Authors: Vin Suprynowicz
Tags: #International Mystery & Crime, #mystery, #Private investigators, #Thriller & Suspense
No, once the police and prosecutors were allowed for, the assigned seating in the supposedly “open-to-the-public” courtroom had otherwise left room only for the leading members of Windsor Annesley’s defense team, his mother and father and younger brother, and his red-eyed but stalwart young wife, who again today had left their children — too young to understand the proceedings — at home with the nanny.
Windsor Annesley’s full head of red hair — which had been described as “Kennedy-esque” by more than one infatuated young reporter of the female persuasion — looked somewhat unkempt today. But he did not hang his head before Judge Crustio. In fact, he stood ramrod-straight, head high, feet spread as far apart as his ankle-chains would allow.
More important, to those who understood the workings of the officially banned but ever-more-popular Church of Cthulhu, was the bearing of Windsor Annesley’s younger brother, Worthy Annesley, who sat between the prisoner’s wife and mother. Worthy Annesley also sat ramrod straight, a slightly smaller clone of his brother, his hair perhaps a bit more blond, but displaying the same ruggedly handsome, craggy chin and prominent nose. Worthy Annesley’s jaw was set in the same firm line of determination as his older brother’s, though at times it appeared a grim smile actually played across his lips.
One of Windsor Annesley’s most adamant rules had been that his younger brother was never to be involved in the acquisition, transport or distribution of the church’s twin sacraments, LSD and the peyote cactus. Both state and federal police and coerced informers had tried to gather him into their net, sending
in repeated attempts to lure the younger brother into situations where a large quantity of the sacrament and a firearm would be present in the same room — any drug sentence could be doubled and tripled if prosecutors could claim “firearms were used to facilitate the crime,” which could amount to as little as a .22-caliber pistol hidden in a nearby desk drawer — but never with any success.
Yet it was widely reported that the younger brother would now assume the reins of the banned but still virile church — and that it was not the media darling, the witty and amiable and diplomatic Windsor Annesley, but the younger brother, the
the till-now tightly leashed field general, whom the drug police most feared.
“Before I pass sentence, does the prisoner have anything to say?”
“I do, judge.”
The bench preferred to be addressed as “your honor,” but Crustio couldn’t very well object to being called “judge.”
“You may make your statement.”
“In the first place,” Windsor Annesley began, firmly, deliberately, “you’ve allowed my conviction and are about to sentence me for trafficking in plant sacraments — a charge which requires by statute that
the government show I bought and sold these substances for profit, which is part of the definition of ‘trafficking.’ Yet this court has failed to require the government to show there was ever any actual buying or selling for profit. You’ve simply instructed your stacked and hand-picked jury, from which you and the prosecutors conspired to remove anyone who would not swear in advance to enforce this law, that they should
there was trafficking for profit, based simply on the volume involved.”
The four press reporters, admitted by lottery, scribbled madly in their notebooks, since the courts weirdly still prohibited the far more accurate use of microphones and recording devices.
“This court knows full well these plants are not ‘recreational drugs,’ but the religious sacraments of our church, that we distribute the sacraments free of charge to bona fide members, that I never have and never would sell these sacraments for profit — that any money that changes hands merely pays the documented costs of acquisition and transportation. My attorneys have presented signed affidavits and church account ledgers to this effect; they have been ignored.
“Furthermore, the court has allowed the prosecution to get away, again and again, with referring to these psychoactive sacraments as addictive narcotics, when they are neither addictive nor narcotics, from the Greek
numbness or stupor. My lawyers sought to present evidence to the jury — scientific evidence from nationally recognized chemists and medical authorities — to that effect. That testimony was not allowed.
“But what’s far more important is that this court long ago as a condition of office swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, which contains a First Amendment forbidding the federal government from playing any role in the establishment of religion, and a Ninth Amendment forbidding the government from enacting any legislation whatsoever having to do with the possession or voluntary consumption of drugs, medicines, plants, or sacraments, since no such power is listed in Article One Section Ten, delimiting the powers of Congress.
“Yet this court is fully aware that the government grants tax exemptions and other favorable treatment to many other competing churches, which would otherwise operate at a severe competitive disadvantage because their sacraments are ineffective, they are mere placebos, they are worthless in accessing the Kingdom of God, while this same government relentlessly and in blatant violation of that Constitution systematically persecutes the Cthulhian Church, sentencing our couriers and stewards and leaders to prison for Draconian periods of time, all because we choose to pursue enlightenment and, yes, happiness — a founding right of all Americans — by choosing to use natural sacraments of which the government disapproves for no logical reason, since they are harmful neither to ourselves nor to anyone else when used as we use them, and since even if we
harming ourselves, that would still be our right.
“It is thus not merely an option of this court, but the sworn duty of this court, to negate, to refute and throw out and refuse to enforce those unauthorized, unconstitutional laws which place the worshippers of the Church of Cthulhu at a disadvantage, while also depriving us of our natural, human and Constitutional rights, since the state seeks not only to deprive us of any means of obtaining our sacraments of choice, but to actually lock us away in prison for no worse offense than trying to peacefully practice our religion of choice, and to prevent us from accessing our sacraments and thus practicing our religion
we are thus locked away, even though other prisoners are allowed to practice their religions, even in prison.
