We the People of America are in a time of great flux and collision with changes that cause many of us to take pause and gain a perspective of where the road we are on is leading us. We are at a time when the moral center that has guided the nation is in the process of disappearing and the ground is shifting brutally beneath our feet.
The nation is ready to possible elect a man president whom we had heretofore never heard of. We have a congress that allows the people to pay exorbitant fuel prices while we have reserves that could relax the strained nerves forming across all our faces. We have seen states take the institution of marriage and render it silly and ridiculed by the allowance of gay marriage. We are winning the war on terror while a political party and the media continues to malign and detract from the victories and the good we are doing for the people we defeated. The list is long and widening and becoming a catalyst for change that even now is rendering the United States of America into a nation of bleating sheep who are unwittingly being led into the valley of destruction, unless these steps into a dark and uncertain future are halted. Yet, though each of the three branches of the Federal Government are guilty of deceit and lies, it is the Judicial branch that is hurling the land headlong into an abyss of decay and possible ruin that will not possess a way of escape.
The courts have declared abortion constitutional, hailed gay marriage as a step into a new and bright world and told us that the terrorist who attacked us deserve the same rights and privileges as American citizens have. Yet, the most dangerous and devastating decision of the court is the looming decisions on the right to die that will eventually become the right of the government to decide who shall live or be put to death. Read part one of Steven Clark Bradley’s fifth novel, “Quality of Life” that is a work in progress. Feel the darkness of a land that no longer looks through the eyes of a just and righteous God but which has taken the power of life and death will we, as Americans, greet the loss of our freedom with bleating and blind devotion to those who actually wish us woe. Read Part One of Quality of Life – Superior Judgment and take stock of the world we are leaving for our Children.
Quality of Life – Superior Judgment Part One
Washington DC, 2010
Nothing was as lonely or as peculiar as the eerie sound of silence. That was always compounded by a hollow edifice’s echoes emanating from some nightly cleaning crew going about their business when everyone was supposed to have already gone off to do their duty or to do their mischief, for the night. It was almost always so in this now dormant enclave that may not have bustled as much as those that housed the other two branches of government, but nevertheless, this Romanesque structure that stood as a monument of fairness and Jurisprudence had its own assertive commotion. Yet, there had probably never been a day like the one that had just concluded for Supreme Court Justice, Laurence Saul. He had stayed way past his government prescribed supreme bedtime. He had not exactly burned the midnight oil. He had not sat at his large and ornate bureau either with exaggeratedly obese volumes thrown open in search of some precedent that would explain tomorrow’s world-trembling action or which could subdue the overly stretched nerves in the center of his head that had produced an excruciating, throbbing headache. No, such research would have been for his aides and law clerks to do, anyway. In fact, Justice Saul had not opened any books at all. What he needed, what he sought could not be found in books. His research was in his mind and a further eighteen inches from the top of his supreme head down to his parched heart; an organ that had beat without the slightest interest in its innermost unscrupulous nature that he had not quite unwittingly nurtured over so many years.
Like a lesion that had expanded its horizons by virtue of having picked at its scab constantly, the meat of Saul’s heart had hardened, toughened until it had rendered itself into a not so fine consistency reminiscent of cowhide. Yet, tonight, despite his most earnest attempts, he could no logical arguments that could get him beyond mere feelings that were based on emotion more than rational logic. It was in vain, and he knew it. He could not seem to get beyond his most solemn desires to render a ruling based on the inflated volumes of law that graced the shelves which prescribed past actions and decisions for which his current rendering would have no precedent.
His other eight colleges had seemed to have come down quite evenly on one side or the other. Yet, he had allowed himself to be placed in his current plight; a situation that would have given many a Supreme Court Justice glee at having received their own fifteen minutes of fame to express themselves in unforgettable Jurisprudent Babel for which their was no model. Yet, tonight, Laurence Saul was down to the tender meat of his agonizing mind. This deed, this all encompassing verdict demanded a very non-lawyer-like searching of the now leathery organ that beat in his chest. There would be no legal cha-cha’s or any swinging your lawful partner do-see-do on this one, which was how he had always described the process in his mind. Therefore, neither lean nor mean, books would do. Instead, the supreme judge just sat in his office with only a couple of nightlights burning and gazing out into space and contemplating his pronouncement.
