Sam Phelps is going to be very busy today. The court clerk called him late last night from one of the taverns downtown. The fatso, crack-up clerk, who went to law school with Sam but never managed to pass the state bar exam after six tries, left the same voicemail message he always leaves the night before Sam is going to appear in court before Judge Fesselbaum. The voicemail is always sixty seconds long, timed to the second, and consists of nothing but maniacal laughter.
At the time, Sam occupied a stool in another downtown tavern. He was trying without success to hook up with a broad from Philadelphia named Laverne. She sort of looked like Penny Marshall from back in the day, or perhaps she did not look at all like her. He had had a half dozen whiskey shots by then, and frankly could no longer tell the difference between Laverne and Shirley. He was so horny he probably would have pursued her even if she had looked like Squiggy. Beggars can’t be choosers, and it would not be long before the barmaid rang the last bell, rested her boobs upon the counter, and asked Sam if he wanted a kick in the old shins or one more for the road.
The vibrator in his pants pocket excited him at first. He assumed this Laverne chick had aroused him more than he realized. Perhaps, she would note the effect she had on him and would come around to his idea of how best to finish off the night. He turned on his stool, and opened his legs wide, in the hope that she might take a peek.
Laverne did not look, or if she did she remained coy. Sam just hates it when a woman is coy. It means more guesswork on his part, and he is not particularly good at guesswork when the hour is late and his brain is cooked.
This is about the time he realized his iPhone was vibrating. He turned back to the counter, closed his legs, and listened to the voicemail. Normally, he is more than a little peeved when he hears that fat fuck chuckling like the Pillsbury Doughboy for a solid minute. This time, he was thankful, for the message reminded him that Judge Fesselbaum had ordered him to present his motion for dismissal tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM sharp. 9:00 AM sharp is not 9:10 AM. It is not even 9:03 AM. Sam doubts the old judge gets very many hard-ons anymore, but he probably manages to muster up one whenever he gets the chance to rip into Sam Phelps. It does not help matters that Sam’s dad had been the judge’s law partner way back when and had swindled a lot of cash and a mistress away from him.
Sam left Laverne without mumbling goodbye. The bitch did not deserve any niceties. He had bought her three Cosmos at that point and had not even scored her email address let alone her phone number. He had to abandon ship anyway. Time is a kick in the old shins for every man over forty, but that is especially the case when the man has to sleep, shower, shit, and show up dressed in a courtroom seven hours and sixteen minutes later. Make that seven hours and fifteen minutes, because Sam’s gold watch is off a minute.
Sam crashed on his couch at around 2:30 AM. He knew the time, more or less, because of the Tony Rivera infomercial playing on the big screen TV. He got Tony off on a pretty bad drug charge ten years ago. Tony gave him a bear hug at the time, and promised him “anything with or without the sauce.” All Sam wanted was for Tony to pay his invoice, but that turned out to be the one thing Tony was not prepared to do. For a few years, Tony promised him he would pay up once one of his “get rich quick” scams actually worked. Then, Tony stopped returning Sam’s calls, and Sam made the strategic decision to back off. Tony is not a “made man,” but he has a few old friends with cousins who are “made men.” That is close enough, and so Sam’s revenge on his old client is to flip the bird at his big screen TV whenever he sees Tony’s infomercial.
Sam had been too tired and drunk to set the alarm on his iPhone, so when he suddenly opens his eyes it is 8:15 AM. He is a disheveled, hung over mess, but Judge Fesselbaum’s doughy cheeks and cranky eyes nonetheless manage to make a strong impression in spite of all the fog in his gray matter. He sits upright fast, and grabs his forehead until the living room stops spinning. The big screen TV on the other side of the room is still on. Joan Rivers is selling jewelry, and she has been dead already for a few years. Talk about a workhorse.
Without bothering to remove his whiskey stained suit and tie from the prior night, Sam staggers into the bathroom, steps into the shower, and turns on the cold-water faucet. He screams out in pain, but the moment soon passes. The cold shower works better than hot coffee, especially in an emergency, and Sam does not have the time to boil water on the stove.
After he gets over the initial shock of his situation, Sam actually moves pretty fast. He changes into a new suit (whiskey stained in the rear end of his trousers, but the old judge is not likely to see that), combs his graying hair over his bald spot, and splashes on cologne. He is careful to use “Ultimate Male,” which everyone says is the old judge’s favorite cologne. He thinks it smells like a boatload of dying fish. Perhaps, that is why Fesselbaum likes it so much. Every lawyer who has to argue a case in his courtroom is a little whitefish ready to be hooked and gutted. The smarter ones may be able to avoid the bait longer than others, but eventually they all end up squirming on the deck beneath the judge’s boot.
