The Judge
Maxim Loskutoff

The baby wept when his fingerprints were taken. Later, he sucked on a bottle of milk and tried to grab his lawyer's robes as the judge read out the charges: attempted murder, illegal assembly, treason.

The baby's father took the stand. His bearded face was wet with tears. "Look at him. He does not know how to hold a bottle of milk properly. How could he stone the police?"

Then the prosecutor called the assistant sub inspector who had filed the complaint. He was wheeled from the back of the courtroom, his head wrapped in bandages. "He was there," he said, pointing to the baby squirming in the high chair behind the defense table, an orange restraint across his tiny chest. The pointing finger trembled. "They all were."

It was a difficult case. The fate of the father and older brothers were clear, but the baby…. The judge sat for a long time at the desk in his chambers turning a polished stone between his fingers. A clock ticked beside the General's portrait on the wall. The law was clear. But there was also the matter of humanity. But there was also the matter of inspectors. And inspector generals. And generals. And the men who came in black cars to take you away.

The judge did not love his country anymore. Its mountains and deserts, the great river flowing through its heart. He could hardly remember being so young. When he returned to the bench and looked down on the shackled infant, weeping again, arms outstretched, he only wanted to wink.

I understand you now, Father. Finally. Our spirits are boundless, our appetites insatiable, and we offend you from the day we are born.

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