DOWNFALL OF A JUDGE
By Lawrence Kadzitche
The Judge sat back in his chair and rubbed his hands with glee. He was a very short and very fat man in a suit that was a size or two too small. He wore glasses whose flames dug deep into the temples of his head.
John Gogodanjoka was going to be tried by him. And wasn’t he the husband of Tisha, the beauty who had time and again turned down his advances?
And now, her stupid husband had fallen into his hands, accused of murder! He was going to try him and make sure that he got executed. Unless….
“Tisha agrees to be my girlfriend,” he told himself, chuckling wetly.
He had never met a woman as beautiful and desirable as Gogodanjoka’s wife. This surprised him. At fifty, married and a voluptuary, he thought he was sated by women. But Tisha bowled him over and made him feel like a lovesick teenager.
He had first met her at the restaurant where she worked as a waiter and from that day she had never been out of his mind. Just looking at her had taken care of his hunger and he had eaten the food just because it gave him more time to feast on her luxurious body.
However, she had turned down his proposal for a secret love affair opting to remain faithful to her husband. But now he was sure he could turn her husband’s arrest to his advantage. He was sure the moment she heard that he would be presiding over the case she would come to him for help.
And true to his supposition, she came. “Sir, I’ve heard that you will be handling my husband’s case.”
He looked at her seated in an armchair and felt his blood quicken. She looked as beautiful as ever only that her big, black exciting eyes were cloudy with worry.
“You’ve heard correctly,” he said softly at length.
She cleared her throat and swallowed. “Sir, my husband has been framed; he didn’t kill that man. He isn’t guilty.”
“Wouldn’t that be better for the court to decide?” he asked slyly.
Tisha pursed her lips. “I know. But when conducting the case I’d like you to know that he’s innocent.”
The Judge took off his glasses and placed them on his desk. “I’ve gone through the facts of the case. From the available facts, the chances are ninety nine percent that he’s guilty.” he said severely. “If convicted, which is very likely, he’ll be hanged or given a life sentence if there’re mitigating circumstances.”
“Justice, please help me,” Tisha implored. “I’ll be grateful if you save my husband.”
“It’s up to you to save your husband or not,” the Judge said, fitting back his glasses.
“Up to me? How?”
The Judge left his chair and stood by Tisha. “If you agree to be my girlfriend, I may consider giving your husband a light sentence. Even let him go free.”
Tisha took a deep breath. “But Justice…”
“No buts me, Tisha,” the Judge said sternly. “You want something from me and I want something from you. It’s a fair exchange.”
The young woman was silent for a moment. “Well, I’ll have to think about it.”
“It’s up to you, “the Judge said carelessly. “Either I’ve you or he’ll lose his life. The choice is yours.”
He watched her leave the office, his eyes gobbling her buxom behind. He could already see himself in bed with her and the idea made him stretch his body with sensual anticipation.
The trial began the following morning. John Gogodanjoka pleaded “not guilty” and the trial was on in earnest. The Judge saw Gogodanjoka’s wife among the people assembled in the court. He knew this was the time to convince her that her husband’s life was in jeopardy if she continued to spurn his advances. He knocked the defendantabout at every turn, giving the defendant’s lawyer no real opportunity and discreetly giving the prosecuting lawyer all the support.
However, the answer he got from Tisha was still negative. “I can’t betray my husband like that!”
“You betray him by refusing my offer,” the Judge reasoned with her.
The trial proceeded. Much as the Judge tried to show that Tisha could change the tide of the case by agreeing to his demands, she was obdurate.
“But you know, he is innocent. He didn’t kill that man,” Tisha said. “Isn’t that enough to you?”
“To me, he’s a murderer fit to dangle at the end of the rope unless you agree to my demands.”
As the trial proceeded, Tisha became convinced that the Judge was out to hang her husband. She didn’t know how the idea entered her brain, but when it did she thought it would sort out her problem.
The next evening she invited the Judge to her house. The Judge arrived, looking pleased like a cat that has caught a mouse. It was obvious that he thought he was going to get good news. He eased himself in an armchair, hanging one leg over one of the arms of the chair.
“You look sumptuous, Tisha” he gushed. ”How do you manage it?”
She smiled and sat down in a chair facing him. “Judge, the way the case is going, my husband is going to be found guilty…”
He cut him with a wave of his hand, his fat face creased into a lusty smile. “That won’t be the case the moment we go into the bedroom, my sweet.”
“Justice, I want you to help me as a friend,” Tisha said. “But I can’t betray John. I wouldn’t be able to live with the knowledge that I gave my body just to get him out of prison.”
“So you’d rather live with the knowledge that your husband died because you could not use your body to save him?”
“Judge, please try to understand…”
“What is there to understand?” the Judge said angrily. “It’s either I sleep with you or he get executed, simple.”
Tisha drew a deep breath. “How can I be sure that if I agree to your proposal my husband will not lose the case?”
The Judge removed his glasses and began cleaning them with a handkerchief. “Darling, I know your husband is not guilty. A good citizen gave me information about who the real killer is,” he paused and held the glasses to the light for inspection. “I can produce that person as a witness and that’ll automatically reverse the case.”
The Judge thought this was his best offer. But Tisha’s answer astounded him.
“I’ll never sell my body for anything,” she said with finality.
“You heard, Justice James Phada!”
“Young lady, you’ve just passed your husband’s death sentence,” the Judge said fitting back his glasses. “I’ll hang him or my name is not James Phada!”
Judgment day arrived. The court was tightly packed. Tisha was in the front seat. Justice Phada, sitting in a bossing attitude like a bloated toad, was surprised that she looked unperturbed.
“You’ll soon be crying, young lady,” he told himself. “You man will be soon six feet under, I swear.”
“The Republic versus John Gogodanjoka,” announced the Court Clerk.
Tisha suddenly rose from her seat a tape record player in her hands. She pressed the “play” button.
“Darling, I know your husband is not guilty,” the Judge’s voice came clearly. “A good citizen…”
All eyes in the court went to the Judge. Justice Phada had suddenly assumed the look of someone who sees a ghost. He shrunk in his chair, his mouth agape, his eyes threatening to pop out. Sweat beads covered his face.
God! He had been fooled. He should have known! Why else should she have invited him to her house if she knew her answer would be negative? It was to record their conversation. Christ, he should have known!
“Young lady, you have just passed your husband’s death sentence. I’ll hang him or my name is not James Phada!” the cassette player sealed his doom.