Decisions - Decisions, we all have to make them. What if you had the responsibility of making a decision that would change the world we live in for ever? Would you feel the weight of the burden that you bore and hear the voices in your mind of those that it would affect? Read Part Two of Quality of Life – Supreme Judgment see how power can be wielded for good and for evil. Quality of Life is a work in progress by Thriller and Suspense Author Steven Clark Bradley. It will eventually become part four of his very powerful book, Nimrod Rising. Like that suspenseful novel, Quality of Life is as real as it gets.
Quality of Life – Supreme Judgment Part II
…Saul walked out toward the waiting limousine. He felt the cool night air enter into his lungs and it refreshed his senses. That voice and the man, whoever it was…whatever it was…if he was at all, had been almost like a fist to the gut and had knocked the wind out of him. The fresh air felt better than his first hot cup of coffee in the morning! He took a few steps toward the car and heard voices in the night air. He was sure they were real, but slightly doubted himself. He turned and looked at the guard accompanying him.
“Do you hear that?”
“What is that, Justice Saul? You mean those voices…the protesters? Yes, they’ve been out there all night. We were all a bit worried that you were still here so late with them out there and still wide awake.”
“Are they out there about tomorrow? What are they doing; carrying signs and dressed all up in black…you know painted faces and look all ominous and all?”
“No sir, they are praying.”
“Yes Sir, praying for you.” said the guard while opening the limousine door for Justice Saul.
Justice Saul slid into the car and it quietly pulled out onto First Street and he could see where the voices were coming from. He had expected anger and aggressive signs. What he saw surprised him. There were no darkly-clad images in the night. Instead, he saw groups of men and women huddled together and praying for God to give Justice Laurence Saul wisdom in his ruling. The signs spoke volumes to the Justice also.
“God Guide you, Justice Saul!” “We are praying for you, Justice Saul.” “Please think about the children!” “Constitutional =The death of America! / Unconstitutional =America has a future!”
“Slow down Peter. I want to watch this for a moment.”
“Yes Sir, but it could be dangerous.”
“Dangerous? They’re praying! They’re praying for me of all things!”
“A lot of us are doing that, Sir.”
Saul opened the back window and peered outside. There was no violence and those who carried the signs while the others prayed also kept a lookout for any opposing groups of thugs that might appear at any time. Everyone knew that America was only hours away from literally changing America completely and forever; everyone including Supreme Court Justice Laurence Saul. One of the lookouts saw the Justice’s face staring out of the car window. He dropped his sign and fell to his knees with his face bowed low and placed both hands in jacket’s pockets. The protester slowly raised his face up to meet Saul’s gaze. The man’s looked directly into Saul’s eyes and smiled ominously! His face became immediately clear to Justice Saul.
“My God! That’s him! That’s him Peter!”
“Who…who is it, Sir?”
“It’s that man I met in the building!”
“You mean the guard, Sir?
“Never mind Peter! Just put it in gear and get out of here!”
The man pulled his hands out of his pockets. He was squeezing on a live grenade in each! He stood up on his feet! Saul’s driver, Peter saw nothing. Then the man with a disfigured face and blood-stained holes on his military fatigues took on an angry look and shouted at Saul!
“Enemies of Humanity all!” He then reared back and threw a grenade at Saul’s car and quickly turned and threw the other one across the street into a small group of supporters of the bill on which Saul would soon have to rule.
“Peter, didn’t you see that! Get the hell out of here! Before we…”
The grenade flew right through the window and landed in the back seat next to Saul and a blast rang out! Saul felt his skin ripping off his bones and the searing heat melted his eyes and he knew he had died! Then, everything was silent. Slowly, ever so carefully, Saul touched his eyes. They were still there! He was afraid to opened them! He called out Peter’s name. There was no answer.
“Peter! Peter! Are you ok? Are you alive?” No answer!
Finally, Saul forced his eyes open and looked and saw his driver, Peter sitting at the wheel waiting to be told what to do! The back glass separating Saul from the driver was closed. Saul hit the switch and it slid down.
