MC13: Muppet on Trial
"What's the result?" Cordelia asked, dropping onto the chair in the lounge.
Angel looked at her, absently noting that she'd done something different with her hair, leaving it in curls and looking shorter, maybe a bit lighter as well. "Results relating to what? Which case? Or did you mean the carpet after those demons attacked?"
"Which was completely disgusting, by the way," Cordelia shuddered. "Our recent cases. The murdered acting agent, the missing substitute teacher, and the strange amulet."
"In order, the carpet is clean," Angel decided not to go into any detail about how he'd learned to get bloodstains out of fabric in his first century, the trial and error process, or just how the stains had got there to begin with. It would either make him sound like the sadist that he no longer was, or like Martha Steweart, who he suspected was some sort of evil demon. "Scooter Dee was arrested for the murder of Kent Lanomer and is going to be tried tomorrow, I want someone to keep track of the verdict. The missing teacher has been located, and released from the hospital, the scars should be minimal, and most of the memories should get repressed. We still don't know about the amulet other than the fact that it isn't silver."
"We found the killer, the police took him in, why do we need to follow this Scooter Dee? It's obvious that he did it, right?" Cordelia frowned for a moment before smoothing the expression away, no doubt someone had told her it would cause wrinkles.
Angel shook his head, "It isn't that simple. They'll need to verify all the evidence. For his sake, he'd best pray that they don't let him go after an insanity plea. Though I suppose it might work..."
"If the guy's crazy, why would it be bad if it sends him to a nut house instead of prison? He'll be locked up either way, right?" Cordelia demanded.
"Not quite. In prison, they'll probably put him in solitary confinement, with no visitors permitted. In an asylum..." Angel thought back to the various asylums he'd visited as Angelus. Somehow, he doubted that they were much tougher to get into now than they had been eighty years ago. "Things would shortly get very ugly if he were sent to an asylum."
"They have rules about how they treat crazy people now, Angel," Cordelia looked at him. "And isn't solitary confinement with no visitors a bad thing?"
"Solitary will mean the Count probably won't go after him," Angel answered. He was a bit uncertain of that, but he tried to sound confident. "The Count will go after him if he's in an asylum, and do you really think the orderlies would take a lunatic seriously if they said 'help, there's a three foot tall vampire with a Transylvanian accent in here.' No, they'd assume it was a hallucination or delusion. He wouldn't consider an asylum sufficiently punishing. And if they let Scooter Dee walk..."
"What happens then?" Cordelia asked.
"Pain, dismemberment, and probably lots of little pieces in individually numbered boxes."
"Seriously?" Cordelia raised one eyebrow.
"Deadly serious." Angel sighed, and left the lounge, headed for the kitchen. After this, he felt the need for a drink, perhaps a shot of whiskey added to his mug of blood would help.
Hoping not to alarm Cordelia, Angel had his mug of blood in the kitchen. To settle his nerves, he had a second, also with a splash of whiskey, while Cordelia answered a phone call.
“Angel? That was Kate Lockley,” Cordelia had a small notepad beside her, along with a pen. “Something sort of weird happened after they had Scooter Dee in the station. A lawyer from Wolfram & Hart showed up to talk to him.”
“Who?” Angel frowned. If Wolfram & Hart got tangled up with Scooter Dee, would that drag the Count into whatever plans the law firm had going? Would Scooter Dee become part of their next evil plot? He didn’t like the possibilities that came to mind.
“Lindsey McDonald,” Cordelia sighed, “If he weren’t a bad guy, I’d like him a lot more. He’s cute, and smart, and probably has a nice apartment. Too bad about the fact that he works for an evil company.”
“What did Wolfram & Hart want with Scooter Dee?” Angel asked, suddenly feeling like those two shots of whiskey hadn’t been enough.
“He had a short talk with Scooter Dee and decided not to take him as a client. Whatever it was that caught their interest, Lindsey decided not to go for it,” Cordelia grinned. “So he might not have a really skilled evil lawyer on his side.”
“There are more lawyers at Wolfram & Hart than just Lindsey. Though I do have to wonder what changed his mind,” Angel murmured. “Maybe they have records about Williamsburg too.”
“So, why are you worried about this trial?” Cordelia asked again.
“Scooter walking away will be a danger until the Count finds him. I don’t know how long that will take, but he does know something’s going on,” Angel tried not to think about his own part in bringing the situation to the Count’s attention. “When he finds Scooter, he’ll be…. It will be a very bad thing for Scooter Dee. Scooter Dee in an asylum might be traumatic for the other crazy people. Scooter in solitary confinement might be safe for a while. Scooter in general prison…”
“Not so safe?” Cordelia asked. “Is this guy really worse than the Master? And if he is, why not get rid of him, or send a Slayer to deal with it? Buffy’s good at killing vampires, as long as…. Well, as long as it isn’t someone she knew beforehand.”
“The Count doesn’t consider Slayers a threat. As for Watchers… He mentioned the last one when I asked him a few questions. Something about how the Watcher called him an abomination and took sixty some hours to die…” Angel shivered as the Count’s words replayed in his mind. “Sixty three. Because he was the sixty third Watcher to use that term about the Count. He said all he had to worry about were wac… I mean, vacuum salesmen, and most of the last one had left his castle.”
