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Beta: Fantastically, encouragingly and speedily beta-ed by Dorilon. Thanks!
Copyright: Edgar C. Gambodge, Elizabeth Lightbody and Martha Grosbeak are mine. Sadly so are Father Michael and Gruner.
Warning: In my Oz universe, many of the events from the last two episodes of Season Six are fictitious.
Settling the Bill: What Happened Afterwards (17/17)
It was afternoon and hours away from Count. The TV was blaring in the common area as usual. Poet was trying to muster support for staging "Titus Andronicus" and was hoping to persuade Rawls by telling him how they could portray the (many) deaths as shankings. Rawls seemed more interested in what was happening on TV. He was not alone in this. Many of Em City's inmates were staring at the screen, their earphones clamped over their ears. This time the hacks were watching too. And, in the staff room, although the inmates were unaware of this, many other members of staff were glued to their screen as well.
A news broadcast had been covering the trial of a serial killer who had killed over fifteen young men. The last hour or so had been given to an in-depth documentary about the killer's childhood and his capture, a summary of the arguments of the defense and prosecution, and the overwhelming evidence that convicted him. There had been a special section on the forensic science used by the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division and CSI-type investigation units to test the clues that pointed to the killer's guilt.
The guilty verdict had just been handed down, followed by the governor saying a few words about justice being served. The young and enthusiastic anchorwoman came back to the screen to the delight of several inmates who commented on her charms and mentioned what they'd like to do to her. However, they were uncharacteristically told to shut up by the rest of the audience.
"Christopher Keller, who was formerly charged with three of the crimes and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Brice Tibbetts, had his death penalty overturned some months ago due to contaminated evidence. His sentence was subsequently commuted to life, before new evidence came to light that exonerated him completely. He was released earlier this year from Oswald State Correctional Facility. He had this to say about the new twist in events."
The camera showed an extraordinarily photogenic close-up of Keller, in a dark gray suit and spectacles, on the steps of the courthouse. He wore a slight, archaic smile. The soundtrack cut to Keller's voice.
"I'm just glad that Justice was finally done and that I can put it all behind me now. I was almost sent to the electric chair for a crime I did not commit, because I could not get adequate legal representation. My lawyers did not allow me to take the stand in my own trial. If they had, all of this could have been sorted out long ago and lives would have been saved."
The anchorwoman returned to the screen.
"Mr. Keller's former lawyers, including a representative of a prisoners' advocacy group, Katherine McClain, were unavailable for comment. Mr. Keller's plight has raised new questions about the efficacy of advocacy groups for prisoners."
The former lawyers were seen in the background, with faces averted, snapping "no comment, no comment" and pushing their way through a crowd of reporters.
The camera panned back to the anchorwoman on the courthouse steps. Behind her, Edgar Carraway Gambodge's vast bulk, clad in what seemed to be an enormous white linen suit, loomed impressively.
"Mr. Keller has been represented by celebrity lawyer, Edgar C. Gambodge. Mr. Gambodge, is there any truth to the rumors that you also provide legal advice for organized crime?" She held the microphone up to him.
"I am a lawyer, my dear. I work with facts, not rumors!" Gambodge boomed.
"I take it, that's a `no'?"
"You're very astute," Gambodge emitted a rumbling laugh.
The anchor woman seemed satisfied and turned back to the camera.
"Mr. Keller appeared as prime witness for the prosecution and his evidence was instrumental in achieving the verdict of guilty. Spokesperson for the FBI, Martha Grosbeak, said that the murder cases would never have been solved without Mr. Keller's assistance and commended him for coming forward with the evidence he had gathered single-handedly."
A picture insert of Martha Grosbeak in a formal pose and gazing into the middle distance was shown. She looked rather severe.
"Oo, hit me, baby..." began Pablo Rosa, but was roundly silenced by the other inmates who were riveted by the events.
"An FBI investigator on the case, Agent Pierce Taylor," the report continued in Martha Grosbeak's voice, "is himself under investigation for tampering with evidence and harassing Mr. Keller, whom he treated as `guilty', despite offering nothing to substantiate this assertion. The Federal Bureau of Investigation wants to make it clear to the American people that such behavior is not in line with our policy on upholding rule of law and will not be tolerated. Disturbing information has come to light concerning Agent Taylor's links to organized crime, in particular to a certain crime syndicate whose top members had a high stake in concealing the true identity of the serial killer. This is currently receiving close attention at the highest levels in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI has issued a formal apology to Mr. Keller for any injustice he might have suffered in the past as a result of Agent Taylor's behavior."
The anchorwoman returned.
"When asked what his future plans were, Mr. Keller, who was accompanied to court today by his partner, Tobias Beecher, said he wanted to make a fresh start and that he and Mr. Beecher could be left in peace to live their lives now."
The camera focused in on Keller, this time with Beecher (who was clean-shaven, wearing a dark brown suit and looked younger than he had in years) beside him on the steps. They seemed to be wearing matching light-blue shirts.
"`We've waited a long time for this,' Mr. Keller said."
As the camera moved back, the inmates and staff could see Keller smiling at Beecher.
"Shit," said McManus to Murphy in the staff room, "he's still gonna do something, Sean. Thought for a moment there he was going to wax lyrical about his sojourn in Em City. I'll feel better when they're both off the TV. We're still trying to salvage our public image since that biohazard fiasco. Do you think he'll bring it up? What's he gonna do now?"
Sean Murphy sighed. He knew what Keller was going to do. He'd seen that look often enough before. Yep. He was taking off his glasses. The staff watched, holding their breaths. But this time, Beecher beat him to it and pulled him into a deep kiss. The camera seemed to freeze interminably on their clinch.
"Tobias!" groaned Sister Pete.
"Whoa," said Gloria Nathan, round-eyed.
"Fucking fairies," snarled Lopresti, "ruining our reputation."
McManus just shook his head. He didn't get it.
Elsewhere in Oz, the common area erupted in cheers and whistles and occasional shouts of "faggots!". O'Reily was coining it in. The only other people who seemed to have made anything from the wager on the likelihood of Keller and Beecher remaining together were Rebadow and Redding.
"Let's hope they get their `happily ever after' at last," said the reporter, with a smile in her voice.
From above the hoots and yells, the news broadcast continued indistinctly, about a priest who had gone missing from his parish a while back and the mystery surrounding his disappearance. The latest news was that police had given up the search and he was presumed dead. O'Reily didn't quite catch the priest's name, Father Michael someone.
"What's the odds?" he grinned to himself, mentally counting his winnings.
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