Shortly after being beaten by Dante Schumer, Tenta is sitting in Brandon Tanner’s conference room at Tanner Electronics.
“You stayed all this time by his side, devoted to his cause. Yet, he treats Douglas Frost like his own son.” Pacing behind Tenta, Brandon Tanner continues, “Why do you have to take all of the blame for Dante Schumer to survive?”
Tenta looks straightforward, “He wouldn’t do that to me.”
Brandon scoffs. “Why do you trust him so much?” Brandon drops a stack of papers in front of him, “During the investigation, Schumer testified that it was you and Twill who kidnapped Ellen Sinclair. He even mentioned that you’d committed murders.”
Tenta isn’t buying it. At least until he flips open the court record in front of him and begins to read the words of Dante Schumer.
“He used you like he used Twill and everyone else before you.”
Tenta grips the pages in his hand as he continues to read the words.
Tanner places a hand on the man’s shoulder, “Who do you think is more important to Dante Schumer? Douglas Frost? Or you?”
Within hours, Tenta is giving a press conference, accusing Dante Schumer of everything to do with this case.
Brandon Tanner sits at the conference table, surrounded by his entourage. His lawyer, seated directly to his right, slides a slip of paper across the table to Douglas Frost. “This is a note from his psychiatrist stating he’s being treated for an undisclosed mental illness and has been for quite some time.”
As Douglas reads the document, he can’t help but laugh. He knows it’s bullshit. Sue Ann, however, is not amused at all. “Mr. Tanner,” she says. “Did you or did you not kidnap Ellen Sinclair and confine her to your residence?”
Brandon is putting on quite the act as he seems distraught, “I honestly can’t remember.”
“According to the testimony of Gerald Card, Dante Schumer kidnapped the girls from Spinet Entertainment. Is that correct?” Clark asks him.
Tanner looks confused, intentionally so. “I can’t be sure, to be honest.”
“Let me ask something,” Douglas says before turning to Brandon, “Aren’t you responsible for Grant Tenta’s betrayal? Tenta was a loyal lapdog for Dante Schumer for years, and suddenly, he comes out against him? C’mon, you orchestrated that little event, didn’t you? You want the blame to shift from yourself to Dante Schumer because you know that Ellen Sinclair is going to testify against you.”
Brandon’s gaze moves from Sue Ann to Douglas as the lawyer speaks, and when Douglas finishes, Brandon gives a soft shrug, “There must have been a reason for Tenta to betray Schumer, don’t you think? I was always under the impression that Tenta would die for him, if necessary. So, what changed?”
Sue Ann looks over at Douglas, who realizes there may be some truth in Brandon’s answer.
Dante is making moves of his own to protect himself as he meets with the four men who have been imprisoned so far, thanks to Sue Ann Clark and Douglas Frost.
Each of the four men is wearing prison orange as they are focused on something Dante is showing them, and when it’s over, Dante closes the lid on the laptop.
“It wouldn’t be good for these videos, which clearly show each of your faces, to be spread all over the city, perhaps the country,” Dante tells them. “Each of you has daughters to think of.”
The former tax assessor speaks up, “What more do you want from us, Dante?”
“I think it’s time to wrap the Kam Loon Restaurant case with the least amount of legal punishment that we can suffer through, don’t you think?”
The mayor’s former chief of staff smirks, “You’re trying to weasel out of this. You’ll hang us all out to dry to protect yourself.”
“What he’s saying,” Brent Koff says, “is that he wants us to take the blame for this.”
Dante looks around the room, “Listen, if we all go down for this, then when we get out, there’ll be nothing for us. However, if you keep my name clear, I can promise you that I’ll remember you when you’re released. I’ll find you consultant work, enough to keep you comfortable. I’ll handle any monetary compensation that you’re required to pay. I will take care of each of you. You have my word.”
“I don’t know if I can trust you twice,” says the former chief.
Dante taps his fingers on the laptop, “If you think I’m only doing this for myself, you’re mistaken. This will put you all away for much longer than you’ll get without it. I’m trying to keep the damage minimal. I’m still working for all of you, whether you believe me or not. I’ll make sure you do the minimum amount of jail time. I can’t work for you if I’m locked up in here with you.”
“The prosecution may interrogate the witness,” the judge says.
The courtroom is filled with familiar faces. Douglas Frost is sitting in the audience. Desiree Schumer is seated in the audience. Sue Ann walks up to Brent Koff, sitting on the witness stand, and simply asks, “Have you ever received a bribe from Dante Schumer?”
Without looking at her, or anyone for that fact, Koff simply responds, “I have.”
“How exactly did you threaten Mr. Schumer?” Sue Ann asks the tax assessor.
“I threatened him with a tax audit,” the assessor responds.
“Did you ever threaten Dante Schumer with fabricated news articles?” Sue Ann asks the CEO of one of the top news stations in the city.
