Judge Coleman notices several deputies enter and take seats in the back of her courtroom as she prepares to call the misdemeanor docket. She gives them a quizzical look and they smile. Judge Coleman doesn’t know they’ve been tipped off by the arresting officer that this morning’s docket call is one they won’t want to miss.
“Commonwealth versus Marvin Flannery. Mr. Flannery, come forward.”Flannery steps to the lectern in front of the judge’s bench. He looks ordinary, fortyish, drab olive button-down shirt, white tie, horn-rimmed glasses, hair a little mussed, like he’s walking against the wind.
“Mr. Flannery, you’re charged with harassment. According to the arresting officer’s report… “ she stops to read “… you repeatedly made annoying statements at a Little League baseball game, specifically you stood up and shouted ‘Bob is a dick.’ Is that correct?”
“Yes, Your Honor. Bob is a dick.”
Judge Coleman frowns.
“Let me be clear, I’m not asking if your statement is true, or you think it’s true, I’m asking whether you said ‘Bob is a dick.’ Did you say ‘Bob is a dick’?”
“Yes, Your Honor. I’d be a liar if I said he wasn’t a dick.”
Judge Coleman removes her glasses, rubs her eyes. The deputies in the back grin. Larry the bailiff struggles to maintain a poker face. The judge puts her glasses back on.
“The officer’s report doesn’t just say that you said ‘Bob is a dick.’ It says you shouted, repeatedly, ‘Bob is a dick, Bob is a dick.’ Did you make those statements with the intent to intimidate, harass, annoy or alarm another person?”
“Then what was your intent?”
“What do you mean?”
“Why did you repeatedly shout ‘Bob is a dick’?”
“Because Bob is a dick.”
The deputies in the back press their hands over their mouths.
“Mr. Flannery, this was a Little League game. Parents are there to watch their children play baseball. Don’t you think they found it annoying that someone kept shouting Bob is a dick?”
“Well the officer issued you a summons, so someone complained.”
“There you go. So Bob was at the game and complained.”
“Yeah, because he’s a dick.”
Coleman glares silently at Flannery. Everyone watches to see what the judge will do.
“Mr. Flannery, wouldn’t you find it annoying if someone called you a dick?” “If I was a dick, I’d be grateful if someone told me. Dr. Phil says the first step in changing behavior is seeing the need for change.”
This prompts laughter from others in the courtroom waiting for their cases to be called.
“Mr. Flannery, I don’t think your intent was merely to inform Bob that he is, in your opinion, a dick. Had that been your intent, saying it once would have sufficed. But you said it over and over.”
Flannery nods. “That’s because Bob hasn’t changed. I shout it at every game and he keeps on being a dick.”
More giggles. The judge’s brow furrows. She opens the penal code.
“Did you know that it’s harassment, and I quote, ‘to make an offensively coarse utterance in a public place’?”
“Your Honor, but saying Bob is a dick is not an offensively coarse utterance.”
“And why do you conclude that ‘Bob is a dick’ is not an offensively coarse utterance?”
“Because, Your Honor, you yourself have said ‘Bob is a dick’ at least nine times during the last several minutes.”
Laughter erupts. The deputies double over and some of the attorneys are in tears. The judge shakes her head. She doesn’t have time for this. Other cases need to be heard. She puts her pen to the docket sheet and begins to write her judgment, speaking as she does.
“Mr. Flannery, we’re busy here with more serious matters, so I’m dismissing this misdemeanor charge on the condition that you’ll stop shouting ‘Bob is a dick’ at Little League baseball games.”
“Does that mean the flyers are okay?”
“Yeah, the flyers that say ‘Bob is a dick.’ I tape them on poles and fences around the neighborhood.”
The judge stops writing on the docket sheet. She peers at Flannery over the top of her glasses. “Mr. Flannery, you need counseling. You have a serious problem.”
Flannery’s face turns red. He looks down. puts his hands on the lectern to steady himself. Then he raises his head and nods solemnly.
“I know I do, Your Honor.”
The judge’s countenance softens. She takes off her glasses.
“I’m so glad to hear you say that, Mr Flannery. So you actually do have some insight into your situation. You understand that you have a problem?”
“I do, Your Honor. It’s Bob. He’s a dick.”
Mike Wilson’s work has appeared in magazines including Fiction Southeast, The Saturday Evening Post, Deep South Magazine, and Anthology of Appalachian Writers Vol. X. He’s author of Arranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic (Rabbit House Press, 2020), political poetry for a post-truth world, and resides in Central Kentucky.