CHAPTER ONE

“Please God, let this end.” This thought ran over and over again in Judge Sanderlin Bean’s head. The Judge just wanted this case over and done with and well behind him ... a thing of the past ... to be buried and forgotten. From the very beginning it had sent prickles to the hairs on the back of his neck. It was as if it was spinning around and around like a white ball on a roulette wheel, bouncing with little clicks, vying for a slot to land. But this wheel bore one number, the same for every slot, the outcome predetermined, and dealing out one and only one fate.

Click, Click, Click, the little white ball, madly hopping within the spinning wheel.

The jury announced it had reached a verdict and was returning to court. It was no surprise that they were not sequestered long. The defendant had readily admitted his guilt. Hell, he hadn’t even shown any remorse. “Please God, let this end.”

Click … Click …Click … The ball’s bounce slows in rhythm searching for its fatal resting place.

And there was no sympathy to be found for this man. For anyone looking at this creature … this monster, saw him for what he was … an imitation of a man … no not a man but a caricature … a parody possessing and personifying all of the negative traits to be found. In short, he was a freak. “Please God, let this end.”

Click …… Click …… Click …… The ball begins to ach less … being dragged by the forces that swirl about us.

He was so huge that they had to construct special handcuffs that would fit him. Judge Bean had seen fat ladies’ ankles that were slimmer than this black man’s wrists. What they had come up with reminded him of the old leg irons you use to see on those old prison movies. His eyes smoldered with a hatred that made your eyes water trying to match stares. His continence convinced any who gazed upon the defendant of his guilt. One had no trouble imagining him brutally killing that poor young boy in Tampa. He readily, if not matter of fact, admitted it. If you followed those massive shoulders down to his increasingly bulging arms, all the way to his huge hands … hands that look large enough to palm a child’s head like a basketball, it wouldn’t take a moment of conscience to find this filthy beast guilty. “Please God, let this end.”

Click ……… Click ………. Click ……… The little white ball begins to wobble … giving the illusion that there is a random pattern, an uncertain outcome.

Judge Bean looked around at all the media with its cameras and microphones and such. He wondered when his court had become the “Jerry Springer” Show. His gaze returned to the monster of a man, sitting on a bench at the defendant’s table. He had to sit on a bench as a chair could not be found to fit him. The verdict was most certainly guilty. The only hope thought Bean, was that this poor bastard had, was that he suffered from complete amnesia. The man monster could not remember his name or anything of his origin. Officially he was to be referred to as John Doe … as are all such individuals. The Judge paused it thought, “If one lacked identity, individuality, was one still an individual?”

But he did, didn’t he. Not one that grew over a lifetime, but one thrust on him by fate … and of course the media. Doe seemed to of stepped right out of the pages from some wretched comic book that was now all the rage. For this and the fact that it was partially the reason this trial was even taking place, the press had dubbed the defendant, Mushmouth Brown. His resemblance to this cartoon character was not only uncanny, but a bit unnerving. Here stood, for all to see, the living embodiment of every stereotyped image that the NAACP had strived to erase from the American conciseness. It was almost unconceivable, yet all one had to do was to look at his banjo like eyes, swollen lips and black baldpate to believe. And seeing is believing … isn’t it.

One could almost argue that this filthy cartoon … what was it entitled? “Toonality” … ah yes, that was it. Yes this “Toonality” could be charged with a certain duplicity in this case. A creation of Kirby Schultz …  a murder … tried and convicted in the Judges own court. Now that was a crime to give such a waste of human flesh a podium to reach out to the public. Bean shook his head. The Judge admitted to himself he wasn’t impartial in this case. This Schultz had been the center of the last media circus he had dealt with and Bean would have been quite happy if he had never heard his name again.

Judge Sanderlin Bean returned his gaze back to John Doe. The defense had tried to show their client as a poor creature whose rationalization of right and wrong, did not coincide with society’s, due to his acute case of amnesia. Given the case … this was perhaps the best defense presented, remembering Mushmouth’s … ah … Doe’s own confession, if perhaps the only one. And though Bean admitted this, given their position, would have been the tack he would of himself taken if he had been the defense lawyer. It would, all in all, be a tough act to sell.