He looks up at her, “They weren’t all fabricated.” He knows that’s not the answer she’s looking for, so he continues, “I did ask him to provide me with sexual favors with one of the Spinet girls, or I would expose his suspicious contract deals.”
Dante sits at the defendant’s table, looking straight ahead as he hears all of this testimony.
The media CEO stands there as the verdict is read, “We find Daniel Spatial guilty. We sentence him to five years in prison and to pay $700,000 in restitution.”
The tax assessor and Brent Koff are next, “We find both Brent Koff and Johnson Benedict guilty. They are both sentenced to seven years in prison and to pay $600,000 in restitution.”
“As for Dante Schumer, he is found guilty of bribery. He is sentenced to 18 months in prison followed by three years of probation.”
Dante stands there as his verdict is read, only giving a brief sigh of relief.
Dante walks into his home office, knowing he’ll have to report to prison soon. He sits in his chair with a sigh, looking much older than when the show first started. Not long after he sits, Desiree walks into the room. She stands in front of his desk.
“You might be able to escape the Kam Loon Restaurant incident, but kidnapping and murder are different matters,” she tells him.
Dante can’t seem to lift his gaze to look at her. He just responds, “You don’t need to worry about that. I’m taking care of it.”
“Tenta was with you for so long. They’re going to believe him.” Dante finally looks up at his daughter as she continues, “But, it’s not like what he said was entirely untrue.”
Changing the subject, Dante asks her, “Have you thought about what you want to do in the future?”
“What will make you happy? I know you want me to take over Tanner Electronics,” she tells him. Dante seems surprised that she mentioned it. “I know you’ve been buying shares in my name because you want me to take over that company. Is that why you kept providing Brandon Tanner with women? So when the time came, you’d have something against him when you were ready for me to run that company? You’d force him to resign? If that’s what you’re expecting me to do, you may as well give up now. I want nothing to do with this.”
“If you take over Tanner Electronics, you’d be untouchable,” Dante tells her. “Even if you were crippled and blind, no one would be able to touch you.”
Desiree looks disgusted. “I want nothing to do with a company that was paid for by dirty deeds. Murder. Kidnapping. Blackmail. You’re disgusting.”
Dante nods his head, “Think what you will. I only wanted what was best for you. They could send me to jail for the rest of my life. I’d be content knowing you were set for life.” Dante goes back to his paperwork, signaling the end of the discussion as Desiree turns and stalks out angrily.
Sue Ann and Douglas walk back into his office after the trial when Carlos rushes over, “All of our warrants have been dismissed.”
Confused, Sue Ann looks at Douglas, “I get why they’d dismissed Tenta and Schumer, but we have Tanner on video. How’d that get dismissed?”
Douglas is at a loss for words, and all he can do is sigh.
Brandon Tanner sits at his conference table. In front of him is a microphone, and he keeps pressing the on and off switch, going back and forth, amusing himself. “I wonder how Dante will look in court.”
“Schumer is the least of your worries. The judge is going to allow Ellen Sinclair to testify, and if he finds her story credible, her testimony will be entered in as evidence,” his lawyer tells him. Sitting off to the side, Tenta sits silently, perhaps even unhappy. Changing allegiance as he did, he doesn’t seem to be happy about it at all.
“Ellen Sinclair will crack,” Brandon says confidently. He looks up at his lawyer, “You’ll make sure of it.”
Douglas and Sue Ann walk up the long steps to the courthouse when Tanner and his entourage approach on the right, Dante and his entourage approach on the left.
“Nice to see you all being punctual,” Douglas says with a smirk.
Dante notices Tenta is among one of those in Tanner’s entourage but refrains from saying anything.
“I had hoped your team would be more successful,” Brandon Tanner starts to speak when Sue Ann interrupts him.
“You should worry about yourself. We plan to be very successful today.”
Dante isn’t amused by the game that Tanner is playing.
Tanner’s smile fades, “You must have some critical evidence to show us today if you’re that confident.”
Douglas shakes his head, “I’m sure we will get all the information we need from Mr. Tenta’s testimony.”
Tenta stands there, silent, when suddenly, several police officers run up to the group, “Are you Grant Tenta?” one of the officers asks.
“You’re under arrest for the murder of Gerald Card.” Tenta’s eyes immediately turn to look at Dante, who doesn’t bother to return the look. Douglas is watching Dante, though, and a grin crosses his face as he watches them devour each other to avoid getting caught up.
However, Tanner is shocked as he asks, “Is there evidence to support such a charge?”
The officer nods, “We restored some video footage that had been previously deleted. It places him at the penitentiary at the time of Card’s death.” As Tenta is put into handcuffs, Dante refuses to make eye contact. This was his doing. Tenta gives him a mean look as they pull him away from the group.
