They Who Judge
By Nathaniel Bates
The Honorable Justice Leo Riley took the Bench. He went out of his way to look austere as part of his trademark. Those who knew him best knew that he carried within himself a social anxiety that made the Gavel as much a crutch as a talisman of power. Justice Riley may have been anxious, but he knew how to slip into an authoritative mode once both counselors rose. The Prosecution and Defense both knew him as a fair Judge, only swayed by the evidence. The Defendant rose to meet him eye to eye. The young Black man’s eye was void of any hope for the future. The Prosecution was pushing for the death penalty. The Police Union was strong enough to meet the death of any cop at an eye for an eye, leaving Darrel’s eye void of all hope. The newspapers and media had already tried and convicted him. Only a coalition of Black Ministers and Civil Rights Attorneys took on the possibility that Darrel might be innocent. They and his sister Sharmene were the only ones in his corner, up against the families of the victims.
Sharmene was a young and attractive African American woman. His Honor was not supposed to notice these things, certainly not in the midst of a case involving such tacit sensitivities. Justice Riley ignored her and began to address the court room. “The Jury is assembled to hear the facts of this case and the facts only. Mr. Darrel Simons is understood to be innocent in the eyes of the law. He is not ‘possibly’ innocent. He is innocent with the full burden of proof placed on the People to prove their case. His rights outweigh the feelings of the mob, or any possible doubt anyone might have of his innocence. The People must prove their case beyond the shadow of a doubt. This is not a trial by media, and it never will be.” His Honor was making an oblique reference to 24 hour news and their overwhelming need to pre-judge cases. There would be none of that, he intoned. Justice Riley did his best to ignore the compelling presence of Sharmene in the audience only to find himself realizing what she herself was too wrapped up in Constitutional law to realize, that her dress line was a bit high that day.
Sharmene was a Constitutional law scholar who had to brave prejudice and presumption to get where she was. She succeeded in getting out of the neighborhood while her brother went further and further down a path of despair. The guilt gnawed on her to the point that she now surmised it was too late. The best she could do was to represent her client pro bono, her own brother. It was the best she could do. The death of Mama and the absence of her father from her life from its beginning was the elephant in the room that loomed over the entire story of Darrel and herself, along with the symbol of centuries of oppression sitting on the bench. Justice Riley was not only White. He was Irish White and the lines were drawn in America. Yet, there was something different about him. She could not put her finger on it but something about him seemed an odd fit in this world. Was it possible that he might actually judge a Brother, her brother, fairly? It is possible that conscience might exist in the crevices of Power. But it is a lot like miracles in that they seem to evaporate on close inspection.
Sharlene once asked Mama why it is that if God was all powerful and all good that evil existed in the world. Mama thought about it long and hard. They were on their way to an upscale Church with middle class families, mostly lawyers, teachers, doctors and the African American elite of the town. They were the only poor family there, except for a small group of eccentric White hippies who wanted an “authentic” spiritual experience or something like that. Mama, by contrast, was a member of the Church as a charity case and it gnawed on her. Mama had known suffering in her life and she did not have a clear answer to Sharmene’s question off the bat. “Sharlene, baby, the Lord could take away the suffering of anyone anytime. But, what he wants is the good men who withstand the world. Those who withstand will overcome. He could make it another way but the good men won’t be overcoming then and that is the purpose of this world, honey.” The entire doubt of skeptics like David Hume, that of the question of evil and the justice of God, was answered by a woman who had never heard of them or ever studied formal theology. Without suffering there would be no light to contrast the darkness and that was profundity enough. What was needed was not miracles to sweep it all away but moral goodness to emerge from the suffering. Indeed, an entire course of theological disputation was answered by a woman who never finished High School but who knew the School of Life and a PHD in the Beauty in the Midst of Suffering. Of course, the “good man” was something of a gendered wish on Mama’s part and everyone knew it. Why else come to a far away Church but one with so many widowers and eligible men?
His Honor began the proceedings with a strong sense of Justice. He was bothered by the demagoguery of the Prosecution and local politicians. It also bothered him that IT was acting up. IT was something that he dared not share with anyone for fear that some might call him unfit for the Bench. He knew he could handle it but the discomfort arose in him when it came. He first experienced IT when a sphere of light appeared over his bed at 15. That sphere seemed to beckon him outside of his ordinary space-time reality. As he stared into it, he saw multiple time lines that emanated from all moments in his life. One version of his timeline branched out and became a Physicist. Another branched out and became a Mathematics teacher in Los Alamos New Mexico. And a third branched out and became a lawyer, eventually a Judge. This sphere of light may have been extraterrestrial, interdimensional, or perhaps a traveler from the future. Either way it was a very real experience of actual probability states his life could take. Ever since then Justice Riley was able to see into parallel time lines hinted at by some interpretations of Quantum Mechanics. However, he did not want to push his luck in explaining this to anyone because the fourth probability path was one in which he would end up insane. The very real pull of this future probability state meant he had to keep everything very quiet lest it might conceivably come to pass. Nothing would disturb a high profile murder case more than the Judge actually seeing multiple probability states emanating from the present. The Defense might like it better than the People but the People had better friends in City Hall.
Up until this point, the People had presented their case with brutal candor. Darrel encountered Officer Garseveni in a robbery gone wrong. He fired without remorse during this robbery, a calculated response that was maddening in that Darrel refused to take any responsibility for his actions. It was his lack of contrition and his claim that he was never there that made the Ultimate Punishment necessary. The Defense called Officer Gorliani to the stand for cross examination that briefly established the facts as he saw them while backing up his partner. His version of events was clear. Darrel was robbing a Chinese market when he and his partner chanced upon him. Mr. Simons shot his partner cold blank, he said. There was no 911 call to back up this claim but the owner backed up the claim of missing money. The People had the emotion behind them, along with the Badge, while the Defense had no witnesses and nothing to call upon. Sharmene had recently joined the defense team and asked the Judge for a break in the trial in order to better frame a defense. Justice Riley granted it. The Court room cleared while Justice Riley retired to Quarters. The orbs were starting to appear to him and he wondered how much longer it would be before he had to take a Medical and disrupt what was shaping up to be the trial of the century.
