She stood at the foot of the stairs, of a building that’s very design was made to intimidate. Inside that building was a murderer. Inside those thick ornate walls, that the plaque attested took nine years to build, was a man who had taken less than that time to destroy more than that number of people. The clock began to strike, and she jumped at the sudden somber sound.  She backed away from the building, craning her neck up, and up still further. There was the clock, with the guarding Gargoyles that stretched towards the four corners of the earth. Was it meant to be a symbol of justice’s far reaching power? If so, justice was also menacing.

Shivering, she turned up her collar and took on the steps two at a time, looking up at the faces weaved into the wall, trapped souls staring down at her with empty eyes.

She pushed against the heavy oak door and a group of people bustled past her, like birds fluttering to an open window. And there was yet another flight of stairs. In this gloomy entrance, she stayed a moment. At the top of the stairs a line of desks blocked off the main hall. Behind these desks, were the guards. They stood like judges, the light at their backs, while she stood demoralized in the gloom – Justice was menacing – But only to those who believed that it could be embodied in a building such as this. This building that was built large to belittle, with its elaborate trimmings and its empty echoing heart. She walked up the stairs, one at a time, each step a resonating strike in the core of her heart, striking down the minutes to the final hour.

The guard nodded solemnly at her when she reached the top.

She held out her bag to him, “Here you go,” she said, quietly.

“That won’t be necessary; if you wanted to shoot him you could have done it already,” he said, attempting humor.

She looked past him at the stain glass window – The picture depicted the ideal, the world working as it should. The idea, just like the glass it was painted on, was so easy to shatter.  She nodded at the guard and clutched the bag to her chest.

“I’m sorry things are going badly in there, but they can’t let the bastard get away with it.” His words lacked conviction, and were swallowed by the emptiness surrounding them.

Light flooded the courtroom and, within minutes, so did people. The prosecutor came to her and whispered a few encouraging words before taking his place. Seconds, then minutes slipped away, old statements were rehashed, and circumstantial evidence was revisited and rejected.  The defense attorney and then the prosecutor gave their closing address. The Judge turned to the Jury at last and asked, “Has the jury reached its verdict.”

“Yes we have,” was the solemn reply.

“And how does the jury find the defendant?”

“We the jury find the defendant not guilty, based on lack of evidence.”

The clock began to strike, it vibrated into her very soul, and when the twelfth hour struck, a gunshot bounded off the white walls.

Where evil had smiled, near where justice had sat, that wall was washed in red.





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