Out in the hall, Clisty noticed a man in a black business suit standing off to the side, watching her prepare to interview. She didn’t recognize the on-looker as one of those who frequently waited outside the courtroom during the trial. She put curiosity aside, focused on her job and held the microphone out to Jake. “Detective Jake Davis, if you have time, can you give our viewers your reaction to the jury’s decision?”
Jake moved in close to Clisty. “I think it’s great, and I’m sure we’re all happy that the verdict came in so fast. That was especially good for all those affected by Ezra Stratton’s actions. Sometimes, trials drag on for months and the deliberations stretch on and on some more. That re-inflicts additional pain on the victims involved. Every day they have to sit in the courtroom and see the evil face of the one who harmed them. The brave people in this trial didn’t have to wait.” He paused, looked into the camera lens and pronounced with certainty, “And, justice was served.”
“Thank you Detective,” Clisty said. Jake touched her hand as he stepped away. When the door swung open and Faith came out, Clisty caught her eye and smiled. Faith walked over, within the interview circle.
“As most of you know,” Clisty said as she spoke into the camera, “this is Faith Sterling Stratton, the woman who was kidnapped as a child, and held in an upstairs room in Illinois for eighteen years.” Most of us would demand the most severe punishment for all those involved. She turned to her friend, “Is there anything you would like to say to our news audience, Mrs. Stratton?”
Faith embraced her friend. “Thank you, Clisty.” She reached for the microphone as her brows started to knit together. She cleared her throat and seemed to try to relax her expression along with her emotions. With her hand to her face, she whispered. “I want everyone to know, Clisty, you looked for me when I could only leave a tiny clue that I was back. You remembered enough of the little girl who was lost for so long, that you recognized a frightened woman when she returned.” Faith struggled with tears that caught in her throat. “My parents are wonderful and have pledged to help my daughter and me for as long as we need their help. We will always need their love.” She stopped when Emily Stratton came out into the hall. Faith didn’t flinch, but reached out and put her arm around the woman. “Come over here, Emily,” she said as she squeezed Emily’s shoulder. “I have to let the viewers know, my daughter finally has a real paternal grandmother. Emily was as much a victim of Ezra Stratton as I was, as my husband, Steven was, too.” She kissed Emily’s cheek. “I know, when Emily’s spirit heals, she and Pooky will enjoy many good times together. My parents have told her she is welcome to visit in their home.” Faith kissed Emily again as the woman sobbed.
“I …” Emily tried to speak. She looked up at Faith and patted her on the face. “I know you are Faith Sterling, but you will always be my Joselyn. I love you … and I vow to never use that name again. I am so sorry for everything, Faith” she said as her whole body slumped as she walked on.
Faith looked at the camera and continued. “Today is about justice being served. Some will never receive justice equal to the crimes that have been committed against them. I don’t know yet how many years Ezra Stratton will be in prison, but eighteen years would not be too many for me. The man was depraved-evil at the door, not the guardian at the gate” Then she clutched the microphone, her knuckles taunt and her jaw set, “And, that man needs to know … I am not broken, nor am I silent. I will speak out against emotional and physical abuse any time it rears its ugly head. And, it’s ugly head has just been found guilty!”
Clisty put her arm around Faith and gave her a sideways hug. “Anytime you need a really big voice to share your message of love over abuse, Faith, you have a platform at WFT-TV.”
Faith hugged Clisty again as the Sterlings came out. They met up at the microphone. “We are leaving our sorrow and anger right here,” Ralph said. “We’re going home now to celebrate family.”
The camera lights went out and all was silent for a moment. “That was wonderful, Clisty,” Becca said softly. “That will be great footage during the late night news. But, it’s more than that; it was the right story to pursue.”