Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Sunday, February 24, 2019

A Flaying

In 1987 my first wife moved in with the boyfriend she'd been seeing for, apparently, a rather long time, taking with her everything she could fit into my − and his − car.  She also took my car.  She filed for divorce the next day.  I was left with $45.23.  To celebrate, I wrote this black allegory.

I was in Mensa at the time and sent it to the editor of the local newsletter and it was published there.  From that point it somehow, and quite inexplicably, managed to find its way to my ex-wife's loyyer, who then made a point to provide it to the judge overseeing the perverse beast of marital dissolution in St Petersburg FL.  

Hizonner took great exception to how his area of law [sic] was being characterized, and even greater exception to how I responded to his direct challenge to explain myself.  I effectively told him, "This is just a story about a chicken farmer; if you find yourself reflected in it, that's your doing."

He denied me visitation on the spot and made me get a psychiatric evaluation.  So the story was not simply a mirror of procedural abuse, but prophetic as well.

Here it is:

A Flaying
©1987  Ross Williams

A Hen who had contracted to a farmer’s henhouse to produce six eggs a week over a period of time was imperfectly satisfied with her living conditions.  “I don’t like this particular grade of straw,” she declared.  “I shall require pillows.”  The Farmer purchased the finest cushions of satin and displayed them to the Hen.

“These are of satin.  Unacceptable,” she pouted, fluffing her feathers.  So the Farmer had them resoled with silk.

“You jest!” she cackled.  “I refuse to recline on that which was made by worms.”  The local velveteer was called in to apply his craft.

“What’s this?!  Velvet?” the Hen shrieked.  “Why must I continue to endure these outrages??”  And so saying she vaulted her roost and defaulted her portion of the contract.

The Farmer was much distraught over the occurrence, until some days later when an Officer of the Court appeared before him.  “Sir,” began the Officer, “I am required to take possession of your property and remand same to a Hen most recently in your employ.”

Baffled, the Farmer could only muster a “?...?...?”

“Oh, Sir,” pleaded the Constable, “please do not put up such a struggle, for I should look upon you as belligerent and hostile toward the judgment of the Court and suffer you thereby unto protective custody.”

“Kind Server,” responded the Farmer’s refound tongue, “there is no cause for such dire ultimatums.  In truth, I pose no threat to anything save the fox who charges my henhouse.”

“Correction, Sir, your former henhouse,” interrupted the Magistrate.

The Farmer swallowed.  “Would you be so kind as to enlighten me of the nature of the charges, the criminal law which applies, the process of my appeal, and the reasons why I wasn’t notified of this egregious affront to my property rights and why I wasn’t allowed to respond with counsel?”

“Again, Sir,” replied the Functionary, “I must warn you that you are perilously close to assaulting an Instrument of the Court.  However, I shall endeavor to respond to your insulting cross examination.

“Briefly, no criminal charges were filed, which is why you were neither notified nor given time to respond.  That which you label an ‘egregious affront’ is the enforcement of Jurisprudential Propriety in such cases, as seen in countless precedent. Your rights are not required to be protected in these matters and indeed are not even considered.  If, though, you had committed some atrocity upon the Petitioner, your rights would have been undeniably and zealously defended.

“As regards your possibilities for appeal, there are none.  The Judgment levied against you is immutable and eternal.

“Insofar as the actual charges against you, again, there are none.  As I’ve said, this is not a criminal case.  The Petitioner filed in accordance with the Law of Gruntlement, as is her right, and stated that her disgruntlement would be assuaged with certain assets that, until most recently, were of your sole use and possession.  Allow me to quote from the record: ‘To wit: Any liquid assets, or any solid assets; Any real property or any imaginary property; Any furniture or fixtures located here, or any furniture or fixtures located elsewhere.’

“The Law of Gruntlement does not require, and in fact discourages, any litany of reason or justification for making the claims against the property of another.  The Petitioner has every right to make any claims she desires, and for you to claim otherwise is not your right, for it would deny her her right.  The Law has been properly applied every step of the way.  So you see, Sir, that you are most clearly out of line to question the Authority of the Court, or its Functionaries, in this matter.  Also, as of six minutes ago, you are trespassing.”

The Farmer blinked twice and spoke with a dry rasp.  “Do I at least have time to collect my things?”

“Si-i-ir,” started the exasperated Thug, “I shouldn’t need to remind you that you have no ‘things’.  And if you leave this bailiwick with those clothes still on your person, I shall, however reluctantly, be left with little alternative than to arrest you for burglary.”

The Farmer sat down and began to remove his shoes.  “Doesn’t it even matter that my Hen is technically in breach of contract?”

“She may have been.  At one time,” replied the Grand Factotum, stuffing the shoes and socks into his satchel.  “But, Sir, the Law of Gruntlement, as everyone knows, assumes post-rationalization of prior commitment, thus negating any contractual obligations otherwise enforceable against a Petitioner.”

“But what if…” began the Farmer.

“Ah, Sir, I wouldn’t do that.  For if you were to counter-claim Gruntlement against this Petitioner, the Court, by provision of this self-same Law, would be obligated to issue a Writ against you citing harassment.  In these matters it is commonly a capital offense.”

“Well,” affirmed the now-naked Stoic, “even though all seems bleak, I shall succeed, for I take with me an abiding love of chicken farming.”

“Oh my dear, dear Sir,” frowned the Bailiff, “how I do so wish you hadn’t said that.”  And he cut out the Farmer’s heart.