Thank You For Punishing Me

You’ve been convicted of a crime, but the judge recognizes that this is your first offense. Instead of sending you to jail, he hands down an extremely unusual punishment. What’s even more unusual is, after it’s over, you come back to thank him. Why?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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122 thoughts on “Thank You For Punishing Me

  1. laurentravian

    “All rise, for the honorable Judge McCoy.”
    Dutifully, I stood, and a young man in his early twenties entered. He wasn’t hard on the eyes either. Hubba hubba. I thought. I made sure he saw my crime. His face turned pink, then red, then white. I smiled my most winning smile at him, and made sure the dress I had worn today hugged me in all the right places. “Well boy? Spit it out!” the bailiff growled. The young judge tried to speak, but gave up quickly, handing the crime sheet to the bailiff. The young judge covered his eyes with his hand and turned away. I think he was sort of disappointed, I recognized him as the hot geek in high school who worshiped me. But I had a boyfriend, and he was basically to blame for this mess. The bailiff turned pink as well, and stage whispered, “Public lewdness.” I had not realized the men in this town were so easy to embarrass. If I had, I would have done that a lot sooner. I smiled at the Judge again, and he gulped. Then he did something strange. He didn’t hear the lawyers or the jury. He simply banged his gavel and said, “Ms. Coalie is sentenced to…work as a nurse, wearing the uniform that the nurses under Florence Nightingale wore, and work in the optometry association.” the bailiff smirked, and I shrieked. “For 8 months, or until a blind man asks her out.” Judge McCoy continued aloofly. I covered my face with my hands and shrieked.
    -8 months later-
    “Judge McCoy.”
    Jonathan looked up to see who had said his name. Oh dear. It was Miranda Coalie, who he’d had a crush on in high school and committed the crime that rocked the town. He blushed.
    “May I sit next to you?” he nodded, and she sat down on the porch swing next to him.”Judge McCoy, I am a changed woman. I was mostly like that because Conrad…got a little too liberal with me, in high school. Y’know what I mean?” she asked. He nodded again. “But…I always thought you were hot. Even in court.” she twirled a lock of hair and smiled shyly at him. “So…doing anything later?” she almost whispered. He shook his head, and pulled her into the best kiss she had ever had. After 2 more dates, they took the next step. They got married within 3 weeks of their last date.

  2. peppermintywrites

    You’ve been convicted of a crime, but the judge recognizes that this is your first offense. Instead of sending you to jail, he hands down an extremely unusual punishment. What’s even more unusual is, after it’s over, you come back to thank him. Why?

    “Mercy! Judge, I will thank you for your ever benevolent and gracious mercy shown to me!” I yelled as the guards held me by both sides. The judgement day was finally here, however I have never ever wanted this to happen, I have never foreseen this to happen. I have a bright future ahead of me, I cannot let this ruin my perfect picture.

    “Shut up!” The judge snarled back at me. “Don’t you dare even retaliate! Atone for your sins!” He threw these words at me as I tried to push the guards back. I hated their icy, cold hands controlling me.

    And there I was, in the cell. What have I done wrong? Why is this happening to me? I reflected. I was getting restless however I could not sleep the whole night. Staring at the high ceiling, the silence was so cold, I could feel every bit of it pricking through my skin.

    “Wake up!” The guard scowled at me. Little did I know I had fell asleep on the floor. I was such a fussy person when it comes to sleep but I guessed I was just too tired after the jury, that I had taken forty hundred winks.

    So there I was, it was the day I have to face the music. I had committed a crime, a heinous crime, no one could ever comprehend. I had forgotten to feed Adrian’s cat for a long period, leading to its death. Therefore, the judge had decided to punish me using the most unusual way.

    I was going to be a cat for a day. I hated it. I have always hated cats and they seemed the biggest annoyance to me. Before I knew it, I was being attacked by a dog, I was scavenging for food and unable to escape from the furious aunty who wanted to hit me when I snatched away one fishball.

    I could not speak, there was no voice coming out from me except the ‘meowing’. It was gonna be a tough and silly day. I will never forget this.

    There was too much that happened. In the end,I managed to find a little dark corner in this city for a rest. It was the worst day of my life.

    The next day, I woke up being human again. “So how was it?” Adrian asked. “It was…scary, I am so sorry, I will never be so lazy again.” I answered.

    All the flashbacks hurt my brain. It was all because of my laziness, I did not feed the cat. I felt that it was a chore, now it had passed away because of me.

  3. Ravenwriter

    This is my first time posting, not sure if I’m doing it right. (If not let me know.) This was difficult to do without going in-depth due to the word-count.

    “I hate you,” were the final words I screamed, as I stormed out of the house, the security door slamming against the frame behind me, and climbed into my friend Wallace’s rumbling wreck of a Buick. I was a mature sixteen, with my drivers’ license, a minimum wage job to help support me. I didn’t need my mother.

    How dare she try and tell me how to live my life. She and her boyfriends’ were the ones who use to cloud up the kitchen with marijuana smoke; the first time I saw a crystallized rock. She was sprawled out beneath a rumpled comforter with her naked limbs dangling toward the ground, and it on the nightstand along with a glass pipe.

    She could boast about her revelations, about how she found God, and how he saved her from her life of sin all she wanted, but just because she made “the change” didn’t mean I had to follow in her footsteps.

    I knew she called them when the police cruiser forced us to the curb the following night. The officer placed me in handcuffs, arresting me for being a runaway, and for the possession of paraphernalia and narcotics.

    Big deal, I thought. What could they do to a minor with no criminal background?

    When the Judge sentenced me to Andale Sanctuary and Rehabilitation center for troubled teens, I scoffed at the short sentence. Seventy-two hours. Three days.

    I was led into barren white room, with only a steel chair, and a large black pane of glass separating the room from another.

    I was bound to the chair by wrist and ankles. “Now, Daniel,” the man who led me into the room said. “Your mother has contractually agreed to undertake in this experimental parenting course. I assure you, by the end of your session, you and your mother will be better fit as mother and son.”

    He left, turning out the lights with him. The black glass became translucent. Emerging in a white light was my mother strapped to a chair on the other side of the glass.

    I cannot stomach to tell you the details of what transpired over those long three-days. There were electrocutions, small cuts and iodine, and various other deplorable acts.

    She paid the price for my many sins and my punishment was to witness her pain.

    We left the center as promised after three-days. We shambled out of the building after being given instructions. We could not disclose the events inside; we could only describe group therapy sessions, and speaking otherwise would bring us back.

    I was also told to thank the judge, which, I did through a formal letter.
    The sands of time have seeped seamlessly into the past, many years have come and gone, and regardless of the pain and suffering endured. I really do thank the judge. My mother and I have never been closer, and until now we haven’t said a word . . .

  4. cb0825

    “Ms. Andrews you allegedly ran a red light, which caused the untimely death of Mrs. Blake and fled the scene. Mr. Blake, before Ms. Andrews was convicted or sentenced, you allegedly burned down her house. Now Mr. Blake, let me give you a little education on the justice system. The reason we are here is to pass judgment for crimes committed, I am a judge, you are not. Since the two of you are not in front of a jury, and I have heard all the evidence, I will give my verdict and should it be necessary, the sentencing to follow.”

    Judge Lang had always been a fair and by the book judge. He saw all different types of cases in his court and he was sure some of them had been tangled much like this one, but the difference was both of these cases were coming through his court, at the same time, with the same parties involved. So when he saw these on the docket, he sat for a long time and thought of how to fix these two peoples lives. Ms. Andrews had made a critical mistake in running that red light and causing the death of a woman. She also made a horrible decision in leaving the scene, but to be honest, what could she have done? The damage was already done, Mrs. Blake had died on impact. It was not Mr. Blake’s fault that he felt so much grief over the loss of his wife of 24 years. If Judge Lang had lost his wife of 31 years in such a way, he might have gone mad too.

    Judge Lang had felt for these two people in a way that he had never felt about any two people that had crossed his court room. He had also never pushed the envelope, but he had read plenty of times about judges who had handed out alternative sentences. At that moment he had a stroke of genius.

    “Ms. Andrews, I feel for you. I know why people make decisions to leave the scene, and I feel that just because you make a mistake doesn’t make you a bad person. That being said, my verdict is that you are guilty.”

    “Mr. Blake, I also feel for you. You lost your wife very tragically and I don’t know what I would do if I lost my wife. However, it is never ok to take the law into your own hands. You are guilty of arson.”

    “The sentences that I am about to pass down, are a little alternative. I feel that both of you ruined each other’s lives all because of a mistake. Mr. Blake your life has changed because you have no wife to come home to, Ms. Andrews your life has changed because you have no house. Therefore, you two are going to live together for 1 year. You can choose to spend that year how you wish, however, if something happens to either of you, you will receive a different kind of sentence. You will have a probation officer who will check on you, unannounced for the whole year. If you choose not to follow your probation, then you will be sentenced much worse.”

    Bang, Bang the gavel sounded.

    12 Months Later

    “Ms. Andrews, so great to see you, as well as you Mr. Blake,” Judge Lang said to each.

    “Judge, we really want to thank you,” Ms. Andrews started, “while it took about 6 months to get over what we did to each other, it was well worth it.”

    Mr. Blake smiled at Ms. Andrews, “This part of our story started roughly, but it isn’t over.”

  5. Celtic_Lass

    “Any final comments counselor?” the judge asks. My lawyer glances at me, sitting with my hands
    folded in my lap, my head bowed. My long, dark hair hangs down like a curtain, obscuring my face. He
    can’t see my eyes peeking up at him.

    “Your honor, my client understands the seriousness of her crime. Bullying is NOT acceptable behavior.
    At the age of 15, she should know better. There were accomplices, but she refuses to name them. Kate
    is ready and willing to accept whatever punishment you feel is necessary.”

    Silence.

    I raise my head a bit to take a peek at the judge. I’m hoping to see a face filled with compassion,
    (After all, I didn’t rat out my friends did I?) but my heart sinks and my lip starts to tremble when I see her
    glaring down at me. I lower my head back down again and stare at my shoes.

    “KATHERINE!”

    I quickly sit up straight, my hair flying behind me as I whip my head up to stare at her.

    “What you and your unnamed companions did to Leah Bell’s hair is both cruel and hurtful.The
    poor girl had to have most of it cut off. I’m thinking…..that the punishment should fit the crime.” She
    carefully removes her glasses, folds them up and places them on the paper she had been looking at.
    “The first part of your sentence”, here she pauses and I’m afraid to move, “You will be getting a haircut
    as well young lady.”

    I gasp as my hands fly to my head. My hair! She can’t be serious! It’s almost to my waist and
    everyone says it’s my best feature! Nooooooo!

    Two days later I am standing in front of a hair salon, a social worker by my side. I’m looking at a
    sign that reads “DONATE YOUR HAIR TO LOCKS FOR LOVE”.

