Three Weeks Ago
The haze of cigarette smoke and background noise slightly permeated the air of the booth for most of its inhabitants. To get to the booth would've required walking through a thick crowd enjoying a baseball game on TV, so fixated on the sport that next to no one would be paying attention to what was going on in Kelli's booth. And in turn, much of the attention of the booth's occupants didn't extend beyond it, a feat easily achieved due to a charming introduction with Kelli herself.
The infamous street hypnotist smiled at the woman she sat across, just as much as she indirectly smiled at the man she sat next to.
"Are you serious? You got him to bark like a dog? Ned hates dogs," Sally asked incredulously.
"I kept telling old Neddy here that it was possible to discover such a thing as a man's 'inner best friend.' He didn't believe me, of course; very few do, before I show them how such a thing is possible. He lost five bucks on that bet."
Both women smiled at Ned conveniently sipping his beer for long seconds, putting off the ability to confirm or deny.
Sitting next to Kelli was a blushing Detective Ned Ryburn, seemingly following along with the introductory conversation, participating here and there with a few neutral or funny contributions. Truthfully, he was letting Kelli do most of the talking; most of his cognitive effort was spent looking awake, while the rest of him sank deep into the submissively-rewarding state he always loved to actively be in. It wasn't as deep as he wanted, the trance not reaching further than a middle realm between light and medium; if all went well after introducing his law enforcement friends to Kelli, she would find a way to get him to go deeper than ever before in the months since she first found a more proper placement for his mind.
"It's just hard to believe all-business Ned loosening up THAT hard, howling, or barking at the moon at any point."
"And for five more bucks, or the next round, I can ensure she never sees that side of you," she gently ribbed her friend, making Sally almost giggle before enjoying more of her beer.
Across from the performer and her usual assistant was a smiling Detective Sally Saffron, very interested to hear about Ned's new friend. The veil of mostly-genuine happiness keenly hid the suspicion she had about this Kelli. Ned buddying up with such a woman seemed very strange; it could've been totally innocent, but at the very least, there'd be no harm in looking her up after their meeting, and after Lou would finally show.
"You know, to take a bit of the spotlight off of me, five bucks says you can't do that to Sally either. Not the barking thing, but something like that," Ned said, virtually desperate to put someone else under Kelli's assertions.
"I'm not sure she could do that," Sally stated without thinking. It was a few seconds later that she said she probably should've said "should do that," subconsciously curious about what it would take to make it happen, still drawing from notions of quiet audiences for silly stage shows, or vague explanations of Kelli's methods.
"Yeah, I'm not sure I could either," hypnotist smiled, looking around the constantly-audible bar as if assessing the possibility, half-looking around to invest in the agreement with Sally, and half-looking to make sure no distractions could be coming their way, or any threats her way.
"I mean, even under ideal conditions, it can be something of a 50/50 thing. Like the flip of a coin." Handily, she produced a quarter from out of nowhere, flipped and placed it between her palm and back of the other hand.
"Call it," she asked of Sally, softly yet insistently.
Sally wasn't expected to be put on the spot, let alone so quickly, so she chose without thinking. "Heads."
Kelli looked at Sally for a second longer than necessary, checking after to see what the coin turned up.
"You're right, heads, which means you're susceptible to trance. It could've easily gone the other way though; 50/50 like I said."
"Really. Let's try again." Without even looking at her hands doing the coin flipping and catching it, Kelli kept her gaze straight on her intended target.
"Call it," the repetition in her voice was aided by a dash of coyness.
"Sorry, heads again, which means pretty low chances at resisting. But like I said, the chance is still there; it could happen easily, not that it couldn't happen just as easily."
Sally was a bit at a loss for words, trying to keep up with Kelli's weird take on statistical odds.
"And do you think the chances would change at all if the coin was spun rather than flipped?" Kelli asked while effortlessly spinning the coin on the table; she'd cleared the contents of condiments and menus off of it earlier, so the coin spun gracefully, unobstructed, almost exactly like how Kelli's words were spun.
