Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Cooking or Baking (01/04/07)
- TITLE: Utter Nonsense
By Loren T. Lowery
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“You’re a fool, someone whispered from the gallery. “You’ll pay – just wait and see.”
“Quiet in the court!” The judge bellowed out, punctuating his words with the slam of his gavel.
The defendant glanced up and heaved a sigh, its mournful sound hanging in the air like night vapor over a southern bayou.
“I believe in you, John. Don’t give up!” A woman cried out.
The maple gavel slammed down once again. “If there is one more outburst,” the judge yelled, “I will have this courtroom emptied.”
The room became quiet, the pendulum clock to the right of the bench ticked, breaking the silence and chimed: bong, bong.
The defendant bent his head, musing: since when was setting the oven too high to bake cookies a capitol offense. Sure, it overheated and burned down the house, killing three people. But good grief he never took Home Economics in high school so how was he to know.
Besides, there wasn’t any warning on the recipe saying: Danger, baking cookies may be dangerous to one’s self, friends, family or home and may lead to criminal charges. He knew this, because he had read the fine print and showed it to his attorney. Or, at least would have, had the recipe not been burned in the fire with everything else.
He was innocent and prayed the jury would see that. Of course, that one of the jurors (his wife’s mother) was kin to one of the victims was a little worrisome. His attorney pointed that out, but the judge said that in a town as small as this one, it would be next to impossible to find anyone not related to someone else.
Besides, the judge went on reasoning, there was another man on the jury who had never baked a lick in his life either and that should pretty much equal things out – tit for tat so to speak.
John looked at his bandaged burned hands and said aloud, “Wish I’d never called her an ole goat.”
Startled, his attorney asked, “Who?”
“My mother-in-law, that’s who. She sitting on the jury in case you forgot and, she just might hold a grudge.”
“Don’t worry, the judge explained all that. Now shush, you want to be in contempt of court?”
“Sounds better than hanging for burning some cookies.” He looked around, murmuring, “Bet Perry Mason would never talk to his clients like that.”
Just then the bailiff came up to the judge and whispered in his ear. Moments later the jurors sauntered out and took their places in the jury box.
“Billy Bob,” the judge stated, “I understand there is a question you’d like answered by the court.”
The foreman twirled a straw hat in his hand and looked down at his feet. “Yes, Uncle Ray. You see it’s about those numbers on the turn knob.”
“Yes, go on,” the judge encouraged.
“Those numbers were burned off and now we’re hung up on where that knob was pointing. If you hold it one way it can read 500 degrees, but turn in upside down it might read 200. We can’t seem to get past it.”
“The place burned down!” The judge fumed. “Now get back in there a do what the state’s paying you for.”
Billy Bob hesitated and the judge asked, “Is there something else?”
“Well, it’s about overtime.”
“You see Henry,” he pointed to one of the jurors, “he’s never worked at as good a rate as the state’s paying; and, he was wondering if we get time and half. You know if our deliberating goes on for more than eight hours.”
John rolled his eyes in disbelief. “I’m going to hang. It’s my wife’s fault, she made me bake those cookies.”
Just then, the clock clicked and began to chime once again: bong, bong, bong. As it did, John heard a voice coming at him from a distance.
“John, John, John, wake up. You fell asleep watching Perry Mason and those cookies you put in the oven are about done. They look and smell heavenly, and here you said baking would give you nightmares. Nonsense,” she said, kissing him awake. “Utter nonsense.”
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