One of the most frustrating feelings in the world is that of hot ears. “My ears are burning,” I think as I sit on the frictionless wooden chair. The only time I am aware of my ears themselves is when they are flustered. It is said that burning ears are the result of people talking about you. If that’s the case then soon my head with be set alight with the heat of a common log fire. I cup my cold hand over the left radiator and block out the sounds around me, but alas my ear just melts my hand. I always thought it was such a stupid expression. If you are the center of attention why do your ears suddenly feel the need to radiate unbearable heat. I think of celebrities, for example, boy band members who have someone talking about them every second of every day. Do they have a ventilation system to cool down their lobes 24/7? Ridiculous, it is simply an old wives tale, Irish superstition. But today more so than ever, I have my doubts about it’s credibility.
Perhaps there is some truth to what my mother told me. Perhaps the burning of my ears is not a result of moving from the cold raspy air of a January morning, to the over heated and rather stuffy courtroom. Today I was the centre of attention, I was the biggest news story in Ireland. Those reading their morning papers find their conversation piece for the day. A way to converse with co-workers, classmates, family and that randomer sitting beside them on the bus. Today as they unfold the crackling pages of the broadsheet or tabloid, as they scan their tablets with the countless news apps and gossip website, as they catch the morning news broadcast on radio and television they would find it. Their conversation piece, or as I like to think of it, fuel to the fire on my ears.
I choose to ignore the media, how Hollywood of me. However I didn’t realise how difficult it would be, Everytime I look at my phone I am bombarded with new rumours of my trial, my case, my own being. Eventually I forfeited and took my mothers of advice of retiring my phone to which I argued “But…Netflix!” Just one more thing that bastard has taken away from me.
It had been almost a year to the day when I first met him, a truly different man. A man who would change my life forever. My staring into space was soon interrupted with calling of my name. “Robert..” seemed so far away, like at the end of a long wind tunnel, the voice was distorted and hushed. Snapping back to reality I turned to my right to see all eyes on me. Now the heat from my clearly deaf ears had spread across my cheeks. Twelve angry men and women watch my face turn a shade of scarlet. Their glares seemed to judge my ignorance to the silence in the hollow courtroom. Unaware of what had just happened I frantically look around me, The jurors scoff as my eyes dart towards the main man himself. He is always staring with resentment as clearly I rudely ignore his almost coveted time. Silence seemed to continue for another minute or possibly five and yet I was still utterly confused. Like a bold child in class I continue to panic as I remain seated. With the mahogany table as my barrier between myself and those who hold my future in their hands I usually felt safe. But now, now the table merely acted as a place for my sweaty palms to dance to future visually communicate my state of confusion. Why so sweaty? They were freezing a moment ago, or maybe that was an hour ago, who knows how long I zoned out for. But how are they sweating? Probably because I put them on my damn ears…FOCAS Robert!
Clearing my throat so I no longer sound like a demon, or my old History teacher I let out a single word “What..?” Now the jurors look to each other in impatience. I hear a giggle behind me, at least someone was having fun. Then the same whisper that called my name leans in “Judge Collins asked you a question” My lawyer was a smart man, despite looking like a ken doll. Yet he failed to whisper what the question was so maybe he’s not that smart. Now he has left me in the future embarrassing predicament of having to continue to seem lost. My body jerks as I place both palms flat on the table, and pull myself forward “Sorry?” I wasn’t too sure how to address the Judge, his entire being was intimidating.
Often I think about whether or not he is married, and if he is, was his wife forced into the marriage in fear he would flatten her? I would guess he is in his late fifties. My assumption is based on his silver fox hair style, and the ruled A4 page that is his face. I have only ever seen the top have his body, but those stodgy fingers are enough to tell me that he enjoys his food. Now his bloodshot eyes give me one of the filthiest looks I have ever had the misfortune to receive. Without breaking eye contact he speaks “Mr Guinan” I immediately think of my father when people address me as such “Your character is being called into question today, would you like to refute these accusations?” Crap, what accusations? Wow I really need to listen during this trial, “Eh what was said?” A collective sigh fills the courtroom. But one voice breaks the cries at my incompetence. The voice that can send a shiver down my spine to this day, the voice that laughs maniacally. To my far left sat the man whom I was in a sparring match with, the match that had grasped the publics attention. His laugh fades out as the judge speaks again “On the night in question it is believed that you were under the influence of several narcotics, how do you plead?” Soon my confusion turned to fury to which I felt the need to portray through my facial expressions. My furrow brow and grinning teeth collectively responded “NOT GUILTY!” Before anyone could react I turned to my lawyer and whispered “Get me out of here now!” With that a short recess was called and I escaped to the bathrooms.
I burst open the stall door and slam it behind me. I didn’t need to urinate at all, all I needed a few second to comprehend what was just said. “Not Guilty!” I repeat over and over as I pace the 2 steps from the door to toilet. “Not Guilty!” But then other thoughts seem to overlap “Under the influence” And worst of all his laugh. Echoing through the stall was the reminiscence of his laugh. I continue to pace, catching my breath, not out of exhaustion. More so that oxygen will reach my brain and remind me that this is all a dream. A sick twisted…Just then another person entered the bathroom. They were ignorant to my presence as they stood at a urinal. Unaware of who it is, I stood still in fear that the man would ask me questions, to get the latest bit of dirt which undoubtedly would be trending in seconds.
