The Posture of Innocence continues, @freewritehouse, @icedrum, @owasco, @misschance, @fitinfun, @wakeupkitty, @scribblingramma, @mgaft1, @iamsaray, @deemarshall, and @whatisnew -- saving today's freewrite prompt for day 5.5, but this is the setup ... Lieutenant Anderson returned from finding out in day 4.5 that the sole witness in what will become an explosive murder case has been lying for 25 years. He has blown off his steam and is now ready to take the next preparation steps with Captain Lee -- and stay tuned for day 5.5, where Captain Lee does some tight "bundling" to get at the truth!
Oh, @streetstyle -- I have found some public domain images to work with and will have a unifying image for this whole story by tomorrow!
“Welcome back, Lieutenant Anderson,” Captain Lee said upon his lieutenant's return, and handed him a big, cold glass of mint limeade from the division's little refrigerator.
“Thank you – oh, that tastes good right now,” the lieutenant said. “Where do you buy this?”
“I don't. Every week I make big batches of it, freeze it in blocks, and then keep my home pitchers and the pitchers here full.”
“If you remain a bachelor or become a widower, and you want to stay healthy, you will learn to do so.”
“Hadn't thought about it that way, sir.”
“My duty, in addition to commanding this division, is to expand your horizons as a man, since I have been your age already and know the good things that you can grasp if you make good decisions now.”
Lieutenant Anderson smiled.
“I always thought you were up to just a little more than solving cases, sir,” he said. “I appreciate – I think we all do – the way you go the extra mile with us.”
Including the extra mile of providing a more relaxed moment – refreshment, casual conversation, a personal note – to help his most passionate lieutenant transition back to calm thinking and learning. Captain Lee always, always, always prayed for wise ways to work with his subordinates, and his prayers were always answered in a way that fit the subordinate he was working with. Lieutenant Anderson sat right down, took a deep breath, finished his limeade, and was ready.
“Protocols – they are dry and they are rigid, but they provide layers of making sure we come as close as possible to investigating based on actual truth, and not on what we think, believe, or feel. What is the next protocol, Lieutenant?”
“We listen to the interview, and we check it by the key facts checklist.”
“I have taken the liberty of improving your checklist by one item.”
The lieutenant looked, and, in Captain Lee's precise handwriting there was written, “Height of Mrs. DeVille's apartment building in 1994: only two stories.”
“We almost don't need to waste time listening to it – I can't believe that woman nearly had me taken in,” Lieutenant Anderson said.
“Protocol, Lieutenant,” Captain Lee said firmly. “This is where you must trust me, and follow orders.”
“Yes, sir,” Lieutenant Anderson said. “I understand. Here's my recorder, and my notes.”
So, they sat in silence for 25 minutes, listening. At the end, Captain Lee smiled.
“Here's why listening to that was worth it – that was a superb, calm interview that will sound unbiased at a perjury trial. You did well in giving no indication of belief or disbelief, and of asking just enough questions. Now we have a three-fold record of her perjury – her initial testimony from 25 years ago, the interviews she has done since, and this brand new record.
“Understand this, Lieutenant. The system under which we participate in the action and force of law has clear and definite biases. In order to achieve justice, therefore – in order to have any chance – we must provide large amounts of overwhelming evidence, collected in the most scrupulous way. This is why I weary all of you with all these instructions and protocols and checks and double-checks. In this case, and many, many others, we are pushing against the weight of an entire system that wants Tom Jones to be guilty and behind bars as a private prison slave, and for Lilith DeVille to be the epitome of aged womanhood in all its virtues. In the flaming face of truth – truth known for 25 years – this is still Virginia's opinion of the matter. Do you think, therefore, that we can afford not to cover all bases, and take all due care, in attempting to bring truth to the fore where it is not wanted?”
“No, sir. When you explain it that way, it becomes clear.”
“Good. Clarity is the first victory. Once we have that, all the others are possible. Protocol, Lieutenant. What is next?”
“Well, we know her testimony doesn't square with the facts – next question would be, why is she lying, followed by the question of how it may relate to finding the true killer.”
