DARKWORLD

by Enola Jones



sequel to "Too Many Girls/Fern and Davy"

There. It was complete.

They were responsible -- all of them. If they'd not banded together like they had, destroyed her daughter's spirit by the hijinks they'd pulled on that stage, none of this would have happened.

Fern wouldn't be in that mental hospital, and she would still have her business.

But now it was complete. She wanted revenge on them. She wanted them to hurt as she hurt -- see the agony in their faces and eyes every time they looked at the shattered one.

It didn't matter which one she shattered, she just knew she would shatter one.

Three would suffer as she now suffered.

Threefold revenge.

Absolutely perfect.

~~~~~~~

The envelope arrived while Davy was home alone. He opened it up, expecting a bill. What he found was a flyer that he just knew would help their money problems!

PRODUCT TESTER NEEDED!!!
No experience necessary.
Need a young man to test new product
Report in person to 155 Mariposa Lane
$$$HUNDREDS PAID$$$

Eagerly, Davy ran the ten blocks to Mariposa Lane. He was gasping for air when he arrived, but he grinned at the older woman with red hair behind the counter. "I'm David Jones...I'm here to test the product!"

"Very well..." she handed him a pair of sunglasses. "These are to test whether or not the glasses cut glare better."

He nodded. "What do I do?"

"Just put them on, go in that room, and tell me what you see."

He nodded and obeyed. "I'm here!" he called.

"Glasses on?" her filtered voice said.

"Glasses on!" he replied with a grin.

He was aware of lights flipping on. "How's that?"

"Good!" he replied. "Hardly any glare at all!"

"And now?" they brightened a bit.

"Well, there's a little, but not much!"

A pause. "And now?" they brightened more.

"Now it's glaring."

CLACK!

Davy whirled toward the door, which was suddenly bolted! "What in the world..."

"Do you hurt, Jones?" her voice asked as the lights brightened more.

"What the...." he gasped, squinting against the light and raising his hands to ward it off.

"Is it painful?" More.

"Lady, what are you doing? Stop it, it hurts!"

She laughed. "Like you stopped? You and your friends reduced my Fern to a gibbering idiot!" The lights intensified. "She will never be the same!" And intensified again. "And neither will you!"

"Fern? Look, madam, I'm sorry about your daughter, but ---"

"Mister Jones, I'm holding a button in my hand. Would you like to know what happens when I press it?"

He froze. Something in her tone... "Not really...."

"Too bad. I'm pressing it on three. One..."

"Now hold on a bit!"

"Two..."

"We didn't do anything but get out of a situation you put us in!"

"Three." BEEP.

Davy screamed, going to his knees in agony as the rigged glasses shot needles into the orbits of his eyes. Convulsively, his hands went over them, and the touch of his fingers on the glasses served only to drive the needles further in!

Her laughter and the pain followed him into oblivion.

~~~~~~~

Mike pushed the jeep past the speed limit to reach the hospital. He'd left a note for Micky and Peter for when they got home from their double date.

His face set in grim lines, he parked the jeep and was out of it even before the engine completely turned off. His long legs ate up the short distance as he ran for the door, his heart pounding like a tripwire as it had since the phone call barely ten minutes ago.

Mike ran up to the nurse's station. "I'm Mike Nesmith; I got a call that my roommate was admitted here!"

She looked up from her writing and reached for a file. "Name, please?"

"I just told you, Mike Nesmith!"

Smiling at him, she clarified, "I meant your friend's name, sir."

"Oh." Hoping his face wasn't as red as it felt, he said, "Jones. David Jones."

She frowned a moment later. "We have three David Jones's admitted, sir. David Michael, room 314, David Theodore, room 698, and David Armstrong, room 424."

"That's him, 424! Thank you!" He bolted for the stairwell.

