Its later, I've shit myself.
He didn't even need to get up to find that one out. He was in a state of disorder. Covered in sweat his limbs feeling quite heavy, struggling like a stolen gorilla to prevent the hallucinations from taking over. He leans forward, doubled over, on the wall which earlier had blocked his way whilst trying to squeeze passed the three thugs. As he stands up further, the blood surges through his body, and he sees it pissing to the floor; this is very bad.
He begins walking slowly, though is aimless of where to go. Not knowing where he his or how soon he must receive help, he dials his mobile phone.
"And your mother took you to the hostpital?"
"That is correct your honour."
He stood in the dock looking straight back into the fires, which were the awesome eyes of the judge. He sensed the trembling in his voice.
"You know you really do look familiar, are you sure we haven't met?
"Quite sure, look, they took samples and ran tests, then told me they could reconstruct my face. With wretched injures like those I had to follow their advise. But look at me, I'm twenty years older, how did that happen? And my friends don't even recognise me, they all think I'm just some old silly sod from the market. Except for my lover, she believes me."
"And she is here to vouch for your character today, am I correct?"
"That is correct your honour."
"Please, call me Sandy. We are here today merely to establish whether or not there are any good grounds for a night out in the town.". For a short break in town would be warrented, if the injures inflicted were considerable or dramatic enough. "Now, would you like to explain to the court, briefly, why you have brought allegations upon the Hospital Devine for their alleged actions, in which it is claimed your face underwent a complete transformation?"
"Well, the first time I came around it was in a very brightly lit room, though I couldn't quite hear their voices..."
-Nurse? We are going to need a trolly and the x-ray.-
"I remember being very scarred but thought that this must be routine."
-What kind of jelly shall I rub onto his head Doctor, the promotional one or this old one?-
"Well, this wet and smelly stuff was all over my head and the drugs I had taken earlier, at the party, were wearing off. I'd have been anyones bitch for a fast-forward or two, they make you buzz like a fire work display when you're on them, and a few hours ago I had been. Then I remember feeling very sick....."
-What's that smell?-
-I think its something in his trousers doctor.", she giggled then said, "What are you doing later?-
-Well I thought I'd kick back with some of those methylene-dioxymethamphetamines, maybe slap on some country sounds and try, like I'm endangered, to shag something...-
-Yes, and I know what will be in your trousers too!-
-Stand clear nurse, I'm going to fire!-
"The x-ray machine fired its rays. And then I must have blacked out again."
"So you did not, at any time, see their faces?"
"No, because, as I explained to the Court Marshall earlier on the way in, they had taken my sunglasses off."
In the neighbourhoods, if one had a quarrel, those of civilised habit went to their instant judgement centre. This court belonged to a chain of courts, Faircliffs (The all in one, stroll through, one stop judgement centres - "the kind choice for fairer speach") which had a good reputation throughout the land, and could offer the customer a fine selection of reparations, such as for example a night out on the town or a week off work. Each centre had a Court Marshall, who allocates a trained judge to reside over the quarrell. This could usually be done the same day, and so made the system both convenient and easy to use; whether you be a first-timer or an experienced quarreller.
"Can you see me?
"Well, do you normally have to wear sunglasses? To see that is?"
"I'm an actor, of course I do.", the judge lent a little closer and sighed as if he hadn't heard the reply, "Okay, okay, the room was, as I said, very bright - too bright for my eyes to have adjusted."
It was customary that the judge, before bringing the case to the floor, will have had a short chat with both the plaintiff and defendant, just minutes before the hearing takes place. The intention behind this chat was to give rise to some form of common accord, as to the manner and expected replies to questions which both sides had agreed would be asked; no more than three questions from either side could be made to the other, though they were allowed to ask the same question over and over again. When all the questions had been given replies which were satisfactory a conclusion, often made by the judge, would be given. This, Faircliffs say, has caused a revolution in justice, by demonstrating the efficiency with which legal matters can be resolved.
"So, these people who you allege have ruined your life, could not be told apart, by you, for Adam?"
"But, what about their records, the hospital must have kept records - they must know!"
"They may very well keep records, young man, but in respect of their constitution which states clearly that: 'The client's confidentiality is paramount and shall come before all else.', these records shall never be known."
"This must be some kind of a joke! This is a cover-up, that's what this is! You're all having a little bit of a laugh aren't YOU!? You're all in on this, I know. You're all LIARS! LIARS!"