Sam grabs his briefcase, and sets it on the counter. He should have left for the courthouse a while ago, but he needs to make sure first he has everything. He has his copy of the Motion for Dismissal. The judge and the clerk received their copies some days ago. He has the signed affidavit that indicates the prosecution deliberately filed their nonsense charge against his client for a vindictive purpose. He has emails from one of the assistant district attorneys to an informant showing he had railroaded his client for rebuffing his sexual advances.
While making certain that everything in the briefcase is in order, Sam thinks about his buxom, blond client’s tits. It does not do her justice to state that she has a “nice rack.” Lots of chicks are well endowed. What sets her apart is how her nipples poke through her tight sweaters like machine gun muzzles. He remembers when he first interviewed her in the county jail. He could not take his eyes off her “bazookas,” as he likes to call them, and finally joked that she will need to get a permit for those things. She took his comment in stride. He figured she would since he saw a number of prostitution, loitering, and indecent exposure arrests on her wrap sheet. Girls like that know how to roll with the punches. Sure enough, before finishing the interview she whispered in her best “fuck me” voice that she would do “anything” for him if he agreed to represent her pro bono.
Sam grins, as he latches shut his briefcase. Unlike with Tony Rivera, this time he is going to accept a client’s offer to do “anything” for him. The sooner he gets her out of jail the sooner she starts to please him. He will never think about those Philly chicks again when he starts hooking up with his client.
* * *
Sam is pissed. He would have made it to court on time, if that fat Aunt Jemima security guard had not held him back at the entrance. Though he does not know her name, or anything else about her for that matter, they have seen each other virtually every weekday morning for years. Surely, even a blockhead like her should know by now that Sam is not a terrorist. Does he look like a fucking towel head? Jesus Christ!
The metal detector is broken, so Sam has to wait outside the door while Aunt Jemima and a skinny geezer with bad eyesight manually check through his briefcase and his wallet for contraband. They keep glaring at him, like he is a criminal, and he thinks about reporting them to the higher ups for this abuse. That means finding out their names, though, since he cannot write “Aunt Jemima” and “Blind Geezer” on the complaint form. He does not have time to ask them, so he has to let them off for now.
Sam grabs the briefcase and the wallet, and rushes down the hallway toward the courtroom. He glances at his gold watch. It is already 9:02 AM.
Sam looks up, and sees the court clerk loitering in front of the courtroom. He is obviously waiting for Sam. He looks down at his watch, sees the time, and looks up at Sam with a condescending grin. Sam is going to be sent to the principal’s office for this violation, and the clerk wants to watch it happen in real time.
Sam stops in front of the door. He is inches from the smiling clerk, and at that time he wants nothing more than to flip him the bird. He holds himself back, though, and instead straightens his collar and wipes sweat from his brow.
Sam pushes the door open, and he steps into the full courtroom. Middle-aged criminal defense lawyers like Sam occupy the pews. They are reviewing their papers or whispering corny jokes to one another. One of them tosses a wrinkled paper ball, which “accidentally” hits Sam in the back of his head. He hears boyish chuckles from behind him, but does not bother to look back. This is so much like being back inside a classroom. Everyone is snickering at him, because they know he is about to get his wrists slapped with a ruler in front of them.
The assistant district attorney is a stuck up girl with a granny hair bun and a pair of wire-rimmed glasses. Sam thinks her name is Rebecca something or other. It does not really matter. She is just out of law school, and the fact that that total fucker Harvey Blurts sent out one of his newbies means the district attorney knows that he does not have a case. If Judge Fesselbaum does not throw the book at him for getting here late, Sam should be able to walk out of this courtroom a winner.
Sam nods and smiles at the newbie prosecutor. She stares straight ahead like she does not see him. Boy, does she need to get laid, Sam thinks, as he takes his seat. What self-respecting guy would want to do the honors, though?
Though Sam is seated now, he expects the old judge to call him forward for a verbal reprimand at any moment. Sam folds his hands on his table, and tries his best to look penitent.