I stood still and silent, now my thoughts were about this man. My ears no longer burned, instead they heard the man pee. The splashing of the urine on the porcelain, the shaking of his zipper, the sound of his heeled shoes clicking against the tiled floors. As he walked towards the sink, at least he’s hygienic, he began to whistle. I did not recognize the tune, probably just making noise for the sake of making noise. As the whistling continued it drowned out the sound of the gushing water, it eliminated every reeling thought in my mind. Instead it brought me back to the darkest night, the night everyone was talking about. The night I was apparently “Under the influence”.
I suddenly lost control of my mind, as it warped back in time, back to 12 months previous.
The Night In Question
Stumbling I picked myself up. Looking behind me I angrily glare at the ground for tripping me. It’s a thing we all must do when we trip over our own feet. However my little show went unnoticed. I was alone walking through a luscious green field. On route to my home, headphones as my companion, I felt safe. As I quickened my pace the song ended. Now silence, until I heard a whistle. A tune with no melody filled the field. I thought little of it as I continued walking. The whistling continued not even the volume of my music could out sing it. Looking around me, not a soul in sight. Maybe it’s birds, but this unsettled me even more. My fear of birds was ever present since I watched the Hitchcock movie on my tenth birthday. The thought that at any moment a murder of crows would be signaled to attack me simply by the trigger of a whistle. Soon I pause my music to pay closer attention, it wasn’t birds at all. Unless they were well versed in the melody of Baa Baa Black Sheep. I could see the opening in the hedge that would free me from this vast field. Only minutes from my house, I reassured myself I was safe. Besides it was sunset, the sky was a decorative shade of pink and orange. Who would attack me in such a light? I cleared the opening and the whistling became a distant memory. Little did I know that moments later….
The blasting of the hand dryer brought me forward to present day. My heart was racing and again my palm were sweating. I grabbed the green flaked cubicle door as an anchor. I was here, safe. I walked out of the stall with confidence, perhaps false. Leaving the bathroom I searched for my Lawyer.
“Where were you?” he asks with urgency, clearly I was gone for a while. “In the Urination Station…Listen you need to test the blood!” I spoke with such determination. I was now fully aware of the trial and was adamant to prove my innocence. My lawyer was pondering the idea, he was a bit slow so I helped him along. “The blood that the CSI’s took from the scene, its mostly all mine, they have tests right? The can see if I had any painkillers in my system. Theres your proof!”
“Can’t!” A voice spoke smugly, Hesitant I look over my left shoulder and my suspicions are confirmed. Standing arms crossed was Officer Reilly, the Garda in charge of my case. “Why not?” I bite back. He uncrossed his arms and puts both hands on his belt buckle. I saw that in a show once, it to assert dominance, but I wasn’t about to give in. He smiled at me “Because it’s gone!” I was taken aback “Gone as in stolen?” This question was met with laughter and again I felt foolish. “This isn’t one of those crime shows, don’t be so dramatic Guinan! Any traces of narcotics wouldn’t be in your blood after a year, so you could have been high as a kite that night and have no way to prove it!” He took joy out toying with me, he clearly hated that he had to deal with me, an eighteen year old victim with a mouth. Tutting off his presumption of my state of mind that night I walked back into court. Now the court had my attention, now I would argue my case and get that bastard locked away for good.
The Judge emerged from his chambers and instantly the lawyer to my left shot up. “Your honor it is clear that my opposing counsel is not ready for today’s proceedings, we ask a recess until Monday.” Outrage from our table as my lawyer shot up to join his opponent but before he could speak the judge raised his hand. My nails had dug themselves a grave in the Mahogany as I watched this twist of events unfold. The judge seemed equally shocked by the new proposal, yet after a consideration he spoke “I agree!” The jury seemed displeased, my lawyer slowly descended back into his chair as the judge turned to look at me “Mr Guinan, You are involved in very serious matters, I suggest you and your lawyer take the weekend to work on your case. You will be first on the stand on Monday Morning, am I clear?” I gulped but agreed. But my mind once again was elsewhere, why now? What could they possibly gain from an extra two days? I walked out of the courtroom like a zombie when, for the first time all day my eye caught his. The man who whistled that night in the field, the man who laughed at me earlier. He was being brought back to Mountjoy prison in handcuff, yet he had more freedom than I did. We stared as if we were the only two in the room, a smile cut open his vicious face as he winked at me. My stomach churned at the sight of the man, and at this rate he would be out and walking the streets in a matter of days.I couldn’t let that happen! He turned away from me and now I was aware of my surroundings again. People brushing past me, they seemed dismissive of my being. It seemed everyone was against me, it was time I told my story. I shot him yes, that much is true, but he shot me first!