The nurse picked up a phone and dialed room 424. "Yes, Doctor Monroe? This is Sally, front lobby -- a rather upset young gentleman is heading your way. ... Not really sure, it's a bit unusual.... Nes...Nes....Nesmith, I believe."

~~~~~~~

Mike headed right for 424, only to find himself stopped by a large man. "Uhm...." he said, his eyes wide, brain whirling as he tried to find a way past the gorilla and into room 424.

"Are you Mister Nesmith?" the man asked in a cultured Southern accent.

Mike shifted position, eyes suddenly wary. "Who wants to know?"

Taking his words as an affirmative, the large man began to smile. "I'm Doctor Alexander Monroe; I've been treating Mr. Jones."

"Oh!" Mike took his hand and shook it vigorously. "H-How is he? When can I see him? What the hell happened?"

Monroe chuckled. "One at a time, Mr. Nesm---"

"Mike."

"Mike. Follow me, please." Monroe led Mike into a pleasant office. "Sit down, please."

"No, thanks, I'd rather stand," Mike said, moving in front of a chair as Monroe sat behind a desk. "What's wrong with Davy?"

"Do you want the sugar-coated version or the bare-bones?"

Mike smiled a little. He liked this man. "Give it to me straight."

"..... Mr. Jones has been blinded."

The smile fled. Mike's face paled and his knees buckled. He ended up sitting in the chair, gawking at Monroe. "....how?"

Monroe brought a pencil drawing of a human face out of a drawer and laid it in front of Mike. "Two things -- first of all, he was exposed to extreme light and heat, which set up cataracts like so." Taking an eraser, he erased the pupils and part of the colored iris.

".....first of all? Can.... can it be reversed?"

"That can, yes, through surgery to remove the cataracts and make his eyes appear normal again." He gave a deep sigh. "Unfortunately, there is nothing known to medical science that can make him see again."

".....why?" Mike asked, horrified.

Leaning forward again, Monroe picked up a pencil. "Mr. Jones was injected with an unknown substance... here....here...." He drew small X's on either corner of each of the drawing's eyes. "....here....and here. We sent a sample to be classified, and there are no known chemicals that can do what this drug has. And no way we know of to reverse it."

Mike licked suddenly dry lips. "What.... what has it done?" When Monroe hesitated, Mike said softly, "Bare-bones, please.... I-I can take it...."

Another deep breath, and Monroe said, just as softly, "His optic nerves and retinas have disintegrated and been reabsorbed by his body. As I said, we can do surgery to make his eyes appear normal again -- but he now lacks the mechanisms God gave us to be able to see."

Mike leaned back, running his hands nervously over his mouth and chin. "And... there's nothing you can do?"

"As far as we know, nothing. We've run test after test...."

"Does...." Mike raised his eyes to meet Monroe's. "Does he know?"

"Everything."

"How's-how's he takin' it?"

Monroe let his expression answer that question.

Mike sighed and his eyes closed as his head dropped down and to the side, landing in the steepled fingers of his left hand. "Shit."

"That about sums it up," Monroe sighed.

~~~~~~~

Davy lay in the bed, hands twisting and untwisting the woven blanket over him. Why didn't hospital beds ever have warm covers?

He heard the 'bump' of the door opening and didn't turn toward it. "I'm the same as I was five minutes ago," he snapped. "I donít have a damn catheter and the IV isn't tangled and I'm not hungry, so go away."

"I could always arrange for a catheter to be put in."

Shit. Mike.

Davy sighed deeply. "I guess you heard."

"Yup."

"You told the others?"

"Not yet. Wanted to see you first."

"You've seen me. Now go away."

"Why?"

"Talked to Monroe?"

"Yeah...."

"Then you know I can't return the favor." He tapped the skin beside one of his sightless eyes to drive the point home.

A sigh. "Davy..."

Davy raised the hand that didn't have an IV in it and touched the table across his bed. "I'm blind, Mike. That's never going to change."

"I know. But, Davy ---"

"Don't. Just don't."

"I'm just trying to tell ya ---"

Davy's searching fingers found the lunch that had been given him. Carefully, he lifted the lid off of it. "I don't want to hear it."

He heard the ring of a boot heel on linoleum. "Davy..." Mike's voice sounded a bit closer.

"I said I don't want to hear it."

He heard the intake of breath, as if Mike were about to lose his temper. Suddenly, Davy grabbed the tray and flung it toward Mike's voice. He heard the SMACK! of the metal against a body and a surprised, pain-filled "AAAH!"

"Leave me alone," Davy sighed, settling back against the pillows.

There was a long silence filled with an indeterminate mumbling, then Mike's voice again, tight with anger. "Fine. Forgive me for tryin' t'be a friend."

