So there I was standing in a court room in Rhode Island in 1983 and the idiot sheriff was charging me with a bunch of bogus charges including stealing an ugly silver mug. The mug of course was the America’s cup and it wasn’t me that stole it, the crew of the yacht Australia II won it fair and legally.
I shouldn’t have been that surprised by the reaction of a few jealous law officials, after all think about the embarrassment of losing their precious mug after 132 years of racing where they hosted the race and made all the rules. Their embarrassment probably didn’t reach the heights of Dennis Conner who floated the tub that lost, but arresting me no doubt helped them hide their jealous red faces just a little bit.
Still, their embarrassment was not something I should have to pay for, neither should I have to wipe up their tears. John Bertrand, Ben Lexcen and owner of Australia II, Alan Bond, were the ones hoisting the silverware, not me, and while I do not automatically think they should be sopping up tear drops it definitely wasn’t my job!
“How do you plead?” The judge repeated before I had a chance to speak.
“I wouldn’t have a clue.” I said with my head down.
“Are you being smart, boy?” I heard the judge say.
“Compared to who?” I asked.
It was at that moment I knew looking down was only going to make these mongrels think I had something to hide. I might not have had much chance of a fair trial but I wasn’t going to go quietly either.
I looked up at the over weight, balding, big nosed man sitting in the big seat, the tear in his eye was evident to anyone watching and although I couldn’t actually see it I knew the butt hurt was there too. I looked at the sheriff, through his tears I could see the hint of a smile, he obviously knew what was going to happen. I looked at Téa, my lawyer, she had a stern look on her face as if she was wanting to tell me to settle down.
Since the court room was silent I decided to add another of my two bobs worth into the arena and since all but the last charge were just filler for the one they were most butt hurt about, I decided my little speech would focus on that charge.
“Your ugly silver mug holds not interest to me, I’ve never even seen it. I didn’t steal the stupid thing, it was the crew of Australia II.”
Well my honesty seemed to upset the judge even more, I guess there is just no pleasing some people. Although I have to say reading out my sentences did seem to bring the guy a certain amount of pleasure.
“So Bunyip boy,” He smiled a huge smile and I guessed he thought deserved some credit for such a witless insult, but I wasn’t going to give it to him. “as I’m sure even a dumb ass like yourself can work out these charges are serious and as such demand a serious punishment and after several minutes of thought I have found you guilty on all counts and this shall be your sentence.”
I looked over at Téa, she looked calm and collected, almost as if my life wasn’t riding on her defending such charges, although given how quiet she’d been since we got to the court room I couldn’t help but wonder if she was actually defending me, making up numbers, or actually enjoying herself.
The judge started again. “Stealing all them cars from the harbour is a serious crime and that is gonna get you ten years.” I guess I wasn’t that shocked. He continued his speech. “Flashing ya tackle at poor Rosie that will get you nine. Poor Rosie!”
As the judge took a breath I started to count off the years in my head, I was already up to nineteen.
“Inciting the riot, well I’ll be damned how do you live with yourself boy? That also is gonna get you ten.”
Twenty nine and counting. There was a bit of a smirk on my face as the sentence was being read out, I couldn’t help it, but when the guy read out the next one I couldn’t help but laugh.
“And ‘cause you so ugly I’m giving ten again!” Yet again my laughter wasn’t well received and yet again Téa said nothing in my defence so the judge just kept reading and I kept counting. Thirty nine and counting. “With you plans for the pope boy I’m gonna call it forty five!”
“Six years for the pope?” I whispered to myself, obviously you don’t care much about that poor old fella.
“What were you think when you stole that sub and smashed it’s periscope?” I didn’t get a chance to answer before he added. “It’s bloody lucky the sheriff didn’t catch you smoking dope a well.”
Have I told you that the judge didn’t seem to have a sense of humour? Well that was evident when I asked for a light and got another fifteen years added to the sentence. I was up to sixty years behind bars and he hadn’t even gotten to the major charge.
“Well boy. After much deliberation and thought.” I was learning my lessons quickly and I didn’t point out to the big guy that he really didn’t need to use both words in that sentence to get his point across. “I have decided that with the number of years you are facing you need some sort of deal to save your sorry ass. Is the prisoner,” I’d gone from the defendant to prisoner in several minutes, I was going well, ”willing to make a deal?”
The question was aimed at Téa not me so I figured I’d remain quiet and let Téa seal my fate. Was it the right thing to do? I hoped so!
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