Andrea, Attorney at Law

The Mad Dwarf: Part 4

    I was a bit surprised at what we found on the other side of the door. The chamber was sparse; secured to the floor near the center sat a table, a bench was on either side of it, and one lone cot was off on the other end of the room. A single blanket and pillow laid on the cot, also fastened to both the floor and walls.

    “Mr. Blackstone,” Andrea said. She strode across the room, put her briefcase on the stone table and opened it up. “I am Andrea Selton, and this is my associate Travis.” She stopped there, hoping for some recognition before going on.

    The dwarf was under the covers. I wasn’t sure if Blackstone was sleeping or just waiting to spring on us undetected. Either way, my stomach was tied up in knots. I started to sweat as the covers pulled over his head, slowly slid back to reveal the dwarf for the first time.
    Del Blackstone looked to be about eighty years old; which in dwarf-years meant he was probably pushing four hundred. He was skinny, bones showing under ragged prison garb that hung loosely on him. His head was a bit misshapen, large ears poking out from the side of his face at odd angles and a large, bulbous nose.
    “Don’t want to talk. Get out.” Blackstone said in a hushed, quiet voice.

    “You got it, sir,” I said and stepped back towards the door. I was about to knock for Taldesh when Andrea stopped me with one glance. I put my head down, appropriately chastised and walked back to Andrea's side.
    “Grow up,” she said to me, then turned back to Blackstone. “Sir, if you could come and sit at the table with us I think I have some ideas on how to get you off these charges.”
    “You do?” I whispered to her. She shot me a look, and I quieted down. This situation had me on edge.
    “I understand that you think you were framed. We would like to find out who framed you, but first, we need to hear the whole story from the beginning.”
    Blackstone stood sitting on the edge of his cot. He blinked a few times, grunted and then walked limply over to the table. He scooted up on the bench opposite us and put his chin in his hands.
    “Don’t matter; they’re just going to lock me up anyway. Might as well just plead guilty.”

    Andrea started as if slapped. “I’ve never entered a guilty plea, and I don’t plan to start now,” she said. Andrea sat down, staring the dwarf right in the eyes. “I suggest you start your story, Mr. Blackstone,” she said firmly. “If you want to play ‘Whose More Stubborn’ I’m afraid you’ll lose.”
    I nodded in agreement. “Very true. She’s one stubborn woman.”
    Blackstone sighed and then nodded. “If it’ll get you out quicker, I can tell it.”
    Andrea took out a pad and pen, then gestured for me to do the same. I did, and we both sat waiting for Blackstone to tell us his tale of an illegal and unregistered wand.

    “I haven’t been a buggy driver for that long. About seventeen months.”
    Andrea held up a hand. “Are you counting the four months you’ve been in jail, Mr. Blackstone? Or is this prior to the arrest and contempt of court?”
    “Before all that. I’m nothing now. Just a prisoner.” Blackstone said with near no emotion.
    Andrea sighed, she could feel how beyond hope he was, but she said nothing. She gestured that he continue with his story.
    “Like I was telling you: I started driving those buggies, and I hadn’t been for too long. Horrible job. It really is. All sorts of weirdos and creeps at every odd hour of the day, in and out, up one street and down the other. Some yell at you to go faster, others to slow down. It’s just one oddball after another.”
    I chuckled thinking of some of the rides I had to share with the colorful locals. 
    “I guess it all started one day, after the rush hour begun to die down,  I was nearing the end of my shift. I was on my way back to the stables, out at the West Feln, when I saw this... I don’t know what you’d call him... Or it, even. Tall, broad shoulders and a pale face. I swear you’d see it fine in pitch blackness. It smiled a real tooth-filled smile, almost like too many teeth. But, you get all sorts, especially out near there, so I guess I didn’t pay it much mind.

    “Anyways, he’s holding out his hand waving and so I pull up and take a good look at him, and can’t figure out what he is. I never saw an elf like that or even any of them folk from out in the Belt. So, just trying to move the conversation along I go, ‘I’m off duty, not picking up any more folk today,’ and still no answer. So, I figured I’d offer to help the guy. I say ‘If it’s around here, I’ll take ya.' He just nods, all quiet-like, and jumps in the back.
    “The strangest part was like I was saying all the things he wanted to say, and did them without him telling me to do it. He leans forward and whispers into my ear the direction he wants to go. No address, no place, just drive. But the weirdest was he said nothing. And I mean it. Not a word came out, but I knew. I knew.”

 

    Blackstone quieted down, and his shoulders slumped as well.
    Andrea was taking notes rapidly. “And what direction did you end up taking him in?”
    “Don’t remember.”
    Andrea paused and looked up. “This could be crucial for us to know, Mr. Blackstone.”
    Blackstone shrugged. “Could be.” I sighed. “Do you remember what part of town you dropped this pale man off in?”
    “That’s just it. Can’t remember. I don't remember him; I remember picking him up and I remember... those teeth. That plain pale face. But everything else? Blank.” Blackstone seemed to shiver at the memory.
    “So, what did he do once you dropped him off at this... place?” Andrea tapped her fingers rapidly.
    Another shrug.
    “Mr. Blackstone, I don’t see how any of this-”
    “See, that’s the whole problem. Is I know I got this guy. I know he told me to drop him off somewhere, I just can’t remember where we went or what he did.”
    Andrea put down her pen, placed her palms on the table and leaned in towards the dwarf. “Did you do anything with this man?”
    “I don’t remember.”

    Blackstone began to rock back and forth. His eyes were bleary, and for some reason, at that moment I believed him.
    “Okay,” Andrea said calmly. “How does this connect with the weapons?”
    Blackstone rubbed at his eyes and took a few seconds to compose himself from the unnerving memory he had recalled. “I saw him right before I was arrested. He was standing in the street, right when I had finished my shift and waved for me to pick him up.”

    “Where did you pick him up this time?”
    Blackstone cleared his throat. “I don’t remember.”

    “And where you dropped him off?”
    Blackstone raised his eyebrows. “I didn’t. I remember that. One minute he is in the back of my buggy, the next I’m getting told to halt by the police. They haul me out; they search my buggy, and suddenly I’m being dragged to prison. I’m telling you the truth. I don’t know who or what that man was. Just that whatever or whoever he was, framed me.”

    I leaned over to Andrea and whispered into her ear. “Not a very compelling story. It makes no sense. I see no links to anything at all. It makes more sense that this guy was holding onto some illegal wand for protection, got caught and now is lying to save his butt.”
    Andrea whispered back. “But then why go nuts in the courtroom over it?”
    “Bit of a temper. Thought the lie was better than it was, that maybe if he sounded crazy enough, he’d get a slap on the wrist? I don’t know. But, this isn’t even a story. It’s two beginnings of a brief summary, and that’s it.”
    Andrea bit her lip while she thought. “I can’t help but believe him. That for some reason he knows he was framed, but can’t recall anything that would link who, why and how together.”
    I glanced over at Blackstone. He looked more like a worried, old dwarf, than a crazy, head-bashing psychopath. And, like before, I got that feeling that somehow he was telling the truth.

© 2016-20 Fitts Harper