"Just leave me alone."

He could practically feel the rage rolling off of Mike, though Mike made no sound. At last, he heard the heels stalk across the floor and the door bump open, then close with such force it flew open again. Davy heard it hit the wall before bumping closed a second time.

"Good," Davy growled, rolling over on his side and trying to close out the world once more.

Down the hall, Mike spoke tersely into the phone. "Just get here. No, I can't talk to him. I tried......well, okay, fine, I blew, but still...... Peter, just shut the hell up and get down here!"

~~~~~~~

Davy's talk with Peter started out the same way as his talk with Mike -- with Davy sulking and sullen. But one sentence from Peter changed it.

"She's been arrested."

Davy's hands clenched into fists and he asked one question in return. "When do I testify?"

"As soon as she comes up for trial --- if."

"If?!?!" Davy exploded. "She blinded me, Peter! I'm never gonna see again! And you're talking about if??"

"Yes," Peter went on calmly. "If you take the orientation classes and Braille classes. If you adjust to this hand fate's dealt you and can come back and be a Monkee again."

Davy's eyes closed and he turned away from his voice. "I can't see...."

"I thought you sang with your voice, not your eyes."

He couldn't help it. That deadpan comment made Davy laugh. "Peter...."

"You're gonna be fine, man." He could hear that sunshine smile in his voice. "Just don't shut us out."

"I may not be able to stop that," Davy admitted quietly.

"Alone, no." He squeezed his shoulder. "But you're not alone. You've got us."

Later, Davy would point to that moment as his turnaround point.

~~~~~~~

Where had she gone wrong?

It was supposed to be perfect. Nobody hurt except that one.... nobody figuring it out.....

Where had she gone wrong?

Now she was locked in this tiny, dank little cell.... locked away from Fern.....

She hated them before? HA! That was nothing compared to what she felt for them now!

Her thoughts turned to when she was freed from this hellhole -- that outcome was never in doubt, she would be freed.

And they would pay.