Click … the little white ball seemingly settled on a resting place, swirling around like a basketball teasing a hoop’s rim just before it goes in.

The jury entered the courtroom, filing into the box, taking their seats. All led by the foreman of the jury, one Mildred Press or as she preferred, Lt. Commander Press of the Federation Starship, Argos. She was a “Trekkee” … or was it “Trekker.” Bean wasn’t sure.  What he was certain of was that her presence was the first step in sending this case into the Twilight Zone. Once selected for jury duty, Mildred had insisted on wearing her costume … ah … her uniform.

This issue had taken almost as much time and effort as the trial itself. Bean had ordered that she should dress appropriately to the dignity of his court. He had her removed from the jury and jailed for defying a court order. The next thing he knew her attorney, Gerry Silverberg, or as he preferred to be referred to as to Security Officer Silverberg of the Federation Starship, Argos, had filed an injunction to stop the proceedings until Mildred Press was reinstated. This had definitely caught the eye of the media and these two played it up for all it was worth. It seems as if this gathering of loonies does a good portion of charity work wearing their costumes … ah … uniforms, thus conferring it a respectability that was beyond Bean’s grasp of understanding. It was also pointed out that there had been a juror on the Clinton hearings of the same organization that had been allowed to wear her cos … UNIFORM.  His superiors had suggested in the firmest way that Press be reinstated and if that had not been a hard enough slap, their parting comment had been, “Live long and prosper.”

When Mildred Press’ returned, it was not alone. The press hounds  followed, hot on the trail of an even hotter story. They would of made it headline material if the case had concerned a jay walking little old lady. But this was a dream for them. It practically wrote itself. The coverage this trial made the OJ case seem like traffic court. Mildred Press was elected foreman by her fellow jurors and things just snow balled from there.

“Court is now in session, the honorable Judge Sanderlin Bean presiding,” sing songed the bailiff.

Visibly wincing Bean turned to Lt. Commander Press, “Has the jury reached a decision?”

With a practiced formality, Mildred rose to attention. “Yes, your Honor.”

“Please hand a copy of your verdict to the bailiff.” The clicking of Bailiff Shannon’s heels was the only sound made as he crossed the room, took the copy from Mildred’s out stretched hand and returned to the Judge’s bench, handing the folded paper to Bean. The Judge unfolded the paper, stared long and hard at in and took on a somber expression. “The defendant will please rise and face the jury,” he said.

With some difficulty both John Doe and his court appointed attorney, Homer Bedlam stood. Homer, standing in a noticeable shadow, looked up at the gargantuan towering above him. The attorney looked as if his stomach soured right then and there.

Bean turned to the jury box, “Please read the verdict.”

Mildred cleared her throat and turned as so the cameras would catch her COM badge gleaming and read, “We the jury, in the case of the state of Florida and Hillsborough County vs. Mushmouth Brown …”

The veins around the temples of the giant popped to the thickness of pencils. “Mee be not be name be Mushmouth!” the big man roared.

Everyone but Mildred jumped, startled by the monster’s outburst. She was continuing with and concentrating on her fifteen minutes of fame. Bean tried to regain some color in his face and turning to Bedlam, “ Please instruct your client that I will not permit such behavior in my court room!” But for a fat man, Homer Bedlam, attorney at law proved to be a sprinter as he made a path through the doors. Bean picked up his gavel and began a quick loud rhythm that bore a resemblance to the successive shots of a loaded revolver. His hardened glare fell on Mildred. “Lt Commander,” the Judge sneered, “You will please refer to the defendant as John Doe and …”

“Not be Mushmouth!” Brown let forth a wail and a scream that chilled the bones to marrow. Two chained fists came down on the heavy oaken table rendering it into an explosion of flying splinters. “Not be Mushmouth!”

