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Circus Madness: A Novella: (Part Three)
Collaborators: me, wingedcentaur and Doc LS (known as the "Moppet")
"All what?" she said.
George referred to the ears, the tail, and the furry, floppy feet.
"This is how attorneys dress for court here," she said.
The case proceeded. The prosecutor put on his case and called his witnesses, which the defense cross examined. All of these people, whom George had never laid eyes on his entire life, but claimed to know all about him, took the stand.
One of the witnesses for the prosecution was a contractor. The prosecutor asked him, "Why didn't complete the work of rubberizing the defendant's roof?"
"Because his check bounced."
The whole court erupted in laughter. Judge Kang rapped his gavel and through his human baliff, called for order in the court.
Mr. Mustache, whose real name is Zanzibar The Magnificent, alone, rose and shouted, "Monsieur, that is not funny. Need I remind you of why we are all here? Bobo is dead! Bobo is deaaaaad!"
The defense put on its case and called its witnesses, which the prosecution cross examined. There had been precious few witnesses for the defense compared to the multitudes that had lined up to lynch him on the prosecution side.
By the way, if that kangaroo looks familiar to you, dear reader, he should. That is the same kangaroo who had been with Zanzibar The Magnificent on the dirigible, on that fateful day, when Bobo had lost his life, ten years ago. Judge Roo Rufus Kang had been with Zanzibar for years, first working summers during his high school years, then part-time while in college, full time during his vacation periods.
Later he worked with Zanzibar to supplement a partial scholarship to law school. With surprising speed and thoroughness, the kangaroo clans have emerged into a position of singular preeminence in the legal profession. Kangaroos have come to dominate the federal bench at a ratio of one to four. The clans are represented almost as well on the state and municipal courts. These developments have come with interesting consequences for judicial procedure in this world.
Kangaroos are fully sentient, of course, but they do not have the human vocal cord arrangement. Their speech consists of a series of clicks, squeaks, and clatters. Judge Kang clicked, squeaked, and clattered something and the human baliff said, "Counsel, closing arguments."
The prosecutor stood up and said his peace and sat down. Then the defense stood up and said her peace and sat down. Judge Kang clicked, squeaked, and clattered something and the baliff said, "Counsel, final closing arguments."
Both attorneys got up, grabbed their pogo sticks, and went before the bench. The baliff nodded and the two lawyers commenced hopping up and down on their pogo sticks, for an interminable length of time. Finally the defense attorney got tired and lost her coordination, so that she faltered. But the prosecutor bounced on triumphantly, beaming from ear to ear.
A downtrodden looking defense attorney returned to the table. She said, "I'm very sorry, Mr. Sanders. I'm so sorry."
Judge Kang clicked, squeaked, and clattered something which the baliff translated as: "Judge Kang will give his verdict and if necessary pronounce sentence, six weeks from now."
As he was escorted back to prison,there were people outside talking to a roving reporter -- an upright walking, English-speaking, greyhound canine wearing a trench coat, called McHuffberg (a decorated army sergeant, former cop, and private eye-turned-journalist).
People were saying things like: "Too bad for old Sanders, 'specially being new to this dimension and all."
"That defense bar hasn't had a decent hopper in their ranks for fifteen years!"
"I know I wouldn't want a public defender hopping for my life. That's for sure.
"But the bottom line is Bobo is dead. Bobo The Great is dead."
"That little fella sure was broken up about it."
"That Sanders guy is new to this place and unfamiliar with our ways."
A farmer came over and spit out some tobacco juice. As he stuffed another wedge of the stuff into his cheek he said, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse. You know that. 'sides its common sense. Do you need a law to tell you to rubberize your roof? Its just what you do, you rubberize your roof. Am I right? You dadgummit rubberize your roof! You just rubberize your roof."
Back at prison one of the guards explained things to George. He said that Judge Kang was tough but fair and that he would weigh all of the evidence very carefully before coming to a decision. The hopping contest was another piece of the picture for kangaroo judges.
"What piece?" George asked reasonably.
"Kangaroo judges believe that a measure of a being's integrity is in his ability to hop with coordination for long periods of time."
"This isn't happening," George said.
Later that night while watching television in the recreation room, he saw a program of late night news and analysis. The program had a host and a panel of pundits sitting around talking about the news and events of the day. The learned commentary went like this:
"Jack, there's just no denying the fact that Bobo is dead."
