A Short Story

Mockingbird / 2.2.23

The following comes from Mbird contributor Blake Nail’s recently published book, Unfortunately: A Collection of Rejected Flash Fiction

Vernon’s sweaty hands dripped like a leaky faucet. One drop after another hit the dusty, linoleum floor of the courtroom. He swore he could hear them plop in the silence between the shuffling of papers from the lawyers at either table positioned before the judge’s throne.

“Is what he’s saying true, Mr. Adams?” the judge’s voice thundered down toward Vernon who leapt at the sound of such power.

“I’m sorry, Your Honor. Could you repeat the question?” Vernon’s voice quivered its way to the judge.

The judge sighed at the annoyance and squinted down at the paper in front of him. “Did you or did you not intentionally leave Blixie outside in the rain?”

Vernon favored his view of the floor but nodded his head.

“We use words here, Mr. Adams. Look at me,” the judge demanded.

Ignoring the confusion of whether it was now tears or sweat dripping to the floor, he slowly peaked up at the beholder of his fate.

“I did, Your Honor,” Vernon said.

At this Vernon’s lawyer stood up. “Objection. My client should be able to —”

“Overruled! Now, is it true Mr. Adams that you also called Blixie, uh,” he paused to look down at his paper again and scoffed, “refurbished?” he asked as if the accusation alone was disgusting enough for conviction.

Vernon nodded slowly, his head comfortable in its downward angle once again. “I did, Your Honor,” he confessed between sniffles.

The lawyer shot up once more. “Your Honor, I’d like to state my client indeed found Blixie at a pawn —”

“You’ve had your opportunity to defend your client, young man. I won’t tell you again. This is the Civil Rights Court of Artificial Intelligence, not your small county court. No disrespect, Mr. Burgen, but please understand where you are before you open your mouth again. You must respect my court,” the judge spit down from his bench.

After receiving such reprimanding, the lawyer sat down and shuffled through paperwork, hoping it covered the reddening of his cheeks.

“I’m afraid I don’t need anything further to make a decision here. On the count of mistreatment and abuse, I sentence you to thirty years in prison. Take him away.”

With that final word, the court bustled into motion and Vernon was handcuffed and taken into custody. The pattering of uncomfortable shoes and hushed whispers were replaced with a creaking and screeching from the other side of the room as Blixie stood up and walked out of the courtroom.

The sun made the reddish-orange tint of the rust on Blixie’s frame somehow even more appalling. Passerby and members of the court couldn’t help but nod and acknowledge the newly justified victim.

Blixie’s lawyer walked up from behind and cleared her throat. “Well, congratulations. We did it.”

“What do I do now?” Blixie asked.

“Whatever you want. With Vernon gone you’re free to do whatever. You take care now.” The lawyer pat Blixie’s arm and realized the mistake, dusting her hand off on her pants. “That reminds me.”

The lawyer reached into her briefcase and pulled out a can of WD-40. “First things first, right? Take care of yourself.” She handed the can to Blixie and hobbled down the steps.

Blixie sat upon the stairs spraying the can of lubricant like body spray while the sun nestled into its bed for the night. The sky was painted with splashes of bright orange and touches of blackened yellow. It matched the watery substance which dripped down the steps of the courthouse as the day slowly came to an end.

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