    Six months later I sit on a bench outside of the judge’s chambers, waiting to speak to her. I run my
    fingers through my short head of hair and smile, wondering how many cancer patients received wigs
    made from my hair. I’m here today to thank the judge for also making me spend time in the children’s
    cancer ward of a local hospital. All those bald kids. Their strength. Their courage. They really turned
    my life around.

    I look up as the door to the judge’s chambers opens. “Kate,” she says with a tremulous smile.
    “Your time in the children’s ward was up months ago and yet you’re still there.” I nod and take her
    shaking hand in mine. “Yes, ma’am. I’ve made too many friends there to ever stop going.” She gives
    me a gentle hug, both of us knowing that one of the new friends I made just recently…..is her
    granddaughter.

  6. Nahaul Winchester

    I looked up at the judge, the alpha, through my blue-black bangs, standing, waiting in the slient office for my sentance. The slience was deafing and I’d kill for my iPod right then. I was just barely seventeen for the love of Apollo, but then again being caught at fifteen werewolf fighting matches, most of which I organized myself, so bound to end up here sometime. “Three months undercover in a human organized dog-fighting community,” the Alpha ordered, rough voice not leaving my ears until I drowned myself in music when I left the pack HQ.

    ~Three Months Later~

    I ran up to the muddy blond haired Alpha, hoping to catch him before he left for his job in some big reserch center in downtown Austin. “Hey wait Alpha!” I yelled just as he was about to step out the door.
    The older male turned to discover the owner of the voice. “What is it Sammy?” He questioned, glancing down at his million dollar platnium watch.
    “I wanted to thank you for sending me to that dog-fighting ring,” I told him.
    His blue-gray eyes lit up in confusion. “Why are you thanking me?”
    I felt a three-year-old climb up my back and cling around my scrawny neck, just barely choaking me. “Because I found my son, and your soon-to-be step-son,” I replied. “His bitch of a mom ran the place. She got what she desurved though. Tore up by a pitbull mix.” A black pitbull mix padded up and sat down besides me. “So want to send me anywhere else? Or do I have to breaak the law again?”

  7. elinor

    I stood before the judge awaiting my sentence. Embezzling from the bank had been a piece of cake. It’s a small town; the security is pedestrian. If anything surprised me it’s that I was caught — and rather quickly.
    Now I was being sentenced. I felt no fear. It was my first offense, and I would no doubt get time served. The judge addressed me from behind his bench.
    “Miss Cort, as this is your first offense and the amount stolen was not great, I will not give you any prison time.”
    I smiled. “Thank you, your honor,” I said with a slight bow of the head.
    “That doesn’t mean,” he said sternly, “that there will be no consequences for your actions.”
    My confidence faltered. He wasn’t going to let me go with time served. But what could he do to me? There are laws regulating sentencing. Aren’t there?
    “I’m going to sentence you to 50 hours of community service. To be exact, 50 hours of cleaning my home once a week. You should be finished in about eight weeks, and then you’ll be a free woman.”
    “Clean your house?” I asked in scorn, but my lawyer touched my arm and reminded me to be respectful.
    “Did you say something, Miss Cort?” the judge asked, staring down at me like a raptor waiting for it’s prey to defy it.
    “No, your honor,” I smiled. “Nothing.”
    The gavel fell, and I left, grumbling.
    Eight weeks later I was indeed finished with my community service. The home was nice and easy to clean as the judge and his wife were rarely home. There was very little to do each week.
    I found the judge in his study where I always found him when I’d finished cleaning. He was nursing a scotch and reading legal documents in a large, cushioned armchair.
    “I’m finished, your honor,” I told him, “and I believe this is my last day?”
    “You are correct, Miss Cort, and, may I say, it’s been a pleasure having you.”
    “It’s been a pleasure working for you,” I returned. “I really must thank you for insisting on such a monotonous task as my punishment. It has taught me the value of honest work. I’m grateful for the lesson.”
    “You are very welcome,” said the judge. “I hope never to see you again in my courtroom.”
    “You won’t,” I laughed as I left the room.
    I checked the plane ticket in my purse as I walked out the door toward my car. My flight to Paris would leave in a couple of hours. By the time the judge discovered that I’d pawned most of the antiques in his attic, I’d be lost in La Ville-Lumière.

  8. Icabu

    After quietly waiting her turn, Marta Livingoode stepped up to the ladder leaning against the old, gnarled tree. The torches from the restless crowd made dancing shadows through the leaves and branches. The moon had not yet risen, but Marta felt its closeness.

    “You have been duly tried and convicted of conducting witchcraft,” a frilly-haired magistrate said authoritatively. “Do you have anything to say for yourself before your sentence of death by hanging is carried out?”

    Marta had nothing to say to these wretched cretins. The hideously wigged magistrates and court jesters had brought charges against her and two other women three days ago. All found guilty and all sentenced to hang until dead – a charade with nothing at all to do with justice.

    Marta felt badly for the other two women. They did not posses even the essence of the power that surged within herself. Marta’s only mistake, if one could consider it in that fashion, was enjoying the feel and flow of the power. With spittle spraying from their mouths, her accusers had recounted hearing her in the woods calling to beasts and demons. Marta had nearly laughed in their red and sweating faces. If they’d only known that the demon in the woods with her those nights was the mayor of their fine community. Like most of the townsfolk she did business with, he was the best at the task she’d chosen for him. She had enjoyed it immensely with all the lusting fervor she had within her.

    The ladder rungs shone with vomit and urine from the previous hangings. Again, sorrow filled her for the others. Their pretense suddenly voided them as the noose extinguished their spark of life. The simple thread of rope had no chance against the powerful forces flowing within Marta’s soul.

    As the pale magistrate lay the noose around her neck, she detected a tremble in his fingers. He knew! With great effort, Marta withheld her glee. This simpleton felt her power and, wisely, it frightened him. She would not be the one voiding this night. With a mere glance from her, the quivering pisser beside her would lose his mind along with his bodily functions.

    She spared him.

    Eagerly, she climbed the ladder as the bright moon bloomed over the horizon. Marta stared into its face. A beacon to her, she flew off the ladder, stealing her sentence from the pathetic idiots and enveloping herself with the power surging through her.

    Leaving her body was a mere blink. Marta soared above the astonished crowd. They ran from the tree and the crumpled clothing she left behind. Unable to withhold any longer, she cackled as she swooped over them. The stench of their fear filled her nostrils as she took a deep breath and blew a devil wind that extinguished all the torches. Their screams delighted her. She could not thank them enough for freeing her and her power. She would do all she could to constantly remind them.

  9. Matt

    As the bailiff instructed all to rise I labored to get to my feet. I had never been in a complete set of leg irons and handcuffs before and it was not easy to stand. I was somewhat hunched over because the chain connecting my ankles to my wrist became kinked not allowing me to stand completely. I yanked and yanked to no avail, my lawyer shushing me all the while.

    Judge Thomas studied the file in front of him, reading then pausing to look at me over is glasses the reading some more. Finally, after what seemed like eternity, he removed his glasses and spoke, “Mister Johnson, you are accused of vehicular assault, driving while intoxicated and driving with a suspended license how do you plead?” his eyes narrowed and his voice raised with every charge.

    “Guilty your honor.” I responded, my head down, the accident playing over in my mind.

    “Mister Johnson,” he started, a little despair starting in his voice, “I’ve had you in my court room before and you just don’t seem to get it,” he continued, pulling off his thick framed glasses. “You are very fortunate not to be standing here on murder charges. If you don’t turn things around your life is going to end up in the toilet. Are you following me?” he finished his voiced raised but with concern.

    “Yes sir,” I responded with as much sorrow as I could muster.

    The Judge slipped his glasses back on and started to read my rap sheet, “Lets see, five DUIs, three public intoxications, six driving with either a suspended or no license at all and one vehicular assault. It seems house arrest or jail time as convinced you to change your ways so before you end up in the toilet I’m sentencing you to clean toilets.”

    I groaned inside, or so I thought, “does this not work for you Mr. Johnson?” Judge Thomas asked leaning over his bench.

    “No your Honor, I mean yes your Honor, it works for me,” I answered flustered, not realizing my groan was heard.

    “Good to hear that,” the judge said as he retreated back into his chair, “your attorney has the name and phone number of my good friend at waste removal. You start first thing in the morning. And Mr. Johnson,” he continued in a very stern voice, ” you miss one day and you will be locked up for five years. Do I make myself clear?”

    “Crystal Your Honor.”

    The words my life going down the toilet stuck with me as every port-a-potty I clean every time I opened a lid I saw my life floating like the turds I cleaned up. After six months I got a new appreciation for life and I turned mine around.

    Several years later I saw Judge Thomas at a ball game and thanked him for getting my life out of the toilet.

  10. hillsworth

    “Come. Walk with me, son. Let’s talk.” He places a reassuring arm around my slumping shoulders and nudges me into movement. We head down a path weaving through a stunning garden.”What made you do it?”

    My mouth trembles as I look for the words. No lies will work here. He will surely see through them. “I…I don’t…” The trembles are too strong and they spread to my chest. My heart begins to triphammer. His hand gently squeezes my shoulder, calming me enough to start again. “I don’t know, sir. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

    We round a bend and there in front of us, in the middle of the path, is a beautiful apple tree that is just bursting with fruit. There is a bench underneath and we go there to sit. He asks, “Have you thought about the consequences?”

    “No, sir.”

    “How about your family? The people who love you? Have you thought about how they will react when they hear of what you’ve done?

    I hang my head in shame and the tremble is back. “N…no, sir.” Sniffle.

    “I can tell you. They will be distraught, beside themselves. I have much experience with the crime you committed, and I’ve seen the faces of the loved ones. They don’t understand why or how. There are so many questions.”

    “What’s going to happen now? What are you going to do to me?”

    “Well, since this is you’re first offense, I’m inclined to let you live.”

    “Live?” I ask with tears on my cheeks.

    “Yes, my son, live. Be alive. Breathe in the air that I made for you. Bask in the sun I have given to you. Run through the raindrops that I use to cleanse the Earth. Live life to the fullest. Your sin has been absolved. Rejoice, and trust in me, always.” And with that, the garden shimmered once then drifted away.

    When I opened my eyes, the tiny bathroom surrounded me and I realized I was laying in a tub filled with cold water. A razorblade lay on the side of the tub, reflecting the light that dangled from the ceiling. I slapped at it and sent it flying across the room.

    I closed my eyes and prayed. “Thank you, Lord. For giving me life.”

    1. rob akers

      Very nice opening. I like the garden sceen, very sedate and peaceful when compared to the bathroom sceen. I like it and how the character reacts when the eyes open up. I am exploring this with a different character and it is a very difficult subject to think about. It is tempting to say that “I dont know” is a shallow answer to a complex topic but I think some people go down this path just because and they, like your character really dont know why they do it.

