The Courtroom Telepath

28 May

Aldo Tikva experienced personal tragedy when he failed to win acceptance into a number of law schools in different cities.

Again and again, the entrance examinations or the interviews were an impossible barrier for him. Aldo found a job as a paralegal associate with a large firm of lawyers who litigated a flood of cases. He worked at a number of office tasks, ending up as a researcher of jury members, writing up studies of many such groupings.

It was while attending trials that Aldo came across uncanny psychic sensitivities within his own mind. He described and demonstrated his powers to the lawyers who employed him. As a proven telepath, his value to the firm multiplied many times over.

The trial attorney who was in charge of Aldo, Zeko Bata, was an overpowering giant with slick silver hair and angry green eyes. He made full use of his assistant’s deep psychic capabilities from the start.

“All the tests show that you have a rare ability to pick up small, unintentional and unconscious leaks and transmissions,” said the advocate to the telepath. “You can be the source of information as to what witnesses, jury members, and legal opponents happen to be thinking as a trial proceeds. What you pick up can determine the outcome of what goes on in the court,” said Zeko with a broad, radiant smile.

Aldo, short and thin, was inconspicuous in a court room, however crowded or empty it might be. His walnut eyes did not appear focused on anyone present on either side. It was the psychic mind that was recording invoiced thoughts and emotions among the participants in a case. His uncanny memory would be able to reproduce later on what occurred inside the brains involved.

Zeko Bata specialized in business litigation concerning the breaking of contracts and commercial fraud of various kinds. It helped him to know the private thoughts and strategic goals of the management of companies and their legal representatives. The sensitive receptions of Aldo were often the key to practical decisions made by Zeko in complicated civil cases. How far should he go in making charges and demands? When was it wise to negotiate with the other side? Was the enemy lawyer bluffing? What sort of deal was in reality acceptable to the opposition?

Aldo’s contribution of intelligence was vital to Zeko’s record of a series of uninterrupted victories in court.

“I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to you,” the lawyer said to the telepath after a successful ending in one nasty suit.

Why, then, don’t you have me paid a lot more generously, felt Aldo but did not dare Attorney Zeko Bata.

Zeko summoned the telepath to his private chamber to tell him of their newest client and the suit that was planned against the major corporation in the field of e-readers and e-books.

“A small publisher in science fiction and fantasy believes that it has a strong case against the innovative giant who now dominates with its popular apparatus, the Electronic Spark.

“Galactic Publishing and its main owner, Jalo Ksix, accuse the Ajax Corp. of a conspiracy to take over and monopolize the entire e-book industry through unfair, illegal trade agreements. Mr. Ksix is coming here later today to confer with me over the evidence he has gathered against Ajax and its underhanded methods of dealing with the traditional publishing companies in the book industry.

“I want you to be present, Aldo, as my investigative assistant. As we usually do, I plan to keep silent about your telepathic powers and how I use them in the suits I bring to court.

“The intent will be for you to read and study the mind of Mr. Jalo Ksix, so that I know how confident he is about winning his case. You will also find out for me whether he is hiding anything of importance or holding back on what he is planning. In other words, how apt is he to come to an out-of-court settlement with his enemy, Ajax? That would be a very good point to know.”

“Indeed it would,” muttered Aldo. “I will mostly keep silent and listen in on what the fellow may be thinking.”

Jalo Ksix was a tall, boney middle-aged man with thinning auburn hair and huge blue eyes. He gave Aldo a brilliant smile as Zeko introduced the two.

“Aldo does much of my investigative research on important cases,” explained the high-priced attorney. “I like to keep him fully involved from the start.”

“Ajax deserves a thorough probe of their underhanded methods,” noted Ksix. “We know only a few aspects of all the evil those criminals have committed.”

“Yes,” agreed Zeko. “It will be helpful to find out as much as possible about what Ajax has done in past years. One can never tell what small bit of fact might be an important factor in a case. They began as a purveyor of all sorts of goods and wares over the internet and have branched out more and more.

“Today, e-publishing is their new major front of advance. Is Ajax planning to change book publication in a revolutionary way, as Gutenberg and the printing press once did?”

Jalo made a sour grimace. “That is what their president and owner, Doro Prasa, dreams of accomplishing. In order to achieve his advanced aims, though, he thinks he has to enjoy monopoly dominance over the publishing industry all over the world.

“The man is a maniac who sees himself as the Napoleon or Alexander the Great of the printed word. It is a frightening threat he poses to the future of our culture and way of life.”

“And he has corralled most major book publishers into following his wishes,” declared Zeko with a groan. “I want to be able to prove that Mr. Prasa has been breaking the laws of commerce and contractual obligations as his business has expanded.

