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The Art of Negotiations

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The Art of Negotiations 

 

 

Bridget pressed the button on the coffee machine, went outside the door to take a weekly newspaper to find a note at the adjacent flowerbed. 

 

You look tired, Miss Westfall

Should you stay back and have some rest


 

Fucking hell!

Instantly, Bridget revived in her memory a long ago buried conversation in her Wentworth Prison study, between her and Joan Ferguson.

No, that couldn’t be her. She is behind the bars in one of the most secured prisons of the country. It is just impossible. Should that be connected with assassinations of several well-known figures in Melbourne? No way. What for. Why. And what is her role in all that. 




‘Gidge?’ 

Two pairs of barefoot were running around the house one after another. Squeals and laughter were mixing with a freshly brewed coffee as well as brewing angst and fear. 

‘No, Franky, don’t tickle me! No! Franky, stop it! Please! I can’t bear it any longer.’ Tessa was pleading her elder sister to stop teasing her. A usual morning routine when Tessa Doyle was staying in their house, while her parents were away on business.

‘Aha! I got you!’ * Franky changed her voice to creepy monster voice to frighten a little girl. * ‘Frankenstein is going to eat these lovely pink cheeks for breakfast!’

For some time the movements and voices stopped, making Bridget look out of the kitchen to observe the hall, to check what was going to happen next.

‘No, Franky, I need my cheeks, do not eat them! Can’t you cook something for yourself?’ Tessa was only 7 and a half, and she still believed in Santa Claus as well as in other fictional characters. And all that made Franky’s life even more exciting.

‘And I will ask Doctor Westfallstein to help me cook these delicious cheeks of yours, little girl!’ Franky saw Bridget in the hallway and winked to her. Not having seen a reaction back, she tickled Tessa over the waist, kissing both cheeks, and asked the girl to go to the shower.

 ‘Saved by the mercy of Doctor Westfallstein! Go, get the shower, love!’


‘What’s wrong?’ Franky came closer to Bridget, touching her hand by hers, still breathing heavily after running around the house.

‘You should get Tess back home, not to school.’ The blonde stated seriously.

‘Why?’ Franky frowned.

‘Here.’ Bridget passed the brunette a card, went to the kitchen counter to pour two cups of intense coffee. She placed them close to each other and pulled two bar stools for both of them to negotiate further actions.

‘Fuck. Do you know who that might be?’ Franky put the card into the plastic bag and into the drawer, for Bridget to give it later to police experts. Of course, they both knew, scarcely there would be fingerprints or anything else found, but at least it would be possible to check the origin of the paper card and ink used. 

‘Last time I heard those words - was in Wentworth…’ Bridget sighed heavily.

And Franky knew that sigh. ‘No fucking way!’

‘Can you have some days off?’

‘Of course I can’t.’




Ten years ago, Bridget was working at different detention centers and prisons, implementing her anti-recidivism program. Back then, there was an inmate in Wentworth, and only with the help of Bridget’s evaluation there were grounds to pronounce Joan Ferguson guilty in two murders, drug trafficking, and many other less serious crimes. All that enabled the judge, respectable Franky Doyle, to grant the Freak, as she was kindly nicknamed by the jury, with a life without parole sentence. All those ten years were peaceful. What was the reason for Ferguson to hunt for the women now, when so many years had passed, was a mystery. 




‘Is Ferguson a French name?’ Tessa appeared in front of the two worried women.

Without much a thought, Franky blurted out: ‘Yeah, possible.’ When the brain finished the process of operating the information, she practically choked on coffee: ‘What?’ The brunette screamed.

‘The TV. It was said …amm…some Ferguson escaped. Is that bad?’ Tessa took another stool and sat in front of the women.

‘Outstanding!’ Bridget exclaimed, standing up from her chair to get some food for the girl. The couple was not in the mood of cooking anything, so Bridget treated the girl with yogurt, cereals and fruits. ‘I should make a call.’ Bridget petted Franky’s shoulder and left the kitchen, leaving the two sisters in silence.


When Bridget came back, Tessa was in her room, getting ready for an unexpected day off. ‘We should drive Tess to your parents and then go to the Department, together.’ Bridget declared, placing her phone on the table.

‘What for?’

