The courtroom buzzed as the Right Honorable Mortdecai Sampson took his seat. Bald with the exception of the white hair that grew out of his ears like unruly haystacks. Ugly teeth. A perpetually angry face. And a pair of wire rimmed spectacles he was always using to look down over his crooked nose at people with.
The Judge slammed his gavel down with enough force to crack a walnut. “ORDER!”
Everyone went silent. Smelly Jack sat at a small table, to which he was chained. His brother-cousins took up most of the seats. Slade and Gunther stood watch toward the front of the room. Joe and Knox were on either side. As usual, the younger Knoxes were in the back.
“Smelly Jack Buchanan…”
Sampson pointed his gavel at the defendant. “SHUT UP! Smelly Jack Buchanan, you and your inbred family stand accused of committing a litany of heinous deeds all across the Western states and territories.”
Jack held his hat over his heart. “Lies your honor. We’re being framed and persecuted on account of us being poor illiterates.”
Sampson read from a document. “Murder. Rape. Arson. Theft. Property Damage. Am I reading this right? You shit bags pillaged and burned down eleven cities between New Mexico and Missouri?”
“Case of mistaken identity,” Jack said. “There’s another handsome shit bag out there that you’ve confused me with.”
“Shot a barber because he didn’t cut your hair straight. Shot a cook because he didn’t fix your dinner right. Shot a man because he looked at you funny…”
“I like to help people better themselves,” Jack said.
“Robbed twenty-three banks. Shot fourteen Sheriffs, seven U.S. Marshalls, and you and your boys are suspected in the disappearance of twelve more officers of the law…”
“They’re probably in the last place you’d thing of looking for them,” Jack quipped.
“What the hell is this about molesting an armadillo outside Houston?”
Jack coughed. “Your honor, that armadillo came on to me…”
“And finally, the attempted attack on Highwater, the crime that finally did you boys in.”
“Judge, is it really a crime to attempt something?” Jack asked. “Piss or get off the pot my beloved Ma used to say.”
Gavel slap. “SHUT UP! Do you have anything to say for yourself before I render a just and unbiased verdict, you stupid asshole?”
“Your honor,” Jack said. “I do believe the Greek philosophizer Soc-ro-tees once said, ‘Hickory dickory dock…suck my big ole…”
Sampson smashed his gavel down. “ENOUGH! Smelly Jack Buchanan. You and your brothers, and your cousins, and your brother-cousins and whatever else are by far the most putrid, vile, disgusting sacks of buffalo shit I’ve ever seen in my entire life. You’re not even good enough to be buffalo shit. You are the mold that grows on the fungus that grows on a steamy pile of buffalo shit after its sat out in the hot sun for three days and then a pig walks by and takes a shit on that shit…”
“It’s not our fault, Judge. Pa used to beat us somethin’ awful so now none of us are responsible for anything we do.”
The Judge banged his gavel so hard it broke in half, sending the hammer part flying across the room.
“Buchanans, on behalf of all the lives you cut short, and on behalf of all the people you’ve caused suffering too, I find you GUILTY! And furthermore, it is my pleasure to sentence you all to….DEATH…BY HANGING!”
Jack made a motion like he was jerking himself off. “Whatever.”
The courtroom doors swung open. Everyone craned their necks to see who dared disturb Judge Sampson’s sentencing.
In walked a stranger. He was slender and handsome. Not ruggedly handsome but a womanly, pretty kind of handsome. He was dressed as though he were a customer to the finest tailors in the world. He wore a black suit to match his black hair. Hanging over his necktie was a bright, shiny gold medallion.
“Your honor, pardon my interruption. Henry Allan Blythe and on behalf of the Legion Corporation, I move to set aside that verdict.”