Chapter VII

G–R–A–T–U–I–T–O–U–S

Guided by the bailiff to the witness chair, the man in a completely white suit seemed to have a cold stare at the prosecution’s table, but no one could really tell due to the stylish sunglasses covering his eyes.  After being sworn in, the witness was asked to recite his name for the court; to which the man in white responded, “My name, if you must know, is Captain Random.”  Immediately from the plaintiff’s table a lawyer stood and said, “Objection!  This name is merely an alias used by the witness to mask his true identity.”  The judge then asked the witness, “Could you please tell us your real name?”  After a few seconds of thought, the witness said, “I can’t tell you my real name because I myself do not even know it.”  This of course was a lie, but he figured that he wouldn’t be going to jail any time soon anyway.  “Fine, let’s just move this senseless trial along.  Prosecution, you have your witness.”

Taking one last glance from his legal pad, the lawyer got up and rigidly walked over to the witness stand.  “Could you tell the court what you did on March 15th of this year?”  Taking a second to think about it, the man in white cleared his throat and began, “It was a day like any other.  I left my apartment early to go and grab a cup of coffee from the coffee shop down the street.  The rest of the day was a blur until about 1:00 when I went to Walter Mondale Elementary School to be the emcee at their annual spelling bee.  Then it was essentially nothing until I went back to my apartment for the night.”

The prosecuting lawyer folded his hands behind him as he started to pace back and forth in front of the bench.  “Could you go into detail as what exactly went on during the spelling bee, Captain Random?”  Pushing his sunglasses back on his face with his index finger, the witness began again, “Well, if I remember correctly, there were a lot of challenging words and very few of the children got them right.  In fact there was one child that never once asked for the word to be used in a sentence and was able to get all of his words right.”

It was here that the lawyer became slightly more animated and for some strange reason began having hair start growing on his face and hands.  “So you’re saying that every time that a child asked for you to use the word in a sentence, the child would get the word wrong!”  On the last word of that sentence, the lawyer turned woodland creature took a swing at the witness with his claws.  At this point, the defense attorney sprung to life and exclaimed, “Objection!  The prosecution is badgering my client!”  The judge, who didn’t seem too shocked by this transformation told the prosecution, who had in fact turned into a badger, to cut it out and continue.

Taking a deep breath, the prosecution reverted to his human self and continued, “Badger?  I didn’t do no stinking badgering.  I didn’t turn into no stinking badger!  Sorry about that, I just needed to get that off my chest.”  Clearing his throat and readjusting his tie, the attorney went on with his examination of the witness.

“So tell us Captain Random, what were the sentences given on the emcee paper like?”  Taking off his white tie and bandaging his newly scratched arm, the witness gave his account, “They seemed pretty normal to me.  For example, I remember the sentence for gratuitous was, ‘Gratuitous violence added nothing to the plot of the story.’”  Walking back over to his table, the lawyer picked up the emcee sheet from the spelling bee and read the sentence for gratuitous.  This matched what the witness had said.

“This is the emcee sheet from the spelling bee, which I’d like to submit as Exhibit A, and the sentences on it are adequate to give a sense of what the word is; yet, Captain Random here didn’t use these sentences.”  There were gasps that ran throughout the courtroom as this vital piece of information was brought to light.  “In fact, we have a tape of what Captain Random actually used as sentences which we will classify as Exhibit B.”

The prosecution brought out a tape player and played the tape which had the voice of the witness on it.  “Your word is ‘ameliorate,’” said the voice on the tape.  When the child asked for it to be used in a sentence, the sentence given was, “’Ameliorate’ is a hard word to spell.”  Needless to say, the child got the word wrong.  Again the similar voice on tape said, “Your word is ‘gratuitous.”  Again the child asked for the word to be used in a sentence and the response was, “’Gratuitous’ is a word in the English language.”

The courtroom was now filled with murmurings of people who were astonished at the cruelty of this man.  The judge pounded his gavel multiple times calling for order and finally restored his court.  When the prosecution felt that enough tape had been played, he stopped the tape and offered the witness to be cross-examined by the defense.

The lawyer defending Captain Random got up, took two steps forward and fell flat on his face, fast asleep.  The witness sighed muttered to himself, “Of all the lawyers in town, I pick the one that has narcolepsy.”  After determining that the defense would not be doing any cross examination, the judge let the witness sit down and called for the prosecution’s closing statement.

Casually walking over to the jury box, the prosecution began his closing address, “Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, this man clad in white who claims to be the legendary Captain Random, has given my clients in this class action suit a large amount of emotional and psychological damage in his blatant torture.  The evidence alone shows that there is need to put this man away for many years.  I leave this important decision in you hands.  Prosecution rests.”  Smiling smugly, the prosecuting attorney sauntered back to his table.

Staring at the defense attorney snoring loudly on the floor, the judge came to the decision that the defense also rests.  Literally.  The jury was then whisked off to their room to deliberate.  They came back in mere minutes with a unanimous verdict.  Captain Random was asked to stand as the verdict was given and he did so after he fiddled with something inside his briefcase on the table.

The foreman read, “In the case of the children of Walter Mondale Elementary versus Captain Random, we find the defendant . . . guilty on all charges.”  As the verdict was given, Captain Random grabbed his briefcase, made a mad dash toward the closest door, took out the guards stationed at the door by an elbow to the stomach and a fist to the trachea, and burst through the door to never be seen again.  In fact, the guards on duty outside the courtroom never saw anyone leave the room through the door that Captain Random used.  Even though Captain Random never served his time, because he was never caught, he has managed to generate a large file of felonies and misdemeanors that have piled up over the years.  Most people refer to this file as the file of unsolved mysteries.

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