Monday, February 12, 2018

Jumbo Liar by John H. Dromey



Jumbo Liar

Following the sudden, unexplained disappearance of a popular young woman and the subsequent discovery of a bloodstained piece of lumber near an alligator-infested bayou, the wheels of justice were put in motion and suspicion naturally fell on the missing woman’s two most-recent beaus. Neither man had a credible alibi.

One of her suitors, Jacques Lefevbre, was reluctant to talk to the authorities, but reportedly had plenty of bad things to say about his rival in private conversations. The second man, Alphonse Maurier, having been severely injured by a hit-and-run driver was hospitalized and temporarily unable to speak or give written responses to investigators’ questions because his jaw was wired shut and his limbs were immobilized.
   
Law enforcement officers did the best they could, but they had very little to go on. The only fingerprints found were smudged beyond recognition and the blood—although definitely that of a human female—could not be linked to the supposed victim since she had no kinfolk in the area for DNA comparison. Despite an abundance of circumstantial evidence, no criminal charges were filed.
   
Later on, that legal lacuna did not prevent one of the contenders for the young woman’s affection, Alphonse Maurier, from bringing a civil suit against the other, Jacques Lefevbre, charging him with assault and also with defamation of character for making false accusations.
   
The high-powered attorney representing Jacques requested and was granted a change of venue.
   
During the first part of the trial, medical evidence documenting the extent of the claimant’s injuries was admitted, but much of the testimony concerning derogatory statements was struck from the record as hearsay. Though by that time Alphonse was again able to speak, he did not testify.
   
When it was his turn to present evidence for the defense, Jacques’ advocate—in a move he would later regret—sought to establish an underlying reason for any ill will that might exist between the two men by putting his client on the stand.
   
“Would you please tell the court where you were and what you observed on the evening of the twenty-third of July last?” the defense attorney inquired.
   
“I took ma jolie blonde to the fin-fond, the boondocks, to pass a good time,” Jacques said. He pointed to the evidence table. “You see dat bâton rouge? Dat red stick?”
   
“For the record, Your Honor,” his lawyer clarified. “My client is referring to Exhibit A.”
   
“I saw one angry man lay dat two-by-twice up ’longside the head of ma chèrie maybe five or four times,” Jacques said. “After dat, poor little Evangeline was no longer jolie—not so pretty—and more of a redhead than a blonde. And den he tossed her limp body into the bayou. Dat big kerplunk was followed close behind by beaucoup splashin’ and thrashin’ ’round. I t’ink the ’gators had envie and got ’er real quick.”
   
“Who was the perpetrator? To whom are you referring?”
   
The defendant leaned forward in the witness box and pointed to a young man in a body cast propped up beside the prosecutor’s table with one arm locked into an elevated right-angled brace. “Dat salaud over yonder. Alphonse.”
   
“And what did you do, Mr. Lefebvre, after you saw that rascal strike your girlfriend with a two-by-four?”
   
“I let les Bon Temps rouler.”
   
“You let the good times roll. That bears repeating. You let les Bon Temps rouler. Thank you, Mr. Lefebvre, for your testimony. Your Honor, I think this is an appropriate time to ask that all charges against my client be dismissed.”
   
“Objection,” said the complainant’s attorney as he rose from his chair.
   
“On what grounds?” the judge asked. “Despite Mr. Lefebvre’s having given us graphic details of an event that could easily account for his having a hostile attitude toward the complainant, how do you explain away the defendant’s description of his carefree attitude following the alleged incident?”
   
“He got that first part the wrong way round. My client Mr. Maurier was the one who saw Mr. Lefebvre attack Miss Evangeline and dispose of her body, and what the witness said about the good times? Not what you think, I guarantee, and anybody from my neck of the woods would agree with me. I tell you for true, Judge, Mr. Lefebvre ran over my client with his vehicle, thereby causing him great bodily harm and severe emotional damage.”
   
“Beyond the word of your client, do you have any hard evidence to support that claim?” the magistrate asked.
   
“We do, Your Honor. We have tire-tread evidence with expert witnesses to back it up, and as a lagniappe, an unexpected gift from the defense, we have the words out of Mr. Lefebvre’s own mouth. Bon Temps. That’s the name of his pick-me-up truck. He was behind the steering wheel when he ‘let it roll’ over my client.”

-End-

Bio John H. Dromey was born in northeast Missouri. He enjoys reading—mysteries especially—and writing in a variety of genres. He’s had short fiction published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Betty Fedora, Crimson Streets, Gumshoe Review, Stupefying Stories Showcase, and elsewhere.
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