It bothered His Honor that there was no 911 call; that the police just HAPPENED to chance upon a robbery. Still, he was no one to favor conspiracy theories. Darrel might have been innocent until proven guilty but he was not going to buy a theory involving hidden police corruption and framing of an innocent man. It was an entirely crazy notion. The irony of Judge Riley denouncing anything as “crazy” was apparently lost on him. It was only after lying down in a haze of foggy probability paths that the humor of that dawned on him. Darrel deserved a fair trial and a fair trial needs a sane Judge. Then again, most legal lynchings in the United States were conducted by “sane” Judges. Maybe a Judge who believes that he can see through Quantum Uncertainties might be exactly the kind of insane Judge needed in an insane Justice System. Justice Riley lay down and looked ahead to the timeline in which he would be considered clinically insane. In that timeline, Judge Riley believed that government agents around him were conspiring to hide Einstein’s actual Unified Field Theory from humanity by hiring actors to impersonate scientists but who were really actors living simulated lives. Presumably they would follow false leads in science while the real research was going on behind the scenes. In this timeline, Judge Riley finally lost his grip on reality and was committed to an institution.
He could also see the other timeline, one that was parallel to the particular timeline in which he graduated with a BS in Physics and then pursued a Law Degree in order to become a Judge. In this other timeline, he graduated with a Degree on History. Yet, he had enough Mathematics and Physics to become a Mathematics Teacher in Los Alamos New Mexico. In this timeline, he felt uneasy as though there was something he felt he should accomplish but never did. During his entire life in that timeline, he never knew what he was missing but he felt that it had something to do with the sphere above his bedroom in 1988. He came back to his body and was deeply unsettled. There was something about the idea that Einstein may have written more than the world knew that made him think. He was a level-headed Judge (somewhat at least) but the thought unsettled him. It might have been a timeline of insanity but it was a timeline that felt real to the person experiencing it. The Leo Riley of that timeline even thought that a famous computer scientist was impersonating a physicist to promote the idea of a “flat earth” as part of a psychological experiment. He was clearly insane to all intents and purposes. But, the idea that there was more to Einstein than met the eye had a strange resonance even in his current semi-sane reality. He fell asleep wondering about grand unification theories, tunnels of causality, and how on the very round Earth he managed to become a Judge instead of a philosopher. Perhaps he would have served justice better as a philosopher.
His Honor awoke in his quarters and managed to sneak out for breakfast. Fortunately the Simons case was postponed so he had no trials that day. The trial would resume Monday so he could reflect on the day ahead. Leo Riley walked down the hallway and spotted Sharmene heading to the Law Library. She looked at him with the full might of someone ready to challenge the White establishment. Leo never thought of himself as the White establishment. He called himself an “Anarchist Marxist” in University, although he was in reality a moderate left-wing liberal. Most of his time was spent in the forest while reading his Physics books. He planned to get his advanced degree in Philosophy, not law, but Philosophy pays in wisdom and not in dollars. Leo smiled and Counselor Simons smiled back but both knew the tremendous wall that separated them. Leo did not believe in the death penalty and so there was no danger of any loss of life. Life in prison was the strongest possibility and both knew it. Come to think of it, Leo did not much believe in that either. He was unsure as to what exactly he believed.
Judge Riley ate his breakfast and left the building. His intended visit to the law library had to wait since it would be Inappropriate, Untoward, and Disconcerting if he were to be found there with the defense, all three words in capital letters and blazoned on his judicial record. He headed home to his small and lonely house filled with posters of nebulae and galaxies on his wall. His telescope was set up in the living room, ready to be taken out of doors at night. Inside of his dresser drawer there were magazines with very tasteful pornography. At least it was tasteful enough not to elicit too many protests from the Moral Majority and feminist leaders. He felt it beneath him as a Judge to take any pleasure in any humiliation or degradation. Really, it was nudity and not much more. The awareness that it was there always made him uncomfortable when he was not aroused but that day he simply looked on. Judge Riley walked into the kitchen and saw in plain distance a sphere of light hovering. He was shaken to his bones but stood his ground. It had been a long time since seeing such a sight and it was not exactly welcome. The sphere kept itself hovering and for the first time ever Judge Riley attempted a communication. He began to speak to the light, asking it what it was and what it wanted. Far from any altered state of consciousness, His Honor was in his right mind and wanted a cross examination.
The sphere of light never responded in words. Instead, he, she or it responded in nuances. For lack of a better word it was “telepathy.” There was no better word. The entity was a traveler between dimensions that managed the flow of time. Time equated to the increase of entropy, or the increase of possible information states. What Physicists in human reality overlooked was the possibility that information states were actually programmed into the Universe from outside. Boltzmann came close to discovering it but was called “mad.” His realization so pained him that he committed suicide. The sphere’s job was to increase the possible information states in the Universe. It also saw itself as a bridge between multiple timelines in that it was responsible for many causality loops that we call “timelines,” all at once. Judge Riley had an important mission in all of them, even the “insane” one. The sphere had to make sure that the transition from order to entropy went in a creative way, the life affirming way. In order for the life principle to flourish, Judge Riley had to do his part. In order for that to happen, he had to see something that would otherwise be hidden to his senses. The sphere then projected an image on the screen. It was an image of a policeman being shot in the clear presence of a Chinese market. Darrel Simons was nowhere to be seen. There were three police officers present and they had been meeting inside the store. The image faded. Nowhere in the trial had there been any discussion of a third officer. Officer Gorliani never mentioned any third officer. He mentioned no discussion. It had bothered Leo that there was no 911 call and apparently there was also no full disclosure either.
Leo froze with the full realization that he was the Judge in the case with information he had no business possessing. A Judge cannot be partial. He also cannot know information outside of the investigation. Most distressing was the realization that he had no mechanism by which to conduct any investigation or alter the trial. Contacting Sharmene Simons would be out of the question. She should know because the Defense should always know new information. It would be criminal to with-hold information germane to the trial. Yet, how could he know it was real? A sphere of light that somehow cast no glare on any wall or object, claiming that its job was to define the arrow of time by increasing the amount of information in the Universe, has never been called as a witness in any trial. The burden of proof would be on himself, the Judge, to explain why he as a Judge should call a ball of light as a witness. Could he call an interdimensional sphere of light as a witness? The first thing he would do is ask a few questions about the Second Law of Thermodynamics and Conservation of Energy. Murder was not the only law being broken in this Case.
Sharmane lay in bed thinking about her brother in jail. She also had to be honest to herself and admit that she lay in bed thinking about her own sexual frustration. Here she was an educated Black Woman who should have the world before her. All she had was the loneliness of being her own person up against the System without any man to hold her. She knew intellectually that White people were not simply handed democracy. White workers had to struggle against the System, against feudal lords and capitalist owners. But, eventually they established their own society in which they had the vote and franchise. They formed a society based on the pretense of democracy in which differences in power could be smoothed over by common skin color. Even opposition to slavery was sometimes more of a lament for opportunities lost by white farmers up against slave plantations than it necessarily was about African people held in bondage. Eventually, even white progressives like Justice Riley make their accommodations to reality. He was a “Marxist Anarchist” or whatever he was in University, but became part of the System. He probably did not even remember that she went to University with him at the same time. She stopped herself. Thinking about the Man during times of sexual frustration was treason.
