“It was just a sketch. I swear it was,” A thin ravaged badger says on the witness stand.
His fur burned to flesh in areas. The suit he wore tattered and burned much more than he was. His eyes beam to the crowded courtroom
“Is that so Mr. Woodbridge?” the vulpine prosecutor “I must say, it is an impeccable amount of detail for something as mundane as a bar napkin. Quite the cartographer, if you say this is just a sketch.”
“Yes,” he coughs, “um, thank you. Though I don’t know what you mean by that,” the badger says looking away from his accuser and his accusations, tapping a large claw on the witness stand.
“I think you do,” the fox smiles, “While I’ve never been to Marquee Gulch, the county does have plats of it. Or, as the court is well aware, what is left of it.”
“I don’t see what that has to do with the sketch,” He says back to fox.
“I think you do,” the fox says turning around at the bushveld badger, narrowing his gaze. He knew the canines in the audience could smell his worry as much as he could.
He continues on, “The Marquee Gulch townsite, according to the Los Montana County Records Office: occupies 200 acres of the bottom of Section 23 and 32 acres in the northwest of section 26 within Pine Peak Township along the Marquee River. Looking on a map, this is a very narrow and distinct bends in the river.”
“Mr. Rote, please get to your point,” the judge says, his mane powdered white along with his hair.
“I am getting there your honor,” the fox says, his ears a bit flatter on his head than before.
“Please proceed, but with your point this time,” the old lion says laying down his gavel.
“Right, right. The point is the roads in Marquee Gulch are not of the standard grid affaire as they are here in the valley. The roads converge and diverge more along the river. Much like Mr. Woodbridge’s napkin squiggles,” Mr. Rote’s ears slowly begin to rise once more as he continued his monologue, “Because, it is not just a sketch but a plate, a karte, a map. Not just any map, but a map to the essay office, which Mr. Woodbridge’s compatriots burned the night of 9th of July.”
“Is there a question to this?” The judge asks. His voice reflecting the strain on his ears from the loquacious vulpine.
“There is, your honor. Is this or is this not, Mr. Woodbridge, a map of the area of the former essay office in Marquee Gulch?” the fox finally says.
“I, I suppose you could call it that, yes.” Mr. Woodbridge, says his claws tapping on the stand.
“A map to the said essay office?” The fox jumped to reply.
“It is,” the badger says.
“So, you admit it was for planning the botched raid?” the fox says almost licking his lips.
“No, it was for a greenhorn who need directions,” the battered badger says, his hands slowly clenching into a fist.
“That is a peculiar answer to have, for a union man like yourself. Drawn in the mist of a labor strike. Sounds an awfully like crossing the line Mr. Woodbridge. Does sound like that does it not?” Mr. Rote comments, as his eyes narrow.
“It was done at the saloon, just after the fourth. Scab or not, I don’t even want to think about taking away their income,” he says back, a bit thrown off by the fox’s question.
“Is that so. Is not participating in a strike not depriving the owners and other workers of income?” the fox says.
“Owners are different. They cut corners and disregard safety. Those moles are going to get the lot of us killed. All over some spar,” Mr. Woodbridge says, his voice raising.
“I see, so would stealing be fine in a situation like this? Maybe something to get home the point of the workers?” the fox leads his question.
“I don’t see how this is relevant. This is just a sketch. Someone asked for the essay office while I was at the saloon, so I took out a pencil and drew one for them.”
“I think it is a fair question for the trial, Mr. Woodbridge. Depriving Marquee and Von Hamburg Mining Company an essay office would make mining more difficult for them in this time. It certainly is convenient time for a fire too, on Friday after payout, Mr. Woodbridge.” The fox continues.
“I never set those fires. That sketch was for a greenhorn to get paid that Friday, honest.” Mr. Woodbridge says.
Mr. Woodbridge’s demur changes from that of annoyance to that of mild fear. His bulbous nose flared, as his sent began to shift. His ferret lawyer looking to the several canines in the jury ears swiveled to the badger, attention now directly on him. The long-winded vulpine lawyer’s whiskers raise slightly from the small depressed smile as the shift of sent touched his nose.
“That’s a lot of detail, for someone to find a place. Especially having one use the back door to the river.” The fox cross examines.
