[previous chapter] [start from the beginning] “That’s a wrap, well done Jason,” the on-location producer, a wizened old crank named Michael Harrison, said as he got off the phone with his control room colleagues. “Now get some rest; this trial is going to go on for some time and trust me when I say you’ll need your strength.” He saw the skeptical look on the 24-year-old’s face and knew exactly what was going on behind those eyes. “I know what you’re thinking; you’re young, you have lots of energy. I know – I actually believe you do have a hell of a lot more energy than I do. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get overstrained by a trial like this. I’ve been there before, kid, and not just as an old fart. Just take my word for it and conserve your energy.”

Jason smiled. “Yeah, OK. Guess I’ll party later, then, right?”

“Right. And yes, I’ll expect you to buy.”

Jason’s parents were sitting in their living room when he got home, pretending, without much success, that they hadn’t been waiting for him.

“Oh, honey, you were so excellent!” his mother enthused. “We are so proud of you!”

His father slapped him on the back, adding, “Yes indeed, Jason, very proud. Your grandparents phoned to say they were extremely excited to tell all their friends you were their grandson. I think Nana's even started a fan page for you on Facebook…

Oh boy, Jason thought, I guess I’ve arrived.

****

Jason’s parents had wanted to talk to him about his experience that day but he begged off, pleading the need to rest. He didn’t want to concede the point to his field producer, but the truth was that once the elation of the day had ebbed, he was wiped.

“I need rest, Mom, I need to get back to the courtroom early tomorrow, and be on-air live for the 6 o’clock news. I think I’ll turn in and get some beauty sleep.”

His mother smiled. “Of course, dear. Off you go!” She embraced her husband and sighed the unmistakable sigh of the contented mother.

****

It was almost lights out at the jail, and Abdul Bédard-Lellouche was starting to think maybe the odds were better than 50-50 in his favour. Not that 50-50 is in anyone’s favour, but you know what I mean. Maybe the special guards who were assigned to keep him safe were doing the job, who knows? Not that he had any illusions; if the gang had decided to eliminate him, someone would find a way to get it done sooner or later, and probably much sooner than later. But the fact that nobody had done it yet allowed Abdul to think that maybe he hadn’t been marked for execution, that maybe my suicide really was a suicide and not, you know a “suicide”?

“You OK, Abdul?” the guard asked as he came in to his cell, separate from the others to keep him safe from inmates who might be working for the criminal gang from the inside, to have a last look around before lights out.

“Yeah, thanks for being there,” Abdul said, meaning it.

The guard smiled. “No worries. Just doing my job. Sleep tight.” Another smile, this one kind of weird…

Something cold around his neck, a small whirring sound in his ear, as the guard quickly closed the heavy metal door behind him. “Shit!” was all Abdul could think. “It was the guard. The guard was working for the gang!” What was around his neck was a garrotte made of a thin steel cable with a small electric motor at the back that slowly but surely tightened the cable around the victim’s neck. The Mexican cartels had pioneered the use of that device, or so he thought. It was in that movie, The Counselor. “I’m going to die like Brad Pitt,” he thought, which might have made him laugh if his own demise wasn’t so damn near.

He tried to scream but he knew it was hopeless. Nobody could hear him through that door, and the “guard” would have made sure nobody else was around before doing his deed.

“Oh, Mom, I’m so sorry...”

[next chapter]