LORD SCALES. Yet more blood on your hands.
JACQUES. But the court cannot deny that I tried to save him.
LORD SCALES. Alas, you did it too rudely; and in dragging him out the door, his head broke upon the steps. Whereupon he incurred a haemorrhage of the wits.
JACQUES. I fear his wits had gone already. Brother Symon was a senile fool with one foot in the grave. He hated life and longed for death.
SATYR. Let us not forget, he was also the son of the former abbot: the very man who tortured your grandmother. I put it to you, that your attempt to save Symon was nothing of the kind; indeed as you dragged Symon from the fire, you were already seething with hatred, spitting curses and yanking his fragile frame as if he were your quarry.
JACQUES. But I suffered terrible burns trying to save him.
SATYR. Your burns were but a guise for murder.
JACQUES. That’s a lie!
SATYR. Then let us go over the three steps one by one. After his hump scraped on the first step, what was your first thought?
JACQUES. I thought… serves you right.
SATYR. And when his skull cracked on the second step, what did you think?’
JACQUES. I thought… Oh my god, I’ve killed him.
SATYR. But still you kept on pulling…
JACQUES. Naturally, the chamber was full of smoke.
SATYR. The jury will note that the accused did not carry the man – he simply pulled him by the ankles… Jacques, after Symon’s head bumped on the second step, you saw a trickle of blood oozing from his nose, did you not?
SATYR. Then why did you not think to take him by the shoulders?
JACQUES. I couldn’t: his cowl was on fire, and my hands were scorched. Besides, the sight of his blood disturbed me. In truth, I feared to touch it… ’Twas tainted and unclean.
SATYR. Ah! Exactly! For on seeing his blood, you recalled the curse fulfilled by the cat. And your urge for revenge fell like a bane from heaven. For in the pall of smoke was Margot’s mother, hanging from the gallows tree; and suddenly, this wretched, God-fearing hunchback, who had shown you every kindness, became the most despicable fiend. So you yanked him even harder over the third step, deliberately kicking his head against the wall –
SATYR. –Whereupon his skull cracked, and his lobes began to bleed.
JACQUES. That’s a lie!
SATYR. Are we to take your word for it?
JACQUES. You cannot prove I killed him.
SATYR. Oh, but I can. I have a witness.
SATYR. No, not Symon. He cannot be summoned to court, for he is dwelling in the Light. But I have another witness.
JACQUES. Another? Who? There was no one there but me.
SATYR. On but there was. A devout and holy soul, who saw everything that happened. Poor Jacques. You rather imagined that you were hidden away, didn’t you? But you were being watched, Jacques Vallin.
JACQUES. Watched? By whom? Krew?
SATYR. No, not Krew.
JACQUES. Then who?
SATYR. A gargoyle on the chimney.
JACQUES. A gargoyle? Are you mad? What kind of witness is that?
SATYR. A very fine witness indeed. A creature of living stone, and of unquestionable character. I call a new witness to the court.
LORD SCALES. Would the witness come forward. Please face the jury and state your full name.
BUG-EYES. Name I have none, but the monks called me Bug-Eyes.
JACQUES. This is an insult to common sense!
BUG-EYES. Why? Do you deny the life in me? That I have wits to reason and heart to know the mind of God? Within my stony flesh is a spinning phantasm of matter you cannot comprehend.
LORD SCALES. Bug-Eyes, would you please tell the court what you saw when Jacques reached the third step.
BUG-EYES. Well my lord, it was just as the Satyr said. Jacques kicked poor Symon in the head. Bish, bash, bosh!
JACQUES. ’Twas an accident!
SATYR. Accident or not, the fact is, by the time you dragged him to the garth and quenched his smouldering cowl, you knew he was already dead. Yet still you feigned to cry: “Bring him back! Oh Symon! Please don’t die!” … But what is most revealing of all, is that you made no attempt to raise him with your powers. Maria was deserving of God’s grace, as was Old Jacob – the wandering Jew – but this harmless, and I must say quite charming old man, was not worthy of resurrection in your eyes.
