Drama Crime Fiction

This story contains sensitive content

Content Warning: References of death and substance abuse, swearing.

I’ve never been in a courtroom before. It doesn’t look like the ones in those movies or shows. Just regular old office lights, the long tube ones. The room is kind of bland, no windows or anything. It’s just like a room where you have meetings and stuff. Other than that, it’s kind of empty. The only thing that looks like the movies is where the judge sits. I wonder if he’ll have that black gown-thing on and one of those old-timey white wigs. The security guard is a fatso. I could outrun ‘im. There’s a girl on a typewriter, but she’s not typing anything. She’s hot. I wonder how old she is. I’d fuck her.

My dad’s lawyer, Ricky, tells me to sit down on the chair next to him. I like Ricky. He’s fun to party with. Hooks me up when my dad asks for it. Not a bad golfer either.

There’s a lot of people here, well, on the other side of the courtroom. I can see them all giving me the stink-eye. Fuck’em. Not so many people behind me, a couple of college looking people. I see Darren and Joseph at the back. I give them a smile and a head nod. They don’t nod back, probably don’t see me. Maybe they’re baked! 

Dad’s not here. Funny, I thought he would be. But he’s probably busy, like always.

At the table on the other side of the room is the mom and her lawyer. She’s ugly, and has a saggy face. You’d have to be some desperate to want to fuck someone with a face like that. The lawyer is just some old dude.

Yeah, I’ll be fine. This is stupid.

I ask Ricky when the judge is coming out, because I got places to be this afternoon. Ricky tells me it depends. Then he leans over and tells me I should sit up straight. Fine, whatever. 

All rise for the honorable Judge Mathis. Finally.

I’m made to stand. This suit feels tight around my shoulders and this tie is, like, choking me almost. Then we just sit back down, so what’s the point standing then? The judge walks in and he’s just a normal looking old guy, no wig, but at least he’s got the gown-thing on. 

Ricky and the other lawyer talk with the judge, I don’t really get what they’re saying. I keep looking at the typewriter girl and imagine me fucking her, maybe I’ll get dad to talk to her parents so we can meet up. Then I’d- 

I hear my name. It’s the other lawyer. He tells me to come up to the stand. Right, Ricky said this would happen. I get up, try to move my shoulders around but they’re still tight. I go and sit down next to the judge. They make me put my hand on the bible. 

Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

I say yes, Ricky told me to say yes.

The other lawyer starts asking me questions. 

How many drinks did you have the night of the accident? 

I tell him I had a couple. 

So just two drinks then?

Yeah, that’s what a couple is. 

What were the drinks exactly? 

Some rum and cokes, I think. 

Were they double rum and cokes? 

I don’t know, just rum and cokes. 

Uh-huh. Mr. Greene, have you ever done any drugs? 

No. Well, like, I’ve tried them before, everybody does.   

What drugs have you tried? 

Like, just weed and stuff. 

And stuff? Can you be more specific? 

My brain is starting to feel like it’s being squeezed, and my throat is getting dry. What’s with all the questions? They just keep coming. Then he brings up a toxicology report, says that I’m lying. I look at the judge. He’s staring right at me, his oldness ugly, he kind of looks like a skeleton. Even when I turn away I can feel the side of my neck and head getting hot. This suit is hot. I’m sweating, gross. 

Finally after like, forever, I get to sit down. My hand is shaking a bit. Why is it shaking? I fucking hate this place.. 

The saggy mom goes up to the stand next and the lawyer asks her some questions. He asks her easy questions, like how she’s feeling and shit. Why did I get all the hard questions? Now she’s crying, for fuck’s sake. It was over a year ago, get over it! Move on! Just have another kid. Whatever my dad paid you is more than enough to take care of another kid. 

Ricky puts his hand on my leg. I didn’t notice how restless it’s been. I take a drink of water from the glass in front of me. Plain water, gross. At least put some flavor in it. 

The lawyers talk some more. More big lawyer words. Ricky says that I’m suffering from ‘Affluenza’, and that ‘I am unable to distinguish right from wrong because of my upbringing’. I just shake my head and agree, even though I’m not too sure what it means. Just send dad the invoice already, I don’t even care if I’m not allowed to drive anymore, it’s not like my license is real anyways. I’ll just get a real one and then go drive. The other lawyer says it isn’t a real defense, but what does he know? I’m the one with the disease, how can he tell me what I do and don’t have? He’s not a doctor!

I turn to look for Darren and Joseph. They see me this time. I roll me eyes, this is dumb. They whisper something to each other. Joseph’s face is all red. The hell is wrong with him? 

