Hyrum (13) and guide in the old Utah Supreme Court room in the state capitol building.
You remember, don’t you, that I as the prosecutor in real life bear no resemblance to Mr. Butcher, the prosecutor in the play. Flapper, however closely resembles the actual zealous, toothless old bailiff. And defense counsel Sullivan is mild compared to the real defense attorney, who sported faded denim bib overalls under his western tweed blazer, with bits of breakfast lodged in his bushy beard. (They have both long since retired.) I hope you enjoy Scene 2.
CHOCOLATE: A COMIC PLAY IN ONE ACT
by Roger Evans Baker
• The Honorable Marsha P. Stone, Judge of the 13th District Court
• Mr. John Butcher, Prosecuting Attorney
• Mr. Gil Sullivan, Defense Attorney
• Victor S. Bull, the Defendant
• Ashton “Flapper” Cuff, Court Bailiff
• Officer Harold Ketchum, Police Officer
• Vickie Hicks, Bull’s 17-year-old niece
• Judd “Snoops” Lawson, Bull’s duplex neighbor
• Ernest “Tubby” Brown, Bull’s drinking buddy
• Winowna Darling Bull, Bull’s 76-year-old mother
JUDGE STONE. (commanding, with apparent renewed interest) Call your first witness, Mr. Butcher.
MR. BUTCHER. (with high-pitched excitement mixed with anxiety) The State calls Vickie Hicks to the witness stand.
FLAPPER. (like a drill sergeant) Vickie Hicks! Come forward! Take your seat on the witness stand! Speak clearly into the microphone, please!
MR. BUTCHER. (affecting meekness) Your Honor, may I stand to the side so that this child isn’t required to look at the defendant during questioning?
JUDGE STONE. (sighing impatiently) Very well. You may proceed with direct examination.
MR. BUTCHER. (with deference) Thank you kindly, Judge. (Calmly and gently.) Now then, Vickie, sweetheart. Please tell us what happened on the night of July 7th.
VICKIE. (adopting her sweetest teenage voice) It’s just as you said, Mr. Butcher. Uncle Victor came home drunk, started arguing with Aunt Mary, took out a gun, and fired off a round right into the ceiling. Dust and plaster everywhere.
MR. BUTCHER. (with indignation) And is this the very gun he pointed at her in a threatening manner and fired?
VICKIE. (smug) It s-u-r-e is.
MR. SULLIVAN. (complaining) Your Honor, Mayam. I object to Butcher’s leading questions–he’s putting the answers right into her mouth. Why doesn’t he just take the witness stand and do the whole trial himself?
JUDGE STONE. It is a bit out of order, you know, Mr. Butcher. Please be more judicious. In any event, there’s no point in going back. Overruled. Proceed, Mr. Butcher.
MR. BUTCHER. (with clenched jaw and accusing tone) The defendant pointed this gun at your dear aunt and then shot, didn’t he?
VICKIE. Yes, sir, he pointed it right at her and shot. Only, he didn’t shoot at her but at the–
MR. BUTCHER. (triumphantly) Thank you very much, Miss Vickie. (As if there were nothing left to tell.) Well, there you have it. No further questions.
MR. SULLIVAN. (dripping deference) May I have the pleasure, Mayam, of cross-examining Mr. Butcher’s sweetheart, Vickie Hicks?
JUDGE STONE. (motherly) Of course, you may. It’s your client’s right, you know.
MR. SULLIVAN. (like a cat ready to pounce on its prey) Yes, I know. Well now, Vickie, darlin’. I’m a-goin’ to ask you a few questions. Okay?
MR. SULLIVAN. (sarcastically) I’d love to. (Accusing.) You’re a lying little stink, aren’t you?
MR. BUTCHER. (offended) I object, Your Honor! Impugning the character of a child witness! It’s not proper! It’s not ethical!
JUDGE STONE. Objection sustained. (chiding) Now, Mr. Sullivan, mind your manners. She is a child, and she has sworn to tell the truth, after all.
MR. SULLIVAN. I’m aware of that, Mayam. But I do not believe this child has told the truth, and I have the right to challenge her credibility.
JUDGE STONE. Well, proceed. But please be civil. This is a civil proceeding you know.
MR. SULLIVAN. (innocently) Of course, Mayam. Vickie, dear, you haven’t told the truth here today, have you?
VICKIE. (she is caught off guard, but recovers quickly) I most certainly have.
MR. SULLIVAN. (as if stating known facts) In fact, you’re used to lying, aren’t you?
VICKIE. (losing confidence) I most certainly am not.
