Suing a Deity
The courtroom hummed. A hundred private and hushed conversations overlapped, as people adjusted their belongings, staked out their seats and prematurely opined on the outcome of my case. A few snatches of gossip stung my ears, as the whisperers suggested that I didn’t stand a chance, yet none seemed to doubt the validity of my claims. Voices swelled and ebbed at regular intervals; enthusiasm crested over decorum, and then snapped off abruptly when the audience recognized their own inappropriate volume.
On my side—the Plaintiff’s side—the low whir of chatter came from women. Half of them flapped their jaws, while the other half leaned forward to get a better look at me.
On the Defendant’s side, men crammed the pews, while simultaneously doing their best not to touch each other. Predominately baritone, their voices suggested anger mixed with a more fundamental bias. One man grunted loud enough for everyone to hear: What’s sup with that bee-ich, anyway?
The A-wipe was talking about me, of course. I could understand his point of view. I’m seriously, outrageously over matched. I’m just an average girl, a plain Jane really. I did have a lot of gall bringing a lawsuit against a goddess, and now that the trial was actually in motion, I wanted nothing more than to run away and hide. Foolish, foolish me. Why did I ever listen to Paul Kernosfkie?
Paul, my pro-bono lawyer and ex-boyfriend, cupped his hand over my sweaty fist and cooed something in a soothing tone. I didn’t catch the words, but at this point I didn’t want to be coddled; I wanted to flee the county, change my name and vanish from public view.
My gaze drifted over to the Defendant’s table. F. Lee Bailey, freshly arisen from the grave by the goddess just for this occasion, turned and awarded me with a slow and empathetic grin. Confidence oozed from his pores, along with an unpleasant stench. Bailey paused long enough to give my lawyer a smirk too, although there was nothing sympathetic in his face when he glanced at Paul. It was a Zombie look, a stare that said: I would like to eat your brains. Paul’s hand jerked away from mine, as he turned his back on the elder and slightly moldy jurist.
Aphrodite sat beside her undead lawyer. She glowed. Her aura radiated over the table and cast a semi-circle of light behind her. The men captured by the cradle of luminous light in the pews behind her, sat in rigid silence, too stupefied to speak or look at anything, except the back of their idol’s head—and a beautiful head it was. Gold ringlets tumbled over her back. Her hair seemed to flutter and dance in a breeze that did not exist inside the stuffy courtroom. I suppose, she’d conjured some mystical air circulation to keep the rotting corpse of Bailey from offending her delicate nostrils, and I suppose it would have been imprudent of me to ask her to include the entire courtroom in that breath of fresh air. I folded my hands, one atop the other, and stared openly and enviously at her, confident that I was not the first woman to do so.
Aphrodite had donned a traditional toga for her courtroom appearance. Stylish and yet simple. Her irises—bigger than a mere mortals and a dark translucent violet—were locked on the judge’s high-backed chair. I had the idea that it was not unusual for her to stare at a seat of power. Covet it, even. I was thinking of Zeus’s throne, of course, not the judge’s seat. Her chest rose in long, relaxed breaths that drew the eyes to those marvelous and bra-less boobs. I suppose, F. Lee Bailey, being a dead man, had a certain immunity from her presence. He exhibited none of the trance-like state that her nearest fans were demonstrating.
The Bailiff called the court to order, breaking my train of thought. It had begun. As Paul said, history would be made today. Never before, in all the centuries of law, had a human brought suit against a deity. Papers would be filed and kept in secure locations, books would be written and newspapers would be sold. Already my name flew across the internet and betting parlors were giving me long odds. Paul would become famous and I would…I would be lucky if I didn’t become the butt-end of every late night comedian’s joke.
The judge took his seat and nodded at the Bailiff.
“Jane Smith verses Aphrodite the Goddess of Love,” the Bailiff said, and he did a pretty good job, too, except when his voice soften on the word love and his knees seemed to buckle a bit. The Bailiff, a skinny squirrel of a man with thick glasses, glanced at the Defendant, sighed and scurried back to his position beside the judge.
It seemed a short and blunt beginning. I expected more, but I suppose a civil lawsuit, does not carry all the pomp and rigor of the law that we become accustom to in the movies.
“The Plaintiff’s lawyer will make his opening statement,” the judge said. The judge, a wise and elderly man, kept his eyes averted from the Defendant’s table. Bless him. He was trying to be impartial.
“Your Honor,” Paul said, rising from his seat, “my client is suing Aphrodite for pain, suffering and damages.” Paul walked across the room and handed the judge a fat envelope. “I’d like to enter into evidence several impromptu and nude photographs of my client. I want the judge and the jury to note that even though my client, Miss Smith, has reached the age of thirty-eight, she still has an above average figure; and, therefore, should be quite appealing to the opposite sex.”
The judged opened the envelope and slid the pictures out. He sorted through a dozen square 9 x 5’s. My first instinct was to rush the dais and rip the photos from the judge’s hands. Paul had never discussed the, incidental, fact that he was going to share nude snap-shots of me with the court. Where and when did Paul take these pictures anyway, I asked myself. My humiliation was complete, or so I thought. I gave in to it. What else was there to do? I couldn’t just scream, ‘Stop. Stop, now. I withdraw the suit.’ Or could I?
There were more photographs; but, apparently, the judge had seen enough. The Bailiff leaned over the judge’s black robe and took a freebie peek. Sensing his guardian squirrel, the judge relented and handed the pics to the Bailiff. The magistrate rested his big head in the cup of his right hand and nodded in the general direction of the seated jury.
