“Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, you must find this man guilty of murder!” Robert paced before the jury stand. “The evidence is clear. This man--Joshua Redford--was found in the kitchen where the crime happened. Popi’s blood still on his fingers, and staring down at her body.”
“I told you, I just found it that way! I didn’t do it!”
“Silence! The accused doesn’t get to speak. Isn’t that right, Your Honor?”
The judge bobbed his head in agreement.
“The weapon was in his hand, he was at the scene of the crime, the body was on the floor in front of him. What else do you need to declare him guilty?”
“All the evidence is circumstantial!” the accused declared. “It only proves that I found it on the floor--not that I put it there!”
“She. Had. A. Name.” Robert said, stabbing the air near Josh’s chest to punctuate each word. “You don’t even have the decency to remember it.”
“Sorry. I found ‘Popi’ there,” Joshua said with finger quotes.
“Don’t mock me! I loved that popsicle!” Robert said. “It was the last one! The last one! And it’s like 102 degrees out there!”
“So...how does the jury decide if he’s guilty?”
Robert put his hands on his hips and turned to look at the TV. The thing was like 102 years old, fat and boxy, and the image displayed (a Law and Order DVD paused on a shot of a jury) was about 144p. “Well...uh…The judge agrees. He decides the verdict.”
The Darth Vader bobblehead continued to nod in his esteemed place on top of a couple economics textbooks stacked on a desk.
“Is Josh innocent?” Luke asked, putting his face close to the figurine. “Vader says yes.”
“See man! I didn’t murder your popsicle.” Josh slapped Robert’s chest amicably.
The apartment door opened. Their other roommate, Benjamin, shoved his shoulder against the door as he tossed his backpack inside. He stopped just inside the apartment and slowly looked from person to person. The door slowly shut itself behind him with a long creak.
Robert was standing next to Josh, in a suit coat and a pair of shorts.
“You’re late,” Robert said before turning to the chunky TV with one single antenna. “Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, would you excuse the informality and allow Benji to attend the Trial?”
“Benjamin,” Ben corrected automatically, getting a better glimpse of the so-called jury. “What happened this time?”
“Murder, my dear Benji,” Robert said. “One of you, violently murdered my love, my sweet Popi…”
“He dropped his popsicle.” Luke mumbled between bites of what appeared to be pizza rolls.
“MURDER!” Robert pointed to a rough circle of white powder on the floor in an outline of a popsicle. “You all are at the scene of the crime and you all are guilty until proven innocent!”
“Pretty sure it’s the other way around,” Josh muttered.
“ORDER IN THE COURT MR. JOSH!” Robert said. He looked towards the bobble head. “Apologies, your honor, may we continue?”
Josh reached up and flicked Darth Vader’s head. It nodded and Robert began to pace back and forth.
“Josh, you were seen moments after the murder holding the bowl that was the final resting place of Popi. How is it that you claim to have no part in this?”
“Because it melted before I found it. I picked up the bowl to clean up the mess.”
“TO TAKE CARE OF THE BODY! You forgot to finish the job did you? Tried to leave no loose ends!”
“Seriously? Why would I let it melt before taking care of it?”
Robert stopped pacing.
“Why would you? Exactly! You not only murdered Popi, but watched her bleed her purple blood all over the floor!”
“If I wanted to get rid of a popsicle there’s this thing called the trash?” Josh said. “Or the sink?”
“AHA! So you admit to wanting to dispose of popsicles! What did they ever do to you!”
Luke chuckled. “Gave him a brain freeze maybe? Yellow his teeth?”
“Order in the Court!” Robert said. “Do you, Joshua Redford, admit to being a hater of popsicles?”
Josh shrugged. “No.”
“Fine…” Robert said. “No further questions.”
Josh got up and took a seat next to Luke.