"Oh do be quite! Or I will hold you in contempt damn it.", the judge sat back in his high chair and smiled, "The red cross on the white square of the Hospital Devine, is not just a label; it is an emblem so steeped in history that neither you nor I could possibly question its meaning or grace. And if it is indeed a symbol which has made strong and inspired us all, then in short, it is an icon for this land's ethical dexterity, and as such, will keep us great. Am I correct?"
"But there must..."
"Ah, ah ah. Let the court not have to remind you the penalty for contempt, which is indeed to be labeled a scallywag. Am I clear?"
"You are clear."
"Your honour. Oh, errr, I mean, Sandy."
"Splendid! Now, lets go to the debate!", the judge stood galantly and raised both his arms, "Defence ready!? You may proceed and call your witness."
Barrister calls first witness. She steps to the dock and stands to be sworn in.
"Madam, you are Ms Shandy Wilson of no fixed abode?"
"Yes my lord."
"And you are a long time acquaintance of the plaintiff?"
"Yes, my lord."
"Then do you hereby swear, on the Book of Bibble, to tell the truth, good truth, and nothing but this truth?"
"I do solemnly swear, my lord."
"You may sit down."
The prosecuting barrister was large and balding, and he spoke with a resonance befitting of a king.
"Ms Wilson, I put it to you that your boyfriend is of an unpredictable nature and so cannot be relied upon to describe events with any real degree of accuracy. That your bloke, in no uncertain terms, is wasting the courts time. What do you say to this?"
"Oh no, I'd say that he was most predictable, my lord, good natured and accurate too."
"I put it to you madam, that your boyfriend is a liar and that there was never any such visit to the hospital, and that nor was there ever any such facial surgery, to which it was infered by his statement to have occured, performed there by them or anybody else. Is that no so Shandy?"
"But he'd never lie about a thing like that, would he? I mean he'd have to be pretty sick to do a thing like that, wouldn't he my lord?"
The judge looked weary and bored.
"Ms Wilson, you will refer to myself as your honour, to Mr Handler the public defender not once and will always address your replies clearly to this court. Is that clear?", he cleared his throat, "Then you may proceed."
Mr Handler looked up from the floor where he had been staring for a moment.
"Ms Wilson, does the man sitting before you resemble the man you loved?"
"Oh, I never loved him like."
"Well, does he look like the man you had...relations with?"
"No. Not at all. But it sounds like him, a bit. And he seems to have that exact same idiotic smile as the other one did."
"But it could be anyone? Is that not so madam?"
"Nice package too by the looks of it..."
"Is that him madam?!"
"We were out together, that night that he's on about."
"Oh so now you were with him at this mythical assprin-flat party, before the supposed attack took place. Is that so?"
"No I was never there, he'd gone out for a few drinks with his mates when it happened, the streets aren't safe anymore. One minute you're drinking with your mates, the next you're crushing assprins with them? I mean, what's going on? You should have seen his face though, he was a right sight. But men? They're all the same these days."
"Is that so madam? In my experience they tend not to be so alike. Some turn out to be quite the rascal.", he paused to stare for a moment, "Now, you knew your male friend would be going to this assprin flat party and that he would be taking drugs, am I correct about that madam?"
She looked across the court room to where her man was sitting, limp and pale next to his barrister; who had been her ex-husbands gay lover now for more years than she cared to remember. But he had a kindly face and had offered to represent him in this; which was a very grave matter indeed.
"Well, okay, he did say to me once that he had tried it."
"Yes, you sort of crush them up and then have someone else blow it into your eyes."
"Yes, yes, I am well aware of the manner in which to inflict them. Though you are not aware of your male friend having taken any other kinds of recreational drug. Is that so?"
"Such as fire-crackers or fast-forwards and the like?"
"Did your fella or did he not, once swallow what can only be described as an heroic dose of wide-boys and then proceed to finish the evening for himself, and many others by all accounts, by relieving himself from the top of the once fine Don Lun memorial archway?"
"Well I...errr...do you...he was...I mean...err"
"Answer the question madam, I need not have to remind you that you are under oath, and are sworn by the word of the Bibble."
"Objection your honour, the defence is leading the witness."
