William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Thirty-One

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“She’s going to be really old.”  Alice ducked to avoid a protestor’s sign.  ‘Terminate the Governor,’ it read.  ‘He’s a robot slave of the prison guards’ union.’

“Technically, he’s a cyborg slave,” Carson informed the middle-aged state worker holding the sign.  “There’s still living tissue in there, somewhere deep within Schwarzenegger’s heart.  I’m sure of it.”

“She’s going to be really old,” Alice repeated.  “Ruth Black.”

Carson shook his head.  “That’s what we thought about Millicent Sorrows and she looks about sixty.”

When they reached the visitors area of courtroom number two, Julia sat as Carson wedged his wheelchair into a federally-mandated section of tiled floor that still bore the imprint of the bench segment that had been removed.  “With all your sleuthing talents,” she said, “you’re still telling me we know nothing about this woman?”

Alice shook her head.  “I sat with him in his fetid lair at the computer, and we managed to find absolutely nothing on Ruth Black.”

“I have a twenty dollar bet that she’s going to look forty years old at the most,” Carson said.  “Alice thinks she’ll look eighty.”

They stopped talking as the bailiff brought the court into session and the judge stumbled in.  They listened with unanticipated interest for the first two cases.  A newlywed couple had purchased a home and wanted a fence.  The fence they wanted was too high.  The judge denied their petition and they wept openly.

“Dear God.”  Carson held his face in his hands.  “Is there no justice?”

The second case involved a laundromat that wanted to serve ice cream.  It was being challenged by the ice cream shop next door.  The judge, bringing the weight of his tired wisdom to bear, allowed that the ice cream could be sold if the laundromat could provide a clean lint-free environment, which they admitted they could not.

South Sacramento Wildlife Fund versus the Ruth Black Foundation was the third item on the roster.  Julia, Alice, and Carson scanned the courtroom for their intended victim.

“Council for the plaintiff,” announced a rail thin man with bushy red hair, as he rose from the front aisle.

“Is Ms. Ruth Black in the courtroom?” the judge called out.

A woman sitting in the front row stood and removed her sunglasses.  “Marea Raley, your honor.  I’m here to represent Ms. Black.”

“The summons was for her personally,” the judge said.

“Ruth Black is 103 years old,” the woman answered, approaching the bench.  “She suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure.  Furthermore, she has been partially incapacitated for most of the past year due to a small stroke.  I trust the court will allow me to speak in her behalf.  I have documented power of attorney.”

Alice nudged Carson.  “It’s her.”


“The woman from the compound.  She’s the one who turned us away; you know, the one who excited you.”

“Holy shit, it is her.  She looks totally different here.  She looks kind of hot.”

“Are you a lawyer?” the judged asked.

“I was once,” Marea Raley said.  “I don’t practice, but my license is intact and I am qualified to present a legal argument.”

“Works for me,” said the judge.  “Let’s have at it.”

The red-haired lawyer began.  “I’m here on behalf of the South Sacramento Wildlife Fund.  My client is concerned with the threatened habitat of the Pinecone Badger.”

He turned as Marea Raley approached.  “It’s an endangered animal,” he continued, slightly unnerved.

“This property,” the lawyer continued, “was willed and decreed a habitat for these animals, and the current property exceeds commonly-accepted standards for accommodation and…”  He paused, looked again at Marea Raley and then back at his notes.  “Can I take a moment, your honor,” he said, sitting abruptly.

“Are you feeling well?” the judge asked.

“I think, yes, I just need to just sit for a minute.”

“You look pale,” Marea Raley said.  She walked over and put her hand on his wrist to feel for a pulse.

He reacted instantly, jerking his hand away.  “What?  What is this?”

“I’m just trying to help.”

“Do we need a break here?” asked the judge.  “You could get some juice.”

“I’m fine.”  The lawyer rubbed his eyes.  “I just feel faint.  Is it OK if I sit?”

The judge nodded.  “We’ll continue.”

“Yes, sir,” the lawyer said.  “The estate was deeded to the Ruth Black Foundation by the late Condor Nyle, who stipulated that the property become a refuge for these animals.  But over the past few years, the estate has become a women’s spa.  Sanitation has become an issue; the badger’s habitat is now endangered.  We are requesting that the owners vacate the property for a period of thirty years so that the habitat can be restored.”

“Vacate the property for thirty years?” the judge repeated.  “You want me to shut down a women’s facility for a badger.”

“Yes, your honor,” the lawyer said.  “The Pinecone Badger has rights under federal law.  This time period is the recommendation of the World Wildlife Foundation, who has agreed to fund an appeal should you rule against us.”

“You might want to go ahead and set that up,” the judge said.  “Let’s hear from opposing counsel.”

“We love the badgers.”  Marea Raley walked slowly towards the bench.  “And we agree that they deserve a habitat.  We have seventeen women in residence, your honor.  We’re vegetarians; we live quietly.  But we are prepared to adopt the usage of  portable toilet facilities.  This will fulfill our needs and thus free the badgers to make what use of the natural streams as they may.”

The judge stared at her, half-grinning.  “You are very disconcerting,” he said.  “But your argument works for me.  Any problems with that?”

The opposing lawyer shrugged.  “I’ll recommend that we try it for a year and then reassess.”

“Done,” said the judge.

Marea Raley shut her briefcase and walked around the table.  The lawyer gave her a wide berth.  She came down the center aisle, stopped next to Carson, and pulled an envelope from her jacket pocket.

Carson gasped.

“Ms. Black asked me to give this to you,” she said, extending the envelope to Julia.  “She suggested you read it when you are alone.”

Julia looked down at the envelope and saw her name printed there.  “Why are you interested in me?”

“I’m not,” Marea answered, walking away.

“That was odd,” Alice said.  “And look at you, Carson.  Why are you looking all dumb?”

“Did you feel that?”

“Feel what?”

“Feel her.  That lawyer did.  The judge did.”

“What are you talking about?” Julia asked.

“Why do you think that lawyer sat down?”

“Looked like he got sick,” Julia said.

Carson shook his head.

“No way,” said Alice.  “You’re saying he got an erection when she came near him?”

Carson nodded.  “The judge too.”

“And you too, right?”

“I could cut glass.”

Written by williamdoonan

April 18, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Posted in Fiction, MedicineLand

One Response

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  1. I like that you use a lot of dialogue. Easy to adapt for screenplays. Smart. 🙂

    marta chausée

    April 20, 2013 at 1:22 am

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