going to have a bath before going out that evening.”

“But when you left the apartment was she still with Mr. Menzies?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Do you remember anything else she was wearing that day?”

“Yes, sir. Underneath the morning coat, she wore a red negligee.”

My negligee was duly produced, and Maria Lucia identified it. At this point, I stared directly at the witness, but she showed not a flicker of recognition. I thanked all the gods in the pantheon that I had never once been to visit Carla in the morning.

“Please wait there,” were Sir Humphrey’s final words to Miss Lucia.

Mr. Scott rose to cross-examine.

“Miss Lucia, you have told the court that the purpose of the visit was to collect your wages. How long were you at the apartment on this occasion?”

“I did a little cleaning up in the kitchen and ironed a blouse, perhaps twenty minutes.”

“Did you see Miss Moorland during this time?”

“Yes, I went into the living room to ask if she would like some more coffee, but she said no.”

“Was Mr. Menzies with her at the time?”

“Yes, he was.”

“Were you at any time aware of a quarrel between the two of them or even raised voices?”

“No, sir.”

“When you saw them together did Miss Moorland show any signs of distress or need of help?”

“No, sir.”

“Then what happened?”

“Miss Moorland joined me in the kitchen a few minutes later and gave me my wages, and I let myself out.”

“When you were alone in the kitchen with Miss Moorland, did she give any sign of being afraid of her guest?”

“No, sir.”

“No more questions, My Lord.”

Sir Humphrey did not reexamine Maria Lucia and informed the judge that he had completed the case for the prosecution. Mr. Justice Buchanan nodded and said he felt that was enough for the day, but I wasn’t convinced it was enough to convict Menzies.

Court Outside|Short story

When I got home that night Elizabeth did not ask me where I had been, and I did not volunteer any information. I spent the evening pretending to go over job applications.

The following morning I had a late breakfast and read the papers before returning to my place at the end of a row in Court No. 4, only a few moments before the judge made his entrance.

Mr. Justice Buchanan, having sat down, adjusted his wig before calling on Mr. Scott to open the case for the defense. Mr. Scott, QC, was once again slow to rise—a man paid by the hour, I thought uncharitably. He started by promising the court that his opening address would be brief, and he then remained on his feet for the next two and a half hours.

He began the case for the defense by going over in detail the relevant parts, as he saw them, of Menzies’s past. He assured us all that those who wished to dissect it later would only find an unblemished record. Paul Menzies was a happily married man who lived in Sutton with his wife and three children Polly, aged twenty-one Michael, nineteen, and Sally, sixteen. Two of the children were now in college and the youngest had just graduated from high school. Doctors had advised Mrs. Menzies not to attend the trial, following her recent release from the hospital. I noticed two of the women on the jury smile sympathetically.

Mr. Menzies, Mr. Scott continued, had been with the same firm of insurance brokers in the City of London for the past six years and, although he had not been promoted, he was a much-respected member of the staff. He was a pillar of his local community, having served with the Territorial Army, and on the committee of the local camera club. He had once even run for the Sutton council. He could hardly be described as a serious candidate as a murderer.

Mr. Scott then went on to the actual day of the killing and confirmed that Mr. Menzies had had an appointment with Miss Moorland on the afternoon in question, but in a strictly professional capacity with the sole purpose of helping her with a personal insurance plan. There could have been no other reason to visit Miss Moorland during office hours. He did not have sexual intercourse with her, and he certainly did not murder her.

The defendant had left his client a few minutes after six. He understood she had intended to change before going out to dinner with her sister in Fulham. He had arranged to see her the following Wednesday at his office for the purpose of drawing up the completed policy. The defense, Mr. Scott went on, would later produce a diary entry that would establish the truth of this statement.

The charge against the accused was, he submitted, based almost completely on circumstantial evidence. He felt confident that, when the trial reached its conclusion, the jury would be left with no choice but to release his client back into the bosom of his loving family. “You must end this nightmare,” Mr. Scott concluded. “It has gone on far too long for an innocent man.”

