The vintage ceiling fan whirled clunky and slow, most likely off course for as long as the two in orange jumpsuits had been breathing. No one seemed to notice; all eyes were fixed towards the front.
“All rise! Judge Didi Reelydoit presiding!”
Gasps escaped from those who had never had the occasion of witnessing the lady judge whose flame-red hair covered her black robe almost to her knees. Her dramatic affectation cloaked a secret all the locals of Savannah knew. Judge Didi Reelydoit was a savant.
The court was in session this hot, humid day in August with a most common case of thievery. Two young boys had been charged with stealing watermelons. Farmer Russell Sprout had given eyewitness testimony how he had witnessed the deed. Standing up on the witness stand he shouted and wagged his finger at Lou Pohl and his brother Tad.
“I seen these two troublemakers run from my fields and I tell you it ain't the first time neither! Judge, you gotta do somethin 'fore they steal me blind!”
“I object, your honor, ma'am! He's intimidating my clients by his shouting and pointing fingers. These are fine young men and I intend to prove they are as innocent as a bride in June.”
Attorney Rex Easley knew his way around a courtroom almost as well as he knew his way around most Savannah bedrooms.
The prosecution attorney was on his feet and ready to do battle. Never one to accept losing a case, Attorney Gil T. Azell, vigorously loosened his tie as he stared angrily at the judge.
“We have eyewitness testimony, Judge! Russell saw them do it!”
The fall of the gavel quieted them all. Judge Didi Reelydoit looked at the two young boys sitting calmly at the defense table.
“Rex, do you have evidence to refute Russell's sworn testimony? Witnesses?”
“As a matter of fact I do, Judge. I call Lou Pohl to the stand.”
Tad punched his older brother who had failed to hear his name called. Lou was like that. He could tune out anything and anyone.
Lou stood slowly and walked to the front, putting his hand on the Bible and swearing to tell the truth. The coarse feed sack shirt was tucked into pants that were a couple sizes too large. Lou turned and faced the judge instead of looking at the gathered crowd or attorneys.
“Lou, tell the court how old you are.”
“Sixteen, last June sir.”
“And Tad, how old is he?”
“Fourteen. He'll be fifteen in December.”
“Now, Lou, I'm going to ask you a very important question and I want you to tell the truth. This is a court of law and truth is what justice is all about.”
“You heard Farmer Sprout tell this court he saw you and Tad stealing his watermelons. The evidence against you boys is his eyewitness testimony. He knows what he saw. So, someone's lying. Tell the court, is Farmer Sprout lying, son?”
Lou turned and looked at Farmer Sprout. “No sir, he's not lying. Farmer Sprout's a good hard-working man and treats his family real nice. He's no liar. But, we didn't steal his watermelons.”
“Can you explain to this court what he saw?”
“Well, he saw me and Tad alright. That's true. We was in his fields. Tad and me, well we been eatin' watermelons up there for years. It's the best ground in the county for growin' melons. We break open a ripe melon to get the seeds out, so to speak. Course, we eat the melon, wouldn't want to waste it. Then we put the seeds back in the ground like the Good Book says. You know, unless it falls into the ground and dies...if it dies it brings forth much fruit.”
“And you've been doing this for years? Growing your own watermelons in Farmer Sprout's fields?”
“Yes, sir. Real good ones, too.”
“Your Honor, I rest my case. What some may see as thieves sitting before us, I choose to see as planters of seeds and I pray you will as well.”
Lou and Tad have a clean record to this day. Lou became pastor of the local Baptist Church that was built on land donated by Farmer Sprout. Tad is off on foreign soil, telling others about Jesus.
I guess you can say both are still sowing seeds.
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