    2. Egg

      I really liked the first person narrative – I felt like I was there – and admit that I was a bit disappointed to be thrust back into past tense. (I’ll be thinking about why you chose not to stay in the present – feel free to share if you want to).

      Regardless, I thought your use of dialogue and imagery to set the mood was really good, and I liked the depth of your ending.

      1. hillsworth

        Sorry Egg, didn’t catch myself slipping into the past tense until I just re-read it again. I see what you mean. Along with most, I miss alot as I reread before posting because I think we feel as though we did a knockout job, which we all do of course, but it’s the little mistakes that we rely on others to point out to us (at least I do). Thanks so much for the response, I truly appreciate critiques. It’s what makes me a better writer.

  11. annefreemanimages

    Strong Arm of the Law
    A Rett Bonneville Short Story
    By Anne M. Freeman

    After leaving the judge’s chambers, I hurried to the ladies room where I could wipe away a few tears. I’d just thanked her for my community service requirement, and shared with her a small story about loss and forgiveness.

    The first time I met the judge was because of my “crime.” It started with my 1980 L82 Corvette, mink brown, saddle interior, and mirrored T top. I adored that car. It was everything a 23-year-old babe could want. Then the car died and I didn’t have the funds to fix it, so it sat in my driveway for a good while.

    I had to sell my Vette because a local cop lost out on a promotion he thought should have been his. His response was to go on a ticket-writing spree all over town. One night, there was a knock on my cottage door. Officer Smith stood at the door with a grim look. Of course, I thought someone I loved had died. Who wouldn’t? But no, Office Smith was there to ticket me for parking a car with an expired registration. I was appalled!

    He ordered me to get my Vette inspected or get it garaged (I had none). I couldn’t afford to do either. He said I’d have to pay a fine for every day it sat there unregistered. I protested that no one could see the car – I lived in the woods. Why was he at my home, and why was he harassing me? It was the town ordinance, he replied.

    Now, I was enraged. A one-sided argument ensued and escalated. I recall screaming, “I pay your salary with my taxes! … a Nazi police state! … get your ass fired! … kick your ass right off my lawn! … It was that last phrase that did it, and the only “ass” happening was my sorry ass getting arrested for making terroristic threats against an office of the peace. Turns out that I didn’t have to actually kick Officer Smith’s ass, I just had to say I would kick his ass to get arrested.

    My attorney made a deal with the prosecutor – first offence, upstanding citizen – and I commenced cleaning up trash along the main road through town for my community service. Humiliating! Officer Smith drove by, and I glared at him.

    Shortly afterwards, a pickup pulled over and parked. Officer Smith got out, wearing civilian clothes. He carried a large garbage bag. Without a word, he walked over to me and held open the bag. I was trembling. I didn’t know what to say or do, I was so chocked with anger and hurt and confusion. He just stood there, waiting. Finally, I pulled myself together, bent down, picked up some litter, and threw it in the bag. We cleaned the entire roadside together in silence.

    All this time later, I still miss the hell out of my Vette. But now, I have a new friend, and a heart that’s a little bit bigger.

    ###

      1. annefreemanimages

        Thanks, Egg! I was excited to find this writing prompt series on Writer’s Digest, because I was searching for an opportunity to develop this character. These weekly prompts are just the ticket. Thanks for taking the time to read, and I’m glad to hear that she is beginning to develop a voice. That’s been my challenge.

        Anne

    1. Mackie

      Very nice! I loved the redemptive quality of the story. Your main character, who is very interesting, seems to be on a journey of self-discovery – each step (or mis-step) allowing a deeper understanding. Good writing!

  12. vcp773

    Would love some comments here!! Thanks!

    David of Macclestone navigated his way through the muddy streets to meet with the village magistrate. His mother had given him the name David after King David from the Bible. But the closest he ever came to living out his namesake was taking relations with his best friend’s wife. That is what landed him in the stockade for 2 days in May. But now he has an appointment to keep.

    The magistrate is a heavy old man. His head reflects the dim light from the candle lighting the room that cast a puffy shadow of a million wiry fingers just above each ear. His spectacles rest on the edge of his long nose to give his eyes enough room to look down at you. I have seen this look many times. His son, Billy Laugh a Lot and I are friends and spent all of our summers working the fields together. We call him Laugh a Lot because he made the long days shorter with his jokes and always had us holding our stomachs. I have always stayed under the judging eyes of Magistrate. I guess that I was his project.

    “Young David”, he says, “I hope the stocks kept you well.”

    “Aye they did.” I say sarcastically.

    “Well my boy, I will make this short, you know why you are here. I have thought long and hard about this. Since you have no respect for anything but yourself I am sentencing you to two weeks being an Alewife and serving ale in the evenings. You will be respectful of the other ladies and under no circumstances will you disrespect the patrons at night,” said the magistrate. “And to top it off you will wear an apron while on duty”.

    David argued with him and even offered up stable duty for six months instead of being ridiculed by every drunken man in town. He was embarrassed and ashamed by the verdict.

    The next morning he showed up and fulfilled his duties for two weeks. David endured the ridiculing night after night with a tavern full of drunken men, some of which were his friends.

    Some weeks later David approached the door to the Magistrates house. Bang Bang Bang he rapped on the door. David was nervous and wiped his boots on the flat stone in front of the door. Magistrate opened the door,” Yes yes, who is it now?”

    “Sir it is David and I Just want to say thank you”, David said bowing his head with respect and gratitude.

    In David’s right hand was Lorelei standing innocently with a smile that lit up David’s eyes with a fire.

  13. Icabu

    I haven’t been able to reply to individual postings, getting “You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.” when only trying to post one reply. I do want to say that I’ve enjoyed reading the posts. The responses are quite varied – heartwarming to hilarious, wonderful descriptive prose and edgy dialogue. Thanks to all!

  14. T.Rob

    A year ago, almost to the day, Judge Bean handed down my sentence. Now, awaiting my turn in the third row of the gallery I watched him reign over his court like a medieval lord, making indelible, life-changing decisions as if he were ordering breakfast. “I’ll have the latte, a cheese Danish and give the check kiter five years plus full restitution.” By the time the bailiff called my name the judge had passed down more than four hundred years of sentences and it was only 11:15. I approached the bench.

    The judge peered over his glasses at my file. “Ahhh, Mr. Fox. So good of you to join us today. Do you know why you are here?”

    This is his way of trying to throw me off balance. I stood tall and spoke clearly. “Yes, your honor. Last year I threw blood on Senator Cheatham at a fund raising luncheon.”

    “And why did you do that?”

    “Well, your honor, I was protesting the loss of individual civil liberties. I was upset that the benefits of representation are reserved for corporations and big monied interests. I felt that individual citizens are no longer represented in our political process.”

    “Because of which you took matters into your own hands.”

    “Yes, your honor.”

    “After a year working as an unpaid intern for the senator, do you still feel this way? I remind you that you are still under oath.”

    “Yes, your honor. My year of service has reinforced my beliefs.”

    “In that case, can you offer any reason why I should not impose the suspended sentence?”

    “Your honor, I believe that I was convicted not for my beliefs but because I acted on them outside the law. I have come to understand that working within the law is a much more effective way to make a difference. When I am released, whether that is today or after serving my sentence, I plan to put my experience of the past year to good use as a lobbyist for citizen’s rights.”

    “Furthermore, I would like to thank you personally for the opportunity that you have given me. I learned more about politics in one year working in the senator’s office than I would have in four years majoring in Political Science. Thanks to you I now have the skills with which to pursue my passion legally and, for the first time, effectively. Thank you, your honor.”

    “Mr. Fox, I am moved by your statement. I am going to discharge your sentence. But don’t ever come before me again. Do you understand me?”

    “I do, your honor. Thank you.”

    With a bang of the gavel, the bailiff showed me out of the courtroom. I reached the outer lobby just in time to see the news breaking on the overhead monitor.

    “… live coverage of the Department of Homeland Security’s Intellectual Property division executing a raid on Senator Cheatham’s mansion. Earlier in the week an anonymous tip advised DHS that the senator had jailbroken his cell phone. DHS agents used remote monitoring software, installed by the phone carrier according to Federal mandates passed last year, to confirm that the handset has indeed been jailbroken. During the investigation, agents also discovered several videos taken using the phone. These videos of the Senator’s three year old daughter dancing to copyrighted music could result in fines of up to $250,000 per song. Sources close to the investigation tell us…”

    “Yup”, I thought as I headed for the courthouse door, “I will definitely work within the system from now on”.

  15. taldickinson

    At 5:38am on a chill January morning, it’s dark. The shadows are thick enough to hide me. He doesn’t even know I’m in his backseat until I say, “Hi Jimmy.” Despite my friendly tone, he’s startled. He wasn’t expecting me. It’s been seventeen years after all. He tries to turn to look at me but I shove the business end of a gun against his skull. It stops him.

    “Wh-who are you? What do you want?”

    “Let’s go for a ride, Jim.” A ride down memory lane.

    “A ride?” he repeats stupidly. “To…to where?”

    “You’re fixin’ for work, ain’t ya? So go to work.”

    He’s too nervous to argue. We don’t talk as he pulls the car out of his expansive driveway and hits the road. We travel along in silence for five minutes. I keep half an eye out the window, monitoring the sparse traffic, and the rest of my attention on Judge James Conlen. I watch him trying to glimpse my face in the artificial lights we drive past. While we’re stalled at an intersection illuminated by traffic lights, recognition slaps him hard.

    “You!”

    “I knew you couldn’t forget me, Jimmy. I sure never forgot you.”

    “You crazy son of a–” HOOONK! The traffic light has turned green and the car behind us is impatient.

    “Better pay attention, Judge.”

    “What do you want, Sweeney?” James’ voice is hard, his surprise and fear congealed into anger. He drives like he’s calm though, like nothing is wrong.

    “To catch up with my old friend. Remember when I passed through your court all that time ago? What was the charge?”

    “Possession with intent to sell,” he answers with grit teeth.

    “Yeah, that’s right. And instead of givin’ me jail time, you sentenced me to work at–”

    “The meth clinic.”

    “Yeah, that’s right. The meth clinic. You shoulda just sent me to jail, Jim. Pull over here.” He turns into a vacant parking lot and the car eases to a gentle stop.

    “If I could do it all over again I would.” His regret is sincere.

    “Aw now, don’t say such things. If it weren’t for what you did, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. I mean really I should be thanking you, so . . .”

    BLAM! The gun ignites in my hand. The bullet tears through him. He slumps onto the steering wheel.

    “Thanks.”

  16. Atticus

    “Your Honor, I come to you today to thank you for the punishment that you deemed worthy to sentence me with. My crime was against the very laws of nature. Now I…I know this is quite unusual but I am asking that you allow me to continue my sentence.” I nervously pushed the words past my lips in one breath. I inhaled deeply in an attempt to calm myself as best as I could. “If you would allow me the time, I wish to explain myself so that you may understand why I am making such a request. It all started when I was making my rounds at the Southwestern Regional Medical Center…”

    “Ms. Simmons, there is never an easy way to say this, you have cancer.” the doctor said, the word cancer trailing off in little more than a whisper. “We didn’t catch it in time. It has already spread to the point where there is not much that can be done. The prognosis is that you have around six months to live.”

