The Girl Who Righted Wrongs - 3 of 3

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What is wrong at the end of the day
What is really wrong when no one dares to say
You know you’re wrong when there’s only one right
But what is wrong when right is out of sight


“It’s nine. The hearing is at eleven, so we have plenty of time, but I want to be sitting in court when your father walks in.”

“You still don’t hate him, do you?” Andy sighed, but shook her head.

“Why can’t I hate him, Mom?”

“Because you don’t have it in you. And I thank whatever god…“ She paused. It wasn’t a wave of new-found religion so much as a small hope in a long forgotten faith.

“I thank God for that. And I am so proud of you.” She half-smiled before opening the salon door. As the girls approached the exit, she laughed softly and spoke.

“Let’s go kick some ass?”

Morris County Family Court, Morristown, NJ, soon thereafter...

A tall reddish-gray haired man sat at the front left table facing the Judge’s bench. George Patrillo sighed, hoping the plan would work. He wasn’t afraid of the judge or his daughter’s ex. But even when armed with the truth, it sometimes depended upon what the folks in charge determined was right or wrong, and not the truth itself.

“Pop?” Gabriella touched her father’s arm. He nodded silently. They could not have prepared more for what Andy and she faced. The thought had crossed her mind only briefly to disappear, but Tommy Bertolli would just ask the judge to swear out a warrant. George noticed her unease and spoke.

“Andy’s friend found enough to stop this if, and I empathize if the county attorney is willing to help? I can handle Tommy and the Judge.” He forced a smile. If what they had told the attorney wasn’t enough along with the information Ellen had emailed to the woman, Andy would at the very least have her life upended as her father forced shared custody. He looked past Gabriella at the slight but decidedly eye catching figure at the other end of the table.

“Poppa Gee?” the girl held her hand close to her body but waved. He got up and walked around, kneeling at the table to gain direct eye contact with his granddaughter.

“Your father will not win, mio bambina.” George was born in Brooklyn, but grew up in Boonton in a household that spoke French and Italian as well as English. It was important for the girl to hear endearments in her great grandparents’ tongue, if only to balance the invectives and curses sent her way and at her mother by her Soprano wannabe father.

“Girl, Poppa Gee? I’m just a boy,” she said as she began to cry. Sobs might come later; her crying was soft and quiet, but her face was a mask of despair.

“No, Andy. You are my granddaughter, no matter what your father says with his lies and meanness. I already talked to the county lawyer on the phone, and she understands and agrees, even if she’s worried about what we’ve shown. I know it’s hard to be strong, so when the judge and your father’s lawyer ask you questions, look at me and your Mom, okay?” He stood up, leaned over, and kissed her on the top of her head, almost messing up the spiky display of her hair.

“Bona fortuna, Poppa Gee,” Ellen said from the front row, her words belying her Asian features. She pointed to her laptop and the implied internet-provided translation for ‘good luck.’

“Thank you, Ellen.” He replied. He went to continue, but felt Andee pull George’s jacket sleeve. She pointed to the back of the courtroom as her father entered along with a very smartly dressed lawyer.

“I will....” She put her head down. He leaned close and spoke softly.

“I know this is very hard, but whatever your father pulls, just take a deep breath and look at us. We’ll be your strength,” he repeated. Noting her all-black attire, he added,

“If anyone asks you any questions about how you are dressed or anything that makes you uncomfortable, just answer the way we talked about, okay?” She nodded slowly. He touched his chest.

“Repeat after me, just like this.” He motioned and she raised her gaze, gaining eye contact.

“I am who I am, Sir.”

“I am who I am, Sir?” she repeated.

“Perfect! Just remember? Your Mom and I love you very much. Nana Patrillo is watching from above and she loved you. Okay, mio cara bambina?” The endearment might have sent her spinning into uncontrolled sobbing but for the tap on the shoulder by Ellen Lin, who pointed to the ubiquitous laptop beside her.

“It’s uploaded,” she pointed over her shoulder to the county attorney’s open laptop. Even as she spoke, Andee saw the attorney’s eyes widen as the woman looked back and forth at her laptop and at Tommy Bertolli and his lawyer. She gazed directly at everyone sitting at Andy’s table and seemed to nod...

SVT-1 Studios, Stockholm...

Nina Twardoska sat at the head of the conference table. Not ordinarily take-charge, she almost cringed as her boss shook his head in near disbelief.