“Okay, maybe he is creepy,” Cordelia sighed. “I just… send Wesley. I think I have an audition that day.”
“Do you know what day the trial is, Cordelia?” Angel tried not to smirk.
“I have an audition,” Cordelia repeated. “No more involvement with any of those crazy people from that theater, no lunatics on trial, no scary vampires. Just auditions. Because I fully intend to become a famous actress.”
“Of course you do,” Angel nodded, turning so that she wouldn’t see him smirking. “I’ll see if Wesley will go.”
* * * * * * * * *
Wesley Wyndham-Price sat in the back of the court room, listening as the case was presented. The evidence was extensive, clearly placing Scooter Dee in the office of Kent Lanomer, handling the murder weapon. The papers preparing for Scooter’s theater company were presented, though there had been a motion to dismiss that from the trial, the defense lawyer claiming that Mr. Dee’s ambition to open a theater had no connection to the tragic death of Mr. Lanomer. The fact that Scooter had contracts ready to offer several people that had been represented by Kent Lanomer quickly put an end to that attempted defense.
The photographs of the crime scene and the remains of Kent Lanomer were horrible. Quite a few people turned unflattering shades of grey or green, and several lost the contents of their stomachs in the court room, unable to escape in time to preserve their dignity.
Bloody clothing had been found in Scooter Dee’s apartment. Though it was obvious that efforts had been made to rinse the blood away, it was easily detectable. Testing had matched it to Kent Lanomer.
There was no question in the minds of the jury that Scooter Dee had killed Kent Lanomer.
The defense attorney, looking pale and terribly young, had shifted tactics. He’d brought in several psychologists, having them go on about mental disorders that could cause breaks with reality, multiple personalities, even attempting to claim that the fact that Scooter Dee had tried to blame the murder on a small purple vampire as ‘an obvious delusion’.
Cold fear had crept up Wesley’s spine when an accented voice from the side of the courtroom declared, “I am not a delusion. Perhaps more to the point, I did not kill the acting agent that all this fuss vas about.”
“Are you trying to tell us that you are this Count?” the Judge’s voice had been close to calm.
“I am Count vonCount,” the small figure had made his way towards the front of the room. It took a while before Wesley could see him.
The Count was short, no larger than a child just starting primary school, and elegantly dressed in a very old fashioned suit, complete with a cape and medallion on a ribbon. His ears were pointed, and two rather prominent fangs were visible. Nobody would wonder how someone could get the idea that this was a vampire.
“Are you a vicious and homicidal vampire when you forget to take your medication?” the defense attorney smirked.
“I am a certified accountant, a student of history, and a dabbler in warious sciences. My medication is not relewant to this case, nor is my mental state, as I am not the vun on trial,” the Count had a wide smile as he made his statement. “Vunce upon a time, I vorked with Kermit Frogg and Scooter Dee in the Muppet Theater. I handled the financial matters and the bookkeeping. That theater has since closed, and all of us have found other things to do vith our time. Regardless of my mental state or medication, I believe the members of this court can agree that I am not a delusion of Scooter’s mind, nor am I a hallucination.”
“Why are you here today, Mr. vonCount? I thought vampires avoided the sunlight?” the prosecuting attorney asked, shifting slightly away from the small figure.
“Somevun I vorked vith has blamed me for the death of a man that I have newer met. Vy vouldn’t I take an interest in how this trial is resolwed?” The Count’s voice remained calm, and he completely evaded the question of sunlight.
Wesley tried to recall if there was some form of underground access for the courthouse. Some sort of rational explanation for the Count being here in the day, when Angel was avoiding the trial due to vampiric flammability. He couldn’t recall, and it frightened him.
In the end, the jury found Scooter Dee guilty of the first degree murder of Kent Lanomer. Determining his punishment took a bit longer, and in the end, they concluded that if two independent psychiatric evaluations found him to be insane, he would be held in a secure asylum until such time as he was declared sane, in which case he would be transferred to a prison to serve the remainder of his sentence. Should he be found sane by one or both of the psychiatrists, he would go directly to prison for life, with an option for parole after sixty years.
Wesley tried to find the Count in the crowd after the sentence was delivered. His efforts were fruitless, though he was unsure if he just overlooked the small vampire or if the vampire had left the courtroom. Either way, it was a very solemn former Watcher that returned to the office of Angel Investigations.
Stepping into the area where Cordelia kept the filing, he found Angel frowning at a stack of folders. Cordelia was out, presumably still at the audition she had mentioned.
“Well?” Angel’s question was expected.
“They found him guilty. The location for his confinement will be determined by two evaluating psychiatrists, according to the jury. If the Count doesn’t step in first,” Wesley shuddered again, remembering the vampire standing in the courtroom. “He was there, at the trial. The Count was there… where does the court house connect underground?”
“I don’t know,” Angel murmured. “It must connect somewhere, because…”
“Vampires and sunlight do not mix,” Wesley finished. “He’s shorter than I expected. And very purple.”
Angel nodded. “I suppose we don’t need to worry about Scooter Dee any longer.”
Wesley nodded, though he thought it would be a long time before he could listen to a Transylvanian accent again without twitching.
End Muppet Contracts 13: Muppet on Trial.