Friday, January 14, 2011

Amanda's confession

I can picture the scene clearly.  Jean-Paul's bath is room temperature.  I could hear Simonne, his wife, in the kitchen.  She was using the stove to boil up more of Jean-Paul's concoctions for his bath and at the same time make the 4:00 supper, they liked to eat early when Jean-Paul was too ill to entertain.   In the room I could smell the vinegar coming off the head bandage he was wearing, it was oppressive and mixed with the smell of rotten flesh it was hard to stay in the room with him.  There was too much instruction I needed to get, so I tried and swallow the bile and focus on the work.  Visually it was difficult as well.  The afternoon he had a rash which looked awful on the right of his chest; it was blistering and scabbing.  There were a few places in the rash where the skin had been peeled off.   Jean-Paul knew better than to scratch his body, he was already covered with scars, but sometimes the pain the itching was too bad.  His skin was like tissue sitting on-top of oil on top of ketchup.  When he finally did scratch, it instantly tore and the smell of the puss made the visuals worse.

I was shocked when Charlotte walked in the room.  Simonne would have announced her at the door.  I wondered  if she had just barged through the front door or Simmone didn't want to come up with Charlotte.    Charlotte was a gorgeous woman, but the grief had aged her terribly since I'd seen her 30 months before.  Her blond hair peaked out from her bonnett.  She hadn't combed it that day, which was quite unusual.   She flew into the room.  Charlotte walking right up to Jean-Paul, an undressed man,  an undressed man not her husband.  I couldn't believe what I was watching.  Jean-Paul was less shocked then me, he reacted more quickly, sensed the danger, and started to bring the board he was writing on up like a shield.  He was translating another famous English work, his English was so strong, he had this flair for capturing the metaphors that the English lace their writing with and could find just the perfect correspondence in French.  That's what I was thinking about as I watched the board rise and those pages fall into the bath.  I know that sounds odd but while I admired Jean-Paul I never really liked him.

It was then that I noticed the dagger Charlotte brought out from the money purse in the front of her dress.  I doubt Jean-Paul recognized but I knew it was the daily wear dagger of Restif, her brother, her dead brother, he had died in the September massacre with much of Charlotte's family.  Because Jean-Paul was still seated she had too much leverage, as she reached the tub she shifted her weight onto the board and it dropped back towards the bath trapping his hands in its fall.     She used the blister on Jean-Paul's chest like a bulls-eye and targeted his heart.   Her aim was solid, and the dagger pierced deep.  She didn't get caught on the ribs, I've often wondered if she had she practiced on hogs?

She glanced at me, a smile.  I was actually happy to see her smile, those blue eyes, with light in them again.   And then I thought of the irony.  Five years ago, Charlotte even though she was little more than a  petty aristocrat, would never have smiled at a commoner about a shared activity she would have considered that act grossly inappropriate.  Now in her last truly free moment I saw that "égalité, fraternité" had become so much a part of her that she was untroubled sharing an emotion with one of a lower rank.  She saw our shared humanity.

I suspect she missed the heart, but in Jean-Paul's condition that didn't matter.  It took him almost ten minutes to die.  I could hear the air from his punctured lung hissing with each breath.  The noxious chemicals from the bath that he used for his skin kept the blood flowing faster.  I don't know if he would he have bled out anyway, without the chemicals but I suspect he likely would have.    Simmone entered and wept, and wailed.  It was amazing how much she loved him, despite how visually and olfactory unpleasant it was to be in his presence,  that her care these years hadn't been just duty.  I realized she always saw the marvelous doctor from the 70's and not the withered politician.

Simmone tried to help him but she had never been in the army, she didn't know what to do.  I did, know what to do, but I've mentioned all that was going through my mind.  Also I'm not sure it would have worked, so I followed Simmone's lead of laying him flat on the ground and let Jean-Paul bleed out.   It was a mercy when the hissing stopped.  In his final moment, Jean-Paul looked at me accusingly, knowing I hadn't really tried.    I shrugged, I loved him, but I never liked him.  I admired what he did, and considered him a monster.  I had often thought I was a terrible hypocrite for assisting him.  But over the last year, I had seen  his physical pain further twist his already damaged soul, this man had done much to damage our revolution.  That his final glance would be an accusation for me and not a comfort for Simmone proved Charlotte had been right.    Georges, Maximilian were there to take over for him.   If Charlotte thought this was worth the gallows for her, I'd honor her death with his.  And that unforced smile of Charlotte's proved that Jean-Paul's life had accomplished its mission.

