The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

The Boy and the Sea Dragon

Chapter Thirty Five

Zuangeng’s Trial

Five days later, they were in the courtroom waiting on the judge. Shulngeniu and Zuangeng sat at the table on the left of the judge’s bench. Jabid sat at the table on the right. All were facing the vacant bench. Shokura sat on the irst bench behind Jabid. Shequyle sat on the first bench behind Shulngeniu.

The bailiff walked out the door on the bench’s left. He stood beside the bench. He announced in Jalapean, “All rise!”

Everybody stood up. The judge walked out of the same door. The bailiff announced, “The Honorable Judge Morlan!”

Judge Morlan walked behind the bench and sat. He said, “All may be seated.”

Everybody sat. Judge Morlan looked toward Shulngeniu and Zuangeng. They looked at him. They recognized him as the one who had released Zuangeng earlier. Judge Morlan recognized them, too. He waved them to the bench. Both walked up to him. Judge Morlan looked at them, down at Zuangeng. He spoke Jalapean, “You again! So, you are Zuangeng?”

“Yes, your honor,” Zuangeng replied in Jalapean.

“So, you are prepared for trial,” Judge Morlan asked.

“Yes, your honor,” Shulngeniu said.

“Let’s start the trial, now,” Judge Morlan said.

Shulngeniu and Zuangeng returned to their seats. Judge Morlan signaled the bailiff. The bailiff announced, “Court is in session! The case of Zuangeng versus the State of Jalapea! Judge Morlan presiding!”

The trial got under way. It was conducted all in Jalapean. The jury was selected. To Shulngeniu’s dismay, they all turned out to be Jalapeans.

The first to take the stand to testify was Shequyle. Jabid was the first to question him. Jabid said, “On the day of the murder, where did you find the body?”

Shequyle said, “We found the body in an alley.”

Jabid said, “Was there someone with the body?”

Shequyle said, “A boy was kneeling beside the body.”

Jabid said, “Is this boy here today?”

Shequyle said, “He is here today.”

Jabid said, “Please, for the court, point him out.”

Shequyle pointed at Zuangeng. He said, “He is the defendant.”

Jabid said, “How was the victim killed?”

Shequyle said, “Two shots, one in the chest and one in the head.”

“Did you find the murder weapon,” Jabid asked.

Shequyle said, “Yes, I did. It was…”

Jabid interrupted, “Just answer the question!”

He walked to his table. He picked up the gun that was lying there. He walked back to the witness stand. He showed the gun to Shequyle, He said, “Is this the gun you found at the scene?”

Shequyle answered, “Yes.”

Jabid said, “Is this the gun that was used?”

Shequyle said, “Yes, it is.”

Jabid said, “I submit this gun as exhibit A. No further questions.”

He walked back to his table and sat.

Judge Morlan said, “Your witness now, Shulngeniu.”

Shulmgeniu stood up. She approached the witness stand. She said, “You said that the gun was used to kill the victim. What makes you to believe this?”

Shequyle said, “The gun holds six bullets. Two were missing. The slugs found in the victim are of the same caliber as what the gun uses.”

Shulngeniu said, “You said that my client was found at the scene. Was he holding the gun when you found him?”

Shequyle said, “No, he was not.”

Shulngeniu said, “Where was the gun found?”

Shequyle said, “It was on the ground beside the body.”

Shulngeniu said, “Can a six year old child pull the trigger on such a gun?”

Shequyle said, “Yes, I an afraid so.”

Shulngeniu said, “Was there anybody else found at the scene?”

Shequyle said, “No.”

Shulngeniu said, “No further questions.”

The next person to take the stand was Shokura. Once again, Jabid was the first to question him. He said, “Where were you on the day of the murder?”

Shokura said, “I was in the alley with the victim.”

Jabid said, “What were you two doing in the alley?”

Shokura said, “We were talking, just talking.”

Jabid said, “What were you talking about?”

Shokura said, “The guy owed me some money. We were talking about how he was to pay me.”

Jabid said, “How did it end?”

Shokura said, “It went well. We reached an agreement.”

Jabid said, “How was the victim when you left?”

Shokura said, “He was alive and still standing.”

Jabid said, “Were you alone with the victim?”

Shokura said, “No. There was a boy who walked into the alley.”

Jabid said, “”Is he here today?”

Shokura said, “Yes, he is.”

Jabid said, “Please, point him out.”

Shokura said, pointing to Zuangeng, “He is there.”

Jabid said, “Please, note that the witness pointed to the defendant. How long was he in the alley?”

Shokur said, “He was still there when I left.”

Jabid said, “Do you own a gun?”

Shokura said, “No, I do not!”

“No further questions,” Jabid said. He walked back to his table.