“I know and trust you, but I have to ask this question, you understand? “ Gunnar Nillsson was just being thorough. They had been going over the almost mountain of damning information in front of the production team.

“Are you absolutely sure?” Nina went to speak and Lisa Olsen shook her finger at Gunnar.

“If Fiske or Samuelsson handed this to you, you’d be out in the office with a cake and candles.”

“Maybe?” Gunnar nodded and went to continue but the thin, graying man at the opposite end of the table spoke.

“Fiske would have posted this too soon and I would have accidentally deleted the file before we verified this rotting fish,” Samuelsson laughed.

“Besides, I’m a Type II diabetic and I can’t really eat cake anymore.” Gunnar shook his head.

“I think even I would doubt this if someone else dumped this in my lap,” Nina said to Lisa and added.

“But thank you.”

“Mitt noje” Lisa said.

“So we owe our thanks to whom?” Gunnar asked in general.

“Well, the note I got the other day said to call Blomqvist at Millennium,” Nina pointed to her laptop.

“He is adamant about not revealing his source.”She looked around at everyone, expecting they already understood.

“I don’t blame him after what happened to him when he went after Wennerstrom. This mess is enough to get people killed.” Nina looked around again. Fiske and Marta Anders nodded.

“Knulla bastardna!,” Gunnar said calmly. Nina and Lisa nodded as well and Samuelsson, who was never given to profanity said at last in a very measured, calm voice,

“Ja! Knulla bastardna! .”


It was twenty before eleven, and Tommy Bertolli got up, ignoring his lawyer’s obvious protest. He walked over and stood in front of Andy and Gabriella. Andee tried to look away, but Tommy merely walked around to the end of the table.

“Andrew?” He stopped and turned his attention to Gabriella.

“Myson, Babe.” She hated that he used the epithet, but her anger really rose in her throat at the misnaming of their daughter. She went to stand up, but George’s hand gently patted her arm as if to say, “I’ve got this.”

“A restraining order has been a waste of time, Thomas, so I’ll just say this once.” He leaned across the table but whispered softly enough that Tommy stepped closer. Expecting a threat, he scowled in defiance. George smiled back at him.

“Two words, Thomas? Superb Investments.” Tommy’s face went white. George sat down quietly and grabbed the legal pad sitting in his open briefcase. He took a green Sharpie and drew a smiley face along with the words.

“Buono giornata!”

Millennium offices…

“I see you got a new Cappuccino machine,” the voice came from the doorway. Lisbeth was dressed in black vinyl pants along with a matching jacket over what could be seen as a nod to color; a bright pink tank top with the words “I wouldn’t, If I were you” written in shiny purple letters.

“I tried going without coffee for a while.” Mikael shook his head.

“I tried that with sex for a few days myself,” Lisbeth half-smiled.

“I managed to give you up, but we’ll always have Paris,” she quipped.

“They’re close to running the story, Mikke,” she pointed to the widescreen television over the credenza on the far wall next to the Cappuccino machine.

“Lundquist is clueless. His IT people are the best, I’ll give him that.” She said as she lit a cigarette. She offered one to Mikael, but he shook his head ‘no.’

“But not good enough, thank god,” he said.

“You believe that?” Lisbeth once had absolutely no confidence in anything or anyone other than herself. Even if she had no faith, her shell had softened enough to trust others, although that infant trust was still swathed in protective caution.

“No? Maybe? I do believe that it wasn’t a coincidence that you were dragged into the Wennerstrom thing. I guess I do have faith in people, though.” Mikael looked away, fearing the smallest of glares, and missed Lisbeth’s very slight smile….


What is false when we can’t hear no more
And there is nothing to cover for
What is wrong in this old wasted game
Right and wrong be one and the same

“All rise,” the Clerk spoke. A nearly empty courtroom hardly merited the announcing of judge’s arrival stood in unison as the judge entered the courtroom, but that’s what they do. Judge Albert Condorso sat down and glanced at the papers on the bench and half-smiled.

“Let’s see. Ms. Patrillo is contesting the ruling of this court regarding the emancipation of her son.” His expression seemed to ask ‘Is that correct?”

“I see you’re represented by your father, Ms. Patrillo? How are you, George?”

“Well, Your Honor?” George said the words carefully, trying successfully to hide the disdain he had for his former classmate.

