Frank Hardy was standing in the capitol building in Washington DC. His wife Callie was standing beside him clinging tightly to his hand. They along with his father, Joe, Vanessa, and Sam Radley were going to testify before congress today. Their attorny and long time friend was talking to his father to the side. They had been trying to convince the 'commitees' that Callie's testomony wasn't necessary. Frank really hoped that they would excuse her from testifying. Callie only discussed her rapes with the police, her therapist, and him. If she were to testify then it would be in front of the two committees and all over CSPAN.
Frank watched as his father gestured furiously and the attorney. They were speaking to one of the senators on the committee. The senator sent a compassionate glance Callie's way but shook his head. He walked off and Fenton approached them disgusted. Callie addressed him. "Thank you for trying Mr. Hardy...I'll be fine." Her hand squeezed his tighter with each word.
Frank pulled her close to him trying to comfort her. "It's going to be okay..."
Joe sent a worried look to his fiancee Vanessa. She sighed and put on her brave face. "Callie...at least you get to go last. Urm Mr. Hardy...do you think we could each ask the committees NOT to question Callie?"
"That is a good idea Ms. Bender."
They all turned around at the new voice. Fenton approached his partner and best friend. "Sam...you made it. You look like hell."
"Good to see you too Fenton."
Fenton was giving his best friend a look over. He hadn't seen him in weeks and he looked thin and pale. In fact he looked very sickly. If he looked like that his wife would be dragging him to the doctor kicking and screaming. He leaned over and whispered. "Have you gone to the doctor?"
"Nah...just the flu Fenton...I'll be fine."
Frank was worried. Sam was anything but fine. He looked terrilble. But before he could say anything the doors to the chamber before them opened. "Mr. Fenton Hardy...we are ready for you."
Frank watched as his father acknowledged the assistant with a nod. They all followed him inside. Frank guided Callie into a chair in a row that the assistant indicated. Fenton himself sat at a table with a microphone facing the two committees.
The Senator's were already seated. "Please state your full name and occupation for the record."
"Fenton James Hardy private investigator...retired NYPD."
"Mr. Hardy...when did you stumble over this terrorist organization?"
"The first time was when I was working for the NYPD...Anthony Andolini was one of the men that I put behind bars. When he was paroled he apparently became involved with a terrorist group called the Assasins. He began to plan to disrupt 4 major cities highway system. Which would have put a dent in the economy and they also were targeting the Old River Control System in Louisiana so that they could change the course of the Missisippi River."
"How would they have accomplished this?"
Fenton answered. "They set up terrorist cells in various cities either in the cities they wanted to disrupt or close by."
"Mr. Hardy...according to the report Mr. Andolini would terrorize the region he was setting up the cell in by having violent crimes committed or committing the violent crimes its self. Could you comment on your knowledge with that?"
"Yes...Andolini would rape and torture women that lived in the vicinity. Tieing up the law enforcement agencies and taking the heat off the assasins setting up the cell."
"Andolini choose Bayport partially because of its geographic location but mostly for personal reasons correct?"
"Yes...he was trying to get revenge for my part of putting him in prision. He targeted one of my son's girlfriends."
Frank could feel Callie tremble beside him. He squeezed her left hand with his right and put his other arm around her. Joe took her other hand and squeezed it.
"Is her maiden name Callie Elizabeth Shaw?"
Fenton tensed. "Yes."
"Can you describe briefly what happened when you discovered that something had happened to her."
Fenton bristled. "Not just something senator. She was raped and left to die in her bedroom. When my son and I found her it was one of the worst moments of my life."
"Did you suspect Andolini at that time?"
The questions continued and Frank became more distracted because of Callie. Tears were flowing from her eyes and she was shaking. 'And they haven't even begun to questoin her yet.'