“He’s an otter. I figure he’d be swimming it in up the river.” The badger quickly responded, heart beating in his chest. Mr. Rote giving him a sideways glance in his eye.
“Otters are a rare sight in a mining town. I suppose you could find this otter you speak of, to vouch for your story?” the fox says, resting a bit, hearing the badger’s heart faintly and the smelling his fear.
“I cannot,” Mr. Woodbridge says, feeling the catch of the lie.
The ferret looking on to his client sitting in to the chair. Looking at the court room in disbelief of his client never mentioning the otter before. Not only that but one look at any of the canines trying to hide them sniffing the air.
“Shame, I would love to meet such a talented swimmer that would haul sliver and lead,” the fox says catching the obvious lie. “You do realize that you are under oath, correct Mr. Woodbridge? This isn’t poker night, but a court of law. So really why would a map like this have this level of detail, really?”
“I am very detail-oriented.” Mr. Woodbridge says
“Mm hm,” the fox says satisfied getting the smell of fear out of the badger, “No further questions at this time, your honor.”
“Thank you, Mr. Rote. Would the Defense like to rebuttal?” the judge asks.
“We would, your honor,” The ferret says.
“Mr. Dubois, your witness,” The beleaguered lion turned his paw to Mr. Woodbridge on the stand.
A ferret seating opposed from Mr. Rote sighed as he rises, the fox had completely derailed any of his defense that he had set up. He brushed his suit and adjusted his glasses before approaching the stand.
“I think we established pretty well that the bit of evidence here was a map, but Mr. Woodbridge, would you please recount the creation of this map?” Mr. Dubois asks still trying to figure out where to go with this.
“Certainly, Mr. Dubois. I was in the Long Hare Saloon, sitting at the rail. This young new c—, otter came asking for the essay office. I had my pen and ink out trying to keep to myself and unwind with some writing and some rye. Being there for several years now, I drew out the map and he went on his way. I know not what nor why he needed to go there.” Mr. Woodbridge says rather quickly.
“Did you know this otter?” Mr. Dubois asks back.
“Never meet him in my life,” Mr. Woodbridge said looking away from his council.
“I see, and the otter left the napkin there then?” the ferret asks back.
“Must of have, I didn’t care to look if he took it with him or not” the badger says, in a hopeful lie.
“No further questions your honor,” Mr. Dubois says slowly walking back to the defense table.
“Very well,” The lion says casually.
“Your honor, I would like to examine some more of Mr. Woodbridge’s recollections before his dismissal from the witness stand.” The fox chimed in
“Very well, Mr. Rote,” the judge says, flipping his paw to the witness bench.
“Now, Mr. Woodbridge, I have a few questions on that map you sketched. You said you were on the rail when the otter approached you, did you not?” the fox jumped into his questioning.
“Yes, I was,” Mr. Woodbridge says his annoyance of this vulpine beginning to show.
“And you said the otter took off from there?” the fox pushed on.
“That he did, I didn’t look, nor did I care to look where he was off to neither,” the badger says cockily.
“Then how can you explain, how the map ended up in a back hidden room in the saloon,” the fox finally jumped his question.
“I don’t know, that otter could have dropped it, or someone else could have found it. I mean it is your words that it was quite the detailed map.” Mr. Woodbridge tries to deflect.
The foxes ear ticks slightly. He was not expecting quite that response, but presses forward with his argument, “I don’t think there was an otter. The scent during your story was a bit more forth telling than your own words. I think that the labor dispute had stalled and with the new workers being shipped in from the central plains, that your strike had been broken. You drew that map to plan arson, Mr. Woodbridge. You along with Mr. Larson, Mr. Chai and Mr. Cacciatore a few days prior. An arson job that took half of the Main Street of Marquee Gulch with it.”
“I did no such thing,” he says, crossing his arms. The scent of fear and anger reeked from him to the point even his lawyer could smell.
“I think we have the real truth, Mr. Woodbridge. Your honor, I have no further questions,” the vulpine finally let his smile though, as someone would laying down a royal flush at poker. He knew his case had been won.
Here's my submission for this week's Thursday's Writing prompt: Sketch.
This week's story taking place in a court of law where the trial of Mr. Woodbridge is underway.
If you're interested in doing the same. I would suggest going to Thursday Prompt's FA Page.
Special thanks to my mate midnightmustelid for helping catch some of my errors and edits.