Take Me Out To The Ball Game

Chapter 1

Brett Mayhew pitched a no-hitter at Fenway Park on the night of June 26, 2016.  Afterward, he went on his usual club crawl with teammates in Kenmore Square. At approximately 11:00 pm they landed at the exclusive Parr’s Peak, bumping bodies on the dance floor while techno music pumped loudly enough to jar the establishment’s foundation.  It was there that he met Debra Berkley and eventually left with her.  The two of them went for a drink at the nearby Kasbah Piano Bar and then back to Brett’s $2.5 million Back Bay luxury condominium. Here, his story diverges with that of my client:  he claims they enjoyed some quiet conversation and a consensual romantic interlude.  According to Debra Berkley, she was raped.

When she first came to my office, Debra Berkley sat meekly with her long dark hair covering her face and one leg crossed over the other, swinging nervously.  I had never before met anyone who’d been raped, but to me Debra’s behavior seemed consistent with that of a victim.  Her thin, white fingers trembled when she told me about how he coaxed her into his home, assaulted and brutally raped her.  I looked at her squarely.  “Debra, why did you go into this man’s apartment if you weren’t interested in sex with him? “ I asked. “ I can tell by looking at you that you’re no dope.  You had to have realized what he might want.”

She looked at me sheepishly.  “Yes, I know,” she said softly. “I guess I was star struck.  Here was this famous, good-looking ball player making a play for me.   All I could think of was telling my friends that I’d been in his apartment.”  She cast her eyes down, ashamed.  “I’m a fool, I know, but I didn’t really believe he’d be depraved.  I mean Brett Mayhew could get any woman, right?”

I sighed.  “Probably.  But not necessarily at two o’clock in the morning.  Plus, I don’t think men as arrogant as he is are used to taking ‘no’ for an answer.”

In the chair across from my desk, Debra wrapped her arms around herself tightly, as though she were cold.  She was petite, about 5'2" and I guessed no more than 105 pounds.  She was attractive, but not a stunner, as were most of Brett Mayhew’s many lady companions.  

Brett was the Red Sox’s golden boy that summer.  The successful starting pitcher had a record of 10 and 3 that season and had recently signed a contract for a cool $80 million.  

Because the media were enamored of his boyish good looks, he was a standard interview.  TV reporters would surround him collecting sound bites after each game.  Standing bare-chested and sweaty in the Red Sox locker room, Brett would expertly recount what the team had done right or wrong in a particular game.  He employed the same rapid, succinct speaking style that all sports players seemed to use in interviews.  They probably taught it during spring training.  

I must confess that I was not much of a sports fan, but even I was cognizant of Brett Mayhew.  My initial impression was that he was a supremely confident, swaggering, overpaid athlete, but at the same time had a naive, down-home quality that made one overlook the bravado.

Not surprisingly, the ladies adored him and the unattached bachelor seemed determined to play the field.  In the past he'd been romantically linked to two supermodels, a Hollywood actress and a New York socialite.  I had to concede that it didn't seem reasonable that such a hunk would need to force himself on the girl next door.  I knew the public and potential jurors might have a hard time swallowing Debra Berkley's story so I decided to level with her.

"Debra, you don't have any hidden agendas, do you?  If I'm going to represent you, I'm going to have to know everything -- the truth, good and bad."

Her brow furrowed.  "What do you mean, 'hidden agenda'?" 

"I mean," I said, "you wouldn't just be doing this because you had an ax to grind, for revenge, or maybe just to get your name in the papers."

She narrowed her eyes on me indignantly.  "You think I'm making this up?"

"I didn't say that.  But maybe, considering the circumstances and the individual involved, your recollections may have been altered or exaggerated.  That wouldn't be the case, would it?"

Debra shifted in her chair uncomfortably.  "I was afraid this was going to happen," she said, "Nobody believing me.  It’s why I didn't want to come forward in the first place."  She chewed on her thumbnail.  "Jasmine, my neighbor, talked me into it.  She said the bastard shouldn't get away with it.  That he'd do the same thing to some other girl.  That's what motivated me -- the guilt.  You see, Ms. Cahill, I'm a small-town Midwestern girl.  As much as I want to shed that tarnish, it's what I am down deep in my heart.  I don't relish going public with this and bringing shame on my family, but all the same I know they'd want me to hold my head up and do the right thing.  That's why I came here."  She locked eyes with me for a moment.  "If you choose not to prosecute this case, that's your prerogative.  I've done my part."

