As I stood in the queue I pondered on how such a small act can have an immense impact on a person's life. How something trivial can rapidly escalate into massive consequences in such a short space of time. My only crime was trying to get a free meal.
I've got away with it so many times before, walking into a restaurant, ordering and eating a meal, then apologising to the manager, explaining my predicament, that I had been starving hungry but had no money. Usually I just end up getting the bum's rush out of the back door into the garbage cans, the management can't usually be bothered wasting their time pursuing a few quid through the courts, it's easier to just throw the problem out, and get back to serving the paying customers.
But this time I went a bit too up-market, I ate at Bibby's, the snotty gits called the police.
I was duly charged, tried and sentenced, all in less than twenty four hours. The benefits of our new judicial system. No more prisons, no more fines, just branded then thrown out into society.
Some of the branded never survived more than a few minutes on the street before the mob got to them. The rapists, the murderers and such. Others just faced a life of humiliation, or a life of seclusion, hiding away from the stares of the public.
The blue door at the end of the corridor opened and two guards dragged a man out, the word THEFT freshly burnt into his forehead. They opened the red door in the side wall, the one that led back to the street, and threw him unceremoniously through the opening, slamming the door shut behind him.
The two goons then grabbed the man at the head of the queue and pulled him through the doorway into the room they had emerged from, slamming that door shut too.
The rest of us shuffled forward, each of us that bit nearer to our punishment.
After a few minutes the blue door opened again, the man was dragged back out through the doorway with the word FRAUD lividly telling the world of his crime. Out he went, into the street.
We all shuffled forward again.
And so it went on... MURDER... Shuffle... BIGAMY... Shuffle... RAPE... Shuffle... ARSON... Shuffle... TREASON... Shuffle...
Suddenly a thought struck me, and I couldn't help but smile, in fact more than smile, a huge grin spread its way across my face.
One of the guards patrolling the corridor leaned towards me threateningly, his ugly mug just inches from mine.
“Amused, are we? You won't be so cheerful when your turn comes. What heinous crime did you commit then?”
“I was convicted of 'Obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception'.” I replied, still smiling at my inner thoughts.
“Well, my cheerful friend, they're gonna burn that into your head.”
“Yeah? Well I'm just wondering how the hell they're gonna get it all on there, and if you lot are as intelligent as you look, I'll expect all of the long words to contain spelling mistakes too.”
The next time the blue door opened and I shuffled forward again, I was sporting a nice fat lip to remind me to keep my inner thoughts to myself in the future.
©2012 Stephen. J. Green.