At this point, the judge suggested a break for lunch. During the meal, I was unable to concentrate or even take in what was being said around me. The majority of those who had an opinion to give now seemed convinced that Menzies was innocent.

As soon as we returned, at ten past two, Mr. Scott called his first witness: the defendant himself.

Paul Menzies left the dock and walked slowly over to the witness box. He took a copy of the New Testament in his right hand and haltingly read the words of the oath, from a card he held in his left.

Every eye was fixed on him while Mr. Scott began to guide his client carefully through the minefield of evidence.

Menzies became progressively more confident in his delivery as the day wore on, and when at four-thirty the judge told the court, “That’s enough for today,” I was convinced that he would get off, even if only by a majority verdict.

I spent a fitful night before returning to my place on the third day fearing the worst. Would Menzies be released, and would they then start looking for me?

Mr. Scott opened the third morning as gently as he had begun the second, but he repeated so many questions from the previous day that it became obvious he was only steadying his client in preparation for prosecuting counsel. Before he finally sat down he asked Menzies for a third time, “Did you ever have sexual intercourse with Miss Moorland?”

“No, sir. I had only met her for the first time that day,” Menzies replied firmly.

“And did you murder Miss Moorland?”

“Certainly not, sir,” said Menzies, his voice now strong and confident.

Mr. Scott resumed his place, a look of quiet satisfaction on his face.

In fairness to Menzies, very little that takes place in normal life could have prepared anyone for cross-examination by Sir Humphrey Mountcliff. I could not have asked for a better advocate.

“I’d like to start, if I may, Mr. Menzies,” he began, “with what your counsel seems to set great store by as proof of your innocence.”

Menzies’s thin lips remained in a firm straight line.

“The pertinent entry in your diary that suggests that you made a second appointment to see Miss Moorland, the murdered woman” three words Sir Humphrey was to repeat again and again during his cross-examination “for the Wednesday after she had been killed.” “Yes, sir,” said Menzies. “This entry was made correct me if I’m wrong following your Thursday meeting at Miss Moorland’s apartment.”

“Yes, sir,” said Menzies, obviously tutored not to add anything that might later help prosecuting counsel.

“So when did you make that entry?” Sir Humphrey asked.

“On Friday morning.”

“After Miss Moorland had been killed?”

“Yes, but I didn’t know.”

“Do you carry a diary on you, Mr. Menzies?”

“Yes, but only a small pocket diary, not my large desk one.”

“Do you have it with you today?”

“I do.”

“May I be allowed to see it?”

Reluctantly Menzies took a small green diary out of his jacket pocket and handed it over to the clerk of the court, who in turn passed it to Sir Humphrey. Sir Humphrey began to leaf through the pages.

“I see that there is no entry for your appointment with Miss Moorland for the afternoon on which she was murdered?”

“No, sir,” said Menzies. “I put office appointments only in my desk diary; personal appointments are restricted to my pocket diary.”

“I understand,” said Sir Humphrey. He paused and looked up. “But isn’t it strange, Mr. Menzies, that you agreed to an appointment with a client to discuss further business and you then trusted it to memory, when you so easily could have put it in the diary you carry around with you all the time before transferring it?”

Court Case|Short story

“I might have written it down on a slip of paper at the time, but as I explained, that’s a personal diary.”

“Is it?” said Sir Humphrey as he flicked back a few more pages. “Who is David Paterson?” he asked.

Menzies looked as if he were trying to place him.

“Mr. David Paterson, 112 City Road, 11:30, January 9 this year,” Sir Humphrey read out to the court. Menzies looked anxious. “We could subpoena Mr. Paterson if you can’t recall the meeting,” said Sir Humphrey helpfully.

“He’s a client of my firm,” said Menzies in a quiet voice.

