by Trevor Hopkins

For a long time, the District Attorney was still to make a call on whether to prosecute Creagan and Alva. The word in the corridors in the precinct police house was that the family was too well-connected, too affluent, and would be able to hire sufficiently expensive lawyers that it was not worth the DA's effort.

But I thought differently. There was evidence enough to convince even the most recalcitrant jury of Alva's guilt and, short of some flagrant bribes in the courtroom - a route sufficiently unreliable and expensive that nobody seriously considers it these days - she would be convicted and locked away for a very long time.

The matter came to a head while I was actually in the police house, on one of several tedious visits to make yet more statements, and to assist Inspector Harriet Luncardy and her colleagues with the paperwork and the loose ends. Alva was still being held in the cells downstairs, but it seemed that her lawyer had persuaded the authorities to allow a visit from her father. She had been brought up to one of the interview rooms on this occasion; nobody really expected a grandee like Old Man Madderfy to visit some squalid basement cell.

It seemed that Alva and her father were alone in the room, except for her lawyer, of course, and some luckless junior in a uniform was on guard just outside the door. I was just passing by, in conversation with Luncardy on some minor and long-forgotten aspect of the case. Without warning, the door was flung open, startling the young copper so much that he practically flew across the corridor and very nearly collided with the two of us.

It was Madderfy senior leaving, his face beetroot with anger and indignation. With his hand on the door-handle, he turned back to face his daughter, who sat behind the table, pale and tearful, with her lawyer looking shocked sitting to one side.

"You are no daughter of mine," he bellowed, "And you'll get not a cent from me. Not a cent, do you hear!"

He slammed the door and stormed off, brushing past Luncardy and myself without even a flicker of recognition. Alva was on her own.

Creagan was a different case, of course. Old Man Madderfy's influence would see the charges against him quietly dropped, and almost nobody would notice that it had been. The younger Madderfy would languish for a while in the expensive private retreat his family's money provided for him. Then, when the fuss had died down a little, and the attentions of the newspaper reporters were elsewhere, he would quietly check out and return to his father's house.

My influence on the matter was miniscule, of course - possibly non-existent - and the Old Man had probably wasted the cigar on me. I still have it, by the way, only a little smoked, and now of course rather dried up and very stale, languishing in the back of my desk drawer. It is my sole memento of the whole sorry affair.

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