The wooden chair seemed to be getting harder by the minute. Each passing hour testing his patience and wearing on his fragile mental state. He was in the middle of the 10,976th day of his unending trial.
He was Shabsie Stein, our defendant.
For as long as he can remember, he had been a defendant. His life, shaped by the memories, forever fearful of the impending verdict of peers and perpetually vilified and on the defensive.
His tired eyes scanned the room, as more and more witnesses piled in to testify on behalf of the indefatigable prosecution.
The judge banged his gavel indicating the next witness approach the stand.
His neighbor Mr Steinberg stepped up while nodding to the judge. He began to testify in angry scowls about his neighbors inability to keep his yard clean and his kids well behaved. It was a disgrace to the neighborhood, he declared silently. Shabsie started to protest, "MY kids not behaved...?!", but his lawyer placed his hand on his pulling his anger back into it's seat.
Next up was his daughters teacher, Mrs. Weinglass. Oh she made his skin crawl. She just stood there silently moving her head up and down as if to say, "Why don't you do your homework with Devorah Leah more diligently, do you think school is a joke??"
She reminded him of an earlier witness, some 20 years ago, who testified the same things about him, when he was the student, with the same head motion.
Then as now he had nothing to say in his defense.
Just thinking about the thousands of witnesses who have testified throughout was enough to exhaust the most virile of men. Some of the more painful ones were his parents, who would pop in every once in awhile with fresh evidence of his inability to make them proud.
Then there were the absurd witnesses, like his co-worker who testified to the court that Shabsie's lunch break monologues were boring and not funny at all.
Or the time his Rabbi and another guy in the shul testified back to back, one stating that his smart phone was too modern and the other, that it was hopelessly not cool.
The sharp rap of the gavel brought him back to the present as the Gabbai of the shul in which he davens shuffled up to the front just as if he were shuffling to the Bimah for an Aliyah. He smiled at Shabsie but behind the smile there was a subdued list of complaints. It started with the fact that he shlepped a little when davening for the amud and continued with the fact that he was a bit of loser for sitting on the table with the old men and ended with the fact that he doesn't donate enough to the shul coffers.
The jury all seemed to shake their head in unison. He was doomed.
Shabsie turned to his lawyer who looked at him with pitiful eyes.
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Don't you have anything to say in my defense?"
"Oh, I get it, you think I'm just as guilty.."
His lawyer leaned over to him and motioned for him to do the same.
"There is only one motion that I can file to save you from this hell."
"So, what are you waiting for?", Shabsie demanded.
His lawyer continued, "the thing is, you have to really want it."
"I want you to think about this overnight and come to the conclusion on your own that you want me to go ahead with it".
With that he slipped a manila envelope over the shiny table to Shabsie and bid him good night.
The next morning Shabsie met his lawyer outside the courthouse. His hands were shaking as he asked, "are you sure about this?
I mean, is this really possible?"
"Absolutely, but it's all up to you, I'm just your voice in there", he said while pointing to the fast filling courtroom with his head.
They both walked in.
The room was packed with hundreds of witnesses and spectators and he could feel his nerves tighten up. He was suddenly unsure of himself and needed his lawyers hand for support. His lawyer squeezed firmly and they strode to their bench confidently.
The judge looked over the black glasses that were perched on the tip of his nose and with his irritating voice started the proceedings for day number 10,977.
"The court of the State of Perceived Public Opinion vs Shabsie Stein for the crime of general incompetence in life which carries with it the punishment of life in perceived purgatory with no parole..."
His lawyer stood up and declared, "your honor, I ask that this case be dismissed under rule 1907. Client is not under the courts jurisdiction. Client is not a citizen of your State and not subject to it's rules and judgement"
A hush fell over the courtroom.
The judge's face turned white. His glasses slipped off his nose and fell onto his desk as he took the motion into his hands and read it.
"Case dismissed!" He barked after 5 minutes of reading in shocked silence.
Shabsie turned around expecting an angry and frustrated mob, but his chair swiveled to an empty room. There was no one there.
He slowly got up and walked down the corridor, his shoes echoing in the marble chamber.
He stepped outside and inhaled the fresh spring air.
He was a free man.