“Ghouls and goblins of the jury, my client cannot be held responsible for failing to adhere to these prolix Terms and Conditions…” the lawyer began in his comically nasal voice. I had my pick of any lawyer – alive, dead, or fictional – to represent me in my defense, and I chose “Blue-Haired Lawyer” from The Simpsons, because why the hell not? This trial isn’t real, or if it is, it’s a farce, right? Well certainly being represented by a nameless, two-dimensional, animated lawyer proves one or the other, or both. This desk I’m sitting at is incredible. It feels like wood but it’s bla—oh god, this is ebony. Isn’t that illegal? Stupid question, look where I am. I think the whole courtroom is built from ebony. And so ornately carved. It’s gorgeous, really. Shit, I’m not even listening to my own lawyer’s opening argument.

Look at him, sitting over there looking all smug. That suit’s not fooling anyone. Where’d he even find a jacket that could hide his wings? No hiding those horns though. And how are his hooves staying in those patent leather shoes? Wait, who’s his lawyer? Atticus Finch! Well, Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch, I guess. God, give me a break! It’s bad enough that public opinion is on his side, now he’s got the most beloved fake lawyer in history to represent him? Maybe I should have taken my choice of legal representation a little more seriously…

“Your honor, may I submit to the court a printed copy of the Terms and Conditions that my client is alleged to have agreed to?” The Blue-Haired Lawyer holds a scroll above his head, then lets go with his bottom hand. The bottom of the scroll drops and unfurls across the courtroom, hitting the jury box with a thud. A couple of ghouls turn to each other and nod in affirmation. “Your honor, we’d like these Terms and Conditions entered into the court record. Now would the court stenographer please read them aloud in their entirety?”

“Objection!” Finch shouts, then continues in his magnanimous drawl, “This is clearly a ploy to stall the proceedings of this prestigious court, your honor.”

“Your honor, if my client was expected to read and comprehend all 666,666 words of these Terms and Conditions, then surely it behooves the court to read and comprehend them itself in order to determine if he has indeed violated them.” Maybe I underestimated this guy. Brilliant move showing exactly how ridiculous it is to expect anyone to read those things. I mean, they know we’re not going to read them and they make us agree to them anyway. How is that ethical? And I’m the one on trial here.

“Your honor,” Finch rebuts, “the defendant is only accused of violating one of the Terms and Conditions, and I suggest the court focus only on the pertinent section.”

“Sustained.” The judge asks the stenographer to read the section in question.

“Article six-hundred, section sixty, point six, entitled ‘Black Friday Special’. Black Friday being a day celebrated for its particular impiousness in the underworld, in the spirit of its materialism which His Unholiness, The Devil, exalts in all its glory, ownership of any and all souls offered for Earthly goods and/or services on this day will thereafter be transferred to Heaven upon expiry of the soul seller’s Earthly body subject to the following conditions: the Earthly goods and/or services exchanged for the seller’s soul may not be enjoyed by the seller and must only be used for the pleasure of other person(s).”

Now I’m called to the stand. Blue-haired Lawyer asks me, “Would you please tell the court what you purchased from the plaintiff?”

Sigh… “Taylor Swift tickets.” I grimace. A few goblins grumble.

“Please describe what transpired during this exchange.”

“My daughter’s nuts for Taylor Swift, okay, nuts. She was begging me and begging me for tickets. Well, they’re impossible to get, you know? And expensive as hell (no pun intended). So I’m in the garage and I say, to myself, ‘I’d sell my soul for two Taylor Swift tickets’ and out of nowhere pops this guy, the Devil, yeah, him sitting right there, and he says he can make it happen. I’m not going to lie I thought about it for a second but I tell him, ‘Look, pal, it was a moment of weakness. I’m not actually going to spend eternity in Hell with you for a couple hours of my daughter’s entertainment. She’ll get over it. I hope.’