Oooh, they would pay dearly.

~~~~~~~

Davy had his surgery and his blind eyes came out of it a warm, rich dark brown. The doctors implanted artificial lenses in his eyes, to keep them clean and protect them the way his natural lenses had before the cataracts.

Once he recovered from his surgery, Davy was released into a home-care facility where he learned Braille and orientation skills. A counselor came to the Pad and helped the others arrange it so Davy would not be in danger.

They'd had no idea so many tiny adjustments would have to be made, living with a blind man.

In the due course of time, the trial was held. "Where's Davy?" Mike whispered as he sat down.

"The lawyer felt it would be best if he wasn't here when they brought her in."

Soon, the lawyers came in and so did she, in a prison outfit and in chains.

Even Peter was glad to see her in irons -- that way there was less chance of her to do any more damage to them.

The judge arrived and opening arguments were made in the case of the People vs. Clara Batterly. The prosecutors painted her as an unstable woman who'd deliberately hurt people to achieve her own ends. The defense portrayed her as a grieving mother whose daughter was in a mental hospital and merely wanted justice done for her addled child.

The judge nodded. "Call your first witness."

The prosecutor stood up. "If it please the court?" He raised his voice. "For our first witness, the people call David Jones to the stand!"

The door in the back opened. Davy stood there, dressed in a dark green suit. His back was straight and his dark eyes gazed slightly upward. His accented voice rang loudly in the silent courtroom. "Forward, Honey."

At his command, the beautiful German shepherd at his side moved forward. He followed, his fingers curled tightly around the harness that rose gracefully from her back. Just short of the witness stand, the dog sat down. Davy stopped as well, reaching out his hand. "Good girl," he praised with a pat on the head as he released the harness and used his hand to guide himself around the wooden barrier and find the chair. He lowered himself into it, and then he stood. Honey jumped up and sat by his side, earning another "Good girl" and another pat.

The officer approached. "May I guide your hand to the Bible?"

Davy nodded his head. The hand was guided to the Bible, and he raised his right hand. After he said "I do," to the oath to tell only the complete truth, he pulled his hand back and lowered himself into the chair again.

All the Monkees smiled as Honey put her head in his lap and he absently scratched her ears as he waited for the questions to begin.

"State your name for the record."

"David Armstrong Jones."

"Mister Jones," the lawyer began easily. "You are, of course, aware that dogs are not permitted in the building."

"Yes, sir. I have permission, as she is a service animal."

"And for the record, why are you in need of a service animal?"

Davy's answer was in a voice that was cold as ice. "Due to the actions of Clara Batterly, I am permanently blind."

"Objection!" the defense lawyer shouted. "Speculation!"

Seeing Davy's headshake, the judge pronounced, "Overruled. I would hear this. Proceed, Mister Jones."

"Hardly speculation, sir," Davy said in that same cold voice. "I was there. She lured me like a spider into her web with an advertisement of a job ---"

"Have you that advertisement with you?" the lawyer asked.

"No, but I believe one of my roommates brought it."

"I did, sir." Mike stood up and reached it over the banister to the lawyer.

"Product tester needed, no experience necessary....need a young man to test new product, report in person to 155 Mariposa Lane. Hundreds paid. Is this the advertisement, Mister Jones?"

Davy nodded. "It is."

The judge took the advertisement and entered it into evidence as "Exhibit A." "And did you go to 155 Mariposa Lane?"

"I did." In a voice full of barely controlled anger, Davy told of the events that led to his losing his sight. "The doctors don't know what she injected me with, but it dissolved my optic nerves and retinas. I'm irreparably blind."

"No further questions."

The defense lawyer stood up. "Mister Jones... state your occupation."

Davy's head tilted. "I'm a percussionist --- a musician. I sing too."

"And is it true that your band is frequently out of work?"

"Yes, that's true -- but work had been picking up before...this."

"Are you acquainted with a young woman named Fern Batterly?"

Davy's eyes narrowed. "Unfortunately. She's Clara Batterly's daughter -- and the reason all this went down."

"Explain."

Davy sighed. "A few weeks ago, I was tricked by Clara Batterly into performing on a variety show with Fern. My roommates -- and bandmates -- came to my rescue. I did perform with her, but it was badly botched."

"Botched, you say. Didn't you, in fact, win that contest?"

"Yes, sir. And I gave the money I earned back to Fern."

That made the lawyer blink. "But you are struggling ---"

"Yes," Davy interrupted. "But struggling or not, that money was earned by ill-gotten means. I would not accept that."

"All right...I am a bit confused. How would you and Fern's winning a contest lead to your loss of sight?"

Davy took a deep breath and answered softly, "Fern had an emotional collapse a few days later. I believe her mother was the cause. The way I saw her treat Fern was that of an obsessed, pushy woman. Fern was admitted to Ravenswood Psychiatric Hospital two weeks before Clara Batterly attacked me."

"No further questions at this time."

Each of the three sighted Monkees told where they came in in the tale. Doctor Monroe told of the damage and of medical science's inability to heal him.

Then the prosecution rested.

After a moment, the defense lawyer stood up. "I call Clara Batterly to the stand."

Each of the sighted Monkees glared as Clara walked up and took the stand. In return, she smirked almost triumphantly at them as she imperiously took the oath and sat down.

Her lawyer got right to the point. "Mrs. Batterly -- were you responsible for the blinding of David Jones?"

"No," she said without hesitation. "No, I am not responsible. They are." She pointed at the Monkees.

"What?" Davy and Peter whispered. Mike and Micky glared at her. Honey growled softly.

"If not for them," Clara continued, "my Fern would not be in that home! My business would not have failed! They are responsible for everything that happened!"

"They are?" the attorney asked, blinking as if in surprise. "And how do you figure that?"

A young woman in a business suit walked over and tapped the Monkees' lawyer on the shoulder, whispering something in his ear. He nodded to her, and she left.

"What was that about?Ē Mike whispered.

"My last witness finally arrived," he whispered back, earning very confused looks.

On the stand, Clara was describing, with great feeling, the fateful talent show. "And those... those... Monkees made a mockery of it! Of my little girl! Of me!"

The lawyer nodded thoughtfully, and then steered back to the question at hand. "So you deny involvement in his blinding."

"It was not my fault," Clara replied, sitting smugly back.

"No further questions, your Honor."

The Monkees' lawyer stood. "Mrs. Batterly, do you deny writing the announcement to bring Mister Jones to Mariposa Lane?"

"No, sir."

"Do you deny locking him in a room?"

"No, sir."

"Do you deny searing his eyes with bright light and injecting him with a substance that dissolved his optic nerves and retinas?"

