A fun farse written for a creative writing class, branched out from a writing exercise.
Cruel and Unusual
One rainy night I sat reading a book on cake decorating. Thunder clapped and lightening lit up the night sky out my window as I read step-by-step how to create a rose out of icing. Someone had recently hired me to investigate a cake designer. My client was upset that the cake designer was getting more business than the client was. After days of research and investigating the art of cake design I came to a solution. I believed the reason the cake designer is getting more business is because he was an actual cake designer who has been to college and my client was a plumber. I could have guessed this solution days before but as a private investigator I was forced by my Investigatory Oath to check every possible solution. Just as I was closing the book my phone rang.
"Jordan Mccoy, PI services for English, don't press anything; just tell me what you want. For Spanish, hang up," I said, giving my normal greeting.
"Is this-" The voice starting choking over sobs. "Jordan Mccoy the Private Investigator?"
I sat up straight, everyone knows that women coming to private investigators are always beautiful. "Why yes it is, may I ask who's calling?"
"My name is Angela and I'm a beautiful woman-"
I knew it! I think to myself.
"I'm calling because I need your assistance," she continued hastily. " I live in San Antonio and my ex boyfriend was recently taken to jail for murdering my ex husband."
I smiled realizing this beautiful woman was single. "Yes and how can I be of assistance if they have already arrested him? Would you like me to prove him innocent?" I asked.
"No, no, no," she stated quickly. "They found him stabbing my ex husband repeatedly, in a park, in mid-daylight, during a carnival, in a children's ball pit. He's pretty guilty. I do want you to look into his sentence, though. My friend heard from her boyfriend who heard from his cousin's grandmother who works for the Judge who sentenced my ex-boyfriend that the state of Texas has removed the death penalty." She spoke almost too quickly to understand, but I got the gist of what she was saying.
I sat quietly listening. Although she was a beautiful woman I was quickly losing interest because she talked way too much. She should have at least gone with me to dinner first.
"I am confused what exactly you are wanting me to do." I said trying to hurry her along.
"It's the new punishment they replaced the Death Penalty with! They have implemented Bad Music Penalty. The prisoners are forced to listen to horrible music like Brittany Spears' 'Oops I Did It Again.' and any songs by Justin Bieber. The prisoners are being driven to suicide, refusing to eat, smothering themselves with pillows, and some are even choosing appendage decapitation and simply bleeding out on the floor."
My eyes widened as she described this gruesome punishment and its gory results. "That's impossible!" I exclaimed. "They can't be doing that it's inhumane!"
"That's why I am calling you." She said as she broke into tears.
"Say no more, I'll be on a plane in the morning!" I slammed the phone down. This was no longer about getting to date a beautiful woman. This was about confirming this cruel, unusual punishment and fighting to have it ended, dating the beautiful woman will just be a bonus.
I went the whole night preparing so I could leave first thing in the morning. After hours of packing, dawn had arrived. I called my personal driver Sarah, she lived over ten miles away but had a super scooter, only 50cc, but it went up to 100mph and she could cruise in and out of traffic at high speeds. Plus it helped it was a bright pink scooter because people would pull off the road so they could point and laugh safely. She arrived in less than five minutes, and I loaded all of my bags into her little white basket and jumped on the back. We flew through the town toward the airport covering twenty miles in only seven minutes. No one else could have gotten me there faster. The only problem was that my flight wasn't for another three hours. Finally, after reading a few more chapters of my cake designing book I was in the air on the way to San Antonio.
Nearly 18 hours after I received the phone call I was standing in the local courthouse in San Antonio Texas. In front of me was a wrinkly old white guy who I quickly found was Judge Brown, no relation to the TV show judge.
"Yes, " Judge Brown started. "I am afraid the rumors you have heard are true. Governor Perry has implemented this new punishment as an experimental replacement for the Death Penalty."
"This is cruel and inhumane!" I exclaimed quickly startling the old man.
"Don't raise your voice to me young man," he replied angrily. "I agree with you completely but as much as I have argued, the governor will not remove the punishment unless I can provide an acceptable alternative. You bring me that and I will help you end this punishment."
My goal was clear, I need to find an alternative penalty for murders that will be sufficient but also not as inhumane as this current punishment. If I fail on this I will let down the entire state of Texas. I refuse to ruin my perfect track record on such a gross injustice of man-kind. I will find a solution to this problem no matter the cost. It's time to gather my crew.
I grabbed my cell phone and ran through the contact list to my good friend Bruce Willis. After several rings he answered. "Yo! Willy! I need my crew!"
"The Expendables?" he replied in his gruff voice.
"No, this is Jordan, not Sylvester Stallone," I replied.
"Oh, that crew," he said and hung up the phone.