I thought my eyes were going to pop free of my head, as I watched the Bailiff sashay across the floor. Once the photos passed to the jury, I couldn’t look in their direction anymore. Worse of all, I hadn’t even seen the ‘evidence’ myself, so I had no idea what the pictures looked like. My mind fluttered over the…well, what can I call it? The one-night stand that Paul and I had shared. A ratty motel room with flowered wallpaper in the background—that’s what I remembered best—which says a lot about our little tryst.
“Don’t be shy, ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” Paul said. “Have a good look. Miss Smith is a perfectly acceptable female form. I want you to know, with one-hundred percent assurance, that there is nothing out of the ordinary or abnormal hidden beneath her clothes. And consider this: after thirty-eight long, long years my client has never been loved. No, not once. Love has been denied to Jane. Time and time again.” He pointed at me. “And there is nothing wrong with her face, either. She’s tried different hair styles and multiple colors, but nothing works for her.”
Pumped with enthusiasm, Paul stomped back to the table and gathered up a sheaf of papers. I took the opportunity to beg him with my eyes, but he only winked at me.
“I also have several affidavits from many well known dating services and internet corporations, who all state that they have been unable to find a male companion willing to propose to the lonely Miss Smith.” Paul fluttered the papers in the air and took a deep breath, ready to forge ahead. “I will also produce several witnesses who will testify that Miss Smith has a pleasant if somewhat sedate personality.”
Paul walked back to the judge. At this point, my lawyer let his shoulders slump and he turned his hands out, in a gesture of being at a loss for words, which had never been true of Paul for as long as I had known him. He made a show of regrouping himself.
“In summation, your Honor,” Paul said, “A reasonable person can conclude only one reason for this lack of romance and lack of companionship in my client’s life.” He turned and pointed a shaky finger at Aphrodite. “The goddess has ordained that poor Miss Smith shall never be loved.”
The goddess gazed at Paul, as if seeing him for the first time, and he seemed to shrink inside his power-blue suit. Even his tie sagged, but he bravely held his ground. Paul wanted, above all things, to be a famous lawyer; or, failing that an infamous one.
“We mortals may ask ourselves why the goddess has done this,” Paul said. “But why is not the question that this jury faces. The defendant’s guilt is obvious, to any reasonable person, and my client has suffered and will continue to suffer. Maybe she will never know love. Unless the goddess relents, Miss Smith may die as a bitter old maid.”
I began to cry. I suppose my tears could have been mistaken for perfect timing, but I didn’t plan it. Paul had always been good at making me cry. The six women in the jury box brought hankies to their faces. Sympathy. Oh, how I hated sympathy.
“The Plaintiff rests,” Paul said and finally sat down. He actually had the unmitigated nerve to smile at me. I squeezed my hands together, praying that my degradation was over.
“The Defense will give its opening statement,” the judge said and my belly threatened to erupt.
F. Lee Bailey begged the court’s pardon and requested to remain seated—owing to the fact that one of his legs had rotted off. Indeed, his right leg was tucked discreetly under his seat like a forgotten umbrella. The judge nodded.
“Your Honor,” Bailey said and his voice boomed across the room. The jury swayed back from this vocal pounding. He may have lost certain body parts, but death had not weakened his vocal cords. “This is a frivolous lawsuit. Nothing can be proven. Can we divine all the reasons that men find Miss Smith unattractive? No amount of naked photographs can tell us about all the missed cues in her romantic endeavors or replace lost telephone numbers or negative rumors that might abound.” His voice softened and the tempo slowed. “Perhaps her pheromones emit an aroma that men find debilitating. Perhaps her well is dry. Perhaps she does not shave her legs at regular intervals. Or, perhaps, Miss Smith is just terrible unlucky. Bless her heart.”
Bailey slammed his hand down on the table. Two fingers on his right hand rolled away. The courtroom tittered. Bailey picked up his errant fingers and slipped them in his pocket. He smiled to let everyone know that he was a good-sport and not offended by their laughter.
“I would like your Honor and the court to consider the future of the Law. My client is a deity. Of what use is a civil law suit, a point of tort or even a criminal judgment?” Bailey said and continued with hardly an in-take of breath. Do dead men breathe, I wondered. “Aphrodite owns everything; and, yet nothing on paper. The plaintiff can gain nothing in monetary fines against my client. Or, perhaps, Miss Smith expects Aphrodite to take a job as a waitress to pay off her court penalties, should such be awarded, injudiciously, to the Plaintiff?”
The courtroom tittered, again. It was hard to imagine Aphrodite in a polyester uniform, a wad of gum in her mouth and a miniature pad in her hand.
“What jail could hold my client?” Bailey asked, “And even if this was a capital murder case, what punishment could the court demand? Aphrodite is an immortal?” He raised his finger toward the sky.
Bailey shook his head. Completely ignoring the jury box now, Bailey held his eyes on the judge.
“Your Honor,” Bailey said. “My client’s guilt is not the question here. The court’s ability to exact a negative ruling is the question. The very future and order of the Law, as written by man, is in danger of being over ruled by Zeus, himself. Will we risk that for the sake of one lonely; and, perhaps, very unlucky girl?”
The judge pulled back from his desk and let the idea roil around like slushy water in his brain. His ruminations lasted about 30 seconds.
“I judge this to be a frivolous lawsuit. Case dismissed.” The judge slammed his gravel down.
And me? Well, I’m just glad that it’s over and wondering if I have enough money in my bank account for a ticket to Aruba.
Author’s Note: Originally published in Emerald Dragon, August 2010 and listed on Facebook by admin.