"Heather, you are charged with the murder of a blue Mini Cooper, named Fred. How do you plead?"
"Not guilty, Your Honor."
"The prosecution may call its first witness."
"Sir, we would like to call the plaintiff, Heather, to the stand. Heather, how old is the vehicle in question?"
"Two and a half years old, sir."
"And how many miles does it have on it?"
"Whose car is it?"
"It's my husband's. I mean, we both pay for it..."
"Thank you! If you can answer only the question asked of you, that will do. Please refrain from any sort of extracurricular rigamarole. Do you admit to writing this account of a power steering problem that occurred in April?"
"Who was driving the car when this problem occurred?"
"Where was your husband?"
"He was out of town on a vacation."
"So, while your husband was gone, you decided to take the opportunity to attack Fred and try to kill him?"
"No -- I didn't do anything -- it just happened! The shop says this sort of thing happens to these cars a lot!"
"After this attack in April, have you ever been driving Fred when other sorts of things happened to him?"
"It wasn't an attack in April."
"The witness is instructed to answer the question."
"Last week, I went to pick up my husband after he returned from Hawaii. I drove 10 miles to pick him up, and on the way back, the car started making funny noises. Within a block, there was white smoke pouring out of under the hood. I stopped the car and rolled it downhill to park it against the curb."
"While your husband was with you, he wasn't driving?"
"It was late, and he'd been traveling all day. He was tired, and it was easier for me just to stay in the driver's seat for the short trip home."
"Did you offer to let him drive his own car, his friend, Fred?"
"No. Didn't seem to make sense to do so."
"And how is Fred doing now?"
"Well, the serpentine belt went out. That was the noise that led to the billowing smoke. It was towed to the dealer, 80 miles away, and has been repaired. We're supposed to pick it up today."
(Gasps from the gallery.)
The judge speaks up, "It appears the charges brought here were faulty -- the car is fixed and working now?"
"It appears so. We won't really know until we get to the shop and drive it around a bit, but it should be fine. It was still under warranty, so the repairs don't even cost anything."
"So there isn't any lasting damage?"
"Well, you know how a repaired car is, sir. It probably will rattle or squeak or otherwise not still be in mint condition, but it should work just fine."
"That's good to hear."
The prosecution is still concerned, and says, "But what about the future of Fred? This murderer will continue her attacks on this poor car any time her husband goes away. She is obviously a danger to Fred, and he should be brought into protective custody for his own safety."
The judge, however, had had enough. "Go try a real case with a real live victim, son. Case dismissed!"
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers
3 months ago