Thursday, June 27, 2013

Day Four-Eighty-Nine: Doomed indeed

"I call Dragomir the Mayor to the stand!"


I'd seriously considered not making another appearance at Jeffrey's trial. Yesterday's debacle left me weak in the knees, and when I'd gotten home I'd promptly wet myself. It's pretty novel of me to wait until I'm out of a public forum before I fill my breaches, and that, I suppose, was something. I prided myself on getting through a tough spot.

"Yes, again, Dragomir." Pagan waved me down from his throne. "C'mon, get down here."

"Isn't it illegal to call a witness twice?" I huddled behind the balcony banister. "I bet it is! Look in your books! C'mon, go on! We can wait, right?"

The courtroom rumbled with laughter. Pagan, again, was not amused. "Get down here. We don't have time to waste on this."

More true than I liked to think about. I've been focusing on the trial this week, but we've received some disturbing reports of nearby communities… well… going dark. Which is to say, we've heard NOTHING from them. That's an ill omen indeed, for even though Pubton is a fair distance from other villages and towns, we almost always get news coming through the merchant grapevine.

Attempting to preserve my dignity at least a little bit, I shambled down to the witness box without the aid of slave bailiffs. Rolo was waiting for me.

"Hello, Mr. Mayor."

"Hi." I tugged on my tunic.

"I would like to ask you a question. Just one question. Then you can go."

"Um… okay."

Rolo puffed out his chest and fanned his hood, turning to the rest of the court. "Can you give me a reason why my client should not be found guilty?"

I blinked. So, too, did everyone in the room. What a weird question. "W… what did you say?"

Rolo raised his voice. "I think you heard me. Can you give me - or should I say, the court - a reason why Jeffrey should not be found guilty?"

"Objection!" yelled the prosecutor.

"On what grounds?" Pagan murmured.

"It's a damn strange query, that's why!"

Tugging on his beard thoughtfully, Pagan shrugged. "I'll allow it. I'm interested in the answer. Go ahead, Dragomir."

I looked around. Everybody was watching me, boring holes of intense curiosity into my face. Even Jeffrey, who usually focuses on his knees, was watching me. His usual fits of shaking had abated in the oddity of the moment.

I rubbed my chin, thinking hard. "Well… um… reasons he should not he found guilty, you said?"

Rolo nodded.


That's an incredibly tough question. I can think of so many reasons why Jeffrey deserves to die. He's a bully, a coward, a fiend, a fraud, a murderer. I used to fear for my life every time he entered the same room, because I could never tell who would be the next person to feel his silly wrath. Hell, he was angry with me after I'd spent several months on the road, trying to save his kingdom. He nearly had me executed!

But then I think of the conversation in the tower.

The frown.

The loneliness.

The pain.

Enough to make me not push him to his death, despite knowing what tragedies I would be averting.



"He's one of us."

Rolo raised a scaly brow. "Beg pardon, Mr. Mayor?"

"He's… one of us?"

Murmurs from every corner. What does he mean? I was asking myself the same question by that point.

"Perhaps you'd… like to clarify that." Rolo slithered forward, raising his puppet hands indulgently.

I inhaled. Here goes. "Jeffrey's… been with us since the start. He's part of our family. 'n I don't mean, like, Libby 'n mine's family. Everybody's family. He's one of us. It… it just doesn't…"

I looked at Jeffrey. He looked back, head cocked, puzzled. The old Jeffrey might have smacked me over the head with his sceptre for daring to gaze upon his divine countenance without permission.

I pointed across the court. "This guy. He's one of us. The old Jeffrey… I think he's dead already. This one won't hurt anybody. That's what I mean."

"And… what makes you say that?" Rolo moved in uncomfortably close.

I shook my head. "Just a feeling. I guess. Can I go now?"

Pagan nodded from above me. "Yes, I think this is a relatively fruitless line of inquiry. Unless you have a more concrete question, defence?"

Rolo sagged a little, his tail thumping against the floor. "No, I think we're pretty much doomed. Defence rests."

"How… professional of you." After asking the prosecutor if he had any questions for me, or anyone, Pagan tapped his gavel. "That's it, then. The jury will be sequestered for one more night, and barring any unforeseen disturbances we should have a verdict by tomorrow. Is that satisfactory?"

One of the jurors, the head Weekendist of Pubton, rose and nodded. "That will suffice, your honour."

"Very well. The trial shall recommence at 12 pm tomorrow. Court adjourned." Gavel tap.

The bailiffs led Jeffrey away into a side chamber. I was released from the witness box. The jurors wandered up the stairs into their joint chambers, the platypus watching me with each step. The court emptied, and I was eventually left alone with Eve, Pagan, and a handful of slaves on cleaning duty.

Pagan thumped a gauntlet down on my shoulder. "'He's one of us'. That was a flaccid response, boy."

"I know." I patted Eve on the head. "Everything else I thought up was lame."

Pagan steered me to one of the small windows facing out over Pubton. We watched the observers of the court wander down the path, back to town, back to their lives. Black clouds lingered on the horizon, and I could tell from the heat in the air that we would be getting a storm overnight.

"The defences are ready?"

"Ready as they'll ever be."

"The people are ready?"

"Nobody's talkin' about it, but, yeah. They all know what's comin'."

"Are you ready?"

I peered down at Eve. She was looking at a pill bug, wandering across the window ledge. I half wondered if she was going to pick it up and eat it, but she didn't. Well-behaved, that's my girl.

"Naw." I hugged my daughter. "I'm never ready for shit like this."


Dragomir the Co-Mayor


  1. "Perhaps you'd… like to clarify that." TRolo slithered forward, raising his puppet hands indulgently.

    TRolo? So I didn't know the Trolololo guy was making a guest appearance this week.

    1. I was having a bad day after an annoying experience with a client. Then this was posted, and I was reminded of the glory of the song. Now I feel much better.

      The lesson? Even typos can serve the forces of good.

    2. Troll on Matt Bird...Troll on...

  2. Isn't 12 AM Midnight? I think you might mean 12 PM.

    1. DAMMIT, you people have eagle eyes. And mine are naught more than those of the noble mole. Thanks.