"To watch something spin like the coin feels so different than just flipping it. Different perceptions, different dimensions, perhaps more possibilities than one would think, but all leading to one inevitable possibility, perhaps all lead by the voice so interested in discovering the inevitable."
Sally never noticed the tonal shift in Kelli's voice, a softer sound that somehow drowned out even the loudest screams, making them sound like ever-fading background noise. None of that hardly mattered as neither detective managed to take their eyes off the shiny coin, much to the coin owner's delight.
"And forgetful me, I forgot to ask you to call it before. We'll do that again, and to make it feel a little more familiar, you can extend your hand out a bit to cover the coin, so it can be a surprise when you find that inevitable possibility."
Sally confusedly brought her hand out slowly, and Kelli's helpfully guided it towards the center of the table as she spun it again. Kelli continued to help maintain the secret, guiding Sally's outstretched hand to blind her from the coin, leading the unseeing detective into further explanation.
"What a surprise the inevitable that would be, as surprising as how easily your hand stays comfortably out, despite its heaviness. Tired but straight, heavy but floating, lead by the coin, lead by my voice, following yet too heavy, until it's too heavy that when the coin falls..."
Kelli had been holding up Sally's hand enough that letting it go dropped the outstretched hand on the table, kept soothed by Kelli's hand still above it.
"You might fall as well, hiding the inevitable, but knowing deep inside what it already is. So many directions, possibilities, dimensions, chances, yet everything was leading to this one point. Inescapable, only wanting to know what lies ahead. Do you want to know what lies ahead on the coin?"
The tingling sensation in the officer's hand kept her from delivering any swift answer, so Kelli felt obliged to lift her hand a bit to see where the coin fell on.
"SLEEP!" she whispered sharply to Sally, jolting her hand forward to the inevitable shock induction, shoulders cradled by Ned that had silently shifted to Sally's side of the booth, to keep her body from falling or bouncing off the table.
"Very good Sally, sleep now, sleep deep now. The coin has decided. My voice has decided. MissPlacement has decided where you belong, and it feels so good to be where you belong, right here, sleepy, and growing happy the deeper you go."
Kelli was very pleased at how easily Sally had ended up succumbing, about as easy as Ned, though having Ned vouch for her made to much easier to take, and she imagined having as much programming her new law enforcement pet, as much as her first for sure.
Checking the time, she still had around 25 minutes before the next friend showed up; as tempting and as ego-boosting as it would've been to take multiple cops at once, the divide-and-conquer strategy of giving each new "friend" different meet times worked best, giving her enough time to create a sufficient-enough baseline for established control. She felt she needed it, and every smart advantage she could take; stealing from mobsters was a fairly new type of fear inducing she experienced, not realizing she'd stolen from one until it was too late. Trying to shore up defenses, she'd become a little more paranoid about where threats might be coming from, giving every person and/or crowd more than a once-over to assess opportunities or threats.
Every ten minutes or so, she'd give the breadth of the bar another subtle glance, and the last few times confirmed something a bit concerning. Kelli asked Ned to give a physical description of the friends coming, and one person in the crowd deeply resembled Detective Lou Giatti, who was already there, and had his sights very interested on their booth from across the bar. Impressions from his acquaintances created expected behavior of a fashionably-late, horn-dog, and not a tactical spy.
"Paranoia pays off," she told herself, asking her evening companions to act awake and conversational, waiting for a crowd to pass their table to slip out of sight.
Shifting through the annoying crowd was difficult, like a trout moving upstream, against the current, bumping into too many obstructions, even a cute guy that she didn't mind bumping into for a second as she made her way around to flank the surveying officer.
Lou literally never saw her coming, just feeling a gentle arm around his neck, a sweet perfume filling his personal space, and a strange series of finger snaps pulling his attention away from the view of the booth. A crooning litany turned his attention back towards the booth, no longer staring at his target from a distance, but into her beautiful eyes, up-close and personal, beyond shocked at being compromised.
