"I don't think you understand Clint," Greg tried again. He'd been talking to his client for nearly an hour, trying and failing to convince him to talk to the prosecutor about a plea deal.
"No you don't understand Mr. Echols," Clint countered. "I'm not going to plead guilty to anything. Look, put me on the stand and I'll have that jury eating out of my hands in no time."
Greg shook his head. "You're delusional," he sighed.
Clint narrowed his eyes. "Did you see who's on the jury? It's mostly chicks and I can charm them easy. I've always been able to. They have to all agree to convict, right?"
"Right," Clint repeated. "So all I have to do is convince one of those chicks that I didn't attack McKenna, that I was just defending myself and the case gets dismissed."
Greg stared at his client. The man was right, as far as it went, but that didn't mean the case would be over if his plan worked. Honestly he didn't see how it could work. "Okay Clint, let's say you're right that doesn't mean you walk free. The prosecutor can easily call for a new trial and most likely will."
"Let him," Clint confidently responded. "Any jury he uses will have at least one chick on it and after another failure to convict his boss ain't gonna let him charge me again."
"I can't force you to take a plea deal Clint, I can only advise you. If you insist on testifying and trying to charm your way to freedom I can't stop you. I will tell you this though," he continued as he stood up, briefcase in hand, "your chances of walking free are somewhere between slim and none...and slim just left the building." Walking to the door he knocked, letting the jailer know he was ready to go. "I'll see you in the morning," he told Clint before leaving the room.
"You okay son?" Jack asked as he joined Brick on the front porch.
Brick nodded. "Ssorry," he said.
Jack couldn't keep the shock from his face. "You don't have anything to be sorry for," he said as he sat next to his son.
Brick nodded, he did. "Hard...you...them," he ground out.
"This is hard on all of us?" Jack asked. He wanted to be sure he had it right, it was obviously important to Brick.
Brick nodded again. "Selfish...me"
Jack was confused and he admitted as much.
"Trial," Brick said, hoping his father would make the connection. Damn this was so hard!
For several minutes neither man spoke, one hoping his message was understood and the other trying to decipher the meaning behind the few words spoken.
"This has to do with my testimony?" Jack could see by the look on Brick's face that it did. Going over the day in his mind he did his best to recall everything he'd said on the stand. "You think you're selfish?"
"Selfish," Brick confirmed , his tone disgusted.
"Why?" Jack wished he could figure out the problem but he needed more.
"Know...hard," Brick said, shaking his head as he spoke.
"It's not hard?"
Brick shook his head. How was he going to get through to his father? He didn't know whether to laugh or cry, one of the few times in his life he felt the need to apologize to his father and he couldn't make the man understand what he was sorry for. Tapping his head, he repeated his words.
"You didn't know it was hard?"
Brick nodded, smiling with relief.
"Son," Jack said, wrapping one strong hand around the back of Brick's neck. "You're not selfish for not noticing. I, hell all of us, did our best to hide it from you. You've had so much on your plate in the last few months, none of us wanted to add to your load."
Brick smiled softly as he turned to his father. "Thanks."
"You're welcome," Jack grinned, patting the younger man's back. "You going to be okay tomorrow?"
Brick shrugged. When he had first brought up testifying he had been sure of his decision, now with the day so close he doubted that decision.
"I'm sure Bill Lawrence would understand if you've changed your mind."
"I...not." No matter how much he dreaded speaking in public, seeing the pity and derision he knew would be there, he wasn't going to back down. He wouldn't let Emmons think that he had won. Pushing himself to his feet he patted his father's shoulder and headed into the house.
The next morning, seated in nearly the same seats as the day before, the McKenna family waited for the trial to begin. Bill had warned them that Brick would be the only witness he called today, after which he would rest his case. True to his word as soon as the judge took his seat Bill was calling Brick to the stand.
"Your honor I would like to stipulate, for the record, that due to the nature of his injuries I will need to ask as many yes or no questions as possible," Bill began after Brick was sworn in.
"So noted," the judge nodded. "Proceed."
"For the record, is your name Brick McKenna?"
"Do you live at the McKenna ranch with your family?"
"Brick can you tell me what you remember of the attack?"
"Board...pain...blood...laugh," Brick replied, each word drawn out.
"I want to be sure I and the jury understand you correctly. Are you saying you remember being hit with a board and the defendant laughing? "
"Yes," Brick confirmed.
"Fist...face...kick...ground...me" Brick blushed as he caught the eyes of one of the jurors, seeing the pity there.
"You're attacker hit you in the face with his fist and while you were on the ground, your attacker kicked you?" Bill asked, seeking clarification.
"Do you see your attacker in this courtroom?"
"Thank you Brick. No further questions your honor."
"Mr. Echols?" the judge asked.
"As I'm not nearly skilled enough to interpret the testimony I need I have no questions for this witness." Greg responded. He could see the anger on the prosecutor's face but there was no real objection he could make, not on legal grounds anyway. He just hoped the barb would bring doubt to at least one juror. Such tactics were really the only hope his client had.
"Next witness Mr. Lawrence," the judge said. As he spoke he made a note to remind the jurors during instruction to consider only the facts in evidence.