Instead, Judge Fesselbaum appears unaware that Sam has arrived. Normally, the judge stares down from the bench with a Cheshire cat grin. His creepy eyes dart from one attorney to another like he is a hungry cat, and they are birds in a cage he is about to invade. While staring down his prey, he will fold his wrinkled hands in a gesture that is more holier than thou than penitential. Then, when he is ready to go for the jugular, he will glance back at his bailiff, and the retired Marine with the flat top will call everyone to order.
That is not happening this time. Judge Fesselbaum is reading a document and tapping a pencil impatiently. He seems pissed, but not necessarily at the lawyer who arrived late. Instead, he is absorbed with whatever he is reading.
Sam glances at the seat beside him. He expects to see his client there. She will be in a county jail jumpsuit, which is never all that appealing, and yet every time she finds a way to keep her boobs and her chin up. It does not matter what those county jail bozos put on her. She is always fuckable, and if the judge does not award her one brownie point at least for trying then he is a homo.
She is not there, though. The seat is empty. Sam looks up at the bailiff as if to ask where is she? The hard ass Gunnery Sergeant does not respond. Instead, he just gives Sam that vaguely menacing thousand-yard stare that Marines learn to perfect in boot camp. That is about all that Devil Dog ever does, and Sam wonders in silence why he even bothered to look up at him.
Sam puts the briefcase on his table. He opens it, and starts to remove papers. Perhaps, if he looks busy, the preoccupied judge will think he had arrived on time. It is worth a shot, though if this stunt works it will be the first time he manages to get anything passed his nemesis.
Sam hears the side door open, and then he hears chains rattling. The guards have arrived finally with his client. Perhaps, the judge will reprimand them instead.
Sam continues to stare at his documents, while his client takes a seat beside him. He really wants to take a look at her bazookas, but he decides it would be best right now if the judge thinks he is so focused on his case he does not even notice his client arriving. If all goes well, Sam will have plenty of opportunities to look at those locked and loaded firearms in the privacy of his own bedroom.
Judge Fesselbaum stops tapping his pencil. He sets aside the document, and with an audible huff he steps out of the courtroom. Sam thinks this is rather strange but continues to look down at his documents.
Sam hears what sounds like the tick-tock of a stopwatch. Even stranger, he is hearing it in his own head. Perhaps, he is out of sorts because of how much he drank last night, or perhaps he is more anxious than he realized about the judge. He wants to think the judge will go after the prison guards for being so late, but deep down he senses that he is not going to get off the hook.
The tick-tock stops abruptly, and the side door opens. The judge is returning from his private chambers. The Marine steps forward, clenches his fists by his sides, and booms in a voice that can be heard down the street: “All Rise!”
Everyone arises. Sam does not look at his client. He is careful instead to look straight ahead in deference to the judge.
The bailiff continues: “The Honorable Judge Jeremiah Fesselbaum presiding. Case Number 02556453. The People versus Samuel J. Phelps. All interested persons must now step forward.”
Did Sam hear that correctly? That does not make any sense. He must be tired and a little drunk still from the night before. He sits down with everyone else, and he decides the Marine must have made a mistake.
Sam looks over at his client beside him, and his heart stops…
The buxom blond is not there. She is nowhere in the courtroom. Instead, Sam sees beside him a middle-aged man in a county jail jumpsuit. The man is disheveled, and he smells like a whiskey barrel. He has his handcuffed hands folded on the table, and he stares downward like a little boy in the principal’s office.
Clearly, the guards brought out the wrong person. First, the Marine fucks up; now this. The silver lining is that the judge will have plenty of other folks to chew up and to spit out for incompetence this morning.
Wire-Rimmed Glasses stands up. She folds her hands before her waist in the manner of an aged schoolmarm. Her soft voice is hardly audible.
“Rebecca Moore for the State, your Honor,” Wire-Rimmed Glasses says before sitting back down.
Sam is a little slow on the uptake. His heart is beating again, but he still is not certain what to make of this man beside him. The man’s profile looks oddly familiar.
The judge clears his throat, and the bailiff behind the judge stares at Sam like Sam is an enemy combatant he is about to shoot in a firing squad. The lawyers in the pews stare coldly at Sam’s back. The silence is deafening, and the raw tension forces Sam up from his seat before he really knows what to say.
“Sam Phelps for the Defense, your Honor,” Sam mutters.
“Excuse me, councilor,” Judge Fesselbaum snaps.
The prosecutor had been even less audible, but the judge had not snapped at her. Sam notices the discrepancy, but says nothing about the unfairness. Instead, he repeats himself with a little more volume.
