Killing Time

short stories collection - a compilation of my short stories.

Summary

I killed Time. And now I stand trial for my crimes.

A short story about laziness and the pitfalls of language.

"You have been charged with killing Time, how do you plead?"

I looked up at the investigator and then around at all the others in the room. "Not guilty. I don't even..."

"SILENCE!" the judge screamed at the top of his voice and began waggling his jeweled, plump finger at me. His grey hair was full of little bells that jingled every time he moved that oversized head of his. His eyes shone an unnatural magenta and I couldn't for the life of me identify what graced his lips. "WE WILL HAVE NO DISOBEDIENCE IN THE COURT."

"Thank you Judge Wendly, permission to treat the witness as hostile?"

"GRANTED!" Judge Wendly bellowed and leaned back, patting his watermelon belly. The courtroom filled with the sounds of bells and a faint odor wafted my way. He always seemed to grin after making his grand pronouncements, normally accompanied by equally obnoxious pointing of his finger. I had a mind to call him cur, but kept my lips shut tight.

This was all a bit mental. One minute I am loafing about on the beach, the next here I am, being tried for killing time. Not exactly sure what that meant. Some good-for-nothing was campaigning for re-election and thought it would be a brilliant idea to charge people with killing time. Either that, or it was the new DA trying to appear tough. Or...I don't know, there were a million hypotheses being thrown around in the jail. Yes, they threw us all in jail, an enormous insult for such a petty crime. I didn't really know who to believe, surely not the fat oaf who wandered about during lunch trying to steal people's food and definitely not the slimy one who slithered about asking people for hand-outs. But in any case, those are the facts and here I am now.

"You were at Rawling Beach last Thursday?"

"Yes?" I didn't know where this was going, that was the last place I recalled being and they didn't tell us the time. It was quite queer. I'd asked once and the guard, laughing, said, "You killed Time. Now, kind of hard to tell you anything about Time when there ain't no Time, isn't that so?" Anyways, the investigator was staring at me; apparently my wandering mind was plain to see.

"Are you there? Is that a yes or a no?"

"I'm not sure, nobody has told me the time yet."

"It is Wednesday."

"When, what's the date?"

"Judge Wendly, permission to treat witness as bellicose."

"Wait, what? That's not even..." I started to rise from my seat, stammering.

"YOU WILL BE SILENT UNLESS QUESTIONED. BE SEATED! PERMISSION GRANTED."

Bellicose witness? What court of law was this? I couldn't tell if they were making shit up as they went or if this was just some comedy hour that I'd been left in the dark about. I scanned the room once more and recognized the faces for the first time. They were all perfumed and had make-up lining every inch of their faces. Many wore bright, warm colored lipstick–even the males–that contrasted sharply with their pure-white faces. All of them had eyes like none I had ever seen, reds swirling in a sea of auburn and black or beige cutting across a tango-inspired background. Their pupils were audaciously small and they all looked a bit like dolls. You know, the ones that seem to stare into your soul when you look them in the eye. Very uncomfortable. They were human, no doubt, but some mangled approximation at best. I remembered them, they were the people that never saw sunlight, always working at their desk, in their cars or at their homes. Heard they hated lazy people or allowing time to waste away.

"You are Mani Koll?" the investigator said and began flipping through a large binder that had surreptitiously appeared in his hands. Whence it came and how I had not noticed him walk a hundred meters to his desk and back, I cannot say. But it was there, and that was that.

"Yes. You have that on record..."

"Shut up. You are a bellicose witness and I may respond with punishment as I see fit. Take care to only answer my questions," the investigator said as he cut me off, a slight smirk crossing his face.

"Okay..."

"I said shut up!" he yelled, causing several eyes in the audience to widen, something I thought impossible guide given the make-up. He looked around and straightened his purple suit and craned his head from side-to-side. He took a deep breath, eyes closed, then looked at me with a calmness that hide an unnecessary fury, given the circumstances. "Now, Mani, what were you doing at Rawling Beach last Wednesday?"