"Every breath you take, deep breath *SNAP*, you breathe deep with every breath,"
The first breath in her grasp was a helpless breath, deepened as instructed.
"Every move you make, a deep, deep breath *SNAP*, the only every move you can make."
Movement wasn't an accessible thought, only focused on breathing.
"Every bond you break, deeper breaths *SNAP*, breaking from every bond, but bonding with my words with every deeper breath." *SNAP*
Everything surrounding faded but Kelli, bound to suggestions that formed thoughts piercing deep with every snap.
"Every step you take causes a deeper breath *SNAP*, walking deeply into yourself, walking with my voice, following it, trusting it with every deep breath." *SNAP*
Devoid of any other input or will, metaphorical legs brought him deeper into the body she controlled.
"I'll be watching you breath deep *SNAP* with every breath, *SNAP* every move, *SNAP* every bond, *SNAP every step, *SNAP* I'll be watching you SLEEP!" *SNAP*
Sharp snaps, and intensified gaze, and a sleep command finished him off quickly. Kelli couldn't help but giggle into his ear with deepening instructions, using song lyrics all-too-befitting of surveillance to take him under. To any passerbys, it only looked like harmless flirting; flirting with the kind of danger she was, the kind that had cops in their pocket, she nearly rushed the subconscious inquiry of the what, how and why. Lou was in-fact working for Richie McClung, ready to track her movements and inform him of where she could be found. That information changed Kelli's original plans quickly, as they all headed to Lou's house for more refreshments of the mind-control variety, and for MissPlacement to reassess how to utilize a new asset who would still believe he belonged to McClung.
Detective Giatti spaced out for a moment, his mind drifting off elsewhere while Richie and an associate of his talked business. He was used to standing before some authority or figurehead, waiting to hear their opinion that would decide what he would do next. Oddly enough, a man as infamous as Richie was as authoritative as it got in Lou's circles, controlling more than his official duties or the paycheck derived from them; and as dangerous as he could be with that kind of control, he's the authority that demanded the least of the detective. For a man rather moderately on the take like Lou, he was paid quite handsomely.
Lately though, any payments deriving from Richie paled compared to moments in his life where he was willing to give up more control than he ever thought he could. Lou finally understood how habitual drug users often fell back into their self-destructive routines; when a drug blows your mind better than any barbiturate or sexual act, you'd do anything for it. No controlled substance stood a chance against a controlling substance like hypnosis, one Lou wasn't even aware he was jonsing for.
"Lou," a firm voice from outside his suspended thoughts finally pierced and got his attention. Lou looked towards the waiting face of McClung's assistant, Tara Cunningham.
"I said 'are we good for Friday?'" Tara asked, wondering why the typically-attentive officer looked lost. As did the silent, observant Richie McClung next to her.
"Yeah, Friday is all set. I double-checked the routes; you won't have any trouble slipping past them."
Richie smiled, happy to slyly avoid yet another "surprise" police sting. Giatti was paid as well as he was for his forethought in being able to avoid usual police interference, without it looking like it happened based on informing. The mob lieutenant kept his demeanor on the satisfied side, but never let his watchful eye deviate from noticing any facial ticks or indicators giving away that Giatti was holding back or hiding anything. Most found out the hard way why that was never a good idea.
"And as for the, shall we say, 'brief' matter of the 'case?'" The assistant spoke again, prompting the last bit of business Richie had with Lou.
"Uhhh..." It took monumental effort to not blank out momentarily, thinking about the beautiful culprit that managed to steal a case from one of Richie's couriers mere minutes after it was practically in Richie's hands. Lou set the file on the table for the assistant to take.
"Yeah, I've got what I could of your thief. Her name is Kelli Kennedy, a.k.a. MissPlacement. Some kind of neighborhood hypnotist, or something. She's sort of got a rep, but a lot of it is vague at-best. Other than the case we know she stole, she might've done something here, maybe was present when something was misplaced there. Read between the lines in all these reports though, and the voodoo this chick has is strong. And she's hard to catch, which makes things difficult."