“What would it do to my Grandkids? What of my legacy? What would I write in my memoires? How would it affect my family … me?” There was also of course, just barely making the list of unanswerable questions with at least a smattering of consequence, the speculation of what it would do to the country.
“What of the future of the nation?” He just looked intently into nothingness and resolved himself as to his best course of action and in turn, talked himself right out of it time and time again. He heard the large clock on his mantelpiece chime loudly 12 echoing times throughout the office. It gave him a chill and reminded him that even prominence and stature had its burdens. He pressed a button on his phone.
“Yes, Justice Saul.”
“Peter, could you have my driver at the gate in ten minutes?”
“Yes, sir. Working late sir? Big day for you tomorrow?”
“Indeed, a big day it shall be. I just needed some time alone to reflect.”
A voice suddenly resounded from somewhere in the darkened office.
“Oh, you’re not alone. You’re never alone.”
The justice was so startled that he yelped loudly and instinctively released his grip on the receiver and the phone tumbled right out of his hand! Justice Saul stood up abruptly!
“Whose there? Is someone there?” he shouted into the thin air, in a shaking voice. He heard a voice again and realized that it was the guard’s panicked voice shouting into the phone that lay on the floor beside his leather chair.
“Justice Saul? Justice Saul! Is everything ok in there?”
Saul bent down and picked up the receiver.
“Sorry about that Peter, my friend. I am just tired.” Saul said, glancing up at the clock.
“My Goodness, it’s 12:05 and guess I’m a bit jumpy! Think we could get that ride for me and I’ll get my bureaucratic rear end home and in bed.”
“That’s affirmative, sir, in ten.”
“Thank you Peter.” Saul sat the receiver down and shivered. The temperature had not changed, but he felt a frigid coldness chilling his bones.
Justice Lawrence Saul ventured out into the large Great Hall that led directly into the Court chambers. Saul heard his office chambers door click shut, but it sounded like several closing at the same time in the reverberating bleak barrenness of the hour. He walked into the lucid darkness and could still make out the square gold overlay tiles that adorned the hall’s ceiling. It was, by any standard, magnificent to behold. Even in the darkness, at almost half past midnight, the security floodlights reflected off the tiles and gave it an eerie mystique that both refreshed the fear cells and prohibited one from running away by virtue of the awe it inspired. The Justice paused from his departure and looked down the corridor of power and saw the marble pillars that lined the walkway. It was a thing to behold, even for a Supreme Court Justice who had seen it all day after day for the past five and half years. He wasn’t the newest of the revelators of wisdom to sit on the bench, but his tenor was still young in comparison to the term he had sworn to fulfill.
“Lifetime is a long time to do the same thing.” he thought. “But then, we are about to do something completely different.” He affirmed to himself. “Perhaps my term shall not be as long as I had hoped, after tomorrow?” he speculated.
He walked on down the Great Hall and his footsteps resonated so much so that it sounded like another set in step with his followed in pursuit; so much so that he paused and just listened. He paused his stride to see if the echo would cease when his feet stopped moving. There wasn’t a sound except for the air that circulated through the vents that could not be heard during the regular hours when the hustle and bustle of the day drowned out the noises he could hear now. Fatigue had gotten to him and so had the task at hand.
“Nothing a good night sleep could not rectify.” he told himself.
Justice Saul made his way down the hall. As he walked, his trepidation subsided and he realized that though it was his fist time to have ventured down the elaborate walkway in the dark, he could really find his way with his eyes closed, which was virtually what he was doing, just now. He walked out into the massive entrance and over to the twirling stairwell, which was the largest one of two that twirled and twisted as one ascended upward supposedly into some imposed nirvana of justice that even he knew did not exist. Saul gazed upward into the darkened stairwell and made out the design and felt almost entranced by it.
“This was built to depict the nation rising to wisdom and justice.” He declared to himself. “Tomorrow are we taking a plunge downward…reaching some new plateau as so many have declared?” He was still unsure in a manner he had never felt before. He knew that what ever decision he rendered would have consequences. “Temporary bedlam is certainly preferable to a future of madness! That is no future at all.” He whispered to himself as he continued to stare upward.
