Tiny specks of dust float through the old wooden courtroom, seen by streams of light through the window. There are sniffs… creaks on the floor boards.
Mark is fascinated by the dust floating, each speck hitting others; all are interrelated, emanating from the same place.
His last thought dealt with how we are each brought into the world the same way. It didn’t make sense to him how a judge could be sitting so high up there.
“Mr. Greeson,” echoed a heavy voice down from the Judge’s chair. It would touch the sky if they didn’t build a roof over it, a completed tower of Babel. “Do you have anything to say for yourself?”
He comes back into the room… “Anything to say, sir?”
“Yes, son. Please say something,” the Judge appeals to him.
The prosecuting lawyer clears his throat. “Excuse me your honor… the court room is no place for bias,” his eyes, behind thick black glasses which overpower his face flicker like flames on a candle.
“Nor is it appropriate to tell me how to run my court room, sir. Now quiet, you have certainly done enough talking,” after the judge speaks these words unto the man, a few people in the audience shift and clear their own throats in silent approval.
“Go ahead, son.”
“In the good book it commands ‘he who tries to save his own life shall lose his life’ your honor. My life is not worth so much. Is yours?”
“In the context you are talking about Marcus, no it isn’t. But you are not saving your own life out of selfishness, saving your life purely to live. You are defending yourself. You certainly do not believe what these men are saying about you is true?”
A glare from black glasses as they rise up out of a chair, “Your honor!...”
“Mr. Smith you have more than spoken your part and done your job in this case; now si’ down!”
“Your honor, with all due respect, I am not meant to know the Truth of this world or of myself. Only my Father knows the true reality of my heart and actions. And I hope to be within the vein of the very Truth he intends by doing his will, you see? And the good book forbids just about everything going on in this room. People are not dispensators of life and death; I know that much to be True, your honor.”
The jury and crowd began to talk amongst themselves. This was no closing argument. It was an ideological fight with the judge, a waste of time. In some courts a mistrial would have already been called.
“Mr. Greeson you have not spoken one word this trial. You will be put to death! Do you not see? These are your last hours should you not speak… something in your own defense!” The Judge was nearly out of his high-chair.
“Just speak up, do something! Save yourself man! Bef…”
Mark begins to laugh a little at first, which grows to a chuckle. A tear began rolling down his cheek; as the Judge’s words become pleas.
“Save myself, save myself from what? Death? For this? For all of this? This… damned spectacle that your world is? I almost want nothing more of it. God holds my life. Do you not understand that? I am not in control. Can you comprehend that? My father holds my life. I have nothing for this world. I wish to return back to his house. That. Is. It. There is a screaming child inside of you, Your Honor. Which begs me to please it, to function by ‘rules’ made in this society, to play the game. It wants me to give in.” He looked away and grit his teeth. But the words were pouring out now…. “Just as I am right now… I wish to know the Lord’s Truth. I know the Truth here.” He points to his heart, then points to the silent audience, “And you know the Truth. So do you,” he turned around then pointed to a man holding a large digital camera, “and you do too,” this time pointing to a young woman. “But this whole system separates us from it. So I do not take part. I have done nothing against any of you.”
“Except for murder in cold blood, you wretch. You’ll get what is coming to you. You’ll burn in your God’s hell,” says Mr. Smith in his thick black glasses.
“May he have mercy on your soul… little boy. I pray for you. I truly do. All of you here are contributing to this, do you not see? You have made this a show, no more than a fight on the playground. The Truth is nothing anymore. It was over as soon as cameras entered this room. As soon as money starts circulating the souls of men are ablated by pockets and handshakes. And yet here we are. There may as well be t-shirts sold outside. This is a show. It is all a show. But it is my life you are playing with, balancing on a thin beam! Do you not understand? My Father hath put me here, a messenger in front of your unholy faces; in the same place as all of his children. And I stand with him; because I shall die… I shall stand with him….
And yet, he and I love all of you. I have nothing but Love for you your Honor, this jury who shall sentence me, this audience. I need you to know that I depart with a whole heart. That, I look with forgiveness on you for what you do. I do not plead for my own soul. I’ve no need for that. But I plead for yours. I plead for yours to be saved. How many times must this same story play out? You are all like ants already crawling across my dead corpse. I am being fed to you on the plate of hysteria and mass media. I am a circus clown who had yet to perform… well here you are. I hope it was worth the price of the ticket. How many times must the truth die? How many times must blood wash the hands of sinners? There should be no need for this, just listen to your heart. The Lord is there. He has knocked every second, every minute. You do not answer. You will not answer. When you kill me, you will feel as though you are saving your own lives. And God will forgive you. I am going home, coming into my own country.”