"But I assume things will be easier for us as we at least have a name," Tara was rather annoyed at the lack of specifics, as if annoyed on behalf of Richie.
"We have a name, but things don't get this vague without the girl having some skill, like probably a lot of tricks up her sleeve."
"Tricks aren't usually a problem for us; leave us what you have, and we'll take it from here," she skimmed the pages, getting ready to advise Richie on their appraisal.
"So..." Richie spoke up for the first time during that meeting. It was something he rarely did, mostly out of fear of being secretly recorded, but also knowing the assistant loved applying pressure as the velvet glove to Richie's iron fist.
"Enjoying all that money your lawyer saved from your no-good ex?"
"D-definitely," Lou stuttered, surprised he brought that up. "Can't thank you enough for that referral."
"Hard-working man like you deserves to keep every cent he can earn. I assume that's what made your mind wander earlier."
The assistant hid their smile, rather enjoying the detective being called out.
"Well, thinking of how to spend that money over the weekend, yeah. Maybe one day I'll be able to save up for a seat in the skybox, like I'm sure you enjoy at the game this Saturday."
The innocuous statement struck the assistant with pause, as if Lou mentioned something that wasn't supposed to be his business. Both Lou and the assistant who looked to Richie's unfaltering, easy smile.
"Or whenever you make it out there."
"Keep up the good work, and maybe one day you'll get an invitation," Richie spoke, just as innocuously.
Silently, Lou nodded and took his leave, aware of how closely he was being watched upon departing, unaware of their expressions.
Kelli's seat amongst the crowd of occasionally screaming and jeering baseball fans was strategically sound, but a bit of a pain to endure. The comfortable illusion she created at Lou's house was so much more ideal, when the surrounding spectators were just figments of her hypnotic suggestion. But she tried to keep in the spirit of things, taking the advice of her crack enforcement team of detectives Ryburn, Saffron, and Giatti, ready to corner and take Richie McClung long before he even knew he was taken. Kelli dressed as innocuously as possible, wearing some baseball paraphernalia, but looking more like a student still studying on the weekends, complimented with cosmetic eyeglasses, and a bag filled with a few textbooks.
But more than the books or the game itself, Kelli's attention was centered on her phone, checking text messages delivered from planted assets across the stadium. From Kelli's seat to the stadium skybox, Ned, Sally, and Lou gave text updates, waiting for McClung to appear. Lou's mentioning of Richie's skybox, and Richie's reaction to it, confirmed enough that he would be there to enjoy the game. And rather than consistently play defense, waiting for McClung to act, Kelli sought to be proactive, to neutralize the threat as efficiently as possible. All she had to do was wait for confirmation that he was present, and she'd make her way up to the skybox as well to negotiate a truce between them, by any reasonable means necessary; Kelli grinned at all the reasons she could think to give.
A buzz from her phone brought her attention back to the earlier parts of her surprise attack, a text from Sally:
"BF BFF on the way"
The hypnotist happily deciphered the message as "boyfriend" Richie's BFF/assistant Tara was making her way into the stadium, probably sent ahead to take care of something for Richie's arrival. That was a good sign, and would be even better once either Tara would reach the second checkpoint, or Richie would reach the first where Sally was stationed. A second text followed, this time from Ned:
"BF BFF on the way up"
Tara was on a clear path going up to the skybox, but it worried her a bit that the BF hadn't showed yet, meaning he could've left his assistant to attend the game on her own, or there as another way to the skybox she hadn't anticipated. Hoping, almost praying that she didn't have to abandon the plot and regroup seemed to pay off as two messages came back to back of one another, the first coming from Lou whom was closest to the skybox:
"BF BFF in heaven"
And another by Sally:
"BF on the way."
That was her cue, as Richie had finally entered the building. She was hoping to be right behind Richie, to keep a close eye on him, and maybe to be seen as presence he'd want to indulge.