Finally, Dante speaks, “I’m sure it’ll be hard to get him out of jail. The evidence is rather solid.”
Tanner shakes his head, “I should have expected as much from you.”
“Well, needless to say, I’m looking forward to today’s trial,” Douglas says, still amused by what has transpired. He walks between them and heads into the building with Sue Ann right behind him.
Ellen is on the witness stand.
Sue Ann approaches and asks, “Is there anyone in this room which you recognized from the time you were kidnapped and confined?”
Slowly, Ellen’s eyes move from Sue Ann to Brandon. Brandon’s eyes go wide as she looks at him. “Yes,” she tells the prosecutor.
“Who are you referring to?”
Ellen looks straight ahead now. “It is Brandon Tanner, CEO of Tanner Electronics.”
Sue Ann nods her head. “And what exactly did he do at this place where you were confined?”
Without even waiting for the question to finish, Ellen blurts out, “He abused me psychologically, playing with me as if I were a toy.”
“If I may, could I ask you to elaborate a little on the details of this abuse?”
Ellen slowly turns her head to face Brandon. Brandon smiles widely at her, trying to make her uncomfortable. She begins to panic, finding it hard to catch her breath.
Brandon’s lawyer speaks up, “During the pre-trial hearing, the witness has an episode. We’ve already submitted evidence that she’s not mentally equipped to stand trial.”
The judge nods, “We are aware of your petition. We want to hear this woman’s testimony then we will decide if she’s fit to testify. Counselor, please check on your witness and see if she can continue.”
“Yes, your honor,” Sue Ann tells the judge before she leans in to Ellen, “If this is too much for you, we can stop.”
Ellen looks up at her, “No. Just, give me one moment,” she says.
Sue Ann turns to the judge, “She would like to continue. Can we give her a few moments?”
Brandon’s lawyer shakes his head, “Your honor, according to her own psychiatrist, she is not mentally stable to stand trial. Also, she has a history of making up stories about innocent men attacking her. I would like to ask you once again to reconsider the admissibility of her testimony.” The lawyer takes his seat.
Sue Ann is trying to think of a way to refute this when her eyes fall on Douglas Frost. She suddenly turns to the judge, “Your honor, if I may refute the statement made by the defendant’s lawyer, I’d like to call the lawyer who was in charge of the defendant’s case to which the defendant’s lawyer has just mentioned.”
“I’ll allow it.”
“I believe that the victim of that case, Ellen Sinclair, was not lying about her assault,” Douglas admits as he sits on the witness stand. “If anyone was lying during that trial, it was me. I was the attorney for the defendant. I was aware that she was the victim as I defended my client from her charges. The defense I provided my client insisted that she was a gold digger, trying to make a buck. Even though it was my responsibility to defend my client, I would say right now that her testimony during that trial was not only credible but factual.” Douglas finishes up his statement.
The judge looks down at him, “Douglas Frost, you’re making a very damning testimony for yourself on her behalf. You could be disbarred and possibly sent to jail for permitting false testimony to be told in court. Are you aware of this?”
“Yes,” Douglas tells the judge. “I’m testifying, and I am ready to face whatever consequences this court deems appropriate.” There is a murmur that rushes through the courtroom as he speaks. Reporters are typing away on their laptops. Douglas finds Ellen in the audience and nods his head to her, and she nods her head back in appreciation for his honesty.
Ellen turns and makes eye contact with Sue Ann and nods her head. Sue Ann turns back to the judge, “Your honor, Ellen Sinclair would like to continue her testimony.”
“I’ll allow it.”
Douglas leaves the stand and walks by Ellen as she approaches, and he whispers to her, “You got this. Put this fucker away.” Ellen stops and looks up at him, and then nods her head and continues to the stand.
When Ellen sits down, she looks right at Brandon. She no longer looks like the scared girl who sat there only moments before. Brandon can notice the change as well, and he doesn’t like it one bit.
“Did Mr. Tanner speak of anyone else to you while you were confined?” Sue Ann asks.
“Yes,” Ellen responds, “He told me multiple times that he stole their souls and killed them in that room.”
“Objection!” Brandon’s lawyer is on his feet again. “That statement is completely absurd and has no concrete proof.”
“We have endless amounts of circumstantial evidence that points to Brandon Tanner as the murderer in this case,” Sue Ann tells the lawyer. She turns to the judge, “Your honor, the witness is in this courtroom today because she was lucky. But numerous girls were not lucky and were murdered when Mr. Tanner was through toying with them. Dakota Smith. Samantha Tallion. Evelyn Bounds. These women were not as lucky as Ellen Sinclair. Their deaths have long gone unsolved, but it’s time to bring justice to these women.”
As the court is called to recess, Brandon is the first out of the courthouse. Dante is next, but he walks right by Tanner without a single word.
