The crowded court fell silent as the Judge looked sternly towards the accused standing in the dock. ‘This Tribunal has been established to look into the strange goings on in the House of Justice, which became a bawdy house where men came for lewd and perverted favours. How do you plead?’
The woman in the dock looked up plaintively to Mr Justice Tribunal. She wore a white wig and a long black gown, and her painted face disguised her years of sin and debauchery. ‘I plead guilty, My Lord.’
‘Very good,’ said the Judge. ‘I’m pleased that you appreciate the way this Tribunal works. First I find you guilty, then I investigate the case to find out how you became guilty.’
‘My Lord, isn’t that turning justice upside down?’
‘Huh!’ snorted the judge, ‘You should know! You started out as Madam Justice in charge of the House of Justice, but you ended up as Madam Lustice in charge of the House of Lust. All your justices were supposed to be pure virgins, kept away from society, so that they could dispense justice fairly and objectively, removed from the demands of sinful men. But you turned them into whores in a whorehouse!'
‘Yes, My Lord,’ admitted Madam Lustice, as tears poured down her face, and she took out her powder case and powdered her face, trying to repair the damage to her cosmetic mask.
‘You were supposed to keep these beautiful judges virtuous and independent, but you turned them into the slaves of base men, crooks and politicians who were trained in the art of forcing themselves upon the innocent for their own lustful and perverted pleasures.’
‘You’re repeating yourself,’ snapped Madam Lustice rather testily. ‘Can we move on?’
‘I know this is very painful for you,’ said the judge, ‘that a woman of your previous good character and virtue should have fallen into such a filthy slough of sin and depravity. Perhaps you could enlighten this court, which has an appetite for salacious tales, on how you sank so low.’
‘It all began some four years ago,’ began Madame Lustice, dabbing her eyes with a silk handkerchief. I was sitting quietly in my office on a Friday afternoon when the door suddenly flew open, and in stepped the Big Man.’
‘A big man, or THE Big Man?’ enquired the judge, as the crowd murmured.
‘The Big Man,’ confirmed Madam Lustice. ‘He stepped into the room, locked the door behind him, and then went to the window and drew the curtains. As I stood up, he drew me to him, held me close, and said I want a favour from you. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch your front. Nobody refuses me.’
‘Why did you not try to prevent this illegal entry?’
‘My Lord,’ said Madam Justice, as another tear ravaged her make-up, ‘you must understand my situation. I had been kept separate from men all these years. I had heard in my courtroom what sinful men do to innocent women, but I had no personal experience. Now the Big Man had his arms around me. As he held me tight, I felt his charisma. It was pressed hard against me. Do me a favour he whispered, as he pushed his tongue in my ear. Yes, I said. Yes, yes yes I kept saying, as I felt the power of the Big Man flow into me. He had given me his power, and I had found out why he was called the Big Man.’
‘So was he pleased that you gave him this favour?’
‘That’s what surprised me,’ replied Madam Lustice. ‘He stood up and said Now I have done you this favour, I want you to do me a favour. A friend of mine is coming before your court on Monday, and I expect his case to be dismissed!’
‘So you did him a favour?’
‘That’s how it continued. Every Friday afternoon he would do me a favour, and every Monday morning I would do one for him.’
‘And did the other judges also lose their virginity?’
‘When they saw how much I was enjoying myself, they all joined in.’
‘And soon,’ said the judge sternly, ‘It became known as the High Jinks Court and the Supreme Ecstasy Court, with the Director for Public Prostitution writing all the judgments, and the Solicitor General soliciting for more customers.’
‘But then it all went wrong?’ suggested the judge.
‘Terribly wrong. Something we hadn’t expected. The Big Man lost his job, and the next Big Man came looking for favours. We didn’t like the look of him. We had come to love the previous Big Man and all his friends, but the new lot were too old, too fat and too ugly. We just couldn’t change partners like that. It was heartbreaking. We all refused.’
‘So then what happened?’
‘We were accused of corruption and running a whorehouse!’
‘Very unfair!’ said the judge. ‘I can see you are a virtuous woman after all. Therefore I have decided that the earlier judgment is overturned. I have also decided that you are now Ready for Marriage. You must come back to Malawi with me!
As the two judges walked out of the court room arm-in-arm, somebody from the back shouted ‘They look like two men to me!’