"But you said Thursday...?"

"Officer, can you cane the witness please," the investigator said and beckoned a man who looked a grotesque cross between a walrus and an elephant. He waddled toward me, lifted his baton and hit me on the head twice. Hard. He then turned around and waddled back to his place near the entrance of the courtroom. He wasn't wearing make-up.

"Next time it will be four. Then eight, you see where this is going? Now, you killed Time."

"No, I was killing time before someone kidnapped me and brought me here.”

"Oh, so you didn't finish the job? How unfortunate. Yet we still found Time unavailable..."

"I mean, if you're that busy..."

"Officer, please," the investigator said and the walrus waddled over. As he lifted the cane, I reached up and grabbed at it. He looked at me, shocked, and wretched the cane free. Every inch of his face was covered in pimples and warts; it almost hurt my eyes to look at him. I desperately wanted to borrow whatever stylist transformed the people in the courtroom crowd into the hellish beauties they'd become.

"Don't make this hard on yourself," the investigator said and took the cane from the walrus and began to pummel me faster than I imagined anyone could. Four smacks later and my lips were bleeding. It hurt. And I still didn't know why I was here. I looked over at Judge Wendly and he seemed to be picking at his teeth. When I started to make a noise, he peered over at me and smiled. I knew better than to continue.

"Now, Time was not available. Time, no find. Understando?" he said with that same, irritating smirk. That wasn't even castellano. What was he getting at? "How do you explain this? Answer the question."

"Maybe you had other things to do. I don't know, doesn't everyone kill time every once in a while?" I blurted out. A couple droplets of blood flew across the room and landed on the investigator's shiny yellow shoes. He looked down and then at me, his yellow eyes narrowing. The courtroom went silent for a second then erupted in a chorus of voices.

"How dare he accuse...I never...the nerve to say such things...we are all innocent and hardworking...these street hooligans think everyone is like them...the murderous loafers..."

"SILENCE, I WILL HAVE SILENCE," Judge Wendly bellowed and waggled his fingers at me. "YOU WILL NOT LAY ALLEGATIONS AGAINST THOSE IN THE COURTROOM. UNDERSTAND?"

"Yes, Your Honor," I said, cowering back a bit at the sudden fury behind his booming voice. "I'm just trying to understand the case. What exactly am I being charged with?"

"KILLING TIME! IS THAT HARD TO UNDERSTAND?"

"Sorry, I just..."

"Shut up you." the investigator said, suddenly a foot away from me. He leaned over the witness stand and that same smirk that irritated me so had returned. "I have another question. Do you know a certain Time Riddle?"

"I do! I know many time riddles. Though, not all of them were good."

"Were?"

"I don't like to remember them so rid myself of them after a while. Nobody liked them."

"You don't say. Who were these nobodies?"

I felt like this was a trap, a way to play with me and get me to say something incriminating. Looking into the investigator's yellow eyes, which were spotted with black flecks that seemed to shimmer, I saw nothing. He squinted and then turned around with an excessive flourish to his movements. Arriving at his desk, he opened the binder and then turned to face me again.

"Perhaps you have forgotten what you killed. Time was very popular; everyone would change their schedules to get more Time."

"Nothing unusual there," I accidentally blurted out.

"SHUT UP! Beat him, beat him!" the investigator's demeanor changed once again and he was in full rage. Apparently wasting time is a big offense here. Eight beatings later, he returned to his dialog. "But Time became like that officer over there, ugly, useless and a drag. We needed to make-up Time, a new look for a new era. And you took away that opportunity."

"But killing time is not a crime! Just because you frown on it..."

"Do you hear this? Judge, I trust you will find this man guilty."

"IT SHALL BE SO!"

"And punish him for his crimes. We can't have anyone else killing Time. People have better things to do."

-biafra
bahanonu [at] alum.mit.edu

©2006-2017 | biafra ahanonu | updated 12 december 2017
biafra ahanonu