A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

The pathologist must have his hour in court...


Two weeks had passed. Farmer Spiky had recovered from his nightmare at the hands of an overenthusiastic pathologist with a long tail, and papers had been served.

The law in the forest was unburdened by the slow grinding processes of the law outside the forest, and two weeks was considered ample time for evidence to be accrued, arguments debated and a trial to be heard.

Longshanks was in the dock, a daisy chain around his wrists. Although lacking in physical strength and without the tenacity of steel handcuffs, a daisy chain had a huge psychiatric strength, and few were the inhabitants of the forest who dared break one for fear of a multitude of terrible things that ancient tales and legends suggested might happen if they did. The daisy was a powerful motif and a chain of them unbelievably toxic.

So Logshanks was in the dock, an expression on his face that told of confusion, remorse, embarrassment and guilt all in one set of quivering lips. His long arms hung restlessly in front of him, bound together at the wrists as they were, and his legs and really long tail twitched every now and then.

The clerk of the court was a rather excitable mongoose, and he rattled the desk in front of him with a feather.

“Silence in Court!” he intoned, and he gazed around him with the sort of withering look that only a mongoose can muster.

There was a sudden hush as the small gathering of witnesses and lawyers as well as curious onlookers slunk to silence.

“Pray be upstanding for His Lordship, Toowitty!” almost thundered the clerk, and then he sat down before standing up again out of respect for His Lordship Toowitty.

In the world outside the parameters of the old forest Toowitty would have been called an owl. In the forest, though, where racial and species prejudice were both unheard of, he was just another citizen, albeit a rather special one.

He was renowned for his wisdom, and he illustrated this by wearing a tightly curled white wig and carrying a pencil case.

He took his high seat behind a bench-like desk and signalled to the Clerk of the Court who once again banged his feather onto his own desk and thundered “Be Seated!”

The hush, guarded and serene, continued.

When he spoke, the bewigged judge’s voice had all the power of a stick of chalk scraping on a blackboard. Several of the assembled gathering winced, and one old lady passed out.

“Where is the wretched vagabond who deliberately and with malice caused such mischief to the flesh of the poorly farmer?” he demanded.

“Hey! I’ve not been found guilty yet!” exclaimed Longshanks.

“SILENCE IN COURT!” roared the Judge. “For that outburst I sentence you to … to … to a roast bitternut Squash at Mrs Miggins Pie shop!” he thundered, “Take him down!”

“But you haven’t heard the case yet, m’lud,” hissed the Clerk, and added “Mrs Miggins’ Pie Shop isn’t in the forest, m’lud.”

“Then get on with it!” scraped the Judge.

“Call the injured party!” bawled the Clerk, and Farmer Spiky made his way to a seat in front of the Judge, who eyed him suspiciously.

“Now then, young fella,” began Toowitty, “what’s this I read in my papers? You were found unconscious at the foot of an old tree, a chestnut or something like that, and because he believed you to be dead the police bod over there ordered a post mortem. Is that correct?” he grunted, and pointed at Elflight, who was squirming uncomfortably in his seat.

“Sort of,” replied the Farmer.

“And the blasted pathologist took his knife to you, eh? Took his knife and hacked away at you until you were all blood and gore? Is that the kernel of the case?”

“It wasn’t quite like that,” averred the farmer.

“It wasn’t? It’s what it says on this blasted sheet! So tell the, er, the court what if it was like, and make haste!”

The Farmer looked around himself helplessly.

“The copper, I mean Inspector Elflight, was sure I’d been done in and he wanted to bring the culprit to justice, so he had me sliced open just in case there was some evidence in my gut,” stammered Farmer Spiky.

The Judge clicked impatiently and turned to face Elflight, who was fidgeting nervously with his spectacular fingers.

“Is that what happened?” he demanded, “Were you after real evidence with which to send a fellow creature to the gallows for murder?”

“We stopped hanging them half a century ago,” hissed the Clerk of the Court ot the Judge.

“Will you stop interrupting!” barked Toowitty impatiently.

“Yes sir, but I thought you should know,” muttered the clerk, crestfallen and halfway to being in tears.

“It’s about what happened, without the gallows bit,” admitted Elflight.

“So what went wrong?” demanded the Judge. “It seemed a perfectly sensible thing to do, gallows or no gallows,” he added.

“He wasn’t as dead as we thought he was,” admitted Elflight.

“And you didn’t notice?” barked Toowitty.

“We did in the end,” put in the Pathologist, “the farmer told us.”

“Very good of him,” smirked the Judge. “So what shall I do?”

“Find me not guilty?” suggested Longshanks.

The Judge eyed him fiercely. Then, “I won’t!” he squawked. “You’re clearly as daft as a box of frogs and I sentence you to life imprisonment with no chance of parole! Take him away!”

There was a gasp in the courtroom, a plaintive no, no no from the pathologist, and the Judge stood up.

Time for supper, then!” he squeaked.

It’s an hour short of lunchtime sir,” the Clerk told him, but nobody heard.

© Peter Rogerson 09.10.18

© 2018 Peter Rogerson

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Added on October 9, 2018
Last Updated on October 9, 2018
Tags: pathologist, murder, death, police inspector, judge, courtroom


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..