Ellen Sinclair walks out next, with Douglas and Sue Ann, but as she sees Brandon Tanner standing there, she stops and looks at him. She turns and walks right up to him, face to face. “I will continue to testify. I will tell the world what a crazy fuck you really are and what you did to me in that room. Looking at you now, I find you pathetic. Don’t you know? Your life is no better than a bug to me,” she says, echoing his own words back to him. She scoffs as she looks at him in disgust, “You think taking people’s souls is fun? I understand why now. It’s because you have no soul. I’d be surprised if you had a heart.”
“What?” Brandon asks.
She’s not finished. “You’re a stupid, pathetic jerk who kidnaps weak and powerless women. So what if you’re rich? Do you honestly think people envy you? Do you think you’re so high and mighty? What you are is a nobody.”
Brandon starts towards her, “How dare you, you low life?”
Douglas takes Ellen’s arm and pulls her back, and steps between them. “Go,” Douglas tells him. He takes Ellen’s arm and leads her away as Brandon watches them go.
“We need to keep her somewhere safe,” Sue Ann says.
Ellen brings a suitcase up from her place and gets into the back of Paul’s squad car. After she gets in, Douglas gets into his car, where Sue Ann is waiting for him.
He glances at his rearview and is certain he sees someone looking at them on the phone.
“So that’s where they moved her to?” Brandon says to someone on the phone. He hangs up without saying another word. He’s inside his darkroom, the red light is on, and there are pictures of Ellen Sinclair all over.
Sue Ann walks into her apartment. She sets her purse down on the table and shuffles through some of her court papers she’s gathered there. Not finding what she’s looking for, she walks into her dining room and looks through some more papers when she stops suddenly.
She slowly turns around to face the wall, where her crime wall used to be, and every scrap of it has been removed.
Every bit of it is gone, except for one single picture that is taped to the wall.
She slowly walks over to it. It’s a picture of Ellen Sinclair taken at Tanner’s house.
Suddenly, Brandon Tanner walks up behind her, and she happens to turn around just as he grabs her by the neck and pushes her against the wall.
“Where is Ellen Sinclair?” he asks her.
She’s taken by surprise, of course, but she responds, “I don’t know.”
“I know she’s around here somewhere. Tell me where,” he says to her.
Sue Ann allows herself to calm down, “Why? So you can kidnap her again? So you can lock her up again? So you can kill her this time?”
“I’ll make sure she’s dead this time,” Brandon says to her. “She saw my face. Now she has to die.”
“It’s too late for that, don’t you see that?” Sue Ann tells him. “It’s over for you. There’s nothing you can do to make this go away. You’re going to prison.”
“No. They will never find out I killed those other girls,” Brandon says to her. “Do you know why? Because no one knows.”
“It’s coming out, Brandon. You may as well come to that realization.” Sue Ann’s face grows angry, “I’ll do whatever it takes to put your ass in prison, you son of a bitch.”
Suddenly, as if hearing it for the first time, Brandon looks at her with a crazy look in his eyes, “Is that so? Then perhaps it’s you I need to take instead. You can take her place.”
Sue Ann is thrown down onto the bed, her mouth is gagged, and her hands are tied. She pushes herself up to look at him.
Brandon looks down at her, “This will be your home now until I’m done toying with you and kill you just like everyone else. Just like all those other actresses.”
Sue Ann begins to laugh behind her gag.
Brandon isn’t sure what’s so funny, so he begins to laugh too when suddenly, Douglas Frost and Paul Young burst into the room. Douglas moves to untie Sue Ann, but Paul and a couple of other officers are there with their guns drawn.
“Are you alright? Are you hurt?” Douglas asks her.
As her mouth is ungagged, Sue Ann nods, “I’m alright.”
Brandon seems confused, “What are you all doing here? Get out, or you’ll all be in trouble!”
Douglas looks at him, “I guess you don’t get what’s going on here yet, Brandon. Congratulations, you’ve been caught red-handed kidnapping a prosecutor. Let me make this clear so even a whack-job like you can understand. You’re done for.”
“Clean this room out of every piece of evidence you can find,” Sue Ann instructs the officers. Strip down each layer of wallpaper if you have to. Find me the blood.”
The forensics team begins their search.
Carlos finds the darkroom with pictures of all of Brandon’s victims, “I think we hit the goddamned gold mine.”
Back in the room, Brandon is losing his mind, “Are you fucking crazy? Do you know who I am?” he asks them.
Paul pulls out his handcuffs, “We know you’re a fucking lunatic. You’re under arrest for the abduction of prosecutor Sue Ann Clark.” Young continues to Mirandize Brandon as he cuffs him. He tries to drag him off, but Brandon pulls back.
“Uncuff me right now, you jerk,” Tanner tells him. “I’m mother-fucking Brandon Tanner!” he yells.
