Hiccup Quickie

Scene: A courtroom. The judge sits on the bench. He is old and crotchety but with a kind face. Two barristers and an usher are present. A woman of about forty sits in the dock. She looks extremely nervous, fearful. There is no jury. (The number of actors can be kept to a bare minimum with skillful camerawork).

The defence barrister is speaking. He is constantly interrupted by the woman, who is hiccuping extremely loudly. There is a glass of water on the side of the dock.

Defence barrister: SO MY LORD, I REALLY (hic) DO NOT HAVE ANY (hic) --- pause --- ANYTHING TO ADD TO (hic)...

Judge: (Waving to the barrister) WOULD YOU LIKE ANOTHER GLASS OF WATER, MRS STONE? (Kindly).

Woman: THANK YOU MY (hic) LORD, BUT I DON'T THINK THAT (hic) WOULD DO MUCH GOOD.

Judge: (Nodding sympathetically) YES, CARRY ON PLEASE, MR WILKINSON.

(Hic)

Defence barrister: YES, MY LORD. (Hic) I DO NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO ADD TO WHAT MY LEARNÉD FRIEND HAS SAID; (hic) I WOULD ONLY POUNT OUT THAT THIS IS AN EXTREMELY TRIVIAL OFFENCE, (hic) THE VALUE OF THE STOLEN GOODS AMOUNTED TO (hic) LESS THAN ONE POUND. AND THIS LADY IS FORTY-TWO YEARS OF AGE, AND (hic) OF PREVIOUS GOOD CHARACTER. (Hic) SHE HAS ALSO GONE THROUGH THE TRAUMA OF A DIVORCE RECENTLY (hic) WHICH YOUR LORDSHIP MAY FEEL (hic) CONTRIBUTED TO THIS (hic) (he hesitates) ABBERATION.

(The judge nods his head thoughtfully).

Defence barrister: (Continuing) I WOULD ASK THAT (hic) UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES YOUR LORDSHIP IMPOSE (hic) A NOMINAL FINE, AND WAIVE COSTS, FOR CLEARLY THIS CASE SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN REFERRED (hic) TO THE CROWN, BUT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DEALT WITH (hic) BY THE MAGISTRATES' COURT.(He bows and sits down).

Judge: (Kindly) ER, WILL YOU STAND UP PLEASE, MRS STONE?

(She stands up and hiccups again).

Judge: YES, CLEARLY THIS CASE SHOULD HAVE BEEN DEALT WITH BY THE MAGISTRATES' COURT. BUT, IT WAS NOT, THEREFORE I (hic) WILL IMPOSE THE SENTENCE I SEE FIT. (His face becomes a mask). BERYL STONE, YOU ARE A DESPICABLE LITTLE THIEF; YOU WILL GO TO PRISON FOR TEN YEARS.

Woman: AAAHHH! (She screams and flops over the dock. The whole court looks at the judge, shocked, then the usher and both barristers rush to the woman's aid).

Defence barrister: ARE YOU ALL RIGHT, MRS STONE?

Usher: MRS STONE, MRS STONE?

Prosecution barrister: ARE YOU ALL RIGHT, WOULD YOUL LKE A DOCTOR? (They manage to revive the woman, who stands up and addresses the judge).

Woman: MY LORD, YOU CAN'T SEND ME TO PRISON, NOT FOR TEN YEARS. (Pleading) I'VE GOT TWO YOUNG KIDS AT HOME. THEY DON'T EVEN KNOW I'M HERE. WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THEM IF I'M SENT AWAY? I'LL NEVER SEE THEM AGAIN.

Judge: (Kindly again) YOU'RE RIGHT, OF COURSE. THE TEN YEAR SENTENCE IS SET ASIDE. YOU WILL PAY A TEN POUND FINE WITH TEN POUNDS COSTS.

Woman: (Nearly fainting) OH, THANK YOU, MY LORD; I'LL NEVER STEAL ANYTHING AGAIN, EVER. YOU'VE PUT ME BACK ON THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW.

Judge: (Grinning) YES, AND I'VE ALSO CURED YOUR HICCUPS. (Bangs his gavel) AND THE NEXT ONE, PLEASE!

(Fade).

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