JACQUES. But I did try to raise him! At least, I think I did. Oh! How can I be sure, when I was half-dead myself? Bug-Eyes, did you see Symon return from the dead?
BUG-EYES. Return from the dead? What utter rot! I saw no such thing. And what’s more, my nose split in the heat. Look at my poor face: I’ve lost six teeth, both ears and suffer from soot in the head.
LORD SCALES. Yes, thank you Bug-Eyes. I will see to it personally that you are restored to your former glory by my finest mason.
BUG-EYES. Thank you my Lord.
LORD SCALES. Very well Bug-Eyes, you may leave the court… Members of the jury, you have heard the full account of Symon’s death. How do you find the accused on the charge of murder three?
GOBLIN JURY. Guilty my lord.
JACQUES. Guilty? But what of The Rule of Infernal Inversion? Should I not be found innocent on this count?
LORD SCALES. Alas, The Rule of Infernal Inversion is always liable to be infernally inverted, depending on my mood and direction of the wind – which has just turned due North – and it blows toward your pyre whose faggots it will fan, unless you can convince the jury that the fall of Belloc was not the direct result of your inflated pyromania. For Symon did not spill the pot of fat, you did. A fact which you conveniently forgot.
JACQUES. All this is Sagrit’s doing! He has stacked the deck against me. How can I atone for my sins when every outcome has been writ in advance?
LORD SCALES. We warned you of that duplicitous Selenite but you would not listen. Did you really think he would permit the subversion of Time and Space? Especially by a mere mortal like you? Not to mention the altercation of history by so many interwoven fates! How oft’ has my verdict passed unseen before your eyes? Yet each time you plot to overturn it! But let me assure you, your once uncertain future is now quite irrevocable. The malignancy and madness of The New World is writ in stone – as is your ensoulment in the asylum of Sunhill. The New World lies afar, like a dream left behind in the night: a land of veiled ghosts and shadow, where the powers of reason incur an obliquity of vision and a perverse mental metamorphosis; ’tis like a tale you once read in a book, or remembered from a faraway place: a godless realm of irrational rationalists, who always plead for reason but are themselves naught but rabid fundamentalists. If you thought to escape that atheist hell by saving Symon, you were hopelessly deluded. Already I see the black clouds of doubt are teeming though your brain. As if the panorama of madness that unrolls before you has been marked out by a dark and preternatural doom. In truth, you are powerless to stop it. The fact is Jacques, brother Symon was destined to die at your hands, and your hands alone.
JACQUES. But why?
LORD SCALES. Why? Is it not obvious? ’Twas the witch’s curse, what else? The sins of the father are visited upon the son. Symon’s father killed the witch, and the witch’s grandson killed Symon. ’Tis all perfectly just, balanced and amenable.
JACQUES. Just? There’s nothing just about it!
LORD SCALES. Protest all you like. There is naught you can do, in heaven or in hell, to change the contrived caprice of fate.
JACQUES. If that is so, then what am I doing here? If I am destined for the convenient oblivion of the madhouse, send me to the pyre and be done with it. Why humiliate me further with these ridiculous proceedings?
LORD SCALES. Because we have yet to expose the inner texture of your soul and life.
JACQUES. Your stern determination to inflict summary justice is naught but an excuse to deprive me of my rightful body. ’Tis all mockery and deprivation: a counsel of misdirection, forfeiture, and waste. This court is in need of great reproof, correction, and instruction!
LORD SCALES. Do not presume to instruct The Infernal Counsel. ’Tis an unfortunate trait of your damnable spirit, that whatever life you live, you are always ensouled within the queerest freaks of Nature. The aggregate of your flesh is like a strained harp, ready to snap at the slightest touch. Not to mention your wits, which flit back and forth in Time as if there were no tomorrow. The vicissitudes of life, in this world and the next, have left you in a state of perpetual dissonance, adrift like a bubble in the air, blown hither and thither by the fortunes of deformity. Brother Symon warned you, in no uncertain terms, that transmogrification of the flesh was a power granted by demons. Yet still you sought to change your mortal sex. The court must know how this came to pass. Continue…
Copyright © Nicholas Shea 2002
Bug-Eyes image montage assembled from public domain sources.