STRANGE CONFESSION

AUTHOR'S NOTE/DISCLAIMER

I don't watch much Matlock, but I recently saw the episode "The Crook " and it inspired me to do this scene from Ben's POV. Matlock belongs to Dean Hargrove and whoever else worked on the series. Took out one word of dialogue on purpose.

Ben couldn't believe what he was hearing. He had to be dreaming. Maybe he had hit his head which had knocked him unconscious, and was giving him this strange dream. There was no way Wally McDaniels was a thief.

"You're a-you're a-you're a thief?" he stammered. I don't believe this. How could I have not noticed? he wondered. He was supposed to be a top-notch lawyer. Surely, he would've noticed criminal behavior in a friend. Or maybe that's why he hadn't noticed the behavior. Because Wally was a friend. After all, no wanted to believe that a good friend could be a crook.

"Yes, technically I guess I would be considered a thief," Wally confirmed. "My intent is-"

"Wally, we've been friends for years. We've sung in the same choir for seven years. Don't tell me that you've been stealing books for all those seven years," Ben stated.

"Not for seven years," Wally answered.

"Thank God," Ben sighed in relief. He remembered Wally saying that there had been some rare books that had just come in. He could say that his friend had been tempted by the sight of such rare treasures and had a temporary lapse of judgment. The sentence would most likely be lenient since it was his first offense.

"Fourteen," Wally corrected. Wait. What?

"Oh, my gosh. I'll never get you off," Ben said. This is terrible. He's a repeat offender. The judge and jury would throw the book at him no matter what I did, he thought.

"I don't want you to," Wally told him. And it was true. He had known what he was doing was wrong. He just didn't know how to stop. With Tom turning him in, he would finally be able to atone for his crimes.

"You don't want me to?" Ben asked in confusion. Why wouldn't he want someone to get him off for his crimes?

"No. Ben, I did this," Wally reminded. "I've stolen hundreds of books for over a decade. I'm pleading guilty. Somebody's got to stop me. The reason I called you was I was hoping you could get me out on bail so I could straighten out my affairs before serving my time," he continued. Oh, I think I'm going to need an aspirin, Ben thought to himself.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Anything."

"What in the hell's wrong with you? It's not like it's made you rich." And that's what Ben couldn't figure out: the motive. Why would Wally steal the books if he wasn't trying to get a profit for them? Wally laughed.

"Oh, no. You collect antique cars, right? Why?"

"I like 'em. I can sell 'em at a profit."

"But you haven't sold them. Because you cherish them, and you want other people to see them. That's the way I feel about rare books." Okay, Ben could see that. But that didn't mean he had to steal them.

"Well, why steal them? Why not just read them?" the lawyer wondered.

"Because I want the world to revel in their brilliance as I do," his friend replied. "Museums, galleries-maybe they'll show off a collection every now and then. In a library, people can touch them. They can read them," he continued.

"So you-you've been stealing books from galleries to put them in public libraries?" Ben asked, trying to wrap his head around what he was hearing.

"Yes," Wally confirmed.

"Wally, you're a weird dude," Ben commented. Yeah. He was definitely going to need an aspirin.