_____

Amanda Knox was asked to imagine the death of Meredith Kercher and provided some details about herself in the kitchen.  That's not a confession to having been present to the murder, anymore than my little terrible attempt at fiction is a confession to having been present for the death of Marat.  It is not hard to picture a murder when asked.  That is not a confession and the use of the word "confession" to describe a vision she was asked to construct is frankly dishonest in the extreme.

It is fair to say those statements have a ring of authenticity too them.  That is very different though than a confession.

4 comments:

RoseMontague said...

This has so many similarities on an absolutely nonsensical level that it is almost amusing. I don't know if you were aiming for this or not but I had to review my French Revolution history just to see if I remembered things correctly. So I see the picture and I'm thinking CDHost is going to write about PR guy David Marriott and Friends of Amanda instead of publisher Marat and his Friend of the people. LOL.
Thanks anyway (in a good way). Your post makes more sense.

wald1900 said...

Innocent people do confess to crimes they didn’t commit. Of the over 200 individuals convicted of rape and / or murder who, over the last 20 years have been exonerated by DNA evidence, 15 – 20 % of the cases involved police-induced false confessions.

In the 2009 White Paper http://www.springerlink.com/index/85vh322j085784t0.pdf the publishing researches called out several of the factors that gave rise to documented false confessions. Among the factors cited were the suspect’s age (false confessors are typically young), naiveté and personal inclination to trust police. The conditions of the interview were also cited. There is, for example, a correlation between duration of interview and incidence of false confession. Likewise, an interview conducted at time when the subject would normally be asleep is more likely to induce a false confession. Lastly, the techniques used by the police can influence the occurrence of a false confession. The use of deception (e.g. telling suspect their co-suspects are “ratting them out” when, indeed, they are not) and minimization (e.g. “imagine the crime and tell us what you think might have happened”) are techniques prone to induce false confessions.

All of these factors that were present in Knox’s interview on the morning of November 6, 2007 at which she imagined the crime, and told her interrogators what she saw.

CD-Host said...

Rose --

Thanks. I wonder how much of the superficial similarity was Freudian in choosing this assassination. As an aside Hopeful on TJMK mentioned the similarity as well . I don't remember why I picked Marat. If I had to guess, Charlotte Corday has the haunting blue eyes of Amanda. Other than that, Charlotte Corday seems a prig, and Amanda anything but. I could easily imagine Mignini slapping Amanda even after he sliced off her head, he and Legros would get along.

There are some other similarities. Despite Charlotte's insistence she committed the crime alone the prosecution insisted in a bizarre conspiracy and autopsied her to determine is she was virgo intacta. So the same sexual obsession. I changed the knife but in real life Charlotte used a kitchen knife and likely didn't penetrate in one blow.

So yes this analogy has lots of room to play. Wish in real life I had had some sort of deeper thoughts rather than just picking a murder essentially at random.

wald1900 said...

Innocent people do confess to crimes they didn’t commit. Of the over 200 individuals convicted of rape and / or murder who, over the last 20 years have been exonerated by DNA evidence, 15 – 20 % of the cases involved police-induced false confessions.

In the 2009 White Paper http://www.springerlink.com/index/85vh322j085784t0.pdf the publishing researches called out several of the factors that gave rise to documented false confessions. Among the factors cited were the suspect’s age (false confessors are typically young), naiveté and personal inclination to trust police. The conditions of the interview were also cited. There is, for example, a correlation between duration of interview and incidence of false confession. Likewise, an interview conducted at time when the subject would normally be asleep is more likely to induce a false confession. Lastly, the techniques used by the police can influence the occurrence of a false confession. The use of deception (e.g. telling suspect their co-suspects are “ratting them out” when, indeed, they are not) and minimization (e.g. “imagine the crime and tell us what you think might have happened”) are techniques prone to induce false confessions.

All of these factors that were present in Knox’s interview on the morning of November 6, 2007 at which she imagined the crime, and told her interrogators what she saw.