Several hours later I was standing in the parking lot watching my team arrive. First came my driver Sarah, of course she made it first with her pink scooter. She had driven clear from Pittsburg, Kansas to San Antonio in less than five hours on one tank of gas with her scooter. Next came my partner Sherlock Holmes, he had to cut his vacation in Bangkok short due to the severity of this case. Next came a lot of miscellaneous people that don't deserve much introduction because they are just extra support characters and may die. But these characters included nine lawyers, seven more private investigators and my dog Xerox. My dog Xerox isn't very well trained though and ran off to chase small children, he will be home when I return.
I walked down the line of people looking each and every one of them in the eyes. I stepped back and looked at the group as a whole.
"Ladies, gentlemen, today we embark on mission more important than any other mission we have ever had. We need to fully devote ourselves, if you have any other distractions I ask that you remove yourselves from the team because it could endanger one or all of us."
I looked from person to person feeling pride as none of my team moved to leave. I smiled and nodded to Sherlock who returned my smile.
"Ok, we're splitting into two teams, I'll take Alpha team and Sherlock will take Bravo. Your goal ladies and gentlemen is to check every book, ask any historian, search the web, or do whatever you need to do to find an alternative penalty for murder. You have all the funding you need, anywhere you need to go is permitted, bribe and coerce all you need, I want a solution and I want it before any others are harmed by this awful music. Go now and do whatever you need to do," I instructed the team.
Everyone played rock, paper, scissors to decide teams and we were off. Sherlock took off with his team via plane to the east coast and I took off toward the west my whole team on the back of Sarah's scooter, cruising across country. My team searched aggressively through libraries, book from book and cover to cover my team stayed awake for weeks until every book from San Francisco to Las Angeles had been interpreted. We searched the web vigorously, finding nothing. One of my team members even kidnapped a famous historian hoping he would give us the solution we need but he gave us nothing. Two of my team members died of starvation during our search which left my team with only seven. Our searches led us to South America, then to England and finally to Egypt where we searched the Great Alexandria Library but we still found nothing.
I do not know where exactly Sherlock searched but I know his team spent three weeks going from New York to Florida questioning people they met and reading any books they could find, but they did not find many books because everyone on the east coast is too busy swimming at the beach to read books. After those three weeks they were led to Mexico where they found nothing but one of their team members were killed by a Mexican gang because he went up to their van and asked for a taco. Luckily the rest of the team managed to escape and flew to Canada, sadly three more of the team members killed themselves when they went to Canada because, well, they were stuck in Canada. After once again coming up dry they traveled to Asia, where they had a very promising meeting with a Chinese Kung Fu master who legend says has lived for over one hundred years.
I was waiting for a call from Sherlock to hear how the meeting had gone when one of my team members ran in.
"Jordan!" He said excitedly. "Guess what I just found!"
I jumped up to my feet. "My lucky shirt?" I ran toward him, "I didn't leave it in California?"
"Oh, no not that." He replied.
"Oh." I said sadly and went back to my seat. "Well what is it?"
"There is a man in Jerusalem, he has supposedly been studying the Bible for over seventy years! He may have a solution to our problem." He said with a smile.
"Of course." I exclaimed. "No wonder we missed it, you can't find a Bible in California, and there's no way Sherlock would have found one in New York or Canada. This could be the answer we are looking for."
Right then the phone rang and I answered it.
"Sherlock, you have no idea what I just found out." I said excited.
"There is a man in Jerusalem who studies the Bible?" He asked on the other end.
"Oh," I said disappointed, "Maybe you do know what I just found. Meet me there tomorrow."
Once again we were packing our things and getting ready to head to Jerusalem, we were down to twelve people until right before we were suppose to leave. Sarah was putting four dollars worth of gas into her scooter to drive us over the Mediterranean from Egypt to Jerusalem when a truck driver didn't see her scooter and ran her over. When we got the phone call we rushed to her side. She laid on the street missing an arm and bleeding profusely from her head and left little toe. She looked up as I put a hand on her shoulder.
"Finish- " She started, struggling to breath, "The Mission." She said but I could tell she wasn't finished yet as she opened her mouth. She lifted her head off the ground in one less futile effort and screamed, "FREEEEEEDOM." My driver breathed her last breath and laid down forever.
I shed a single tear but had no time to mourn. The pink scooter was completely fine due to the fact it is basically a small tank and no truck of any size can hurt it, but it is useless without its driver. We left to find a transport to take us to Jerusalem, luckily there was a boat full of illegal immigrants traveling across the Mediterranean. We jumped on board and traveled with them, two more of my team members died of some foreign disease on the boat ride sadly. My team was down to five members when we arrived in Jerusalem and found Sherlock and his team.
We looked at each other, then the rest of the members of the team, we all stood in silence as we remembered our fallen brothers. Even those of us still alive were hungry and sleep deprived, we would all be lucky to make it another week if this lead didn't prove to be helpful. I looked back to Sherlock.