"Well of course he is, I mean it would not seem much of a defence if he didn't, would it? Though I will grant you that he does seem to have asked more than the allowed three questions. Therefore I need not have to remind the counsel for the defense that blasphemy is still an offence, no matter what guise it takes. Objection denied. Mr Handler, may we get to the point? Madam, you may answer the question."
"Yes, he did your honour."
"So would you agree madam, and testify to the fact that your boyfriend had a problem; that he was of an unpredictable nature?"
"Well, I errm...Yes, I suppose so."
"No further questions your honour."
"The witness may step down."
The judge drummed his fingers rapidly over his head, before rising once again to announce the case for the prosecution.
"The prosecution may call their witness!"
"Er, my lord, it has been conveyed to me that the the hospital operative on duty that day regrettably, due to their workload, will not be able to make an appearance in court today? However, they have most kindly provided this worded document detailing their question recommendations and susequent replies? Okay?"
"CRAP! It's a cover up!"
"Mr Keen, do please remain silent whilst the prosecution lays forth its case."
Mr Tim, the court prosecutor was young and spotty, and had the innotation in speach which made everything he said seem like a question.
"Will the court move for an actor to be brought forward?"
"It will. The court calls upon a Mr Gianni Rosa, who we are quite fortunate to have in my court today. Bailiff, if you will please?"
Gianni Rosa, an actor of some repute who had starred in such film classics as 'Goodmobsters' and 'The Daddy', strode through the court in his trademark style as a blistful awe passed over the public gallery and those stood around in the court. He wore a timeless three piece suit, which hummed the approach tune for his character from the film 'The Day of the Gansters'; his suits were specially made.
"Oh, well that's it then!"
"What is it, Mr Keen?"
"I don't stand a chance do I?"
"Mr Rosa is a fine actor, and has won many awards for his roles in such...wait a minute, bailiff?"
"Yes, your honour?"
"He's a little short, it seems. This is Mr Gianni Rosa, correct?"
Through repeated replies such as "Of course, your honour" and "I've seen all his films", Gianni continued to scowl at the judge for doubting his authenticity. The judge was quickly persuaded by the bailiff, and urged that the case be moved along. Mr Tim then handed the document to Gianni, who snatched it from him with a look of disdain on his face and then flicked his eyes across the page.
He stood to be sworn in.
"You were the operative on the night in question at the Hospital Devine?"
"Yeah, that's me. Wait a second. Don't I even get a name? I mean I know that a Devine is a pretty fine hospital if you can find one, you know what I mean? But you could have made one up! I mean, come on!?"
"How about....Ted Phillips? Will that do?", the judge smiled.
"No, no...it needs to be racey, yet edgy."
"Shane O'wire then?"
"LOOK, does it mattER?! I mean, DOes it really matter what you call him? I don't know why I came here in the first place?! Call him Billy 'the snake' Walker if you like, I don't care anymore, it's only going to be a farce from hereon in."
"Mr Keen! I shall have you restrained if necessary, now be silent.", the judge paused for a moment, "Gianni, can we press on?", he nodded back to the judge with the look of sincere intent which he had suddenly painted across his eyes. He was indeed a fine actor.
"Do you hereby swear, on the Book of Bibble, to tell the truth, good truth, and nothing but the this truth?"
"We do solomnly swear? Surely, that should be I do, not we do?", he looked at the Sandy.
"Mr Tim, kindly correct the document before proceeding with your prosecution."
Mr Tim took out his pen and then scribbled on the document a few times before skimming through its entire length of one page, in case there were any more errors.
"Err, how shall I address him your honour?"
"Erm, lets see...we'll proceed using his real name - Gianni Rosa.", the judge seemed lost in thought.
"Right okay then. Mr Rosa, was, in the night in question, there any operation of which it is described, performed by the Hospital Devine?"
"The operations that night did not include any such operation."
Mr Tim repeated his question, as best he could, several times and with a different emphasis on each attempt. But the answer remained the same and then was refused altogether by Gianni, who had grown irritable at being asked the same question.
This line of attack continued for a good few minutes before Mr Tim came about the defense's wall of denial to play his trump card. But, just then, the doors of the court chambers clattered open, and there were the king's men everywhere, just striding around in the foyer downstairs. And they would shortly be flooding courtroom one with their presence, as it wouldn't take them long to find it.
