[The 6th sign of the zodiac, demonstrating perfectionism, diligence and first-class service]
“I put it to you that you are lying, Joanne!” Defence criminal barrister Harvey Dennis roars. “You’ve been lying your whole life! Your whole life has been a lie! You trap people in your web and play the victim!”
“That’s not true!”
“This jury will believe it is, Joanne.”
“I’m not lying!” Joanne says again, exasperated. “My father, Doctor Peter Smith, is the Poetry Predator, and he should be punished for his crimes!”
Joanne looks over to the courtroom dock. Through the tears in her eyes, she can see the accused sitting handcuffed. Doctor Peter Smith looks back at Joanne and gives her a menacing smile.
Joanne’s body shakes as she takes another deep breath.
“I put it to you, Joanne,” Harvey Dennis continues to berate her, “that the attack never happened! You concocted this whole story as a way to get back at Doctor Smith.”
“A way to get back at him?” Joanne asks, perplexed. “Get back at him for what?”
“You found out he was your biological father,” Harvey Dennis explains. “You had been lied to your whole life by everyone around you. You finally found out the truth and you weren’t happy about it. You were out for revenge.”
Joanne shifts nervously in her seat again. Doctor Peter Smith continues to grimace menacingly at her from the dock. “That’s not true.”
“You swore an oath, Joanne,” Harvey Dennis reminds her, “to tell the truth.”
“I am telling the truth!”
Defence barrister Harvey Dennis takes a moment to shuffle through his numerous notes, before turning and smiling politely at the members of the jury. He takes the glasses off his face and rubs his eyes. “You lied to Constable Kyle Cook about your baby, didn’t you, Joanne?”
Joanne closes her eyes. She can hear the gunshot reverberating through her head and the metallic smell of blood splattered across her face. Retribution.
“I didn’t know it wasn’t Kyle’s,” Joanne offers. “Not until I had a paternity test.”
“And the test showed it was your late husband, Richard’s, baby?” Harvey Dennis inquires.
“So you lied to Kyle Cook?”
“I didn’t lie to him. I didn’t know,” Joanne says.
“You expect the court to believe that you didn’t know that you were pregnant before your husband was killed?”
“I didn’t,” Joanne says, trying to remain strong. She closes her eyes and her mind flashes back to her final moments with Kyle Cook.
“You can’t even do basic maths,” Joanne laughs at Kyle again.
“What are you talking about?” Kyle asks.
“My pregnancy!” Joanne tries to spell it out. “I became pregnant to make my plan even more believable. You thought the baby was yours, but it’s not.”
“You’re psychotic!” Kyle sniggers.
“It couldn’t have been Richard’s because I wasn’t pregnant when he died,” Joanne adds. “So you believed it was yours. But Richard had frozen some sperm a few months back before he died. We did it just in case, and it was one of the best things we ever did. Little Ricky is certainly my little miracle baby – Richard’s miracle baby.”
“You don’t deserve me!” Kyle screams, deciding that he’s heard enough.
Joanne Evans steps up face to face with Kyle Cook.
“The perfect illusion.” Joanne feels strong.
“I honestly believed the baby was Kyle’s,” Joanne says to the court. “Richard and I had been trying for a few months before he died, unsuccessfully.”
“You were successful, it seems,” Harvey Dennis points out.
“I wasn’t lying,” Joanne says again, attempting to plead her innocence.
“Tell me about the accident, Joanne.” Harvey Dennis decides to move on.
“Thomas’ accident?” Joanne asks. “I don’t remember much. It all seems such a blur now.”
“I mean, I remember Thomas driving along the road, and then swerving suddenly. I think it was a kangaroo, but I can hardly remember.” Joanne tries her best to recount the events of almost ten years earlier.
“You managed to escape the river unharmed?” Harvey Dennis asks.
“Only just,” Joanne agrees. “If it wasn’t for Richard and Kyle, both Thomas and I would probably have died…”
“…Richard and Kyle,” Harvey Dent sniggers. “It still fascinates me that all three of your lovers were, at that particular point in time, all together.”
“Fate, I suppose,” Joanne considers.
“Fate?” Harvey Dennis almost laughs. “All three of those men are now dead, Joanne! Is that fate too?”
“Objection!” the prosecutor interjects. “Your Honour, this witness has clearly given all the answers she can.”
“Counsel, get to your point,” the Judge instructs Harvey Dennis.
“Certainly, your Honour,” Harvey Dennis says. “Joanne, what else have you lied about?”
Six months ago
Thomas bent down and rested a hand on Joanne’s shoulder. “It’s okay, Joanne,” he said, “I’m not here to hurt you.”
“Kyle,” Joanne pointed to Inspector Manning’s body. “Kyle did this.”
Thomas pulled Joanne in close to him. “He will pay for everything he’s done to you.”