“Now we shall hear from our next witness, Gramps Old J.” Robert said as the roommates groaned. Robert placed on the chair a rather bruised and wrinkled orange with a smiley face from a sharpie. Old J was also growing what appeared to be a bit of a moldy gray beard. No one knew how long he had been in the mini-fridge. Legends had it that the orange had been inside when they had first lugged the mini-fridge into their apartment.
“Rob, it was a popsicle,” Benjamin said. “Just get another one.”
“She was no mere popsicle Benji!”
“She was my Popi, the last Popi…” Robert placed his hand over his heart and hummed an off beat funeral dirge. When he finished he faced the rest of them.
“Old J helped me collect the evidence we have with us today.”
“Evidence?” Luke mumbled.
“Yes Luke. Evidence.” Robert pulled out a ziplock bag with a large A on the front containing a bowl. “Exhibit A. The final resting place of Popi.”
Robert brought out a second bag filled with the remains of a purple popsicle. “Exhibit B. Popi’s blood.”
Robert brought out a third bag filled with crumbs. “Exhibit 3. Finger prints!”
“That looks like crumbs Rob.” Luke said.
“You would know Luke. These are Pizza Roll crumbs. Found at the scene of the crime around the body!”
Luke paused halfway between a bite. “You’re joking right?”
“Does it look like I’m joking? Old J was the last one to see Popi and you know what else? He says there was nothing in the freezer besides Popi, himself, and... Pizza Rolls!”
“Why would I ruin a popsicle?” Luke asked.
“Why indeed.” Robert resumed his pacing. “Jealousy perhaps? Of our relationship?”
“Jealous of a popsicle?”
“She was more than just a popsicle.”
In unison the roommates said, “She was your Popi.” They all rolled their eyes.
“She was my Popi, the last Popi…”
There was a moment of silence.
“You wanted a dessert, perhaps, after your pizza rolls. And so you decided to take Popi. But something went wrong and you decided to murder her!”
“I’m still eating the rolls bruh.” Luke waved the bowl with pizza rolls in the air. “Feel one. They’re still hot. The inside is like 102 degrees. I’m basically eating molten lava filled bread.”
“So you are…”
Robert paced. The jury flickered into static.
“There is only one suspect left…” Robert whirled around, pointing a finger at the last roommate. “It was Benji!”
The roommates gasped.
“Guys, I have been at work since this morning, it would be impossible.”
“Improbable, but not impossible!” Robert said. “You love popsicles too! You were planning on taking her for dessert for your lunch break, but you left her behind!”
“‘Popi’ was grape flavored.” Ben said.
“AHA, You even knew her flavor!” Robert said.
“Exhibit B? Purple?” Ben said. “But I only eat the orange ones. Everyone knows orange is the only acceptable flavor.”
“True,” Josh said. “Super annoying too.”
“Thank you!” Ben waved a hand at Josh. “See it couldn’t have been me either!”
“Hey Rob,” Luke said. “Isn’t that your desk that Darth is on?”
“The wrapper is on your desk.”
“Where were you when this all went down?”
“Doing laundry, it's...it's been a few weeks and so there was a lot. Why else would I be wearing this coat? I ran out of shirts.”
“Couldn’t you have just left the popsicle out before then?” Josh said.
“And left the bowl too close to the edge?” Luke said.
“And then start this whole fake court to cover it up?” Ben said. “Let me guess...the guilty party has to clean the kitchen floor?”
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury. This meeting is adjourned. The case will remain unanswered…”
The roommates groaned.
“We shall all have a moment of silence for Popi,” Robert said. “The Last Popi...”
And as the room became quiet, the jury flickered to black. The whir of the oscillating fans grew to fill the silence, as the poor machines struggled to cool off the hot apartment. It was still like 102 degrees out, and now there were no popsicles.
“So...everyone votes that Rob has to buy us all ice cream, right?” Benjamin ventured.
“Aye!” Josh and Luke shouted, raising their hands.
“The jury agrees...The guilty party must buy the jury ice cream,” Ben said, and flicked Darth Vader’s head. The masked judge nodded his agreement.