slipped back in just as the first of the defence witnesses
took the stand. Hawkins looked composed, all traces
of his ‘distress’ gone. The courtroom was
quieter in the afternoon, and MacGyver and Cooper had
a corner of the room to themselves.
“I just want this to be over, y’know?”
Cooper sighed and shifted in his seat. “Just convict
the scumbag already, then we can all go home and try
to forget about him!”
“Oh yeah.” The courtroom had grown warm
and MacGyver loosened his tie, tugging at his tight
collar. He glanced at Swan, following the attorney’s
gaze to a bored-looking man sitting in the opposite
corner of the observer’s area. Another man sitting
next to him was engrossed in picking dirt out of the
treads on his boots. MacGyver frowned, trying to remember
if they’d been in the courtroom during the morning.
“How many more witnesses?” Cooper pulled
out a handkerchief and mopped his brow.
“Couple more, closing statements and then the
jury have to decide on a verdict.”
shrugged. “Though given how bad he’s making
himself look, it shouldn’t be too hard for them
to reach a decision!” He turned to listen to the
“My name is Dr Ruth O’Dell. I’m a
General Practitioner with a particular interest in Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder.” Dr O’Dell glanced at the
judge, then decided to concentrate on Swan instead.
“Thank you.” Swan smiled at her, his eyes
crinkling in a friendly way. O’Dell smiled back.
“When you examined Mr Hawkins, what did you conclude
about his health?”
“Mr Hawkins has a number of minor health concerns
which I am bound by my oath not to discuss.” O’Dell
smiled again. She turned to Judge Davis, but he didn’t
return her smile.
“Did you conclude that Mr Hawkins was suffering
from PTSD?” Swan turned his back on Nicholls,
ignoring her as she stood up.
“Objection – leading question!” Nicholls
stepped around Swan. The judge looked at her over his
“Sustained.” He glared at Swan. “Well?”
“Withdrawn.” Swan looked annoyed. “Dr
O’Dell, were all Mr Hawkins’s health problems
physical in nature, or did you conclude that he was
suffering from mental health problems too?”
“Yes.” Dr O’Dell watched Swan gesture
for her to elaborate. “Oh. Yes. Mental health
problems too - Mr Hawkins was suffering from Post-Traumatic
“No further questions.” Swan smiled at Dr
O’Dell again, and stood aside, indicating to Nicholls
that she was free to begin.
“Dr O’Dell, what experience do you have
in diagnosing and treating PTSD?” Nicholls folded
her arms, leaning her weight on one hip.
“It’s my special interest.” Now O’Dell
looked less comfortable.
“But what qualifications and experience do you
have?” Nicholls would not be dissuaded.
“Oh yes, lots of experience.” O’Dell
“And how did you gain this experience?”
Nicholls sounded patient. To MacGyver, her tone was
that of someone being patient with a small child.
“Objection – asked and answered!”
Swan jumped to his feet again, earning a grateful look
from Dr O’Dell.
“But not answered very well!” Judge Davis
glared down at Swan. “Proceed, Mrs Nicholls.”
“Thank you.” Nicholls turned back to Dr
O’Dell, raising her eyebrows.
“I… Um… Experience from my general
practice…” Dr O’Dell tailed off, uncertain.
“No further questions.” Nicholls sat down.
MacGyver glanced at Hawkins, who was looking worried,
and then at Swan. Swan was making a gesture towards
the two men at the back of the courtroom. MacGyver turned
around, concentrating on them. They exchanged a glance,
then one dropped his hands, fingers open, swept them
towards the left and then held up his hand with the
thumb tucked against the palm. Swan watched, then dipped
his head in a small nod. MacGyver’s hands moved,
mimicking the gestures, and then he drew a sharp breath.
“What is it?” Cooper’s whisper was
“That guy just signed ‘we lose, plan B’
and Swan agreed.” He turned in time to see the
two men nod, then get up to leave.
“Where are you going?!” Cooper hissed. MacGyver
pointed at the men and then followed them out.
* * * *
flattened himself against the wall and peered around
the corner, seeing the main door swinging shut.