"The prosecution rest your honor," Bill responded.
"Mr. Echols, call your first witness," the judge instructed.
Greg stood. "The defense calls Clint Emmons to the stand."
Clint stood up and walked proudly to the stand. Raising his hand he was quickly sworn in before taking his seat.
"For the record could you state your name and occupation?"
"My name is Clint Emmons and I'm a race car driver," Clint replied with a pleasant smile.
"We have heard during this trial, Mr. Emmons, how you attacked the victim Brick McKenna without provocation. Is this what happened Mr. Emmons?"
"No sir." Clint denied.
"It isn't?" Greg pretended to be surprised. "Could you tell the court what did happen then?"
"Yes sir," Clint politely replied. "I was waiting in the barn for Brick, that's true but it wasn't to attack him."
"Then why were you hiding in the McKenna barn?"
"I wanted to apologize. I knew it was wrong, the way I treated Skates and the racing too. It wasn't fair really, was damned near stealing, sorry your honor," he apologized.
"Then why did you do it?"
"Well Skates said it wasn't stealing. That girl's real smart," Clint said. Chancing a glance at the jury he could see a couple of the women falling for his aw shucks country boy act, stupid bitches. "She made me see that we wasn't making them race us. If they were stupid enough to get in a race then they deserved to lose. She said we was doing them a favor really, teaching them a lesson that'd keep 'em from doing something really stupid."
"I see, and you loved Skates, didn't you?"
"Oh yes sir, she's so pretty and smart," Clint gushed, his voice laced with admiration.
"Now back to the night of the attack. You say you were there to apologize, what happened when you approached Brick McKenna?" Greg was almost afraid to ask the question.
"He was real mad. Said it was my fault that Skates left instead of staying with him. Then he picked up a 2 by 4 and came at me. I had to defend myself."
"Of course you did. Why didn't you get help when the fight was over?"
"I was scared. I'm a stranger around these parts and I figured I'd be blamed for the fight. I was right too," Clint frowned, looking down at his lap.
"It seems you were Mr. Emmons. No further questions."
Bill Lawrence rose slowly to his feet. "You say Brick McKenna attacked first, where did he hit you?"
"Well I was able to grab the board and take it out of his hands."
"What happened after that?" Bill was old school, he believed in giving men like Emmons the rope to hang themselves .
Clint almost said he hit Brick with the board but then he realized his mistake. "I threw it to the side. That's when he hit me with his fist, and I hit him back."
"How long did the fight last?"
Brick sat in the galley incredulously listening to Emmons testify. Surely Bill Lawrence didn't believe him?
"I ain't sure sir. A while."
"Did McKenna hit you more than once?"
"Yes sir. We both got in a few hits."
"When did you use the 2 by 4?"
"I ain't real sure sir. I got scared though when I realized I had hit him with it. I didn't mean to go that far." Clint did his best to look contrite and ashamed.
"If Brick McKenna hit you, several times according to your testimony, how do you explain that the only defensive wound found on the man was a broken arm caused by being struck with the aforementioned 2 by 4?"
"I don't know what you mean sir?"
"A defensive wound Mr. Emmons is one occurring when a person is defending himself against an attack. If Brick McKenna hit you his knuckles should have been skinned and bruised, yet they were undamaged. How do you explain that Mr. Emmons?"
"I ain't lying," Clint snapped.
Bill smirked. "No further questions your honor."
"Redirect Mr. Echols?" the judge asked.
Clint wasn't sure what had happened but he had a feeling he'd messed up somehow at the end. Moving back to the defense table he reluctantly took his seat.
"Next witness Mr. Echols."
"Defense rests your honor," Greg responded.
In short order, following that declaration, closing statements were given. By the time lunch had come around the jury had been given instructions and sequestered in the jury room to deliberate. The verdict didn't take long and by supper Clint Emmons, having been found guilty on all counts, was sitting back in the county jail awaiting sentencing the next day. Bill Lawrence had no doubt the judge would impose the maximum sentence.
That evening, Brick was once more seated on the front porch of the McKenna ranch house. He was soon joined by his father. Neither man spoke, each lost in his own thoughts they simply enjoyed the peace of the night and each other's company.
The beating had irrevocably changed his life, Brick couldn't deny that. He might never be the talker he had been, might always struggle to find the words he needed, though he knew he would stick with his therapy, improving as much as he could. His doctor expected him to eventually regain the ability to speak properly, only struggling when under stress. But no matter what he would have a good life. While Clint Emmons spent the prime of his life rotting in prison, Brick would be building his future upon the foundation his father had provided for him. And while he was building his future he would never again miss an opportunity, with words or actions, to tell his family how much they meant to him.
Wrapping his arms around his father, Brick hugged him tight. "Love you," he whispered.
Jack, taken by surprise, nevertheless whole heartedly returned the embrace. "I love you too son," he whispered past the sudden lump in his throat.
Hope y'all enjoyed my story. Please feed the muse with reviews.
A/N: I am already working on a new story, a McKenna/Mag7 crossover. While not a sequel exactly, it will reference this story, taking place about 2 years from the current time.