“Can you give me details on actual instances of how he coerces publishers into doing what he wishes them to?”

“I know dozens of cases and examples,” said Jalo. “Let me describe a few of them for you.”

Zero and Aldo listened to his list with fascination.

The case was an important one for the future of the industry it would impact, so that the courtroom was full of interested individuals and media reporters.

Aldo listened with his ears to the attorneys of the two sides as they made introductory remarks the first day. But his mind was much more attentive to the silent, inaudible waves of idea and sentiment that floated about from the crowd, the jury, and those involved in the formal business before the court.

Zero presented an impressive attack upon the Ajax Corp. and its top executives, including the celebrity tycoon who owned most of its stock, Doro Prasa.

Aldo searched for reactions in the minds of those jurymen who possessed some noticeable degree of psychic sensitivity. Several of the twelve who listened to Zeko showed some degree of agitation. The telepath singled out four of the jury members who appeared significantly moved deep within themselves by the nature of the charges being made by the attorney for Galactic Publishing.

The charge of monopolistic practices was one that successfully affected this quartette of listeners, Aldo discovered through his invisible monitoring.

He remembered what portions of Zeko’s initial indictment had the most effect on the group that would have to decide the verdict at the end.

When the judge announced a break for lunch at the noon hour, Aldo met with the lead lawyer of his side, Zeko. The two had snacks together at the courthouse coffee shop.

“Did you notice anything of significance?” the attorney asked the telepath.

“Nothing really meaningful yet,” admitted Aldo. “But I sensed a lot of sympathy with the small publishers like Galactic among several on the jury. They may become a decisive force when the jury deliberates its decision after all the arguments are over.

“But I aim to stay highly attentive and try to catch any subtle nuance of emotion that might arise as the trial proceeds.”

“I hope that we get some kind of lucky break,” mused Zeko. “The defense lawyers will start their counter-arguments as soon as we get back there this afternoon.”

There was an impressive figure in an expensive white silk suit sitting behind the legal team of the Ajax Corp. From photos he had seen, Aldo identified the bulky giant as the company president, Doro Prasa.

“Ajax and its management has never done anything illegal or unethical in its business operations, but has always been a cooperative partner of the traditional book publishers, offering them generous terms and prices for the sale of their literary properties and rights,” claimed the lead captain of the defense team working for Doro Prasa.

The latter kept smiling with sanctimonious innocence and self-righteousness.

“Every marketing agreement reached with other firms has been voluntary and mutually beneficial,” cooed the sweet voice of the expensive mouthpiece.

“Ajax has rescued many a publisher and assisted them in thriving successfully,” claimed the courtroom defender of the e-spark manufacturer.

Aldo did not pay exclusive attention to the oral case being made to the judge and the jury.

He became fascinated with the mind of Mr. Doro Prasa. The top executive possessed amazing psychic potential and power, that became evident at once.

But it was not easy for the telepathic agent of Galactic Publishing to decipher exactly what the thought of Doro signified and meant.

The train of ideas appeared to be enigmatic to Aldo. There was no clear, simple train of reasoning in the mind of the corporate president.

I will have to discuss what I am hearing with Zeko as soon as possible, decided Aldo the telepath.

The two met in a bar near the courthouse. Neither man was hungry or thirsty, but Zeko was eager to learn whether the psychic agent had picked up anything that might prove to be of interest.

“There was one thing I received this morning that made me curious,” declared Aldo with a sly, devilish grin. “It came from the main figure in Ajax, Mr. Doro Prasa. “All through the presentation of his defense by the lawyer in charge, he was thinking about a strange, quite unusual subject.”

“What kind of subject?” asked Zeko, growing excited.

“Restaurants of an expensive variety. Swanky places that cater to the wealthy from the corporate world. His particular interest seemed to be in an exclusive wine cellar that he believes possesses the best and highest reputation, the Chef’s Cellar. But his mind wandered to other places, like the Rainbow, the Homestead, the Dove, and the Blue Hill.

“Do you wonder why he is concentrating his thoughts on such matters during an important trial going on against Ajax Corp.?”

Zeko made an odd grimace. “Make a list of the restaurants and bars that he thinks about and we’ll look into the matter. There may have been important events transpiring in those places, and they might have connections to the case now going on in court.”

A private detective agency that had in the past carried out a number of secretive operations for Zeko and his law firm was called on to make enquiries about attendance at the restaurants and taverns in question. Had executives from the Ajax Corp. frequented these establishment? Had Doro Prasa attended any group activities at such locations? Who might have been the other guests and patrons who were present at the same time?

Waiters and servers proved to have very accurate memories and appeared willing to talk to curious private investigators.