‘They want an officer with you all the time. The house of your parents and ours will be under surveillance 24/7.’ Bridget was reporting the words, she was told by the Head of Victoria Police Department, watching the level of her pitch, so as the little Doyle couldn't hear them. 

‘I don’t need an officer, Gidge!’ Franky stated confidently. 

‘Franky, the psych, as well as the judge are her main targets. She considers us to be in charge of getting her behind the bars and taking her freedom. And, they assume, she might be responsible for the set of assassinations.’ Bridget tilted her head, whispering the idea the Department came up with, under the given circumstances. 

‘Don’t you think that she is attracting attention too fucking alarming?!’ Franky frowned. She hated her guts. That woman caused their family so many troubles back then. 

‘She is a psychopath, baby, she may be getting to us, using a long path. I still do not get why. I do not want anything to happen to you.’ Bridget expressed her fear, looking at the still frowned face of the brunette. She knew the stories when convicted criminals stalked the ones, whom they accounted guilty in their own imprisonment. But she had never thought it would ever happen to their Westfall-Doyle union.

‘Gidge, we all will be fine, do not worry! But do not tell my folks anything about this. Let’s just send them to some tour, for a week, what do you think?’

‘Agreed! Let’s get ready.’


The couple took a quick shower, got dressed, went to the Doyle’s. That was hard to put on a performance that everything was good and play dumb, presenting a week tour to Queensland for the three of the Doyle’s family just because they ‘wanted’ so. It was awful tasting medicine, but the patient needed it.




‘No, Bridget! We are in this together. I won’t allow you to go there all alone to talk to her. You - stay here. I - go, ok?’ Franky was pronouncing the words exasperatedly, holding Bridget's blazer tight.

‘Just be careful, ok?’ Bridget whispered. 

‘Ok!’

They hugged each other tightly, pressing their foreheads, silently piercing into each other's eyes.

‘I love you!’

‘I love you!’

When their hands had to part, Franky went under the bridge and onto the platform, where J. Ferguson was waiting for her. 

Bridget was left with the rest of the officers to watch the monitors and listen to the demands.




‘Miss Doyle! Out of sight, out of mind! Noticed, you’re still leading that pedestrian life with your sapphic psychiatrist…Any news?’ J. Ferguson smirked, when saw the judge’s bold reaction.

‘What the fuck do you want, Miss Ferguson?’ Franky’s voice was harsh, her whole demeanor reeked strength and firmness. 

‘You see, I was behaving quite aggressive, and I admit that. You sent me to prison, and that was the ideal place to learn the criminal mind. Of course, if you aren’t Dr. Westfall. Then, all the patients are submitted to your doors for you to study them, when you are bored. Her work is based on assumptions, and not on facts. That was just her opinion. The opinion you were all clouded by…’ J. Ferguson was nervously rambling with a devilish smile on her face.

Franky interrupted that flow of thoughts. ‘Miss Ferguson, be concise and stick to the point, will you?’ The brunette judge clenched her hands in fists, she was boiling inside. The wish of at least slapping the person in front of her was huge. But she wasn’t a nervous teenager anymore, she was a respectable judge at the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, she was known as non-corrupted and fair, and she knew pretty well, what was the escapee’s intention. 

‘Tell me about Miss Westfall!’ J. Ferguson presented a crooked smile, waiting for a dialogue. 

Franky cringed.

‘I haven’t seen her for ten years.’ J. Ferguson proceeded. 

‘She gave evidence for the prosecution at your trial.’ The judge was relentless. 

‘She was compelling. But she was wrong.’ J. Ferguson leered. 

‘Wrong?’ *Franky made a pause.* ‘You got a serious sentence. Do you want a retribution?’ The brunette squinted her gaze in disbelief. 

‘You know, the thing is not in retribution alone. I wouldn’t have reached that success if I weren’t imprisoned. I should be grateful to both of you for this!’ Ferguson smiled, showing her exquisite teeth, folding her hands on her lap, mimicking Franky. 

The brunette was prepared to such stunts pretty well. Bridget communicated the diagnosis, as well as all the tricks, Joan Ferguson could be applying to reach her target to manipulate. Franky was alarmed and prepared, not ready to strike a white flag. 

‘I was unjustly accused, Your Honor!’

