Voices rumbled throughout the courtroom, accompanied by a rapping from the judge’s gavel. “That’s enough,” he demanded, his booming voice rising above all others. As things quieted he turned to the defendant.
“Am I to understand you’re pleading guilty?” he asked.
Thaddeus T. Wolfe nervously pawed the noose, uh, tie around his neck and turned toward the judge. “Your Honor, I admit to the things they accuse me of, but not for the reasons they claim.”
Several cries of outrage erupted in the courtroom. Once again the gavel, coupled with a grave look from the judge, demanded silence.
“Interesting. Go on Mr. Brooks. I’m sufficiently intrigued.”
Mr. Brooks, defense lawyer extraordinaire, hid a slight smile with a brief, thoughtful-looking rub of his chin. “Mr. Wolfe. Would you please explain your side of the story?”
Thaddeus leaned forward. A glitter of anger flashed between his eyes and even hit one tooth as he sunk into his tale.
“I live close to the edge of the forest and own several acres of surrounding land, including a portion of the field just west of the village.”
Mr. Brooks jumped into action, retrieving a form. “Defense enters Exhibit A, a map of Mr. Wolfe’s land.” He then nodded for Thaddeus to continue.
“Several months ago I noticed sheep grazing on my land. I warned their owner he was trespassing.”
“And who would this owner be?”
“That boy there,” Thaddeus said, pointing to a young man sitting in the front row. “The next day he was right back on my land, this time playing a prank on some of the village people by crying out ‘wolf!’ Once again I warned him off, but he didn’t listen. For three days this went on, until I finally decided he really should have a reason to cry ‘wolf.’ So I ate the sheep. Needless to say he hasn’t trespassed since then.”
The boy blushed furiously, unable to look at the judge when asked, “Is this true?”
“Yes your Honor,” he squeaked.
Mr. Brooks coughed a bit to hide his chuckle before turning back to the defendant. “Let’s move on to the next part of the story, Mr. Wolfe.”
Thaddeus, a little more relaxed than before, eyed three individuals huddled on one chair.
“About a month later there were things missing from my land: bails of hay from my barn, sticks I use for kindling, and even bricks from an old house I mean to renovate.”
As he mentioned each missing item Mr. Brooks pulled out pictures of his barn, woodpile, and the building in question.
“One night I decided to hide out and watch. That’s when I saw those three,” he pointed to the thieves, “sneaking in and taking my stuff. I tried to approach them the next day. I just wanted my things back, but they wouldn’t even open their doors. So I blew the first two houses down and took the hay and sticks back. I’m still trying to figure out how to retrieve the bricks.”
The three wrongdoers squealed a ‘yes’ when the judge asked them if it was true.
Mr. Brooks tried to keep his face grave at the second triumph. “And what about the last event?”
Thaddeus shuddered at the memory, his whiskers twitching. “That was the worst by far. I watched with my own eyes as Ms. Hood picked some of my best flowers for her granny without even asking. I wanted to teach her a lesson. So I disguised myself as her granny and tried to scare her. Unfortunately I was almost killed by that woodsman who just happened to be passing by.”
“Do you mean you never tried to eat Ms. Hood nor her granny?”
“Of course not. I’m a vegetarian!”
The judge looked toward the little girl in red. “Did Mr. Wolfe really try to eat you?”
Ms. Hood ran from the room crying, her red cape waving goodbye. Thaddeus’ chest puffed just a bit. Surely he’d be found innocent now.
The judge turned to Thaddeus. “Mr. Wolfe, what you did was very wrong. It’s true you were wronged and I understand you were looking for justice, but you crossed a line by taking things into your own hands.”
“No Mr. Wolfe. There are proper legal channels to go through when it comes to these instances. I’m obligated to sentence you to one year in a pound, and fined $500.”
The judge smacked his gavel on the desk. “Court adjourned!”
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