Yes, Mr. Prasa had come often a year before, with people from the upper ranks of Ajax. Those who were present in specially reserved dining rooms and restricted areas seemed to be big names and company owners from the book publishing industry.

The largest firms furnished individuals who met and dined with Doro Prasa, who was remembered as a large and generous tipper of the staff.

Giant publishing companies had representatives who sat down with Doro and his close aides and assistants.

The list included Walrus, Axe, Lute, Sinope, and—Galactic.

Zeko was astounded to find out that the owner and chief executive of the company that employed him – Mr. Jalo Fsix – had been there with the other publishing leaders to talk with Doro Prasa.

What had been the purpose of such numerous appointments? wondered the naturally suspicious, cynical attorney.

There was one person who might possibly be able to find the answer.

Zeko decided that he needed the help that only a telepath like Aldo Tikva could provide him.

The attorney conferred with the psychic listener before the continuation of the trial the following morning.

“I have called Mr. Prasa to be an immediate witness as soon as the court opens today,” explained Zeko. “It will be necessary for you to concentrate all your mental power and attention on the mind of the president of Ajax. When I ask him who was present with him at the elite restaurants, your focus has to be on any thoughts in his mind that touch on the presence of the head of Galaxy Publishing.

“Taking for granted that these meetings had to do with fixing the general prices of the industry’s e-books, you must uncover what part Jalo Ksix may have played in the formation and organization of the monopolistic conspiracy.

“I have to know that before deciding how to proceed in the case. It is vital that the presence of Mr. Ksix not wreck the entire case that I have tried to construct against Ajax.

“Do you understand what you will be after in the stray thoughts of the man I will have on the witness stand?”

Aldo nodded that he did.

“Good,” grinned Zeko. “You must use all the capacities of your mind to find out what Doro Prasa is hiding, my good man.”

The two rose and headed for the courtroom.

Aldo positioned himself immediately behind the table of the attorneys representing Galaxy Publishing. He had a pen and notepad in the pocket of his suit coat, in case there arose a need for him to write any message to Zeko concerning possible telepathic receptions on his part.

Doro Prasa was called to be the first witness to be questioned that morning.

Once the oath was administered by a court official, Zeko began with a surprising, jarring question about the secret meetings at swanky eateries.

“What was the purpose of dinner engagements held a year or so ago with leaders of publishing companies in the traditional book industry, Mr. Prasa?”

The latter’s face turned brick red. His eyes bulged and he appeared to be uncomfortable. He managed to croak out a reply of sorts.

“That is a matter of great financial importance to my company and I hesitate to take the risks involved in publicly exposing our most valuable business strategies that have been kept secret and private up to now.”

Doro Prasa turned his head to the right and made a request of the judge, surprising the robed magistrate.

“Your Honor, before I can answer the question just posed, I feel that I must consult with the attorneys for the Ajax Corp., so that I understand what my legal obligations and responsibilities may be in this matter.”

“We shall take a short break for you to do so, then continue with this line of questioning at once,” decided the judge.

Two lawyers on the side of Ajax stepped forward to speak with their client, while Zeko went back to his chair at the Galactic table. He noticed that Aldo had taken out his notepad and was rapidly writing down something.

Had the telepath caught important thoughts in the alarmed brain of Doro Prasa? he wondered.

The whispering communications going on at the witness stand continued on, while Aldo appeared to be penetrating the inner thinking of the corporate titan who had been astonished by Zeko’s knowledge of the conspiratorial meetings at elite restaurants.

In a short while, the pair of Ajax lawyers returned to their table, leaving Prasa to face his interrogator once again.

Zeko, ready to rise to his feet, turned his head around and looked at Aldo.

The psychic handed him a page recording his receptions from the mind of the witness. Zeko read the words with speed, astonished at what had been revealed.

“Jalo Ksix attended the first of the dinners, but refused to discuss e-book prices with the others. He stalked out in anger and refused all future invitations to come to other restaurants.”

Zeko rose to his feet and moved forward to renew his questioning. He was smiling, because he possessed knowledge that could guide him in what lay ahead for him and the witness involved.

“Did Mr. Jalo Ksix attend the first of these dinners, and what did the president of Galactic Publishing do there, sir?”

It all came out in the following minutes.

Doro Prasa described how the man withdrew in anger, then proceeded to tell the truth about the price-fixing agreements reached that evening and at future get-togethers of the masters of e-publishing.

The defenses of Ajax Corp. collapsed in ruins as Doro went into the details of the commercial monopoly created without Jalo Ksix and Galactic.

Once the testimony ended, Zeko went back to the table and shook the hand of his psychic spy, Aldo.

This has been my most important success, realized the telepath.

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