Lawful

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic


Harry Lawful Harris is on trial for a murder.



Might continue this because I like the idea, but for now it works as a standalone short.

Submitted: September 20, 2018

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Submitted: September 20, 2018

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The court room baked under the summer heat and humidity. The large slow moving wooden fans overhead did nothing more than push the sweltering air around the room. The spectators in the pews did as much as they could to cool down while still remaining stoic. Men removed their jackets and loosened their ties, the women used whatever they had on hand to fan themselves, the lawyers in the important chairs shifted uncomfortably in pitiful attempts to let the heat escape through what little of their suits it could, only the bailiff standing on my right and judge himself looked unfazed by the heat. An immunity they must have built up over countless hours in this court.

As for me, you might ask?

I am sitting in the defendant’s chair, wearing a lake blue suit I don’t own, cheap dress shoes, and a pair cuffs around my wrists, and am currently on trial for first degree murder.

The Death Penalty is on the table.

Both lawyers have long already said their closing statements and the jury has spent the last 3 days deliberating. The longest, most excruciating, suffocating, deafening, maddening 3 days of my life. Each one spent in a jail cell. I could not return home as I was a remanded without bail, the crime I am accused of was just that heinous. Instead of a warm bed in my house I was given three stone walls and one of iron bars, a single lousy cot, and a police escort to the toilet. Always in chains.

Now is the last few seconds before the moment of truth. The jury has finally reached a verdict and now I wait for the nails to be hammered into my coffin. Each breath I make rings in my ears and the way the prosecution sits so relaxed, so secure lights a fire in me. A fire I know well.

The door in the back of the court swings open quietly and gracefully but to me it opened with the subtlety of a whirlwind. My heart sinks lower and lower as I watch them enter and file into their seats. Two rows of the reapers watching me from up high and far away.

Whispers and hushed and voices ring out from the peanut gallery behind me. I can’t bring myself to look back. I couldn’t stand to meet my mother’s gaze. The judge, an older man with a bald head and a beard oddly like Santa’s slams his gavel down several times. Each bang runs through me like truck and echoes inside me till I feel numb.

With sweat running down his pasty skin he calls out to me with a stare like a viper’s, “Will the defendant please stand”. He spat out those words and said “please” like it hurt his stomach.

I stand up at straight as I can, the chains on my wrists drag my arms as low as they go as if they were limp.

He turns his attention towards the jury, none of which look comfortable.

“Has the Jury reached a verdict?” he asks in a much calmer tone.

The Juror closest to the judge, the foreperson, a middle-aged man who looked like he could afford to lose a few pounds spoke up. “We have your honor”.

It’s a simple reply but it made my world stop and spin. Time sped up and stopped completely. I could no longer breath. Each moment passed beyond me like a second and an eternity.

The judged cleared his meaty throat before continuing, “In the case of The People vs Harry Lawful Harris, in the first count of aggravated stalking, how does the jury find”?

“We find the defendant Mr. Harris not guilty”.

What?

The Judge’s face tenses, the peanut gallery makes more pointless noise.

The judge moves on, “In the second count of breaking and entering, how does the jury find”?

The juror shifted uncomfortably in an attempt to find his bearings, “We find the defendant not guilty”.

I breath for the first time in ages.

A rhythm has started, one I resist letting myself give into out of fear of having my hopes crushed. Yet I can feel myself slipping into that fantasy.

“For the third and fourth counts of 3rd degree murder, how does the jury find”?

“We find not guilty”.

The Peanut Gallery erupts. The sounds of all the squabbling nearly make me fall out of my chair as it crashes me back into reality. The Judge slams his gavel again and again but now the sound doesn’t faze me. I dare say it invigorates me.

“Order! Order in the court” he bellows before shooting me a worried glance but it’s softer than before, truly fitting of his beard. It was only for instant but I saw it.  

“For the two counts of murder two, how does the jury find?”

“We find not guilty”

I lose all of what hesitation I was able to keep. Relief washes over me like holy light, my head dizzies from the turn of events, my heart threatens to burst from my chest. This is it. This is the big one. My lawyer’s knee bounces excitedly under the table. The prosecution shifts nervously and whisper to each other. I could watch those wolves squirm for hours.

“In the final two counts of murder in the 1ft degree how to do you find”?

“We of the jury find Mr. Harry Lawful Harris not guilty”.

I don’t know how to describe how I feel. I don’t know if I even know words that can adequately define what I feel. The world moves again. It spins. It functions. Life goes on. Things matter. The weight is lifted. All of these together and none of them, even begins to scratch of surface of what I feel right now. 

I barely notice the Judge as he tames the Peanut Gallery before speaking the closing statement, “Mr. Harris, it is with a heavy heart and upmost condolences for what you have gone through as the court finds you not guilty of all charges. To the ladies and gentlemen of the jury I thank you for your service. You are free to go”.

With a final hammer of gavel this nightmare is over and I beam for the first time in eons. I laugh. I smile. I rejoice. I am happy. For the first time in a long time. I am happy.

The bailiff reaches down and removes the cuffs from my wrists. Freeing me from real weight and not just metaphorical ones. My lawyer excitedly hugs me. I barely know him, he was young one who only took my case to market himself, but I don’t care, I hug him almost as tight as I did Her. The prosecution wallows in defeat shifting papers into briefcases with their heads hanging just high enough to retain a semblance of dignity.

I am the king of the world. Nothing. No one. Not a damn thing. Not even God himself can take. This. From. Me.

“NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” a feral shriek rings out from the peanut gallery.

The entire court including myself whips around to look at it source. It came from young woman standing in the middle aisle with a wild look and an uncomfortably familiar face.

“YOU CAN’T” she fruitlessly howls past ugly tears and as she makes her way up the aisle, grabbing onto the pews one after the other like an animal crawling across the dirt.

The bailiffs move to stop her while the rest of the muppets stop to watch the fiasco unfold, “YOU CAN’T LET HIM GO”!

The Judge slams his gavel down again and again and bellows at the bailiffs to remove her. They grab hold on her on both sides pull her out of the court. I watch and stare unsure of what I should be doing.

“LET ME GO! YOU CAN’T! THAT BASTARD MURDERED MY SISTER!” she shouts that with amazing clarity and ferocity as she uncontrollably and violently cries, her whole face a mess of tears, snot and twisted by unbearable sadness. I know exactly what she feels. I felt it too.

Even before she is removed all eyes return to me and I have to look away. I want to leave. I need to leave. I have my freedom. That’s all that matters.

The bailiffs do me the favor of guiding me out the back, I hoped I would be able to avoid the cameras but I already used up all the luck for the rest of life in court room. The vultures crowded around what little space there was and even with a car 5 feet away, I had to brush past people all out for a pound of fresh and pints of blood. I block out their questions, I don’t have to answer any of them, they have their answers back in that court room. I am not a guilty man!

Quickly I get in and the driver takes me away from this circus of madness, vultures, and wolves.

My life is in ruins, everything I ever worked for is undone by this and I know I’ll never get any of it back, but that doesn’t matter because I have my freedom. I feel a new appreciation for that concept. Freedom. An infinite sky of potential, a bottomless ocean of possibilities, a never ending expanse of direction.

I have that.

I will always have that.

I am a free man.

And here’s the best part.

I really did do it.

And I don’t regret a damn thing.


© Copyright 2018 Osais. All rights reserved.

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