CHAPTER: 12345, 6789101112131415161718192021222324252627, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32EPILOGUE

He stomps through the snow outside, shivering from the cold. The flakes are no longer falling and it feels a slight bit warmer than it did the day before. Some of the snow has already melted, forming slushy puddles everywhere. Judd reaches his car and climbs in, twisting the key and flicking on the heating. He clutches the steering wheel in both hands and tries to take a few calming breaths. He cannot believe that Mr Big spoke to him like that, gave him advice as though he were his father. That reminds Judd of his own father and he reaches for his mobile. After dialling a number the phone rings a few times and is then picked up.

“Hello?” comes Sally’s singsong voice, “Sally speaking,”

“Sally?” Judd says, “It’s Judd,”

“Judd sweetheart!” Sally cries, “How are you? How’s school going?”

“It’s going well, really well,” Judd says. He hesitates for a moment, “Is dad there?”

“Oh sweetie,” Sally says. He can hear the tears in her voice. “Sweetie, Asif isn’t here, he’s still in custody.”

“What happened?!” Judd cries, “I thought that the trial was going well?!”

“It was Judd, it really was,” Sally says. When she next speaks she sounds annoyed and frustrated, “But your father, damn him, your stupid father decided he wanted to talk to the jury, man to man, if you will and explain what he was thinking,”

“Oh no,” Judd says, “He didn’t swear at them did he?”

“Oh god no, nothing like that,” Sally said, “He just wanted to get them on his side. Anyway, he explained to the jury that he wanted to teach the shoplifter a lesson, he wanted to send a message to him and any of the other hoodlums out there who want to rob our shop that they’re messing with the wrong people. He wanted to show everyone that you can mess with him or his shop and get away with it,”

Judd groans.

“Please tell me he didn’t use the word hoodlums,” Judd says,

“He did.” Sally says. Judd groans. “It was going well though, even with your dad talking all old school. But then he started to get a bit… forceful. You know how he gets when he’s passionate about something. He went bright red in the face, started shouting and waving his arms around, ranting about revenge. I’m surprised the judge didn’t get him carted away as an insane person,”

“So has he ruined all chances of the case going well then?” Judd asks in resignation, “There’s no way they’re going to be lenient with him now,”

“Well the lawyers think there might still be a chance,” Sally admits, “But he needs to try and stay calm. They think Asif was actually starting to get through to the jury about showing that he wasn’t to be messed with before he started to rant,”

“Seriously?” Judd asks, “They really thought he was doing right?”

“Well…” Sally says, hesitating, “They didn’t think that what he did was completely wrong. I saw their faces Judd, some of them were nodding as your dad was talking. They really seemed to understand where he was coming from. But when he started to yell and wave his arms around… well you know how he gets when he starts going like that. They started to get afraid, some of them, even the ones who were nodding seemed to see him as a crazy person after that.”

“Shit,” Judd says. He leans forwards and rests his head on the steering wheel, “He’s done it now. They’ll never get that image out of his head,”

“Our lawyers still have a few tricks up their sleeves,” Sally says quickly, “Don’t worry so much. They’re cross examining the boy tomorrow. I think our men have a plan in mind to show the jury that this guy isn’t such a sweet and innocent baby that the prosecutors are trying to show him as,”

“Ok.” Judd says. “Ok. Let me know how it goes,”

“You could always come along you know,” Sally says, “The case might be finished within a couple of days, I think the lawyers are giving their closing statements by the end of the week.”

“I don’t know,” Judd says slowly. “I mean, what could I do just by being there?”

“You couldn’t do a thing dear,” Sally says gently, “But it would mean the world to your father and I think it might make the jury think a little more about the man your father is. If you’re there, looking all smart and tidy they might realise that he’s a good man who raised a good son,”

“Sally…” Judd says. He hesitates, trying to find the words but they won’t come.

“Judd please,” she says, begging now, “You’ve barely spoken to your dad since he got arrested. He needs to see you, he wants to see you but I know you won’t go to the holding cells. If you go to court it would just make him feel so much better, no matter what happens.”

“I suppose,” Judd says, “I’ll need the dates though, so I can see if I’ve got anything else on. This isn’t a yes though Sally!”

“Just think about it,” Sally says, sounding much, much happier now, “That’s all I ask, I just want you to think about it.”

“I will,” Judd says. “I’ll think about it and let you know,”

“Thank you dear,” Sally says softly,  “I love you. Take care of yourself,”

“Love you too Sally,” Judd says.

He hangs up. He feels heavy, leaden, like a massive weight has dropped on to his shoulders. There’s no way that anything is going to go well now with his father’s case. And there’s everything else on top of it. Judd, for a moment, feels like he just wants to disappear, curl up in his room and sleep until everything goes away. He suddenly realises that he’s praying, asking a God he doesn’t really believe in to just wake him up and show him that it’s all a dream, a very bad, very complicated dream.

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