The Trial Of The Beast…
THE TRIAL OF THE BEAST
Tutu Kuntu raised the remote control and put off the television.
He sighed deeply as he went into the bedroom. His wife was wearing an unfashionably huge nightdress, and had just finished making the bed. She went to him and held him gently. She could feel that he was trembling.
“It is going to be alright, love,” she whispered. “The serious issues here are the murders and the boy’s horrific assault on the manager of the orphanage!”
He nodded numbly.
“I know, dear,” he said as he sat down on the bed. “But my whole interest in this case, my anger and terrible fury, hinged on what I thought he did to our dearest Gyamaan. For two years, I have held on to that and felt my anger seething! And now, suddenly, it had all been for nothing? How could Gyamaan do this to us? She could have spared us the heartache, at least. And now I managed to have this kid tried as an adult.”
“I know you’re gutted, darling,” she said gently. “But, in truth, as much as rape is an atrocious crime, two cold-hearted murders exceed rape in magnitude any day, if you ask me. So, nothing much has changed, my darling.”
“I guess you’re right, my love,” he said in a tired voice.
“Come, darling, let me pamper you a bit,” she whispered, stood up, and slipped out of her huge nightdress.
The day finally came.
The day the country had been waiting anxiously for.
Monday, exactly a week after the rape charges were dropped against Zak Twum.
He was now being tried on two counts of first-degree murder, assault and arson. Once again Eduafo had tried to get information from him, but Zak would not speak to him.
Events that had happened in court had made Eduafo feel a lot better about the ill-treatment Faddah had meted out to him, but he knew deep down that there would not be another magic; Zak could not escape the murder charges.
The boy might get away with assault and arson with reasonable sentences, but two first-degree murders, one of them involving a little girl, was not something he would ever get away with.
The day before the trial, Eduafo went to the police station.
He had to see Zak in the cell because the boy refused to come out to meet him. He spent about an hour with him, but Zak did not tell him anything.
Finally, as he was leaving, Zak stopped him.
“Mr. Eduafo,” the boy said. “Can I use your phone?”
Kuuku Eduafo wordlessly unlocked his phone and handed it over to Zak.
“Thank you, sir,” Zak said, and dialled rapidly.
“This is Zak,” he said. “You should be in court tomorrow, but remember to keep your end of the bargain.”
He handed the phone back, turned and fell across his bed. He turned his face against the wall and his back to Eduafo.
The lawyer sighed, shook his head, and left the cell.
Once outside, he took his phone and looked at the strange number Zak had dialled. The boy had forgotten to delete the number.
For a moment, Eduafo had a strong urge to call the number and find out who the boy had spoken to, and what bargain they had discussed.
After a moment, he sighed and put the phone away; somehow he felt that calling the number would be a very bad idea.
Once again, the court was filled to capacity as the terrible tale was told about how Zak coldly murdered Kwadwo Pamfo, one of the inmates at the Sasam Orphanage.
Faddah Kissiedu brought in six eyewitnesses.
They had all been at the National Park and had seen Zak chasing two boys with a knife in hand. One of the boys had been Kwadwo Pamfo, and the other Kweku Sintim, Kwadwo’s best friend.
Zak had caught up with the fat Kweku, and kicked him to the ground, and then he had pursued Kwadwo furiously, shouting at the top of his voice that he was going to kill him.
Kwadwo had tripped over a park bench and fallen down.
Zak had been on him in a flash, kicking and punching him on the ground. Some of the eyewitnesses had been terrified, and their screams had brought a park policeman running to the scene.
Zak had seen the policeman, and had gotten off the bleeding Kwadwo.
“This is not over yet!” they had heard him scream. “I swear that before the day is over you’ll be dead!”
Zak had then fled from the scene.
The policeman had tried to give him a chase, but Zak had eluded him. By the time he came back to the scene, Sintim had taken Kwadwo Pamfo away.
Corporal Jibril, the park policeman, was also sworn in, and he affirmed the story, saying he had heard Zak’s last words.
Finally, Faddah brought in his last witness.
It was Kweku Sintim.