“Please tell me what happened to Richard.” Joanne began to cry. Out of fear or out of a sense of relief, she did not know. “I need to know the truth.”
Thomas pulled Joanne up and held her close to him. “He manipulated me, Joanne. You can probably never forgive me, but I never intended to hurt you, or Richard.”
“Did you kill Richard?” Joanne cried.
“It was Kyle. He thought he could get away with it.”
“I think I knew all along,” Joanne was suddenly still. “Deep down I knew.”
“You need to protect yourself, Joanne.”
“I can handle myself,” Joanne said to Thomas. “I’ve been looking after myself for a long time now.”
“He’s dangerous,” Thomas warned her. “Please be careful.”
Joanne looked down at the half buried body of Inspector Wesley Manning. “We need to move this body,” Joanne suddenly said.
“Joanne?” Thomas asked curiously.
“We need to have control of Kyle. The only way we can do it is by making him second guess himself. We will break him down mentally.”
“You really think this will work?” Thomas asked.
“I’ve already started to slip Kyle some of my Aunty’s pain medication. I’ve been crushing it up into his food.”
“He’s delusional already. Are you sure it won’t make things worse?”
“We won’t know if we don’t try,” Joanne informed Thomas. “He’s already starting to show signs of weakness. He’s bound to confess to me one day.”
“Don’t worry about this body,” Thomas said, starting to push the dirt away from Inspector Manning’s body, “I’ll sort it out. It’ll be moved by the morning.”
“Thank you, Thomas,” Joanne smiled timidly at her brother.
“Please forgive me, Joanne,” Thomas pleaded. “I never wanted to hurt you, or Richard.”
Without responding, Joanne turned and walked away.
“Joanne,” Harvey Dennis says again, “what else have you lied about?”
Joanne clears her throat. “Nothing.”
“You say that Thomas Helling was killed in front of you?” Harvey Dennis continues.
“Killed by who?”
“Leading Senior Constable Kyle Cook,” Joanne offers.
“Whom you were romantically involved with?”
“Whom is also now deceased?”
“Whom is no longer here to defend himself?”
“I guess not.”
“Joanne,” Harvey Dent says, beginning to become louder, “you’re the only person living to witness Kyle Cook killing Thomas Helling?”
Harvey Dennis roars furiously. “You expect this court to believe your lies, Joanne?”
The night of the full moon
“Put the gun down, Thomas,” Joanne whispers to Thomas. “You don’t want to hurt anyone else.”
Thomas sobs, allowing Joanne to guide the gun to the ground. Once it touches the ground, she kicks in the direction of the shrubbery.
Thomas continues to sob. “Don’t believe him, Joanne.”
Joanne Evans reaches out her hand to take Thomas’. She feels compelled to comfort him. She wants to forgive him.
“Thomas,” Kyle Cook says. Joanne and Thomas both look up towards Kyle, his police-issued handgun pointing in their direction. “You’re never going to hurt anyone again.”
With that, Leading Senior Constable Kyle Cook fires his handgun. The bullets rip through Thomas. Joanne watches on as her brother is killed instantly.
“I’m not lying,” Joanne says again.
“I put it to you that you killed Thomas Helling, Joanne!” Harvey Dennis bellows.
Joanne begins to cry. “I didn’t do it! I didn’t kill Thomas!”
“You killed Thomas to get back at him for killing your husband, Richard Evans!” Harvey Dennis tells the court. “It was a revenge killing!”
Joanne continues to cry, speaking through sobs. “You have it all wrong!” she cries out. “I didn’t kill Thomas!”
The night of the full moon
Joanne Evans raises the handgun and shoves it into Kyle’s chest. The cold barrel clinks on one of his buttons.
The explosion rings in Joanne’s ears and she feels her face being splattered with warm, sticky blood. The smell of gun powder is overpowering.
“My final act of revenge.” Joanne smiles, looking down at Kyle Cook’s crumpled body. “It’s been a long time in the making.”
Joanne Evans drops the gun. She lets out a deep breath. She cries. She collapses to the ground.
As Joanne lies on the ground, her head spins. She can taste the metallic blood on her lips.
Joanne rolls herself onto her back. The tears suddenly stop as she looks up into the night sky. The full moon has made it particularly bright tonight. She can no longer hear herself breathing. She feels rested, relaxed. At peace. She half smiles. She may never live the same life again, she thinks to herself, but she feels strong at last. She had finally found a way to protect herself.
Joanne’s peace is suddenly interrupted as a shadow looms above her. She tries to scream, but only a small exhale of air escapes.
Before her, in the moonlight, stands a ghost. No, Joanne realises, not a ghost, but an angel. Her guardian angel.
The angel reaches down to help Joanne to her feet. “You did it, Joanne,” Thomas Helling says to her. “You saved yourself.”
Next Episode – Monday May 8