“A client of your firm,” Sir Humphrey repeated slowly. “I wonder how many of those I could find if I went through your diary at a more leisurely pace?” Menzies bowed his head as Sir Humphrey passed the diary back to the clerk, having made his point.

“Now I should like to turn to some more important questions …”

“Not until after lunch, Sir Humphrey,” the judge intervened. “It’s nearly one, and I think we’ll take a break now.”

“As you wish, My Lord,” came back the courteous reply.

I left the court in a more optimistic mood, even though I couldn’t wait to discover what could be more important than that diary. Sir Humphrey’s emphasis on little lies, although they did not prove Menzies was a murderer, did show he was hiding something. I became anxious that during the break Mr. Scott might advise Menzies to admit to his affair with Carla, and thus make the rest of his story appear more credible. To my relief, over the meal, I learned that Menzies could not consult his counsel while he was still in the witness box. I noticed when we returned to court that Mr. Scott’s smile had disappeared.

Sir Humphrey rose to continue his cross-examination. “You have stated under oath, Mr. Menzies, that you are a happily married man.”

“I am, sir,” said the defendant with feeling.

“Was your first marriage as happy, Mr. Menzies?” asked Sir Humphrey casually. The defendant’s cheeks drained of their color. I quickly looked over toward Mr. Scott, who could not mask that this was information with which he had not been entrusted.

“Take your time before you answer,” said Sir Humphrey.

All eyes turned to the man in the witness seat.

“No,” said Menzies and quickly added, “but I was very young at the time. It was many years ago and all a ghastly mistake.”

“All a ghastly mistake?” repeated Sir Humphrey, looking straight at the jury. “And how did that marriage end?”

“In the divorce,” Menzies said quite simply.

“And what were the grounds for that divorce?”

“Cruelty,” said Menzies, “but …”

“But … would you like me to read out to the jury what your first wife swore under oath in court that day?”

Menzies stood there shaking. He knew that “No” would damn him and “Yes” would hang him.

“Well, since you seem unable to advise us, I will, with your permission, My Lord, read the statement made before Mr. Justice Rodger on June 9, 1961, at the Swindon County Court by the first Mrs. Menzies.” Sir Humphrey cleared his throat. “‘He used to hit me again and again, and it became so bad that I had to run away for fear he might one day kill me.’” Sir Humphrey emphasized the last five words.

“She was exaggerating!” shouted Menzies from the witness box.

“How unfortunate that poor Miss Carla Moorland cannot be with us today to let us know if your story about her is also an exaggeration.”

“I object, My Lord,” said Mr. Scott. “Sir Humphrey is harassing the witness.”

“I agree,” said the judge. “Tread more carefully in future, Sir Humphrey.”

“I apologize, My Lord,” said Sir Humphrey, sounding singularly unapologetic. He closed the file to which he had been referring and replaced it on the desk in front of him before taking up a new one. He opened it slowly, making sure all in the court were following every movement before he extracted a single sheet of paper.

“How many mistresses have you had since you were married to the second Mrs. Menzies?”

“Objection, My Lord. How can this be relevant?”

“My Lord, it is relevant, I respectfully suggest. I intend to show that this was not a business relationship that Mr. Menzies was conducting with Miss Moorland but a highly personal one.”

“The question can be put to the defendant,” ruled the judge.

Menzies said nothing as Sir Humphrey held up the sheet of paper in front of him and studied it.

“Take your time because I want the exact number,” Sir Humphrey said, looking over the top of his glasses.

The seconds ticked on as we all waited.

“Hmm—three, I think,” Menzies said eventually in a voice that just carried. The members of the press began scribbling furiously.

“Three,” said Sir Humphrey, staring at his piece of paper in disbelief.

“Well, perhaps four.”

“And was the fourth Miss Carla Moorland?” Sir Humphrey asked. “Because you had sexual intercourse with her that evening, didn’t you?”