Sharmene got out of bed and wondered aloud to herself whether her brother really was capable of this crime. She knew that the Police were often corrupt, but did she really know him? She suppressed that thought as being even more treasonous than any thoughts of His Honor as more than a symbol of white progressives selling out. Since she was not going to get any sleep, she might as well work on the case. Papers poured out and she went over the case again. Every step of the way she looked at every step. There was no 911 call, yet they somehow stumbled on a robbery before Darrel entered the building. Somehow they managed to get to the building and even enter it a full fifteen minutes before the robbery. The owner of the store and the owner of the building both had good relations with the police so there was an open door for them. No warrant was required. There had been enough robberies to frighten the owners enough to extend in writing an open door to Police. They could enter any time they wanted. Yet, the one shadow of doubt was the lack of any finger prints or evidence her brother had actually come there for any reason other than to shop. The cash register literally had no evidence of any finger prints from him. Already in the Community there were conspiracy theories around the CIA, the Freemasons, and the Police Union. This was insane, for sure, but the idea that Darrel was there also remained a kind of conspiracy theory that could easy be manufactured by Power.
Court resumed promptly at 9:00 and the Jury shuffled in. The People, representing the White People who bought into the paradigm of the System, appeared before Sharmene holding the entire might of tax-paying America against her brother. They all accepted realities like “national debt,” “nation-state,” and the rationale of power while all she had was the shred of doubt. It was less of David versus Goliath and more like Mulder versus Cancer Man. All she had was the possibility of a conspiracy theory. Justice Riley had a scared look that he kept well hidden. He knew that the Counsel for the Defense was going to present a case for inconsistencies in the police account. He looked at her with an inscrutable look that made her puzzled, but she glanced away and motioned for a cross-examination.
Officer Gorliani took the stand and was asked about his relationship to Officer Garseveni. They had only been partners for a short while, each requesting the other. She asked about their prior relationship. They met at a benefit for Muscular Distrophy hosted by Jonathan Chang, a Chinese-American benefactor with strong ties to a Hong Kong bank. They became fast friends with Mr. Chang and became instantly involved with a benefit. Sharmene realized that the Muscular Dystrophy benefit was a meeting place between prominent members of the Chinese American, White and African American elites of the city who regularly hob-knobbed for business. It was an entirely above board operation to all intents and purposes. She would be off her rocker to suggest any other than the best of motives for such a charity.
She then moved on to their relationship. They became fast and regular friends who often went on fishing trips with one another. They would regularly guard friends of Jonathan Chang whose businesses were often targeted for purposes of crime. This did cast doubt on the minds of the Jury, they could tell. Clearly they had been present before a robbery without any 911 call. It was as if they somehow predicted that Darrel would arrive. There was enough doubt cast that Sharmene knew there was an opening. She decided not to push her luck and to retain the witness for further cross-examination. The Prosecution then stood up and gave a round of questioning that had a “how dare you cast aspersion on the badge you liberal scum” demeanor to it. It was less about facts and more about retaining the Jury. Sharmene had to admit that her round of questioning was less about facts and more about getting the Jury so it was even in that respect.
Justice Riley slept at home that night instead of his Quarters. He remembered the day with an attractive African American woman whom both traditional racialist caste ideology and modern political correctness told him were off limits. Traditional racism told him that there were racial lines that were never crossed. Modern political correctness told him that any sexual relationship would be an abuse of patriarchal and racial power in America. Justice Riley thought it amazing how the two moralisms agreed with one another more than they disagreed. One denounced him for challenging the kind of thinking that emerged out of 1620’s Virginia while the other saw him as a nameless and faceless representation of the System. Neither saw him as something other than a race or a gender, nor could they imagine Sharmene as anything more than a symbolic person for that matter. Could she possibly see him as someone other than the face of injustice? What if he had to sentence her brother? What if, what if, what if…what if he sentenced him while with-holding his own vision of what really happened? That would make him worse than anything Sharmene would have imagined.
`Justice Riley left through what he could only describe as a portal to his other self as a Math teacher. He came to stand in the other reality. This Leo Riley lived a life of shame. He never amounted to anything and his status in the world was nil. He was a STEM professional alright, but in a town where his was the lowest status among STEM professionals. He was also a pacifist in the midst of the military-industrial complex. Mr. Riley lived in a small apartment with his old physics books and newer books. There was so much Judge Riley wished he could say to Mr. Riley, the eighth grade Geometry teacher who lived a ghost of a human existence. This Leo Riley also remembered the sphere and never understood what it possibly could have meant other than a vague sense that there was a Universe he could have explored but blew it. More than his low status, it was the sense that there was no future pathway to explore that limited his senses the most. Judge Riley stood as a solemn witness of the path he never took, of the path of frustration. What he wished he could say to Mr. Riley but did not was the fact that Mr. Riley was free. He could explore what he wanted and associate with whom he wanted while Judge Riley, and Dr. Riley the Physicist, were both constrained by the pressures of high powered existence. It was only the top level Judges and top level Physicists who really could speak their minds, and even then under tremendous pressure to conform. Otherwise, it was actually those in the lowest level of social status who remained most free.
He also zoomed in on some of the strange beliefs that Mr. Riley clung to in order to make his life meaningful. In particular, there was a physicist who made the rounds of the alternative internet proclaiming his belief that the Earth was flat. Leo Riley the math teacher rightly suspected that no intelligent person truly believed the Earth was flat, certainly no physicist. However, the Leo Riley of this timeline believed that the very presence of this person was evidence of a conspiracy to undo science that had even penetrated the scientific world itself. He also believed that this person was really an actor played by a prominent evolutionary biologist who studied artificial intelligence from the standpoint of Darwinian selection. This person was presumably conducting psychological experiments. All Leo Riley’s had the common past of reading the science fiction of PKD. PKD wrote a book in which there was a nuclear explosion that caused a group of people to enter parallel realities created by their own minds. One of them was a Universe created by a religious fanatic in which the Earth was flat and all science was about serving religious purposes. This Universe was ruled over by a very stereotypical image of the Abrahamic God, a simplistic caricature that PKD himself abandoned for a more open understanding after his own mystical experiences in 1974. The earlier story was somewhat juvenile by Philip K. Dick’s later exalted standards. But, Mr. Riley the math teacher wondered if PKD did not see a conspiracy in the making to undo the Enlightenment and even the whole idea of reason itself. The idea of a conspiracy theorist fearing assaults on reason seemed strange to Judge Riley and wondered to what extent his counterpart in the other timeline had a struggle within himself. The insane Leo Riley had taken it even further but Mr. Riley the teacher clung to his sanity.