She rose to leave.  I reached out my hand to stop her.  "Sit down, Debra.  Please.  Nobody has said they're not going to prosecute.  Quite the contrary.  But, I wouldn't be doing my job as an assistant district attorney if I didn't examine all of the possibilities.  After all, I represent the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the people are the ones bringing this case against Brett Mayhew."  I paused.  "I do believe you."

She looked relieved and sat down.  She even smiled, though weakly.  

Before continuing, I sighed and leaned back in my big, cushy swivel chair.  It was the only thing in my small office that wasn't standard and practical.  It could have belonged to a CEO or to a partner in one of those large, lucrative private practice firms.  Here in the District Attorney's Office it was an anomaly, as it would be in any meager, cost-cutting government agency.  The chair was given to me by John Devlin, my boss and mentor -- the Suffolk County District Attorney himself.  I considered John a good friend.  He had been gracious to me from the get-go; mild-mannered, patient and helpful.  I was appreciative of this because I knew that some DAs could be real pricks.  John had given the grand chair to me after I'd settled my first case.  Actually he settled it, but I helped him work on it.   It was a narcotics a case.  The defendant had finally agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge after ten consecutive nights of my sitting working on the hard, back breaking contraption that was my office's standard-issue desk chair.  I had jokingly complained of splinters and hemorrhoids to John over bad coffee and stale doughnuts.  The morning after our victory settlement, I arrived in my office to find my old chair replaced with this one, the La-Z-boy recliner of office furniture.  I treasured it.

Now, three years later, I lounged on it contemplating the matter at hand.  Where to begin?  I had handled many major criminal cases since joining the District Attorney's office, but this was different.  This would be a high-profile case.  And yet, John Devlin had delegated it to me; it was slightly disconcerting.  I needed to inform Debra that it might be rough.

"It's like this," I began, "you know that because of Brett Mayhew's celebrity, the media is going to be all over this case.  Do you think you can handle that?  I can't promise that your face and identity will be shielded.  I mean, obviously we're not going to go out of our way to reveal your identity, but the press will want to know.  If they want to know badly enough, they will find out."

Debra shrugged.  "I don't care if they know who I am.  I have nothing to be ashamed of."  

"I agree," I said, "but the media isn't always kind."

"Why shouldn't they be kind to me?  I'm the victim."

"So you are.  But not everybody will see it that way.  Don't you remember when a similar incident occurred involving Mike Tyson years ago?  People want to believe that their beloved sports heroes are virtuous, even god-like.  In my opinion, that's rarely the case, nevertheless, some media stories may take the slant that you're a lying, vengeful bitch.  Are you prepared for that?"

She swallowed.  "I don't know.  I guess I'll have to be."

I felt sorry for her.  She seemed so small and ill-prepared for what she would have to endure.  I also liked her.  I liked the fact that she was naive and from the Midwest and loved animals and worked at a homeless shelter for next to no money because she felt it was more rewarding than private practice social work.  Her values seemed to parallel my own.  In retrospect, however, perhaps it was just the naive part that was parallel.

I offered her coffee and we talked further about her case for the remainder of the interview.  I told her to call me Laura.  Seeing that we would be working closely together in the coming weeks, I thought it best to be familiar and unpretentious.

At around 3 o'clock, I sent her home.  She was fatigued.  We had gone over the events of June 26th in detail several times and her story never wavered, so I was convinced she was telling the truth.  As we all know from the movies, sometimes victims, or alleged victims, let holes slip into their stories during repeated questioning.  I had encountered this phenomenon many times during my years in the DA's office.  Debbie's story was rock-solid.  

After she left, I marched into John Devlin's office.  He was engrossed in reading a document, most likely a police report or testimony on a case.  I flung myself down on the old, beat-up couch that was located on the far side of his office.  

"Damn," I said.

He peered up at me over his small round glasses.  "What's wrong?"

"You know what.  The Debra Berkley case.  I've been interviewing her for over two hours.  Why do you want me on it?"

"Because," his eyes went back to the paper, "you're good.  You can handle it."