“No, I did not,” said Menzies, but by this time few in that courtroom could have believed him.

“Very well then,” continued Sir Humphrey, as he placed the piece of paper on the bench in front of him. “But before I return to your relationship with Miss Moorland, let us discover the truth about the other four.”

I stared at the piece of paper from which Sir Humphrey had been reading. From where I was seated I could see that there was nothing written on it at all. A blank white sheet lay before him.

I was finding it hard to keep a grin off my face. Menzies’s adulterous background was an unexpected bonus for me and the press and I couldn’t help wondering how Carla would have reacted if she had known about it.

Sir Humphrey spent the rest of the day making Menzies relate the details of his relationships with the previous four mistresses. The court was agog, and the journalists continued to scribble away, knowing they were about to have a field day. When the court adjourned, Mr. Scott’s eyes were closed.

I drove home that night feeling not a little pleased with myself like a man who had just completed a good day’s work.

On entering the courtroom the following morning I noticed people were beginning to acknowledge other regulars and nod. I found myself falling into the same pattern and greeted people silently as I took my regular position at the end of the bench.

Sir Humphrey spent the morning going over some of Menzies’s other misdemeanors. We discovered that he had served in the Territorial Army for only five months and left after a misunderstanding with his commanding officer over how many hours he should have been spending on exercises during weekends and how much he had claimed in expenses for those hours. We also learned that his attempts to get on the local council sprang more from anger at being refused planning permission to build on a piece of land adjoining his house than from an altruistic desire to serve his fellow men. To be fair, Sir Humphrey could have made the Archangel Gabriel look like a soccer hooligan; but his trump card was still to come.

Court Inside Activity|Short story

“Mr. Menzies, I should now like to return to your version of what happened on the night Miss Moorland was killed.”

“Yes,” sighed Menzies in a tired voice.

“When you visit a client to discuss one of your policies, how long would you say such consultation usually lasts?”

“Usually half an hour, an hour at the most,” said Menzies.

“And how long did the consultation with Miss Moorland take?”

“A good hour,” said Menzies.

“And you left her, if I remember your evidence correctly, a little after six o’clock.”

“That is correct.”

“And what time was your appointment?”

“At five o’clock, as was shown clearly in my desk diary,” said Menzies.

“Well, Mr. Menzies, if you arrived at about five to keep your appointment with Miss Moorland and left a little after six, how did you manage to get a parking fine?”

“I didn’t have any small change for the meter at the time,” said Menzies confidently. “As I was already a couple of minutes late, I just risked it.”

“You just risked it,” repeated Sir Humphrey slowly. “You are obviously a man who takes risks, Mr. Menzies. I wonder if you would be good enough to look at the parking ticket in question.”

The clerk handed it up to Menzies.

“Would you read out to the court the hour and minute that the traffic warden has written in the little boxes to show when the offense occurred.”

Once again Menzies took a long time to reply. “Four-sixteen to four-thirty,” he said eventually.

“I didn’t hear that,” said the judge.

“Would you be kind enough to repeat what you said for the judge?” Sir Humphrey asked.

Menzies repeated the damning figures.

“So now we have established that you were in fact with Miss Moorland sometime before four-sixteen, and not, as I suggest you later wrote in your diary, five o’clock. That was just another lie, wasn’t it?”

“No,” said Menzies. “I must have arrived a little earlier than I realized.”

“At least an hour earlier, it seems. And I also suggest to you that you arrived at that early hour because your interest in Carla Moorland was not simply professional?”

“That’s not true.”

“Then it wasn’t your intention that she should become your mistress?”

Menzies hesitated long enough for Sir Humphrey to answer his own question. “Because the business part of your meeting finished in the usual half-hour, did it not, Mr. Menzies?” He waited for a response but still none was forthcoming.

“What is your blood group, Mr. Menzies?”

“I have no idea.”

Sir Humphrey changed tack without warning: “Have you heard of DNA, by any chance?”

