John (13), Caleb (12), Hyrum (9), and Hannah (5) in the Utah State Capitol building
outside the old courtroom of the Utah Supreme Court.
No matter how carefully I prepared for trial, witnesses like Snoops and Tubby always managed to introduce the element of the unpredictable. Sometimes I found my cases unraveling before my eyes, with me frantically thinking, Why didn’t they tell me that before? This happened once when I was asked to prosecute a young man for illegal possession of wildlife when a “friend” from Florida brought him a baby alligator as a gift. But that’s another story. Let’s pick up where we left off with Chocolate. As a reminder, here is the cast again.
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. Very well. Present your case, Mr. Sullivan.
MR. SULLIVAN. Thank you. (as if the prosecution’s case were the weakest, most frivolous case he had ever seen) First of all, Your Honor–Mayam–I’m tellin’ you that you should dismiss this case right now! It is a disgrace to the entire criminal justice system, why, to the very Constitution itself! This man did nothing wrong, nothing more than argue with his adulterous wife, then leave the house for some respite.
JUDGE STONE. (chiding) Oral advocacy 101: never tell a judge what to do! Besides, I want to hear your side of the story. Call your witnesses, if you have any.
MR. SULLIVAN. (grumbling) Very well. We call Mr. Ernest Brown to the witness stand of this exalted Court.
JUDGE STONE. (aside to Sullivan, warning with a grin) Watch it, Sullivan!
MR. SULLIVAN. Mr. Brown. How long have you known the defendant, Mr. Victor Bull?
MR. BROWN. (quite pleased to be asked to relate his life story) Nigh onto 20 years, I reckon. Why we’ve been drinkin’ together since we was 15 years old. We’ve had some wild times together. Who-wee, could I tell some stories! Mm-mm. Yes, sir. That fellow Snoops has had three names, but me, I’ve only had one, since the early years: Tubby. Tubby. Fit me then and fits me now. Fit me till the day I die, I reckon.
MR. SULLIVAN. Thank you, Tubby. Just answer the questions without elaboration, please. And do know Mrs. Bull? And if so, how?
TUBBY. (disgruntled at his story not being more appreciated) Yes, sir, I do. She’s been a bar maid at the Dead Donkey for years.
MR. SULLIVAN. In fact, Mrs. Bull served you and Mr. Bull drinks on the night of July 7th, didn’t she?
TUBBY. Yes, sir. In fact, her boss had to send her home because she’d had a few too many herself. Only, she didn’t go home. She stayed right there with us and near drank us under the table. She was blitzed, yes sir, downright soused.
MR. BUTCHER. (panicked) I object! Mrs. Bull’s drinking has nothing to do with Mr. Bull shooting a gun at her in her home.
MR. SULLIVAN. He didn’t shoot it at her. Your own sweetheart Vickie said so.
MR. BUTCHER. She did not!
MR. SULLIVAN. She did too!
MR. BUTCHER. Did not!
MR. SULLIVAN. Did too!
MR. BUTCHER. Did not!
JUDGE STONE. (suppressing a laugh) Lord Almighty! Will you look at you two, arguing did not, did too, did not, did too, like two spoiled children. No wonder Snoops didn’t like being called Mr. Lawson. Grow up, just a little bit, please. Now, as to the State’s objection, I want to hear the rest of the story. Continue, Mr. Sullivan.
MR. SULLIVAN. (whining) Your Honor–Mayam–how am I supposed to mount a defense with Butcher here yapping like a wounded hyena every time things don’t go his way?
JUDGE STONE. Very well. Mr. Butcher, try not to object unless it’s really important. Now, the rest of the story, please.
MR. SULLIVAN. Yes, Mayam. Now, then, Mr. Brown. What was the interaction like between Mr. and Mrs. Bull at the Dead Donkey?
TUBBY. Not bad, after they’d had half-a-dozen. Before that it was a little tense. You see, Mrs. Bull had been braggin’ to us earlier that another customer had said to her, as she served drinks to him and his buddies, that he’d love to pour chocolate syrup all over her naked body and then lick it off–
MR. BUTCHER. (frantic and flustered) I object! This is really important! I object! I object! This, this, this . . . testimony . . . is . . . irrelevant, immaterial, out-of-bounds, disgusting, and utterly luskivious! Licking chocolate, indeed! Strike it! Strike it, I say! Strike it all from the record to preserve the unsullied business of this honorable Court to seek justice and truth!
JUDGE STONE. (astonished at Mr. Butcher’s outburst; inclined to sustain the objections, but intensely curious about Tubby’s testimony) Well, Mr. Sullivan, you have to admit, the testimony does seem to push the relevancy envelope a bit, wouldn’t you say?
MR. SULLIVAN. (conceding with a shrug of his shoulders) Very well, Mayam. No further questions for my friend, Tubby, here.
[On to Scene 6 tomorrow.]