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Final Testimony

Sometimes, the bad guy gets away. 

Sometimes, the bad guy's holding the scales of justice.

Final Testimony by Travis Richardson

Hatcher flashed his badge when the metal detector squealed. 

A sheriff’s deputy exchanged his Glock for a ticket, and didn’t notice the backup strapped to his ankle.

Minutes later, Hatcher took a seat on the witness stand, trading glares with the defendant, Bradley Turner. He’d risked everything to bring this miscreant to justice. Today was his second day on the stand and probably his final testimony as an official cop. According to his lieutenant, IA planned to take his badge and gun after the trial.  

The judge called the court back into session, reminding Hatcher he was still under oath.

Martin Dies, Turner’s bloated attorney, stood. He wore a Rolex that equaled two years of Hatcher’s salary. “Detective Hatcher, we heard yesterday from the prosecution about how you harassed and hunted my client, accusing him of murders he didn’t commit.”

“Objection!” DA Cathy Martinez stood, stress lines carved across her face.

Hatcher knew she and her assistant, Gary-something, had little faith that he could withstand cross-examination. He’d show them.

“Turner’s a murderer,” Hatcher said before Martinez could continue. “No question.”

“Overruled,” the judge said.

“Do you have evidence to support your claim?” Dies asked.

“I found plenty in his house. Knives, restraints, bloody clothes from several victims. It was a glimpse into hell.” Hatcher stole a glance at the jury. They were enthralled at the details.

“Did you have a search warrant when you entered Mr. Turner’s property?” Dies asked.

“Didn’t have time. There could’ve been a girl inside,” Hatcher said.

“Didn’t have time? Aren’t there procedures to ensure that malfeasance on the part of the law doesn’t occur?”

“I had probable cause. Lives were at stake.”

“Was anybody else with you when you trespassed onto the property?”

“I didn’t trespass, and I entered alone.” Hatcher wanted to add: that’s what makes me effective.

“No witnesses saw you enter?” Dies continued.


“So you could’ve planted evidence without anybody watching?”

Blood flushed Hatcher’s cheeks. Dies was trying to make him into Mark Fuhrman. “I did not. I found what I found. Secured the scene and called it in.”

“Says you. What qualifies you to break into a citizen’s home without their consent?” Dies said.

“He’s a murd—”

“Mr. Hatcher, I asked what qualifies you to break—”

“I’ve been an officer of the law for twenty-three years. I’ve received several commendations—”

“We heard all that yesterday.” Dies gave a dismissive wave. “Isn’t it true that you are currently under investigation by Internal Affairs for stealing drugs from the evidence room and using them for your own consumption?”

Martinez objected and the two lawyers argued before the judge overruled.

“You may answer the question,” the judge instructed.

Hatcher heard the whispering swish of water from the plumbing in the overheard ceiling, a cough in the hallway. Everybody was watching him. He felt their stares boring into him, trying to examine a soul they could never understand.

There was no right answer, except to perjure himself, which would only make things worse. Narcotics gave him the edge. Drove him harder than anybody else on the force to find the sociopath.

Three sleepless months. It wrecked everything in his life – an estranged wife with a restraining order and a daughter who denied his existence – but he caught Turner. The handsome trust fund alpha could have any woman, yet he preferred to abduct, torture, and kill runaways. American Psycho without a job. Idle time and money.

Turner beamed a malignant, triumphant grin.

Hatcher cleared his throat, then said, “I’m not allowed to discuss the current investigation.”

“Really?” Dies acted confused. “If you stole drugs from police, how can we trust you?”

“Objection. Assumes facts not in evidence, badgering the witness….” Martinez went on.

Hatcher tuned her out. He glanced at the jury box. There were a few worried and confused faces, others seemed amused. A couple of hard, angry glares met his eyes. He knew that look: total mistrust of cops. Now they had ammunition to hang a jury or worse, declare innocence.  

His body trembled. This was the end of everything. He fucked up too much this time. He’d be imprisoned by year’s end, while this sadistic murderer walked the streets inflicting more harm. All because of money-grubbing whore lawyers like Dies.

This couldn’t happen. He slipped his hand into his pocket, palming a pill. Feigning a yawn, he dry-swallowed the speed. Seconds later, his heart slammed against his chest. His smile matched Turner’s. He had the chemical courage to see this through.

“Detective Hatcher,” Dies resumed after the objection was sustained. “Can you tell the jury if you’ve flunked a drug test in the past year?” He held up a piece of paper.

Hatcher knew what it was. The test that revealed a cocktail of speed and coke in his system. How did Dies get it? Evil money greased a wheel somewhere.

At the prosecution table, defeat clouded Gary-something’s face. He whispered into Martinez’s ear. 

She nodded gravely. 

Were they thinking of offering a plea bargain? No way. He'd sacrificed too much for that.

“Detective Hatcher, would you like me to repeat the question?”  

Hatcher studied Dies’ piggish face. “How do you live with yourself representing murderous filth?”

“Your Honor.” Dies looked like a man dealing with a child’s tantrum. 

The judge banged the gavel. “I’ll remind the witness to only answer….”

Hatcher drew from his ankle holster and blew a hole in Dies’ head. He placed a quick bead on Turner, his mouth in the shape of an O. Two in the chest knocked the bastard to the floor. 

Pandemonium filled the courtroom as jurors, lawyers, and the audience scrambled to the doors. A “whoop-whoop” filled the room as the judge tripped an alarm. 

Hatcher swiveled to the deputy sheriff who had pulled his weapon.  “No need to kill anybody if you haven’t before.” He smiled at the young, trembling deputy. “I’ve got it from here.” 

Hatcher raised the pistol to his own temple and glanced at Bradley dying alone in a pool of blood. “Justice served.”

Travis Richardson has been a finalist for the Macavity, Anthony, and Derringer short story awards. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. His second novella, KEEPING THE RECORD, came out in 2014. He has published stories in crime fiction publications such as JEWISH NOIR, 44 CALIBER FUNK, Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, and All Due Respect. He reviewed Anton Chekhov short stories at He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.