Mr Tim got as far as telling the court how Eugene was a poor match for wit and therefore could hardly have come up with such a fancy story as to attempt unlawful reparations from a court such as Faircliffs', when in came a torrent of masked men dressed in black with dark glasses. Everybody, and everything stopped. Then, in through the silence strode a man with a briefcase.
"Come sire, it is time we leave.", boomed the voice of Henry Birdy, the bodyguard to the king.
"Oh how Splendid! I knew he looked familiar. My liege, I make redress for my ignorance.", the judge bowed.
"This man is of no concern to you. And further more sir, this man is the copyright of F.A.T. Industries, and as such can answer no further questions.", the man said raising his brief case for all to see, then with daggers for eyes he said, "I will accord you the grace to end these proceedings in the appropriate manner."
Sandy bade a hasty retreat to his high chair, with its chrome surround and unmarked velvet coverings.
"You have ten seconds!", Henry barked.
Sandy sat looking straight ahead.
"The court may now rise. The case of Eugene Keen versus the hospital Devine and their discretion trusted sponsers - Swillavand, is hereby dismissed from this, fine court.", the judge paused for a moment, with some semblance of dignity still in tact, then stood with arms raised and said, "This court is adjourned!"
Supreme efficiency saw to it that a path had been cleared by the ear-phone toting guards, to lead the briefcase and King briskly away, to an awaiting airship bound for the F.A.T. complex downtown.
Shandy Wilson sat weeping, her tears shone and bled from her woken eyes. She loves me, Eugene thought how now he knew, that surely, this must mean she loved him.
He stumbled up the last few steps to the exit, close to Henry Birdy's side. Then looked round to see his Shandy one last time; there was no more he could do now, he was a tragic tale for sure. He had always sensed this would happen though, that one day, somehow, he would be great. The horrific implications of the crimes committed against him would score high for him on confidence; he would surely be popular now. I'm a tragedy, at last. He turned toward the awaiting door and with head down, was marched through the exit.
The forceful men with ear-phones were getting rowdy now, but were still leaving without too much ado. The ones nearest Shandy though, were calling her a filthy slut one more time before they left, and she cried even more elaborately than the first time they had done it. This time they were chanting it though, over and over. It didn't last long however, as it was their turn to join, what was now, a procession of them leaving courtroom one.
"Faircliffs thanks you for making the fairer choice!", the speakers above the exit blared to each and everyone it sensed was passing through. "Go in peace, and be sure to return soon!"
Sandy led the sobing Shandy away from the throng and out to the back of the courtroom; then after a quick look round, closed the door behind them both.
Eugene's mind went into overload. He had had it all planned out. After he had escaped the hotel he would go to the authorities, they would listen to him - I mean it was there job, right?. Though after he had persuaded the bodyguards that he really was the king, and not the fake stand-in king, as they had been told, he hadn't been able to think of how to approach the subject of 'where am I now, exactly?'. He would surely have given himself away with such a clumsy question. Maybe, I should have planned it all a little longer?
He had clambered aboard a floating sofa with casual regress to the urgency then at hand. He had escaped and could have told the driver whatever he had liked, for he was king. He glanced back at the golden doors of the magnificent hotel which had held him captive for weeks. There was nobody following him, and he sighed. He lent gingerly back into the soft pillows of the sofa. They welcomed him. The cool transparent bubble which surrounded the sofa had felt pleasing to the skin, as first he had poked his hand, then his head and then finally his entire body through it and onto the sofa. The stuff wobbled as it went back into shape. He had seen these vehicles before, but only ever on TV.
Now he was in one, and to think it was an Opuland-Drifter 4000, which meant nothing to him at the moment. I must think of where to go! Like quickly! With danger clouding his thoughts he had blurted to the driver, "GO! GO!". And the driver had stepped on it with the same urgency but the sofa had floated of, at a genteel pace, down the boulavard; quite comfortable for the 'drifter in each and every one of us.', as the advert went. The driver had won a competition in the Daily Loon to be a sofa chauffeur for a week, and during the hottest part of the year too.
"Wow, your sire, just WOW! I mean I couldn't believe it, just fantastic it was, yeah, brilliant.", he went on,"...and now you! Oh to meet you, I mean its just such an honour your sire, just..."
"Look, does this thing go any faster?!", the driver looked round, "Not to be rude in any way or to cut short your quite wonderful story, but its just that I'm in a bit of hurry."
