Judge Jury and Executioner - Book cover

Judge Jury and Executioner

Steve Gee

2: Chapter Two

Once in the secured passageway leading from the court to the police station, the cop escorting Trent released his grip on Trent’s arm.

“I can’t say I disagree with anything you said in there, mate,” the cop said.

“In fact, I often think similar things myself, but come on, man, you look like a decent sort of bloke, from what I can tell. You should know ya can’t question a magistrate like that. Ya just gotta shut up and wear it—”

“What would you do if some prick burned down your home and they let him walk free?”

“If it was my house, mate.” The cop checked over his shoulders before he continued in a lower tone.

“I’d hunt him down and—” the cop cut himself off. “Let’s just say I’d take what was left of him out into Corio Bay somewhere and feed the pieces to the sharks… They’d never find him again. But I didn’t say that,” the cop smirked.

Trent liked this guy. He sounded normal—for a cop.

***

The magistrate-enforced sojourn within the confines of a dark, uninviting, cold concrete cell in the Geelong Police Station was an experience that transcended Trent’s usually tolerant comfort zone.

While he himself was a bit of a lad, Trent was no lawbreaker, so this tedious prelude into incarceration had Trent regretting his recent courtroom outburst.

The two younger cellmates who shared his temporary lodgings however openly boasted about having spent lengthy stays in these cells previously and appeared more accustomed to their housing arrangements.

Time in jail seemed to drag for Trent. The police confiscated his possessions before locking him up, so he had no idea how long he’d been detained in the cell.

He opted to keep to himself for the duration of his enforced stay, waiting in silence. He wished the other two blokes in there with him did the same.

Their relentless, infantile boasting and mindless chatter tested the limits of his self-control.

After what seemed like an eternity, the clanking of keys outside had all in the cell staring at the cell door with anticipation. The heavy door flung open.

Bright light flooded into the darker cell to expose the silhouette of a cop standing in the doorway. It was the same cop who had escorted Trent from the court to jail at the magistrate’s behest.

The cop pointed to Trent. “Baker,” he said, then jabbed his thumb back over his shoulder. “Time to go.”

Trent leaped to his feet. He didn’t need to be told twice. “Thank heavens for that,” Trent said. “What’s the time?”

The cop checked his watch. “Four o’clock.”

“I gotta tell ya mate,” Trent began, “three hours sharing a small cell with those morons is penalty enough for anyone.”

After Trent signed for his property, they returned to the courtroom.

As they strolled, the cop informed Trent how the magistrate deliberately waited until all cases were heard before he called for Trent to be brought back to the court to face sentencing.

The cop told Trent how the magistrate wanted to prove a point to show how he had the power to enforce jail, and he did so to give Trent a small taste.

“What am I likely to get?” Trent said.

“Look,” the sympathetic cop began. “These guys have huge egos. They’re virtually untouchable. You can’t criticize them in any way, or they will make you pay, just to prove they can.

“So go in there and apologize. Call yourself foolish or something, and blame your out-of-character outbreak on the build-up of emotions from losing your house.

“If you’re convincing enough, he will probably release you with time already served,” the cop said. “Just don’t be a smart arse. Make sure you sound genuinely sorry, OK?”

Trent nodded. “I understand. Thanks for the advice, mate.”

Trent felt comfortable with this friendly cop—probably a little too comfortable, but this cop was the type of guy Trent could happily buy a beer for in the pub.

“I tell you what though,” Trent said, “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but you may very well be seeing me back in here again soon.”

“Yeah. Why’s that?”

“Coz if I see that prick Webber on the street somewhere around here.” Trent slowly shook his head. “I’ll kill him. He’ll end up shark shit,” Trent said.

The cop grinned. “I hear ya, mate.”

***

It was a nervous Trent who stood before the magistrate in the empty courtroom, flanked by two cops, while the magistrate lectured him on courtroom etiquette.

The magistrate explained to Trent how the sentence he issued to Mr. Webber was actually a jail sentence, but even though it was wholly suspended, Mr. Webber didn’t get away with anything.

The magistrate told Trent that should Mr. Webber commit any further offenses while on a suspended jail sentence, he would be sent to jail.

Trent silently scoffed to himself. He had read enough reports in the newspaper to know that was bullshit. They keep coming back to court and you keep lettin’ ’em off.

Trent stood with his hands clasped in front of his waist in a passive manner. When the appropriate time came, he apologized for his inexcusable outburst.

The magistrate accepted his apology, but was stern in his warning of the consequences from similar repeat outbursts.

After a lengthy pause, which was clearly for dramatic effect, the magistrate informed Trent he would be released without conviction and his penalty would be time already served.

Trent feigned appreciation when he thanked the magistrate.

“Cockhead.” Trent scoffed to himself under his breath as he made his way to the courtroom exit.

When Trent stepped from the court building onto the street outside, he paused and lifted his eyes to the cloud-covered sky. He inhaled the fresh afternoon air.

For a brief moment, he felt free; free from that uninviting prison cell. Free from that autocratic magistrate, and free from all this bullshit. He was the victim in all this, yet ~he~ was the one who got locked up.

All he wanted now was a cold beer—or three.

He had already called Brad from the police station when the cops returned his property to him, so it was time to get out of here.

A car horn sounded somewhere in the distance. Trent scanned the street.

A smile filled his face when he located Brad standing by the open driver’s door, leaning an elbow on the roof of Trent’s car, which Brad had driven in to pick up his brother.

Brad waved when Trent noticed him. It was a relieved Trent who jogged across the road and climbed into the passenger side of his cherished black Holden V8 Ute.

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