Thursday, 28 January 2010

A soliloquy

(A court. A judge, middle-aged, tired from overwork. A policeman, fat and bored because he is not paid to care. Clerks whizzing about doing clerky things. The defendant, well-dressed, but bruised.)

The defendant is brought to the stand. He does not sit, but remains upright, and starts speaking

The defendant: Your Honour, as I am sure you know by now, I am a thief. But I wouldn’t like you to get caught up in everything that that word implies. I am not a burglar, who forces his way into a stranger’s house in the middle of the night, and steals the family silver. I am not a pickpocket, whose light, nimble fingers ease the passing traveler of their burdensome wallets. I do not steal the materialistic goods that appeal to these people, who I’m sure have a very good reason for doing so. Not for me, your honour, the pocketbook and wristwatch, the gold ring and diamond necklace. I deal, your honour, in those that have been deemed priceless since the beginning of time, and as such are worthless to the common pilferer. My domain is immaterial; it is the sphere of stolen kisses, of unsure smiles, of red, tear-stained cheeks. My currency does not contain miniatures of Gandhi, or Lincoln, or Mandela. It is far more basic than that. My currency is that of trust, love, joy, and sorrow. I do not deal, your honor, in things. I deal in thoughts, which are far, far more important.

Let me tell you, your honour, that in fact, there is indeed a going rate for love. It is rather easy to find out what the average man is willing to pay for a wife, as long as you go about it the right way. All one needs to do is find out the current amount paid, on average, as alimony in a divorce. Let us first discount, you honour, those millionaires whom we know to be nothing more than thieves such as I. Then one must estimate how much is paid in closed settlements, the results of which are not given out to the public. From there, you honour, it is easy to extrapolate the amount paid by one spouse to another, in the event, the terrible, tragic event, that their love has disappeared like the first snow in winter, gone, but remembered to be far more than it ever really was. But then there is very little, your honour, which one can do to sell one’s love.

Trust, on the other hand, is far more difficult to quantify. Who can say, your honour, how much a friendship is worth? This is, after all, what I am being charged with. The betrayal of trust. I wonder, your honour, how one sets bail on such a matter. Who can say that someone’s trust is worth five, not ten, not three, but five thousand dollars? Surely trust is priceless! But we, as a nation, break that trust every day, do we not? We send spies to infiltrate foreign nations, spies who are us in different clothes, to lie, to cheat, to steal if that is what needs to be done, to safeguard our nation. But in doing so, do they not break the trust of the nation they are in? But they are sanctioned by the government, you honour, to break the trust of not one individual, or three, or ten, but the trust given to them by an entire nation, in the belief, justified or not, that this will help their country. Who are these spies, your honour? Men and women who believe that in some way, they are being James Bond? James Bond is dead, your honour, I know it, and now you do, too. The age of the intrepid secret agent who did things his way are over. Now, spies are carefully told what to do by their superiors, lest they make a mistake, and let slip years of work. There is nothing romantic in spying, your honour, and there is not much in life, either.

We talk of trust, your honour, and the breaking of trust, but the biggest perpetrators of that crime are running this country. Your honour, politicians abuse their people’s trust on a daily basis. We have come to expect it of them. Any politician who doesn’t act like a backstabbing rattlesnake is treated with more suspicion than any other ten politicians combined. Corruption is now a part of the system; there is no point in trying to change it. The people have simply learned to work with it. They decry it at every opportunity, but the truth, your honour, the truth is that there is not one person in this country willing to take the trouble to change it. That is a fact, and there are no two ways about it. While I certainly do not know how I came to be here, I can be certain of one thing: I am not here because of the law. I pay the law well to look the other way, it is one of the first things those in my line of business learn.

All this talk of why I’m standing here leads us to the reason I was arrested, your honour. I was arrested because I happened to have on my person pictures of a certain lady kissing a certain man. This lady, as you undoubtedly know, your honour, happens to be the wife of one of the senior most ministers of the state. She happened to be kissing, not two hours after she professed her love to me, the head gardener. I would ask you not to doubt me on this, you honour, but simply believe me when I say I was witness to that fact. You will remember, you honour, that I said there is very little one can do to sell one’s love. I happen to be an expert on those rare methods. I have done in many, many times in my life, and I have never felt proud of it. But it is the truth, your honour, and I shall not shy away from it.

I do not pretend to be innocent, your honour. I am who I am, and that is who I am. But before you sentence me, your honour, I would ask you to consider one thing. Am I here because the law was doing its job? Or am I here because the politicians decided it didn’t need to be done unless it affected them personally?

Thank you for your time.

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