Rupert was not a regular guy you could pass in the mall and never notice. Even by Hawaiian standards, he was a flashy dresser; all colors and glitter from top to toe, and I swear he wore make-up. He swept off his Fedora, unveiling a thick mane of golden hair, and bowed at his audience of four, Patterson, Jameson, Janet - and me, the handcuffed one in the starring role.
‘Ah ha,’ he said. ‘Welcome to Rupert’s world.’
Patterson and I exchanged glances, but Jameson and Janet seemed easy with it. Rupert caught our looks of disbelief and was quick to reassure us.
‘That’s my stage act entrance,’ he said. ‘Today it’s serious forensics ... to help you remember what happened.’
Jameson took the lead as if addressing a jury. ‘This man here,’ he said, pointing at me, ‘has been charged with first degree homicide for a murder he did not commit.’
I watched Patterson. He seemed about to speak, but he just shrugged instead.
Jameson produced a document and handed it to Rupert. ‘Mister Rupert, I think it would be appropriate that you take Shayne Reeves back to the night of the twentieth. I have prepared a list of what I’m looking for.’
Rupert started to read, frowned, then looked at me. ‘Are you comfortable about this?’
I nodded. ‘I want to clear my name.’
Rupert then addressed us all. ‘What is said under hypnosis may or may not be an accurate account. While regressed recall is admissible in a court of law, corroborating evidence would also be needed. Are we all clear on this?’
Nods all round.
Rupert stepped over to me and placed both hands on my shoulders. His softly spoken words eased away my tension. My body unwound, I felt completely relaxed...
...‘you finished your meal, snorted two lines of coke. Tell me what happened next.’
Crystal clear images came into my head. I could picture the dining room - Linda holding my hand and smiling. ‘Le Chef came in from the kitchen with another bottle of wine. He said it was a special vintage.’
‘What was it?’
‘2004 Chablis ... Première Cuvée Les Pargues on the label.’
‘Describe Le Chef. What did he look like?’
‘White uniform and hat, as tall as me but bulkier. Trimmed beard, crooked front tooth, otherwise regular features ... but gray eyes that seemed to be watching.’
I stopped. ‘That’s it.’
‘Look closer. Anything unusual?’
Le Chef swam into focus. I moved up close. ‘The beard ... a scar underneath ... a line of red skin from his right ear down to his mouth.’
‘What did you and Linda do next?’
‘We took the Chablis and a pack of Elite rubbers up to the Penthouse Suite. We had a Jacuzzi then safe sex. Several times. After, I drank the wine straight from the bottle. Felt fuzzy, my eyes weren’t focusing, think I saw flashing lights and then it went dark...’
‘Flashing lights ... look closer.’
I refocused on the scene. ‘Shadow in the room coming closer ... ghostly figure ... camera ... flashlight ... my eyes closing...’
I slumped forward.
The hands on my shoulders lifted me up, and Rupert brought me out of it.
‘I think that’s enough for now,’ he said.
I came round quickly, although I felt drained. An excited hubbub went on around me.
Janet was replaying the recording and asking Rupert some questions. Taylor seemed delighted; he had a wide grin on his face. He spoke to a frowning Patterson, who seemed bemused by events.
‘For starters, I need a transcript of what evidence you found in the penthouse suite and in the grounds by the pool ... particularly the bottle of Chablis. Also, I need an original blood sample from Mister Reeves. I want to conduct my own tests.’
‘Mr. Taylor, this proves nothing...’ Patterson began, but Taylor wasn’t going to be sideswiped.
‘If I can produce evidence that my client was drugged, it does open up another line of enquiry, don’t you think?’
Patterson seemed to contemplate it; discussed it. Eventually he conceded the point.
Cause of reasonable doubt could be enough for the DA to reconsider the charge.
I was being ignored as if I was an exhibit; no one seemed to consider my feelings. I decided to push it all the way; slammed my cuffs against the wall, made them freeze.
‘I want to go under again.’
When I had their attention, I asked Rupert to take me right through the night and up to the point where I found Linda Adams in the pool.
‘I need to know,’ I said...
‘...open your eyes. Can you see through the darkness, Shayne?’
I shook my head. ‘Nothing.’
‘Can you hear or smell anything?’
‘Man laughing ... Linda’s perfume close ... then gone.’
‘Shadows moving ... my clothes ... cannot see.’
I was reliving the night. Most of it nothing, but as each hour went by I could sense more.
‘Something hard in my hand ... my fingers pressed tight ... scent of sulphur ... then gone.’
‘Headache ... cannot focus ... Linda gone.’
‘Describe the room.’
I chuckled. ‘Hey, the cleaning lady must have been here.’
‘What did you do, next?’
‘Put on a new pair of boxers. Searched for Linda. Needed to clear my head in the pool.
Climbed onto the springboard. Saw her floating in the water. I fell in ... she was dead, a fucking great big hole in her head.’
At this point I felt my body shaking; I was crying as I struggled to carry on. ‘Chucked up, needed help. Paddled to the steps … cops...’
Rupert pressed his hands into my shoulders and brought me out of hypnosis.
‘No more,’ he said.
This time when I came round, I felt like I’d gone ten rounds with Smokin’ Joe, and I had lost every one of them. But the room was quiet until Taylor spoke.
‘I am going to file a plea of not guilty.’