Waking up was a groggy path back to his current reality. He was glad to be done with the life of his counterpart. Off to Court he went. Before he knew it, the Court was packed with the Police Union President and various Officers of the Union. The local conservative commentators packed the Court also. It was strange seeing conservatives allied with any Public Employee Union. It would only be a matter of time before the conservative commentators abandoned the Police Union during labor struggles, Riley noted. He knew how alliances between conservatives and blue color white workers fractured in the end when Big Business and low taxes demanded of conservatives that they leave the alliance. For now, the enemy was Him, the man in the dock, the killer of police. He would serve as a scapegoat to smooth over divisions around status and power. He soon realized why they were all present. The President of the Union was actually going to be called up as a witness. Apparently, Sharmene had done her research while he had been floating around timelines and she was ready to present her theory. “Your Honor, I call Police Union President David O’Donovan to the stand.” Officer O’Donovan was a retired Officer with a gruff look. He stared at Judge Riley with that “you are not really Irish you sell-out” look to him. It was obvious that a soft-on-crime liberal had no business being on the Bench, or marching in St. Patrick’s parade.
Officer O’Donovan was sworn in and he looked at Sharmene with a sullen look. It was not her color that offended him or even her gender as much as that he perceived her as having an education that he never had. His usual rage at liberal defense attorneys was softened by the fact that it was her own brother who faced life in a prison cell. Besides, he thought to himself, she was a pretty face and he had to give her that. “Officer,” she began, “Tell me about your first meeting with Officer Garseveni.”
“Counselor, I met him at a charity for a terrible disease. We also discussed a rash of burglaries that were terrorizing small businesses in China Town and elsewhere.”
“You then got an open door policy to enter their businesses at any time, for any reason?” He affirmed that it was so. “Were you aware that the man you met, Mr. Jonathan Chang, has strong ties to the Triad network?”
The Court room buzzed and Leo Riley, ever willing to play the stereotypical Judge, knocked on his Gavel until the room was quiet. The Prosecution objected and Judge Riley then admonished Counselor Simons that she needed to have some kind of evidence for her assertions or it would be struck from the record.
“Your Honor, I have a newspaper clipping in which Jonathan Chang was photographed with several known Triad figures at the very same charity benefit that these Officers all met.” She placed the picture on the Judge’s desk. The Prosecution demanded a copy of the document and Sharmene immediately gave him a copy. Judge Riley allowed him to the Bench in order to verify that yes, indeed, the picture was accurate.
Officer O’Donovan was blind-sighted. Yet, he was allowed to defend himself by the simple fact that he was not yet called down from the Witness Box. “Surely two guys can meet” was all he could say before Police Union Attorneys motioned him to be quiet. He stood down from the witness box and Judge Riley figured they were probably advising him to take the Fifth. Court went into recess almost as if it were an involuntary motion. Judge Riley went into his Quarters in order to collect his thoughts. He was literally in delirium over the crisis of conscience of his own dilemma. He either withholds information that could exonerate the Defendant, or he essentially gets himself declared insane. Either way it was a bad situation. Judge Riley lay down to collect his thoughts and found himself brought out into a causality tunnel to his life as a Math teacher in Los Alamos. In that timeline Mr. Riley kept fixating on a Physicist who declared his support for the idea of Earth being flat instead of round. Since it was obvious that no intelligent person would believe that, Mr. Riley then took the extraordinary leap of believing that this person was in fact a simulated identity. Apparently, many people were simulated identities creating what for all intents and purposes was a vast synthetic reality of soulless humans. It was a dismal view of the world. It was amazing that this man kept himself responsible enough that he could maintain any position. Judge Riley decided to will himself out of this timeline, something he had never done before.
The Judge willed himself to another timeline in which he was a Physicist. Dr. Riley was contemplating the idea of multiple timelines, and whimsically considering the possibility of a modification of Lee Smolin’s view of the evolution of physical laws. Instead of physical laws evolving due to Black Holes as in Smolin’s view, they evolved due to advanced enough civilizations that spawn new Universes. He even wondered whether that mysterious orb of light he once imagined—imagined of course since he was but a boy at the time and not a mature scientist—-might have been from a more advanced Universe that spawned this one. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which is the rule of any scientist. It was what separated science from paranormalism and conspiracy theory, even as all shared in common a search for patterns. Still, he admitted that M-Theory in its multiverse form was certainly untestable. There seemed to be more evidence for Sasquatch than there was any multiverse. M-Theory itself had a lot in common with paranormalism. He also had to admit that M-Theory and paranormalism were both attractive to the same types of minds. If he had wanted a practical occupation he would have gone into Dentistry. The Physicist turned and faced Judge Riley’s direction and looked puzzled. Something was not quite right but he could not put his finger on it. Surely he did not believe in ghosts.
His Honor decided to will himself away from possible detection by the strange intuition of a physicist whose skepticism amounted to a denial of his own powers of extraordinary perception and return to his Quarters. He shot himself back through the causality timeline. But, instead of landing in his office he found himself in a Chinese store. It was also a small restaurant, one that was dark. He clearly had landed in another time than when he started. He began to move by some act of intention when three police officers came in. He froze but realized none of them could see him. “Youse guys need to seal the deal.” Judge Riley recognized him as Officer Gorliani. He recognized the smug demeanor. He never admitted to himself when he hated a witness but he had to in this case. “We got the deal sealed. The Triads are going to deliver but we first gotta’ arrest the competition.” He recognized this person as Officer Garseveni. It was a clear call to arrest the leaders of gangs that rivaled the Triad. However, there was a problem. The Mafia also rivaled the Triads. It was then that Officer Garseveni piped up, “The competition means the Blacks. It means the Mexicans. It means rival Asians. It means cops who get in the way. It does not mean my crowd.” Cops who got in the way, indeed! The words were shocking for the head of any Police Union to overhear without complaint and it would certainly ruin his law and order image.
Judge Riley wondered about other controversial slayings of cops, decent cops who would have exposed corruption if they ever stumbled across it. The men argued but for Gorliani and O’Donovan the matter was settled. Garseveni pounded his fist, “I’m out!” He walked off and the two men looked at one another. The irony of Garseveni invoking “cops who get in the way” would never have been lost on him if he had known what was coming his way. There were no witnesses but the two men knew that there was a local small time criminal who would have the blame pinned on him. He was a Black kid with a once promising future. His sister was a high profile lawyer who would undoubtedly defend him but there would be nothing she had to go on. O’Donovan remembered her. A real looker she was. Judge Riley was disgusted and for the first time ever he was mad. His anger willed him back to his Quarters. He could care less about advanced civilizations creating Universes, timelines, increase of information, quantum physics or conspiracies. It would be a cold day in hell before anyone lied in his Court Room and played him for a monkey!
