There was a gasp in the courtroom, followed by silence.
All eyes turned toward the judge, curious as to how she might take that last remark. Ima Beansprout sighed, took off her glasses, rubbed her eyes, then turned to the defendant in the witness box, clearly not satisfied with her career choice at the moment. “Could you repeat what you just said?”
The courtroom eyes pivoted to the witness box. Dara Cowandburger didn’t have any glasses to take off, and her eyes felt just fine, so she didn’t have any showy hand gestures to make. But she was able to sigh, because people never listened to her, so she did just that before repeating her statement. “I didn’t have anything to do with the death of the short man from South America.”
The crowd gasped again, mainly because it was fun to do so, but also because it did seem like a rather extraordinary statement, considering the evidence presented so far, especially the super-incriminating photo that the District Attorney had blown-up to the size of a billboard and then wheeled into the courtroom for all to see.
Speaking of the nerdy District Attorney, Norman Chumpbutt leapt to his feet and pranced his way over to the humongous signage. He found a pointer lying conveniently nearby, snatched it up, and whacked at the billboard with the stick that was most likely far more impressive than his manhood, although it was a big leap to think that anyone had ever even seen it. “Are you denying that this is YOU?”
Dara sighed again, because people were still not listening and she was really wishing all this mess was over with so she could go watch one of the Twilight movies again. “I didn’t say that. Of course it’s me. Hello? I’m still wearing that same outfit because you idiots wouldn’t let me change clothes after the arrest.”
Judge Beansprout cleared her throat. “I’m warning the defendant to refrain from the usage of derogatory terms in her responses.”
“Good luck with that,” muttered Dara.
“Excuse me?” queried Beansprout, making a discreet gesture to the bailiff that we might have to pretend the defendant had tried to escape and it became necessary to shoot her in the foot. “I don’t think I heard you correctly.”
Dara squirmed around in her uncomfortable wooden seat. (You’d think they could at least put a cushion on this thing, right?) “No, I’m not disputing the fact that I’m the one in the picture. But it doesn’t prove anything.”
D.A. Chumpbutt made a loud scoffing noise, an ugly sound that reconfirmed the concept that he was most likely a virgin. “But you are holding the GUN that was used to kill Mr. Valdez. And you seem very proud of that gun. And you seem vicious.”
Dara’s attorney, one Brianne Lageose, rocketed out of her seat. “Objection, your honor! The prosecution is leading the witness on an unsavory and deceitful journey, he is touting unsubstantiated claims that reek of ineptitude, and he is wearing an ugly tie that is clearly a defamation against mankind.”
Judge Beansprout waved her hand. “Sustained. Mr. Chumpbutt, try to refrain from being so annoyingly demonstrative, stop using the word “seem” so much, because that doesn’t really sound professional and implies that you can’t prove a damn thing, and ditch the tie. I can’t even stand to look at you with that horrid thing waving in the wind.”
Norman Chumpbutt gritted his teeth, then took a deep breath and threw his neckwear off into the direction of the cheaper seats. “Fine. I’ll play by the rules, since you seem to think they’re so important and all. But if you’re giving me rules then you have to give her rules.” Norman stabbed his finger viciously in the direction of Brianne, who, having won her point, was now quietly applying a nice shade of plum lipstick to her parched lips and acting as if a tie-throwing, accusatory manic was something she found quite boring.
Judge Beansprout sighed again, because it seemed fitting. “Miss Lageose already has a set of rules. The same ones that you have. We’re not playing favorites here in the courts, Mr. Chumpbutt, despite what you may have heard on Fox News. Now, if you could get back to the task at hand?”
Norman was momentarily silent, as if he had no idea what that task might be. But then his B-vitamins apparently kicked in and he gripped his pointer with renewed relish. He whacked the billboard once again and turned to glare at Dara in the witness box. “Now, Miss Cowandburger, can you tell us why you were parading around with this gun?”
“Um, I was just being silly and posing for a picture. That’s it. I might have been holding the gun, but I didn’t shoot anybody with it.”
An odd man wearing a trench coat in the audience suddenly jerked his hand out from under said garment and glanced over his shoulder, concerned that someone might have been recording his naughty covert operation. Geraldo Rivera raced up to interview him for a segment on his new reality series, “Another Crap Show Starring People We Don’t Care About Anymore”, but then he tripped over a half-eaten bagel and concussed himself on the marble floor. No one rushed to assist him because, well, it was Geraldo Rivera.
Meanwhile, back on the main floor of the Rancho del Justicia, Chumpbutt whacked another area of the billboard. “And what of this, Miss Cowandburger? This insulting headgear on your head!”
Dara studied the photo for a second. “What? The bandana thing? That’s insulting?”
“It’s racist!” bellowed Chumpbutt. “You are being derogatory about the fashion choices of other races. Do you not LIKE the non-white folks, Miss Cowandburger? Folks like Mr. Valdez? And that’s why you shot him, apparently right after doing a jig of racism and white-power on the deck of your vacation home!”
Dara was stunned. “Dude, you are so out of your mind that I have no idea what you’re talking about. Do you actually walk the streets without supervision?” She turned to address Judge Beansprout. “Is he for real? Seriously, what kind of crazy is going on right now? Because I don’t think I went to the right schools if you expect me to deal with this.”
Judge Beansprout sighed for the hundredth time. “This is a trial, sweetie, not an AA meeting in the basement of a church. Just answer the questions and try to look pretty.”