"I don't know if I can.  I'm not used to working in the media spotlight.  That's your territory."

"You'll be fine," he assured me in his eye-of-the-storm manner.

I turned onto my side and studied him.  It there was one word in the English language I'd have used to describe John it was “ordinary.”  He looked like every other professional, white male in his late forties on the planet: tall and slim with a short, conservative haircut, glasses, somewhat stiff and nerdy.

I groaned.  "John, I'm . . .  concerned, I guess is the word.  How do I handle the publicity of this case?  How am I going to talk to reporters and such?  I've never been in this situation before."

"Don't worry, Laura.  I'll help you.  I'm here for you every inch of the way on this, okay?"

I felt instantly relieved.

"So, what did she have to say?" he asked.

I stood up and declared,  "I could use a drink."

We walked down Beacon Hill to The Publick House, our local watering hole.  Owing to its location, The Publick House was mostly patroned by well-dressed professionals, except on weekends when rowdy, young bar-hoppers frequented the place.  At the moment, the establishment was nearly empty.  Inside it was pleasant, cool and breezy.  The happy-hour crowd wasn't due in for a couple of hours.  John and I sat at one of the tables in back.  He ordered a draft beer and I, in the mood for something sweet, had a peach creamsicle.

"So?" he prompted.

I took my time pulling off a long swallow and even let out an annoying, "Aaaah" before I answered.  Sometimes I take a perverse pleasure in irritating people; especially sedate, in-control people like John.

"Well," I finally began, "you already know the basic facts.  She says he raped her.  It sounds as though he'll claim the sex was consensual.  After all, she was in his apartment, voluntarily, at 2:30 in the morning."

John raised his eyebrows.  "So, why should we believe it was rape?"

"Because we have physical evidence," I said.  "Debbie's neighbor brought her to the emergency room later that day.  They took photographs of her bruises and scrapes.  They also have a semen sample – but it has yet to be matched to Brett Mayhew.”

"Did she scratch Mayhew during the attack?"

I shrugged.  "She didn't say.  I assume she must have, in an attempt to hold him off.  Why?"

"The emergency room staff should have taken a sample of the skin under her nails so we could match it to Mayhew.  Did they?"

"I don't think so."

"Why not?"

I swirled the straw around in my peach creamsicle.  "They usually only do that in cases where the victim doesn't know her attacker.  In this case, she was real clear on who she was dealing with."

John puffed his cheeks and blew air.  "Well, she may have been real clear but we still need to make a case here.  What else do you have?  Any witnesses?"

"Just the people who saw the two of them dancing together at Parr's Peak -- some of Brett's teammates, Debra's friend, Jasmine, and patrons in the club.  Debbie said that the waitress that served them at Kasbah would remember them."  I knew what John was going to ask next, so I cut him off. "I'm sending Nick down to talk to those witnesses in the morning."  Nick was our internal investigator in the DA's office.

John seemed satisfied.  "Good."  He took a swallow from his long-necked glass of beer and surveyed the room.  It was beginning to fill up with people.  The bartender switched on the television sets.  Screens in the front and back corners of the restaurant, as well as over the bar, illuminated identical pictures of an impeccably coiffed anchor woman. She was summarizing the top stories for the five o'clock newscast.

" . . . President Obama signs an executive order on immigration reform and Red Sox starting pitcher Brett Mayhew is arrested in an alleged date rape incident.  Those stories are coming up next on News Center Five,” announced the female anchor.

John and my heads snapped toward each other at exactly the same moment.  John half-smiled.  

"Well, it's out now," he proclaimed.

I felt slightly exhilarated.  Impatiently, we waited through the lead story and several commercials before Brett's story was reported.  Even though it was a legitimate news story, Miranda Jenkins, the esteemed female anchor, tossed the story over to the sports guy, Dennis Bauer.  Dennis soberly recounted how, "Pitching dynamo Brett Mayhew” had been arrested earlier that day outside his home and charged with an alleged rape that had occurred two days earlier.  The station ran stock footage of Brett stand-up interviews and glorious pitching moments beneath voice-over narration.  There was no video of the arrest, nor any comment from Brett himself.  To my great relief, Debra's name was not mentioned.

When it was over, I looked at John who was searching my face trying to gauge my reaction.  All around us there was a buzzing as people discussed the surprising news.