Douglas can’t stop the laughter that comes.
The team pulls away a giant piece of wallpaper, and right there is a large bloodstain, “We found it!”
Brandon’s eyes go wide.
Carlos walks in with photos, “Look at this fucking creep! He took these photos while killing the girls!”
Douglas grabs them and flips through them. The photos are of dead girls with blood all over them in each picture.
Suddenly, Brandon begins to laugh and drops to his knees. Everyone looks at him like he’s lost his mind, which it seems like he has.
“As of now, Brandon Tanner has been stripped of all his managerial responsibilities at Tanner Electronics. It turns out that he’s suffering from a serious mental illness. He is being treated at a mental health facility at an undisclosed location. We are being told he will stand trial for the abduction of five actresses linked to Spinet Entertainment, including Ellen Sinclair, who was recently returned. He is also accused of murdering the other four actresses. Dante Schumer, a co-defendant in this trial, was acquitted of being an accomplice due to that lack of evidence.”
“The company is struggling without leadership. Your daughter has the most shares, so it’s ultimately her decision.”
The board of Tanner Electronics meets Dante Schumer, who has acquired enough stocks in Desiree’s name that, with Brandon locked up, she could take over the company if she chooses.
“The board is willing to allow her to assume control, as her reputation is impressive enough.”
Dante nods his head, “Let me speak with her again on the subject and get back to you. I’ll schedule another meeting soon.” As the board members walk out, Douglas walks in and sits down on the couch.
“How does it feel to have what you’ve been chasing finally?” Douglas asks him. When Dante looks at him a little confused, Douglas clarifies, “Tanner Electronics. It will belong to Desiree, just as you had always wanted.”
As for Dante, he’s looking older, more tired. He reaches for his glass of scotch and takes a drink. “Nothing is set in stone just yet.”
“It’s impressive,” Douglas says. “You come out of all of it with an eighteen-month sentence. Your hands are basically clean of all of this stuff that you created. Everyone who deserved it is paying for their sins. Everyone, except you. It’s not quite fair.”
Dante turns to look at Douglas, “No one ever said that life was fair, Douglas. I could have sworn I told you this from day one. The real question is, are you ready to come back and work for me?”
Douglas shakes his head, “Not me. I’m done with all of it. I plan to live my life as a decent human being from now on.”
Dante chuckles at that. “A decent human being?”
“I’m not over it yet,” Douglas says to him. “Justin. What happened between us seven years ago. There’s still a lot to account for, Dante.”
“You know there’s no proof for any of that. Not a single shred of evidence.”
Douglas shakes his head, “I can’t just let it go. You brought me in knowing you had my brother killed. I’m not going to let it go. We can’t just cover it up because no one knows.”
Dante swirls around the scotch in his glass, “It’s too late, Douglas. We have come too far now to uncover the truth.”
“We can walk it back. It’s time we paid for our crimes now,” Douglas says.
When Dante doesn’t respond, Douglas rises from his seat and walks out of the office. Dante watches as he leaves.
Douglas steps out into the backyard and stops to think for a moment. Desiree is sitting on the picnic table and sees him. She gets up and walks towards him.
“Douglas?” she says, and he looks at her. “I won’t ever see you here again, at this house, I mean. Will I?”
Douglas is still pissed at her for destroying the evidence of his brother’s death. He doesn’t say a word and starts to walk off.
“I was thrilled that first day that I met you,” she tells him, and it causes him to stop walking. Though he doesn’t turn to face her, she turns to look at him. “It was the first time in a long time that I felt warmth in this house.”
Douglas finally turns to face her. She says, “I would have been proud to have you as my brother.”
“Things started badly for us,” Douglas finally tells her.
Desiree nods her head, “Yes, but it was real. I saw my father smile when you were around. I could tell he was proud of you. I never saw him treat anyone like he treated you. It took me a while to realize that he really trusted you.”
“No,” Douglas says with a sigh. “Your father was never honest with me. Not one single time.” Douglas turns and walks off.
“Please,” Desiree begins to cry. “Please forgive him.”
Douglas turns to look at her again.
Douglas sits at home at his bar and watches the video with him and his brother again from his brother’s cell phone.
When it’s over, he says softly, “It’s almost over now.”
Sue Ann walks into a diner. It’s empty except for Douglas Frost. As she approaches the table, she asks, “How did you find out about this place? It took me forever to find it.”
“I heard you had an affinity for chili, so I asked around,” he tells her.
Sue Ann sits across from him, “That means my father told you.” She becomes a little nostalgic. The server brings two bowls and sets them in front of the two before walking off.
“Eat up,” Douglas tells her.
She takes a bite, and the diner remains silent for a few moments. With a bit of a sad expression, she whispers, “This is good.” She tries to shake it off as she looks up at him, “You should eat some too.”
