The Brutal Heart

The Brutal Heart by Gail Bowen Read Free Book Online

Book: The Brutal Heart by Gail Bowen Read Free Book Online
Authors: Gail Bowen
pale amontillado sherry. Ned told me once they look forward to it all week. Jesus, what a bunch of bloodless sticks.” Zack dug his spoon into his porridge. “Anyway, that explains why Ned came to me.”
    “Does it ever bother you that you’re not Atticus Finch?”
    Zack’s spoon stopped in mid-air. “No, because I don’t know who he is.”
    “The lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird . Gregory Peck played him in the movie.”
    “Whoa, Gregory Peck.” Zack’s tone was sardonic. “So I’m guessing that Atticus Finch was noble, and that he won his case.”
    “No, he lost his case, but he lost nobly.”
    Zack swallowed his porridge. “Maybe if he’d been willing to get his hands dirty, he would have won.”
    I didn’t respond, and Zack looked at me hard. “So does it bother you that I’m not Atticus Finch?”
    I met his gaze. “I’m getting used to living on the edge,” I said. “Want some toast?”
    “No time. I have to be in court this morning. And I haven’t quite figured out what I’m going to do.”
    “Is it a big case?”
    Zack shook his head. “Nope. Simple assault. Remember that woman who punched the mayor in the nose? It was in the news a couple of months ago.”
    “The homeless woman,” I said. “She was protesting the gentrification project in the warehouse district.”
    “Right,” Zack said. “Well, that’s my client. Her name is Francesca Pope, and she’s schizophrenic. The day of the incident, she was off her meds. She is quite literally not guilty by reason of insanity. She really didn’t understand what she was doing when she assaulted that officious prick.”
    “So you can get her off?”
    “Without breaking a sweat, but therein lies the problem. If I argue she’s unfit to stand trial, the Crown will go along with me, and she’ll be committed to the hospital in North Battleford.”
    “Wouldn’t that be the best thing for her? She’d be cared for, and she’d get treatment.”
    “And she’d be locked up, which is exactly what Francesca doesn’t want because she’s afraid they’ll take her bears away.”
    “Her bears?”
    “She has a backpack full of stuffed bears. She tells me they’re called Care Bears.”
    “Mieka used to collect those when she was little.”
    “I hope they were in better shape than these. The smell of them just about knocks me out. But gross as they are, they are Francesca’s treasure. Really, Jo, those Care Bears are like her kids. Try to think of it in those terms, and you can understand why she’s so frightened of being locked up.”
    “But, Zack, if she’s a danger …”
    “She isn’t. She’s no more a danger than you are, but the mayor was annoyed because the bears were ruining his picture, so he kicked them out of the way.”
    “So you’re going to try to get her off?”
    “That’s what she wants. The Crown will want to send her to North Battleford for treatment, but there aren’t many spaces. She’ll have to wait, and in the meantime she’ll go to Pine Grove and be thrown in with the general population. She’ll be housed and fed and her meds will be administered, but there’ll be no treatment. Pine Grove is a tense place, Jo, full of people who are quick to judge and quick to take advantage – just about the worst possible atmosphere you could imagine for a schizophrenic.”
    “And the alternative is the street.”
    “Right, where there’s no one to take care of her or make sure she has her medication, but where she will have her bears.” Zack swept a hand across his eyes. “So which door would you choose, Ms. Shreve?
    “I don’t know,” I said.
    “Well, luckily it’s not your problem,” he said. “Anything going on tonight?”
    “We have that meeting about the Farewell at Taylor’s school.”
    “Jeez, I almost forgot. But I’m prepared. Taylor told me exactly how to vote.”
    I smiled. “Did she now? So, are you going to fill me in?”
    “Let’s see.” Zack squeezed his eyes shut in concentration.

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