Defendants sentenced during explosive Bainbridge trial

A low murmur spread through the already energized crowd in a hastily arranged temporary courtroom in the Bainbridge Island City Hall. People of every background along with many of their four-legged friends leaned forward as the bailiff escorted the two defendants to their place behind a short table next to their attorney, Mr. Barker.

“All rise!”

Judge Margaret Needleman, a short, spry elderly woman with sun-weathered skin, took her place behind the City Council dais. The judge was known as the Needle for her quick wit and impatience with tomfoolery.

“You may be seated.”

Judge Needle instructed the city attorney, Ms. Honor Able, to call her first witness.

“We call Sparky to the stand.”

“Will Sparky please come forward.”

After a few failed attempts, the clerk finally lifted Sparky, a large, white Berna-something, onto the witness chair.

“Mr. Sparky. Do you promise to tell the whole truth, blah, blah, so help you Purina Dog Chow? You may indicate yes with one bark and no with two.”

“Woof.”

Ms. Able approached the witness.

“Is it true that you reside at 724 Tiffany Lake Lane with Alena Waldorf?”

“Woof!”

“Keeping in mind that you’re under oath, can you confirm that due to excessive noise you suffered several panic attacks and loss of hair on the night of July 4, 2021?”

“Woof!”

“Is it also true that in your agitated state, you leaped out a bedroom window onto the garage woof, I mean roof, and jumped through several low bushes and attacked Mr. Miller and his young son, Oliver?”

“Woof!”

“Do you recognize the defendants as the same individuals you held down until the Bainbridge patrol officer arrived?”

“Woof!”

“A remarkable and heroic effort.”

“Objection, your Needleness!”

“Overruled.” You’ll get your chance, Mr. Barker.”

“Thank you, Sparky. Your witness Mr. Barker.”

Clive Barker, a pudgy man wearing an old suit and a ratty bow tie approached the witness.

“Sparky, huh? With a name like that, how can we be certain you didn’t set off the illegal fireworks on the night in question?”

“Objection. Baiting the witness!”

“Objection sustained. Stick to the facts, Mr. Barker.”

“No more questions, your Needleness.”

“The city calls Agatha Moonbeam Crystal to the stand.”

A tall, thin woman in her 70s walked forward. She was wearing a loose shift covered in shiny colorful beads with several peace, love and smoke pot buttons.

“Ms. Crystal. Can you tell the court how the abhorrent events on the night in question affected you?”

“I was so sure that with loud fireworks being outlawed on the island I’d be able to go to sleep at my normal time of 10 p.m. Why, I’ve lived behind the Millers for eight years and never imagined they could be so self-centered and thoughtless as to allow Oliver and his friends to set off cherry bombs and the like until almost midnight. I can’t imagine what they were thinking.”

“You witness, Mr. Barker.”

“Ms. Crystal. Is it true that you were a hippy in the 1960s and were known to watch the July 4th fireworks in Washington, D.C.?”

“Well…yes, I did.”

“No more questions.”

“The city rests, your Needleness.”

“The defense may call its first witness.”

“The defense calls Oliver Miller to the stand.”

Oliver, a tow-headed short 13-year-old, strutted to the stand.

“Now, Olive. Will you tell the court in your own words why you felt it was OK to set off explosives on the night of July 4th?

“Well, Mr. Barker, my dad said if the neighbors had a problem with the noise, they could just run their damn yuppy sound soothers.”

“Move to strike as argumentative!”

“Must I remind you, Mr. Barker, that this is your witness?”

“Never mind, your Needleness. Your witness, Ms. Able.”

“Oliver, I understand you are a member of a church youth group. Didn’t you learn about the importance of being considerate of others?”

“Uh, I didn’t really pay attention. Anyway, my parents taught me that life is tough and only the tough survive.”

“Do you have any regrets about your behavior?”

“Nah. It’s just a dumb dog.”

Almost all of the audience rose to their feet while more than 20 dogs and cats began voicing their displeasure.

“Silence!” ordered the judge. “I’ve heard enough. I sentence the defendant and his father to three years of community service. I expect you to report to Animal Control every Saturday morning for animal poop pick-up patrol and the Senior Center where you will be required to participate in the weekend singalong. Court is adjourned. And, Mr. Barker, get a new bowtie.”

Michael Lisagor has lived with his wife on Bainbridge Island for 17 years and is the author of several books, including Personal Growth During the Time of COVID.

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