Judge Bean was absolutely frozen in horror as he watch the man … no not a man … this creature … strain, the muscles of his arms rippling muscles and the chains … thicker than a man’s thumb bend and break. In his fright, he distanced himself from the situation, like he was watching from the back of a theater, some very bad play going horribly wrong. The bailiffs moved in to bring order and subdue the defendant. He found it odd how the mind works sometimes bringing forth from some long forgotten corner of the brain, a morsel long ago devoured and absorbed. He was now back in tenth grade World Literature class with Miss Mauney, reading his section of the poem Beowulf.

The portal opended,
though with forged bolts fast, when his fists had
struck it,
and baleful he burst in his blatant rage,
the house’s mouth. All hastily, then,
o’er fair-paved floor the fiend trod on,
ireful he strode; there streamed from his eyes
fearful flashes, like flame to see.

 The creature was free and making his way through the crowd to Mildred.

“Straightway he seized a sleeping warrior
for the first, and tore him fiercely asunder,
the bone-frame bit, drank blood in streams,
swallowed him piecemeal: swiftly thus
the lifeless corse was clear devoured,
e’en feet and hands. Then farther he hied;
for the hardy hero with hand he grasped,
felt for the foe with fiendish claw…”

Judge Sanderlin Bean was shaken back to the reality of the now by Doe’s guttural growl, “ME BE NO BE MUSHMOUTH!” He followed from the point he had just been staring out into space to where the voice had come. There along the way, laid the bodies groaning and writhing in heaps, a mixture of bailiffs and the press that had gotten too close to their story. Shannon was in the corner desperately trying to use his coat as a compress to stop the bleeding where his left arm had been.

The creature had made it to his goal. Repeatedly it shouted, “ME BE NO BE MUSHMOUTH!” over and over again. His huge hands easily gripped, encircling Mildred’s neck with three fingers, his pinky stuck out as if the monster was holding a teacup. “ME BE NO BE MUSHMOUTH!” It had lifted her as if she was a rag doll her feet dangling, her face growing ever whiter. True to her creed, “Never give up … never surrender,” Lt. Commander Press was desperately trying to apply the Vulcan nerve pinch.

Judge Sanderlin Bean closed his eyes, he had spent almost twenty years on the bench. Eighteen years, seven months, and twenty-seven days of dispensing justice to the slime balls, drug addicts, thieves, murderers, liars and the various other miscreants of human filth that made their way before him, seeing that these "members" of society made amends to this Republic. It had been his calling ... making for a satisfying life for the most part. The biggest bane of Sanderlin's existence was but a trifling matter. There had once been another Judge Bean. Judge Roy Bean, a legendary character out of Western folklore, and as with most legends there was some truth behind the story. This Judge Bean had been a self appointed magistrate in the wilds of Texas, proclaiming that there was no law west of the Mississippi and no God west of the Pecos. His verdicts were at least ... swift ... usually ending in a hanging ... or a shot from a forty-five. Judge Sanderlin Bean had on more than one occasion been linked to this famous frontier judge. The more timid ... or was that prudent, spoke softly and then behind his back. Bolder individuals found ways to leave little string nooses around his chambers or on his car. And of course, there were always the comments by those in the press, whose politics and agendas did not always coincided with his "old fashioned and antiquated perspectives." These were but petty annoyances, an occasional buzzing fly ... sometimes distracting from his life's purpose. He had endured more than a fair share of ribbing and jests. But for now, he thought about what his Uncle Orson had always said, that there was some truth in kidding. Bean took a deep breath, afraid that no matter what he had done in his life, all of the service all of the attempts to render justice, that the joke would be his legacy. For today Judge Sanderlin Bean took a page from this frontier-hanging judge whose practice of jurist prudence was at best ... questionable. He reached under his bench and pulled out the pistol. The hammer fell with a resounding bang.

“ME BE NO BE MUSHMOUTH!”

“Please God, let this end.”

The little white ball made an unexpected hop, bouncing off the table and rolled across the floor.

 

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