Sharmene heard the knock on her door and looked through the keyhole. She was always nervous under these circumstances, especially with knocks late at night. She hated to admit it but the sight of a White man put her at ease. It was an awful thing to admit but racial prejudice was ubiquitous. She opened the door to a well dressed Caucasian who happened to be none other than His Honor the Judge. A minute of surprise came and he looked nervous. Both of them realized that he had to come in quickly or the appearance of a Judge and the Defense Attorney together after hours would call everything into question. Affairs were one thing. Those were tolerable in the minds of most jaded observers in the Press and Legal arenas. What would never be tolerated was collusion. Judge Riley walked into her apartment and noticed her incredible taste in art, books, musical CD’s and furniture. The contrast to his own house, containing a few scattered science books, old college law books, and a dirty kitchen, could not have been more obvious. He felt a moment of inferiority when he had to admit that she was up on the latest trends in art and culture while he lived in a kind of self-imposed backwater.
“Your Honor, I need to know what is so important.” It was a nervous beginning that enhanced her concern. “Counselor,” he began. “I know things about the Case. I have the ultimate conflict of interest.” His nervous confession seemed to confirm everything she ever suspected. The White establishment had its hands all over this matter. The collusion went to the top. While Judge Riley may have pangs of conscience, it was still clear that the entire System was engineered against her brother. Someone would take the fall after his confession but the guilty would still go free. The guilty was the prison-industrial complex, the military-industrial complex, and the entire history of colonization, slavery, and class injustice that marked the world and not simply America. She admitted to herself that she was implicated too. Her own life was tasteful, prosperous and happy. Her happiness existed in marked contrast to what any human being ought to feel in a world such as this one. She was as implicated as any well off White person and she admitted it to herself for the first time just as the truth was finally admitted in her presence by a Judge. “Well, your Honor. It is time for confessions. Alright, confess how you know the truth.”
“Counselor, it is simple. I have been in contact with a spherical energy life form that is interdimensional in nature. These entities create whole Universes as part of their science projects. Their civilization is responsible for linear time as we understand it. They existed first in a parallel Universe but then branched out into this one. Big Bang? Their idea. Evolution? They at least created the physical laws giving it power. God? If there is one, they serve Him. They showed me the truth in this matter and put me in the position of being both Judge and Witness.” Sharmene stepped back and yelled, “SAY WHAT A MOTHER-F…..” She stopped herself from saying the whole phrase with her mouth wide open. Her outburst was more surprise than anger, humorous shock. Her mother always taught her to be a lady even when Sharmene had little idea of what that really meant. Sometimes some situations demanded a good outburst if a stunted one. Indeed, she expected an oppressor but she got a mental patient instead. Her curiosity was piqued as she demanded that he proceed. She was the boss of the courtroom now, the judge and jury of this strange figure before her.
They proceeded to talk for hours. Judge Riley spilled more and more details of the case that corroborated Sharmene’s own research. He could not have known intimate details of the lives of corrupt police officials. He was either in on it or….If he was in on it he would not have come to her like this. Something else was going on. Whatever she was, Sharmene remained a Christian woman and was not going to countenance the seemingly blasphemous idea that the Universe was a project of more advanced and complex interdimensional beings. They certainly would not be hanging around some 15 year old kid’s bed telling him all kinds of jive about a life mission and the evolution of consciousness. There had to be some psychological phenomenon at work. She also admitted that his state of sanity may require a motion for removal. But, she also admitted that any other Judge would mean defeat for her brother. He was his one hope. He might have been an unfit Judge but he was the best witness she had. Too bad the Jury would never believe him as a witness. However, as a Judge he might well be perfect. He knew the truth and it was his job to uphold the truth. The paradox was that in order to uphold the truth he would have to deny the truth.
Judge Riley crept out of her apartment and scooted to his car. He reflected on the “flat earth physicist” that his alter ego became obsessed with. Dr. Emery Holden was a Physicist who proclaimed that all Physics based on “globularism” was false. He branded himself as a “Zetetic Libertarian Marxist Anarchist” and made the circuit among Post-Modernist students. His theories then went out to the broader community of the internet based conspiracy communities. It was at that point that Mr. Riley became troubled. From nuclear physicist at a government laboratory to leftwing radical to post-modern denier of basic science was a leap that no intelligent person would make. It was clear to Leo that he was part of some kind of psychological experiment. It was particularly strange that he spent a stint studying social physics and complexity theory at Northern New Mexico’s Center for the Study of Theoretical Complexity. It was an interdisciplinary think tank seeking to unify Physics, Mathematics, Biology, and Social Complexity. Mr. Riley wondered whether the whole idea of a “flat earth” was an experiment in meme spreading and social trends. Eventually it went deeper. The idea that the Earth is flat and that we live under a dome sky was not simply theater but possible training for a future of artificial intelligence and virtual reality. The planners of the new reality might want people to accept living in a Holodeck as the only sustainable future on a dying planet. Mr. Riley was clearly a troubled person but there was a strange logic to his paranoia. Of course no one was watching him all the time. It was a strange cosmic irony that just as he was thinking that an FBI unit was monitoring his every move from a block away, having recorded his entire conversation with Sharmene.
The Court room went without much incident. There was an examination of various forensic experts who testified that the gun was fired at close range in the back. The cross examination more or less confirmed the same thing. Judge Riley did his best to slow the process down and make it as deliberative as possible. The DA was signaling his call for the death penalty to the media. There was not a lot Sharmene could do and His Honor felt the conflict between his duty as Judge to uphold Justice and his duty as Judge to uphold “justice” as defined as precedent and legal tradition. The case was getting close to coming to a Jury. The shadow of doubt was cast but little could be proven. Judge Riley could only hope that he had helped by what he could only be considered an illegal tampering on his part, as well as illegal partiality. Violating his duty to justice was his duty to Justice. There was no other way other than to pull the plug and declare what he knew in open court. He would be disbarred for insanity but, no longer His Honor, he would still retain his honor. The day was over, thankfully, and a final round of witnesses would be called. Then would come the Jury.
