[the 7th sign of the zodiac; representing the element of air, or the intellect. A real thinker]
“I put it to you that you killed Thomas Helling, Joanne!” defence barrister 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!”
“What’s so wrong?” Harvey Dennis asks.
“I didn’t kill Thomas!” Joanne continues to sob. She tries to maintain her composure. “It was Kyle Cook who killed Thomas.”
“We’ve already established that you’re the only witness to that,” Harvey Dennis informs her. “How are we supposed to know what the truth is?”
“It is the truth.”
“Joanne, you are here today to act as a witness for the prosecution,” Harvey Dennis says. “Is that correct?”
“You’re supposed to be testifying against Doctor Peter Smith?”
“For violent crimes that he supposedly committed against you,” Harvey Dennis says.
“Not supposedly,” Joanne says. “He did these things to me.”
“Just answer yes or no, Joanne.” Harvey Dennis is growing impatient.
“Yes,” Joanne complies.
“Forgive me, Joanne,” Harvey Dennis goes on, “but all that you have delivered today is a whole bunch of lies and misinformation to this court.”
“I’m not making it up.” Joanne is exhausted.
“Starting with your fascination with the men in your life,” Harvey Dennis reminds her, “and the suspicious circumstances of their deaths. What about your non-disclosure to Kyle Cook about the real identity of your child’s father.”
Joanne says nothing. She is too upset.
“I put it to you that you weren’t attacked by Doctor Peter Smith, Joanne. It was all part of your story. Your web of lies. You fed these to the people around you, including your friend, Cathy Gilmore.”
“She was attacked too,” Joanne tells him.
“Attacked by who, Joanne?” Harvey Dennis asks. Before Joanne can answer, he jumps in for her. “Cathy wasn’t attacked by Doctor Smith, Joanne, she was attacked by you. You and your story again, spinning your web of lies.”
“I never attacked her,” Joanne replies, offended. “She’s my best friend.”
“Maybe she was working with you, then,” Harvey Dennis offers.
“This is all too cruel!” Joanne cries out.
“Cruel?” Harvey Dennis says, mockingly. “I’ll tell you what’s cruel, Joanne. There’s a woman out there,” he points into the crowded courtroom at Constance Helling, “who doesn’t know what happened to her son!”
“He was killed by Kyle Cook,” Joanne says, her breathing starting to become heavy.
“Was he, Joanne?” Harvey Dennis bellows. “If so, where is he now? Where is the body of Thomas Helling?”
The night of the full moon
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.”
“Thomas?” Joanne says, exasperated. The word only just leaves her mouth.
Thomas pulls Joanne to her feet. He holds her steady for a moment, before wiping the bloody splatter from her face. “Me in the flesh,” he smiles at her.
“But, how?” Joanne is bewildered, remembering the gunshot that had killed him only a few minutes earlier.
Thomas laughs slightly, before lifting his shirt and revealing the bullet proof vest underneath. “I came prepared,” he tells Joanne. “The impact of the bullet knocked me out for a bit, but I came to just in time to see your almighty climax!”
“You’re insane!” Joanne says, punching him in the arm. They stare at each other for a moment, before a big grin erupts over Thomas’ face.
“You did it, Joanne!” he says to her again.
They both begin to giggle, and it suddenly turns into laughter.
“Who’s insane now?” Thomas says to her.
Joanne suddenly stops laughing, and a fear grabs hold of her.
“Joanne?” Harvey Dennis says.
Joanne realises she was lost in her memory. She shakes herself out of her thoughts and gives the barrister her attention. “Sorry.”
“You claim that Kyle Cook killed Thomas Helling, but there has been no sighting of his body. Where is Thomas Helling’s body?”
The night of the full moon
“What is it, Joanne?” Thomas asks.
“They’re going to arrest me and lock me away,” she tells him. “I’ll never see baby Ricky again.”
“You can’t confess, Joanne,” Thomas says.
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t say a word to anyone,” Thomas adds. “If they ask, tell them I did it.”
“I can’t let you take the blame,” Joanne says. “I did this, I need to take responsibility for it.”
“I have nothing to lose, Joanne,” Thomas insists. “Please allow me to do this for you.”
“Kyle deserved to die!” Joanne says adamantly. “I’d kill him again given the chance!”
“Joanne,” Thomas pleads with her, “don’t go ruining your life because of something this bastard did to you. If nothing else, you deserve more. I need to make things up to you for the hell I put you through.”
Joanne sighs, and continues to wipe off the splattered blood. “Thomas, I’ll tell everyone you were killed by Kyle. I’ll tell them I acted in self-defence. I killed Kyle after he killed you.”
“I won’t hear anything more of it,” Joanne says stubbornly. “You need to leave now, Thomas. Leave now or you’ll never get out of this town alive. Everyone will be looking for blood, looking for someone to blame. They’ll come after you, Thomas. You’ll never get a fair trial.”
“Go, now!” Joanne orders him.
Thomas reaches his hand out to his sister, but she turns her back to him.
“Now, Thomas,” Joanne says again. Thomas disappears through the trees. Joanne tries to hold back tears.
“The last time I saw Thomas he was lying dead on the ground,” Joanne tells Harvey Dennis. “After that it was all such a blur. I don’t remember much.”
“Another lie?” Harvey Dennis says.
“Everything happened so quickly,” Joanne adds.
“Joanne, are you referring to the events leading up to Leading Senior Constable Kyle Cook’s death?” Harvey Dennis asks.
“Yes,” Joanne says, quietly.
“Interesting turn of events,” Harvey Dennis adds.
“So, just how did Constable Kyle Cook die?”
Before Joanne can answer the question, there is movement from the Judge’s bench. “Counsel,” the Judge says, “this is a matter that will need to be dealt with later on.”
“I understand, your Honour,” Harvey Dennis agrees.
“Any more questions for the witness?” the Judge asks.
“No further questions, your Honour,” Harvey Dent says.
“Thank you for your time here today, Ms Evans,” the Judge says to Joanne.
Joanne nods quickly towards the Judge. She rises to her feet as a dull murmur erupts across the crowded courtroom.
As she steps down from the witness podium, a corrective services officer puts a hand on her arm and leads her out of the court.
“Counsel, that is a matter that will need to be dealt with later on,” Joanne recounts the Judge’s words.
Yes, Joanne thinks to herself, the matter will be dealt with in another trial – the trial of Leading Senior Constable Kyle Cook’s murder.
Joanne is led out of the courtroom. The onlookers can’t help but notice the handcuffs secured around her wrists.
Next Episode – Monday May 15