The judge has been appeased, at least for the moment, and so Sam is able to take his seat again. Sam looks at the man beside him. Clearly, this is the wrong man, but that is not the reason Sam feels a cold chill down his spine. What is disturbing is just how familiar this man looks. Where has he seen him before? Why does this man in chains seem like the brother he never had?
Sam stands up to address the judge. He wipes sweat off of his brow.
“Your Honor,” Sam says haltingly. “It appears they have delivered the wrong person. This is not my client.”
There is a slight murmur from the pews. The bailiff steps forward and glares at the defendant. The judge picks up the pince-nez he keeps on his bench, affixes the wire thin antique to his nose, and stares at the defendant like the man is a specimen inside of a Petri dish. The judge looks back at Sam, and then points at the defendant.
“Are you saying this is not Mr. Phelps?” The judge asks.
“Mr. Phelps?” Sam mutters.
The judge glances at the bailiff, and the bailiff steps over to a side door so as to confer with a prison guard there. The prison guard steps away a moment, and he returns with a clipboard. They both look at the clipboard and back again at the man seated beside Sam. The bailiff quickly returns to the judge and whispers into his ear.
“Approach the bench,” the judge orders.
Rebecca and Sam walk up to the bench. The judge glares down at them from his considerably higher position like a firm dad about to spank his little ones. He is in no mood for bullshit this morning, not that he ever is at any other time. He turns toward the prosecutor first and offers her the barest hint of a smile.
“Do you recognize the defendant, Miss Moore?” The judge asks.
“Yes, your Honor,” Rebecca says without emotion. “He is Mr. Samuel Phelps.”
“Thank you, Miss Moore,” the judge says, before turning his gaze to the hated criminal defense lawyer. “Now, are you sure you do not recognize your own client?”
Sam looks back. The man in chains looks up, and for the first time the two of them lock eyes. Sam is looking at a mirror reflection of himself. Sam grabs a hold of the bench to stop himself from falling to the floor in surprise. He wonders if he is in the throes of madness, or if he is dreaming. Before he can consider either option, he hears the judge again demanding an answer. He turns to face the judge, and he tries his very best to address the judge audibly. His voice still must be too low, for he can see the exasperation boiling in the judge’s cranky eyes with every word he mutters.
“That is not my client,” Sam says. “Mine has bazookas.”
“What?” The judge snaps.
“Bazook…” Sam catches himself. “I mean, she is a she…”
The judge leans forward, so that his doughy face is inches from Sam’s. There is stone cold madness in his eyes, and Sam half expects the old man either to hit him hard across the ears or to lift him up from his collar.
“Have you been drinking, councilor?” The judge snarls.
“No,” Sam lies.
“Any hallucinogenic drugs lately?” The judge continues. “Anything pervy?”
“Nothing, your Honor,” Sam says.
“Then, go back and present your motion,” the judge says. “I have no tolerance for your shenanigans.”
“Yes, your Honor,” Sam says, before returning to his seat.
Sam turns toward the man in chains, while removing a file from his briefcase.
“Who are you?” Sam whispers.
The man turns to his left side, and looks back at Sam with big, sorrowful eyes. The man does not speak, but Sam knows the answer just by looking again at his own mirror image in that face. Sam could be representing his doppelganger, or perhaps a twin he never knew he had, but his gut tells him that he is representing himself. This makes no sense, and for a moment Sam contemplates screaming and running for the exits. He holds himself back, though. Until he awakens from this odd hallucination or dream, this will be his reality; and in this reality he has to represent himself before a belligerent judge ready to throw him to the wolves.
Sam looks at his file. The papers for his female client’s case are gone. Instead, the Motion for Dismissal and accompanying affidavits refer to “Samuel Phelps.” Sam does not have time to read these documents in full, but a cursory glance makes it all too clear why “Samuel Phelps” is in chains.
“Councilor?” The judge asks irritably.
Sam struggles to put the papers back into the file folder. He is more nervous now than when he tried his first case years ago. He hears muffled laughter from the lawyers seated behind him. The bailiff crosses his arms before his chest, but he does not change the blank expression on his big face.
“Councilor!” The judge roars.
“Yes, your Honor,” Sam states, while standing up with the file folder in hand.
Several pieces of paper fall to the floor, but Sam does not stoop down to pick them up. He is going to have to improvise his arguments anyway. He is not hopeful, but he is pretty sure the mad judge will find some reason to hold him in contempt if he continues to delay. The court clerk and the other lawyers would love to see that.