"This is going to be a scandal, isn't it?"

John considered thoughtfully.  "I suppose so."

"What do we do now?"

He adjusted his glasses and gave me a proud, fatherly smile.  "We just try the case as usual.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Do your best and the rest will fall into place."

Right.

Chapter 2

It started the very next day.  I took the MBTA commuter rail to Government Center that morning as usual, walked across the vast expanse of City Hall Plaza, crossed Cambridge Street and followed winding Beacon Hill side streets up to One Pemberton Square.  When I rounded the corner, I saw a throng of reporters crowded around the entrance to the building.  Bulky television news vans crowded the narrow street, making the normally brutal rush hour traffic insurmountable.  The government security guards were not letting any reporters into the building.  They stood with their arms crossed just inside the doorway wearing stern expressions.

I walked slowly toward the entrance, expecting the mob to recognize me and rush me on sight, besieging me with questions and microphones shoved into my face, like some Hollywood superstar.  Instead, I moved up the steps and into the building unmolested.  How silly of me; they had no idea who I was of course.  How could they?  I’d never given a press conference or spoken directly to the media before.   Other than standing in the background while John spoke on just a few occasions, I was virtually an unknown entity.

Once inside the lobby, I pressed the button for the antiquated elevator that always took forever to arrive.  Never in all the years I'd worked at One Pemberton Square did I step into that thing without the fear that it would get stuck between floors and I would either suffocate, roast or die of thirst entombed within its narrow shaft.

I got off on the eighth floor and rushed into John's office.  He looked up as though he were expecting me.  "We've got work to do."

"Did you happen to notice the fan club out at the entrance?" I asked.

"I did."  He looked out the window.  "They were just setting up when I arrived."

“When was that?” I asked, pouring myself a cup of coffee from his percolator in the corner counter.

"Around six-fifteen this morning."

"Six-fifteen!" I exclaimed.  I should have known - workaholic.

"I came in early," he said, "to work on the prepared statement we'll have to give to those people down there."

“Good thinking.“

"I have a rough draft here, but I'm waiting to hear what Brett Mayhew has to say before we speak.  Several options.  They'll treat the entire incident as an untruth, a fabrication invented by a slanderous whore.  Or else they'll take a low key approach:  try to downplay the incident while inferring that the poor young thing is delusional; concluding rape because she's ashamed of jumping in the sack with a stranger."

"Who are 'they'?"

"Brett's PR people - his lawyers, team publicists, et cetera"

"Oh."

"Sure.  They're bound to be trotting out the whole entourage."

"What do you think they'll say?"

John shrugged. "Don't know."  He pulled a twelve-inch television set out of a file cabinet drawer turned it on.  It took several moments to warm up and display a screenful of snow.

I laughed.  "When did you get this thing?  It looks like something from the Nixon era."

"It might not look like much, but it’ll do the trick," he said, banging his fist on the side of the set. "Barbara gave it to me for a birthday gift, years ago."

Barbara was John's ex-wife.  They divorced two years ago, but the marriage had been on the skids for some time before that.  They had a daughter Chloe, aged eleven, whom John adored.  I had met Barbara on several occasions while working at the DA's office.  She would either be picking up or dropping off Chloe; or else squabbling with John over some financial matter, or the house, which she retained after the divorce.  My impression was that she was a cold, selfish bitch.  She never seemed satisfied, even though she had custody of Chloe, a beautiful house in Walpole, and a 2015 Volvo automobile to tool around in.  I suppose I shouldn't have been judgmental.  After all, I didn't know what it must have been like for a young wife and mother, feeling neglected and alone while her ambitious husband, consumed by his career, worked sixteen hour days.  All I knew was that John Devlin was a kind, loving, responsible family man and I thought he deserved better.

John fiddled with the antenna and, lo and behold, a coherent picture began to form.  We could hear Ed Carroll giving the weather report.

"See," John gloated, "I told you it would work."

"Wonderful.  What is this - a new antidote for stress? Morning cartoons?"

"Wiseass.  No, I've got it on good information that Brett's attorney is calling a press conference at the Park Plaza Hotel at ten."

"Then why aren't the media over there instead of here?"

"Oh, they're there alright.  And they're here as well.  It's major news."

