Tobacco smoke colored the air gray, as the balding magistrate puffed on the stub of his cigar while listening to testimony. Coughs and aggravated squirming were the only noises except the sound of the witness, Rafferty, as he answered the prosecutor's questions. When Delila coughed the judge glared in her direction so that she squelched a second cough.
"You may proceed," the bespectacled magistrate instructed the prosecuting attorney who waited politely for some instruction.
The attorney nodded and returned to the witness. "She seduced you?" the angular man with horned rimmed glasses asked the nervous blonde man who sat uncomfortably on a small stool in the witness box.
"It was mutual," Rafferty replied.
"Did she not bare her breasts for you? Open her blouse and taunt you with them?"
"She did," he agreed. "But that was only after our conversations."
"Conversations about what?"
The witness paused, anxiously pursuing words in his mind that would explain. "Conversations about our mutual urges," he finally said.
The attorney was piqued. "Can you be more specific?" he asked.
"We talked about what we were feeling."
"And what were those feelings?"
"They were sexual, sir."
"I see. You talked about having sex with each other?"
"Yes," Rafferty spoke quietly.
"So when did the conversations end and the fornication begin?" The prosecutor's voice rung shrill throughout the room.
"It's hard to say, sir. It just sort of happened."
"Out of the blue?" he inquired.
"Yes, out of the blue."
"I see." The attorney moved from the witness box strolling about the area, his eyes staring up at the ceiling as if he was deep in thought. "Perhaps you ended your conversations about sex, and the fornication took place when Delila Armand opened her blouse and flaunted her breasts for you."
There was a ripple of response in the crowded courtroom, though the murmurs were squelched by the glaring eye of the judge.
The prosecutor, not having an answer from the witness, returned to the box, and stared at the young man. "Mr. Rafferty, tell me please, did not the defendant, Delila Armand, open her blouse and flaunt her naked breasts for you? Is that not when this fornication began?" The third time repeating the question, he enunciated each word.
Rafferty bit his lip, as if he wished he could hold back his reply. "Yes sir," he finally spoke. "Though she was just teasing."
"Did you ask her to stop?"
"What did you tell her?"
"I told her we probably shouldn't be doing this."
"And what did she do?"
"Stopped? Or did she just close her blouse, only to expose herself to you later?"
"I . . . I, I can't really say how it happened," Rafferty said, scratching his head as if he didn't know the answer.
"Mr. Rafferty," the prosecutor leveled another mean stare, "you're not on trial here, but you could be charged. You understand that? We're here to get to the bottom of the story and nothing more. It would be wise for you to tell the truth in the simplest terms possible." The prosecutor's threat was hardly disguised, neither was his power over the witness.
"Yes, sir, she teased me," Rafferty said. "It was a little game we both played."
"Did you display your private sexual parts to her? To tease her?"
"No, sir," Rafferty replied.
"But she did?"
"Yes, sir," the witness agreed.
The prosecutor took another momentary pause and then began again in his most sweeping style. "Isn't it true, Mr. Rafferty, that the defendant, Delila Armand, shamelessly, without regard to her married status and to the laws that she was violating, teased you with her body in various states of undress until you were drawn into her sexual advances and gave in?"
"I wouldn't say it that way," the witness replied.