As she reached over for her bag, she found it out of reach. Looking up, there was a tall, good-looking man in glasses moving Kelli's bag to the floor, as he took the seat next to her, acting totally as if he belonged there.
"The nerve," Kelli thought about the act, until she took a good look at the man. He looked exactly like...like the cute guy that bumped into her from the bar where she met Sally and Lou for the first time. And unfortunately, he looked like he could be Richie McClure's twin, and it was unlikely that Richie had any twin siblings.
The two just looked at each other, but Richie was the only one to smile, looking so unassuming, offering her popcorn from the concession stands.
"You don't look very happy to see your boyfriend," he joked. "Let me guess, brain fart?"
She was too stunned to say anything.
"Yeah, probably a brain fart; hate when those happen. For remembrance's sake, let me reintroduce. I'm Richie, and you're Kelli, right?"
Richie's outstretched hand remained in the air as long as it took for Kelli to take a composing breath, and even begin to assess how screwed she was. The flight instinct kicked in enough to look around for escape opportunities. In sharp glances, she could see men at both ends of her row that looked like plain-clothed hitmen in dark sunglasses; one in a leather jacket with a balding comb over was doing a terrible impression of looking innocuous, but very alarming with his stoic look towards the ball field, as if ready to pounce on someone coming his way. Effectively boxed in, she shook the offered hand, resigned to waiting for whatever might come.
"To what do I owe the pleasure?" She spoke slowly, with shaky confidence.
"'Owe' might be one of those operative words today. Remember when you took my briefcase by accident that day? I had some important papers in there. You haven't seen them recently, have you?"
"I hope all can be forgiven if I can remember where they are, and I think I can."
"Oh, you're already forgiven, sweetie. But we're past forgiveness, and now we're just in the 'impressed' phase."
"Damn right, impressed. How someone like you always seem to find things other people need or had, it's really a gift. I hope you believe me as I tell you how gifted you are, like that show about that girl with the sticky fingers; can never remember what it's called, or if it's on Netflix or whatever."
"Anyway, I love that episode where she meets the guy she stole from, he confronts her, and they ended up having so much in-common. It was like she was stealing from herself."
"This...sounds familiar, I mean it really does, though you have really weird taste in shows still." Despite all the danger and subterfuge, she could help but throw some sass his way. "What happens in that episode?"
"The way I remember it, someone talks about their backgrounds, how young they both took to crime, how exceptional they both were at it, and how they just took different paths, but still ended up in sort of the same place."
"How mad was the guy who had his stuff stolen?"
"The way it was stolen, who wouldn't be really, really mad at that? But hearing more about the how, the way it was stolen, made the guy really, really curious. I mean, who steals and makes the victims forget that anything was stolen? Apparently this girl. And even saying it out loud makes me feel like I haven't praised that character's skills enough."
"She certainly sounds like quite the character."
"You don't know the half of it; by the end of the episode, she actually gets a judge in her power or something. It ends up being a judge that they have in-common, a judge that is facing him in court for something he supposedly did, and had faced her for something she did a long time ago, and got a really harsh sentence from. This judge, Kowalski or whatever the name was, really didn't like smart kids in her tenure."
"Kowalski" was a name Kelli had hated for more than half her life, thanks to the one judge that was arguably very instrumental at putting her down the path she was on. It was an exciting path that she loved being herself on, but it was also one she made the best of, with her choices deeply restricted over the years. This judge had a reputation of a cast-iron bitch, just short of outright cruelty within the bounds of the law, and probably put dozens or hundreds of people in peculiarly harsh positions.
Kelli herself blanked out from memories of that the last image she had of the judge, the smarmy smile she always thought about lashing out towards.
"Yeah, I didn't get a chance to see what had happened to the judge; what I would've paid to see it first hand." Richie talked and ate so much that his small bag of popcorn was gone before long. "Man, these used to be more filling. I feel like getting some more, what about you?" Richie gestured with his hand for her to hopefully come along; Kelli was impressed by how much he made it seem like there was actually a choice. Leaving her seat, noticing through peripheral vision the man in the leather jacket was getting up to follow, she followed her "boyfriend" through the concession crowds, looking for exits, knowing she wouldn't get far, or her cops wouldn't make it in time to save her. It scared her how genuine this Richie seemed, as if that was all he wanted from her.
