He had leveled eleven trees to unobstruct his view of the gulf, trees he had planted in a neat row every six paces along his waterfront at a time when the gulf was the last thing he wanted to see. He’d been arrested and charged and brought to court for changing his mind, because the trees had statutory rights and he, apparently, did not; they’d been declared protected since he’d planted them and he, it seemed, was not. The trees had license to bully him. It was my father’s land, the son of the governor’s land, he told the judge, before it was mine. But the trees had standing where the governor’s grandson had none. The gulf came onto the land, he told the judge, and took the land by surprise and all who were on it, including the son of the governor, and swept them out into the churning salt and left the land bereaved, your honor. We all know what happened to your daddy, the judge replied. He plucked a flake of tobacco from his tongue. You’ve cut down some trees, son. How do you plead? From his oversized briefcase, the governor’s grandson produced a sizable chainsaw, which he raised to the bench. Impressive exhibit, the judge allowed. But I am not a cypress. He lightly spat. Whatever else he may have said was drowned by the snarling saw. The defense table soon was splintered. The gallery benches didn’t resist. The bailiff could have shot the governor’s grandson, and might have if he hadn’t been a friend of the governor’s son. Instead, he fled with everyone else and listened from the marble hall while the governor’s grandson and his saw brought down the jury box and the judge’s bench and every piece of wood a court contains.
Copyright © October 11, 2008 David Hodges