I’m no more immune to what’s going on in our country than anyone else.
Aaron twisted his hands in his lap. His advocate sat beside him. Silent. Why didn’t the woman say something?
“And then, Magistrate, he rolled over in the sand and on top of me.” Neila shrugged her shoulders. “Totally consensual, Ma’am.”
Neila’s advocate then asked. “When it was over?”
“Well,” Neila gave the jury a smug look, her eyebrow raised. “It was time to go home. I mean, it was fun for both of us, but I had school in the morning.”
Aaron saw the jury nodding. Of course. His stomach rolled.
Aaron’s lawyer stood. “Mistress Tyler. You say Master Wrangler approached you on the beach?”
Neila nodded. “Absolutely. I was taking a moment. University is so busy. I just wanted to watch the sun set and get some quiet time.”
Again, Aaron saw the jury nodding. Yeah. Neila was a bright young woman. Her family was in the courtroom, nodding too. Their darling daughter, being groomed to take over her mother’s conglomerate.
His family couldn’t be in court. They were workers, dad in the steel mill and mom at the garment factory. They couldn’t afford to take a day off from work. It looked bad, his advocate had told him. Like your parents didn’t believe you. What could Aaron do? His family had all they could do to put him through university, even with him working two part time jobs to help out.
“And Mr. Wrangler propositioned you. Out of the blue?”
Neila rolled her eyes at the jury. Aaron could see her body language telling the jury that she thought that not only was this a waste of time but that the advocate was a bit dim. The jury turned stink-eyes at the advocate. “I know.” She put on a demure face. “I was so surprised. I mean, I’d seen Aaron, um, I mean, Mr. Wrangler in a couple of my classes. We’d barely exchanged greetings.”
“So,” the advocate continued, “even though you were out on the beach for some alone time, you accepted Mr. Wrangler’s proposition? Right out in the open on the beach?”
Aaron watched her cheeks color, but it just made her look prettier. She clasped her hands together on her chest. “I know. But,” she shook her brunette curls, “it was the right time.” Then she looked at Aaron, an appraising glance that the jury followed.
Aaron began to blush. Well built, Aaron played for the University on the football team. His phisique showed, even in the cheap suit he had on.
“I was a bit lonely, and, well, there he was.”
“Haven’t you gotten the story reversed, Mistress Tyler? Didn’t you come upon Mr. Wrangler and proposition him? Several of your classmates have testified to that.”
She shook her head. “Not so. He approached me.”
“And isn’t it true that later that evening, in your dorm, you bragged about bagging another football player. Bagging, isn’t that what it’s called in your sorority?”
Neila blushed again. “I’ve heard the term but that’s, well, that’s just uncouth, isn’t it?” Again she made a show of looking at the jury. Every one of the members were nodding again. “And, not to be rude, but he’s, well,” she looked at her hands in her lap, “he’s not really in my league.”
That was the final blow, Aaron thought. She’s rich. Why would she be picking up poor young men on the beach?
His advocate had Neila on the stand for another hour. It was a lost cause. At the end, the judge said that it was a he said, she said and didn’t want to ruin a bright young woman’s future. Neila was found not guilty and released. Aaron sat. Stunned. Neila winked at him as she hugged her mother, no one else in the courtroom saw it.
After that, Aaron received so many calls for sex on his comms, he had to get a new number. After graduation, he lost several job opportunities because of the court records. No one wanted to hire someone who was a complainer. Thirty years later, successful despite the slow start to his career, he saw that Neila was running for office. He spilled his story again. That she’d approached him on the beach, stripping her already scanty swim wear off and placing herself behind him, slowly undulating until he’d tried to roll away. She jumped on top of him, sliding herself onto him before he knew it. Then finished, rolling away, laughing at his embarrassment. Down the beach he could hear laughter. She waved in that direction, then picked up her suit, carrying it in her hand as she sashayed away. “Eight” she shouted down the beach. “Try him out for yourselves!”
No one believed him. After all, he was a poor boy. Wasn’t he appreciative of the attention of such a well to do young woman?
Again, he received calls, death threats, offers of sex, threats against his family. Business dropped off and he had to let two employees go.
A month later they found him, on the beach where he’d been assaulted. Dead. A gunshot to the head.
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