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Smooth Talker (standard:drama, 1462 words)
Author: OtzchiimAdded: Oct 25 2000Views/Reads: 2988/2070Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
It looked like the bad apple would finally be put away. The judge was going to throw the book at him, but he had a trick that wasn't even in the book. 


Riverdale used to be a nice little town.  But with so many people moving
out from the city to live here it's not so little any more, and 
sometimes it's not nice at all.  The tide of commuters going in and out 
every day has left some pretty smelly things behind at times, and the 
town police are always one step behind in having the means and people 
to fight it. 

In the last twenty years we've gone from picking up a couple of drunks
off the street on Saturday night to picking up a couple of bodies a 
month, but the police force isn't much larger or better off.  But the 
problem that had always been a particular thorn in my side was 

There's a man named Stephen Hill who has made himself a career of
finding single women in their late thirties or older, either widows or 
old maids, and getting their money away from them. He usually says that 
he wants to marry them and somewhere along the way has a foolproof 
business scheme for them to invest in.  Foolproof from his angle, that 

We were never able to prove that the money was coming back to him, but
it plainly was, to him and the sleazy lawyer that he worked with.  
Breach of promise suits are still legal in this state, but the women 
were always too embarrassed to do that, and he had covered his tracks 
too well for anything else. 

A couple of times we thought we might get him in a paternity suit, but
the women lost the babies -- except for the one who killed herself.  
Two of them who didn't get pregnant tried that too. 

Hill had been recognized as a public nuisance by all the town officials,
and we all frankly tried to get something to put him away on.  One 
thing we paid attention to was that whenever he deserted one of the 
older women, he went and took up with a younger one -- twenty or less, 
sometimes less than legal. 

We thought we might really have him last month, because not only was the
girl he took into his apartment only sixteen, she was willing to swear 
that he had drugged her.  This meant a couple of other charges on top 
of the statutory rape. 

When we arrested him, we searched the place but couldn't find any drugs.
 It would have been nice to do so, but it wasn't necessary; we had 
enough to take him out of circulation for a while. 

Hill was arrogant about the whole thing and wouldn't take it seriously
for a second.  In the ride down to the jail he kept wisecracking and 
throwing his voice, and at that he was imitating the voices of Corbett 
and I.  (Corbett was driving.) 

He was good at that.  Maybe it's just as well he didn't try making a
living that way; God knows what trouble he might cause. 

The sleazeball lawyer he cooked the business deals with, Tyrone Worrall,
got him out on bail pretty fast.  The judge didn't like it either, I 
think, but non-violent, life-long resident, blah blah blah. 

Stephen Hill threw us two curves right away.  Firstly he asked to have a
judge handle the whole thing and bypass the jury trial.  Secondly he 
pleaded guilty.  This might make sense if he were going to plea-bargain 
and try for a lesser charge, but that wouldn't work here and he knew 

The trial was set for eight days later, with Ambrose Sharp presiding. 
Old Judge Sharp was sitting when Riverdale was small, and he had a 
reputation these days for giving the maximum sentence whenever he 
could.  He had taken some heat for it from politicians and pressure 
groups, but he was almost never overruled and he was only a year from 
mandatory retirement.  He cared a lot about a lot of things, but what 
some people thought of him wasn't one. 

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