Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Overheard at Booth 3: From Inside the Egg

From Inside the Egg

Twelve years have I waited for this day.  This magnificent Easter morning, and finally I shall have my revenge on Judge T______.  As I put the finishing touches on my white face paint makeup and affix the bulbous red ball upon my nose, I appear every bit the Happy Clown that he has invited for the celebration this afternoon.

It is merely a short trip by bus, but what a difference, from the underground apartment in which I live with the rats and other two-legged rodents, to this opulent mansion that I now see before me.  Yes, a short trip, but worlds separated by such a distance.  Like the distance between his courtroom where he sentenced me to twelve years confinement, every day, my hope dimming, a little less and less, until the time that my brain lit upon the idea of this sweet revenge.

As I push the button on the door bell, I am reminded of the last time I heard the buzzer of the phone that my mother used to speak to me through the glass screen in the visitor's booth.  She looked so pale and wan that day, almost like a wraith.  She had always been looking every bit the ghost ever since my trial and the sentencing.  Judge T________ made sure that I got such a long sentence that my poor, dear, aging mother would not survive it.  She stopped coming to see me only four years into my incarceration.  She was unable to live until I was finally released.

His maid opens the door, smiles to me as I walk inside.  Now, today, he shall know how it feels.

"Where do I set up?" I ask.

"On the back patio," she says, and she leads me there.

As we pass the kitchen, I see Judge T_______ with a woman who must be his wife.  I know she is his wife because they are arguing.  

"What do you mean she's not coming?" he is saying.

"I've been calling her all morning and there's no answer," his wife says.

"Well, you texted her the invite last week, didn't you?  Didn't you?!"

"Yes, John, of course I did.  Plus, she's YOUR mother.  Wouldn't kill you to call her yourself every now and again."

"Well, it's HER granddaughter's birthday," he says, knocking back another drink, "You think she could drag herself out of the bottle long enough to be here."

And then the patio door closes and the maid extends her palm to the table where I can open my suitcase of party supplies.

I hadn't expected him to look any different.  His hair is a little grayer and his jowls seem to hang a bit lower but he still appears every bit the bulldog that he was the day that he banged his gavel like some vengeful god and sentenced me to twelve years in prison.  And I still recall my mother's face that day, as they turned me to take me away.  She looked so grave, so ashen.  She could hardly look me in the eyes.

That was the hardest.  The eyes.  She couldn't open her eyes.  

"Hey mister what you got in there?" a voice says from my side.

It's a little boy.  The Judge has a little girl.  This boy is not the Judge's boy, but some friend, I think.  A cousin perhaps?  A neighbor?

"All sorts of things!" I say, pulling out a bouquet of flowers.

"Jeez, man.  Flowers?!" the boy says.  "LAME!"  and then, just like that, he is gone.

Fortunately there is a bouncy house and a pony and a juggler and dancers on hand, so I am left in relative anonymity and away from many prying eyes of the other little brats for another hour while I prepare for the Easter egg hunt.   

Finally, when the time comes, I have hidden all the Easter eggs around the lawn and garden, and at a signal from the maid, the children pour themselves out of the house, having been filled with cake and soda and they are unleashed upon the lawn to begin hunting for the colorful plastic beauties.

I see the Judge's daughter, who looks surprisingly like the mother.  Daughter's usually resemble their fathers, sons their mothers, but I see that this child may have a bit of hope in life that she will not turn out looking for all the world like a junkyard dog.  Still, I take some pleasure from seeing her and the other children rooting around the grounds like dogs, sniffing, pawing, clawing, for their treats and goodies.

Will she be the one to find it?  Oh I do hope so!  Please let it be her.  Please let it be her ...

And then, there!  I see her!  Yes!  She does have it.  Pulled directly from the planter beside the steps.  She open the plastic egg.  She looks at its contents, her little brow furrows, she puts two fingers inside it and pulls from inside the egg what anyone would think is a large gumball.  

SO DELICIOUS!  She puts it in her mouth!  Oh dear, she is trying to chew it!  I almost cannot contain my laughter!

"DAD!" she yells out.  "This gum is ICKY!"

Then, Judge T__________ gets out of his chair and waddles over to his daughter, his expression bored and dull, to see what she is holding.  As he picks it out of her hand he looks at it, turns it over, over and over again, and then ... there!  There is is!  The sudden dawning look of recognition!

"What the FUCK!" he shouts, and immediately looks around for me.  And I am standing on the steps, he on the lawn.  I am the judge and he is the condemned.  He starts running toward me, shouting, "Where did you get this?!  Where did you get this!"

Then he is on me, and his fists begin to rain down and I am laughing and he is shouting, "What have you done to my mother?  What have you done to my mother?" 

"An eye for an eye!" I tell him.  "An eye for an eye!  Justice for the Judge!"

I don't remember when they arrive but the police arrive and Judge T________ is still screaming into the phone, trying to get someone to go to his mother's house.  But I know she is not there.  She is no longer there.  Her eyeball is in his hand.  The rest of her is in my van.

As the officers cuff me and start to lead me away, he yells at me, "You will fucking burn for this, Erick Eckenstam!  I will watch you BURN!"

"My mother died while I was in prison!" I say to him.  "She never got to see me free!"

"You KILLED your own mother, you sick FUCK!" he says, as they lead me to the squad car.  I can see them already opening the back doors to my van.  I know he is a liar.  My mother knew he was a liar, and in his hand, his own mother now sees that he is a liar.

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