I frowned.  "Who's going to make the statement, John?"

"I will."

I was relieved, not only because I didn't want to speak in front of all those people and cameras, but because, by making the statement John would establish himself as lead counsel.  I did not want that responsibility -- not in this case.

"That's good," I said, "because at first I had the impression that I would be responsible for this case myself, with only your minimal supervision; and I thought, in such a high-profile case, shouldn't the DA be arguing it himself?" 

"Of course."

"Then why did I spend over two hours with the victim on the preliminary interview?" I asked, annoyed.

John blandly twisted the knobs on the little TV, attempting to get a clearer picture.  I knew he was just stalling.

"Laura," he began finally, "I think it's important that we have a woman deeply involved here.  It is, after all, a rape case and I thought . . . that she would be more comfortable talking about what transpired with you than with me."

"I don't understand.  You've tried rape cases before."

"I know, but this is important" he blurted.

"Aren't they all important?" I asked, flabbergasted.

"I mean," he began adjusting his eyeglasses, a nervous habit of his, "I just thought that it would be easier for her to talk to you.  It would be difficult to relate the lurid details to a man.  I didn't want her to freeze up on us."  John’s eyes pleaded for me to believe this.  "You know she didn't want to come to us in the first place."

"Yes, I know."

"It's coming on!" He turned up the volume on the little TV.  

On screen, a balding middle-aged man dressed in an expensive, tailored suit walked up to a podium adorned with many microphones; he was followed by the ball player, Brett Mayhew.  The older man was Ralph Kolbe, a senior partner at the prestigious law firm of Kolbe, Atkins & Ross.  Being in the legal profession, I had certainly heard of Kolbe; he was a brilliant defense attorney.  I had never tried a case against him and, to the best of my knowledge, neither had John.  Kolbe had an impeccable reputation in the legal community.  Any defendant that could afford his fees was virtually assured of an acquittal.

"Good morning," Kolbe resonated into the microphones; his voice was deep and articulate.  "Thank you all for coming out this morning.  I'm Ralph Kolbe, legal counsel for Brett Mayhew.  I called this press conference today to address the allegations of rape recently leveled against my client.  We wanted to make sure that you folks have all the facts.  We all know how damaging gossip and innuendo can be to any individual's reputation.  The fact that my client's public image is vital to his career makes it all the more important that we get the facts straight from the get-go."

John leaned back in his chair and folded his hands on his belly.  "Damn, he's good," he muttered out the side of his mouth.

"Brett has a few words he'd like to say," Kolbe said and stepped backward a pace.  You could almost feel the audience lean in when Brett took the podium.  He spoke in a simple, sincere tone.

"Several nights ago," Mayhew began, "I was involved in a dalliance with a person I thought I cared about and whom I thought I could trust.  However, that trust was broken and I am as hurt and confused as any of you.  Today, I want to assure the fans, my friends and family that there are no grounds to any of the charges of sexual misconduct.  My parents raised me to be a gentleman and to conduct myself properly in the eyes of the Lord and the law.  And I always have.  It upsets me that such unfounded allegations, which have no basis in fact, could have been proffered by someone I thought cared about me.  I only hope that my reputation and standing in the community are not compromised as a result.  I have always considered it a privilege and an honor to be a member of Major League Baseball.  To the fans, I ask that you stick by me and not allow malicious rumors to taint the reputation of the Red Sox team.  I intend to fight these charges and to work within the system to reach a swift resolution that will clear me of any and all wrongdoing.  Thank you."

Brett turned away and immediately left the stage.  Short and sweet.  His voice and expression had not varied throughout his speech.  The journalists in the conference room at the Park Plaza immediately began shouting questions.  Kolbe came forward and raised his right hand to restore order.  

"One at a time, please," he requested.

Eventually, the clamoring died down and one reporter managed to get an inquiry through.

"Mr. Kolbe, does Brett admit that he dated the rape victim?"

"There was a date, but there was no rape," Kolbe responded.

"What is the woman's name?" a female reporter asked.

Kolbe was tactful.  "We are not going to make the woman's identity public.  If she chooses to come forward, she will do so herself."

"Mr. Kolbe, why do you think the woman is alleging rape, if it didn't occur?"

"We have a theory, but we don't wish to discuss it publicly at this time.  If it comes to it, we'll use it in the defense."