“Breathtaking, is it not?” a voice resounded behind the Justice!
“What the hell!” Justice Saul shouted, almost screamed with the echo bouncing off the walls and seemingly all the way up the stairwell! He turned around and saw a man peering up the stairwell with him. The man didn’t flinch, didn’t even glance over at Saul. He just stood there calmly and looked up while Saul’s heart rate evened out.
“Who are you? I have a radio you know.” Saul somewhat aggressively informed the man.
“I saw it the first time as a child you know.” The man said. “I was so stricken right there and then that I decided that this was a great country! I mean, only a great people could conceive of something so grand and stunning as these steps up toward a God who had destined that we be here.” The man’s eyes seemed transfixed and glued upward.
“At first I wanted to be a lawyer, ha-ha, until I met a few. The ones I met weren’t going to be on staircase marching in an upward direction any time soon.”
“Sir, I have a big day tomorrow and you need to declare your business or I will be forced to…”
“It was there and then that I decided that what I was born to do was to fight for the country…to ensure we always marched onward and upward.” The man finally broke his gaze and turned his face toward Justice Saul’s and in the thick darkness, simply stared at him. Saul felt wobbly and trepidation began to invade his every nerve while his knees began to buckle from fear. Saul finally found his second nerve and turned to leave.
“I’m sorry, but I have to go. My driver is waiting for me.”
“Sir, let me assist you. I apologize. The place always gets the best of me! It’s just that I’ve seen so many of our best and brightest fall downward so that Americans could freely mount those sacred steps. I hope I did not frighten you.”
“I’d be a liar to say you didn’t, but just get me to my car.”
“Follow me, sir.”
Justice Saul followed the man from a safe distance back. The man had a uniform on but even in the dark, the Justice could see that it wasn’t a uniform he had ever seen a guard wearing in the Court complex. The man seemed benign, yet mildly malicious. Saul could now see the exit with two guards in normal attire standing the waiting to escort the Justice to his waiting car. The man spoke up.
“Justice Saul, I think I heard you say that you had a busy day tomorrow.”
Saul stopped and looked at the man in the increased lighting near the exit doors.
“Just who are you, anyway?”
The man also stopped and turned his face toward Saul. His face was torn and one eye socket was empty and his shirt was filled with blood-stained holes.
“As I was saying, sir, you said you have a busy schedule tomorrow?”
Saul backed up further. “Well … yes … yes I have.”
“Just wait till you see how busy you’re gonna be tonight!”
Saul turned and started screaming out to the guards posted at the doors.
“Guard! Guard! Help me! There’s a crazy man here and he is…”
Saul turned back toward the man and he was gone! The guard rushed over to Justice Saul with his pistol in hand.
“Are you ok, Justice Saul?”
Saul looked around and still saw nothing until he looked down at the marble floor. There, he saw two photographs lying face up. One was of Katherine Pool, founder of the choice for self movement that had spearheaded most of that for which Saul had remained sleepless over, way back in the twenties. The other was of Ralph Fellows, the lawyer who had made the case before Saul and his other eight fellow robed dispensers of wisdom only two weeks earlier. Both pictures had an “X” drawn across the faces in the photos with the words, “Enemies of humanity!” written across the center. Justice Saul bent down and took the photographs into his hand and tucked them into his suit-coat pocket.
“Yes…Yes I am…fine. Just cranky and tired!”
“I understand, sir. Please follow me.” Those words frightened Saul. He had heard them before. Justice Laurence Saul walked up to the exit doorway that was being held open by the security guard. Before he walked out, he looked back into the darkness and wondered what he had just encountered. He knew it was more than his imagination and that this night had already had enough mental contusions. He just wanted to go home and retire up to his room and sleep. Being the swing vote on the bench had made him, at least temporarily, the most power Justice in the Supreme Court; perhaps in Supreme Court history.
“I don’t care!” he blurted out audibly!
“Sir, I am sorry but I’m afraid I didn’t hear you.” The guard inquired.
Saul looked embarrassed and he was sweating heavily and breathing quickly.
“Justice Saul, is everything ok? You seem a bit…”
“Thank you for your concern, Officer. I just want to go home and sleep.”
“Your car is just outside, Sir...”
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