“No,” came back the puzzled reply.

“Deoxyribonucleic acid testing is a technique that shows genetic information unique to every individual. Blood or semen samples can be matched. Semen, Mr. Menzies, is as unique as any fingerprint. With such a sample we would know immediately if you raped Miss Moorland.”

“I didn’t rape her,” Menzies said indignantly.

“Nevertheless, sexual intercourse did take place, didn’t it?” said Sir Humphrey quietly.

Menzies remained silent.

“Shall I recall the Home Office pathologist and ask him to carry out a DNA test?”

Menzies still made no reply.

“And check your blood group?” Sir Humphrey paused. “I will ask you once again, Mr. Menzies. Did sexual intercourse between you and the murdered woman take place that Thursday afternoon?”

“Yes, sir,” said Menzies in a whisper.

“Yes, sir,” repeated Sir Humphrey so that the whole court could hear it. “But it wasn’t rape,” Menzies shouted back at Sir Humphrey. “Wasn’t it?” said Sir Humphrey. “And I swear I didn’t kill her.”

I must have been the only person in that courtroom who knew he was telling the truth. All Sir Humphrey said was, “No more questions, My Lord.”

Mr. Scott tried manfully to resurrect his client’s credibility during reexamination, but the fact that Menzies had been caught lying about his relationship with Carla made everything he had said previously appear doubtful.

If only Menzies had told the truth about being Carla’s lover, his story might well have been accepted. I wondered why he had gone through the charade in order to protect his wife? Whatever the motive, it had only ended by making him appear guilty of a crime he hadn’t committed.

I went home that night and ate the largest meal I had had for several days.

The following morning Mr. Scott called two more witnesses. The first turned out to be the vicar of St. Peter’s, Sutton, who was there as a character witness to prove what a pillar of the community Menzies was. After Sir Humphrey had finished his cross-examination the vicar ended up looking like a rather kind, unworldly old man, whose knowledge of Menzies was based on the latter’s occasional attendance at Sunday matins.

The second was Menzies’s superior at the company they worked for in the City. He was a far more impressive figure, but he was unable to confirm that Miss Moorland had ever been a client of the company.

Mr. Scott put up no more witnesses and informed Mr. Justice Buchanan that he had completed the case for the defense. The judge nodded and, turning to Sir Humphrey, told him he would not be required to begin his final address until the following morning.

That heralded the signal for the court to adjourn.

Another long evening and an even longer night had to be endured by Menzies and myself. As on every other day during the trial, I made sure I was in my place the next morning before the judge entered.

Sir Humphrey’s closing speech was masterful. Every little untruth was logged, so that one began to accept that very little of Menzies’s testimony could be relied on.

“We will never know for certain,” said Sir Humphrey, “for what reason poor young Carla Moorland was murdered. Refusal to succumb to Menzies’s advances? A fit of temper that ended with a
blow that caused her to fall and later die alone? But there are, however, some things, members of the jury, of which we can be quite certain.

“We can be certain that Menzies was with the murdered woman that day before the hour of four-sixteen because of the evidence of the damning parking ticket.

“We can be certain that he left a little after six because we have a witness who saw him drive away, and he does not himself deny this evidence.

“And we can be certain that he wrote a false entry in his diary to make you believe he had a business appointment with the murdered woman at five, rather than a personal assignation sometime before.

“And we can now be certain that he lied about having sexual intercourse with Miss Moorland a short time before she was killed, though we cannot be certain if intercourse took place before or after her jaw had been broken.” Sir Humphrey’s eyes rested on the jury before he continued.

“We can, finally, establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, from the pathologist’s report, the time of death and that, therefore, Menzies was the last person who could possibly have seen Carla Moorland alive.