"This shitty show aside, I suspect you want something very specific done to this judge, for something do to with you."
Richie smiled, a much more authentic smile than he successfully could fake as a clueless boyfriend. "You suspect correctly; there's a pending case that's up in the air. Kowalski's presiding over the trial, and she due to rule on some evidence soon. My lawyer isn't hopeful, but I have a little more faith. In you."
"She's in the skybox?"
"Yeah, maybe exactly where you planned to get to me."
She ignored her original plan being embarrassingly exposed. "You realize that whatever you want me to do isn't that simple; it can't be just a one-time thing, I would need to keep working to convince her how to...correctly apply the law."
"Would the weekend suffice?"
Kelli actually thought about the logistics, thorough brainwashing lasting a full day-and-a-half. Feasible, but still a long shot, something Richie probably knew.
"If you really managed to pull it off, you can consider us square." He extended his hand for agreement. She wondered if he knew what kind of vulnerability he placed himself in doing that. She wondered how much he actually knew about what she could do, and if trying what she wanted could be a gigantic mistake. Then her thoughts thought about Kowalski's smarmy smile from years ago, and an opportunistic vengeance took the reigns, shaking his hand in agreement.
"Just me in there. And like I said, time is needed, and next to no interruption once I've got her, alright?"
"Fine by me."
"Once I have her, I can at least start to weave some of what you want into her thinking. Okay?"
"Sounds perfect," she nodded lightly to his agreement, and walked away towards the skybox, trying not to look visibly flustered.
Trekking up to the skybox was a glacier's pace compared how quickly she'd thought she be moving to ambush Richie. A sluggish energy lathering her muscles, she sometimes stopped on her way, with Lou waiting faithfully, silently next to her. He was to be used to gain entry into the exclusive stadium suite; if more conscious of it, he realize how much he wasn't used to such a deflated hypnotic mistress second-guessing herself, especially when it came to getting her charms deep into a new target. Her mind kept racing, analyzing exit strategies, using Lou and whomever to get by Richie and his leather jacket enforcer, and fend them off if need be, but the amount of desperation surprisingly didn't change with whom she was targeting, but what was more surprising was the added layer of confliction. She never imagined working for the man she thought was trying to kill her, but she always dreamed about what she would do to the likes of Judge Rose Kowalski, the utter humiliation and various forms of payback she'd gleefully inflict; but now she was hesitant, for a myriad of reasons.
She wanted to curl up in a ball for long minutes to get a stable low-center of gravity, or find someone, something she could punch her fist through. Putting those options aside, she pulled out the special gold lighter from her pocket. Instead of a cigarette to calm her nerves, she began flicking it open and shut without looking at her motions, successfully lighting it each time. Perfecting her new trick helped not only to calm her nerves, but slowly turned them back to steel yet again, confidence brimming inside her, even with her original plans awry. She stood against the wall of a long corridor, keeping herself from banging her head against it with thoughts of how she'd take the judge. The memory of her youthful conviction was quite clear, with lots of legal jargon sticking out, and the sickeningly-sincere final words from the judge before an adult sentence was passed for an admittedly-manipulative 16-year-old. All of those thoughts blended into a strategy she found useful, and quite motivating.
Standing tall again and composing herself, she flicked the lighter open one more time, staring at the flame, telling herself that she was the flame, and everyone else around her would get burned if they weren't careful. Walking with purpose to the skybox, with Detective Giatti increasing his walking gait to keep up, the hypnotist let conviction blaze an invisible trail to her next target.