He jogged through the hall and opened the door,
seeing one of the man cross the street. He hurried
down the steps, ducking behind a tree as the man
glanced back over his shoulder, and then followed
him along the busy sidewalk. The man stopped at
a phone box, checking around him once more before
lifting the phone and dialling. MacGyver stopped
behind a market stall, but couldn’t see the
number the man dialled. The man spoke for a minute,
nodded his head and listened to the reply. The reply
didn’t seem to please him, and MacGyver watched
him frown, argue, run a hand through his greasy
hair and lean his hand against the side of the booth.
The man slammed the phone down and came out of the
booth, looking around him and MacGyver ducked down
behind a display of sketchbooks as the man’s
gaze swept past him.
“Can I help you?” The stall holder peered
down at him.
“Um…” MacGyver scanned the stall,
seeing pencils, sketchbooks, paints and… “A
packet of chalk, please. And some Scotch tape.”
He took a stick of chalk out and scraped at it with
the small blade of his Swiss Army Knife, catching
the resulting dust on a scrap of paper from his
“What are you doing?” The stallholder
watched him, confusion creasing her forehead.
“Fingerprints!” He smiled at the stallholder
and walked across the street, leaving her shaking
her head at his back.
MacGyver stepped into the phone booth and held his
paper full of chalk dust up to the Perspex side of
the booth. He blew gently, seeing the dust stick to
a set of greasy fingerprints. He smiled, unrolled
some scotch tape and carefully lifted the fingerprints
off the side of the booth. He stuck the end of the
tape to the Perspex, peeled off another length and
used it to sandwich the fingerprints between two layers.
Rolling up the tape, he stowed it in his pocket and
picked up the phone receiver.
Mac, what’s up?” Nikki sounded busy
and MacGyver could hear her tapping at the computer
keyboard in the background.
“Can you look something up for me, please?”
He heard the typing stop.
“I’m not a public information service,
you know! I do have actual work to do here...”
There was a pause and then MacGyver heard Nikki
sigh. “What do you need?”
“Thanks, Nikki, I owe you.” MacGyver
looked up and down the empty corridor. “Can
you find out anything about a company called Western
“Sure.” MacGyver heard the scratch
of Nikki’s pen on her notebook. “You
gonna tell me what this is about?”
“Riding a hunch.” MacGyver ran a hand
through his hair. “I think Hawkins may have
stolen from the wrong people this time and got
in over his head... and I think his sleazy attorney
might be out to get him” He turned, seeing
the second of the men walking along the street.
“Thanks, Nikki. Gotta go.” He put
down the phone, ran back across the street and
hurried back into the courtroom. He paused in
the shadows behind the door, but the man didn’t
follow him in. He slipped back into the courtroom
and sat down.
“I followed that guy.” MacGyver leaned
towards Cooper and whispered. He rummaged in his
pocket and pulled out the tape. “I took
his fingerprints off a phone booth. He made a
call and then disappeared off into the crowd.”
Cooper took the tape and unrolled it, keeping
it out of sight of the rest of the court. He glanced
down at it, then stared at MacGyver.
“You took these off a… phone booth?!”
He watched MacGyver nod and raised his eyebrows.
“Mac, this guy made a call. Using a downtown
public phone may be risking mugging or worse,
I’ll grant you, but it’s not actually
illegal!” He looked up, but no-one had heard
them. “Where are you going with this?”
“I’m not sure.” MacGyver rolled
up his tape and put it back in his pocket. “There’s
something going on here that’s a little…
“Yes.” Cooper ran a hand over his
face and sighed. “What’s going on
here is that a killer is about to get hit with
way less justice than he deserves, and I agree
– it’s more than a little ‘off’.
But it’s the best we’re going to get,
and I plan to sit here and watch it happen.”
He caught the court reporter’s glare and
continued in a quieter whisper. “Mac, just
sit here and watch it with me, OK? This is important
“Sure, Cooper.” MacGyver nodded, chastened.
“Of course.” He tried to concentrate
on the trial, on Captain Ramirez’s fervent
account of Hawkins as a fine and upstanding citizen,
a good soldier and a staunch friend, but his mind
wandered back to Swan’s mystery guy and
his angry phone call.
Who could he have been calling?
Did it have anything to do with the trial, or
was he just being paranoid?
And if he wasn’t being paranoid, what might