©Tone K. Fauske
Nathan corrected his scarlet tie while observing his clean shaven face in the mirror. He was a man of fine strong features and an assertive manner. Nathan splashed fresh water on his face and gave a sigh of relief. It felt as if the tie was clenching his throat and he unbuttoned his shirt hoping to get release. But to no avail. The young man wiped his suit with a cloth and brushed his hands over it. It was a brand spanking new silk suit bought just for this evening. It further accentuated his fit physique and made him look like a Calvin Klein model; just with more class. However, this was no regular Armani suit anymore. Wine-red stains were scattered across his tie and jacket. It was ruined now.
The annual dinner for the lawyers hadn't gone quite as planned. The food, the games and all the trivia of such an event had been exquisite, but one of the guests had been bothersome, to say the least. Perhaps that was how it was with lawyers and judges: they didn't know how to separate work and private life. This was the only time of the year when trial lawyers, judges and public defenders could all meet together in a festive manner. Nathan had been looking forward to this event. Nathan was zealous to defend the defenceless. In particular victims of human trafficking. It was the most inhumane and also lucrative industry in the world. He had loved seeing women set free from the vicious cycle and his work had given him a solid reputation as a lawyer. This time however, he had encountered his most trying case. Straight after the dinner finished, the guests had a moment to draw fresh air. Nathan seized the opportunity and asked Judge Arthur to withdraw to the balcony. Judge Arthur joined him willingly. He was one of the most loyal friends and colleagues of Nathan. A man he regarded highly. The judge was a veteran in the human trafficking battle. They entered the balcony. The cold air seemed refreshing after all the heavy food and alcohol. A yellow, big moon lit the evening sky. The two men leaned onto the balcony overlooking the surrounding mountains and Sherza River. The drop off was high from here. The Law Association wanted an exotic vibe this time and got offered this mansion in a remote village with no car access. If this was their definition of exotic, he wasn't sure if he liked it. Nathan fidgeted with his tie for a while, looking out. "Now, what did you bring me out here for anyway boy?" Nathan stood up and with a serious face said: "I know you are involved in the Little Sheep hostel human trafficking case. And I know you have been subsidising the activities as well as being a customer there." The judge's face became white. For a moment he stood still while fixing his gaze at Nathan. "That is absurd Nathan. I'm a judge." " I have evidence from an undercover agent. Even pictures and surveillance film of you entering and leaving the house. There's no point denying it." "What does that prove? So what if I was there?" Arthur's face became stern and his eyes narrowed. "I also know that your son is one of the main pimps there. That he has severely mistreated some of the girls sold drugs and is possibly guilty of circumstances that led to a death. "What would you have done Nathan?! What if it was your son? Wouldn't you have helped him?" "There's a difference in helping and enabling a person…" "Every father would have done what I did." "What? By taking advantage of helpless humans and paying your son for it too? You've lost your mind! I remember you as an honest man before." "This is different. It is personal this time. "Exactly. Look, I came here to give you a chance to explain. If you surrender and admit your mistakes, you may be able to get a smaller sentence, perhaps losing your licence and a few years of prison at best. Think about it." "No. Nathan, no one can know. I will pay you 100,000$ to keep shut. Let's just forget it all. "I do not want your money! You used to be an honest man. There's no way I'm going to let all those women's lives be forgotten. Arthur, I'm sorry it's come to this. I will report the case tomorrow. I came here in the hope of getting you to surrender but, you've made your choice." "Argh! Over my dead body!"
The judge pulled a knife from his pocket and charged at Nathan. Luckily, Nathan was swift and dodged the attack. He shot forward and tried to push Arthur over. The old man was strong and held him in a grip, while aiming for Nathan's throat with the knife. "I guess all those years of wrestling paid off!" "Don't speak too soon." The two wrestled around on the balcony for what seemed like minutes, both exercising their power. They resembled two Greek statues, frozen in a decisive moment of battle. Arthur had got Nathan's head in a lock and he struggled to get free. The knife was getting closer and closer to his throat. "Thump!" Nathan had kicked the judge in the groin. "Aaah!" The old man crouched down and trembled in pain. This gave Nathan time to launch an attack. He pushed him against the rail of the balcony and the marble cracked slightly. "Aargh", Arthur screamed. He had held the knife close to his chest when he crouched and when he was pushed it had pierced his heart. Blood splattered unto Nathan's face and suit. Shocked, he stood there paralysed. The despair of Arthur's eyes haunted him. He held onto Nathan's arms, while slowly letting go and falling backwards over the rail. A loud splash was heard. The body had hit the river. Nathan's mind told him to run, but his body wouldn't obey. He stood fixed watching the river, hoping he would see a sign of life. Nothing. Only silence and darkness. Slowly he gathered himself and looked around for any observers. He was alone. But Judge Arthur was dead. Panicking thoughts rushed through his mind and he felt his heartbeat raising. This wasn't how he planned it would end. It was self-defence, he assured himself. Sometimes blood must be spilled in order to promote justice. This was corrupted blood anyhow. But this was just the beginning. One battle of many battles to come. Panic overcame him and he fled the scene. Yes, it was for justice's sake and not with intent, he thought while wiping the last stain away from his tie. The old man should have known better. That stupid old man.Soap foamed as he washed his hands clean of blood. A final look in the mirror, before he left this haunted mansion behind. He looked clean. Tomorrow he would tell the truth. Or run away.