    “I stood at the doorway and listened, certain that I would not be seen. I watched as the love of life was stolen from Lisa. Her tan skin seemed to become paler. The glimmer in her chocolate eyes was magnified by the swell of tears now built up in them. Silky, coffee hair hung to the knees of her petite frame as her head was pushed towards the ground by the weight of what she was now faced with. For a moment her eyes stared straight through me as though she could feel my presence. In that moment I was certain that I felt sorrow, which is something I didn’t believe that I was capable of.

    I followed her home. She pulled several photo albums out of her closet and carried them to the couch. I sat down beside her and watched her life unfold one picture at a time. What I saw in those captured moments was that her beauty was timeless. It had been a part of her from baby to the woman she was today, even in the awkward teenage years. I held her hand as she walked to the medicine cabinet and with a slight hesitance she pulled from its contents a bottle of oxycodone. She turned on the sink faucet and washed the remnants of tears from her eyes and cheeks. She made her way to the kitchen and poured herself a glass of blackberry wine. We went back to the couch and she dumped the contents of the medicine bottle into her mouth and chased them down her throat with the wine. The tears that she had washed away were replaced and multiplied. She laid down on the couch hugging a pillow and I laid with her patiently waiting for the moment to come. I cursed a world that she wouldn’t be a part of. I stuck my fingers further and further in her mouth until the evil things were violently released from her body. I kissed her on the forehead and whispered in her ear, “I won’t let you go.”

    Shortly afterwards I was summoned to this court where you sentenced me to volunteer at the SRMC where I could see the pain that humans suffer daily. During this time I have felt for them more than I have felt for anything my entire existence. I have also seen the joy that the human race is capable of. Faced with certain death, most still find a reason to smile and a way to pass that smile on to the people around them.

    I spent most of my time with Lisa. I convinced her to take up her childhood dream of painting. We would take walks through the park to find inspiration. On days when the pain was particularly bad, I would spend the day holding her when she was awake and watching her as she slept. I know this is said all the time but I truly did grow to love her more with each day that passed. The calendar became my greatest enemy as I began counting the days until my sentence was over. I couldn’t take the thought of telling Lisa I had to leave, so I didn’t. I put all of my hope in this moment, in being allowed to return to her, in the hope that love would prevail.”

    “If that is your desire, I see no reason to deny you of what your heart wants.” said the judge. No greater words had ever been spoken.

    “Thank you Mother Nature. I can call you that now right? I mean, now that the case is closed?”

    “Yes. Yes you may Death. You may want to change your name now though.” she said with a smile on her face.

  17. rob akers

    Wow. Everytime I think I am starting to figured it out, you show me how it should be done. Excellent description and much different take on the assignment. I am humbled to be able to read your work and blessed to learn from your comments.

  18. Wolfshine

    The second the egg that I had thrown hit Principal Walden’s house, I knew I had made a huge mistake. I was a good kid at heart but Principal Walden had to be one of the most unpleasant people I had ever met. He was short and loud, he sweated a lot (especially when he was upset) and that only seemed to make him yell louder.

    My friends Hayley and Doug cheered me on as they tossed toilet paper through Walden’s trees making it look like a poorly decorated Christmas scene. They snickered at their work but I stood back. Then I heard it, the sound of police cars and I knew that we would get caught.
    //////
    A few days later our court date had arrived. The police officer pushed me, Doug, and Hayley down the aisle that led to Judge Percy at his bench. To me this felt like a death march to my own funeral. I stumbled over my foot and the officer behind me nudged me to keep going. Finally we came to rest in front of the judge.

    He reminded me of Santa clause with his thick white beard and rounded face. He had tiny glasses that he peered down at us through. I trembled under his gaze, fearful of what he would say. I was convinced I would have to spend the night in jail (thanks to Hayley’s blithe gloating).

    I bit my lip and finally brought myself to look at the judge.

    “Now you three,” he said in his grumbly voice, “are all in here for the same crime of vandilization Brian Walden’s house correct?”

    I was too choked up to speak so Doug did instead, “Yes sir that’s correct.”

    Judge Percy nodded, “Well Doug and Hayley is it? It seems this isn’t your first offense.”

    Doug lowered his head ashamed but Hayley locked gazes with the judge, “That is correct Judge.”

    “Then I sentence you both to 20 hours of community service,” he said and waved a dismissive hand at them.

    The officer led them away and I stood standing alone. I let go of my lip and finally built up the courage to ask, “What about me Judge?”

    “Well this seems to be your first offense so you won’t be doing community service with your friends.” He said peering down at me through eyes magnified 10 times their normal size.

    “Then what will I be doing?” I asked worried.

    “First you’ll clean up the mess you left on your Principal’s house and then from there you’ll clean up the graffiti in the parks.”
    //////
    After two weeks, I had finally cleaned up all I had needed to do. I felt like a changed person (even though I hadn’t been bad in the first place). I decided I would visit Judge Percy and thank him for being so light on me.

    I stepped into the courthouse where Judge Percy was sitting at his bench sorting through papers. He looked up at my approach.

    “Amy? What are you doing back here?” he asked setting down a paper he had been reading.

    “I wanted to thank you,” I said uncertainly.

    “For what?” He asked. “No one ever comes back to thank me.”

    “For helping me to not become Hayley,” I replied.

  19. Wolfshine

    The second the egg that she had thrown hit Principal Walden’s house, Amy knew she had made a huge mistake. She was a good kid at heart but Principal Walden had to be one of the most unpleasant people she had ever met. He was short and loud, he sweated a lot (especially when he was upset) and that only seemed to make him yell louder.

    Amy’s friends Hayley and Doug cheered her on as they tossed toilet paper through Walden’s trees making it look like a poorly decorated Christmas scene. They snickered at their work but Amy stood back. Then she heard it, the sound of police cars and she they knew that they would get caught.
    //////
    A few days later their court date had arrived. The police officer pushed her, Doug, and Hayley down the aisle that led to Judge Percy at his bench. To Amy this felt like a death march to her own funeral. She stumbled over her foot and the officer behind her nudged her to keep going. Finally they came to rest in front of the judge.

    He reminded her of Santa clause with his thick white beard and rounded face. He had tiny glasses that he peered down at the three teens through. Amy trembled under his gaze, fearful of what he would say. She was convinced she would have to spend the night in jail (thanks to Hayley’s blithe gloating).

    Amy bit her lip and finally brought herself to look at the judge.

    “Now you three,” he said in his grumbly voice, “are all in here for the same crime of vandilization Brian Walden’s house correct?”

    Amy was too choked up to speak so Doug did instead, “Yes sir that’s correct.”

    Judge Percy nodded, “Well Doug and Hayley is it? It seems this isn’t your first offense.”

    Doug lowered his head ashamed but Hayley locked gazes with the judge, “That is correct Judge.”

    “Then I sentence you both to 20 hours of community service,” he said and waved a dismissive hand at them.

    The officer led them away and Amy was stood standing alone. She let go of her lip and finally built up the courage to ask, “What about me Judge?”

    “Well this seems to be your first offense so you won’t be doing community service with your friends.” He said peering down at her through eyes magnified 10 times their normal size.

    “Then what will I be doing?” She asked worried.

    “First you’ll clean up the mess you left on your Principal’s house and then from there you’ll clean up the graffiti in the parks.”
    //////
    After two weeks, Amy had finally cleaned up all she had needed to do. She felt like a changed person (even though she hadn’t been bad in the first place). She decided she would visit Judge Percy and thank him for being so light on her.

    She stepped into the courthouse where Judge Percy was sitting at his bench sorting through papers. He looked up at her approach.

    “Amy? What are you doing back here?” he asked setting down a paper he had been reading.

    “I wanted to thank you,” she said uncertainly.

    “For what?” He asked. “No one ever comes back to thank me.”

    “For helping me to not become Hayley,” she replied.

    1. Wolfshine

      I know that it’s on third person that was a mistake i meant to write it in first but the novel i’ve been working on is in third so i posted it before i realized it. I’m sorry

      1. Egg

        It’s your story, it can be in whatever person you want, right? Perhaps you could try playing around with sentence structure, that is, see how many different ways you can say the same thing, then choose the one that flows the best. Just a suggestion.

        I like your message – peer pressure is a powerful thing!

  20. Egg

    Namana’s mind fogged with fatigue as he urged himself to go on. Sinewy clouds floated across the moon, the red sand dulled to a darker shade of purple, and Namana sat, disorientated, waiting for the moonlight to return. He dropped his head in his hands and recalled the trial.

    “You good boy, Namana. Onl’ tirdy days.” The elder had sat cross-legged before him, his white beard bobbing against his boney, black chest, and the whites of his eyes peering out from under wiry eyebrows. The fire crackled between them, and the circle of tribe-folk whispered in response to the sentence. Namana could hear his mother sobbing, his father’s angry admonition, and his mother’s ensuing silence.

    “You drink white man poison; you go see Altjira in da sky. Tirdy days, Namana.” With that the trial was over, and the crowd began to disperse.

    Namana had not been concerned with the sentence. He was fit, he was a good tracker, and he knew that there was plenty of food and water at Altjira’s place in the desert. But after following the emu tracks for twenty-three days, he was growing weak, and he had little idea of his location.

    The boy ran his hand over a stream of sweat that gleamed on his bare chest, and wiped it on his cargo pants. The earth glowed once again under the full moon, and Namana pushed himself to his feet and continued to plod through the desert.

    He felt a sharp pain in his toe; his leg recoiled and he spun instinctively, expecting to see the squat ‘s’ of a death adder curled in the sand, or the gutsy little stance of the desert scorpion. But there was nothing.

    The boy flopped down and lifted his foot to his face. Blood smeared his fingers as he rubbed spit on the wound – it was just a scratch. Namana looked for the cause of his injury, and spotted a twinkle of something in the sand. He felt around with tentative fingertips, and squinted his eyes in the moonlight. As the jagged rock became more exposed, the earth shone with greater brilliance.

    Namana raised his eyes and saw the hazy shape of palms trees on the horizon. Altjira’s place, at last.

    Later that year, the FutureGold Mining Company signed an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with the Wappiri tribe for the mining rights to Altjira’s place in the desert.

    When the first payment came, the tribe celebrated with a spirited corroboree under the stars. In the flicker of the firelight, young Namana pumped the elder’s boney hand, and gushed his thanks for the punishment that had led them to riches.

    The elder watched the young man dance into the happy crowd, and turned away, lest his people see the tears that welled in his eyes.

    1. JR MacBeth

      Great story, well told. The “native” tone held throughout, helped along by extremely cool character name selections, IMO. Seems like this could become a great piece for younger audiences too.

