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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Actions Speak Louder than Words" (without using the actual phrase). (02/21/08)

TITLE: Imprisoned
By JoAnne Potter


The room hushed as Jack rose to speak. He used no notes, but looked down at his own folded hands as though they held every thought. He began so quietly that those seated at the back strained to hear.

“We are all prisoners. Evil fuels and nurtures the world that houses us. The laws we make and defend accomplish a deceptive purpose to replace one resident evil with another. The civil freedoms for which we debate and legislate and wage war all exist only as fantasy, no more corporeal than smoke quickly swept away. This world tolerates no justice, no progress, no accumulating good, no honest liberty. If we are to truly live, we must fight to escape.”

Jack raised his eyes, clear and laser-blue, to engage the assembly. His voice took on weight and volume, overlapping all the long years of words, heavy as stones, laid down before him in this high-ceilinged, porticoed hall.

“If this country, indeed this world, has any hope, we have to rise above the natural prison of evil laws made by inevitably flawed men. We must recognize a higher law, a law that judges according to a man’s heart. This law, and only this law, administers true justice. Only this law upholds genuine liberty. The civil law by which men control one another can only feebly substitute. Once we acknowledge the existence of a genuine freedom that supercedes the false, can we, in good conscience, settle for less?”

No foot tapped. No skirt rustled. The assembly inhaled, then waited. He quieted again and released his last words as an Olympian god might release merciful clouds in a whisper that only slips away.

“Ladies and gentlemen, consider this: a world finally and forever set free from the bonds of small minded men bent on base revenge, from justice administered by cruel law or misguided mercy. We have the power to reach beyond these, toward heaven itself, and lay hold of a divine Truth, a Truth that no mere man-made law can influence. That is why you are here. You have the opportunity to do this today.” He looked into each raised eye. “Look beyond the tyranny of the obvious. Free me. Free yourselves.”

Silence came then and, when Jack sat down, few noticed. Those present fixed their eyes instead on another object, a distant dream. Jack had unmasked this hopeless world and cracked open heaven’s gate. All who listened yearned to look inside.

Minutes later, after the jury box emptied, two gray-uniformed sheriff’s deputies guarding the courtroom door exchanged a long look. One shook his head slowly. “I didn’t expect that. When he asked for permission to speak in his own defense, I thought he’d talk about why he shot old Judge Bannerman.”

“Yeah, me too. Half the town saw him do it. Poor old judge was as honest as the day is long. Jack and his high falutin’ ideas never did make no sense. All that talk about evil. Shootin’ a good man’s evil enough for me. He would’ve had a better chance just makin’ a bunch of excuses. Wonder why he didn’t?”

Both men watched as Jack finally stood up in his orange jumpsuit and shuffled back toward the door that led downstairs to the jail. The bright chains that bound his hands and feet rattled in clunking echo long after he disappeared.

“On second thought, maybe he did after all.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw02/29/08
Engaging story. Some of the font was all whacked out on my computer, but it may have just been mine. That made it more difficult to read. Very mysterious speech until the end made it clear.