“And you are Mephisto Suleiman the third?”
The voice was harsh and had a very distinct Scottish accent.
“The forth, your Honor.”
“Beg your pardon?”
“I’m Mephisto Suleiman the forth, my Lordship. Suleiman the third was my father, may he rest in peace.”
The auditorium in where this took place, was huge, cold and dark. Old mahogany climbed the walls all the way up to the roof, and the benches that filled the floor looked more like coffins than anything else. The windows, there were actually windows on all four walls, but they were small, and placed very high up, just under the roof. Besides, they were awfully dirty. Like if they hadn’t been washed for at least 500 years. And they probably weren’t.
The long-legged man stood on his knees in front of the counter where the judge was proceeding. He bowed deeply and crossed his heart when mentioning his since long dead and buried father.
“Ts ts details, details,” the judge said. “Don’t bother about details. You misplaced the key, didn’t you.”
“It was stolen, your Highship, someone got in, found it and took it.”
“Just as I said, you were careless and misplaced it, otherwise it hadn’t been stolen. Am I right or am I right?”
“Oh, my Divine Holiness. Of course, you are right. I’m so sorry, so sorry…”
“Ts ts details, details.” The judge waved away the words that were pouring out from the mouth of the man kneeling before him.
“So! You did misplace the most important item in this city, didn’t you? Yes or no?”
“Yes, your Honour. I am so sorry, Your Honour, I did misplace the key, I did!”
The long-legged man called Suleiman the forth whimpered, as he now had sunk into himself as a lump of clothes and with his forehead almost touching the floor.
“Ts ts, details, details.” the judge said and started coughing like as if he was trying to get rid of his lungs. His cheeks turned red and the long but meek beard on his chin trembled.
“And what do we do now?” he continued after a while, and poked the long-legged man with a long pointer he had found beside him on the counter.
The long-legged man twitched and began to stutter.
“I.. I.. d..d..d..dodon’t know, Sire. What do.. do we do? Go find it?”
“That would be an idea to do dodo do”, the judge nodded and tried to hide a miniscule smile. “But don’t you think you need to be punished first?
“Punished, your Lordship?”
“Yes! Punished! Don’t you think it would be appropriate with a punishment when a crime has been committed?”
“Crime, Sire? What crime?”
“What crime??? The key has been stolen and you ask ‘What crime’? The theft of course! Aren’t you responsible for the theft?”
The long-legged man was now bathing both in sweat and tears. Maybe in a little blood as well.
“B.. b… but I….!”
“I…I… but I… I didn’t steal it, Sire!”
“Ts ts, details, details. You had been delegated the honor of keeping the key safe, and now you tell me you aren’t responsible for its disappearance?”
“There was some thief… who broke in… and found it…”
“YEEES”, the judge said with a slow, dark voice. “And you hadn’t hidden it well enough. So you are responsible for the loss, aren’t you? Yes or no!”
“Yes, your Honor.”
The long-legged man couldn’t fight that logical piece of argumentation any longer. No matter how he tried to reason with his point of view, the fact was there, starring in his eyes. He hadn’t hidden the key well enough. And he had been sloppy, not carefully been locking the entrance door, also when he was in the tower.
“Well, well, Mr. Suleiman the whatever. Finally, you see it my way. So what do you suggest we will do about it then? No, of course, what you will do about it. I won’t do anything. Unless… maybe… I should hang you immediately?”
“Oh, no, please your Highwordy…”
“Heh heh,” the judge grunted. “So, I have become a Highwordy as well. Is that a compliment?”
The long-legged man went alternately red and white, and simultaneously he seemed to be smaller.
“Well! No compliment and no suggestion from your side, what we shall do about this. Then, I decide all by myself! I give you three days and three nights to find this thief of yours and get the key back. And If you fail – I’ll kill you myself. With my bare hands!”
When the judge left the room he seemed extremely pleased with himself. He chuckled and twisted his meek beard around his forefinger. Now he would go home and have a good steak with his wife that she had been cooking for him, and to that, he would have a couple of nicely chilled ginger beer. And in a couple of days, he would hang that odd man, who was rather looking like a cricket. Sulei… something… the forth, the last.
He rubbed his hands against each other and smiled. He so looked forward to that day.