“To begin, you’ll note that Family Court had previously declared that Andee Patrillo can and must be considered female, and as such is the litigants’ daughter?” Judge Condorso frowned at the copy of the order attached to the day’s filing.

“Nevertheless, the issue before us today is the question of medical care and custody for the boy,” he said, ignoring George’s statement

“Mr. Bertolli makes quite a compelling case for full custody based on medical reports that document inadequate care and attention by Ms. Patrillo.” He glanced in Tommy’s direction, expecting a knowing smile. Tommy’s lawyer was animated, speaking to him with his face obscured by his hand.

“Andee Patrillo is not only receiving adequate care, but she is excelling in school,” George interjected.

“Special education is hardly excelling, George,”

“Excuse me, Your Honor, but Ms. Patrillo's being diagnosed with a condition within the autistic-spectrum has been addressed with comprehensive support and instruction. That support has enabled Ms. Andee Patrillo to not only succeed in advanced courses at her high school, but she has been in an accelerated program at NYU.” George turned slightly and smiled at Andee.

“She is slated to graduate high school this spring and complete her program at NYU at the end of the summer.” He paused and suppressed a grin.

“A Master’s degree in Paleontology.”

“That’s all well and good, but Mr. Bertolli has provided expert medical reports that indicate the boy…”

“Excuse me, Your Honor, but your use of male pronouns not only ignores the medical opinion of Ms. Patrillo’s psychiatrist and primary physician, but in and of itself violates the court order.

“Now see here, George!”

“Mr. Bertolli’s so-called experts have not even seen Andee nor consulted with the medical team who crafted her treatment. None of the doctors who wrote the opinion supporting Mr. Bertolli’ position specializes in Andee’s issues. I’m confident that your ruling will be overturned. In fact, I believe our chances are….superb..”

George allowed himself a grin as Judge Albert Condorso shifted uneasily. He turned his focus on Tommy’s attorney, who mirrored the judge’s nervous movement.

“A…. May I take a few moments to consult with my client, Your Honor?” Judge Condorso nodded and spoke.

“Yes. We’ll reconvene at two?” A few moments later George looked up to find the county attorney standing at the table, her face a mixture of slight dread and great satisfaction.

“Carla Prohaska,” she said offering her hand to Andee.

“I need to talk with your Mom and your attorney for a few minutes, but I wanted to say hello and say that I’m on your side. “ Andee smiled nervously and stammered.

“You…” She looked down at her attire. Black leather all over with orange Sketchers that matched the orange highlights in her spiky hair.

“Yes. Nice, by the way,” Carla pulled her hair back from her left ear, pointing to three studs similar to Andee’s. The girl rose and stepped around the stile separating the gallery and sat down next to Ellen, leaving George and Gabriella to speak with Ms. Prohaska.

“I read the attachments in the email,” Carla shook her head.

“It’s now about more than just your daughter.” Gabriella frowned as Carla held up her hand in caution.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean how that sounded. This judge has been making rulings that make no sense, but he’s pretty much been within the law.” George smiled at Carla.

“But?” he asked, already knowing the answer.

“His rulings appear objective until we find,” she used her hand in a broad gesture in the direction of her laptop.

“At least four of his recent rulings were on behalf of fathers who just happen to hold shares in a company Tommy Bertolli owns with a silent partner.”

“Albert Vincent Condorso.” George’s smile grew broader. Carla continued.

“Superb Investments. But you knew that already. I’ll be notifying the Judicial Review Board just as soon as this hearing is over, but I wanted to reassure you that no matter what the Judge decides today, we’ll be filing a brief in support of Andee’s emancipation.”

She waved to the two girls and smiled, mouthing the words ‘thank you.’ Gabriella noticed the expression and stepped closer to shake Carla’s hand, but the woman hugged her instead, leaving Gabriella feeling very awkward. Still, managed to say Gabriella say quietly,

“Thank you.”

Lisbeth’s apartment…

Right rode away long ago
Before rescuing wrong from below
I might be mistaken, I know
But hey we need to be somewhat

“I know we never talk about it, but I…” Mimmi absentmindedly etched Lisbeth’s dragon tattoo with a fingernail.

“We’re okay, Meems.” A simple declaration, but just enough.

“It’s okay if you want me to… If you’d rather…” Mimmi smiled.

“Nope, I want you!” Lisbeth rolled over and fell into Mimmi.


