The Mansion©

By Jerry D. Haight

Funeral

      

The headlines blared the news “Parent’s charged in Daughters Death” in big, bold type on the front page. Once again, Charley felt his throat tighten and the familiar sinking feeling in his chest. Only this time it was almost as powerful as the first. He thought he had got used to the memory, but now seeing the headline with the clarity of the frame, it traumatized him anew. This headline was just foreshadowed to what followed.


Shortly after the discovery of Lindi’s body, the news of the tragedy fanned out like a Tsunami. Soon a torrent of media rolled in with trucks, cars, lighting, and microphones. What was normally a quiet neighborhood became a “feeding frenzy” of reporters drawn like a school of piranha.  One of the first to hear the news was John Perringer, the State Attorney General.  


As a new AG, his first major victory was the convictions of Iris, the former county commissioner, Mike Harmer, along with many other state and local politicians. Most of those convicted, served long jail terms for fraud, embezzlement, racketeering and conspiracy.  John swore he would see each and every one of those involved in jail. And in his mind, only one had escaped; Charley Newell.  “Maybe I can’t get a conviction on that bastard, but now I have an opportunity to make his life very miserable,” he mused.


Later that morning, two county vehicles parked at the curb in front of the Newell house. Four police cruisers parked across the street and an unmarked van stopped in the middle blocking the road. A stocky built Detective named Marcos got out of the first car. His orders were clear. He was to place Charley and Lynn under arrest for the murder of Lindy Ann Newell. He was to do so in the presence of the media, in a loud commanding voice. Then he was to ceremoniously handcuff both, place them in separate cars and take them to the county jail where they would be booked. No contact would be allowed with each other and only one phone call could be made to the outside.


While the death of their daughter was fresh on their plate, piled on were the many complexities of their imprisonment. Lynn was able to phone Roy Scarborough, their neighbor. He volunteered to notify their relatives and Father Meyers, the family’s parish priest. Lynn found out from Roy the County moved Lindi’s body to the morgue where they would perform a comprehensive autopsy. The thought of their beautiful Lindi being “mauled over” by the coroner was too much. She passed out and was taken to the jail infirmary. Meanwhile, Charley’s one phone call was a disaster. Mysteriously, his outgoing call failed and his jailers counted the botched call as “his one call”. He was unable to make another.


More detectives spilled out of the van in the street. They had a court order, in effect legalizing them to vandalize the Newell’s house. The AG did not expect them to find anything of interest during the search but that didn’t matter. The real intent was to carry out his vendetta. As expected naught was found incriminating, but when the Newells finally came home it looked like a tornado had exploded inside.


Nothing was as they left it. Much of their furniture was broken or slashed, walls were bashed open and insulation pulled out. Their clothes ripped open, floors and carpets were pulled up exposing the joists, flower pots emptied onto the floor, built in appliances pulled out of their housings and much of their personal property “confiscated” to the evidence room. Most of the impounded property would never return due to a quagmire of procedural impediments.  


Until this scene played out before him, Charley had no idea who his tormenter was. He just assumed the ordeal was the result of incompetence or just plain bureaucratic nonsense. Now his blood began to boil with rage as he remembered the solitary days spent in jail where his only contact was a guard who brought him his sparse unseasoned meals. He had no attorney or advocate, no knowledge of the whereabouts of Lynn and he fumed with the totality of details needing his attention but having no way to attend them.


In the frame, he saw and heard Lynn again replaying her experience in jail where they shackled her to her bed in the infirmary. They were informed “by a reliable source, ” she was suicidal and her treatment was as they said, “in her best interest”. When she was finally arraigned, she had a broken arm, a cut above her eyebrow and a severely bruised thigh. An explanation was never given to them as to how those injuries occurred, but in the frame he saw they were the work of two of her captors under orders. They wrote in their report that she had turned violent and in their attempt to subdue her, she was injured, never mind the inconvenient fact she was shackled. “It was one thing to persecute him,” he thought. But to do this to Lynn, was just too much for him to comprehend.


The detectives were ordered by their chief to leave the front door of the Newell’s house open when they left. Charley watched, aghast, as many of his neighbors and friends made their way into the open house. First, with guilt all over their face, they “cased the place” to determine they weren’t observed. Then they went from room to room, examined the contents and pilfered whatever they fancied. Much of Lynn’s jewelry including her mother’s wedding ring was among the treasures winding their way to their neighbor’s lair. In unbelief, Charley looked on as one removed Lindi’s picture from a frame, casually wadded it up and threw it on the floor, then stole the frame.     


The arraignment started at 10:00 that morning. Charley and Lynn, dressed in their Jailhouse garb met for the first time in days. As they embraced, their guards pulled them apart with a reprimand. The judge appeared, droned about the case number, the citation and charges against the couple. A junior attorney from the prosecutor’s office requested to “approach”. He and their hastily hired attorney walked to the rail where a few words were exchanged and heads bobbed. The attorneys returned to their places drawing their attention to the judge. “Case dismissed for lack of evidence,” he said. That was it, in less than ten minutes; they were free to resume the mayhem at home. The funeral service was scheduled for the following morning.  


Charley’s brother, Ted, arranged for the service. Lynn passed through the events as though on remote control. Charley could not process them either, so angry was he at the preceding events. Ted took him aside. “Charley,” he said. ”We ordered a closed casket because of the damage done by the coroner. “View her body if you wish, but my advice is not to let Lyn see it.” While he heeded his brother’s advice, the words only added to Charley’s rage.


Nothing about the service made sense to Charley nor did anything said speak to his troubled soul.  Words articulated by Father Meyers were well intentioned, but when he quoted the words “though she be dead, yet shall she live”, trying to tie those words to his Lindi, Charley had to flee from the service. While outside, he nearly exploded in vile expletives. His bitterness was profound. “She is dead,” he said with finality, inside the frame. “She is dead,” he repeated in the hall outside of the frame.