At the prosecutors bench sat Mick Swan, leaning back in his chair with his arms folded, watching court proceedings through mirrored sunglasses.
“What was the last thing they said?” asked the defending lawyer.
“You.” Jake said from the witness box.
“It was preceded by ‘Screw’.”
“That’s more informative. Why did they say, ‘Screw you’?”
“They were angry.”
The defending lawyer waved an encouraging hand, and the witness continued: “I was concluding their narratives.”
“You were ending their lives?”
“Some of them. The leader and a few associates.”
“And where did this occur?”
“A bunker beneath Berlin.”
“The place of your arrest?”
“And why were you in that bunker?”
“To colonize events in history.”
“The suicide of some guy. Hitler-something, or something-Hitler. I can’t remember.”
“200 years ago?”
“Do you time travel?”
“Do you colonize events for the history corporations?”
“No further questions, Your Honor.” The defending lawyer returned to his bench.
The judge lazily stirred herself from a semi-torpor to briefly look around the courtroom, then announced, “Prosecuting lawyer’s turn.”
Mick Swan swaggered toward the witness box. As he began to speak, he removed his sunglasses, “Hi, Jake. Can I call you Jake, or is it J?”
“I prefer Jake.”
“You prefer Jake. Why is that?”
“It’s my name.”
“That’s good. It’s good to have a simple name. A name that doesn’t confuse anybody. Unlike the name Satan. That name confuses people. But you wouldn’t be confused by the name Satan. You’ve got yourself a simple little name.” Swan gave a knowing look at the jury, as he said, “In fact, it’s so simple anyone would think it was fake. But that’s beside the point.” He faced the witness. “What I’d like to ask you, Jack, is . . . ”
“My name’s Jake.”
“My God, of course it is. Jake. That’s your name. And nothing to do with Satan at all. Anyway, ‘Jake’, may I ask you what you were doing in the bunker of a crazed despot?”
“Applying a narrative.”
“So if I were to ask if you’re the devil, you would surely say no?”
“You’d say yes?” Swan looked at the jury and nodded.
“I’d say no, I’m not the devil.”
“But you’d repeat that name easily enough? In full view of God?”
The judge lifted her head, then called Swan to the bench. A brief, whispered consultation ensued, then the judge said, “You may proceed.”
“As I was saying,” said Swan, returning to the witness, “we’re often watched by someone who cares.”
The judge cleared her throat and looked threateningly at Swan, who shrugged and continued: “Moving on. Would you say that implanting narrative structures into past events, changes those events?”
“Of course, we’re . . .”
“Enough!” Swan slammed his fist on the edge of the witness box. “That’s impossible. God does not allow it.”
“Objection, Your Honor,” said the defending lawyer. “We’re not here to promote outdated personal beliefs. We’re looking at the real world.”
“Sustained. Let the witness finish,” said the judge.
Grimacing, Swan looked away.
Jake continued, “Yes, applying narratives to the past changes that past. History is subject to constant change – we make, and remake the world as we go along.”
Swan winced, muttering beneath his breath, “God made the world!”
Irritable, Jake looked at Swan. “You don’t realize you’re made of obsolete stories.”
“I’m the prosecuting lawyer here. I’ll make the suggestions.”
“You’re imposing suggestions. Trying to colonize my truth – like the corporations are colonizing the past.”
Swan turned to the judge: “Your Honor. This witness has become hostile. I don’t have to tolerate this.”
“I suggest you engage with the issue,” she stated.
Swan turned back to Jake, “So, you’re saying . . . I. . . I don’t know what you’re saying.” His words were stumbling over of his emotional agitation
Jake leaned forward. “I’m saying you’re holding onto invalid thoughts, and trying to impose them on a constantly changing world.”
With fear in his eyes Swan looked again at the judge. “Five minute recess, Your Honor?”
“I’d rather you deal with it now.”
Swan frowned, fidgeting with the sunglasses in his top pocket.
“Perhaps it’s unsettling?” The judge suggested. “Maybe you could reflect on why that is?”
Swan stood pensive for a second, then he looked up. His face became adamant. Straightening his tie, he said, “Not at all. I know exactly what I’m doing.”
Ready to resume questioning, Swan turned to the witness.
The judge gave a disappointed nod toward the back of the room. The court scene, Jake and the jury flickered from existence, and a screen descended declaring: Prosecuting Lawyer, Mick Swan, Scores 4%.
“I don’t like this new system!” Swan folded his arms. “If I can’t use deceit, leading questions, and appeals to god, what’s left of this profession?”
“The world has changed. This is an opportunity to adapt. If you can’t let go of old beliefs, you can’t resume being a lawyer,” said the judge.
“Screw this! Your world is a sham.” Swan put on his sunglasses. “I’m going back to cryo-sleep. Wake me up when society makes sense.”
Soren James is a writer and visual artist who recreates himself on a daily basis from the materials at his disposal, continuing to do so in an upbeat manner until one day he will sumptuously throw his drained materials aside and resume stillness without asking why. More of his work can be seen here: https://sorenjames.wordpress.com
Image by Chris Potter (http://www.ccpixs.com/)