Tuesday, September 9, 2008

041: Not Without My Lawyer

Which lawyer should Charleston choose?
Gil Ardo: 0 votes
F'haat Tohtoa: 0 votes
Jimmy Swift the Third: 4 votes
Charleston sat in a nondescript little room, unfurnished save for a table, chair, and desk lamp. There was a large window on the west wall, which he assumed people were watching him through as he doubted anyone would let an exterior window get that dirty. There was also the obligatory door, which was not so much a furnishing but a door. He had been given three files to look at, to further help him choose a lawyer. A federal agent had assured him that it was basically a formality, and there was already a labor camp in a third world nation awaiting him.

"What are the charges against me, again?" said Charleston, looking at the lawyer files.

"Are you sure you want to discuss this without your lawyer present?" said a man in a severe suit and sunglasses. A wire ran from a device in his ear into his suit coat.

"I don't really care. You've already assured me that it's futile."

The man slammed his hands on the table, and pointed at Charleston, "Let me make this clear. We want to do this as by-the-book as possible, Mister Charge, and so you have to choose a lawyer before we tell you anything."

"Fine. I choose this one. The one from Earth," said Charleston, holding up the file on James Swift the Third.

The agent took the file and held it up to the window. A few moments later, a thin, arrogant looking man was shoved into the room. He had an ill-fitting gray suit on, and was carrying a briefcase. Charleston could have sworn he had seen him before.

"Did you have all three of them just waiting outside?" asked Charleston.

The agent laughed malevolently, "Are you dense? Why would we do that?"

"Yeah, I suppose-"

"We already had Ardo and Swifty here to try them for incompetence. You made the wrong choice, boyo. Now, you want the evidence we have against you? Exhibit A, you worked for TYRIS and were an instrumental part of its operations, it would seem. You had six times as many missions as any other insurance agent."

"I liked my work."

"Nice try. No one likes their job. Exhibit B," said the agent, pulling a tabloid out of his coat, "Go ahead. Take a gander."

Charleston stared at the front of the tabloid, which bore the headline: "SUPER BATTLE IN SOUTH CAROLINA"

The story, with photographic accompaniment, detailed the battle in horrific detail. There were pictures of everything: the dead, the return of the Paragon Platform (which was actually in every newspaper), the army of villains, and one of Charleston himself sitting with Land Captain with a less-than-flattering caption below it.

How could this be? The whole event was wiped from everyone's memories, and he was darn sure no one took any pictures or anything. Except for Photogra-She, though Charleston recalled that her photos had been primarily of the amazing Serial Hang-Man. He was only in one of the tabloid photos. Ah, but that was the thing. Photos had to be credited to someone, and Charleston looked at the name.

Scoop Griswald?

"Who the hell is Scoop Griswald?" said Charleston.

"Oh god," said Swift, "Don't get me started on that bastard. He's some guy who works for a newspaper up in Detroit. Not a real one, a college one. He claims that real newspapers dilute the news, or something. Now, Mister whatever your name is, I think you should plead guilty. I mean, they have a picture of you at whatever this thing was."

"What would I be guilty of?" said Charleston.

"Counts of insurance fraud, conspiracy, vagrancy, indecent composure, and who knows what else. I don't really care. They tell me you're guilty as hell, so it's really up to how much time you want to spend in jail."

Charleston was continuing to regret his choice of lawyer. "Can't I plead insanity? Or, I don't know, NOT GUILTY?"

Swift laughed, "Yeah, if you actually want to try. I've seen the evidence. It's airtight. You're screwed."

Charleston sighed, "They have a picture of me, and I bet you that Land Captain won't even remember it being taken."

Swift stared at him, and began mouthing random words at him, and eventually smiled a devilish smile. Charleston looked at him quizzically. Swift sighed heavily, "You may have just bought yourself something. Land Captain... that's a superhero, right? I read about him in the paper. Yeah, if you can get a superhero to lie about you, then you might actually have a case! So I guess it's up to you what you plead."

"Shouldn't you give me advice? And shouldn't that agent have left at the beginning of this conversation?"

The federal agent was standing in the corner with his arms crossed. He slowly shook his head, and made obscure hand gestures. Swift returned them, and the pair seemed to reach some sort of agreement. What it was would forever remain a mystery to Charleston.

"Nope. So I guess it's guilty, not guilty, or insanity. I guess the trial is in half an hour, so you better choose pretty quick. I’d still suggest guilty, so we can get the whole thing over with."

Charleston sighed, and began to think.
How should Charleston plead?
-Not guilty

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