He couldn't believe the charges. Domestic terrorism? How many counts? Captain Destructo had always been good at math, so it only took a few seconds for him to figure a guilty verdict would put him in jail for the rest of his life. He figured the district attorney was trying to look good in an election year. That was the only reason the charges included one count for each of his "victims". The good news was the faux online encyclopedia he'd created to humiliate those who picked on him had changed so much once he launched it that nobody knew it was his creation, so there were no counts from that. It didn't help though, because there was plenty of bad news. They tried bringing charges for each photo on the other websites he created because they claimed the sites gave bullies an online bullying platform that could be anonymous. Thousands of pictures between the backward style site, the photoshop disaster site and the site that distorted people's pictures meant thousands of counts of domestic terrorism. The judge decided to limit posts they could conclusively prove came from his computer, but Destructo had kept each one in a special folder. At first he thought he'd escaped charges on the auction website, but then that prick Craig came forward and explained some suspicious things he noticed about posts that varied wildly from the material sellers had prepared. His vandalism of that site was automatic, so there was no way to count how many posts had been corrupted. The judge outlined a possible sentence of 5 years for the auction site and 1 year per picture for the other sites. Destructo would certainly rot in prison.
He had no savings from pizza delivery, so he had to put his fate in the hands of the court-appointed attorney. Destructo gave up all hope when they met for the first time. Apparently court-appointed attorney was code for passing the bar exam on the sixth attempt and picking up cases others deemed as no-win. Rather than a name and law firm, "I think we can plead you down to 60 years" was the introduction the attorney gave. Markus Fishbinder, Public Defender, seemed proud when he came back with a plea agreement for 75 years. Destructo knew he'd be dead meat in prison, so it wouldn't matter if he signed the plea agreement or a jury found him guilty and the judge imposed the sentence she had outlined earlier.
Just as he was reaching for the pen, he heard the door open. "Don't sign that plea agreement." The man in the doorway was wearing a suit that cost more than Destructo's car.
"Who are you, and what does it matter if I sign or not? Whether I admit guilt or sit in front of a jury, I'll be in jail longer than I'll be alive."
"I'm Henry Pritchard from the Smith, Pritchard and Pritchard Law Firm. Your attorney let himself get pressured into accepting a plea bargain that should never have been offered. I'm going to take your case to court and get some real results."
"I think you might be in the wrong place, Mr. Pritchard."
Reading the folder in his hand, Henry said "Richard Thomas, Domestic Terrorism, enough charges to lock you up for good. I'm in the right place." He put down an alligator skin brief case and gathered up the papers outlining the plea agreement. He held the agreement and hotel pen in front of him as he walked toward the public defender, who backed away from the intimidating figure until he was outside of the room. Pritchard dropped the bundle and pen at his feet and turned to walk back to Dickie, closing the door behind him. "Mr. Thomas, I can assure you after reviewing your case that you won't have to worry about rotting away in jail. Following precedents, I think we can get you out with time served and community service."
"Wait, who are you again? And what are you doing here? I can't afford..."
"I'm a junior partner at a family-run law firm, and I'm taking this case at the request of a mutual friend, who's picking up the tab. That's all you need to know for now."
Dickie snorted. "Mutual friend? Mr. Pritchard, the only people who have mutual friends with me are junior partners at fast food franchises, not family-owned law firms. Seriously, who..."
"Seriously, Mr. Thomas, that's all you need to know for now. We have to get some info straight. First, we're going to court. Second, you're not testifying." Pritchard opened his brief case and pulled out a few files. "The prosecutor brought up these charges without considering malicious intent, which is a necessary component for domestic terrorism to stand up in the eyes of a jury." Pritchard continued for a few hours, outlining holes in the prosecution's case and loopholes established by precedent. Dickie tried to keep up, but legal jargon was one thing at which he never excelled. He still felt hopeless until Pritchard laid on the table a document outlining conditions for release on bounty. "Put your trust in me and sign this document. You'll be out in time for dinner with your mom." Almost in a daze, Dickie reached for the gold leaf pen and signed.
To be concluded when Captain Destructo finds redemption.
- I once got paid to spend the summer telling lies to little kids. I ran a mountain man program at a district Boy Scout camp. I told my guests I was born in my log cabin and I traded for everything I had. Late evenings I shot muzzleloader rifles with campers and then told ghost stories around the fire. Oh, how I wish that would pay enough to be my career instead of just a one-time summer job.