“Or not,” Captain Lee said. “It could be that she is covering for someone else, but, it need not be. In essence, Mrs. DeVille set up a situation for Tom Jones to be murdered by the state or by excitable people in the state even if – and that was a colossal if – he obtained a hung jury or an acquittal. He achieved the latter and had sense enough to run for his life, but still: Mrs. DeVille is old enough to know what happens when a White Southern woman accuses a Black man of anything.”
“So, she could have a motive of her own – a separate attempt at state-sponsored murder,” the lieutenant said. “It's a good thing you helped me calm down, sir – I would have blown a few blood vessels ten minutes ago about that.”
“Believe me, Lieutenant, I understand. To the matter at hand: we need to examine our data to find Mrs. DeVille's motive for her persistent lying. We know something else as well: whatever it is, she holds it passionately.”
“Enough to shake me with it, 25 years after the fact – you're right, sir.”
Captain Lee already knew the motive, and he enjoyed Lieutenant Anderson's dogged discovery of the same facts, though grasped from a slightly different perspective.
“It says here in one of the media interviews that Mrs. DeVille is the granddaughter of a charter member of Lofton County's Daughters of the Confederacy branch, and is a member herself … a woman like that had to be pretty upset when Tom Jones integrated her neighborhood, and, if steeped in the Confederate legacy of action, she probably had a jolly time imagining herself a Confederate hero in working to do him in.”
“The manner of her storytelling is rather in that Lost Cause epic style,” Captain Lee said, with a dark chuckle. “She made several comments in each of her interviews that do suggest the origin of her displeasure.”
“We know she didn't see anything – wait a minute. Does her narrative even square with the coroner's report of how John Soames was killed?”
“You are probably the second investigator beside Tom Jones's dogged defense attorney to even seriously ask the question,” Captain Lee said mildly. “Find out, Lieutenant.”
That took a few minutes, and then –.
“Well, of all the loads of –.”
“ – Bull manure,” the lieutenant continued, “even these don't match! Sitting up there talking about how that poor man was hacked to death – a single stab, so precise you'd almost think a trained killer had done it!”
That was Captain Lee's opinion as well, and filled out yet another spot in his file zero concept.
Lieutenant Anderson threw the report down on the desk.
“I can't take it, sir, I just can't – what are we going to do about it!”
“We are going to finish looking to make sure we have as good an understanding as we can, and then you are going to call her back and say your captain would like to interview her as well, just to make sure we understand it all. You did well yesterday in having her establish her unrepentant perjury today. I have only a little left to do, in my turn, tomorrow.
“Tomorrow, I will demonstrate for you a different kind of interviewing that is more on the order of a skilled prosecutor, who knows the answer to the questions he is asking, and merely needs the witness to confirm them.”
“But she's not exactly an honest witness.”
“It does not matter,” Captain Lee said. “Some things are a matter of approach. Once you understand the motive for why people lie, you can approach them in such a way that the same motivation will cause them to tell you the strict truth. This requires an entirely different mindset, however, from what I asked of you today. When I sent you out, I sent you out in the mindset of not knowing for certain, and so, open to listening carefully and taking in what was said. For this that we will do tomorrow, we go as convinced of what we know as truth as possible, and with the determination to be told nothing else.”
“I'm not sure I understand.”
“Let's try a bit of Sunday School analogy. Who has all knowledge?”
“God, of course.”
“And, Who has all power?”
“Is there any possible circumstance in which He does not know the truth, and cannot reveal it at will? Or, is there any possible circumstance that He does not know exactly what should be done to achieve His will?”
“Do you now see the nexus between all knowledge and all power in the ability to do all things?”
“Yes. Never thought of it that way!”
Captain Lee leaned forward.
“We will never, and I repeat, never have those kinds of privileges as God has – we are men. Do not thus misunderstand what I am about to say. Yet when you know the truth of a matter, and you know the truth of the motivation of a person you are talking to about that matter, you can command the truth out of them as readily as you can squeeze water from a sponge. It is a matter of technique. I repeat: a technique that you can learn, not divine power, although it may look like that to you, at first.”