“The State alleges that my client arrived two minutes late at the courtroom,” Sam begins to say.
“Two minutes and thirty-five seconds,” the judge interrupts.
“Um, yes…” Sam mutters.
“And that is closer to three minutes,” the judge snarls. “Is it not?”
“Yes, your Honor,” Sam says.
“Councilor, do you really think you can score points with this court when you start off your argument with a lie?” The judge asks.
“A lie?” Sam mutters.
“Two minutes is not three,” the judge says.
“Neither is two minutes and thirty-five seconds,” Sam responds with a hint of irritation in his voice.
The judge straightens the pince-nez on his nose. He glares down at Sam with cold contempt. Usually, when this happens, Sam wants to burrow into the mud with the other rodents. This time, perhaps because he is frightened enough by the man at his side and by the odd turn of events, Sam holds firm. He cannot say from where he has tapped into this new wellspring of courage. Perhaps, it is his survival instinct at play. Regardless, he does not cower, and the judge seems to have noticed this in him.
“So you acknowledge that your client arrived late,” the judge continues.
“Yes,” Sam says without hesitation. “But that fact alone does not merit…”
“So you want to talk about facts,” the judge sneers. “Are you sure, councilor?”
Sam does not know how to reply. The file he had prepared for this hearing is gone. Magically, there is a brand new file in his briefcase that pertains to this Motion for Dismissal for himself. Since he only had a chance to glance at it briefly, he has no idea what other facts have been admitted or contested.
Actually, that is not true, and deep down Sam knows it. This is all about him, and he knows damn well what he has or has not done in his life that could interest a tyrant like Judge Fesselbaum.
Does he really want to unearth all that dirty laundry? Sometimes, as a lawyer, he has had to swim with the sharks; other times, he has had to burrow with the rats. As a man with a cock trying to pick up drunk girls, he has been a snake or a pussycat depending upon the circumstance. Hell, when he perceives an advantage, he can be a social butterfly with a sly remark and a cocktail in hand. There are so many whiskey stained animals hanging in his dark closet, but how often does he stand up as a man?
“Councilor?” The judge repeats impatiently.
“Your Honor, I would like a moment to confer with my client,” Sam says.
“Glad to hear you acknowledge he is your client,” the judge states caustically.
Sam takes his seat, and turns toward his mirror image in chains. Like before, the man has his hands folded on the table, and is looking down in anticipation of the worst beating of his life. Sam rests his hand on the man’s left shoulder and whispers into his ear. Sam can feel the eyes of everyone in the courtroom digging into his skin and looking for his darkest secrets. He wants to scream, but he focuses instead on the subdued man beside him.
“Do you want me to air all of the facts in your motion?” Sam asks.
The man reacts subtly, so Sam knows that he has heard and understood him. Otherwise, the man does not respond.
“I’ll be honest with you,” Sam continues. “You’re really not going to like what you hear. If it’s not twisted shit, it’s embarrassing; not the kind of bedtime story you would want to tell your auntie after she’s served you a glass of warm milk.”
The man turns his head so that he faces Sam directly. The sadness in his eyes is palpable, but he does not shed a tear. He is prepared for whatever Sam decides to do. Sam senses that the man just wants this all to end. Whatever punishment comes later will be nothing in comparison to how hard it is to be chained and seated in the courtroom spotlight like this. Sam feels the black emptiness in his client’s heart and without hesitation decides what to do next.
“Councilor!” The judge roars.
“Yes, your Honor,” Sam says calmly while standing.
“Are you prepared to argue your motion?” The judge asks.
“No, your Honor,” Sam responds.
There is an audible murmur in the courtroom. Everyone is surprised by this move. Even the stoic Marine flinches a little, though he is careful to compensate for this by pushing back his posture and putting on a more menacing look than before.
“Are you withdrawing your motion?” The judge asks with a devilish grin.
“Yes,” Sam answers strongly without this time bothering to say “your Honor.”
The judge notices the intentional slight, and frowns. He narrows his eyes, and the pince-nez lens lodged in his eye socket nearly cracks as a result. He opens and he shuts his right fist repeatedly like he has an imaginary stress ball in his palm. After a few seconds of tense silence, the black moment passes, and the judge relaxes his fist.
“Is your client prepared to go to trial?” The judge asks.