‘We all know, the jury court decided otherwise.’ The judge was persistent. 

‘Have you ever thought, at least once, within these long years, that you could have been wrong?’ J. Ferguson rested her elbows on the knees to be even height with the brunette and additionally get closer to the face of her long awaited victim.

‘No!’ Franky stated concise, her voice raspy. 

Joan Ferguson’s expression changed. She didn’t get used to negative answers.


‘Tell me about your cell, Miss Ferguson?’ Franky decided to use the tactics they had discussed previously with Bridget. There was essential to reveal, if J. Ferguson was responsible for current murders in Melbourne and what exactly she wanted from her and her partner. And the best way to get inside that criminal mind was to send the psychopath up the wall. 

J. Ferguson smirked, but played the game, Franky started. ‘The most usual cell.’

‘Anything else?’ Seemed, the brunette's face lacked muscles. 

‘Average. A bed, a sink, some books, which somebody is touching constantly. What else should I mention? Color of the walls? They are teal…’ She started to be agitated as at some point she couldn’t get what the judge was driving at. So, the ice began to move.

‘What can you tell me about the family? Your father?’ Franky's face didn't give away emotions. She was using only her timbre to accentuate needed words. 

‘Nothing!’ She started nervously. That was the sign for Franky, that she touched the soft spot, and very soon J. Ferguson would be unable to watch every her word said.

‘Those things, that happened to you then were…’

She was interrupted.

‘Listen…’ J. Ferguson raised her voice. 

‘What? You killed two more people, Joan. You attempted to kill a prime-minister…’ The judge continued, unflinchingly.

‘Do I get a say in this little kangaroo court of yours, Your Honor?’ J. Ferguson shouted. 

‘Absolutely, Miss Ferguson. The floor is yours!’ Until then, Franky never realized how hard it was not to cringe a brow, amid such intense sessions, when the patient wanted to crack you no less than you wanted to commit the same to them. 

‘I am not going to dignify that farrago of allegations with a denial. Everything I do, any measures I have taken, I've done for the benefit of this city. Everybody, the politicians, the court, the medicine, etc. has turned its back on ordinary people. It's deemed my behavior, my actions, unacceptable, so I've been herded into cages. Locked up, alone, outcast...unloved, unforgiven.’

‘Unforgivable.’ Franky shook her head. 

‘Simply because you all lack the basic discipline and intelligence to conduct your lives responsibly. You are emotional, defective. I give you order! I give you structure. I give you strength. I'm the only person who does what needs to be done. Because I'm the only one who can! You lack the mental capacity. You're incapable of thinking for yourselves. You need me!’

‘But why killing, Joan? That doesn’t go in line with what you have just said.’

‘I wanted to show, that I can control everything. I walked under every camera in this city and none times was detected. Every thing that is fed by the government is a lie. Total lie.’

‘And the victims?’

‘Victims are important to send the message, Miss Doyle! You and your partner know this quite well, as you specialize on hiding people resembling me, the ones, who strive to save the nation, behind bars. But we are indestructible!’


‘The thing that I’m doing now would be discussed for many years ahead.’

‘You are known to be the Freak. Don’t you think you still be called that way, compelling?’ For the first time during that harsh conversation, Franky let out her emotions. She winked. 

J.Ferguson smirked, hearing Franky used her own words.

‘You know what my father told? The world could be changed by anyone. But only the special ones have the courage. Can’t but agree, Miss Doyle. Such people as we are shouldn’t just watch or spy, so I had to invent all this. And it is beautiful.’

‘Do you reckon, your father would have approved the murder of so many people, Miss Ferguson?’

Victims are inevitable.’ J. Ferguson repeated the phrase, addressing the skies. 

‘Do you want to show, you are superior? Do you want to prove your father wrong?’  

That was the last straw. Franky touched the weakest string on the guitar of nerves. J. Ferguson started to shout at the calm judge, sitting still in front of the escaped inmate.

‘Yes! He was a tough man. He was a monster. And now he sees that I am not weak, and not pointless, and I am capable of anything! Capable of changing this weak world.’

‘Aren’t you pity for those people?’

‘Those pigs? No, I gave them a chance. *She breathed out* So, which category of psychological disorders am I in, according to the statement of Miss Westfall?’

