The bailiff tugged the bible away from my unsuspecting hand.
“Now, Mr. Garrett,” I remembered that everything was so rushed and discourteous. Ghoul’s lawyer pounced, claws slashing for an early kill. “My client indicated earlier today that you were in sound process to kick him to the curb without notice. What say you?”
“I… no, that’s not what happened,” I stammered.
“Well then what did happen, Mr. Garrett? I think we’re all dying to find out.”
“Like I said before, Ghoul over there—
The gavel fell and a harsh thunderclap reverberated off the high walls of the courtroom. Judge Rodriguez veered her steely gaze, “The next time you refer to plaintiff as such I will throw you in for contempt, do you understand?”
“Yes your honor, I understand.”
Everything about that morning had been unnecessary. The trial, (also the near-execution which stemmed from another matter beforehand) all of Ghoul’s phony witnesses, bogus evidence—and who could forget the free public defender who charged by the minute—all of it, a noxious sham that crippled both my reputation and credit.
“I’ll ask again, Mr. Garrett: What happened on the morning of September 14th?”
Ghoul, dressed to the nines and ever so smug, reclined behind his carnivorous attorney. They both were great whites circling my hemorrhaging body.
“I recall the conversation. Sir Harrowsbee the second, of his holiest chamber and seal amongst those destined for greatness,” Ghoul relished every minute of his control of the situation. It was thoroughly pathetic. What was worst, though, was that the city allowed such a title. “I was approached with the matter of rent for next month, October. The date of the seventh was asked to pay rent—which is part of the tenant-landlord agreement anyways—and I replied that is fine I will catch up with you later. That was it. Next thing I know, I am summoned here on charges of criminal threatening and harassment.”
His attorney continued.
“This is a matter viewed from a different perspective, one reinforced by the testimony of Knowlton’s well-to-do.”
He was referring to Betsy McGill, Knowlton’s former post master. Betsy had been dead near a decade and somehow her spirit came forward to testify. Her accounts of the event were obviously false… weren’t they?
“And I never assaulted him,” I said more to the jury–who were a raucous sort of motley non-relations bused-in from Boston–than to Ghoul’s attorney.
“Your honor,” a folder was brought forth to the judge. And a tape recorder. “I would like to present two separate items for the courts: here is a photograph of Mr. Garrett on the phone, and the recording, proves he was scheduling a pickup of human remains.”
That son of a bitch, I thought. So that’s why he wanted me to request “corpse removal” as an option for a tax break. Sure, gives me a little back but he’s trying to set me up.
I couldn’t focus. Judge Rodriguez gripped the oak handle of his gavel, distraught and annoyed. The jurors shifted uneasily. The press–oh that’s right there were cameras everywhere–huddled with bloodthirsty anticipation; those jackals.
Ghoul grinned ear-to-ear, dentures lolling in his mouth like a capsizing ship.
“Answer, Mr. Garrett,” the judged ordered.
“I… those are business expenses… for bone saws and lye. Maybe some tarps. Definitely duct tape. The usual needs for my profession, ya know?”
“No, I don’t. Enlighten us all please, Mr. Garrett,” said Ghoul’s lawyer.
I stared at my attorney, desperately mouthing help me please! He stood, too abruptly. The guards saw him as a threat, weapons were drawn. He held his hands up. “This is enough for me. I know when to tap out,” he gathered his things and was permitted to leave. Judge said she couldn’t blame him.
The jurors snickered when I stood high, claiming that I demanded a trial by combat.
“Let the gods decide,” I pointed down to Ghoul. “Name your champion. You’ll stand to the challenge if fortune shines on me at this hour.”
Judge Rodriguez’s strike created a force that rippled throughout the courtroom. Her gavel was no more. Wood splinters buzzed inches from my face. The foundation below crumbled, windows cracked with pronounced spider webs, and the press were sadly no more.
“You will answer his questions and see to it that you hurry,” Judge Rodriguez snarled.
“Okay, fine, you want to know what I do? I look after this guy. Do you know that he is undead? I found in the morgue one night–crazy story, don’t get me started–and he’s been with me ever since. Now here is a question for you, for all of you: would you like him loose on the streets, unaccounted for? Go ahead, take your time. It’s a tough one.”
I experienced an unfamiliar bliss. Those who were still alive and able to stand thought heavy on my words. There arose a whisper, then a semi-coherent chorus of muttering that sang of minor empathy towards my struggle.
But Ghoul’s lawyer wasn’t convinced.
“How do we all know what you’re saying is true? Look at him,” the lawyer retched when he glanced to Ghoul. “Nothing wrong with him; least on the inside I think.”
“Alright… hey man,” Ghoul snapped his head up. “Do your impersonation from Labyrinth. The bit in the forest there, with the red Muppets.”
“You mean the Fireys? I’d rather do David Bowie and Dance Magic.”
“We can do that later… together. I promise.”
Ghoul hummed the tune, or something close to it. The scene was more about action than song. His head rolled off his shoulder, then flipped in the air as Ghoul juggled it high and far.
“See what I mean?” I said.
Judge Rodriguez was appalled, yet gracious with her sentencing: I was to continue keeping Ghoul secret. That was it.
Some days, though, I would have rather taken the three-years with eighteen-months on good behavior.
© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017. All rights reserved.