Douglas nods his head but doesn’t move to eat any of his food. The room grows quiet as Sue Ann takes another bite, then she sets her spoon down on the table and asks, “What?”
“What do you mean?”
Sue Ann looks at him, “You have something you want to say. Just say it already.”
She’s not wrong. Douglas sits there for another moment. Finally, he says, “Sue Ann…”
As if she already knows what he’s going to say, she asks, “Why? You’re leaving, right? This is what happened before when you broke up with me. You invited me for a nice dinner, something I enjoyed. Then you sat there silently while I ate.”
Douglas lets out a little laugh, “Did I do that?” The smile soon fades, though.
Sue Ann sighs, “So, what is it this time?”
He raises his eyes to look at her across the table, “I have a story I need to tell.”
Sue Ann nods but doesn’t interrupt him, giving him her full attention.
“It’s a story that you might not understand at first.” Then he begins to tell her about that night, seven years ago. The night that ended up with him walking on the highway as the snow fell around him—that night when he witnessed several murders at Dante Schumer’s hands.
Later that night, Sue Ann sits on her bed. In her hand, the note that her father left her on the wall the night he jumped to his death.
The next day, Sue Ann is sitting on a park bench when Douglas walks up and takes a seat next to her.
“The weather is a little cooler today, don’t you think?” she asks him.
Douglas knows he’s not here to talk about the weather. He knows what she’s going to tell him. “You’re going to turn me down?”
Sue Ann nods her head, though she doesn’t look at him. “Another prosecutor will have to be in charge of your case. I’ll make sure whoever you get is solid and will be fair.”
“I know it’ll be hard, but can’t you do this for me?” he asks her.
She shakes her head, “How can I be in charge of this case? My father…” she starts to say but stops abruptly. “No. It can’t be me, Douglas.”
“You’re the only one I can count on to be fair about this case, Sue Ann. I don’t mind being investigated, but you’re the only one I trust.” Douglas sighs deeply, “I’m sorry to be such a burden.”
She finally turns to look at him with tears in her eyes. Nothing else is spoken as they both sit there in silence.
Douglas is walking up the steps to the prosecutor’s office. He’s dressed in his best business suit, tie, and all.
He walks into the interrogation room and sits down across from Sue Ann Clark. It’s obvious she doesn’t want to be the one to do this, but she’s agreed to do it anyway. She looks at him, “Are you ready?”
Douglas just nods his head.
She reaches down to press the record button on her phone, but her hand is shaking. She makes a fist but then finally hits the button.
“My name is Sue Ann Clark. I am interrogating Douglas Frost regarding murders that happened in a cabin that Dante Schumer owns. This incident occurred seven years ago. Tell me when you first met Dante Schumer.”
Douglas already knows all of this by heart, “It was November 25, 2013.”
“What were the circumstances surrounding that meeting?”
Dante Schumer is sitting in his study when the doorbell rings. He walks to the door, and Sue Ann Clark and several officers are with her. She holds out a warrant as an officer begins to place handcuffs on him.
“Dante Schumer, you are under arrest for soliciting the murder of Justin Frost. You are also under arrest for the murders of Jim Cantoon and Timothy Fletcher, the men you hired to kill Justin Frost. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to have an attorney.”
As she’s reading him his rights, Desiree steps into the doorway to find out what’s going on.
Dante sits across from Sue Ann in the interrogation room.
“You deny these charges?” she asks him.
Dante looks at her, “I’m telling you this incident never happened.”
Sue Ann sighs and pauses the recording. “If you have even the slightest sense of guilt left for Douglas, you should tell the truth here today.”
“It’s challenging to walk back on a path when you’re already walked so far,” he explains to her. “Do your best for him, Miss Clark. May I leave now?”
“I hope you’ll muster up the courage, to tell the truth in court, Mr. Schumer,” she says to him.
Desiree has been pacing outside of her father’s study for a short bit when she decides to just go on in. He has been sitting there in the dark for hours, it seems.
He doesn’t acknowledge her when she sits down though there was no way he could have missed her coming into the room.
The silence gets to be too much for her, so she looks over at him, “So, in the end, you refuse to take responsibility for what you’ve done?”
Without looking at her, Dante responds, “You don’t need to worry about such things.”
“It’s about Justin. How could I not worry?” she tells him.
Finally, Dante turns his head to look at his daughter, “What’s done is done. Justin Frost is already dead.” After he speaks, he looks forward again.
Desiree sits there, and her mind is whirling with emotions. Finally, she tells him, “I’ll take over Tanner Electronics.”
Dante seems surprised as he turns back to her.
“You want it so badly. I’ll do it. But I can’t do that right now with as much pain and hate I feel about all of this. I need you to tell me the goddamned truth. Why did you kill Justin? And afterward, why did you bring Douglas into all of this?”
Dante lets out a sigh, “Does it torment you that much?”