Shulngeniu stood up. She got the gun. She walked to the stand. She showed the gun to Shokura. She said, “Did the boy have this gun in his hand when you saw him?”

Shokura said, “No.”

Shulngeniu said, “Did you see it anywhere on him?”

Shokura said, “No.”

Shulngeniu said, “Have you seen this gun before?”

Shokura said, “No.”

Shulngeniu said, “What was the boy doing when you saw him?”

Shokura said, “He was walking.”

Shulngeniu said, “You said that you have never seen the gun before, not on him nor you.”

Shokura said, “That is correct.”

Shulngeniu said, “Where do you suppose the gun was then?”

Shokura suggested, “He may have had it hiding somewhere in the alley.”

Shulngeniu said, “Who is this ‘he’ you are referring to?”

Shokura pointed to Zuangeng. He said, with a sneer, “That boy! Zuangeng!”

Shulngeniu said, “Have you seen the boy before that day?”

Shokura said, “No, I have not!”

Shulngeniu said, “You suggested that he may have had the gun hiding in the alley. How do you think he knew to have hidden the gun in that particular alley at that particular time?”

Shokura said, “Maybe, he knew the victim before. They may have plotted my death, together.”

Shulngeniu said, “Then, why are you here today, not the victim?”

Shokura said, “Maybe, Zuangeng had other ideas.”

Shulngeniu said, “How do you know my client and his name?”

Shokura said, “I learned his name from Shequyle. I never saw the boy before the day he killed the victim.”

Shulngeniu said, “No further questions.”

Jabid approached the stand, again. He said, “How else, he could he have known to have the gun, there?”

Shokura said, “He may have hid it before we knew he was there.”

Jabid said, “No further questions.”

Next on the witness stand was Zuangeng. Shulngeniu was the first to question him. She said, “How long have you been in this city?”

Zuangeng said, “Days uncounted.”

Shulngeniu said, “What have you been doing all this time?”

Zuangeng said, “Wondering the streets.”

Shulngeniu said, “What made you go into the alley?”

Zuangeng said, “I heard some noise, so I went in to find out.”

Shulngeniu said, “So, what did you find?”

Zuangeng said, “I found Shokura and another man fighting.”

Shulngeniu said, “Do you know what they were fighting over?”

Zuangeng said, “No, they were speaking in a way I could not understand what they were saying.”

Shulngeniu said, “Was the victim still alive when Shokura left?”

Zuangeng said, “No, he was dead!”

Shulngeniu said, “How did he die?”

Zuangeng said, “He was shot twice!”

Shulngeniu said, “Is the killer here today?”

Zuangeng said, “Yes, he is!”

Shulngeniu said, “Please, point him out.”

Zuangeng said, pointing at Shokura, “It was Shokura himself!”

“No further questions,” Shulngeniu said.

It was Jabid’s turn to question Zuangeng. He stood up. He walked to the witness stand. Jabid said, “You said Shokurra shot the man. What happened next?”

Zuangeng said, “He saw me. He tried to kill me, too>”

Jabid said, “Why did he fail to do so?”

Zuangeng said, “I hid where he could not get to me.”

Jabid said, “Earlier, you said you could not understand what they were saying. Why was that?”

Zuangeng said, “I did not know the language they were speaking in. I only knew enough words and phrases to get by in the streets.”

Jabid said, “Why was that? You live in this city and you hardly know the language?”

Zuangeng said, “I do not live here. I have not been here for very long. Just a matter ogf days.”

Jabid said, “Do you have any parents?”

Zuangeng said, “I only have one parent I call my father.”

Jabid said, “Is he here, today?”

Zuangeng said, “No, he is out to sea.”

Jabid said, “Do you have any relatives here?”

Zuangeng said, “No.”

Jabid said, “So, where have you been living?”

Zuangeng said, “In the streets.”

Jabid said, “Where had you been living before you came to the city?”

Zuangeng said, “On the sailing ship, Serikua.”

Jabid said, “Why aren’t you still on it?”

Zuangeng said, “I got swept off during a storm.”

Jabid said, “How did you get here?”

Zuangeng said, “A dragon brought me here.”

Jabid walked to his table. He got the gun. He walked back to the stand. He showed the gun to Zuangeng. He said, “Have you seen this gun before?”

Zuangeng said, “Yes, I have.”

Jabid said, “Where have you seen it?”

Zuangeng said, “In Shokura’s hand.”

Jabid said, “You never seen it before then?”

Zuangeng said, “No.”

Jabid said, “When did you see Shokura with the gun?”

Zuangeng said, “When he killed the man.”

Jabid said, “Have you seen of knew the victim before?”

Zuangeng said, “I never saw the two before that time.”

