Note: This was a personal mea culpa to my friend Laura, who I done did wrong one day…
Prosecuting Attorney Lowena Purvis cleared her throat rather demonstratively, an attention-getting device she had perfected while studying law at Beaver Valley Community College in Syracuse. This effort at guttural domination was offset by the horrid paisley blouse that Lowena had ignorantly plucked from her wardrobe closet this morning, but the throat-clearing was enough to get the attention of the most important person in the courtroom.
Judge Kennewick Upthrust eyed Lowena from his high perch, his bifocals a bit askance on his startling but still admirable nose, pausing for drama since this is what judges do when they get bored with it all, then he opened his mouth and roughly queried: “Is there something you require Ms. Purvis?”
Lowena smiled in what she hoped was a prim and legally-responsible manner, but she wasn’t quite able to fully disguise the slight grimace that was fighting the primness for domination of her facial muscles. This was a grimace she usually reserved for one of the endless stream of construction-worker buffoons who had once again improperly followed her exact specifications for the installation of an heirloom bidet in her master bath.
“Yes, your Honor” replied Lowena, discreetly digging the nails of one hand into the tender flesh of her opposing arm, thusly hoping to temporarily allay her disgust with the flashback concerning disrespect of plumbing decrees. “While I appreciate the voluntary testimony of our current witness, the lovely and intriguingly-named Buffy Whipplesworth, I’m not quite certain that her… ramblings, if I may… are really serving any purpose. Why is she going on so about her disrespectful children and an unapproved tattoo that one of them now sports? What merit does this have in the current proceedings?”
Judge Upthrust sighed, removed his spectacles for an impromptu cleaning involving the hem of his robe, then turned to Buffy in the witness stand, visually unassisted. “Ms. Whipplesworth, my dear…. Ms. Purvis does have something of a point, despite toting a briefcase made of something that is clearly not leather. Have you finished with your dissertation on offspring gone bad?”
Buffy looked at the judge, her eyes blinking with the slow realization that perhaps she might have flavored her testimony with seasoning that was not quite proper, and then confessed. “Yes, sir, Judge Man. I have inadvertently made this trial about me and my disappointments with beastly children that ripped me apart during birthing rituals. I shall now depart and rend my hair quietly in another, hopefully-unoccupied legal chamber, as penance.”
Judge Upthrust sighed again. “Really, Ms. Whipplesworty, we shan’t go there, with the rending and all. Simply exit the uncomfortable accommodations of the witness box, saunter forth, have Valerie at the concierge desk validate your parking, and then leave the city and stop feeling sorry for yourself. We have all issued things from our loins that did not prove satisfactory, keep your chin up.”
Buffy fought her way out of the witness box, clearly having an issue with the little door that really didn’t serve any purpose other than to make one feel claustrophobic and therefore more apt to confess secrets learned during sorority initiations. She finally broke free and headed up one of the aisles through the courtroom audience, where she managed to trip over something that was nothing and bang her head on the ancient marble flooring scuffed with years of people lying for personal gain.
“Are you quite alright?” asked Judge Upthrust, though he didn’t really care.
“Yes, quite,” responded Buffy. “I’ve been banging my head for a very long time. I don’t even feel it anymore.”
“Perfect,” muttered the Judge to himself, because he was the only one he really enjoyed as a conversational companion. “Another useless exercise kept off the docket.” He finally replaced his essentially pointless bifocals, and spent a few minutes fluttering his eyes until he could once again focus on Prosecuting Attorney Purvis. “Lowena, you have managed to halt the circus train of defense witnesses, and I tip my hat, even though we haven’t been allowed to wear such couture for some time now, a mystifying regulation if you ask me. I assume that you have a mind-numbing assemblage of witnesses for the prosecution?”
Lowena smiled primly, because when it came right down to it, her repertoire of facial responses was rather limited. “Yes, your Honor, I indeed have an assemblage. Well, if you consider a grand total of two witnesses to qualify as an assemblage. I’m not sure. We’re not in Alaska, where five drunk people can apparently elect Sarah Palin as governor, so there may be laxer qualifications for an assemblage, one never knows these days.”
The judge smiled, perhaps because he was actually amused, or perhaps because he had his own fond memories of an Alaskan Sarah doing whatever it took to get herself elected, including banging judiciary and then claiming that she never did it because the magazines she never read said she should always claim innocence. “Two witnesses are just fine, and it should allow us to wrap this thing up before the Blue Plate Special expires at Hannah’s House of Hash. Good work, counselor, nice and tidy. Proceed.”
Lowena glanced at her notes, as if she didn’t already know every single word in her documentation, considering how many times she had practiced this moment whilst consuming endless bottles of Chardonnay. “I now call to the stand one Tiffany Davis.”
The doors at the entrance to the courtroom were flung open, and a demure, pale-faced semi-starlet was thrust forward through said doors, nearly losing her balance because the starlet had chosen to wear high-heeled flip-flops for her day in court. This was a surprisingly-poor choice since said Tiffany had been severely counseled about elevated foam footwear after a shocking incident in Paris. But Tiffany recovered and strutted toward the witness stand, because her Momma had taught her to never stop moving until the police become involved.
Tiffany entered the witness box, clicking the little door closed with an aplomb usually reserved for corporate executives that don’t understand that their severance package is about to be initiated via court order, and the final check is not going to be as big as they think. She aligned an array of lip gloss tubes on the wooden barrier before her, then swished her hair in an extravagant manner meant to cause the courtroom lights to capture the shimmery quality of her tresses.