“There will be no trial,” Sam says.
The courtroom murmur gets much louder. Surprised and irritated, the judge bangs his gavel to restore order.
Sam clears his throat. He looks down at the man beside him. Again, the man is staring down at his folded hands, but there is something really strange about him this time. It is like he is not there as much as he had been before. Sam senses that if he were to stare at the man long enough he literally would start to see through him.
Sam looks back at the judge before getting another verbal reprimand. Sam is about to cross a bridge he will not be able to uncross. The cold sweat on his brow is a kind of punctuation for that fact.
“My client is prepared to change his plea,” Sam says.
Again, the courtroom erupts, and the judge gavels everyone back to order. He folds his arms before his chest like a boy about to have a temper tantrum. The judge had looked forward to the prospect of a trial, since he would have had so many more opportunities to fuck with that criminal defense lawyer.
“What does your client plea?” The judge asks.
Sam wipes the sweat from his brow. He glances at the man. As expected, Sam sees that the man is a ghost flashing in and out of view.
Sam looks back at the judge. He clears his throat, and then says what he says with more conviction frankly than anything he has ever said before.
“Guilty,” Sam responds.
Surprisingly, the courtroom does not erupt this time. On the contrary, it is as silent as an empty room. The invasive stares are gone too. Sam glances back in time to see all the lawyers vanish into thin air. The court clerk sticks around long enough to shake his head in disgust, and then he too vanishes to wherever it is lawyers and lawyer wannabes go when the shit show is over.
The lights dim, so that the courtroom is pitch black except for a spotlight on the judge and another spotlight on Sam and his dematerializing client. The room is terribly cold, and the words spoken next echo like a frightened whisper inside of a mausoleum after hours.
The judge faces the man in chains. He must see that the man is flashing in and out of existence more rapidly. He smiles at this clear indication that the defendant is weaker than him. If the judge has been robbed of the fun of a trial, then at least he is going to relish the moment he can pass sentence on a scumbag. The judge sees in his mind the dark corner of hell where he will be sending this man, and he contrasts the vision with the privileged life he has. That makes him feel good.
“Are you aware of the possible ramifications of changing your plea to guilty?” The judge asks with the solemn undertone of a professor challenging a student who has started to tremble before his dissertation board.
The man snaps out of existence altogether, and the spotlight rests only on the trembling criminal defense lawyer. Sam now feels everything that that man had felt, and with raw anxiety he almost falls to his knees.
The judge faces Sam. He leans forward, and lengthens his smile at his victim.
“What say you?” The judge asks.
“Yes, your Honor,” Sam mutters.
“What, councilor?” The judge asks, while he mockingly cups both of his ears.
“I understand the ramifications,” Sam says more clearly.
The judge lowers his hands. He folds them solemnly on the bench, and for the moment at least he drops his demonic grin. He wants to seem serious and impartial for the record with what is about to happen.
“The Court accepts your guilty plea,” the judge says.
“Yes, your Honor,” Sam says.
“And the Court is prepared to render its sentence,” the judge continues.
The judge’s eyes glow hot red. Steam flutters upward from his doughy jowls. His black robe turns the color of crimson blood, and horns break out from inside his skull behind his ears. His face melts away into something reminiscent of a black bull with severe facial burn wounds. The face would be hideous, but thankfully the steam obscures most of it.
Though the steam spreads across the dark room, and envelopes Sam in what feels like murky tentacles, Sam does not feel the heat. On the contrary, he is frozen in his terror. Apart from opening his mouth into an unvoiced scream, he does not move at all. He sees black forms approaching him from behind the bench, and he hears the rattling chain of handcuffs.
“The Court issues a sentence of confinement in the nether regions of Hell for fifty-two years,” the judge says in a gravelly voice that sounds more monstrous than human. “That is one year for every year you have been alive in this world and a dark stain on her memory.”
The bailiff and a guard step into Sam’s spotlight. The guard snaps handcuffs over Sam’s trembling wrists, and the bailiff prepares to escort him to the side door.
“May God have mercy on your pitiful soul,” the judge scoffs. “Though I doubt you will feel His mercy down there in the pit.”
The spotlights switch off, and Sam is a blind man in a dark room. He hobbles forward between the bailiff and the guard toward a jail cell he cannot even begin to fathom. He tries to shut his mouth, but he cannot. His unvoiced scream is frozen on his face, and will remain that way for the duration of his stay in his little corner of Hell.