Dr. Riley the Physicist speculated on the theoretical nature of reality. Dr. Riley, Judge Riley, and Mr. Riley the Math teacher all attended the same University. One graduated in Physics and went on to Graduate School to study theoretical cosmology. The other went on to study Law. The third never finished his Physics degree due to a series of mental stress points that forbade concentration on his studies. An ever expanding consciousness was accompanied by a never disciplined mind that meant that his textbook in some classes were never opened. It was not his choice. He suffered greatly due to the fact that his own consciousness continued to dwell on the reality opened up by the Sphere. Eventually he finished his degree in History not Physics. He knew enough Physics and Math to get supplemental authorizations in Math and Physics. He always wondered what his life would have been had he either been a Physicist or a Lawyer. The thing that never occurred to him is that he himself had a far more continual audience with the real Answers in the Universe. He kept his association with the Sphere longest. He just lacked confidence to believe that he was something more than an insignificant speck in an uncaring Universe. Of all three branches, it was ironic that Mr. Riley imbibed best of the three of them the narrative suggested by modern science that we are insignificant specks of a vast Universe, and of the message of Law that individuals matter less than precedents and traditions.
Judge Riley realized that he might have to brush up on his math skills. If he lost his seat on the Bench, he could always teach. It was ironic that while Mr. Riley resented life for not opening up better doors for him, Judge Riley wondered what life would have been had he kept his innocence. So many times he followed mandatory guidelines that were unjust. Young people were sentences to long terms for drugs. First time offenders were sent to jail. Women whose boyfriends were drug dealers turned on them for better sentences while their girlfriends went to prison for lesser offenses. He was there when it all happened. He did nothing. Really, it was his Gavel that presided over all of it. It was Mr. Riley who was innocent; and perhaps Dr. Riley as well. Both of them wondered what life would have been like if they had gone to Law and lived the high life. Yet, it was His Honor who could not even do the right thing and come forward in such a case as this. Dr. Riley touched the Universe. Mr. Riley touched hearts. Judge Riley had not touched anything or anyone for years.
The Judge left the building bewildered and disoriented. His life was a lie. Sharmene looked at him with the knowing look that he was a man who was implicated in oppression. He knew that he had failed in the most elementary mission of a man to be a man. He stopped and communicated to the Sphere that if there was a God they themselves served to send the message that he was sorry. American justice meant Justice if it meant anything. It was not enough to uphold procedure. Mr. Riley and Dr. Riley both felt deep failure in their hearts. Mr. Riley suffered for having failed in his sanity, and Dr. Riley for having failed in his heart. Judge Riley failed in his life’s mission which neither of the others had ever done. The burden of the reality that he was not a particularly courageous Judge sunk in. He was what Sharmene must have thought of him, another upholder of the System. Did it matter what color he was? What gender? In all honesty he could have been a purple hermaphrodite and it would not have made a difference. The wealthy and powerful called the shots and he was the gun. But there was one thing he had that Mr. Riley and Dr. Riley did not have. He had real political power that he could wield, not simply intellectual or moral power. And with actual societal power always comes the element of surprise.
David O’Donovan listened to classical music of the joyous eighteenth century variety. It uplifted his spirits and gave him joy. Perhaps he knew that Beethoven was a revolutionary more akin to the Occupy Wall Street protesters he rejoiced in beating up. However, his more meditative nature came out when he listened to that type of music. As Judge Riley walked up to his house, he realized that there is more to any man than one or two dimensions. The worst of us have our complexities. O’Donovan had a soul and he honored it even if the man went wrong. The Judge rang the doorbell and O’Donovan looked out with surprise. The ability to surprise could go multiple ways. He motioned His Honor the Judge inside with the utmost in frightened good will. Wine was immediately offered and the good Judge declined. The Judge sat down and accepted hot tea with lemon instead. The conversation got around to what brought the Judge to his door with the thought at the back of his mind that there might be a delicious impropriety involved that just might mean a deal had been brokered.
Judge Riley set the tea cup down and began somberly, “I know the truth. Do not ask me how I know, but I know. I know what happened in there. Right now you are probably thinking that this is part of some corrupt bargain, some deal. Quite the contrary. I may be many things but I am not one for deals. I am a tough Law and Order Judge. To be honest, I am a real bastard. And, to be really honest, I have gone along with lowdown snake garbage in the past. But, the murder of a cop is quite another thing.” O’Donovan looked right at him and said nothing while Judge Riley continued, “There is only one deal to make. This is not your trial. It is Darrel Simons’ trial. He is not a nameless face. He is a real flesh and blood man. Garseveni may not get justice, but Simons will. You and your man will identity Simons again and say you made a mistake. You will say it is an honest mistake and that a case of mistaken identity has occurred. Damn you and him straight to hell. I can pursue the matter no further after that. But, if you force my hand by making me an accomplice to injustice, I will pursue you murderous bastards straight into hell. This is a promise signed and sealed on my Royal Irish Ass.” O’Donovan said nothing but knew Riley was a real Irishman after all. He knew procedure in these cases. He would deliver and nothing more would be said. Whoever tipped off the Judge would be dealt with. He would never cause another problem for anyone ever again. If it was Gorliani, he would suffer slowly. But, a sitting Judge could not be whacked. The retraction would come and Darrel Simons would get off but there would be hell to pay for sure.
It all happened suddenly. The retraction came and the DA was flummoxed. The Gavel came down and the Defendant was immediately released for lack of evidence. It was possible that another African American male was responsible and at large. “At large” was a news media meme that spread far and wide. A killer was on the loose yet again. This was the trial of the century and Judge Riley was promoted to an Irish Lance Ito. One might wonder who was the Johnny Cochran. The Fuhrman in the case was clear. There were two of them to be hated by the Community for having dragged an innocent Brother through the mud. Sharmene was the one most astonished. She suspected that someone in the net of corruption had pressured them to ease off. It was the only explanation. Already the ties to the Triads were emerging in the online media and the Rumor Mill. It was possible that someone wanted the story to go away. None seemed happier than Judge Crazy Man. He was clearly relieved of the burden of whatever his cockamamie jive belief structure put him under. She wondered whether or not it would be wise to come forward and tell what he told her. She thought better of it. Her own career might be tarnished for having sat on it. She would wish him well and she realized that he was an ethical man if anything. Something told her he had changed in having reconnected with this spiritual experience of his at 15, or whatever the hell it was. Besides, any risk of a mistrial meant disaster and she knew it.