“You have declared war on our religion and its practitioners. You call it a ‘War on Drugs’ but we are not fooled; no war has ever been fought against a plant nor can it be, it is the people who use these plants to seek peace and revelation and guidance to a better life on whom you have declared your war, and so today I put this court on notice, I put these prosecutors on notice, I put the police who enforce these laws, all of them, on notice: We warned you a year ago that you faced a deadline to halt this persecution and these prosecutions, to leave us free in the peaceful enjoyment of our religion. We offered
you a full year, free of reprisals, in which to reconsider your course of action. You have ignored that deadline, which expires today. Very well.
“You have declared a war against us and our medical and religious freedom, thinking your war would be one-sided, that your victims would never fight back. But you have picked the wrong people on whom to make war. From today, you should expect no more mercy or quarter than you show to us. From this day, we are responding in the only way a free people
respond to such unrelieved and unrepentant attacks.…”
Judge Crustio had his gavel up in the air. Two instincts were obviously at war, the conflict playing across his face. On the one hand, it was traditional to let the accused have his say, though few of the losers could do better than mutter a few words about how sorry they were. And he’d also been advised, in this case, that it might further be wise to let the convicted party “hang himself with his own words.” But he was also unaccustomed to tolerating any disrespect, and he certainly had no intention of letting his courtroom be turned into a pulpit to preach revolution.
“… We have turned the other cheek for the last time,” Windsor Annesley continued. “Today, I respond to your declaration of war with a declaration of my own. You are at war with us? Then we are at war with you. A condition of war has existed, and will continue to exist, until you surrender without condition, or until every drug judge, including you, Judge Crustio, and every drug prosecutor, and every drug cop, is dead. So have I said it. So shall it be.”
Angrily, Judge Fidelio Crustio brought down his gavel. Once, twice. He sneered until the side of his face actually started twitching. “Are you finished, young man?” He took a moment to regain control of his features, drew a breath. “Because you’re going to have a very, very long time to think about the despicable threats and absurd pronouncements you’ve made here today, in a place from which you’re going to find you have no ability whatsoever to commit any of these
low, skulking, reprehensible crimes with which you threaten our fine men and women of law enforcement.
“Importing these deadly poisonous drugs and selling them to children, or in such quantities as to show reckless disregard of the near certainty they would fall into the hands of children, LSD and mescaline and other incredibly toxic and dangerous mind-warping substances which cause young people to stare into the sun until they go blind and to jump off tall buildings under the delusion that they can fly.
“Well I’m here to tell you, young man, that this government and this society will not stand for such arrogant actions. We will not stand for it! You have the nerve to call your network of drug-smugglers a ‘church’! You will learn here today, and others will surely also soon learn, why we have conspiracy statutes to deal with such ‘churches’!
“And as for you. You came from a fine family, now shamed by your willful and despicable actions, knowingly importing and peddling toxic and deadly addictive drugs. You cannot claim you were driven to these crimes by poverty or ignorance; you had a fine education and every advantage of a privileged upbringing, and how do you use them? Not to pay back your debt to this country, no! Instead, you use all those advantages to peddle poison, and then to heap insult on injury by calling your despicable drug-distribution conspiracy a ‘church’!
“Well listen to me now, you embarrassment to an otherwise fine family. This court exists to teach you and your kind a lesson. I’m going to use this sentencing today to send a message, a message to any deluded or misguided souls who might look at you as some kind of ‘Robin Hood hero,’ as you’ve been called in the press, and be tempted to copy your actions — a message that this nation and this society will no longer accept your polluting the veins of our young people, peddling your despicable, addictive filth. No more!
“Based on the volume of toxic,
LSD and mescaline you imported and manufactured and attempted to sell and distribute, and on your blatant refusal to show the slightest remorse or contrition for
the sheer scale of your demented and monstrous crimes, having seen you found guilty on one count for each of the estimated million doses of LSD and peyote cactus found in your possession, this court sentences you to serve three life sentences without parole, served consecutively, in a maximum security penitentiary reserved for our most dangerous offenders. And may God have mercy on your soul.”
The gavel came down. The Annesley mother sobbed into her handkerchief. But the Annesley brothers did something else, something that a few of the more observant drug police couldn’t help but notice. Their smiles may have been tight-lipped and grim, but nonetheless they smiled. The bailiffs dragged Windsor Annesley away. He managed one last look at his wife, giving her a reassuring smile, and then at his brother Worthington. Perceptibly, both brothers nodded. As planned, then, war was declared. Windsor Annesley had just signaled his brother that the path of peace and conciliation had been tried, and failed. The party was now free to try it Worthy’s way.
Outside, the crowd continued to chant, the volume growing as word began to filter out that Judge Crustio had delivered the maximum sentence, just as observers had expected. The pool reporters dashed from the room, looking for quiet corners from which to call in the story on their cell phones. Two bald-headed bailiffs in beige uniforms with gold braid and badges threw open the double doors at the rear of the adjoining courtroom where the defense witnesses — never allowed to testify — had been allowed to watch the proceedings on closed-circuit TV. Matthew and Emilio stood up and joined those who were shuffling in slow motion down the center aisle to leave.
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