Other questions followed, rapid, machine-gun style:

"How long has Brett been seeing the woman?"

"I'll just say that she was not someone with whom he had an ongoing relationship."

Kolbe answered each question slowly and deliberately.  He would not be rushed.  At length, when the questions become repetitious, he ended the conference with an abrupt "Thank you, ladies and gentlemen," and strolled off the platform.  The cameras switched back to the studio.  

John turned off the set and we digested the news coverage.

"I thought it was odd that Brett left the stage in the middle of it," I remarked.

"He probably didn't want to stand there and endure that firing squad of questioning.  Let the attorney do it, that's what he's being paid for."

"Yeah, at five hundred dollars an hour," I said bitterly.

"I would say more like six or seven hundred."

"You think?"

"Firms in Boston were charging five hundred a couple of years ago.  Ralph Kolbe is a senior partner in one of the most expensive law firms in the country."

"I think it's disgusting," I said.

"What?"

"That a sports figure can afford to pay that much for representation."

John laughed.

"What's so funny?"

"I thought you were going to say it was disgusting that an attorney charged so much; but no, you're upset about the athlete getting the money!"

I smiled.  "You know I do think lawyers are overpaid.  But professional athletes’ salaries border on the obscene.  Eighty million dollars for one season?  Come on.  It's just a game."

"Mmmmmmm."

"Well, what does this mean for our case?"

"It's obvious that Brett's defense is that he's the innocent party in this mess.  I suppose he and his handlers feel that it's his word versus Debra Berkley's and that everyone will believe him."

"So we've got to discredit him."

"That's not going to be so easy.  Brett's got a very clean image for a sports player.  He doesn't do drugs, he's never been busted for drunken driving, or even been in a barroom brawl.  Plus, he's a spokesman for literacy."

Ah, yes.  I recalled the television commercial:  Brett seated in a school classroom surrounded by children and reading from a book.  After he's read a couple of lines, he looks up into the camera and recites his spiel about reading being fundamental.  It could not have sounded any more scripted.  He then asks the cutest kid, a red-haired little boy with freckles sitting to his left, to read the next line.  The kid haltingly reads the sentence.  Brett laughs and ruffles his hair affectionately.  End of commercial.

"I always wondered why Brett did that commercial," I said. "It seems so incongruous."

"It's PR," answered John, "giving something back to the community so that the fans will think he's a great guy, maybe not hate him so much for being paid $80 million a season."

"I think you're right," I said. "God, people are such dupes."

John reclined in his chair, see-sawing slightly, his hands clasped before him, pyramid-style and his gaze fixated.  "It really burns me that Mayhew would pull this shit.  What is the reason for it?  Here's this wide-eyed, vulnerable girl; he knows better.  I can better understand this type of behavior from somebody from an abused background.  Not to say that it's ever excusable, but . . .  .   He's not mentally impaired, violent or downtrodden.  On the contrary, he's got life by the nose."  John shook his head somberly.  "I will never understand why men feel the need to be aggressive.  I sure as hell won't tolerate it."

I took this to mean that John was angry, really angry, about the crime and was likely to be especially vigilant in his prosecution.

"It's still going to be his word against hers," I reminded him.

John cut his eyes to me.  He had soft, brown eyes that appeared larger when they were free of the spectacles that normally surrounded them.  This, however, was rare.

"I think we need to have a meeting with Nick," he declared.

"What about our friends downstairs?"

"They can wait.  We don't want to come forward with information too soon.  When we find out what we want to know, we'll drop it like a bomb."

Chapter 3

Nick Tomasetti was the senior investigator in the DA's office.  He'd only worked there about for five years, but that was like an eternity in the burn out career of a criminal investigator.  Nick, a short, stocky Italian, was very good at his job.  I don't know how he pulled it off, but he always managed to get results.  

John and I explained the situation to him over salads at the corner delicatessen.  That is to say, we had salads, Nick had a large, oily grinder packed with ethnic meats, hot peppers, pickles and onions.  

"I'm pumped to help you out on this," he told us, "I hate that bastard Mayhew."

"Do you already know something we don't?" I inquired.

