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Judgement Passed



Judge Manfred took off his black socks and regarded his webbed toes. Thank God for syndactylism, he thought. At school they’d called him Fishfeet.

“I felt inferior because I was different, so I studied harder and harder to make up for it and always got top marks in every subject, proving that I was actually superior.”

“Yeah, yeah, Your Worship,” said Spot the Dog. “I’ve heard it before. Without webbed feet to spur you on, you wouldn’t have become a famous lawyer and then a distinguished judge.” His tail went down.

It was midday. Judge Manfred sat at an oak desk in his dressing gown and judicial wig. The wig helped him think in matters of serious contemplation. He picked up his fountain pen.

“Today, Spot, I shall write a legal definition of the word ‘life,’ which has long been in common usage, but never been legally defined.”

“What’s the big deal? We’re born, go through life, then we die,” said Spot, licking his dick.

“Life,” Judge Manfred said, “is hard to comprehend, being not a substance but a condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms.”

“Catshit,” growled Spot, leaving the room to fetch the Judge’s leash.

They visited Bishop Bunter.

“How is Judge Manfred?” the Bishop asked.

“Silly as ever,” answered Spot, watching Manfred through the window, still wearing his wig, on all fours in Bishop Bunter’s pansy patch, poking his tongue out at the Bishop’s cat, named Scrunched-Up-End-of-the-Luncheon-Sausage.

“How old is Judge Manfred now?” Bishop Bunter asked.

“Sixty-nine,” Spot replied.

The Bishop raised an eyebrow.

“In human years, that is,” Spot explained. “I walk him daily. He’s fit but nutty as a peanut soufflé. Same as you.”

“Absoloodily,” answered Bishop Bunter. Spot clapped and cheered as the Bishop jumped out the window, grabbed Scrunched-Up-End-Of-The-Luncheon-Sausage by the tail and began swinging him round and round.

“In some circles,” commented Judge Manfred from the pansy patch, “swinging a cat by its tail would be considered cruelty to a dumb animal, but I, myself, take a different point of view.”

“Dumb?” shrieked Scrunched-Up-End-Of-The-Luncheon-Sausage, taking a swipe at Judge Manfred as he flew past his face.

The fun over, Spot the dog, Bishop Bunter and Scrunched-Up-End-of-The-Luncheon-Sausage sat quietly amid daffodils and skullcaps as Judge Manfred spoke about syndactylism and its impact on his life.

“What is life? So hard to define, and so different for someone with syndactylism. I owe my professional success to it. But I’ve never felt close to another person,” he said. “How could any woman be intimate with a man with feet like mine? Promise not to laugh? I’ll show them to you.”

Bishop Bunter nodded. “I promise.”

Judge Manfred removed his socks. Scrunched-up-End-of-the- Luncheon-Sausage arched his back and hissed. Spot barked. Bishop Bunter roared with laughter.

“You bloody bastard! You said you wouldn’t laugh!” cried Judge Manfred. Ripping off his shirt and tie, he lifted his arm and peed on the Bishop’s bald head.

This story was written by Bruce Costello. He lives in the seaside village of Hampden, New Zealand. After studying foreign languages and literature in the late sixties at the University of Canterbury, he spent a few years selling used cars. Then he worked as a radio creative writer for fourteen years, before training in psychoanalytically-oriented psychotherapy and spending 24 years in private practice. In 2010, he semi-retired and took up writing. Since then, he’s had over eighty stories accepted by mainstream magazines and literary journals in seven countries.

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