Randall Harper lands a great one. Based on an old adage.
| Little Thieves and Great Ones
“Harper, you got a big shot visitor,” the guard told him.
“Stand away from the bars,” he added as he unlocked the cell.
Randy Harper was pretty sure he knew who the visitor was and he was ready for him.
He stood up and smoothed himself down from his hair to buffing his boot toes on his pant legs. Sitting on his bunk, he waited.
“Well, Harper. Have you thought about what I told you?” The authorative voice was loud with a touch of arrogance.
“What was it again? The time moves so slow here, I forget easily,” Randy said.
“Recant your testimony about me or I’ll see you hang!” Judge Crawford Broderick said sotto voce so the guard wouldn’t hear.
“Well, I’ve been considering your kind offer and I just can’t do it!” Randy told him with false apology in his tone.
The judge was silent, but the former prosecutor could feel him steaming. When he finally took a glance up, the stout justice was so red Harper thought he was going to blow a gasket or pop a vein in his heart or head. Randy hoped he wouldn’t because what fun would that be?
“So, you refuse my offer? So, be it then. This time next month, you get the noose,” Broderick told him firmly.
“Nice seeing you, Judge,” Harper stood and went to the bars to call after him as he left.
His guard came in, shaking his head.
“What’s the Judge’s problem with you? He stomped outta here like a rhino charging.”
“We rubbed each other the wrong way last time I was in front of his bench,” Randy offered.
“Was that how you ended up in here?” the guard asked.
“Yes, he took offense at something I said.”
“No, in his chambers afterwards.”
Randy could tell the guard was curious. His eyes were gleaming with questions. But it was between Broderick and himself. If he wanted to make a case to convict the high-powered judge of three counts of miscarriage of justice to suit his own needs, he’d have to play it close to the vest.
“You know my daddy used this one particular saying all the time,” the guard said conversationally.
“Oh? Which one was that?” Randy asked absently.
“Little thieves are hanged, but great ones escape.”
Randy smiled as he touched a button on his shirt.
“I hope His Honor doesn’t count on that, this time. When the State Attorney arrives, bring him right in. I’m expecting him shortly.”
After locking the door, the guard left to check the other prisoners. Randy watched him go, then went back to his bunk and laid down. He considered the adage and grinned.
“In this case, I mean to make that adage the exception to the rule.”
In a week, Randy was walking out the prison’s gates a free man. As he jumped into the cab he’d called, he opened the window and took a deep, cleansing breath.
“Where to, Harper?” said a familiar voice filled with menace.
Startled, Randy looked up into the barrel of a pistol.
“Broderick? What are you doing here?”
“Thought I’d see to your execution myself, seeing as how you used your lies against me to worm your way out of your conviction.”
Randy sat back in the rear seat and relaxed.
“Where are you taking me?”
“You’ll see soon enough. Now shut up!”
Randy waited. He’d glimpsed the State troopers following them in the rearview mirror. When they finally stopped in the back of beyond someplace, the judge dragged him out of the car at gunpoint. With a shove, he moved him forward for a thousand yards or so.
“Stop right here.”
He did, curious as to how His Honor would hide his body.
“This here sinkhole just opened up. It’s getting bigger all the time. Far as I know it hasn’t any bottom. So it’s as good a place as any to be rid of you!”
A shout rang out: “Drop the gun! State Police!”
The judge was so startled, he stumbled forward. There was a large splash as he fell into the sinkhole. A sucking sound was all that was heard.
“Sorry, we took so long, Mr. Harper!” said one of the troopers as he stood looking down into the hole.
“That’s all right, you did us all a good service. Saved me going to trial against him, although I would have relished it,” Randy told him.
Accepting a ride with troopers, since the cab was now part of a crime scene, Randy asked the two officers if they would testify about what happened as he left the jail. Receiving emphatic agreements, he took their names and emails so he could contact them.
Upon reaching his condo, Randy thanked the men again and headed up the walk.
“Have a good vacation, Mr. Harper?” asked Security as he came in the main doors.
“Yes, very relaxing and satisfying,” he answered with a broad smile.
When he got to his door on the penthouse floor, he was met by a burly man with a military style haircut.
“Randall Harper?” he asked.
“Yes. Aren’t you the bailiff that serves in Judge Crawford Broderick’s court?” Randy queried, bracing himself.
“Right in one,” the man said holding out his large paw. They shook hands.
“I wanted to thank you for standing up to Broderick, sir. He blackmailed me into keeping shut about a lot of the cases he dismissed or gave light sentences to.”
“Tell you what, why don’t you come in and we can discuss the judge’s actions comfortably, Randy said as he opened his door and ushered in a new ally.
“Mr. Harper,” said the senior justice of the three man State Court.
“From today’s evidence, we have come to a unanimous decision about your death sentence. It is our opinion that the only basis for it was in the late Judge Crawford Broderick’s mind. Due to his unfortunate accidental death, we cannot bring him to trial as he so richly deserves. Therefore, case dismissed.”
I thanked the justices, turned and walked out of the courtroom. As I took several deep breaths, a voice said from behind me.
“What now, Mr. Harper?”
I turned to see Broderick’s bailiff hurrying toward me.
“Well, I will probably be rethinking my career in the law.”
“No running for a judgeship?”
We laughed and decided we needed a drink.