I’m getting hot in this suit. The other lawyer is describing my ‘lack of empathy’ or some shit, making me look bad. Everyone in the courtroom is looking at me. The saggy mom starts crying. Other people start crying. 

It’s fine. I’ll be fine. 

Ricky doesn’t say much other than something that I think means it’s not my fault, which it’s not, the car was getting old and could have had some broken parts or whatever, those kids shouldn’t have been in the road in the first place, it wasn’t even a crosswalk. Seriously, why won’t anyone believe me? My dad believes me. If he were here he’d tell these people the truth. 

Some people leave the room. I ask Ricky if we can leave. He just shakes his head. Come on Ricky, I thought you were cool. I’ll make sure to tell dad about this bullshit. 

Eventually the people come back, and some stuff is read out, a long bunch of words.

We find the defendant guilty. Some random lady says. 

The judge says he feels sorry for me, that he has to be the one who will hold me accountable because I’m 18. 

For the deaths of Brandon and Elaine McBride, I sentence you to two consecutive life sentences, without parole, for the first 25 years. 

I look at Ricky. He has his head down and he puts his hand on my shoulder. What? This is bullshit! It’s not my fault! What the fuck! What about my condition? What were the kids doing on the road? Dad is going to freak out when he hears about this. I look around. Dad, where are you? Darren and Joseph are gone. The other people are hugging. The saggy mom is staring me down. No, this isn’t right! How can they all believe that…that…

This is all my fault?

September 27, 2022 12:24

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Sumiko Courtney
19:02 Oct 02, 2022

Despicable character but well depicted. I’d like to hear more about what happens next for this character.


Daniel Legare
20:41 Oct 02, 2022

I'd almost like to think he begins to learn what empathy and humility is, but doing so would most likely require a karmic justice of some kind. Would making him experience the same kind of pain and humiliation actually work? Would the justice system fail him? What about his rich dad? It could go in quite a few directions I think.


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Kelsey H
19:09 Oct 01, 2022

Love how you create such an unsympathetic character yet also make his point of view so interesting to read, especially the points where reality slowly starts to sink in. Really well described.


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J L Jones
18:32 Oct 01, 2022

This was great! You portrayed a perfect "punk" with no morals, no empathy, no guilt. If he was my kid, I would be so ashamed! I loved that you saved the prompt for the last sentence and turned it into a question. Clever!


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Tommy Goround
14:00 Sep 28, 2022

Wow.. I hate the guy. What a really good character to shove behind bars. The writing is fluid. The affluenza is an interesting discussion point... "a psychological malaise supposedly affecting wealthy young people, symptoms of which include a lack of motivation, feelings of guilt, and a sense of isolation." America prefers the underdog. Clapping.


Daniel Legare
18:24 Sep 28, 2022

Thank you. I haven't written much from such a perspective, and in the interest of doing something different I thought I'd go in this direction. Writing him felt terrible, I had absolutely no sympathy for him. Sadly, this story is inspired by true events, and the perpetrator did not get any comeuppance in the end. Though he was a minor, I'd argue not a single lesson was learned. Life is stranger than fiction they say.


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Jennifer Cameron
06:54 Oct 06, 2022

Saw the comment you made on my story so thought I would give your story a read and wow I'm so glad I did! You wrote the characters so perfectly and honestly I wanted it to be longer so I could keep reading. Amazing and would love to know how he got on in jail.


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Francis Dagmar
23:12 Oct 05, 2022

I enjoyed how his confusion over what was happening in the courtroom mirrored his detachment from the everyday life. A well-drawn character with no moral anchor point, completely adrift, and totally unprepared when he is swept away by the consequences of his own actions. I also liked how you made the father's absence from the courtroom a continuation of a pattern of behaviour within their relationship that contributed to the final outcome. The main character is to blame, but it is not all his fault.


Daniel Legare
23:53 Oct 05, 2022

Thank you!


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Elena B.
21:44 Oct 05, 2022

Wow!! I really enjoyed this. The title caught my attention, as I had never heard of the term "Affluenza" before. Googled it after reading and found that this piece explains it rather perfectly. The character (or monster?) you've created has a very strong, distinct voice and I find the stream of consciousness to be quite fitting for this story... This character can't think about anything else than himself, after all. The internal monologue you chose really serves a purpose in the characterization of this man. Also thought the ending was str...


Daniel Legare
23:55 Oct 05, 2022

Thank you for the kind words! It was actually fairly discomforting putting myself in this character's head, but I'm glad it seemed to pay off in the end.


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