“Therefore no one else could have killed Carla Moorland—for do not forget Inspector Simmons’s evidence and if you accept that, you can be in no doubt that only Menzies could have been responsible for her death. And how damning you must have found it that he tried to hide the existence of a first wife who had left him on the grounds of his cruelty, and the four mistresses who left him we know not why or how. Only one less than Bluebeard,” Sir Humphrey added with feeling.

“For the sake of every young girl who lives on her own in our capital, you must carry out your duty, however painful that duty might be. And find Menzies guilty of murder.”

When Sir Humphrey sat down I wanted to applaud.

The judge sent us away for another break. Voices all around me were now damning Menzies. I listened contentedly without offering an opinion. I knew that if the jury convicted Menzies the file would be closed and no eyes would ever be turned in my direction. I was seated in my place before the judge appeared at ten past two. He called on Mr. Scott.

Menzies’s counsel put up a spirited defense of his client, pointing out that almost all the evidence that Sir Humphrey had come up with had been circumstantial, and that it was even possible someone else could have visited Carla Moorland after his client had left that night. Mr. Scott’s bushy eyebrows seemed almost to have a life of their own as he energetically emphasized that it was the prosecution’s responsibility to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt and not his to disprove it, and that, in his opinion, his learned friend, Sir Humphrey, had failed to do so.

During his summing-up, Scott avoided any mention of diary entries, parking tickets, past mistresses, sexual intercourse, or questions of his client’s role in the community. A latecomer listening only to the closing speeches might have been forgiven for thinking the two learned gentlemen were summarizing different cases.

Mr. Scott’s expression became grim as he turned to face the jury for his summation. “The twelve of you,” he said, “hold the fate of my client in your hands. You must, therefore, be certain, I repeat, certain beyond a reasonable doubt that Paul Menzies could have committed such an evil crime as murder.

“This is not a trial about Mr. Menzies’s lifestyle, his position in the community, or even his sexual habits. If adultery were a crime I feel confident Mr. Menzies would not be the only person in this courtroom to be in the dock today.” He paused as his eyes swept up and down the jury.

“For this reason, I feel confident that you will find it in your hearts to release my client from the torment he has been put through during the last seven months. He has surely been shown to be an innocent man deserving of your compassion.”

Mr. Scott sank down on the bench having, I felt, given his client a glimmer of hope.

The judge told us that he would not begin his own summing-up until Monday morning.

The weekend seemed interminable to me. By Monday I had convinced myself that enough members of the jury would feel there just had not been sufficient evidence to convict.

As soon as the trial resumed, the judge began by explaining once again that it was the jury alone who must make the ultimate decision. It was not his job to let them know how he felt, but only to advise them on the law.

He went back over all the evidence, trying to put it in perspective, but he never gave so much as a hint as to his own opinions. When he had completed his summing-up late that afternoon he sent the jury away to consider their verdict.

I waited with nearly as much anxiety as Menzies must have done while I listened to others giving their opinion as the minutes ticked by in that little room. Then, four hours later, a note was sent up to the judge.

He immediately asked the jury to return to their places while the press flooded back into the courtroom, making it look like the House of Commons on budget day. The clerk dutifully handed up the note to Mr. Justice Buchanan. He opened it and read what only twelve other people in the courtroom could have known.

He handed it back to the clerk, who then read the note to a silent court.

Mr. Justice Buchanan frowned before asking if there were any chance of a unanimous verdict being reached if he allowed more time. Once he had learned that it was proving impossible, he reluctantly nodded his agreement to a majority verdict.

The jury disappeared downstairs again to continue its deliberations and did not return for another three hours. I could sense the tension in the court as neighbors sought to give each other opinions in noisy whispers. The clerk called for silence as the judge waited for everyone to settle before he instructed the clerk to
proceed.

When the clerk rose, I could hear the person next to me breathing.

“Would the foreman please stand?”

I rose from my place.

“Have you reached a verdict on which at least ten of you are agreed?”

“We have, sir.”

“Do you find the defendant, Paul Menzies, guilty or not guilty?”

“Guilty,” I replied.

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