“Are you quite comfortable?” inquired Judge Upthrust. “Perhaps we should call in a court-appointed stylist?”
Tiffany then beamed brightly, because there’s no point in beaming if it isn’t bright. “Thank you, Robe Man, but I’m just fine. I’ve been home-schooled in the art of maintaining beauty in 247 social and legal situations. But thank you for asking.” Then Tiffany swished her hair again, and made a dramatic gesture with one arm that implied she had suffered greatly for her country, but she was still strong.
Judge Upthrust glanced at Prosecuting Attorney Purvis. “I trust that we won’t be spending a lot of time with this girl who fell on her ass in Paris?”
Lowena smiled. “No, your honor, I know how to handle these people, having been rejected from every country club on the eastern seaboard.” She approached the witness stand with misplaced but vengeful relish, paused briefly, because pausing is a very important part of courtroom protocol, as we have learned, and then addressed Tiffany and her lip gloss. “So, on the evening in question, you-”
Tiffany suddenly burst into tears, losing control of her massive hairdo which horrifyingly knocked all of her lip gloss to the floor, with several of the glass tubes shattering in a syrupy and glass-gritty act of self-sacrifice. “Why must you torment me with all these questions? Fine. FINE. I’ll tell you everything!”
Lowena maintained her composure at this sudden advancement in the proceedings, but the truth must be told that she actually experienced a slight orgasm at her sudden good luck, a biological event that was pleasing, taken on its own, but might present an embarrassing situation when she next visited her dry-cleaner. “Yes, my love,” cooed Lowena to Tiffany, in an eye-opening simulation of a scene that could easily appear in an independent film about lesbians finally taking control of their own lives and raising goats together, although this was presumably not the case at all. “This sister girl is listening and ready to represent!”
Tiffany paused to glare at Lowena for a moment (who the hell actually says a line like that?) but then continued with her breakdown, because the cameras were rolling. “I tried to tell him. I did!”
Lowena smirked, in a manner similar to a previously-unknown and unqualified actress who managed to snag a recent Emmy nomination and might actually win. “Are you talking about Brian? The defendant? Brian Lageose?”
Tiffany sobbed even harder, or pretended to sob, it was no longer clear who was being motivated by what and whether or not there might be talent agents in the courtroom audience. “I told him,” sniffled Tiffany, “that this was the day. He had to do something now or… or…”
Lowena smile wickedly. “Or what, Miss Davis? What would happen?”
Tiffany covered her eyes, shielding herself from the pain of confessions in public and the shattering of sacred lip gloss. “That Laura would know, that Laura would find out that someone she trusted would do such a horrible thing.” Then Tiffany flopped backwards in the witness stand, thrusting her head to the left, making sure that her tormented psyche was captured in the most cinematography-pleasing angle. Several members of the courtroom audience leapt to their feet in tribute for such a courageous but still Vogue-worthy performance.
Then Tiffany whispered, in the loudest whisper ever known to mankind, “He didn’t wish her a happy birthday on her birthday. It was terrible and dark night. So many tears. And the liquor stores were already closed!”
The audience erupted with cries of outrage and anguish. Two women fainted, and a third broke water.
Judge Upthrust whipped off his glasses once again, since it was now clear that he didn’t really need them to see the truth, despite what his optometrist might have to say. “Well, then, I really don’t need to hear any more. This crime is an outrage of social injustice. Bring the defendant before me. And hurry, because those people at Hannah’s are pigs and will devour everything if I don’t get there early enough.”
The bailiff marched over to Brian, glared at him menacingly because that’s what his training said he should do, then snapped his fingers in a demanding gesture that he had also practiced whilst guzzling Chardonnay. (There had been a really good wine sale at Jo-Jo’s Juice Warehouse downtown.) Brian rose to his feet and slowly approached the bench, because really, when does anybody ever run to do such a thing?
Judge Upthrust first tossed his spectacles to the side, sick of dealing with bad prescriptions, inadvertently blinding the surprised court stenographer. Then he focused on the horrid criminal before him. “Is the defendant ready for sentencing?”
“Sir, yes, sir!” (Brian was stupidly assuming that giving off a military aura would help his cause in some way. This was only one of his many misconceptions about life.)
The judge waited for the eye-bleeding stenographer to be taken somewhere less annoying, then he proceeded to pass judgment. “Mr. Lageose, for the crime of forgetting to honor Miss Laura Hopeman with birthday greetings, on her birthday, I hereby sentence you to writing a blog post about your inadequacies.”
Brian breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you, sir. I can do that willingly, and with full regret and acknowledgement of my sins. I’m a blogger, sir. It’s what I do best.”
The judge smirked. “Don’t be so smug, ye who thinks he can write his way out of anything. Do you see that bus pulling up outside the courtroom window?”
“Sir, what bus, sir?”
“That bus. Out there. It’s full of other people from whom you’ve withheld birthday salutations because you don’t pay attention. And every one of them is here to state their case and exact painful retribution. Can you write your way out of all that mess?” The judge signaled for the bailiff to go find some extra chairs. “You are going to be typing until your fingers snap right off.”
The audience gasped.
Lowena had another small orgasm.
And Laura smiled.
Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 11/04/11. Marginally revised and updated with extra flair for this post. How’s this for a belated birthday card, eh? Story behind the photo: A still from Sidney Lumet’s 1957 courtroom drama, “12 Angry Men”.
Categories: My Life