“I don’t need you to confess it to the world. I completely understand why you wouldn’t say it in court. But,” she tells him, “I need you, to be honest with me. If you don’t, I’ll walk out of this house, and you’ll never see me again.”
Dante’s voice is strained, raspy as he responds to her, “You would never be able to understand me, Desiree.”
“Let me try.”
Dante stares at her for a long moment before finally turning away from her, “It wasn’t something I intentionally set out to do. The company was new and struggling financially.” And he tells her his version of the story.
Douglas is on the witness stand, “I saw it with my own eyes,” he tells the court. “Dante Schumer used a bronze trophy. He murdered those two men after he had drugged them.”
Desiree is sitting in the courtroom. Dante is seated at the defendant’s desk.
“Why didn’t you stop him?” Sue Ann asks him.
“I was afraid,” he admits. “I didn’t dare to stop him, so I ran out of the house. I guess if I were completely honest, I could have turned a blind’s eye because I was fueled by revenge and hatred for those two men.”
Sue Ann looks up at him, “What happened after the murder?”
“I helped cover up the murder.”
Sue Ann turns around to the judge, “I have no further questions.”
The judge nods and turns his head to Dante’s lawyer, “Do you have any questions for the witness?”
“Yes, I do, Your Honor.” Remaining seated, the lawyer turns to Douglas, “There is no evidence of any murder, much less the murder you’ve described for us here today. The bronze trophy which you implied was used in this murder. We found no evidence that it was used in any murder.”
Sue Ann interrupts, “Is there a question coming? I withdraw the question. Your honor, to prove the true evidence of this murder, we have another witness. Since the defense lawyer would rather give speeches than ask questions of the witness, we’d like to call our next witness.”
The judge turns his attention to the defense attorney, “Are you finished with this witness?”
“Your honor, we would be happy to let the prosecution present her witness. We would like to be able to recall Douglas Frost back to the witness stand at a later time.”
The judge nods. “That’s fair. You may step down,” he says to Douglas, who moves from his seat and returns to the courtroom. The judge turns to Sue Ann, “Call your witness.”
Sue Ann nods. “We would like to call Desiree Schumer to the stand.”
Despite this turn, Dante remains stoic as his daughter is called to the stand. Desiree seems very conflicted by all of this. As Douglas walks towards her, he stops, and the two exchange looks before Douglas walks on and takes a seat behind her.”
Finally, Desiree rises from her seat and walks to the witness stand, and sits down.
“Why are you here today?” Sue Ann asks.
Desiree doesn’t dare look at her father, or she’ll lose the courage she’s spent the day building up. Instead, she looks up at the judge, “I’m here to atone for my father’s sins. I want him to pay for his crime and then live the rest of his life free of guilt. That is all I want for him.”
Sue Ann turns to the judge, “Your honor, Dante Schumer confessed his crime to his daughter. A confession we have on this voice recorder.” She clicks the button.
Dante’s voice is heard, “I was afraid of what would happen if I didn’t kill that boy.”
At hearing his voice, Dante begins to tremble as his eyes fill with tears.
“I knew it was wrong, but I was desperate.”
Desiree’s voice is heard asking, “Is that why you killed Justin? Because he saw the video?”
Dante begins to weep at the question. As he sits there in his chair, he’s about to respond when he sees the top of the voice recorder sticking out of Desiree’s pocket. He knows he’s being recorded.
As if it were the most painful thing he’s ever had to say, Dante finally says, “I had him killed. If Justin has revealed what he had seen to the public, I would have lost everything.”
Desiree nods her head, “So, you had Twill kill Justin to avoid him going to the police?”
Dante nods his head, but he knows he has to say the words. “I did. I ordered a thug named Twill to kill Justin Frost.”
As the recording stops, tears are streaming down Desiree’s face. Those in the courtroom begin to murmur as the judge pounds his gavel, “Quiet down in the courtroom.”
Douglas turns his head and looks at Dante, sitting there trying to hold it all in.
The courtroom has recessed, and it’s been cleared out except for Dante and Desiree. They are seated next to each other in the first row.
Dante takes in a deep breath, “Desiree, I’m sorry. I hid behind you to chase after my own greed. Do not live a life of a coward. That’s how I lived. What you did just now took guts. Believe it or not, I’m proud of the person you’ve become.”
Desiree sits there, and tears begin to stream down her face once again. Dante pulls her to him and hugs her tightly.
Dante rises to his feet and starts to walk off when Desiree asks, “Father? Why did you pretend not to know I had the recorder in my pocket? You knew I was recording when you confessed everything to me. Why?”
Dante smiles at his daughter, “Because you asked me to.” Dante turns and walks out of the courtroom. As the door closes behind him, Desiree begins to sob.