Sam Radley testified next solidifying what his father had said. He was followed by Van and Joe. "Franklin Hardy..." Frank jumped when his name was called. He nodded at Joe who sat to Callie's left. When Frank walked forward. Fenton stood up and sat in the seat that Frank had vacated. Once he knew that Callie was going to be okay he sat down facing the committees. "Hello gentlemen."
"Good afternoon Mr. Hardy. We only have a few questions for you...mostly they are to clarify what your father has said."
"At the time all this occured Callie was just your girlfriend is that correct?"
"The two of you are married now correct?"
"Yes for three years."
"What was your first reaction when you realized that something could have happened to her?"
A lump suddenly rose in his throat and his eyes stung. The question was innocent enough but it was asked without a lick of compassion. "I was scared...I wanted it to be a dream...but when my dad reached for his service revolver I knew that something was wrong...very wrong...but nothing could have prepared me for seeing her the way I found her."
"How long did it take for Callie to recover from this incident?"
Frank could have punched this man. "She spent a week in the hosptial...she has to take extra precautions to prevent infections because her spleen was removed...but she will never fully recover from this. She is a lot better...we are married we have a son...but it is something she can never forget and I won't either. She still can't talk about what happened to her without getting very upset."
"It's been several years though."
"SO...unless you have been in her shoes you can't understand what she is going through. You have no idea what that subpeona did to her. She doesn't sleep well, when she does sleep she wakes up screaming or in a cold sweat."
The senator looked bewildered. "Of course...so we will try to get this over with as quickly as possible. Thank you Mr. Hardy."
Frank didn't move from his chair. "Okay...but I want to sit next to her while she is testifiying...and if I feel that she needs to stop...you need to stop."
"You may sit beside her but we need her to answer our questions Mr. Hardy."
Another chair was brought to the table. Frank stood up and looked at Callie sadly. She was visibly shaking. Fenton and Joe supported her until she reached him. Frank took her arms and whispered. "I'm right here...pretend you are talking to me...okay."
Callie bit her lip and nodded. She sat down and faced the committee.
"Hello Mrs. Hardy."
Her voice was crystal clear and that amazed Frank. She was squeezing his hand tightly.
"Mrs. Hardy...did Mr. Andolini inform you why he targeted you?"
Callie nodded. "Yes...because of Fenton and Frank."
"What did he do to you Mrs. Hardy?"
Callie choked back a sob but whispered. "He raped me, tortured me, and stabbed me."
"How did he torture you?"
Callie sobbed openly at that question. She took several deep breaths. One of the senators spoke. "Please take your time Mrs. Hardy...it's okay."
"He...hit me..with a belt. He stabbed me once then he...tattooed my lower back. He said it was his...trademark."
"Tattoo how did he do this?"
"He made a homemade tattoo gun with my grandfather's guitar and my toothbrush."
Her tears were finally falling now and she was crying as she spoke. She just wanted this to be over with.
"Have you gotten the tattoo removed?"
Callie stood up and lifted her shirt and lowered the waist of her pants just enough for the senators to see. "NO...I can't...the insurance won't cover it. So everyday I have to look at this and remember everything. So does my husband. Andolini is a monster...he is now behind bars and that is where that monster needs to stay. If you learn anything from today it is simply this...terror can come from both the inside and the outside. Andolini was citizen of the U.S. But they require funding. You should be focusing your time and engery on how to pull their purse strings not questioning their victims. It doesn't do you or this country any good."
Frank was stunned at Callie's statement. But was grinning from ear to ear. Each member of the committees looked embarrased. One of them finally addressed her. "You are free to go Mrs. Hardy...I commend you on your composure during this proceeding."
Callie glared at the men for a few more minutes but then turned on her heel and walked towards the door. Frank when she walked past him took her arm. Fenton, Joe, Vanessa, and Sam followed them. The reporters tried to get comments from them but the group remained silent and before Frank knew it they were in the garage standing in front of the limo that the US Government provided them to get here. As soon as the driver shut the door to the limo Callie collapsed crying in his arms.