Hyrum (13) in front of the doors of the Utah Supreme Court.
CHOCOLATE: A COMIC PLAY IN ONE ACT (Scene 3)
by Roger Evans Baker
Snoops, the main character of these scene, is quite a made up character. But having an uncontrollable witness is quite a routine occurrence at trial.
• 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
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?
MR. LAWSON. (happy to be of assistance) Yes, I live right next door. In fact, we share a duplex. They live on one side and I live on the other. Kinda’ like two homes in one, you know, with a dividing wall running right down in the middle. Not much of a wall, though–I can hear everything: water pipes vibrating, stereo blasting, laughing, shouting, and all sorts of carrying on. It’s hard to be a good neighbor, sometimes. But you know, I try. I try real hard. And I think I am a good neighbor, darn it. Like when their cat had kittens on my back porch. I took ‘em right over and gave ‘em to the neighbors, in a box. It’s their own fault, you know, for not getting the cat fixed in time. We gotta keep the cat population down, you know. It’s all in the fixin’, you know. And then there was the time when their dog pooped on my lawn and made a burn spot in the grass. I didn’t even complain, although I had rights to. People should keep their dogs–
MR. BUTCHER. Thank you, very much, Mr. Lawson. Would you tell us, briefly, what you observed on the night of July 7th?
MR. LAWSON. (cheerful) Certainly. I heard a gun shot next door and a bunch of female screaming and ran to the window and saw a man run down the front porch and then around the side of the house where I lost sight of him. I thought of following after him to see what was going on. (smiling, aside to the Judge) My friends don’t call me “Snoops” for nothing, you know. (back to Mr. Butcher) But with the gun shot, and all, I decided maybe I’d stay put. People is getting shot all the time by getting mixed up in trouble, you know, and I didn’t want to get mixed up in no trouble. No, sir. Trouble free, that’s me.
MR. BUTCHER. (in dismay) Thank you, Mr. Lawson. No further questions.
MR. SULLIVAN. (eagerly, licking his lips) Now, Mr. Lawson, or, should I call you Snoops? Which do you prefer, sir?
SNOOPS. Snoops is fine; or Judd. I’ve been called just about everything, you know. Like when my granddaddy called me Bud, and it stuck for years, until my high school sweetheart, God rest her soul, called me Snicker, and it stuck, until my drinking buddies called me Snoops, because I just kinda’ like knowing what’s going on, and it stuck for good, you know. But I don’t cater to “Mr. Lawson”; makes me feel like a lawyer or something. Don’t quite feel right.
MR. SULLIVAN. Well, then, Mr. Snoops. Could you tell who ran out the door?
SNOOPS. Snoops is fine. Just Snoops. No Mr. needed. Not exactly but I knew it was a man. You know, kinda’ tall, short hair, denim jacket, cowboy boots.
MR. SULLIVAN. (affecting astonishment) Surely you are not saying, Mr. Snoops, that a lady can’t be tall?
SNOOPS. No, sir, I aint.
MR. SULLIVAN. Well, then, are you saying that a lady can’t have short hair?
SNOOPS. No, sir, I aint at all. Short hair looks right nice on some ladies, though I like long, flowing hair, myself, of the blonde variety.
MR. SULLIVAN. Maybe you’re sayin’ that ladies don’t wear cowboy boots or denim jackets?
SNOOPS. (oblivious to Mr. Sullivan’s tactics) No, sir.
MR. SULLIVAN. The fact is, Mr. Snoops, you couldn’t really tell if it was a man or a woman, could you? For all you know it could have been a tall, short-haired, denim-wearin’, boot sportin’ lady, couldn’t it? You don’t really know what you saw, do you?
SNOOPS. (suddenly confounded) Well, all I know is that I saw a man or a woman run around to the back of the house. And I don’t know no more.
MR. SULLIVAN. (gloating) He’s all yours, Butcher.
MR. BUTCHER. (fed up with his insulting opponent) I really must protest, Your Honor. My name is not Butcher, it’s Mr. Butcher. It is truly bad form for Mr. Sullivan to keep referring to me as Butcher. It’s not civil. This is, after all, a civil proceeding, like Your Honor said, and he’s supposed to be civil.
MR. SULLIVAN. (sarcastically) Last time I checked, Butcher, this was a criminal proceeding, not a civil one, so I don’t have to be civil, do I?
JUDGE STONE. (angrily) Mr. Sullivan, whatever kind of proceeding this is, this is still my court, and I’ll ask you to be more civil for the remainder of this criminal proceeding. (aside to Butcher) Try not to be so touchy, Butcher! (resuming, impatiently) Anyone else, Mr. Butcher?
MR. BUTCHER. (with great expectations for triumph) Just one, Your Honor. The best for last.
[Come back soon for Scene 4.]