Dara was not so easily brushed aside. “Pretty? I can shoot pretty out my ass without even trying. I want to know what kind of real evidence you people have. A bandana on my freakin’ head is just stupid. God.”
Judge Beansprout swiveled her head to look at the District Attorney. “Chumpbutt. She has a point. The vision of a red bandana tied in that way only makes me want pancakes with lots of syrup, which probably makes me a racist even though it would come as a surprise to my interracial children. Can we get to the good stuff?”
“I doubt it,” muttered Dara, reaching up to scratch her head near the now-famous bandana she was still sporting since they wouldn’t let her change clothes. (Things get a bit dry and itchy after a few days without a shower, you know how it goes.) Dara turned to get the attention of the bailiff. “Can you get me a beer? Because I think I’ve earned one.”
The bailiff, having no clue about anything, just stood there, shuffling his feet and hoping that he would be allowed to go to the bathroom at some point.
Judge Beansprout suddenly seemed to be invested in her court after all, perking up and studying Dara closely. “So. You like the brewskis, do you? Was alcohol involved in this incident?”
“Really?” countered Dara. “We were at the lake. How would there NOT be alcohol involved? Have you ever been to a lake? Everything is boring unless you’re drinking. Everything. And why are you asking the questions now? I thought the people at the little tables were supposed to ask the questions.”
At this point, several members of the viewing audience suddenly jumped to their feet, and performed an intricate dance of support while screaming out “We love Dara!” The assumption would be that they were fresh from a very long day at the lake.
Judge Beansprout was not moved in the least by this development. “Young ladies with the questionable attire and the piercings. Stop with the cheerleader crap or you will be escorted out. This is not American Idol and no one is singing.”
The young ladies quickly returned to their seats, trying to give an appearance of being respectable despite the bull having already escaped from the barn, with one of them even whipping out a Bible and pretending to be reading the Word of Our Lord. Sadly, the book was upside down, somewhat diminishing the impact, but it was still a very stirring and worshipful performance.
Dara waved at her newfound posse with obvious delight, then turned once again to the judge. “I don’t know those people, really. I went to a party once and I suddenly got all these friend requests on ChaseBook. It happens.”
The judge appeared a bit disenchanted with this explanation, but decided it really wasn’t worth the effort to make a big deal out of it. Instead, she glanced over at the District Attorney. “Can you now proceed to present real evidence?”
Norman Chumpbutt looked perplexed. “Real evidence? Haven’t I presented that already? The defendant was wearing racist attire and waving a gun. Doesn’t that about cover it?”
Dara’s defense attorney, Brianne, stood up. “I’m thinking the answer here is NO. This reminds me of an episode of Hee Haw, with Norman the Obvious Virgin playing that Grandpa character who was never funny and no one understand why he stayed on the show. And to think I paid for valet parking to show up at this mess.”
Dara made a disgruntled noise. “Brianne, you are really starting to annoy me. I know my family found you on Craig’s List, so you were already kind of sketchy, but all you’re doing is being bitchy, and I’ve got that covered. So I might as well cover my own defense as well. Could you just sit down and sign some paperwork or something?” Dara turned to Chumpbutt. “Let’s cut to the chase. Do you even have a picture of the body of this man that I supposedly killed? Because I have my doubts. Mainly because I didn’t kill anybody.”
Norman Chumpbutt made a lecherous grin that did nothing to increase the traffic to his fan page, much like that Texas governor with no valid credentials other than his perfectly-coiffed hair. “Of course I do. I shall present it now.” He turned to his beloved billboard and peeled off the first image, revealing another. “And thusly I present the unjustly executed victim!”
Silence filled the room for roughly three seconds as all gazed upon the uncovered photo.
Judge Beansprout: “Am I really seeing this?”
Dara: “Yes, you are. It’s a freakin’ coffee can. With a bullet hole in it. I’m being accused of killing a coffee can? This is unreal.”
Chumpbutt, undeterred, awkwardly performed a dramatic flourish toward the very-confused audience: “And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Solid proof that Dara Cowandburger has killed Juan Valdez.”
Judge Beansprout: “Juan Valdez? The guy in the TV commercials for Columbian coffee? He doesn’t even exist, you idiot. It’s a commercial!”
Chumpbutt: “Nevertheless, his image has been decimated by an assassin’s bullet fired by one Dara Cowandburger. She should fry.”
Judge Beansprout leaned over to the witness box. “Dara, honey, get your ass out of here. I’ll deal with this fool.”
Dara immediately leaped over the wooden half-wall of the box, because she was still young and didn’t know the pain of not being able to do that when you get old. She raced to her loving family members, kissing them all, then moonwalked her way to the group of dancing supporters who had done the nice choreography about her innocence. The dance troupe hoisted Dara above their heads, and they marched out of the courtroom while Dara sang a lovely colloquial song entitled “Don’t Poke a Stick at a Girl from Broken Arrow Unless You Got a Snakebite Kit”.
Judge Beansprout: “Chumpbutt, I need to see you in my private chamber. And bring your personal attorney. I know you have one, because you sure as hell didn’t get a law degree without one.”
Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 05/03/11. Revised and updated with extra flair for this post. No actual coffee cans were harmed in the making of this episode.
Story behind the photo and the story: Yes, this is an actual family photo of a close family member whose real name you could figure out with a few clicks on Chasebook. No, the story is not completely true. But parts of it are, because if you poke a stick in Oklahoma…