a PaRtiaL wOrK oF FiCtioN (2): LaW & oRdeR

1. The accusation, The accused

I take a seat on a hard wooden chair that is surprisingly comfortable, given the splinters that poke me as I lean back.

I notice a girl sit in front of me at roughly the same moment.

“good, you’re on time.  That is very satisfactory indeed.  I don’t like wasting my time with late comers.”

The girl has what seems to be a worried look on her face, but is silent.  I continue on:

“well, let’s see here” fumbling with the papers in front of me, “so, to confirm, you are the accused, and the accusation: extreme cowardice.

The main light flickers on and off.  This is very bothersome to me, so I switch it off and lean forward to turn on the side lamp instead.  It is just about adequate.  I notice the girl once more, although not as clearly as before.

She is leaning forward, her arms crossed in front of her on the table that separates us both.  Flawless skin and inoffensive countenance.  A look well below her age.  Will she be able to handle the indictment?

We must begin.

2. The informal trial

“How do you plead?”

“You have to answer”

“If you do not, I can hold you in contempt.”

“Very well, i can see you are scared and alone.  I can only assume that, were you to speak, your choice would be “not guilty””

“Now let us look at the evidence.”

“You were blaming others for their weakness to stand up for what they believe in.  What have you stood for?  You were heard using such words as “yellow-belly”, “sell-out”, “push-over”.  You even used the very word of which you are accused “coward”.  Is this so?”

(Pause)

“I will keep on going until you decide to say something”.

“Your revulsion toward the layman is very apparent, even though you yourself are a layman.  You chose to reprimand them for not doing anything better with their lives.  Your cowardice is so well embedded in you that you wont even venture to voice these views.  They remain silent opinions.  In fact, let us add “hypocrisy” to the charge.  I’m sure you wont protest.  You haven’t raised any objections so far.”

“Let us move onto the final.  The bringing down of your friends because you were too stubborn to see that everyone makes mistakes.  You wore them down with your taunts and jeers, never once looking inward to see if you were qualified to pass these judgements.  In fact, let us add “pride” to this charge.”

“Now what do you have to say?”

(Pause)

“DAMN IT, SPEAK UP”

“SPEAK UP”

“DO YOU DENY THESE CHARGES?”

Her mouth is open, as if to say something, but I don’t let her.

“COWARD…HYPOCRITE…PROUD…IS THIS YOU?”

“SPEAK UP?”

once again her mouth opens, but I interject.

‘I AM TIRED OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND YOUR ARROGANCE”.

My hand hurts as I slam it down onto the table while standing up.  I point at her, but cannot see her because the shadows from the lamp don’t allow me to from the standing position.  But I can tell she is afraid.  It puzzles me that I can sense this, but I don’t give it much thought because of my outrage toward her.

“I am ready for my verdict.  You stand accused.”

3. The verdict

GUILTY

4. The accusation, The accused

I am satisfied with this verdict.  It has released the strain of the trial.

Just at that moment, someone passes by. “I am a great admirer of your work” they say to me.  “Would you autograph this picture of yourself for me?”

Filled with a sense of great importance, I take the photo and hold it to the light.  Something is wrong.  This can’t be me.  But I’ve seen her before.

My blood becomes chilled within me as I now begin to understand why I was aware of her feelings.

I sit back down, she does the same.  The once comfortable chair now distresses me.

I stretch out my hand and it is stopped by an invisible screen.  Our hands touch at exactly the same points.

I am her, and she is me.  I touch my face, she touches hers.  Our skin, wrinkled.  Out countenance, worn.

Our synchronised movements are only now becoming clear to me.

She stands accused, and so do I.

our accusation: cowardice, hypocrisy, pride

The accused: Me

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