Clara smiled. "No, sir."

"Yet you deny responsibility for your actions."

"Yes, sir. As I said, they brought it on themselves by their actions toward me and my poor, poor Fern." She wiped at her eyes.

The Monkees' lawyer addressed the judge. "Your Honor, I wish to call a rebuttal witness."

The judge nodded. "Very well, Mister Masterson."

The lawyer looked at Clara as she left the stand with a triumphant smirk, but his voice raised, as it had when he'd called Davy to testify.

"I call Fern Batterly to the stand!"

"Objection!" Clara's lawyer all but screamed as he shot to his feet. "Fern Batterly is insane!"

"And your client isn't?" Masterson shot back.

The judge banged his gavel repeatedly. When order was restored, he asked, "Mister Masterson, can you provide proof your witness understands the proceedings?"

"Your honor, that is to be my first line of questioning!"

The judge nodded. "I'll allow it. But be careful, Masterson."

Masterson nodded and repeated his call. "I call Fern Batterly to the stand!"

The door opened and Fern was wheeled in. Clara let out a cry at her clean but haggard appearance, and the three sighted Monkees gasped. Peter whispered what he saw to Davy, who let out a soft moan and buried his face in Honey's fur.

She was wheeled to the stand and turned to face the judge. Her voice, though frail, was clear as she took the oath and waited for Masterson to begin.

He approached her, smiling gently. "Miss Batterly? Or would you rather be called Fern?"

"Fern, please. I--I need to be called Fern."

"And why is that?"

She smiled. "My therapist says it will help me establish an identity -- learn who I am."

Masterson nodded and asked, "Do you understand why we're here today, Fern?"

After a few moments' silence, she admitted, "Somewhat. We're here to find out if Mother's crazy because she took a boy's eyes, right?" At Masterson's nod, she laughed. "That's easy -- she never has been sane, I'm finding out!"

Masterson was startled into silence. The other lawyer rose to his feet, his mouth already forming the word 'objection'. He was silenced by the judge's holding up a hand. "Fern?" he asked gently. When her eyes rose to him, he smiled just as gently. "Can you tell me why you say that?"

"Oh, sure," she smiled. "I'm finding out that sane people let their daughters find their own way in life. Sane people guide and teach their children what's right and what's wrong."

"And your mother?" the judge asked.

The smile fled Fern's face. "Didn't," she sighed. "I was to have a career in show business. I had no choice."

"Given the choice, what would you like to do?"

"I don't know yet," she said quietly. "But when I do, I'm going for it."

The judge smiled. "And I'm sure you'll succeed, Fern."

She beamed at him.

Neither of the lawyers had anything more to say. Fern was being pushed out, when she had the attendant stop her wheelchair by the Monkees' table. "Do I know you?" she asked Davy, touching his arm.

Davy smiled gently in her direction. "No, love. You don't know me at all."

Fern nodded and was wheeled the rest of the way out of the courtroom.

For long moments, the only sounds in the courtroom were Honey's soft whining and the quiet sound of Clara Batterly's grief for her addled daughter.

With three gentle raps of his gavel, the judge restored order. "Mister Masterson, have you anything else?"

Masterson stood, squeezing Davy's shoulder as he did so. "No, sir, I don't. Prosecution rests."

"Mister Mitchell?"

Clara's lawyer stood, one hand on her shoulder. "Defense rests, sir."

"Very well," the judge sighed as if he were extremely tired. "Closing statements."

Masterson stood up. "Your honor, I believe it has been amply shown that Clara Batterly was responsible for the permanent blinding of David Jones. This horrid act was premeditated and carried out with malice aforethought. She has confessed to such in this very courtroom! We grieve for Fern Batterly, your honor -- but her illness was in no wise the fault of Mister Jones, nor was it an excuse for the terrible revenge Mrs. Batterly exacted upon my clients. Thank you, sir." He sat down.

Mitchell then stood up. "Clara Batterly is a grieving woman, your honor. You have seen her daughter with your own eyes; seen her madness firsthand. This was caused by one David Jones and the rest of the prosecution's clients. Clara Batterly's actions were caused by a grief-crazed mind, nothing more. She deserves our sympathy, our grief -- not punishment. Thank you." He sat down as well.

The judge steepled his fingers. "Normally, at this junction in a trial, I would call a brief recess to sort my thoughts. However, the appearance and testimony given by Fern Batterly has cemented a decision that I began to reach when her mother was on the stand."

There was another pause, and then he sighed and leaned forward. "Clara Batterly is the cause of David Jones's blindness. Of that, her own confession removed any and all doubt. Which leaves two questions for me to solve: Was Clara Batterly in her right mind when she committed this act, and what punishment should suit this crime?

"Mister Masterson's surprise presentation of Fern Batterly helped me answer the first question. Fern was aware of the proceedings and appears to be on the road to mental health. Mrs. Batterly, you should be commended for choosing a facility that is helping her so well, and I order such a commendation to appear in the record of this trial. You have done many things wrong, according to Fern, but this was one thing you did supremely right."

The Monkees all nodded their agreement as Clara beamed -- not maliciously, but in genuine gratitude.

"Now," the judge said firmly, "to the matter at hand. From what I have heard and seen, Mrs. Batterly, you knew exactly what you were doing when you blinded Mister Jones. I understand your grief, but your anger and blame are misplaced. I have therefore found you guilty of aggravated assault and battery. The nature of the injuries and the method of infliction were such as to incapacitate permanently, and the abandonment of him in that condition could be construed as attempted murder.

"Clara Batterly, rise." When she did, the judge continued, "I hereby sentence you to five years in jail. There will be no parole and no early release for any reason whatsoever. Once your sentence is served, you will go immediately to the Ravenswood Psychiatric Hospital, where you shall spend the remainder of your natural life."

Clara beamed. "That's where my Fern is!"

"I am not finished!" the judge snapped. When silence reigned, he went on. "Mrs. Batterly, you are to have no contact whatsoever with the prosecutor's clients, is that clear? Not by phone, mail, or even messenger pigeon!"

"Yes, sir!" she agreed, still beaming.

"Nor are to you have any -- and I mean any! -- contact at all with Fern Batterly!"

"What?!" she screeched, paling whiter than her hair. "Your honor!"

"I am serious, Mrs. Batterly! That child deserves something you never gave her -- a chance. And I intend to see that she gets it." He stood. "If you make any attempt to contact her, even while you are in the hospital together, you shall be immediately returned to jail. If you try while in jail, you will be sent to solitary confinement. Am I clear?"

"Yes, sir," she whispered, stunned.

"Then we are understood. Bailiff, escort the prisoner to jail. Ruling for the prosecution, for all monies requested. Court dismissed." With a final bang of his gavel --

It was over.