“And he says to me, ‘You’ve got me all wrong,’ and he says he’s got this Black Friday deal. Who knew? He says I’ll get the tickets, he hangs on to my soul for a while, and then when I die he promises he’ll send it first class to Heaven. I say, ‘What’s the catch?’ He says there’s no catch and pulls out a freakin’ iPad. Can you believe it? There’s a bunch of words on the screen and a little box to click to ‘Agree to the Terms and Conditions’ like I’m paying for Netflix or something. I try to click it and it won’t work, so he says ‘You gotta scroll all the way to the bottom.’ So I scroll and scroll and finally I click the little box and it’s done.”

“No further questions, your honor.”

“Your witness, Mr. Finch.”  

Finch paces back and forth dramatically like he’s on stage. “Your honor, I have but one question for the defendant.” He turns to me. “Did you, or did you not, enjoy the Taylor Swift concert?”

“C’mon it’s not my thing, alright? Someone had to take my daughter to the show, she’s eight. And I sure as shit wasn’t going to let my wife get the credit after the hell I went through to get the tickets (no pun intended).” I’m getting a little sympathy from the jury as they eat up all these hell puns.

“You did not answer the question, sir. Did you, or did you not, enjoy the concert? A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will do.”

“No,” I shrug. “Like I said, it’s not my thing. I did it for her.”

“No further questions, your honor.”

Alright, that wasn’t so bad. He looks pretty confident over there though, that red-faced S.O.B. I wonder what they’ve got planned. Oh, no. No, no, no. Not my daughter.

She walks up to the stand. “Object or something!” I whisper-yell at Blue-haired Lawyer. He says there’s nothing he can do.

“Young lady, would you kindly tell us if you enjoyed the Taylor Swift concert?” Finch asks her.

“Oh, yes! It was the best night of my life!” She goes on and on about it. It’s adorable and I’m mortified. The whole courtroom is enthralled, ghouls and goblins alike. Finally she’s out of breath and Finch seizes the opportunity.

“And tell me, young lady, did your daddy enjoy the concert too? Even a little bit? Did he… dance, for example?”

“Well…” She points her little digit at her chin and looks up in thought. “No. Daddy doesn’t really… dance.” She giggles. There’s murmuring throughout the courtroom. Good job, baby! Finch looks defeated. He turns his back to her and walks away from the stand towards his client.

“Oh, wait!” Oh, no. “There was that one so-ong, right Daddy? The one that goes ‘Romeo, take me somewhere we can be alone.’ And when Taylor played it, Daddy started singing along. He knew all the words!”

Finch lights up. He turns and approaches the stand. “Thank you, young lady, for adding that bit of information. One last question. You said your daddy doesn’t dance, but whilst he was singing, ‘Love Story’, I believe it’s called, pray tell did you happen to see a smile across your dear daddy’s face?”

“Yeah. He was smiling. He smiled real big the whole time.”

That’s it, I’m going to Hell. I can’t be mad at her though. My daughter, I mean, not Taylor. The show’s over now. The Devil gets up to leave but he stops and says to me, “Always read the fine print ol’ chap. The devil’s in the details,” he laughs. “See you in, well, you know.” 

December 02, 2023 04:02

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Adam Stone
01:03 Dec 18, 2023

Having the fate of his eternal soul depend on whether he enjoyed a Taylor Swift concert or not made me laugh. Entertaining read.


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20:37 Dec 15, 2023

I love how you point out real-world issues in a fantastical way. Your stories are highly entertaining, imo. Thank you for sharing!


Warren Keen
03:30 Dec 16, 2023

Thank you, Lauren!


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Zeke Northland
18:24 Dec 15, 2023

Taking a peek at your other stories after you won this past week's contest, and I find your writing very charming! This piece buys wholly into its silliness, and it has a distinct voice that I can tell you held clear in your mind while you were writing. Picking a strong voice and running with it is one of the best ways to have fun with a prompt, I think. All in all, I had a healthy chuckle here; I love both this and your winning story. Keep up the good work, my man. (Also, Daddy shouldn't be TOO ashamed that he knows every word to Love Story...


Warren Keen
03:30 Dec 16, 2023

Thanks, Zeke! I really appreciate the feedback!


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