Chab stared at him blankly. "Does it go any faster?", Eugene repeated. Chab was in vacant surprise, fast? It's a sofa sire. "Oh, for fucks sake man! What's your name? Can't you speak?!"
"Err, Cher-Chab your sire."
"Then go faster Chab? Or I should not like the consequences.", not for either of us.
Finally they had gotten out the manual and found out through trial and error how to disengage the limiter. The sofa sped off, darting in and out of frightened passers-by who stood in their way. "I'm playing a game on my arrogant guards.", he whispered into the excited ears of Chab, already panting at the lie he would be told next. "You'll take me in this to Lundon, by which time I imagine, no hope, to have been rescued by the Royal guards!", Chab was nodding frantically now, trying hard not to sweat all over the place. The hand held controls of the Drifter 4000 were being waved all over the place as Chab steered them through traffic and out of Town.
People would often be seen leaving the protective screens of the most opulant place in the land. They would go for a float around the acres and acres of parkland which surrounded the city with its monolithic column in the centre, which had once been a huge block of stone. Others would just float amongst the clouds and dream the day away.
But Eugene and Chab were not short of things to do, they were on an adventure. They were charging across the treetops, the sofa wobbled at its top speed. It took them five hours to flt to Lundon and a further half an hour at a service station along the way at the insistance of Chab who enjoyed coffee and was on holiday after all. Stupid bastard, Eugene had accidentally stained his robes down the alley because of him.
The real king was stood remonstrating with his security forces, far behind them in the town's finest residence overlooking the courtyard of his harem. The idea had been supposed to give the king a time to rest, a stand in could do the tiresome work. He had wanted to spend more time in the harem they had made him believe. But this was just rubbish. Where was he?
At the court marshall's front desk, Eugene had had a few things explained to him. First of all, that the claim he was not the king could not stand up and be tested in this court. And as to the other matters, the hospital neglegence and the severe beating by three unknown thugs, they would have to be dealt with in the right order. The hospital would have to be tested first, as this had been the most recent incident. Then the beatings could continue, but only after a thorough investigation had been conducted to establish who the thugs were in the first place. "We can't just go around accusing people willy-nilly.", and, "No, no.", he would have to take his protests at being king to the appropriate court, "Where is it? Downtown sire, where else?".
He would be able to fit him in for the hospital charge today though, if he was lucky. He would contact them immediately and ask them to send the accused down to the court this afternoon. He was then told to sit in the waiting area and feel free to help himself to tea and biscuits which were provided by all branches of Faircliffs, courteous and free of charge. "A copy of the Daily Loon prehaps?"
He sat down. He was really beginning to sweat now in the heavy robes with their fine stitching and glorious features. He was glad at his fortune though, and pleased he had chanced upon his girlfriend while on the way here. She had been down the alley where he had stopped to take a leak earlier; to get rid of the coffee he had been forced to drink. Now she sat next to him in the waiting room, still looking pale from the night before. She still looked to be far off her face on something or other, to be sure. But she had been able to help him already, by contacting Mr Monkeae Tim, the gay lover of her most disappointing ex-husband. He was a law student.
They had waited together for nearly two hours, when with both delight and a sense of relief, he heard his name called. The defence had arrived. The quarrell could now begin. I just want my life back.
He remembered only five minutes before stating his case to the court
If it had been only a few more minutes he might have recieved his vindication. The guards had arrived though and rescued him, just as he had predicted they would to Chab earlier, who he could see still sat within the bubble on the driver's easy-chair as they left the courthouse. There was a curious if not a little edgy crowd gathering around him, touching poking and proding the vehicle. He waved at Eugene, who glanced quickly away. Some of Henry's men had scattered the crowd and were now asking him where had he 'acquired' this, and would he mind stepping out of the vehicle please?
The airship loomed out above them. This is how the opulent travelled. In style.
There stood the three of the kings men, posing as thugs. Their orders had been clear, they had memorised them well, over an intense cup of tea. Go to Lundon, well renowned for the artistic slant and moody composure of its inhabitants, and bring back an actor. Had to be young. With the minimum amount of force. He would have to be about the same size and proportions as the king though, and make no mistakes.
Eugene had been coming home from an assprin-flat party over on the south bank. He was a wreck, but then so was the king. This was the one. "Well, the king did say he wanted a yes man - what do you think lads?"
He would go crashing to the ground after a hefty blow of a truncheon. This was minimum force.