"Stan's right, Jim. I mean, you know, Bobo was alive before he went to George Sander's restaurant. And then he was dead when he left."
"In fact, Mary, you could say that Bobo actually never left the place alive. He never had a chance of leaving the place alive because he was dead on arrival at the vile establishment."
"Bobo is dead. Bobo is dead."
"Is it really as simple as that? Is it really murder when an elephant falls through your roof?"
"Come on, Steve. You know as well as I do that the failure to rubberize your roof is a capital offense. Always has been. You liberals are always complexifying straightforward legal issues."
"I'm pretty sure that's not a word, Tom."
"What's not a word, Roger?"
"If you wanted to say we liberals are always making simple issues more difficult than they need to be, you should have used the word 'complicating.'"
"You're splitting hairs, you know what I -"
"There ought to be a law against that."
"Making up words. Why go to the trouble of building up a society, creating culture, and all the rest, a language, if people are just going to trample all over it."
"Save the catfight for the bedroom, you two. I want to get into some analysis of the courtroom strategy of the lawyers."
"I've followed the career of the prosecuting attorney for fifteen years and he's never been more effective."
"And he's a damn fine hopper."
"The best I've seen in forty years of covering the court."
"Its not all about the hopping."
"Sure the hopping is just one component of the considerations Judge Kang will take into account in making his decision."
George Sanders was breaking out of prison. That's just all there was to it. The whole being in another dimension thing was problematic, but he thought he could best sort that out outside the prison walls. As for the pundits, their conversation deteriorated into some jocularity about the underdevelopment of the thigh muscles of the defense attorney. One of the male pundits remarked that he would be glad to help her develop her legs, "... if you know what I mean," he said. Ha Ha.
Finally something interesting happened. A woman burst onto the scene, rushed the table and grabbed a microphone. She spoke into it. "People of Kwaljuk, hear me. For twenty years I've been collecting evidence of a conspiracy that goes to the highesl levels of government and the corporate community, to subvert justice and twist our beloved democracy into a privatized dictatorship for the benefit of the top five percent of richest families..."
Security guards came and began to wrestle her away. "They... they.... they've been doing experiments in genetic engineering for thirty years. That prosecutor in the George Sanders case, is part kangaroo. How's anybody supposed to get a fair trial when the prosecuting attorney has illegally been spliced with kangaroo DNA. Kangaroos have a natural advantage in hopping, for God's sake."
As the woman disappeared with the security guars we heard her say, "He's part kangaroooooo."
"Maniac," one of the pundits said.
"Conspiracy theories," another of them said.
George's lawyer came to see him the next day. Sans the ears, floppy feet, and the tail. He asked her about this.
"That's only for court," she said.
"Oh," he said. "Listen, you need to get a subpoena to get that prosecutor's DNA tested."
"Get his DNA tested to see if he's part kangaroo."
"What are you talking about? We don't have the ability to do that," She shook her head. "Listen, I know how we'll beat this on appeal. We'll get the military records. You are the son of a great military hero."
"What military records? Of who?"
"Your father," she said producing an empty bucket of fried chicken with a picture of an old man on it with glasses, "the captain. He was the very best fry cook of the First Armored Culinary Division when we were fighting the dolphins."
"Why were you fighting the dolphins?"
"It was World War Cook Off Three, the big one," she said. "Your father's special recipes and secret herbs and spices really turned the tide for our side. But a lot of people think the dolphins used the internationally banned substance MSG in their cooking. So that's it. That's the answer."
"What's the answer?"
"We will argue that you were exposed to toxic levels of MSG through your father. MSG poisoning has been known to cause brain damage in the children of veterans. Not guilty by reason of diminished capacity. That's what it is, Mr. Sanders, diminished capacity."
"Oh God," he said, putting his head in his hands.
During his stay at prison, in casual interaction with a few of the other inmates, George actually did pick up bits and pieces of information that had some bearing on his predicament. He learned that this dimension was a home, of sorts, to everyone in it, who had come from somewhere else. Somehow George, it seems, had brought himself here. And he can only leave when he is ready to do so.
At first he had thought such talk was the nonsense spouted by random kooks, but he received confirmation of this from sources he came to consider more credible. But what was with all the talking animals? And why was it that kangaroos were sentient yet not able to speak human? But their panda bear jailers appeared to have no problem speaking English.