“Well then good riddance,” Mr. Smith retorts.
The room is a room of silence for a long time, just the sound of cameras beeping and flashing, voices outside the court room yelling in subdued frenzy.
The Judge permitted the court room emptied. Some say he welled up while leaving the bench…
And the Jury quietly files out to deliberate. Mark is handled gently out of the room; while Mr. Smith sits back with his arms crossed, chewing his right thumb nail.
“The evidence is the Truth. It is murder. There are no two ways around it.” Says a man, who looks like a father, to the Jury.
“It may be murder. Yet I saw no murderer in that man out there. That’s as good a man as I’ve ever seen; and you know it,” an old black woman says. Her face is aged with calm wrinkles. They are a grandmother’s wrinkles.
“He’s a fanatic!” says one of the Jurors.
“He’s a man of God,” the old woman states back.
“The evidence is all I need,” says Nathaniel. “It is all there is,” he finishes.
“Couldn’t we get him declared insane?” says a young man with facial hair, apprehensive about the entire thing, looking for a way out.
A younger white woman, with beautiful brown hair, wearing a purple bracelet on her right hand, with nails painted white shifts in her chair, leaning forward into the dusty light, and says, “If we do not condemn him the public will go mad. If we declare a devoutly religious man insane for his beliefs they will go mad. There really will be a fine case of hysteria. There could be a mistrial because of such emotional persuasion. And they will see us on the cameras in years to come. Anything but sentencing and it… won’t be pretty… innocent or not.”
The grandmother sits submissively back into her chair.
“All in favor, vote aye.”
One older man in the back begins praying, whispering. He hardly spoke the whole time.
“All rise.” Everyone in the room stands, almost at attention. “I hand the verdict, after review…”
Mark is fascinated at little floating specks of dust hitting one another, just missing too…
“… In this court, the case numbered BM2160”
They all are interrelated…
“We the Jury of the aforementioned…”
Like people and their fates…
“Find the defendant, Marcus Greeson...”
And his last thought was how someone could sentence someone else to die, and not even look them in the eyes?
“Guilty of murder in the…”
There were peeps of excitement, and sighs of despair rippling through the crowd, divided it seems. Mr. Smith relaxes, begins smiling and shaking hands with those sitting around him.
A crooked old man in the Jury bows his head and sniffles. The same one who was praying now cries. The rest sit staring at the Judge, whose face goes pale white. He cleared his throat, slammed the gavel, “Order… Order in this court.”
Things quiet back down. The dust continues to dance. A person sitting next to Marcus Greeson claims he could hear him whispering, ‘ashes to ashes dust to dust’ like an old nursery rhyme.
The Judge knew what the sentence had to be. He didn’t want to do it. But if he got up and walked away… the backlash. He’d lose his job… everything he has worked for. Life would be meaningless.
He could get up and walk away… perhaps in a different world… in a different life… a different place.
And then his real voice boomed; it is the most judicious he has ever sounded, “Marcus Greeson I hereby sentence you to death by…”
And Mark just looked at him in the eyes and listened. And after the Judge was done, he bowed his head to him; then he stood up… to be cuffed. He said, “God bless,” humbly to the Jury and the Crowd as he left. No one really took any pictures now. The officers were gentle.
A male news anchor’s voice: And we are here on JC news… where we have a witness to the execution of the vicious murderer Marcus Greeson, who murdered a man in brutal fashion, being apprehended by police two months later.
And a female voice: Yes and we all remember that court case, a near travesty. Greeson gave a chilling, hypocritical speech. How ironic of a man to talk of living, after taking life.
The male: Aaaabsolutely Susan; and he showed a sociopath’s conscience of no remorse as well. So we are here with a young man named Roman. Roman… it is rumored that Greeson spoke his very last words whispering into your ear before going into the room where he’d be receiving injection. Now, we know you’ve already told several people what he said, what about telling the wooorld son?
A young boy with medium length hair down to the base of his ears, a wide undeveloped face, braces, sat staring into the camera. Once the delay caught up, his face changed, then spoke in a young boy’s voice: “He leaned down and whispered into my ear, ‘Upon the day you are alone in the world, do not be afraid to answer the knock at the door.’”