MR. SULLIVAN. You mean to tell me you’ve never told a lie?
VICKIE. Well, not really. No big lies, anyway.
MR. SULLIVAN. (diminutive, as if speaking to a baby) Just little bitty ones?
VICKIE. I guess, yea.
MR. SULLIVAN. And what little bitty lies might they have been?
VICKIE. (not sure what she should say) Well, maybe, like, I told my mamma I was studying as Suzie’s when I was really listening to CDs at Buddy’s.
MR. SULLIVAN. (sweetly) I see. So if you are so willing to lie to your own mamma, it wouldn’t be a stretch to lie to the Judge, here, would it?
VICKIE. (confused) I wouldn’t lie to the Judge, just to my mamma.
MR. SULLIVAN. (roughly) That’s not what I asked you, is it, Miss Vickie Hicks? It wouldn’t be such a stretch, would it, Miss Vickie Hicks?
VICKIE. (spiraling into distress) Well. I don’t know. I guess–maybe not. I don’t know!
MR. SULLIVAN. (raising his voice) And it wouldn’t be a stretch to lie to the police, either, would it, Miss Vickie Hicks?
VICKIE. (through tears) I wouldn’t lie to the police.
MR. SULLIVAN. (roughly) Would it? You have lied to the police before, haven’t you? You broke your Uncle George’s windshield and blamed one of your wannabe gang high-school punk friends, didn’t you?
MR. BUTCHER. (squealing) I object! I don’t know anything about this!
JUDGE STONE. (gleefully) Overruled. You’re not supposed to know everything about the defendant’s case, Mr. Butcher. I suggest you do your homework better next time.
MR. SULLIVAN. (caustically) Answer my question, Vickie, dear. You lied to the police, didn’t you?
MR. BUTCHER. (crushed by the Judge’s remonstrance, but daring to object again) I object, Your Honor. Mr. Sullivan doesn’t care if Vickie is honest or not. He just wants to make her cry!
JUDGE STONE. (with some disappointment) Back off a little, Mr. Sullivan. (Gently.) Answer the question, dear.
VICKIE. (confounded and upset) I don’t know what he’s talking about.
MR. SULLIVAN. (sweet again) I see. Let me ask you another question. Have you ever been suspended from school?
MR. BUTCHER. (anxiously) Objection! What does high school suspension have to do with the defendant shooting a loaded gun? It’s irrelevant, I tell you!
MR. SULLIVAN. (firing back angrily) It’s relevant when you are suspended for cheating!
MR. BUTCHER. (in a panic) I object! I object!
JUDGE STONE. (wearily, at the same time Mr. Sullivan snaps at Mr. Butcher) Objection sustained.
MR. SULLIVAN. (annoyed, to Butcher, at the same time as the Judge’s ruling) Oh, shut up, will you!
JUDGE STONE. (red-faced, infuriated, after a flustered pause) How dare you tell this Court to shut up! I have given you a great deal of slack, Mr. Gil Sullivan, and I’m just about to tie you up with it and let you spend a night behind bars for contempt of this Court!
MR. SULLIVAN. (mortified) No, Your Honor, Mayam.
JUDGE STONE. Don’t you tell me no, young man! I was a Judge when you were still in diapers! I’ve never heard such rudeness from the bar! Flapper, are you prepared?
FLAPPER. (approaching Mr. Sullivan armed with handcuffs and a toothless grin) A pleasure, Your Honor.
MR. SULLIVAN. (frantic) Please, Your Honor Sir–Mayam–Judge. I was talkin’ to Butcher, here, not to you.
JUDGE STONE. (quickly deflating) Oh. Well. Yes. Well. It’s a good thing for you, Mr. Sullivan, that you were telling Mr. Butcher to shut up and not me. The nerve! Stand down, Flapper. (Bailiff Cuff returns to his seat with obvious disappointment.)
MR. BUTCHER (hurt) But Your Honor!
JUDGE STONE. (wanting to put the incident behind her) Oh shut up, will you! Sullivan, are you quite finished with your assault on this poor child?
MR. SULLIVAN. (hesitating) Well, no. I did have a few more pertinent questions–but, on second thought, maybe I am through with her.
JUDGE STONE. (with kindness) You may step down, sweetheart. (Impatiently) Next witness, Mr. Butcher.
MR. BUTCHER. State calls Mr. Judd Lawson. (pause while Mr. Lawson takes the witness stand) Mr. Lawson, are you next-door neighbors with the defendant and his wife?
[Come back tomorrow for Scene 3.]