The young man recounted what had happened after he and Kwadwo left the park after Zak’s assault. They had gone to the orphanage. Their room at the orphanage had been too hot, and so Sintim had left and gone back to their rented room in town.
He had been preparing to sleep when he heard a strange noise at the door. Suddenly, the door had begun to open, and he had caught sight of Zak’s shirt. Terrified, Sintim had hidden under the bed.
Zak had made a quick search of the room, but had not looked under the bed, and then he had slipped quietly into the bathroom.
Sintim continued his grim tale.
He said that he was very terrified under the bed, and he could not dare slip out for fear that Zak would come out from the bathroom and hurt him.
However, around midnight, Sintim saw Kwadwo Pamfo entering the room.
Before Sintim could shout a warning, Zak emerged from the bathroom and struck Kwadwo in the chest with a wicked knife.
Kwadwo had fallen soundlessly as blood poured from his heart.
Sintim had emerged from under the bed after Zak fled.
The court was so quiet that an ant’s footsteps on the floor could have been heard.
All eyes turned to Zak.
Gone was the brief pity he had had after it became known that he had not raped Gyamaan.
The hatred was back, and they all wanted him dead.
Faddah approached Judge Kuntu.
He was holding a transparent pouch in which was a long, brownish ugly knife.
“And this is the murder weapon,” he said. “Lab results proved Zak’s fingerprints on it, and the blood belongs to Kwadwo Pamfo.”
Judge Kuntu’s eyes bored coldly first at the saturnine Zak, and then shifted to the sweating Eduafo.
“Defence cross-examine?” he asked coldly.
Eduafo shook his head, numb with the shock he had had listening to the gory story.
“Witness can stand down,” Judge Kuntu said.
The fat Sintim got down from the dock, and as he was being led away, he passed the table right in front of Zak.
And that was when Zak spoke softly.
“Kweku, your mother’s here.”
Sintim came to a halt, his face awash with sudden sweat.
“No, none of your tricks, Zak!” he croaked with fierce eyes.
Zak leaned back and regarded the fat boy with cold eyes.
“And what is going on down there?” Judge Kuntu barked sternly. “You would not hold discourse in my courtroom without proper procedure!”
Zak got to his feet and calmly looked at the judge.
“I’m extremely sorry, sir,” he said firmly. “But Kweku Sintim told a number of lies to this court. If you would allow me, I’ll prove to you that he lied.”
“By holding a discourse of threat with him?” the judge shot back coldly.
“No, definitely not, sir,” Zak replied. “You will hear everything I say, if you give me the chance.”
The judge glared at him with cold eyes, and he would have shut him down, but the Gyamaan fiasco still reigned heavily on his heart, and so he leaned back and touched his lips.
“Normally, I would have held you in contempt of court, young man,” he said sternly. “But, due to the untenable nature this case seems to be taking, I grant you three minutes of discourse with the witness.”
“Thank you, sir,” Zak said and turned to face an evidently uneasy Kweku Sintim.
“No tricks, Kweku,” he said calmly. “Two years ago, just before the cops said I raped Gyamaan, I was cleaning the store-room, and I heard Mr. Nhyirah talking to a lady in his office. The lady was crying. She was looking for her long-lost son. She said she gave birth when she was in school, and out of desperation she left her baby boy on the doorstep of the Sasam Orphanage.
Mr. Nhyirah told her a lot of baby boys were left on the doorstep of the orphanage, and most of them got adopted, see? The lady was distraught; she said her baby boy had a dark birthmark on his left buttock, shaped like a horse. Mr. Nhyirah said there was no such mark on any of the boys presently at the orphanage.
The lady left her telephone number should there be any information on her son. When Mr. Nhyirah went to see her off, I copied the lady’s telephone number into my little address book although I didn’t know then that you were the lady’s son. I just thought it might come in handy someday.”
Kweku Sintim’s face was a mask of confusion.
He gave a shaky laugh.
“No, Zak, you won’t get me,” he said with a snicker. “I ain’t got no horse shape on my stink machine!”