‘The lack of empathy can be traced in many psychological disorders.’ 

‘I feel empathy! I do not want to hurt you or your Doctor Westfall.’ 

‘You might be projecting somebody on us, then…’ Franky smiled a little smile. 

‘Could be. Or, I simply need your help.’

‘What’s that?’

‘You both can tell my story.’ J. Ferguson placed a palm on the judge's hands, still clenched in fists on her lap. 

‘What for?’

‘Because I see you care.’ Her voice conspiratorial.

‘Is it so important for you?’ The judge looked at J. Ferguson's hand, which made the escapee to release the clench. 

‘Very.’  * She shook invisible bacteria from her palms after the contact with the brunette * ‘What do you think of me, Miss Doyle?’

‘That you are very complex.’

‘Yeah!’ She started laughing uncontrollably. 

Now that was Franky's turn to narrow the boundaries of the Freak's personal space. She pulled the chair closer to the inmate at large and continued with her speech. ‘We can tell your story together, Joan! It shouldn’t be like that. You don’t have to be doing all that.’ 

‘They will never let me go, Miss Doyle! Neither do you.’

‘I wouldn’t be telling your story!’ Suddenly, Franky pulled back, her hands folded on the chest, and rested on the chair. 




‘What is she doing? Why is she irritating her? She isn’t trained for such situations. She could be killed.’ One of the officers started to panic, the situation may get out of control.

‘She will manage!’ Bridget stated, very calm and sure that her partner would do everything right, and proceeded watching the monitors, depicting two figures talking at the platform. ‘She knows exactly what she is doing!’




‘You do not really care about anyone, Joan!’

‘You don’t …’ J.Ferguson hadn’t finished the phrase, jumped off the chair and started strolling nervously around the platform. 

‘They were just targets to you. You were never interested in people as they are. They were pigeons to you. And now you are that one pigeon yourself.’




‘She gives a signal to shoot.’ Bridget turned to the head officer. 

‘What?’

‘Listen to what she is saying!’ Bridget pointed at the screen. 




‘Do not make me kill you. I do not want to kill you. Look at me. * J.Ferguson got hold of Franky’s face * You are all I have.’

‘I am sorry!’ Was all Franky managed to answer, looking straight into the black eyes.

Ferguson jumped off of Franky and started to circling the platform fast, tapping her fingertips over her forehead. Think, Joan, think…

A silver sound of a bullet, passing through the left shoulder tendons of Joan Ferguson, broke the silence at the platform. Franky turned her head to see a falling body and a second bullet touching Ferguson’s right shoulder to prevent her from taking the gun. 




‘Hey, Miss Doyle, are you fine? Please, go, go…’ Reported one of the officers to the shocked judge.

Franky came to terms when the officers ran to her, instructing to go back from the scene.




‘Shrimps or oysters, baby, or both?’ Bridget was standing in front of the outdoors grill with a plate of shrimps skewers, oysters and lemon, as well as some garlic sauce.

‘You!’ The brunette trailed her tongue over the lips, winking to the blonde. 

‘Should I worry, you started eating people?’ Bridget put aside the dishes and came closer to the flirty woman.

‘You should have started long ago…’ Franky pulled Bridget in a tight embrace, encasing those nude pink lips into a gentle kiss. 

‘That Porsche presentation…’ Bridget smiled into Franky’s lips, hiding her palm in raven tresses.

‘Hot girl…’ Franky started.

‘In a hot car…’ Bridget continued.

‘Now we have a black Porsche Boxster in our garage.’

‘Do you mind us driving into the sunset?’

‘Ah! You are still the best girl, Gidge!’

‘Is there a line of others I have to compete with?’ Bridget pulled back, gazing Franky, frowned. 

‘I doubt their mental health, babe.’ * Franky chuckled. * ‘I fucking love you, Bridget Westfall-Doyle!’

‘I fucking love you too, Franky Westfall-Doyle!’ 

The embrace became tangibly tighter. 

‘So, does Costa Rica have suitable sunsets?’

‘Only if accompanied by these breathtaking emerald greens!’ Bridget enveloped her hands around Franky’s neck. She placed a loving kiss over the most velvet lips in the world to get a long tender kiss back.