Rose Kowalski sat in a row of box seats, intentionally a few seats away from everyone. Most people lately have become cumbersome and annoying, from her law clerks, to even her college kids and their mediocre grades. It didn't help that she had a nasty habit of being hard on and expecting better from everyone around her, which made for a pretty harsh judge to sit in-front of and have judgment passed down onto. Truthfully, she was only half-interested in the game, and treating the outing like a tropical getaway from the stupidity of others; envisioning a bottle of 15-year-old scotch in her future to drown out the rest of the world out later, she barely noticed a young woman taking a seat near her, even further from the other patrons.
Peripheral vision got her to turn her attention to a young woman in glasses, looking confused and in her direction. Judge Kowalski's look was confused too, bordering on anger.
"I'm sorry," Kelli quickly apologized, "but are you Judge Rose Kowalski?"
"I am," Rose responded, not dropping the evident look of her defensive demeanor.
"I'm really sorry, I don't mean to stare, it's just that...it's an honor to be sitting to one of the best judges sitting on the bench today."
The flattery only got Rose to drop her defensiveness a small amount.
"And whom might you be?"
"I'm Kelli. Kelli Kenderson, it's nice to meet you Judge Kowalski," Kelli extended her hand to Rose, crossing the few empty seats between them to sit next to her. Rose took her hand, the last name Kenderson echoing in her head, known as a wealthy, influential clan in their city and part of the country, the kind that could easily contribute to a paltry campaign for staying in power as an elected judge. Sitting before a young relative of the Kendersons that actually liked admired her for some reason got her to drop the rest of her defensiveness, and even not realize how long she'd been shaking Kelli's hand, or staring at a pointed, intensifying look.
There were a few words spoken before a peculiar hand jolt that stole her consciousness away momentarily; Rose swore one of those words was "sleep," but she was too busy letting a sleepy sensation waft over her, before coming back to herself almost immediately, blinking as if she hadn't fallen asleep with her eyes open. Kelli still smiled at her as if nothing wrong transpired, much to Rose's delight as she was happy to engage and converse with the young woman, wanting to give as much attention to her as she did in any case she took a passionate interest in.
"So, I was wondering your honor..."
"Please, call me Rose."
Kelli grinned widely at that. "Okay, if you wish, Rose. I know this might not be the an irregular time to do it, but a double-major keeps students like me so busy that I barely have enough time for sleep, something I hope a great woman in your position doesn't have a problem with."
"Thankfully, not at all," Rose was happy that Kelli found that answer worthy of another big grin. "What did you say you were majoring in, Kelli?"
"Law and Psychology. Much more interested in the former, but lots of people say I have too much of a knack for the latter, especially my professors that suggested I do a combined thesis of sorts. Very unorthodox, but actually very interesting."
"That does sound very unorthodox, but I sense a woman of your pedigree can easily manage. What is your thesis?"
"It has to do with the psychology of a trial, everything that's supposed to be going on in people's heads, from the jury, to the prosecutors and defense, even the judge. My professor is very interested in the judge's rulings, thinking there's a subconscious pattern they follow that makes their decisions pre-determined. It's something I'm disputing, but my professor challenged me to prove it disputable."
Rose found the professor's thinking quite disputable as well given her professional standards, and wanted to help prove Kelli right.
"I'd be happy to help disprove such ridiculousness, by all means. How can I help?"
"Well..." Kelli pulled out a notepad and pen. "I have a series of objections listed, both from the defense and the prosecution, and you're supposed to reply to all of them with the same ruling. In this case, the ruling of 'sustained.' No matter what the objection, the ruling has to be the same. And after, I'm supposed to get an account from you on how you're feeling after that, judging the dispassion a judge is supposed to have."
Rose gave the explanation considerable thought. It was an intriguing study, that she honestly feared could undermine the public perception of judges; that thought never seemed to overcome the willingness to help Kelli.
"I can do that."
"Thank you very much, your honor," Kelli spoke, the last few words spoken with tone one could mistake for contempt.
"To start, the prosecution objects to a witness for the defense speaking of second-hand information heard at a bar."
"Sustained," Rose stated without issue.
