Monday, May 21, 2012

Who Killed Iron Joe? Part 12: Moon of the Popping Trees

Cavanaugh spent a year trying to nail the case on Carrie Arosen as the assassin of Fialkov.

At first it seemed like an open-shut case, and everyone congratulated him on solving it so quickly and so easily.  They all said it was so obvious that anyone could have done it, but only he could have done it so quickly.  Finding the journal was the masterstroke, and figuring out its significance and how it basically spelled out, from the victim’s perspective, both the culprit and the motive, was the finest tribute to his keen powers of observation possible.  Yet many, many tributes followed.

The only problem was that Cavanaugh knew that the case against Carrie Arosen was actually paper-thin.  There was no actual evidence and nothing outside of that journal to even prove circumstantially that she had anything at all to do with the murder, had been anywhere near Fialkov.  There was a two hour journey required just to cross the distance between her home and the Governor’s mansion, and no Tuska had regular access to transportation that would have made that trip feasible in the few details that anyone was able to uncover about the alleged assassin’s activities on the night in question.

Cavanaugh spent months trying to solve these details, and he had plenty of eager help, even though most Danab took it for granted that he’d been right the first time around.  It wasn’t long, however, before there was talk of conspiracy, that he was the fall guy for some power play within the Danab community itself to eliminate Fialkov and place the blame conveniently on some Tuska, someone so minor, obscure, and irrelevant that no one would have thought to question it before it was too late, and once the execution had taken place, or some “accident” has caused her death before then, that it would have been irrelevant to still question his original conclusions.

It didn’t help that details not known by Fialkov began to surface about Carrie Arosen’s life and opinions, that she frequently referred to her alleged victim via a derogatory name, “Iron Joe,” and that she had access and certain training to the skills necessary to pull off the assassination exactly as it would have had to have occurred, no matter how improbable.

The only thing that both worked for and against Cavanaugh was the fact that Carrie Arosen survived in captivity, for a whole year, and that with doubt surfacing in his own mind, it became possible to see the cracks in his conclusions, and therefore equally possible to consider for himself alternatives.  It was a nightmare, but for him, something like salvation.

During that period, as he tried to close the book on alleged assassin, Cavanaugh began to notice that there were other suspects, and the more he investigated them, the more he had to admit that Carrie Arosen might be innocent.  He’d already become a hero by claiming in an instant exactly the opposite, and almost no one would have cared to hear anything but.  For Cavanaugh, his conscience didn’t allow him to keep it that way.  He began to make public statements, blurring the lines of certainty, and although no one had seen Carrie Arosen since her arrest and most had assumed she was already dead, there began talk of her as a martyr, one who might still be redeemed, given half a chance.

Well, half a chance was all she had, and all Cavanaugh could give her.  He made a visit to her cell, and wept at the condition she had been in for months, small and weak even by the standards of the Tuska, barely able to lift her own head, and he ordered on the spot for a meal to be brought, and for her to be allowed to bathe.  She refused to talk to him at first, not because of who he was, but because he was a Danab, but then, after a few moments, after she could feel human again, she murmured a few words, and he was certain that he heard “forgive” in them, and at first he was baffled, mystified, even terrified.  And then she gave him a hug.  Who was this girl to be so kind to the man who had ruined her life?  That was his first lesson in humanity.

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