      1. Egg

        Thanks for all the great comments.

        cjspicer1 – I thought disoriented was boarding a plane out of Asia. (Okay, that was a terrible attempt at a joke….). Seriously, disorientated does actually appear in my dictionary, alongside disoriented. Maybe it’s an American vs British thing. Hmm, you’ve got me investigating now…..

  21. Summers1993

    Tommy’s farm. That was my punishment. Because this was my first convicted crime the judge pitied me or so I’d thought.
    “Two days on Tommy’s Farm and he’ll be the best son you could ever ask for.” Judge Craft had said to my parents who were in my mind being dramatic about the hole thing. Setting off fire crackers down by the train tracks apparently is a serious offence not counting Mr. Scruffs who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    All that was done and said and now I find my self sitting on a rickety bed staring at the cracked, water damaged and stained wall. A change of clothes had been pushed through the doggy door. I changed in to a gray shirt that said in big letters VOLUNTEER.
    When we first pulled in to Tommy’s Farm I saw them the children that ran and played. I had been told that Tommy’s Farm was were they sent the disfigured orphans, but I had thought this a lie, a joke for the stupid kid who just didn’t care about what his life could offer.
    I was wrong.
    I was given three rules, don’t touch the children, don’t talk to the children, and what ever happens, don’t let them out of there beds at night.
    On the first night my job was simple watch the monitors. A guard would be on hand, but he sat out side the children’s room. There was only one screen, I could see both rows of beds, tossing and turning little body’s fighting for sleep.
    But then one of the figures stepped out of there bed and slowly as if sleep walking they came closer till I was sure I could see her. I lean forward as if to see her better, when she looks up in to the camera I’m knocked to the floor with fright had I just seen what I thought. I scrambled back up, but she was no longer standing there.
    In the morning I was told were the cafeteria was located. I grabbed up a tray and walked in to the big room. The children were there sitting at a long table I felt there eyes on me the image of the little girl still burning in my head. I tried to see were I would sit. There was just the one table I looked only a fraction to see a piece of paper taped to the back of a chair VOLUNTEER.
    I sit at the crowded table and knowing that I’m being a complete dick I look up but there she is sitting at the end looking right at me. Her mouth hangs low and her teeth are horribly crooked so much that they look sharp. Her eyes bulge out of her head and her hands are bent awkwardly. She picks up her spoon and eats the only way she can. I see it now all that I had been lacking, in that one moment I understood.
    When my sentence was over Judge Craft personally picked me up I sat in the back seat of his car my words beside me.
    “Thank you.” I barely say, Judge Craft sighs. “For what?
    “Setting off fire crackers in my head.” He nods staring at me throe the review mirror.

    Miranda Summers

    1. jdh247

      I thought that you had a nice story, and I enjoyed it.
      Pay attention to your spelling and usage of words: throe / through, were / where, there / their / they’re. Keep up the good work!

  22. MDH

    He’s my lover. Thankfully no one knows about us, or our plan. I watch him as I stand alone, awaiting my sentence. Our hope is that a year of house arrest will be enough time to sever me from my haunted life and make me whole again.
    I rub my stomach as I meet the judge’s gaze. Something’s wrong. The baby kicks beneath my palm, wanting out, as I do. ‘Just get it over with.’
    My lover hears my silent plea and obeys. “I sentence you to the room of fears.”
    I clutch the chair. “The room of fears?”
    His eyes shift. “Your baby will be taken by cesarean tomorrow as scheduled.”
    I frown and scratch at my constricted throat as he continues his prose of betrayal.
    “During your recovery, you will be placed in a…” he draws a deep breath, “a facility where you will undergo treatment.”
    He thinks I’m crazy. I shake my head, but he won’t look at me.
    “The facility has an imagery program in which your fears will come to life…over and over.” His voice doesn’t waver.
    I shudder. He is privy to all my fears, and now he’s using them against me. “Traitor!”
    I see his tears as they haul me outside. Or are they my tears?
    An ambulance is waiting. It should be a hearse. I cannot catch my breath. And then the world turns black.
    When I wake, I don’t know what day it is, but I know where I am. I hate yellow, but I’m here, in this tube on the playground…again. I see Nicky’s ripped jean pocket and his untied shoe as he crawls away from me. I hesitate, allowing myself a moment to drink in the sight of him. His peal of laughter urges me to scurry ahead like the trapped rat I am. But I’m too late. Again. The murderer clutches his lifeless form. Horror and rage consume me. I find my gun and hunt him down. Again, I put a bullet in his brain. I scream, but don’t wake up. I’m back in the tube, following Nicky.
    I clamp my hands on my head to stop the spinning. A breeze winds around me like a hug. I look up. Nicky is facing me from the end of the tube.
    “It’s over mommy. You can let me go now.”
    “If only I…” My throat closes. I swipe at my wet face as I reach for him.
    “You aren’t the bad guy and daddy needs you. Keep living…for me.”
    I crawl after him. This time I find the playground empty. I glance skyward. Nicky’s image fills the clouds. He looks happy. I wake up, peaceful for the first time since it happened.
    The room is filled with flowers. Yellow, and I don’t even mind. I see the door and hesitate briefly before stepping through it. There, holding our new child, is the judge. He takes one look at me and smiles. “Let’s go home.”

  23. 1qqpp1

    My fear intensified as each sweat droplet splashed into the ever growing puddle on the table in front of me. I had made a mistake, but did that mistake really warrant giving my life and my freedom to this judge? I was helpless, my life no longer my own. The commanding voice of the judge shattered through the chaotic barrage of thoughts in my mind.
    “I hereby sentence you to three years incarceration.”
    My lawyer jumped from his seat, “Your Honor, this is a first offense. Can’t you afford my client a little leniency?”
    “Silence! I wasn’t finished,” the judge’s loud voice boomed. “Your sentence is three years in prison or if you prefer we can do a little trade. You see, I have a daughter, Maybelle, and it’s been awhile since she had a date. You seem like a nice guy. Would you be willing to take her out? Maybe dinner and a movie? A stroll through the park?”

    I stood on the doorstep of an impeccably groomed Tudor-style mansion. My thrift-store suit struggled to contain my lanky torso. My sweaty hands clutched a wilting bunch of grocery store roses. Doubt permeated every thought.
    “I shouldn’t have agreed to this. When is a pity date not a mistake? I’m going to have to pretend to like her. If she looks anything like her father that will be impossible.”
    I closed my eyes, thought longingly about prison and rung the bell.

    Once again I stood behind the cheap folding table in the courtroom. It was time to report. The judge peered down and began the proceedings.
    “Your Honor, I would like to start with a thank you.”
    The judge chuckled as he replied, “Perhaps I should be thanking you. Maybelle has been nothing but smiles since you dropped her off. I take it the date went well?”
    “It did Your Honor. In fact it went so well that I have asked Maybelle to marry me. We have a license ready. Will you do the honors?”
    The courtroom doors swung open and Maybelle appeared. The judge’s ashen face matched her dress perfectly.
    “Your Honor, will you please marry us?”
    My question pierced the silence.
    “Don’t you dare call me Your Honor.”
    I wasn’t expecting the angry reply. Surprise maybe, but not anger. Then the judge started to chuckle as a big smile filled his face.
    “From now on you will call me Dad.”

    Comments/Suggestions Welcome. Thanks!

    1. Egg

      I like your descriptions and attention to detail, but I think they detract from the story in places (some people call this ‘too many adjectives’). This is just my opinion.

      I still found it a fun story to read though.

    2. laurentravian

      Nice story. I loved the end.

      But would any father be pleased that his daughter was marrying someone who at least had a trial. They also might not be happy that you’re getting married after a first date.

      But other than that, terrific!

  24. Nan Rebik

    James stood there staring at the Judge. He never thought he would get caught but here he was facing two years in the County Jail for “Willful destruction of private property” . He hadn’t really thought about it at the time, just a little paint in the bathrooms of the park. Who really cared about the stupid bathrooms anyway?
    Judge Lehrman looked down at him. For some reason he seemed bigger than life. “Here it comes,” James thought, “Life in a box.”

    “I have it on good authority that you are a talented artist” Judge Lehrman began. “It seems a shame to waste your time and our money locking you up when you could be useful to society.” he continued. “Therefor I am assigning you to the Graffiti Abatement Team. You will be a team leader and work with other young people cleaning up the messes made by those who paint with spray cans. You will also design and complete, with the help of these young people, a series of murals on the sides of the fence surrounding the parking lot here at the courthouse. These murals will depict the history of our town. Your designs will, of course be approved by Captain Brost, in advance. This project will be completed within six months or you will be returned to the County Jail to serve the remainder of your two year sentence.”

    The gavel came down. At the urging of his Public Defender, James said “Thank you Your Honor” . He was taken from the courtroom and released directly to Captain Brost. ‘I expect to see you tomorrow morning at 7am” Captain Brost ordered. “Wear work clothes, you will be busy.”

    The next morning James appeared at the Police Station. Captain Brost and several young men were there as well. They were loaded in a police van and taken to Earlington Park. The first stop was the bathroom. “Here is the paint” Captain Brost announced “James will decide who paints what and who will use steel wool to get paint off the fixtures.” “What are you going to do?” asked James. “Well, I thought I’d take this folding chair and make myself comfortable while I watched” answered Captain Brost.James took the boys aside and asked “Who wants to do what?” “I don’t want to do nothin'” announced one of the group. “Me neither replied the rest.” “We have to get this done” pleaded James. “I don’t want to be sent to jail because you guys don’t perform.” Reluctantly the boys began the task of cleaning up the bathroom. It was hard work and they were glad to take a break for lunch.

    “How are you doing on your plans for the murals” asked Captain Brost. “You don’t have a lot of time to get them completed and your days will be pretty busy with clean up.” “I ain’t done nothing” replied James. “After you are done today” suggested Captain Brost, “I suggest you stop by the Historical Society and get some ideas. I’ll expect rough drafts in the morning.”

    The rest of the day went by in a blur as they scrubbed and repainted. Finally about 4 pm they were taken back to the Police Station and sent home. James went to the Historical Society and looked at all the displays. He had a lot of wall to cover and Captain Brost was pushing him. When he got home, he took out his sketch book an sketched a series of pictures showing arrival of settlers, and religious men, building of the canal system that provided water for crops, and development of the solar industry that provided power for the town.

    The next day he presented his plan and it was approved. Captain Brost told him that the team would only work until 2 pm on cleanup projects and then they would start on the fence.”None of these guys know how to paint, Captain Brost, they will mess up my mural” said James. “That would be a problem” agreed Captain Brost ” but I am sure you will find a way to solve it.”

    Day after day, James worked with the crew. As they worked together, they became more aware of the problems graffiti presented to the city. They also became friends and learned that working together helped everyone. As for the mural, James drew the design and the rest of the group filled in the color with James supervising the whole process carefully. Finally, just days before his six months was up, the mural was finished. Captain Brost had asked the Judge to come and review the project.

