Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Purple (11/05/09)
TITLE: Amiability on Trial
By Bryan Ridenour
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The spectators and media rose in honor of Judge Stanton, but all eyes remained glued to the celebrity occupying the defendant’s chair. Photographers snapped pictures as the defendant heaved to his feet, flashing all a toothless grin. The gavel’s rapping drew everyone’s attention.
“You may be seated,” grumped the Judge. “Counsel, this is my only hearing today. I have a tee time later this morning, so let’s make this quick. No theatrics, gentlemen. Am I understood?”
“Yes, Your Honor,” the Counsel for both sides responded.
Glancing at the docket, the Judge announced, “This is the People versus Bernard. Will the Counsel for the People please state your case…briefly?”
Pushing to his feet, the People’s attorney responded. “Yes, Your Honor.” He rifled through a folder and extracted the sheet of paper notating the case against the defendant. After taking a sip of water and clearing his throat, he proceeded. “Your Honor, the defendant has been charged with indiscriminate hugging, blowing kisses to friends and strangers, and singing ridiculously sappy songs.”
The court reporter’s brow furrowed at the charges, but continued tapping out the happenings of the court.
“The People charge Mr. Bernard with Amiability in the First Degree.”
Gasps of shock sucked the air out of the spectator area. Onlookers varied in opinion; youngsters in attendance hailed the defendant as a hero, while older generations hoped for a guilty verdict. Once again, the pounding gavel echoed through the cavernous hall. “Order,” bellowed the Judge, mopping his brow. The courtroom fell silent, a distinct electricity in the air.
Without warning, Mr. Bernard’s defense attorney sprang to his feet and bolted down the aisle. “Sorry, Your Honor,” he shouted, waving a cell phone frantically. “My wife’s having a baby!”
A smattering of applause sent the attorney on his way. Scowling, the Judge called order again. “Mr. Bernard, we can postpone these proceedings until you secure adequate representation.”
The table groaned as the Defendant pushed to his feet. “I am prepared to continue, Your Honor.”
The Judge leaned back in his chair. “Very well, Mr. Bernard. How do you respond to the charges brought against you?”
Without hesitation, he responded. “Your Honor, it seems that I am being charged with obeying the Golden Rule.”
The Judge’s eyebrows shot upward. “Excuse me?”
“You know, do unto others…”
“I know the Golden Rule,” interrupted the Judge. “Do you feel you’re being charged falsely?”
“The charges are accurate Your Honor,” Mr. Bernard conceded. “My methods may be unorthodox…maybe even childish, but even while in the egg, my Mama taught me the importance of obeying the Golden Rule. She taught that following the Golden Rule honored our Creator.”
Laptops slammed shut as grumbling reporters trooped out. “I guess God is a turn off,” the Judge commented. Sadly, Bernard nodded in agreement.
“So, you admit to the charges itemized by the Prosecution?”
“I do Your Honor.”
“But you believe that the hugging, the kiss blowing and the sappy songs are your way of fulfilling the Golden Rule?”
Mr. Bernard nodded. “I do.”
Judge Stanton tapped his fingers, contemplating the Defendant’s testimony. “Mr. Bernard, before delivering my ruling, I must say I thought your kind went extinct years ago.”
Mr. Bernard smiled broadly. “That’s what Science would have you believe. But no sir, there are still a few of us around.”
The Judge looked over the rims of his glasses, directing his attention to the prosecution. “Do you have any other evidence against Mr. Bernard?”
The attorney adjusted his collar and began wringing his hands. “Well, Your Honor…”
“Yes or no, Counsel.”
“No sir, I have no more evidence and unfortunately, our key witnesses have failed to attend these proceedings.”
“Then, this Court finds no reason to proceed with charges against Mr. Bernard. Case dismissed.”
Mr. Bernard jumped to his feet. “Super Dee Duper!” he shouted.
Judge Stanton rose, and the courtroom erupted; squeals of delight drowned out murmuring dissent. One small child rushed to the defendant’s table and threw his arms around Barney’s substantial waist. Others soon joined in hugs of congratulations. From somewhere in the back of the room, a small voice broke into song. “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family…”
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