~~~~~~~

Five years is a long time in the space of a life. In five years, so much can change -- and did change. As a group, the Monkees thrived. Each of them also pursued solo ventures.

Mike and Peter formed a small record label together with the settlement money, after they bought their beach house home. Besides their own band, they got other struggling groups exposure. At the end of five years, Gemini Music was thriving.

Micky was Gemini Music's accountant, surprising even himself at how he took to it. He used his share of the money and completed a college degree in Accounting, and did freelance bookwork as well. At the end of five years, his name was frequently mentioned as both one of the best at what he did and one of the most trustworthy, and he found himself in high demand.

Davy never regained his sight, but he took his share of the money and pursued a new profession as unexpected as Micky's. With Masterson as both inspiration and mentor, Davy entered law school. At the end of five years, he was hard at work preparing for the California Bar Exam.

It took nearly three full years, but Fern Batterly realised what she wanted to do with her life. The judge's words had been prophetic: freed from her mother's toxic influence, Fern succeeded beyond even her wildest dreams. At the end of five years, she was working as a librarian in a Malibu Beach elementary school and loving every minute of it.

Five years can also span the limits of life itself. As the time came near for her to be released to the psychiatric hospital, Clara Batterly suddenly missed a morning roll call. As she'd been on her best behavior until then, a guard was dispatched to find out what had happened.

She found Clara's body sprawled on the floor of the cell. An autopsy would reveal a stroke had been her silent murderer.

Nobody attended her funeral except the priest who conducted it.

THE END





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