"The defense objects to a toxicology report admitted into evidence because it makes their client look bad."
That struck Rose momentarily, but she remembered the tenets of the study. "Sustained."
"The prosecution objects to defendant yelling out at the top of their lungs, 'I'm innocent!'"
"Sustained," Rose did and would stated staunchly.
"The defense objects to a diamond pendant on a chain being admitted into evidence."
"The prosecution objects to the defense showing the diamond, dangling the diamond on a chain in-front of a witness for identification."
"The defense objects to the witness having claim over that diamond, like the diamond has claim over the witness."
"Sustained," the word grew softer, but still with purpose as if the repetition was keeping the rapt imagery clear in Rose's mind's eye.
"The prosecution objects to the witness wanting to stare listlessly at the diamond, claiming they're being non-responsive."
"The defense objects as the witness can't help themselves as they hold the diamond pendant up by the simple chain, as everyone becomes a witness to the shiny facets."
"The prosecution objects as the judge bears witness and high suggestibility while looking at the diamond, twirling, flashing soft lights all over, into fascinated eyes."
"The defense objects to the notion that there is a defense against the light, that anyone whom looks at the beautiful diamond long enough finds they can't help but become subject to the most confident voice gracing their ears, the voice that feels like it's speaking from inside your head, dictating your thoughts."
"The prosecution objects to their being a defense against the voice that speaks, that each word is like a flash of light from the crystal, that as long as you stare, as long as you listen, you must listen, you must stare, you must obey."
"Sustained," the judge almost softly whispered, taken by the diamond-hard will whose words were priceless to her illuminated mind still set on repeat.
"You must obey, Rose, because judges obey the law, and the law is made by those with authority, the authority that makes you say that one word your lips know, the words you have to speak out loud."
Kelli avidly watched as some form of recognition noticed the change in what was going on, searching for something to grasp onto, but finally settled into easing facial muscles, and a word her lips were all too familiar with.
"Sustained," Rose surrendered to, with glassy eyes and a placid expression.
"That's right Rose, because there is no objection to my words, no defense to them. I am the word of the higher court, and your decisions and will answer only to me. You cannot misjudge me anymore, but I can...heh, I can certainly MissJudge you, Rose, can't I?"
Knowing no other response to give, "sustained," easily left her lips.
"Correct, Rose. You are sustained. Your will is sustained by my will. Your thoughts are sustained by my words. Your appearance is sustained by my suggestions. The only overruled you can imagine is when MissJudge overrules anything she wants to of you, Judge Kowalski."
"Sustained," Kelli wolfishly smiled at how the word that probably unfair sunk most of her viable defense at her own trial was now the work that sunk the lost judge deep into MissPlacement's power.
"For example, MissJudge overrules anything that separates the connection between my diamond pendant, my words, my will, and my beautiful spiral nail design," Kelli held out her hand for Rose to take, looking to anyone surrounding as if she was just admiring her nail polish, never realizing the depths of that truth. "Just a glance at this nail, and you spiral down, deep into this perfect hypnotized state, where everything is as I say it is. You want it this way, you need it this way. You need to be deeply hypnotized, often wanting to beg for it, and will do whatever you have to please me so that I may graciously bless your mind with my power. Feels addictive already, doesn't it?"
"Sustained," Rose nearly gasped in pleasure at that. Kelli deeply desired the need to finish her off dramatically, tapping that nail to her forehead to plunge her inexorably down into trance, but she still had to keep up appearances.
"Everything you want, that you need can be sustained Rose, if you act as awake as possible, still deep in my power, and follow me out in a moment."
Rose, for her subdued part, didn't know the context of anything worth paying attention to, except the young hypnotist getting up from sitting next to her. A long, lingering grin filled Rose's head with endorphins, leashing her body to Kelli's as she followed a few paces behind her from her seat, slowly exiting the skybox, taking her towards Kelli's spellbound officers, a deeply ecstatic Richie McClung, and a weekend of sustained, hypnotic obedience to look forward to.