    Judge Lehrman had been watching the mural progress from the beginning and agreed to come see the finished product. He also invited the newspaper to come and take pictures and the local television station to do a report on the project. James was amazed when he got to the fence. There was a significant crowd. He and the rest of the work group stood proudly as Judge Lehrman explained how they had completed this bit of city beautification. James thanked Judge Lehrman for allowing him to work off his sentence. He also told Judge Lehrman that “Copy Proof”, a local graphic arts company had given him a job that would use his skills. “Thank you again” he told the judge “You have given me a whole new life.”

    1. rob akers

      Nice Job. I like to feel good after reading something. There are so many negative things to focus on but you found the positive and made it work. This is a great lesson for me to remember in my writing. Keep smiling!

  25. jandronikides

    I knew this wasn’t going to be good just by the way he was looking at me from across the table. He was clean shaven and probably has had the same hair style since he began practicing law back in the 50’s. By the look in his eye he has done this plenty of times before. He probably has sent someone like me to the chair, if they even still do that in this state.

    Today was different; the attorney whispered into the judges’ ear and then pushed over to him a folder with a signed paper from both attorneys’. As he was reading it, a Grinch like smile came over his face. They all smiled at this paper. He signed it without hesitation and closed the folder.

    “Case closed!” he hollered. At this point, I feared for my life. What was the sentence? He had my fate in a folder and he couldn’t even tell me without smiling. I was afraid, very afraid.

    I feel like a total ass! It could’ve been worse I guess but standing outside of a Kenny Rogers Rotisserie chicken restaurant was degrading. I had to hand out flyers to people walking by. Some people just look at you and laugh; others just walk by not acknowledging a 6 ft man dressed like a chicken. One family on vacation had their picture taken with me. I didn’t recognize the accent so I can’t root against them in the Olympics but all in all it was better then prison. It has to be.

    From a distance I saw her walking towards me. She looked the same from college only dressed in a professional womens suit and not sweatpants and sorority t-shirts. Although today she wasn’t the happy go lucky girl that I remembered. She was in tears as she hung up her phone call. Looking as foolish as I did, I stopped her anyway.

    “Excuse me.” She whispered as she gently bumped into me with tears in her face.
    “Ashley?” I shouted. “Is that you?”
    “Chris? Why are you dressed like a chicken?”

    We both shared a laugh and soon the tears disappeared from her face. Myself, I never felt so good in all my life.

    I knocked on the Judges office with brute confidence. I wasn’t ashamed anymore and had bettered myself and wanted to let him know. He opened the door and that Grinch like smile came about his face again as he remembered who I was. I had told him that if it wasn’t for my stupid, selfish act and the humiliating punishment to go along with it. I wouldn’t have ever rekindled with my college sweetheart. He nodded and we shook hands. Before leaving, I introduced him to my beautiful, new fiancée Ashley.

  26. rob akers

    Captain Bill Rimes stood at attention before his Commanding Officer General J.T. Goshen. “Captain Rimes, You are charged with general misconduct and conduct unbecoming. If you are found guilty, you will be sent home and discharged from the Air Force. I cannot allow any Officer to blatantly disregard any rule or regulation no matter the situation or his decorations. I understand you have waved legal counsel, do you have anything to say?”

    The Captain glared at the General. “Yes Sir, I do. This is my seventh deployment and on this rotation, you awarded me and my crew a Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and two Aerial Achievement Medals. To the folks back in the Sates I am an American Hero. But I am being charged with insubordination because I signed into the chow hall improperly which lead to a confrontation with the Services Commander who in his only deployment has managed to screw up everything he has touched. I have been counseled for taking 5 minute showers, working out in the gym without an approved tee shirt, not properly displaying my reflective belt and wearing an unauthorized baseball hat on the flight line. I did not sign up to play nice with a self-absorbed coward that hides behind the wire and orders brave men and women out to meet the enemy. Then when these heroes’ come back, this narcissistic chicken hawk has the audacity to hide behind noble concepts like, safety, order, regulations, procedures and security.”

    The Captain’s head started spinning as he considered the gravity of his next words. He drew in a deep breath, maintained his gaze with the General and continued with his suddenly apprehensive Commander. “I am talking about men like you General. You are more dangerous to the United States than anyone in Al Qaida including Osama bin Laden. You and men like you are a malignant tumor and if you are not stopped your actions will lead our nation to its destruction. War is hell and I believe it is meant to be avoided at all costs but when forced into action we need to destroy the enemy and his ability to make war, not try to win his heart and mind. You view conflict as a vehicle to consolidate your power and make the next rank. I will always hold you accountable and demonstrate against people like you until my last breath.” The Courts Martial concluded with the former Captain Rimes departing on a military transport escorted by two Military Police.

    Ten Years Later

    President, William L. Rimes stood on the inaguration podium. Behind him he felt the presence of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Four Star General J.T. Goshen stood shivering in fear behind the most powerful man in the world. “General, I want to thank you for launching this crusade. My first action as Commander in Chief is to return the favor. You are dismissed! Leave your resignation on my desk.” The General was escorted away in tears by the Secret Service.

    All comments welcome.

    1. Mackie

      I enjoyed this. It had a believable military tone to it, right down to portraying how unworthy senior officers can be consumed with trivialities. The big come-uppence at the end was nice. Thanks for your comments, too.

        1. rob akers

          The real Bill Rimes (not his real last name) and I spoke just last night about that very topic. That is a project that could work but for now, I have my hands full with a different project not to mention life. Both he and I agree that it could make a fun story. For now, Captain Rimes will live here in this forum. Thank you for the support!

  27. ran7773

    It had been six months since the gavel came crashing down on the fate of my future. Six months since my whole world collapsed from under my feet.

    I clutched a small leather bound journal along with the court instructions the judge handed me along with my sentence that cold, icy, providential day in the 100 year old courthouse. Tears filled my eyes as I approached the stately wooden double doors to the courtroom in gratitude for the sentence given me.

    In a flash my heart skipped over the paths that my life had traveled on since that fateful day.

    My wounds fresh, physical and emotional, I gripped the table. I stood for the sentencing.

    “I’m going to do something unorthodox in your case Miss. Jones. Frankly, I’m sick and tired of the same ridiculous excuses like your statement of not realizing that you had too much to drink.. The issue I have here is the young man that you collided with on that night also had a blood alcohol level that was equal to your own. Seeing how his injuries are worse than your own and he cannot be here today, I will be sentencing you first. You are herby sentenced to 24/7 care and watch over your boozing buddy until he is fully recovered.” The gavel sounded like a musket shot in a canyon.

    A few weeks had turned into a few months. Days began to melt into each other. First with a hardened heart, I sat begrudgingly at his bedside staring at his mummified bandage of a face. Slowly, as time pressed on, his slow steady breathing and quiet noises somehow pressed on my heart. I watched each day as new drawings from his students appeared on the cold white walls of his hospital room. He apparently was one who made a difference at one time in his life.

    “He changed you know.” a woman slightly younger than myself, somewhere in her mid-twenties, stood in the doorway of his room.
    “He lost the love of his life, his wife and his 6 month old daughter in a really bad house fire, he tried to get them out… the flames had gotten out of control. The firefighters found him curled into a little ball. They could hear their screams from inside the house… changes a person… that’s when he started drinking.”
    She turned to leave.
    “Here, he would’ve wanted this here…kept it on his desk at the center.”
    I stared at the small leather bound journal, and decided then that I would add entries every day we were together.

    Bandages removed revealed a handsome man about my age. I began having conversations with John, even though he was unconscious, he was a great listener… I could tell.

    Day after day I spent reading and chatting to him like he was an active conversationalist as I drank my latte. It was probably one of the most meaningful relationships I’d had in a while. I learned about him, about his life, his passion for hiking as I perused his journal.

    I bounded into his room, excited as I had learned that they were bringing him out of his drug induced coma . The room was empty. The nurse met me and handed me a small leather bound journal. His journal. Our journal. I had changed. My life had changed…so had his.

  28. Mackie

    Hi — Thanks if you take time to read. I’m trying to kick-start my writing after a thousand year slumber.
    ——————
    The whole sorry episode can only be described as a big mess. Sure, she felt the shame and embarrassment. Sure, she had done the thing, no excuses. Sure, and this was definitely the worst, she had let her people down – big time. This could only mean ruin; she knew this instinctively, and all that grooming to primp for the judge was a waste of effort. She hadn’t meant to do it, for goodness sake, but it happened all the same, in front of hundreds and watched on television by millions. She knew she would be judged for this alone, her reputation ruined. All the glitz and glamour, the idea of being a star, gone now – down the proverbial toilet.

    Many caught in this situation would choose to flee. Hide. Seek relief in anonymity. Run with the pack. But, of course, she couldn’t run: tethered as she was, soon to face judgment. This would be delivered by a stern and unsympathetic figure before whom she could not even say “Guilty!”

    “In all my days as a judge,” the bespectacled man intoned, “I have not witnessed such a sad thing.” She listened, aware only of a tremor in her legs and – more indignity! – her mouth moistened and she began to drool. “To have come from such stock,” the judge continued, “and yet to commit this act that, in good conscience, is likely to be repeated, I think I must give my most serious assessment.”

    The words unknown to her, but feeling that a capital sentence had been given, she howled involuntarily with the perceived injustice. She could feel the grip tighten on the restraint. Surely not death? Cameras flashed, people cheered cruelly, and she was led in one last sorrowful walk before the scene of the crime. But she sensed that this was not condemnation. The great crowds were cheering for her, and the unsympathetic judge had shown mercy after all.

    She was taken back to the judge – overjoyed, happy again, relieved. She couldn’t refrain from jumping on the judge – as injudicious an act as the first offence – but she had to lick him, yes lick him, that kind old man.

    Her sentence? Well, with her tendency (how shall I put this delicately?) to do her business in the public arena, it was recommended that she simply retire from stardom and – more delicacy needed – use her fine lineage to procreate. She would be put out for stud!

    The crime scene was quickly forgotten, cleaned and sanitized by efficient attendants in blue coveralls. What could she have done? When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. It wasn’t a good idea to feed her before the main event, anyway. But she didn‘t forget that lovely old judge. Without his mercy, her last Westminster Dog show would have ended – well, let’s tell it like it is – ended in utter crap.

  29. JR MacBeth

    “What say the jury regarding the accused, the crime of public flatulence?”

    “Guilty your Honor.”

    “For your crime, committed most flagrantly within the confines of an elevator, my sentencing guidelines…well, I’m going to put them aside in this case. This is a First Offense, and considering your age, this is no small feat these days. I am going to sentence you to…Visit the Public Physician.”

    “Uh, thank you your Honor.”

    My humiliation was now complete. I was led out of the courtroom, but not before the loathsome white gown was put upon me. Mere handcuffs were suddenly longed for. My bare behind, now exposed for all to see, earned snickers and boos.

