My latest cruel trial began right on time. It figures. An appreciative crowd had gathered early to gawk. To me it looked late. My right brain was still hung up and abuzz over breakfast. The tough beans I had chewed were bitter and had cracked my teeth. But, that did not stop me from looking forward to my next squared meal.
Then a block-shaped officer of the court rasped, officiously, “All rise.”
She appeared to be doing no messing around. I stood and appeared to be reasonably present. I began to feel as if I was light headed enough to take a dive. From up high it can be a long way down into quicksand. My lawyer came too close and grabbed my arm. From that day on, I made sure he never ventured that close to me again.
I said, “Not so tight or you’ll imprint everlasting scars.”
He hissed, “Not so loud.”
“Sure, it’s only my life and life only.”
A blind judge overheard. I smelled a dead rat inside of the walls but I later found out I might have been wrong. Okay, I found out I was definitely wrong. I had plenty of time to get used to it. The blind judge paused for gratuitous effect. She entered her box and looked me over. She recited dense, spurious details from a list of trumped up charges translated into braille to trap me.
“Do you understand the charges against you?”
Who knew braille could appear in so zesty and colorful a guise? I did not recognize the identity faked by the party of the first part but I paused for schmaltzy affect before I lied, and remarked sternly, “I do.”
I remembered the last time I spoke those words out loud in a court. How could I forget the wilted flowers? It cost me big time. I could have used some direction to uncover my motivation, but no one cared any more than me. I never found out why I implied consent.
She said, “Sit down.”
Did I detect delight in her voice? Well, yeah, like…duh. She was the one wearing the worsted big boy pants. I was the one trying to fake it. I inhaled the scent of wool and acrylic blend suits harboring dust mites. It seemed to me as if all of the recurring angles had become oddly obtuse. I felt bereft as the lone schnook without a leather briefcase.
She said, “I said, sit down.”
Before I had a chance to plead my case for abject freedom, or license, my lawyer hissed, “Shh.”
I muttered, “As if.”
His evil twin on the other side of the aisle, a wrinkled suit who excreted gooey evidence of jelly donut addiction from a set of extra large pores, snorted too closely to my ears. All I could see clearly was an unattached snout, and hair.
I became unable to hear and cried out in panic, “Pardon?”
The smell was coming from everywhere at once. I felt as if I needed to speak out. By then I knew it was no small dead rat. I am uncommonly allergic to the floating shit of dust mites.
Without benefit of a distinctive pause, I rephrased the question, “Come again?”
“Why is it that you have no smooth artificial lawn with no chunks to be maintained as a buffer zone against invaders? Are not weeds and native grasses that provide cover for lurking scorpions evidence of a matter of factual willful disregard? Are not facts perpetually facts of matter and uncivil damages due? Who sir, do you think you are, to think as you do?”
I thought, seriously?
I asked, “Seriously?”
I know as well as any fool that answering a question with a question is a standard means of task avoidance, a tactic that is opportunistically based upon deeply rooted insecurities, perhaps endemic, if not vestigial, but I did not give a fuck. I was hearing dis-attached voices by then and the allergic reaction to the dust mites was becoming routine. And wasn’t that new case of ennui that I was experiencing the result of blah, followed by blah, and then more blah, in summation? Plus, and no less clearly, was there not lots of phlegm at work in cahoots with astringent gargle and massive waves of aerosol body wash?
Unless those voices were real. And only the outrage faked.
But, doesn’t a failure to act as a chargeable offense constitute a double negative and thus stillborn, barren, and void? If not, why not? Something stunk anew like a virgin waiting impatiently to get porked but good in low rent heaven. And isn’t the word ‘appropriate’ just one more shameful vestige of old world colonialism, stultified by clotted arteries with creamy fillings, and countless psychological permutations marketed as stylish compensation for penis size?
Out of nowhere I remarked extemperaneously, “Uh.”
The hammering from the opposition continued amid flurries of outbursts and jerks. Fumes from the acrylic blend began to swim in my head. There were no windows open to release pressure. The untidy man in the damp suit was able to hone the issue down to its ickiest essence. We got right down to the real nitty gritty. Sort of.
“The citizens of the Santa Cruz Mountains are suffering from the stings of a marauding scorpion. Only God knows why or where this terrorism will end. According to developing legend it glows in the dark at a distance. And yet there must be blame to be found somewhere nearby. That only makes good practical sense. We all need to pitch in to help. The family of your neighbor very nearby next door has been stung a total of twenty seven times by this beast. And yet you have escaped.”
I said,”That’s always been an important goal of mine.”
“Suspicious that, don’t you agree?”
“And yet I’ll have you know that no man is any more suspicious than me.”
In addition, two expensive experts were called to testify in size order who disagreed over the parameters of my guilt. I only delivered filthy lucre to one. He demonstrated his prowess as the right tool for the job when he knocked the crowd dead in a technical area of glibness. How droll. The other expert specialized in bug feces. Apparently they are a blowing in the wind. Statistics were cited atop charts that convinced me that a good sharp laser pointer disguised as a painful weapon could plausibly pass through security gates and open doors. Other props included brutal regimental ties for which guileless cocoons were sacrificed, and animal hides of many savage colors. And isn’t ‘parameter’, a word based upon past abuses by primal, unfeeling numbers mercilessly butt-fucking simple words in dark corners of the laboratory. Those are some fucking numbers that add up.
I stood to ask a question that seemed most meaningful to me at the time because the crimson cheeks occupying my seat were clenched so tightly. But it was deemed I was supposed to shut the fuck up. The Judge, who apparently was able to get away with murder, mugged to the peanut gallery. Shamelessly, she answered my question with another question.
“Are you going to force me to hold you in contempt?”
To the best of my fuzzy recollection I shut the fuck up. I was told later, however, that I uttered the gist of a remark that sounded a lot like an electronically buzzing on a continuous loop, “Uh.”
The judge said, “I think we’ve heard just about enough for now.”
My lawyer grabbed me again in the hallway and said, “We have to talk.”
I already knew I’d had enough of that. Otherwise, I’d just be repeating myself endlessly. I said, “I have to eat my squared meal first. After that, you’ll be fired.”
Then, I beat the verdict out the door. I refused to beg to differ. My squared meal came with a toy squeezed from a cylinder into a tube masquerading as a sedentary figure in repose. I gobbled it on the run. Then I adjourned to the exclusive room set aside where I felt sick and never came back. You bet it smelled. Sulfur, cannabis, hubris, regret. There were so many smells, so little time. I caught a cab after that. A vapor trail that followed learned how to reproduce its own seed in disguise. After that, I did not answer the phone or the loud, obnoxious knock on the door for days.
Much later, after fruitful negotiations were well underway, I called in from a distant hideaway and said, “That wasn’t me. I’m being held hostage. I would cooperate if I only could. I think these are monkeys holding me from the zoo.”
That just about wrapped it up. I haven’t heard a word since. Messages from that far out there come and go untouched. The tall guard in the bulletproof booth at the front door assured me, no harm, no foul. Though I have no definitive answers, I continue to ask the same question daily. Why are these walls so high that I can’t climb over?