“Yes, you do,” Zak said calmly. “No one has noticed it because you have so much hair on your buttocks. But, one afternoon, you were lying butt naked on your bed because it was so hot, and as I was passing, the sunlight from the window fell on your buttocks, and there, just on your left one, I saw the dark shape.
I looked at it real close, and would you believe it…I was shocked when I saw it looked just like a horse! Indeed, I thought of telling you about the lady when you woke up, but shortly afterward the Gyamaan issue came up, and I forgot all about it.”
Sintim’s face was suddenly frantic and shocked.
He gaped at Zak, and then he frantically began to unzip his trousers. He pulled it down and turned his buttocks toward the startled Faddah.
“Please,” he said hoarsely. “Is it true? Can you see a dark mark like a horse on my left buttock?”
The Chief State Attorney nervously bent low…and there, nestled in the dark hairs on Sintim’s right buttock, was indeed a dark birthmark shaped remarkably like a horse.
“Yes, the mark is there!”
Sintim was shocked.
He took dazed steps toward Zak.
“Yes, Kweku, I remembered that woman and called her number last week when I heard you were going to testify against me,” Zak said calmly. “Luckily, she answered. I had a long talk with her. Yesterday, using my lawyer’s phone, I asked her to be here. However, I told her you would tell lies about me, and she didn’t want a lying son in her house. So, unless you tell this court the truth, you’ll never see your mother ever!”
“M-my mo-mother is here?” Sintim whispered tremulously. “My own mummy? My real, real, real mother who gave birth to me?”
Sintim turned and faced the crowd.
He was like a boy gone berserk. He ran haltingly through the aisle, looking all around him.
“MOTHER!” he bellowed, great tears falling down his cheeks suddenly. “Where are you? Please show yourself! My Mother! OH, MOMMYYYYYY!”
No one spoke.
It was such a pitiful picture that tears came to the eyes of many. The boy touched one woman after another, enquiring if she was his mother, but each time they shook their heads.
Finally, overcome with grief, he ran to Zak and fell down on his knees, his tears falling faster.
“Please, please, pleeeaaaase!” he wailed. “Show me my mother!”
“You tell this court the truth, and you shall have your mother!”
“SHOW ME MY MOTHEEEERRR!” Sintim screamed. “I want to see my mother, my real mother, Zak, please, I beg of you. Where is my mother?”
“The elders have a saying that it is only those who are not sleepy that complain of not having a place to sleep!” Zak shot back, and his voice was very calm.
“What do you mean by that, damn you!” Sintim screamed in agony.
“It means you don’t need your mother, Kweku!” Zak said calmly. “I know we all have dreams of knowing who our real parents are and we fantasize about growing up in a loving home, loved by our parents and free from the pain of the orphanage.
How much do you want your mother, Kweku? Are the lies you’ve told about me worth more to you than the prospect of seeing your real mother, and feeling her love? How deeply do you wish to see your mother? The choice is yours, my friend. It is all in your hands.”
Sintim, still kneeling, looked at Zak’s hard face, and then he sniffed, got to his feet and, half-running, he moved toward the jury, still crying uncontrollably. He fell to his knees, and then he looked at them.
“I lied!” he said. “Zak didn’t kill Kwadwo Pamfo!”
“Hold it right there!” Eduafo screamed, rushing forward. “Your Honour-.”
“Let the boy speak!” Judge Kuntu said in an unsteady voice. “The dock, boy. Go to the dock and speak. I’ll admit what I perceive to be true, and let the jury disregard what I believe to be coerced as a result of the evident blackmail Mr. Zak Twum just exhibited. In any case, let me be the judge of that.”
Sintim stumbled toward the dock, still trying to stop crying, sat down, and began to speak.
Aaron Ansah-Agyeman, The Trial Of The Beast, Aaron Ansah-Agyeman, The Trial Of The Beast, Aaron Ansah-Agyeman, The Trial Of The Beast, Aaron Ansah-Agyeman, The Trial Of The Beast, Aaron Ansah-Agyeman, The Trial Of The Beast, Aaron Ansah-Agyeman, The Trial Of The Beast.
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