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Chapter no 50 – The Journal

Where the Crawdads Sing

1970

When Kya was led into the courtroom the next day, she glanced toward Tate, Jumpin’, and Mabel and held her

breath at seeing a full uniform, a slight smile across a scarred face. Jodie. She nodded slightly, wondering how he’d learned of her trial. Probably the Atlanta paper. She tucked her head in shame.

Eric stood. “Your Honor, if it please the court, the People call Mrs. Sam Andrews.” The room breathed out as Patti Love, the grieving mother, made her way to the witness stand. Watching the woman she’d once hoped would be her mother-in-law, Kya now realized the absurdity of that notion. Even in this sullen setting, Patti Love, dressed in the finest black silks, seemed preoccupied with her own appearance and importance. She sat straight with her glossy purse perched on her lap, dark hair swept into the perfect bun under a hat, tipped just so, with dramatic black netting obscuring her eyes. Never would she have taken a barefoot marsh dweller as a daughter-in-law.

“Mrs. Andrews, I know this is difficult for you, so I’ll be as brief as possible. Is it true that your son, Chase Andrews, wore a rawhide necklace hung with a shell?”

 

 

“Yes, that’s true.”

“And when, how often, did he wear that necklace?”

“All the time. He never took it off. For four years I never saw him without that necklace.”

Eric handed a leather journal to Mrs. Andrews. “Can you identify this book for the court?”

Kya stared at the floor, working her lips, enraged at this invasion of her privacy as the prosecutor held her journal for all the court to see. She’d made it for Chase very soon after they met. Most of her life, she’d been denied the joy of giving gifts, a deprivation few understand. After working for days and nights on the journal, she’d wrapped it in brown paper and decorated it with striking green ferns and white feathers from snow geese. She’d held it out as Chase stepped from his boat onto the lagoon shore.

“What’s this?”

“Just something from me,” she had said, and smiled.

 

 

A painted story of their times together. The first, an ink sketch of them sitting against the driftwood, Chase playing the harmonica. The Latin names of the sea oats and scattered shells were printed in Kya’s hand. A swirl of watercolors revealed his boat drifting in moonlight. The next was an abstract image of curious porpoises circling the boat, with the words of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” drifting in the clouds. Another of her swirling among silver gulls on a silver beach.

Chase had turned the pages in wonder. Ran his fingers lightly over some of the drawings, laughed at some, but mostly was silent, nodding.

“I’ve never had anything like this.” Leaning over to embrace her, he had said, “Thank you, Kya.” They sat on the sand awhile, wrapped in blankets, talking, holding hands.

Kya remembered how her heart had pounded at the joy of giving, never imagining anyone else would see the journal.

Certainly not as evidence at her murder trial.

She didn’t look at Patti Love when she answered Eric’s question. “It’s a collection of paintings that Miss Clark made for Chase. She gave it to him as a present.” Patti Love remembered finding the journal under a stack of albums while cleaning his room. Apparently hidden from her. She’d sat on Chase’s bed and opened the thick cover. There, in detailed ink, her son lying against driftwood with that girl. The Marsh Girl. Her Chase with trash. She could barely breathe. What if people find out? First cold, then sweaty, her body reeled.

“Mrs. Andrews, would you please explain what you see in this picture painted by the defendant, Miss Clark.”

“That’s a painting of Chase and Miss Clark on the top of the fire tower.” A murmur moved through the room.

“What else is going on?”

“There—between their hands, she is giving him the shell necklace.”

And he never took it off again, Patti Love thought. I believed that he told me everything. I thought I’d bonded with my son more than other mothers; that’s what I told myself. But I knew nothing.

“So, because he told you and because of this journal, you knew your son was seeing Miss Clark, and you knew she gave him the necklace?”

“Yes.”

“When Chase came to your house for dinner on the night of October 29, was he wearing the necklace?”

“Yes, he didn’t leave our house until after eleven, and he was wearing the necklace.”

“Then when you went into the clinic the next day to identify Chase, did he have the necklace on?”

“No, he did not.”

 

“Do you know of any reason why any of his friends or anyone else, besides Miss Clark, would want to take the necklace off Chase?”

“No.”

“Objection, Your Honor,” Tom called quickly from his seat. “Hearsay. Calls for speculation. She can’t speak to the reasoning of other people.”

“Sustained. Jurors, you must disregard the last question and answer.” Then, lowering his head ganderlike at the prosecutor, the judge said, “Watch your step, Eric. For crying out loud! You know better than that.”

Eric, unfazed, continued. “All right, we know from her own drawings that the defendant, Miss Clark, climbed the fire tower with Chase at least once; we know she gave the shell necklace to him. After that, he wore it continuously until the night he died. At which time it disappeared. Is all that correct?”

“Yes.”

“Thank you. No further questions. Your witness.”

“No questions,” Tom said.

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