Sharmene hugged her brother and they went off to a restaurant. They enjoyed themselves, but even the overjoyed happiness of recent events could not mask the distance between them. She had gone in one direction while he had gone in another. Her brother had the very real risk of becoming a Statistic in a society all too willing to tally Statistics. The “S” in Statistic was capitalized just as Black Male was capitalized. Elections to President, space ship captains, Bill Cosby as Dad and Will Smith did not change reality for millions of men who never became Barack Obama, Captain Sisko, Heathcliff Huxstable, or the Fresh Prince. There was no guarantee or even any promise of a turn-around in his life. What disturbed her most was the lack of any critical reflection. Someone with a second chance had an obligation to aim high and reach even higher. Mama would have been able to reach him, for sure. She was still his sister in whose shadow he lived but whose success could only remind him of his own feeling of emasculation. Deep down he had always been something of an intellectual whose interest in science and mathematics was never fully squelched by poor schools, violence, or teachers in it for retirement. They parted each, her to her apartment and him to his broken dreams.
She walked through the door and saw her computer from across the room. The switch had been left on and she looked puzzled. She always turned off her computer switch. Something did not feel right and she knew it. Someone had been in her apartment and her Spider Senses told her that it had to do with either the Case or her previous political activity. The Patriot Act had been invoked for use against domestic critics of foreign as well as domestic policy. She had represented radicals and protesters. One time the GPS in her car was plugged in while she left it at the Airport even though she never plugged it in. She suddenly knew that there was something deeply wrong. She knew the address of Judge Riley and knew that she had to meet him. Why she did not quite know but there was something to who he was and what she knew that was important. The knock was on his door this time. He was as surprised to see her as she had been to see him.
Sharmene walked into the apartment and immediate noted how much it resembled the apartment of a young person. It was shocking that such an influential member of the Establishment resembled a young man in a college dorm. There was obviously no wife. She sensed in her stomach that there was pornography hidden somewhere. She suppressed the thought but she could sense it in the insecurity Judge Riley felt as she walked too close to some areas of the room. They both sat down at the same time and it was just then that Leo realized that he had not offered her anything to drink. He signaled a willingness to offer her a drink and she declined. Sharmene told the Judge that her apartment had been entered and that she felt it had something to do with the Case. She was scared and felt he should know. Judge Riley stood up and began to pace. Something told him that he was as much involved in this noire scenario as she was. The whole scene felt like a Film Noire. Nightlights shone in the distance and the atmosphere felt strangely romantic. He had to admit it felt strangely sexual.
“Counselor,” he began, “I am not sure I can help in this situation. I have done my job.” She did not understand what he meant at first but slowly it dawned on her. He had threatened O’Donovan. This must have been how this whole scenario unfolded. She was in terrible danger and she knew it. O’Donovan must have found out that no one squealed and that she and the Judge were the only two who knew. “We are in this together Judge.” It was all she could say before she was quiet. She tried to tell herself that her attraction to Judge Riley was not real, that it was the equivalent of Sally Hemmings actually feeling something for Jefferson. Both Riley and Jefferson were privileged white liberals who never acknowledged their own privileges. But, there was a difference. For all of Thomas Jefferson’s genuine belief in the ideals of the Enlightenment, including a large degree of anti-slavery sentiment imbibed from Locke, Rousseau and French philosophers, he never renounced his position of privilege and power. Judge Riley did, however. He was willing to put his own position on the line and passed the moral courage test. Actions spoke louder than words. It is one thing to put a subsequently deleted denunciation of King George in the Declaration of Independence that condemned him for having stopped Virginia from banning slave imports. It is quite another for this man to risk everything.
Judge Riley looked in her eyes. “Counselor, I confess to you that I have not been the moral beacon I should have been. I went along with the System. I was part of the problem and not the solution. I am sorry.” He went quiet and he could feel the night air. Suddenly and without thinking he moved forward and kissed her. The first time was on the cheek. He stopped and then they both kissed on the mouth. The barriers between them were strong. Sharmene still saw him as another example of structural oppression, as much of women as of people of color. But, she realized how much each individual was different. Besides, he was a damned fine kisser and there was something about danger that brought out the primal need to draw close to someone. She resisted the pull to come down onto his bed because Mama had always told her that Bad Men were only interested in that. Real men were men of God who would never dream of that. Oh Mama, all men are like that so all men are Bad Men and that is why they are sexy. Without Bad Men we would not reproduce the species. Bad Men became Good Men when they stripped themselves down to their real feelings and dealt with reality but that always comes later. Of course, Mama never met enough of either group of men to overcome her loneliness but Mama could not be blamed for that. Leo Riley removed the puritan clothe of a Judge in her eyes to show the man underneath. She now began to show him the woman underneath. The night air blew a wind of dangerousness but also of excitement.
Morning came and they both woke up together. He kissed her on the mouth and went to make breakfast. It was Saturday and the two of them would spend the day together. They both knew that they would be noticeable as a mixed race couple. However, they were anything if not brave. They set out for a local park and noticed a police car slow down. Whether this had to do with the Case or not, she did not know. Her sense was that it did not. Perhaps this would be good for Judge Riley to know what it really meant to be African American in the United States. He always resisted the idea of “privileges” because he felt that they were rights everyone should enjoy and not privileges. She understood the logic of this but wondered in her heart of hearts if his idealism was possible. He would know the logic of prejudice at its most ubiquitous when he dealt with the State.
They soon set off to meet her brother in his apartment complex. Both of them lived in more upscale areas and they were both a bit nervous. They walked into her brother’s apartment and saw his look of surprise. She informed him of their relationship. Darrel took it in stride. It wounded his pride that a beautiful and intelligent Black woman would not be with a Black man. Then again, he had been with White women before so he was not going to judge. What took him more aback was that this was the man who might have sentenced him to life in prison had it not been for a quirk of fate. He learned to be forgiving and put any resentment out of his mind. But, what really got him was the strange dream he had dreamt the previous night about Judge Riley. The Judge was a mathematics teacher in New Mexico whose sense of failure was oddly similar to his own. Both of them had big dreams as kids. Both had wanted to be astronauts or scientists. Both let those dreams go. It was just then that a huge Sphere came into Darrel’s bedroom and he was not sure if he was asleep or awake. The Sphere told him that his life still had potential. He was not condemned by genetics or fate to be a criminal. It was a beautiful dream but it felt strangely real. Darrel had been thinking about this “dream” all day. Seeing His Honor right there added a strange sense of confirmation to the whole experience. It was due to this dream that he was at least level headed about his own sister dating the very Judge who almost sent him to prison.
Brother and sister kissed and soon parted. Whatever separated them, they still had that bond. She loved him and he knew it. That was what counted. Any emotion more specific would be awkward. They left for Leo’s apartment—he was “Leo” now—and walked up the stairs for an intense and emotional discussion on race, gender, power and law. They had to have it out.
“It is not we who need to change, Judge, but you. Racism is a system of oppression. It is a system of power. And you, Judge, have done nothing to undermine it.”
