Supply & Demand

By Rocket

Episode 9.3

Part Three

 

They 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.”

MacGyver 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 witness.

“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 glasses.

“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“Withdrawn.”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 Stress Disorder.”

“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 nodded.

“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 quiet.

“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.

* * * *

MacGyver 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 pocket.

“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.

"Hey 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 Precision Electricals?”

“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… off.”

“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 to me.”

“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 happen next?

 

 

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