"Have you contacted this man?" I asked.
"Yes, we have an appointment this afternoon. I expressed the importance of this question so he agreed to meet with us as soon as possible." Sherlock replied.
I could hear the weariness in his voice as we discussed our journey so far. We finally met the man we hoped to have our solution. He was in his 80's and stood hunched over, his skin sagged on his face and arms like a fresh raisin in the summer. His home smelled like cats, but I'm pretty sure there were no cats. I watched the old man poor his tea and then mine, I did not want to be rude but I was getting impatient, if this man had the information I needed our journey could finally be over. Finally he sat down and looked over to me and Sherlock.
"Well gentlemen." He said talking slowly like one with much wisdom. "What can I help you with?"
I started from the beginning explaining about the phone call I received several weeks ago, the rumors the woman had heard and then how I had traveled to Texas to investigate. I then told him the gruesome details of the situation and the judge's request. I watched him as I spoke trying to gauge his reaction but he sat unmoving listening to my every word.
"So we're here to ask if you can provide us with a better penalty for murderers. We have looked everywhere but you having such knowledge of the Bible will surely know of something we do not." I finished, looking at him hopefully.
He sat for several minutes drinking his tea. He seemed to be thinking but when he reached up and slowly picked his nose I began to lose hope. He must be mad I thought looking at this man examine the booger sticking to his uncut nail. Old people with their long nails have always creeped me out. Finally he flicked his booger against the wall and looked up at me.
"I do have a solution for you." He said. "But I have a request as well."
My moment of excitement was buried by this simple statement, I had a bad vibe suddenly but I went ahead and asked. "That request is?"
"I am an old man," he started. "I do not have much longer to live. I have lived a life of study, my family and friends have all passed away. I don't even know how to work a TV. I would like you and your team to complete several tasks to entertain me."
"What?" I exclaimed jumping to my feet, "How dare you? Do you not realize the seriousness of the situation?"
"I do," he replied again. "Which is why I know you can spare a few hours for an old man's entertainment."
Sadly he was right. If he had the solution then it was the least we could do to earn it. We had been through so much we couldn't give up now. Sherlock and I stepped outside to speak with the team. Before I could say anything Sherlock stopped me.
"Jordan! We can't do this. The team has been through too much and this will be too difficult."
I grabbed him by the collar. "Sherlock. We have given up so much, how dare you ask me to give up? Those men and women who have sacrificed themselves will have done so in vain! You are either with me or you are against me! If any of you want to give up on what your peers died for then fine, leave, otherwise stay with me and finish the job!" I let go of Sherlock and looked over to the rest of the team. They each nodded to me to show they would stay and finish. Finally I looked back to Sherlock, he looked at me, then the others, then back to me, and nodded.
The rest of the day we spent on the old man's entertainment. First we had to play musical chairs, ten team members and only nine chairs people were bound to get hurt and in our already weakened state we lost two more team members. Two games of red rover, a round of limbo and a Pick-Up-Sticks tournament five more of our team members came down with diseases and died of stupasifalipis, death by stupidity. Finally with only three of us left we were on our last activity, we had to do the chicken dance on one foot while saying the Greek Alphabet. The man smiled as we finished and reached under his seat.
"Very well, you have finished your half of the bargain and now I shall finish mine." He lay a large Bible down on the table and pointed to the verse Matthew 5:38.
Sherlock and I approached and read the verse we looked at each other.
"Of course." I said. "It's so simple! We have to get back."
The old man died later that day from being old, but the three of us remaining on the team were now on a plane back to San Antonio. Sadly our team member died of exhaustion during the plane ride home and Sherlock and I were the last remaining members of our team. Finally after our long costly journey we stood with the Judge in front of Governor Perry.
"Governor, I have an alternative punishment for the Death Penalty. After searching long and hard we have found this solution in the very Bible that this country was founded on. The Bible states, 'An Eye for an Eye.'"
The Governor approved of the punishment and from then on the State of Texas never forced convicted murders to listen to that horrible music again, they simply killed them.
Sherlock and I stood together in the airport remembering the events of the last few days. We looked around at all the people living their lives like normal and we both wondered if we would be able to go back to our lives as they were before this mission.
Sherlock turned to me. "Well I suppose I'll head back to Bangkok." He said. "Will you be going back to Kansas?"
I stood for a few seconds considering my answer then turned back to him. "Sherlock, fourteen people died because I don't know how to give up. I was too determined not to fail to consider anyone else's safety. I'm packing it in, and turning in my Private Investigator badge."
Sherlock was shocked, staring at me he looked away then back again, "What will you do then?"
I pulled a book from my bag-pack and looked at it carefully then looked at him, "I'm going to Florida to retire, and I think I'm going to take up cake design."