Little Fuzzy – Day 73 of 77

“We’ll be at the hotel after a while, Jack,” Gerd was saying. “Ruth and I are going out for a drink and something to eat; we’ll be around later to pick up her Fuzzies.”

Now his partner had his girl back, and his partner’s girl had a Fuzzy family of her own. This was going to be real fun. What were their names now? Syndrome, Complex, Id and Superego. The things some people named Fuzzies!


They stopped whispering at the door, turned right, and ascended to the bench, bearing themselves like images in a procession, Ruiz first, then himself and then Janiver. They turned to the screen so that the public whom they served might see the faces of the judges, and then sat down. The court crier began his chant. They could almost feel the tension in the courtroom. Yves Janiver whispered to them:

“They all know about it.”

As soon as the crier had stopped, Max Fane approached the bench, his face blankly expressionless.

“Your Honors, I am ashamed to have to report that the defendant, Leonard Kellogg, cannot be produced in court. He is dead; he committed suicide in his cell last night. While in my custody,” he added bitterly.

The stir that went through the courtroom was not shocked surprise, it was a sigh of fulfilled expectation. They all knew about it.

“How did this happen, Marshal?” he asked, almost conversationally.

“The prisoner was put in a cell by himself; there was a pickup eye, and one of my deputies was keeping him under observation by screen.” Fane spoke in a toneless, almost robotlike voice. “At twenty-two thirty, the prisoner went to bed, still wearing his shirt. He pulled the blankets up over his head. The deputy observing him thought nothing of that; many prisoners do that, on account of the light. He tossed about for a while, and then appeared to fall asleep.

“When a guard went in to rouse him this morning, the cot, under the blanket, was found saturated with blood. Kellogg had cut his throat, by sawing the zipper track of his shirt back and forth till he severed his jugular vein. He was dead.”

“Good heavens, Marshal!” He was shocked. The way he’d heard it, Kellogg had hidden a penknife, and he was prepared to be severe with Fane about it. But a thing like this! He found himself fingering the toothed track of his own jacket zipper. “I don’t believe you can be at all censured for not anticipating a thing like that. It isn’t a thing anybody would expect.”

Janiver and Ruiz spoke briefly in agreement. Marshal Fane bowed slightly and went off to one side.

Leslie Coombes, who seemed to be making a very considerable effort to look grieved and shocked, rose.

“Your Honors, I find myself here without a client,” he said. “In fact, I find myself here without any business at all; the case against Mr. Holloway is absolutely insupportable. He shot a man who was trying to kill him, and that’s all there is to it. I therefore pray your Honors to dismiss the case against him and discharge him from custody.”

Captain Greibenfeld bounded to his feet.

“Your Honors, I fully realize that the defendant is now beyond the jurisdiction of this court, but let me point out that I and my associates are here participating in this case in the hope that the classification of this planet may be determined, and some adequate definition of sapience established. These are most serious questions, your Honors.”

“But, your Honors,” Coombes protested, “we can’t go through the farce of trying a dead man.”

People of the Colony of Baphomet versus Jamshar Singh, Deceased, charge of arson and sabotage, A.E. 604,” the Honorable Gustavus Adolphus Brannhard interrupted.

Yes, you could find a precedent in colonial law for almost anything.

Jack Holloway was on his feet, a Fuzzy cradled in the crook of his left arm, his white mustache bristling truculently.

“I am not a dead man, your Honors, and I am on trial here. The reason I’m not dead is why I am on trial. My defense is that I shot Kurt Borch while he was aiding and abetting in the killing of a Fuzzy. I want it established in this court that it is murder to kill a Fuzzy.”

The judge nodded slowly. “I will not dismiss the charges against Mr. Holloway,” he said. “Mr. Holloway had been arraigned on a charge of murder; if he is not guilty, he is entitled to the vindication of an acquittal. I am afraid, Mr. Coombes, that you will have to go on prosecuting him.”

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