Dante is supposed to turn himself in tomorrow, but for tonight, he drives his car out to his cabin. Inside, he drinks a glass of scotch, single-malt. He hears the door open and close.
Douglas walks in, “Of all places, why are we here, Dante?” He walks in and sits down as Dante stands in front of a window, the curtain closed, almost as if he were looking past it to the outside.
“Douglas,” Dante begins as he finally turns around and walks into the room, “Between Ireland and Scotland, there is a very small island. One day, you and I should go see that island,” Dante walks over and pours some scotch into a second glass and walks over, “and have a drink. They have the best single malt whiskey.”
Knowing Dante is about to spend a lot of time in jail, Douglas is curious about where this conversation is going.
“Let’s get a modest house on the hill where the ocean breeze is strong. We can dig a cellar to store as much whiskey as possible,” Dante continues. “We can gaze at the winter skies when the sun goes down. We can watch the shower of stars. We can drink all night long and just enjoy nature.” Dante finally offers the glass of whiskey to Douglas.
“No,” Douglas tells him, rejecting the drink. “You shouldn’t have given me the glass of scotch that day. And I never should have accepted it.”
Dante looks down at him, “Is that so? But, Douglas, you and I drank from the same bottle, but that day I decided to live my life as I pleased. You also decided to live your life as you pleased. In other words, you chose the right path. Listen, from the beginning, you didn’t do anything wrong.” Douglas looks up at him as Dante tells him, “I made you like this.”
Tears start to come to Douglas’s eyes.
“So, you shouldn’t feel guilty at all about the murder,” Dante says. “Douglas, you lived a good life. And Douglas?” Douglas looks back up at him, “I’m sorry,” Dante tells him.
As Douglas watches him, Dante finishes the rest of the whiskey in his glass.
Douglas is driving home, but Dante’s words repeatedly ring in his head.
“I made you like this.”
“So, you shouldn’t feel guilty at all about the murder.”
“I made you like this.”
“So, you shouldn’t feel guilty at all about the murder.”
Suddenly, he pulls off to the side of the road, whips the car around, and heads back towards the cabin.
Inside the cabin, Dante has drawn a bath. He takes the last of the whiskey in the bottle and pours it into the tub. He finishes the little that’s left in his glass.
Douglas pulls into the long driveway and doesn’t even shut off his car as he hops out and hurries to the cabin. He pulls open the door and walks in, looking around.
There is music playing, so he walks down the hall towards it, stopping to make another turn down another hallway as the music gets louder and louder.
Douglas continues towards the sound of the music, and as he turns another corner, he can see Dante inside the bathtub. He didn’t even take off his suit.
As Douglas stares, wide-eyed, at Dante in the tub still dressed, the whiskey glass that Dante was holding falls out of his hand and crashes onto the floor.
Slowly, Douglas walks over to the tub and kneels, “Dante?” he says softly at first. There’s no blood or anything in the water, so Douglas says, “Stop joking around.” He begins to shake him, “Dante!” he yells now.
Douglas begins to sob as Dante doesn’t respond to his yelling. Tears are flowing down Douglas’s face as the scene slowly fades to black.
“Local businessman, Dante Schumer was found dead today in his cabin. The coroner is reporting no foul play involved in the death, and suicide has also been ruled out. The official report indicates that his heart just gave out. Speculation that the stress of the series of court battles he endured may have stressed him so much that his heart just stopped working. Schumer was set to report to prison yesterday after being found guilty of murder in the first degree.”
Sue Ann is home, having just finished cleaning up. She sits down at her dining room table and spreads her hands across the surface. She can’t even remember when this table wasn’t littered with case files and photographs. Now, it’s empty.
Well, except for a framed photograph. She grabs it and pulls it towards her, and looks at the photo of her and her father. Stanley stands there looking the professional he always was, while Sue Ann was smiling wide and leaning her head against his shoulder.
As she brushes her thumb against the glass, her eyes begin to tear up.
“You’d be proud,” she tells him.
Desiree sits at the head of the conference table at Tanner Electronics.
“We will establish a fund to help the victims of the methanol abuse and any other industrial accidents that may have occurred. We will resolve this case by taking responsibility for our actions. I will order all production of any device in any factory that uses methanol. I want plans within the week, or I’ll find someone who can come up with something.”
Douglas is walking down a long dirt road. It could very well be the same road he walked down on that snowy night seven years ago. But, there is still daylight.
All we hear are the sounds of his footsteps each time one is taken.
Suddenly, an odd expression crosses Douglas’s face. As the camera pans back, we see someone walking towards him. Douglas squints his eyes, and we finally see that Dante is walking towards him.
Dante smiles at him, and Douglas loses it and begins to sob.
The two men stand there looking at each other, and Douglas finally walks towards him to embrace him when he realizes that no one was there.
Douglas drops to his knees in the middle of the road and cries out as the scene fades to black.