The judge and the bird
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“…Court is now in session, the Honorable Wilfred T. Habernacle presiding. Be seated.” The bailiff finished the spiel and the gallery settled themselves in their seats.
At the prosecution table, a single officer sat beside the State’s representative with his ticket book neatly arranged in front of him. His blond hair, perfectly groomed, obeyed the commands of the comb for once and his hat rested beside the citation book. The uniform could cut butter with the precision creases and none of the trademark stubble showed on his face. Both he and the State’s representative looked bored.
The Honorable Wilfred T. Habernacle looked over his glasses perched halfway down his nose at the paperwork in front of him. He could read his speech from rote. Today he felt the rumblings of stomach cramps from too much of his beloved Trudy’s six-alarm chili last night. The gallery was full and the looks of the docket did not bode well for his demeanor. After his little speech about the consequences of failure to appear, guilty with explanation, not guilty, and all the other legal jargon, he got down to business. “Bailiff, call the first defendant.”
The bailiff did, calling the first name and a swaggering man approached the table set aside for defendants. Standing six foot one, extremely sure of himself, his mouth etched in a permanent sneer, he stood behind the chair and stared at the Judge, fully expecting to be excused from the misunderstanding that occurred a few months before. His mass blocked the view of the Bailiff for the spectators in the gallery.
Judge Habernacle said, “I will remind you, Mr. Spikes, that you have been sworn in.”
“Yes, Your Honor.”
“Good. You are charged with an Improper Hand Signal For A Turn and Causing the Skidding of and/or Squealing of Wheels. How do you plead?”
“Not guilty on both, Your Honor.”
The Judge turned his attention to the officer. “Sergeant Larabee, present the State’s case.”
Chris stood. “Yes, Your Honor. On April 16, 2001, I observed a large red Ford pickup in front of me on Maple. The vehicle was later identified as a 1987 Ford F150 Pickup registered to the Defendant Robert Spikes. My patrol vehicle was behind the pickup and I observed no violations at that time. We proceeded down Maple to a stop sign located at the intersection of Maple and Elm. At said intersection, I watched the window open and the operator, later identified as the Defendant Robert James Spikes, placed his arm out the window. The positioning of his arm was improper for a turn signal so I waited to see if he did in fact turn. The Defendant did not turn but instead stepped hard on his accelerator and caused skidding followed by the sound of squealing wheels against the pavement. I initiated the stop, identified the Defendant, explained the violations, and gave him two tickets, one for Improper Hand Signal For A Turn and a second from Causing the Skidding of and/or Squealing of Wheels.”
“Mr. Spikes, what do you have to say in your defense?”
“Well, sir, regarding the squealing wheels, I apologize. My foot slipped on the accelerator and I pressed down too hard when I realized I was not moving forward.”
“Regarding the Improper Hand Signal For A Turn?”
“That was not a hand signal for a turn, sir. I was not planning on turning.”
“Then why did Sgt. Larabee observe your hand out the window?”
“I was giving him the bird, sir. I was not signaling a turn.”
“The bird, Mr. Spikes?”
“You know, the bird.”
The gallery shifted and hid their laughter. Chris remained stone faced but allowed a touch of a smirk to surface at he corner of his lips.
“No, I do not know. What is this bird?”
“Um, Your Honor, begging your pardon, but you do not know what the bird is?”
“Please tell the Court what this bird is.”
“Yes, Mr. Spikes. Right now.”
“Well, uh, it’s a gesture.”
“What type of gesture?”
“You raise your middle finger.”
“Why do you raise your middle finger?”
“That’s correct, Mr. Spikes. What is the meaning?”
“Well, sir, that’s uh, not meant for polite company.”
“Mr. Spikes, quit prevaricating and tell me what this gesture means.”
Taking a deep breath, ‘Top Hat’ Bob Spikes opened his mouth and said, “It means F*** Y**.”
“I thought so, Mr. Spikes. Guilty on both counts, maximum fines and points. Pay the cashier on your way out. Next Case.”
The gallery tried hiding their amusement and Chris just gave an all out smirk at Bob Spikes while he waited for his next case to come before the Judge.
Bob Spikes glared at Chris Larabee before leaving. His face red and puffy and his trademark eye patch was quivering on his face.
“Next case, Bailiff.” Traffic Court returned to its normal assembly line pace but those in the gallery seriously reconsidered flipping off or giving the bird to another police officer in the near future.