Jabid said, “No further questions.”

Jabid and Shulngeniu gave their closing arguments. The jury left to deliberate. They came back with a guilty verdict.

Jabid, Shulngeniu and Zuangeng stood before the judge to hear the sentence Judge Morlan said to Zuangeng, “You have been convicted of murder. I do not like this; but, the law is the law. I have the unpleasant duty to sentence you to death. In seven days, you will hang until you are dead.”

Zuangeng stood there, listening to the sentence. When the judge mentioned hanging, tears swelled up in his eyes. They ran down his cheeks. He held his head up throughout the sentencing.

Zuangeng said, “But, I want to go home to the Serikua.”

Judge Morlan said, “I’m sorry, Zuangeng. I cannot allow it.”

The judge exited the courtroom.

Jabid, Shulngeniu and Zuangeng turned around. Zuangeng looked at Shokura. Shokura had a big grin of satisfaction. He ran his hand across his throat, again.

Shequyle, Shulngeniu and Zuangeng exited the courthouse. They walked to the police station. They walked to the cells. Shequyle said, “Sorry, Zuangeng; but, I need to put you in a cell. I’ll make it as comfortable as I can. I’m sorry, you lost the case. Some of these people around here are prejudiced where Cingala are concerned.”

Shequyle locked Zuangeng in a cell. Zuangeng looked at them through the bars. He said, “I didn’t do it.”

Shequyle said, “I believe you. However, it is out of my hands.”

Shulngeniu said, “I’ll do what I can to help you.”

Zuangeng said, “I appreciate you, both.”

Shequyle turned to the other prisoners. He said, “Leave the boy alone! If you don’t, there will be repercussions! Do I make myself clear?”

The other prisoners said, “Yes, sir.”

Shequyle and Shulngeniu walked to his office. They sat down to talk. Shequyle said, “Anything you can do to help me make the cell more comfortable?”

Shulngeniu suggested, “I could bring some sheets, a blanket and a pillow. I can, also, bring him meals from home.”

Shequyle said, “That will work. I’ll see about the mattress.”

Shulngeniu exited the station. She rode home. She had the butler fix something for Zuangeng to eat. She gathered a couple of sheets, a blanket and a pillow with a case.

Shequyle gathered two mattresses. He carried them to Zuangeng’s cell. Another officer assisted him. They put one mattress on top of the one already there. Zuangeng tried it. He showed disapproval in his face. The second mattress was placed on top. He tried it again. He was satisfied with the comfort. Shequyle reiterated his warning to the other prisoners.

Shulngeniu and the butler rode to the station. Shequyle led them to the cell. They prepared his bed while Zuangeng sat on the floor and ate.

Every day Zuangeng spent in the jail, Shulngeniu brought him food. They would sit and talk while he ate. She did what she could about his case.

Xianjeng flew over the city on the last day of the trial. He flew over the courthouse as the trio exited it. He recognized Zuangeng. He followed them to the station. He landed on the flat roof of the station. He watched them enter the station. He waited. He only saw the woman leave the station. He remained there. Later, he sw the same woman and a man return. He watched them leave. He waited until it grew dark.

That night, the stars shown brightly. There was no moon. The street lamps shown. Xianjeng took off from the roof. He landed in the alley behind it. It was dark with the only lights coming form the alley ends. The windows were dark. He looked into each window, his eyes glowing. He looked for the cell that Zuangeng might be in. He found the window half way below ground.

Zuangeng sat on the cot. He was wide awake. He hadhis elbows on his legs. His hands cradled his head. Tears streaked his cheeks. He found it difficult to sleep, thinking about his pending doom. He thought about never seeing the Serikua, crew and especially Captain Esiada again.

Zuangeng thought he heard a noise from above and behind him. It sounded like, “Psst.” He heard it several times. He looked up. Light was shining on the floor. He turned around on the third time. He looked up at the window. He thought he saw Xianjeng. He said, “Xianjeng?”

Xianjeng said, “It is I, Zuangeng. What happened? Why are you in jail?”

Zuangeng sat there looking at the dragon awhile. He finally and sadly said, “I’m due to hang in seven days.”

Xianjeng said, “For what?”

Zuangeng said, “For murder. I’m innocent!”

Tears continued to run down his cheeks. He continued. “Please, help me! I don’t want to die. I didn’t do anything wrong!”

Xianjeng said, “I’ll try to get you out of this mess, someway. I believe, I know someone who can help.”

Zuangeng said, “Who?”

Xianjeng said, “He is a fire dragon I know. He lives on this island.”

Xianjeng took off in search of the dragon. The next day, he flew over the island. He asked the local people in their native language about the where about of the dragon.

 

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