Judge Albert Condorso returned to court just long enough to dismiss Tommy Bertolli’s petition after reversing his ruling regarding Andee’s custody. He did manage to leave his ruling intact denying Andee’s request for emancipation until after her twenty-second birthday. Thankfully, since Gabriella had not sought child-support, there remained no reason to deny Andee’s request for no contact with her father.


Nina Twardoska allowed herself the slightest of satisfaction. Lisbeth had received an email to the anonymous webpage offering to give the ‘source’ credit, but she replied ‘No, thank you,’ without further comment. Nina suspected that her source probably helped Mikael Blomqvist with the Wennerstrom affair, but Mikael remained mum, saying only that he had only a small but gratifying role by providing the source with timely cups of coffee.

Lindquist resigned his position at NordeaBank abruptly and just as suddenly disappeared. Judge Povelsson’s whereabouts were immediately known once his body was discovered in his Audi in the closed garage with the motor running.

The police were directed to three locations on the outskirts of Stockholm; two warehouses filled with printed and recorded kid porn and a small storage facility that held at least seventeen teenage girls waiting to be sent to god knows where throughout Sweden and elsewhere. Frustratingly it would have to be just a beginning, since Lundquist and Povelsson were just two pieces of the horrific crimes throughout Scandinavia and beyond.

Millennium offices a few days later…

Erika Berger had just poured herself a mug of coffee when she noticed a slight figure backlit in the doorway by the hall light.

“Yes,” the young lady said with an odd smile. Erika noted the focus of the girl’s stare and poured a second mug of coffee, motioning for the girl to sit at the conference table. She eyed the girl up and down. A very attractive Dior suit, gray silk. Her hair was blond, pulled back in a smart looking chignon.

“Nice look,” Erika said as Lisbeth accepted the mug.

“Just dropping by to say hello,” Lisbeth said, not looking up.

“Mikke isn’t here. He’s…”

“At SVT talking about a joint project,” Lisbeth said casually. It didn’t surprise Erika that Lisbeth knew exactly where Mikael Blomqvist was at that moment. She was, however, puzzled at Lisbeth’s presence at the office, especially in corporate ‘mufti.’ Lisbeth noticed Erika’s head tilt and answered the unasked question.

“This old thing? Just trying not to be too conspicuous.” Lisbeth looked down at her disguise and laughed.

“Let’s work together? Me? You? Mikke? Professional only? Well maybe more between you and him? I’m…”

“Attached? Miriam Wu?” Now it was Lisbeth’s turn to be surprised.

“Relax. Mikke thought you were distant but content? I cannot begin to figure out how to keep track of you, and frankly I wouldn’t dare.”

“Fear?” Lisbeth asked.

“Courtesy. And gratitude?” Erika shrugged her shoulders and Lisbeth raised her mug in toast.

“To courtesy,” Erika replied, to which Lisbeth added,

“To gratitude!”

“Tak!” Erik said at last as their mugs clinked together.


“I don’t mind still being a kid,” Andee said as Gabriella walked into the kitchen carrying a large Momma Maria’s Pizza box supporting a white bag filled with salads and Barbecue Chicken Wings.

“You’re a nearly emancipated adolescent stuck in the system for just a little bit longer, but Dr. Chung explained that the court is still trudging into the twenty-first century.”

“My mom and dad agree with me, Momma Gabi. You’re the best,” Ellen said as she opened the pizza box.

“Ooooh, Mushrooms,” the girl exclaimed. She took a swig from her Diet Mountain Dew and continued.

“I’m so glad things are working out for you two.”

Gabriella noticed that Andee hadn’t stopped staring at Ellen Lin; no mean feat considering Mushroom and Onion-topped Pizza was Andee’s favorite.

“We three, Piàoliang de nǚhái” Gabriella said using her hand to gesture between Ellen and Andee and herself.

“Piàoliang de nǚhái? Yes, mom. Ellen is a very lovely girl.”

“Sì, lo sono. Andee! ,” Ellen said with a giggle as she grabbed another piece of pizza.

"Sono molto carina!”

Foolish, feeble-minded, wrong and senseless
Right rode off long ago
There’s nothing more you need to know
There’s nothing more you need to know
Let ‘s disagree cause wrong was made for you to be

To be continued in The Girl Who Didn’t Back Down …

Words and music by the performer
Agnes Obel

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