Jigsaw — piece #2

photo by Daan Spijer

This story unfolds one piece at a time, not necessarily in a logical order — well, not following a logic that you might expect. Piece #1 is here — read it first. There will be 16 pieces ; with the last piece the picture will be complete.

The magistrate, Robert Dewcliff tries not to smile. He writes something, then looks up at Marcy Einbach in the witness box. “Marcy, this is a serious question. Were you planning to go into any building or to steal anything last night?”

“No, your honour. It’s the truth. No.”

Robert Dewcliff turns to the prosecutor. “Do you want to ask any questions, Mr Ondine?”

“Thank you, your honour.” He looks at his notes, then at Marcy. “Ms Einbach, now that you are speaking English, what were you doing in that lane?”

“It was important business for my mob. Women’s business.”

“You told his honour that the elders up north didn’t send you. So why did you come to Melbourne? Why didn’t they send an important person if it was important business?”

Marcy hesitates. “There was … I heard from my cousin that … She said that someone in Melbourne knew … I had to come because I was the only one in Nhulunbuy who knows where … I can’t say.”

“Your honour,” Ondine says. “If the accused can’t tell the court what she was doing, we have to assume she was up to no good.”

“No, Mr Ondine. The court has to assume nothing. The court has to be satisfied that the charges are proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Tell me, apart from the arresting officer, do you have any other witnesses?”

“No, your honour. But Constable Muir will tell the court that the accused was loitering.”

“Let us hear his evidence then. Marcy, please sit down in the court again, over there.”

Marcy swaps places with a young policeman. He is sworn in and reads from a notebook. “At 23:15 hours last night I was on the beat in Hargreave Street. As I passed the end of Edgar’s Lane I saw a flash of light. I entered the lane quietly and observed a person in the dark walking towards me slowly. She — I assumed it was a female person because of her high voice — was sort of singing in a high pitch.” He looks up. “I think you would describe it as keening, your honour.” Reading from his notebook again, “The female person was waving a flashlight about. I approached and saw that she was also carrying an empty birdcage. The female person I saw was the accused. I asked her what she was doing and she answered in … in that strange language. It was the same when I asked her name. The place where I stopped the accused was level with the rear gate leading to the rear of the Feathers and Friends Pet Shop. I asked the accused to accompany me to the police station — it’s only about eight hundred meters from the intersection of Edgar’s Lane and Hargreave Street — where I charged her and put her in a cell.” He closes his notebook. “Your honour, I made sure she was comfortable and gave her tea and biscuits. This morning I fetched her some breakfast from MacDonald’s.”

“Thank you, constable,” Robert Dewcliff says. “Tell me, did you form your opinion that the accused was loitering and intending to steal something after breaking into premises from anything other than that she was walking slowly in a dark lane with a torch and an empty birdcage while keening loudly and that you stopped her at the rear of a pet shop? Is there any other basis for your coming to that conclusion? Could she have been on some other, legitimate business?”

“Um, no, your honour. I mean, no, there was no other basis. And yes, I guess she may have been engaged in something that is not unlawful.”

“Then I find the charge not proven and find the accused, Marcy Einbach, not guilty. Marcy, you may go.”

Marcy stands up. “Thank you, your honour. Can I have me things back?”

“Certainly. The constable will see to that immediately. But tell me first, do you have somewhere decent to stay?”

“I’m staying at my cousin’s place.”

“Didn’t your cousin come with you to court?”

“She’s got three kids and she’s afraid of the police. They treated her rough when she complained about her no-good husband.”

“I see. Well, take care. And I hope you find what you came down to Melbourne for.”

“Thank you, sir. I’ll have to start all over,” Marcy mutters as she leaves the courtroom, followed by the policeman.

To be continued tomorrow, with the third piece of the puzzle.