“Yes, it is a system of power, counselor, amidst any number of anti-democratic systems of power that I have sadly done nothing to oppose. Throw in class oppression in that the rich afford lawyers. You are right. I have done nothing to substantively change anything. But, all of us need to change. All of us have contributed to creating a society of rampant individualism and no social solidarity. White males may have started it but most of society accepts its premises.”
She thought about that one. All of America, all races, accepted the fundamental premises of consumerism and materialism. It formed the basis of so many problems. “Yes, Leo, but the demand must be on Power. Maybe it is unfair to say that we do not have to change. All of America must change. But, the demand must be on the institutions of power to bend to justice or they must be replaced.”
Leo stared at her and knew in his heart she was right. They finally joined themselves together as one, having agreed as one.
They spent the afternoon in the park and watched the sunset across an artificial lake. It was nightfall and they felt a kind of peace that did not exclude a feeling of unease. Nightfall brought shadows, the unknown and doubt. Freedom from doubt is never part of the bargain of life, Sharmene noted. It was something Leo would have to recognize. Privileged males almost never know this. Underprivileged males knew it better than anyone. They soon picked up the pace and walked toward a well lit area. Two men were behind them and two men were in front of them. It was not long before they were cornered in a dark alley and in front of them was O’Donovan.
He stared at Judge Riley with a kind of resigned and frightened look that spoke of doubt that they would able to push the “Black Guy Did It” narrative. Perhaps Darrel was angry with his sister for dating the Man. No, that would not work. Darrel was already tried and found Not Guilty the first time. Something would have to come along but these two had to be eliminated. “Your Honor,” O’Donovan intoned, “You know. I don’t know how you know, but you know.” The two men stared at one another, as if O’Donovan were certain the secret would come out. He decided on this ambush in a moment of panic. The plan was not well thought out. O’Donovan aimed his gun at Sharmene in a wordless threat.
Judge Riley knew he had to say something so he decided on the truth. “I have been in contact with an interdimensional intelligence that engineered our space-time continuum. It informed me of what is outside of space-time, and what is inside. It has shown me an imbalance in our world, injustice being the ancient term for imbalance. I have also seen my own complicity in it. You are a disgrace to that uniform, and a disgrace to the principle of law.”
O’Donovan was floored to say the least. Riley was serious. And, more to the point, an Irishman will defend his religion and beliefs to the hilt. They are part of his blood. If Riley believed in aliens from some other Universe then he was as fanatical as any English Protestant or any Catholic Unionist but also just as true to himself as a man. There was no telling where his fanaticism might lead him. Cromwell and the Northern Protestants were possessed of no less. “What are you going to do, Riley?” “What should I do?” O’Donovan had no choice. He had to pull the trigger and he knew it. He had nothing against either of them but he knew that the path of darkness could not be retread. It was the other lesson of history, Irish and otherwise. A truly dark path required blood, and most human paths had some degree of darkness in them. He felt sick in himself for the first time in a long time. But, he knew he had to do it. They all raised their guns in the air and aimed.
“You mother-fuckers better stop aiming your pea shooters at my sister.” Surrounding them were Darrel and a group of his associates, all aiming their weapons. The four rogue police dropped their weapons. Darrel was filled with rage and he knew it. Anyone who dared to mess with his sister messed with his manhood. By all historical standards it ought to be a death penalty offense. This modern code of law was inorganic on some level and he knew it. O’Donovan stepped back while the Gang was waiting for clear directions. There was some nervousness in the ranks because killing four cops brought bad news, even if to save the life of a Judge and Attorney. The Code allowed for it because they were rogue cops and not at all genuine Officers. Darrel aimed the gun and snarled to the point that O’Donovan drew back. His sister was silent due to fear that anything she might say might cause the trigger to pull. A moment passed and Darrel remembered the dream. He remembered the light. He remembered the moment he saw His Honor in the other world. The two of them shared their disappointments and Mr. Riley begged him to study and succeed. He begged Darrel to advance his own life where he could not. One of them needed to succeed and it would be the one younger and stronger. A tear welled up in his eyes. “Officer O’Donovan, I am making a citizen’s arrest.” Sharmene finally breathed at last. It was over.
The newspapers were filled with accounts of corrupt cops. Federal indictments were soon in coming. The Police Union elected a slate called the “Crew of 1919” who were progressive police officers who wanted to engage other Unions, and also engage the African American community. They also demanded the right to strike and this made the power structure even more uneasy than the thought of Police and Community actually seeing common interest. All seemed to change quickly with the arrest of O’Donovan. The exact role of Judge Riley and Counselor Simons was unclear but they were evidently clear of any wrong doing. The FBI had been monitoring them and this was how a Federal case was built against O’Donovan. How it is that a former gang member knew where they were to engage in a citizen’s arrest was also unclear. Talk of his being guided by a sphere of light whose role it was to guide the moral evolution of humanity sounded just crazy enough to be true in some corners, and evidence of pseudo-science in others. Either way, Darrel was going to college and he planned to study Astrophysics and Engineering. He had the full encouragement of Judge Riley and his sister, who were the new couple around town. Some Black men and some White women resented them but the social consensus was that they were a cute couple. What was strange was that there was talk about the Judge himself and some kind of sphere. There was even gossip that whatever strange religion converted Darrel Simons also converted the Judge in his case, all dismissed by responsible parties. Some went so far as to suggest that the FBI was originally monitoring him as part of some X-Files like interest in a Sphere from another dimension and that the O’Donovan indictment was really more of a fall out from that original goal of making contact with the alien sphere. This speculation formed part of the fringe gossip, of course, and was never even considered by responsible parties since the FBI denied all rumors. What was certain to everyone was Sharmene’s influence on the Judge. Judge Riley was renewed in his commitment to Social Justice. He was reborn with new idealism and he would no longer be a Company Man. It was like college all over again for him, except with a girlfriend this time.
Mathematics teacher Mr. Riley had a dream in which he was a Judge who faced down tough guy cops or some strange thing like that. It was all surreal and he barely remembered the dream. All he knew was that he felt hopeless, as though his best chances had gone by. He meditated on the question of whether life had any purposes, whether his life had any purpose. He had volunteered to teach inmates at a jail during a Summer Session. He would be part of the GED program. He walked into the room and saw them men all waiting for some hope, some chance, someone to take a chance on them. There was one inmate with a critical eye for wonder, as though knowledge might awaken something in him. He knew he had to get his GED in order to move on to college. Something had to change in his life. The two men sat down together to study Mathematics. Mr. Riley asked him his name. “Darrel,” he answered, and they continued with renewed purpose.