    I emerged from the massive doors feeling hot shame upon my face. There, in the street the ambulance, ready to take me away.

    “So you are the famous Farter from Sparter!”

    “Very funny.” It was clear that Fate had a sense of humor, and my driver would play his part, another minion of the gods, sent to torment their least perfect of creatures.

    “So, I hear that Physicians don’t fool around much these days. No doubt, they’re going to terminate your worthless ass!”

    “You are most probably correct. I wish it could be otherwise, but such it would seem, is Life. My life anyway.”

    “You talk funny, old dude. Hey, do me a favor, and don’t you friggin’ fart in this vehicle!”

    “No worries my young friend. The Mexican food that I indulged in prior to my being apprehended, is long gone from my system.”

    “Meks-i-what kind of food?”

    “Never mind. Sufficient for you to know that it is so good, that one might literally die for it.”

    “You crazy old fool. I hope your last meal is shitlin’s!”

    “My goodness, you are quite the comedian. How is it that you came to drive an ambulance?”

    “None of your friggin’ business, fart dust!”

    “Sorry, just making conversation…”

    My arrival at the asylum proved again how futile it was to oppose the gods. Rain poured down. My flimsy paper apparel left me virtually naked as I finally entered the Physician’s office.

    “Mr. Alford?”

    “Yes Ma’am.” My gods, she was the most gorgeous woman I had ever set eyes upon.

    “I’m Dr. Mendoza. Take that off, let’s have a look at you.”

    I suppose I was ashamed, standard male insecurity, never big enough. But I was old now. Almost 35. I peeled the last vestiges of paper from my frame.

    “You’ll do.”

    The next months were a blur, but I had been put into an experimental de-aging program. I learned later that I almost died. Twice.

    “Mr. Alford!”

    “Call me Jon. Please.”

    “Uh, yes, Jon. I have your results. You are now the equivalent of 19 years old!”

    “How old are you Brianna, I mean, Dr. Mendoza?”

    “No, it’s OK, call me Brianna. I’m 22. Do you like older women Jon?”

    I vowed right there to send a big thank you letter to the judge.

    Punishment never felt so good.

  30. Icabu

    “Thank you, Mrs. Hobbs.” Judge Ryan Keegan took the six case folders from the Circuit Court clerk that he’d drawn for sentencing. Three cases were straightforward – Strike Three felons getting max sentences. The hopelessness of these cases chilled Ryan to his core.

    Case Four presented little difficulty – a first time reckless driver getting two weekends in the county jail and a year on probation. Ryan signed off on the sentence with a clear conscious.

    The next two cases had troubled him since they came before his bench. Case Five, second offense uttering against an eighteen-year-old mother of one. The girl had broken down so badly before the bench that he reconvened in chambers, with counsel, a half hour later. The girl, Darlin Tate, had used her deceased mother’s checks to pay for medicine for her two-year-old son, Marcus. She’d had to stay home with Marcus and missed work as a maid at a local motel – no work, no pay. A true catch-22.

    Case Six – first offense for an eighteen-year-old trespassing on elementary school property. Lon Hawkins was playing basketball on the playground by himself at two in the morning. He wasn’t on the streets causing mayhem; he wasn’t drinking or drugging. He’d admitted his guilt at his hearing, saying that he did get restless and instead of roaming the streets, he played a little b-ball.

    Ryan rubbed his hands over his face. How could any judge incarcerate these kids? What would fining them do when they couldn’t make ends meet already? He’d fought with social services for Darlin and little Marcus until they’d threatened to take the boy. That was completely unacceptable. Now he sat at his fancy oak desk and stared at the two folders. He got up and paced the spacious chambers. Then, with a flash of brilliance, he jumped on his phone and began to lay the groundwork to help Darlin, Marcus, and Lon.

    Three months later, Judge Keegan happily strolled into the cramped conference room at the county Social Services building. Sitting at the table were Darlin and Marcus Tate and Lon Hawkins. Lon stood and shook hands with Ryan. Marcus sat on Darlin’s lap.

    “Judge Keegan,” Lon began. “I got to thank you for having me babysit Marcus so that Darlin could work regular. Me and Marcus are tight. He’s my little bro.” Marcus squealed and held his hands up to Lon, who eagerly picked up the boy and held him close.

    “Judge Keegan,” Darlin said, standing. “Lon’s been like magic for Marcus. And, I paid off the pharmacy debt like you said. I even pay Lon some now for watching Marcus.”

    “I don’t take her money too much, Judge. Marcus needs it,” Lon added. “The boy wears me out, too,” Lon grinned. “I’m not restless no more.”

    Ryan smiled, pleased beyond words.

    “Got me a job, too,” Lon said proudly. “When I don’t watch Marcus I help out in the cafeteria at that school. They pay me.”

    Hope seeped into Ryan’s soul.

  31. Leond

    The judge stared at me intently. I had never really considered that it would all come down to this moment, eventually. I had always thought that there would be some miracle to stop me from having to deal with my crime. I had thought that I would get away with the money, or that there would be some police procedural whatnot, or that the state attorney would do something slippery. But none of that had happened. And now I was going to have to listen to the sentence of a some old white guy in a robe and do whatever he said. Just like both of my best friends before me.
    “I believe that the standard punishment for robbing a convenience store is obvious,” he said, in a curious tone. “But I do not personally believe that the obvious punishment is always the best. I think that I would prefer to try a little experiment.”
    I whispered to my lawyer. “Experiments? Are judges allowed to do that?”
    “Not strictly, no,” the man replied. “But Jed has always been a little funny that way.”
    “Funny that way?” I didn’t like the phrase.
    “Hush. He’s talking.”
    “It is an increasingly common belief that the environment that a person is raised in has a large effect on their being. However, it is not fully known whether this is because a good environment affects the development of the mind or simply allows the mind to expand in directions it otherwise would. Hence, my sentence.”
    He banged his gavel. “I sentence the defendent, Mr. Josh Reiner, to be at this moment treated as a new-born baby and raised in a household demonstrating close conformity to traditional American values!”
    There was an uproar. I turned to my attorney. “Is he allowed to-”
    The lawyer smiled. “Ohhh! You’re so cute! All dressed up in a suit just like a grown-up! But tell me. Where are your parents?”
    “My parents are in Michi-”
    Before I could finish, I felt a hand wrap around me. “Ha!” A low, male voice said. “We had lost track of you! Let’s get home and you can have a nap!”
    I was a little uncertain about what to do with this, but looking at the bailiff made me decide to play along.
    And I played along for a while too, first through elementary school and summer camp, then middle school, high school, friends, and an Ivy League college. And then, after having completed a degree at Harvard Law and beginning my work as a defense attorney, I happened to meet that judge, somehow still kicking.
    I gave him a handshake and thanked him. He took a few notes and gave me a pacifier.

  32. markfaith

    Hi! I would appreciate any feedback. Thanks, Mark

    I turned my gaze to the spectators in the tightly packed courtroom. Most of the audience quickly looked away. I could feel their discomfort. I was the Christian being thrown to the devouring lion. At the age of seventy-two and with frail health I could hardly put up a defense.
    “All Rise! The honorable Judge Meanly presides,” the court clerk said as the black robed piranha settled into his majestic chair.
    “Mr. Kaught,” the judge addressed the court. “Having been found guilty of the crime of cruelty to an animal, namely your dog Lester, and causing his demise, I will today impose your sentence. Have you any words for the court on your behalf before I pass sentence.” His round face scowled, a look of utter disapproval like a parent shows a contemptible child. My lawyers petition for a light sentence seemed futile. I had to explain what had happened.
    “Your Honor, Lester was my constant companion from the day he was a pup. He filled my days with an unspeakable joy, chasing sticks and balls, helping me with chores and gently napping with his head on my lap during the afternoon.” I paused for a moment and collected my thoughts. “We had the greatest trust that neither one of us would ever hurt the other. No greater love could have existed between a man and his pet.” A woman near the back sniffled and blew her nose. Judge Meanly looked away, not wanting to reveal to the court his watering eyes.
    “You see your Honor, on the day he died in my arms it was his birthday and I wanted to do something special for my Lester. Oh how he loved to travel in the car with his head facing the wind, his ears up like flapping flags, his tail twirling like a helicopter. It was one of his happiest moments. He actually seemed to smile.”
    The court clerk dabbed a kerchief at his eyes. A few more spectators shuffled in their seats holding back tears.
    I continued. “I was so caught up in Lester’s happiness that I did not see the mailbox protruding as we drove down the by-way. I can only take solace that he probably did not know what hit him and that he felt some peace as he breathed his last breath cradled in my arms.
    Now two thirds of the packed courtroom had hankies and tissues in full force. Judge Meany removed his eyeglasses, wiped his eyes and blew his nose louder than anyone. He addressed the sobbing court room.
    “Normally in a case of animal cruelty I would ban you for life from being around animals. But due to the circumstances of your case I am sentencing you to eighty-eight hours of service at the SPCA. That is all!”
    My sentence was just and it was with enthusiasm that I completed it. Six weeks later I returned to the courthouse and asked to see Judge Meanly. When I entered his office he reached out his hand to shake mine and presented a broad smile as I introduced him to the new Lester in my life. I thanked him. He pet the puppy that cuddled in my arms and he understood how my sentence was the path God had chosen to forgive and to heal me.

  33. aslaught

    I locked eyes with the young judge, trying not to be defiant as my attorney had instructed me not to do, but still angry. I am seventeen years old, my mind yelled. Why the hell am I here? I didn’t do anything that bad.

    The judge smiled, more like a grimace. “So young man. I understand that you’re here to plead guilty and you’re ready for sentencing. Am I right?”

    I stood without answering, until my lawyer prodded me in the ribs. “Yes, sir. Yes, your honor.” I said.

    “Okay, for the next six months, as soon as you get out of school, you’re to report to, Adams Funeral Home. The director will be expecting you, and he will inform you of your duties.”

    I cut a quick glance at my attorney. He nodded at me. “Yes, sir. Okay, sir.” I responded.

    “You will have fines of $1000.00 that you will pay to the court. Once you’ve finished the six months of work

    at Adams Funeral Home, your debt to society will be done. Are we clear, Mr. Monroe?”

    “Yes, sir.” I squared my shoulders, and stared hard back at him.

    On the way out of the courthouse I railed at my attorney. “Work at a freaking funeral home? What’s up

    with that? I hate being around dead people!”

    My attorney smiled, and reached out to shake hands. “I think you got off light, Jacob. He could have

    thrown the book at you. Vandalism charges can bring jail time.”

    I relunctantly took his hand. I turned and walked away, angry at him, the judge, and life in general.

    “Just remember, Jacob. You must go every day. If you miss one, you could be picked up and hauled to

    the county lockup.” He called after me.

    “Yeah, yeah.” I mumbled.