"It's not that.  Didn't I ever tell you guys that I was a Yankees fan?" Nick said with a grin. "Back in 2010, the Yanks went to great lengths to recruit this promising young pitcher.  Mayhew bailed out on them after two unfruitful years.  Then he comes up to Boston and whooooosh!  Suddenly he's got the goods again.  A superstar.  Now it looks as though the Sox are pennant-bound.  Nobody does that to my team."

John and I laughed along with him.  "Seriously though," I said, "do you think Brett has any skeletons in his closet that would be relevant to this case?"

Nick shrugged.  "Nobody's perfect.  I'm sure there are more than several home-town honeys who would testify to the indelicate indiscretions of one Mr. Brett Mayhew.  I can tell.  He's just that type of guy.”

John frowned.  "I don't want a lot of disgruntled exes, Nick.  I know a lot of Mayhew conquests are probably dying to complain about him to anyone who will listen, but sour grapes is not what we're going for here."

"I understand," Nick said taking another bite of his monstrous hoagie.

"What we need is something real, something solid.  With sexually-aggressive men, there's almost always a pattern of behavior."

"That's true," Nick agreed.

"I hope you do find something because I would personally like to end the man's career as a batterer."

Nick stopped eating and looked upset.  "How badly did he hurt the girl?"

"She'll be alright," I assured him. "But the photographs they took in the emergency room show quite a few scrapes and bruises."

"Any broken bones?"

"No, not that bad."

"Good," Nick took a swallow of beer.  "I'll tell you, I can hardly believe Mayhew would do something like this."

"Neither could we," John said, "I think that's going to be a problem in this case and why we're really counting on you."

"No chance the girl's lying about the attack, is there?"

"Nick if you saw the photos, you wouldn't ask that," I said.

"I'm not saying she wasn't manhandled, but was it necessarily by Mayhew?"

"Who else would it be?"

"I don't know.  A jealous ex-boyfriend, perhaps?"

"Uh-huh.  So, she has this date with Brett, then she runs into an old boyfriend who beats her up and, since she's all battered and bruised anyway, decides to make up this whole story."

"It sounds kind of silly when you put it that way."

"It sounds ridiculous any way you put it," I argued.

"Alright, you two," John interrupted, "I think we've already established that there's merit to Debra Berkley's story.  Now Nick, you do your thing and see what you can dig up.  I'll make a short statement to the media this afternoon just to keep them at bay.  And Laura, I want you to keep in close contact with Debra Berkley.  She'll need your support.  If anything comes up that she's forgotten, be sure and let me know.”

I caught a blurb of John's statement on the eleven o'clock news that night.  He said that an individual personally known to Mr. Mayhew had made allegations of rape and that the DA's office was taking those allegations very seriously.  John’s response was an anticlimax to the hype that had been building all day.  He simply stated his piece in an unanimated drone.  I knew he was going for low-key professionalism, but I couldn't help wishing for the kind of commanding presence on our side that Kolbe brought to bear.  William Jennings Bryan he was not.

Sports anchor Dennis Bauer did a follow up to the story by interviewing the Red Sox team manager Ray Tokaraczyk.  Dennis was asking whether the criminal charges would affect Brett's playing status.  Tokaraczyk steadfastly assured him that they would not.  The “allegations” as he called them, were unfounded and, in any case, Brett's team stood behind him one hundred percent.  This made me angry.  I wondered if old Ray would be so quick to back up the pitcher if his daughter had been the one who was raped.  Cynically, I surmised that, if not for the fact that Brett was instrumental in getting the Red Sox to the pennant, Ray Tokaraczyk's support would be less effusive.

As the close to his news piece, Dennis Bauer did a stand up the main gist of which was: rest easy Red Sox fans, our savior Brett Mayhew will be able to play long enough to get our team to the pennant.

Aggravated, I switched off the television.  Debra, the victim, seemed to be a mere footnote in all the drama surrounding Brett.  I paced and paced around my small apartment.  I felt like talking, but it was too late to call anyone.  What I really felt like doing was calling up that moron Dennis Bauer and giving him a piece of my mind.  I hated jock types -- they acted as though sports were the most important thing on the face of the earth.  To calm myself down, I spent the rest of the night formulating the prosecution's game plan.  I thought every negative thing I could about Brett Mayhew and I believe I actually would up hating him by the time I fell asleep, pen in hand.

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