An Excerpt from Judgment Day

The cozy theater was packed, as planned. Scores of reporters, both local and national, were squeezed in with hundreds of supporters who had been recruited to fill the gallery. Hundreds more with opposing views and picket signs lined Commonwealth Avenue outside the theater. Uniformed police strolled up and down the street, making sure peace was kept.

Napoleon Taft tapped the microphone.

“Ladies and gentlemen, members of the press, thank you for coming today. My client, and your duly elected Senator, Magnolia Kanaranzi, has been in seclusion since her arrest. You can only imagine the shock and the trauma she has suffered from being charged with arranging the murder of her own mother.

“Senator Kanaranzi worked her way from the lowliest station in life to the pinnacle of the media world—a man’s world. She has been a champion of women’s rights throughout her journey…her struggle…and it was that steadfast adherence to the precept that women are equal, entitled to equal pay, equal treatment, equal respect, that was a primary reason she was elected as your United States Senator.

“To even think that someone as committed to the rights of women as she is could murder another woman is beyond belief. And for that woman to be her own mother…” Taft let the sentence dangle as he slowly wagged his head from side to side, a look of utter disbelief on his face.

“But enough from me,” he continued. “The time has come for Senator Kanaranzi to speak out; to tell you her side of the story.” He turned to the woman seated on a folding chair behind the podium. “Senator.”

Magnolia slowly rose and walked to the bank of microphones amid flashing lights and buzzing from the crowd. She was stunning, despite intentionally dressing her petite frame conservatively to avoid giving the ever-critical media something else to criticize. Her silver-white hair was perfectly styled, and her nails were manicured to match her cerulean blue eyes. She stepped up on the riser and nodded slowly, acknowledging those in the theater.

“I did not love my mother,” she started, her voice resolute.

The crowd collectively inhaled, shocked by her words.

“I didn’t love her, but I respected her,” Magnolia went on. “She had a hard life. She was a single mother, which made her a social outcast, particularly in the small town where we lived. She worked many jobs, including the farm I was raised on. She raised me. We didn’t always get along, but I believe that it’s because of the values she instilled in me as a youngster that I have succeeded in life.

“She was a strong woman with strict rules; rules I chafed under as a teenager. I left home after I graduated from high school, and we seldom spoke after that. The lifestyle that I chose, a decade of drugs and alcohol, was not something she could tolerate nor is it a choice of which I am proud. But when I showed up at her door with a child, she took that child in and raised him.

“Eventually, I came to my senses. I went to talk to her about my son, to take him back, but my mother did not believe I would be a good influence on my child, or that I was in a good position to raise a child. I could not disagree, and so by mutual agreement, I stayed out of my child’s life and stopped communicating with them both. It was the most difficult choice I have ever had to make. To help temper my pain, I became absorbed in a new career. Eventually, my mother, and my child, faded from my life but never from my memory.

“When I learned of her passing, it had been more than a decade since I had last spoken to her. Unfortunately, I did not learn about her death until long after the funeral. I regret not being there. I regret not having a chance to say good-bye.”

Magnolia paused, and members of the press started to yell questions. She held up her finely manicured hand to silence them.

“As I said at the beginning,” she continued once the hubbub subsided, “I didn’t love my mother, but I didn’t kill her, or hire anyone to kill her. I do not know this criminal who is accusing me of this. I have never met this person, and I have certainly never hired him to do anything for me, much less kill my mother.

“Why this person would come out of nowhere, six years after my mother was murdered, admit to killing her, and then claim that I hired him to do it…it’s incomprehensible. We can only speculate on his motives, but I am here to tell you I am innocent.”

Cheers and standing applause from the gallery erupted and lasted for several minutes.

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