    Monday evening at three o’clock found me sitting in the front lobby of the large, terra -cotta building that was

    Bedford’s only funeral home. My buddies, Adam and Brad had asked me to go shoot baskets, but I told

    them I had to do this and they had laughed as they walked away.

    I was told by the receptionist, an unusually friendly blonde woman, that Mr. Adams was expecting me and

    would be right with me.

    A small, bispectaled man, with a bad comb over and wearing a gray suit, came out of an office off the right of the long hallway that disected the funeral home.

    He shook hands, smiling. “Okay, Jacob. Come with me.” He began walking toward one of the double

    doors with, Serenity Chapel, written above it.

    I balked. “Where are we going? What am I going to do?” I asked.

    He stopped, a hand on the door. “No one told you? Why, grief counsuling.”

    “What?” I gaped. “I can’t do this. I……..I don’t know what to do. I”ve never been around dead people.”

    The smiled had left his face. “You won’t be around dead people. This is the living. The ones left behind.”

    My feet were rooted to the floor. “I don’t know how.” I shook my head and jammed my hands into my

    jeans. “This ain’t going to work, Mr. Adams.”

    “You sit, quietly. You let them know you’re there. You hand them a handkerchief or a shoulder. It doesn’t

    require much. Just being there. Some folks don’t have hardly any family. Other’s do. You will simply be

    there, Jacob. If you’re needed, you will know what to do.”\

    I shifted uncomfortably on the chair. It wasn’t that it was an uncomfortable chair, it was that I was scared,

    and actually wanted to run out of there, but I had come to say this and I meant to see it through.

    “Judge Adkins, will see you, Mr. Monroe.” The receptionist smiled and held the door for me.

    I stepped into a large, wood panelled room with floor to ceiling books on one wall, and windows on the

    other.

    He sat behind a slightly cluttered desk wearing a blue dress shirt, tie, and dark blue dress pants. He

    leaned back in the chair and folded his hands across his middle.

    “Have a seat son.” He said with a faint smile.

    I cleared my throat, nervously. “Thank you, sir. If’ it’s all the same to you, I’ll just stand.”

    He nodded. “What can I do for you?”

    “Do you remember me? Jacob Monroe.”

    “Yes…….yes…I believe I do. The young fellow accused of vandalism.” He rubbed his chin, thoughtfully,

    then squinted at me. “Graveyards. You were tearing up graveyards. Turning over tombstones and the like.”

    I stared at the toe of my Reebocs. “Yes, sir.” I lifted my eyes and tried to lock into his brown eyes. “You

    sentenced me to work at the funeral home. I…..was….so….mad that day.” I said, and my voice quavered.

    He grinned. “It showed. You wanted to be defiant. You sure were making your attorney squirm. The

    animosity was flowing off you.”

    “I came here today to thank you, sir. It was the best thing you could have done.” I stared out the huge

    windows for a moment, trying to gain composure from the tears that were settling behind my eyes.

    “What did you learn, son?”

    “I learned to feel other peoples pain, sir. I learned to step outside myself. To see those folks in such grief.”

    I shook my head. “I had never lost anyone. I was so stupid, and just mean.”

    He leaned forward. “I knew this would be the best for a young guy like you. I knew you were’nt bad, just

    misguided, and mischievous.”

    I reached out my hand. “I learned so much during my time at the funeral home. The biggest lesson of all

    was empathy. I had to come and thank you.” I smiled. “I’m graduating high school soon and I am going to law school.”

    He stood and clasped my hand, and smiled warmly. “I’m glad, Jacob. Thank you for coming by. Good luck. ”

    I grinned broadly, and proudly as I hit the sidewalk.

  34. mariagavila

    When I heard the sound of that gavel sealing my fate, I though “Oh Lord, can I just go to jail instead?” I couldn’t believe the punishment that Judge Jones had handed me. True, I had commited a crime and I knew that I deserved to be punished, but I hadn’t physically hurt anyone, why was I having to endure that…

    All I could hear was his deep voice saying, in slow motion, “you will have to live with your mother in law for the next year. Not only will you live with her you will not argue with her and you will respect her.” I felt myself being guided out of the courtroom and I walked numbly out the door. I went to my house and packed a suitcase with my necessary things and headed over to her house. Seven years had passed since the passing of my husband and that was the last time I had seen her. She had always been overprotective of John and that had been a thorn in my side. We had never been able to see eye to eye. But now, standing in front of her big oak door, I didn’t stop to wonder how she had appeared in this scenario of my life.
    I knocked, ever so lightly, hoping she wouldn’t hear, but she answered right away. All I could do was stare at this woman in front of me. She had the wrinkled skin of a raisin and the color of paste on her skin. Her eyes seemed dull and her hands shook by her side. I explained what I was doing there and she led the way into the living room.
    A nurse was there preparing a shot for Terry’s pain. In the next minute I learned that she had cancer and that she would not make it past my sentence. I lived with her, cared for her and watched her die before my eyes. But in that time, I learned her heart and her soul and understood her love for her son. She taught me to live at the same time that she let go of life.
    After her funeral, I went back to Judge Jones and thanked him for the insightful punishment that he had given me and asked him how he had come to that conclusion. He handed me a letter that Terry had given him when she had heard of my crime.
    Chris, it read, do not send her away. She loved my son, therefore I love her. Let her come to me, so that I can thank her for what she did for my son. Thank you, my dear friend. Terry.
    My tears that soaked that paper, absolved my of my crime for good.

      1. Egg

        Good story that pulled together really well. I agree that more showing and less telling might improve it, and for criticism sake, I think phrases like “the color of paste on her skin” might read better as “pasty skin.” Just my opinion, of course. Good job.

    1. Sgt. Peppers64

      I have the same problem with the words restriction so I’m guilty of going overboard, too. However I still don’t know what she’d gone to deserve the judge’s punishment? What crime did she commit? Anyways, I did like the flow of the story, great job

  35. simba15

    I gazed at him as he stood there placidly in the serenity of our little haven ; and in that brief moment, I was certain that this was exactly where I was meant to be. It was beautiful – all of it – in the most natural way possible. Birds chirped, butterflies fluttered, and the wind blew inexorably against the delicate, bright blue petals of the African lilies that surrounded the field.

    “It’s rude to stare, you know,” he said, his voice blending perfectly with the melody of nature. I knew just then, that I could never be more in love. I watched as he approached me, wearing that assuring smile I had grown to adore.

    He noticed the worry in my eyes. “What’s wrong?”

    “I have to go back home.”

    He nodded. “It’s the right thing to do. Want me to go with you?”

    I considered this for a moment. “No,” I finally responded. “This is something I have to do alone, Kofi.”

    I allowed my mind to stream through past memories… ‘kirra’, we called them. And then, once again, I saw myself as I had been three years ago; eighteen, but a warrior at heart. My father was the head of the Yolo clan and my mother was its graceful queen. My older brother had been the only heir to the throne… the only hope for the continuance of our generation. Everything had been perfect.

    “Your brother would have been proud of you.” Kofi’s assertive voice snapped me out of my thoughts.

    “He didn’t deserve to die,” I muttered. “Not for the sake of greed.”

    I felt Kofi’s arm tighten around my shoulder as I gave in to the warmth of his chest. More scenes flashed through my brain. I remembered how I had stood nervously in the village court, waiting for my father to pronounce his sentence.

    “Why did you do it, Telema?” he bellowed. “You have brought shame to our name!”

    The court elders nodded in agreement.

    “His father killed your son, Papa!” I cast a vicious glance at the young man standing next to the elders. He could grow to be a murderer, just like his father.

    “His father faced the death penalty. Wasn’t that enough for you? You cannot punish this man for his father’s crimes.”

    True. But that hadn’t stopped me from looking for the murderer’s only son and burning his home and corn fields. I knew they were all he had. I just wanted him to suffer the way his father had made us suffer.

    It was time for my father to hand down my punishment. I was certain I would spend the next few months in the village prison, but I couldn’t have been further from the truth. My father’s verdict was that I be banished for three years to the neighbouring village to help the young man rebuild his house and the fields I had destroyed.
    The young man’s name was Kofi.
    Suddenly, I was back in the present… back in Kofi’s warm embrace.
    “It’s been three years since you went home,” Kofi whispered in my ear. “You sure you don’t want me with you?”
    I looked into his huge warm eyes and in there, I saw my whole world. Tomorrow, I would return home. It was time to thank my old man for giving me the best punishment of all time…

    1. jim

      The words chosen I find beautifully descriptive. The opening paragraph pulled me in right away. O found this easy to read, words tumbled off the paige in a poetic way; very creative, romantic fantasy writing! I want more!

  36. jmiff328

    The gavel rang out over the courtroom and echoed back with finality. Sweat was flowing freely down my neck and arms, soaking my white long sleeve shirt. I was terrified that my life would be taken away and that I would spend time in jail. I would be fired from my job which would most likely lead to divorce. I needed a miracle, but what I got was even better.

    Judge James Sampson looked down at me from his bench and spoke slowly with a Southern Drawl “Watch you got to say for yourself Son?” My head instinctively lowered, out of respect, or maybe out of shame, I’m not sure which. I spoke with no accent “Well sir, I know it was wrong.” The Judge looked at me, a small smile creased his face, “That’s the best you got? You spend your whole day scamming people outta their money over there at the bank, but you can’t even come up with an excuse when it really counts?”

    I replied “Well Sir, I think that maybe…”

    The Judge interrupted yelling “YOU CALL ME YOUR HONOR!!”

    “Yes your Honor, I just…”

    Once again he interrupted me but the anger had subsided “You obviously don’t remember me, but I was bamboozled out of quite a bit of money over there at your little bank. When I went to find out who to talk to about a settlement, I was told you were the man to see. I called you for weeks with no response. So I have a special punishment for you.”

    I could hear my heart beating in my chest. I couldn’t believe I had been so stupid to get in trouble. He’ll probably put in me maximum security just for fun. God, I hope he can’t put me on death row!. I heard the Judge yell at me which snapped me from my terrible daydream.

    “Did you understand the sentence, you little twit?”

    “Um, No Sir, I mean Your Honor, can you please repeat it?”

    “You will live like you cause people to live all over this state, As we speak you possessions are being loaded away and you locks being changed. There will be police at your house to make sure you do not go inside. You will have to fend for yourself on the streets, and if you can survive for 6 months with no help, then you can have your things back.”

    As I left the courthouse that day I knew that my life would be forever altered. I began living in the streets and begging for change for my food and drink. I found a new respect for the working class and the day after my six months ended I walked to the courthouse. The Judge was waiting for me inside his office on the third floor.

    “How was it.” He said.

    “Thank you, your honor. I never knew what real life was like and now I am a better person than I would’ve been without you.”

    “You’re welcome Son, but call me Jimmy.”

    1. missedd112

      As did others, I enjoyed your dialog. I especially liked the Judge’s reply inviting familiarity with his nick name, Jimmy. While this wouldn’t happen inthe real world, you made it believeable. Well done!

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