“Are you ok, Peter?”
“Yes sir, I am fine. Are you sure you are alright, Sir. I’m beginning to worry
“You have to call 911, Peter! We have to help those people!”
“Where, Justice Saul? Is someone hurt?”
“I should say so! Didn’t you hear the explosion?!”
“No, Sir.” Peter responded and turned around to look at Saul. Justice Saul began to scream!
The man at the wheel was the same one who had just tossed the grenades.
“But you heard them, didn’t you?” the man said as he reached back and took Saul into his grip and pulled him up to the window!
"You’re gonna hear a lot tonight and you ain’t seen nothing yet!” Saul screamed a blood-curdling scream and opened his eyes again. He saw Peter on the phone calling for help.
“Put it away, Peter.”
“Sir, it is my duty to…”
“Put it away, I’m alright, I assure you.”
The car pulled out and the praying crowd waved at Saul. The sleeping remnant of the bill supporters, from earlier in the day, raised their middle fingers toward the prayerful group and shouted.
“Tomorrow, everything’s going to change! You’ve had your day!”
They began to chant, “Free Sex!” “Gay Rights” “Death Rights!” “Reproductive Rights!”
Saul’s limousine drove on, but he had heard them. He sat back and reflected on it all. He was certain, almost, that he had simply allowed himself to let his nerves shake his resolve. Saul was a true constitutionalist. Yet, the doctrine that espoused that the constitution was a living document had gained a lot of prominence in the past decade. Many cases had been decided or gone unheard by the court based on the living nature of the now tattered document. He had always believed that society needed to cleave to the document that was set in stone. That was why he had been nominated and why he had faced such an uphill battle during his confirmation hearings in the first place. Yet, beyond his ability to see it or to notice it, he had been affected by it all. The sodomy ruling, the failure of the court to rule on the Shiavo case during the Rehnquist Court’s purview had truly helped cement the living document into the social psyche. It had created precedents for future rulings that had naturally led to the case before the court that had rent Justice Saul’s amoral logic asunder!
Now here he sat, in stunned silence, trying to understand the upside and downside of something just five short years earlier would have been decided on a good night’s sleep! Yes, everything would change tomorrow, no matter how he ruled, but one thing was already sure. Judge Laurence Saul had changed already. It was as though he were in a trance until he heard the driver communicating with Secret Service.
“Trump Card is at the perimeter and requesting access.”
“Roger that Trump Card, you are clear and in the perimeter. Joining your progress as we speak.”
“My-oh-my, Peter, I don’t know if I fell asleep or just staring off in space.”
“That’s ok, Justice Saul. You’ve got a lot on your mind, but it was the latter, sir.”
“Space, Sir. You were just staring into space.”
Saul just acknowledged with a small groan and a shake of his head.
The lights of Saul’s home could be seen in the distance as they illuminated the night haze of valley where it sat. It always gave off its greenish glow into the mist. Tonight, though it seemed different, somehow murkier than usual. Saul looked out the window at the trees streaming by as the car made its way down the winding path that led to his front door. It was a mystical and somewhat fearful site, considering all he had heard and seen tonight. He rather feared for his sanity. He was sure Peter, up front driving steadily and constantly looking back at his boss with worried eyes, had no doubt that Justice Saul had met his match of wills when it came to “The Individual Rights and Termination Bill” or IRAT as it had become known. Many had simply added an “E” to the end and expressed their feeling toward it.
Saul had read both sides of the issue and both the dissent and the approval reasonings from his fellow colleagues. It had constantly been an illogical and hypocritical thing in his mind that they who supported the right to die at will, the right of women to terminate what Justice Laurence Saul had always regarded as human life in their wombs were always the first and the loudest to cry murder at the execution of someone who had taken the life of another without their consent.
It seemed duplicitous, to say the least. Yet, as the leaders of such groups were never wanting in their fervor to declare, those cases involved the deaths of individuals who, albeit heinous in life, had never given own consent to their own deaths. That somehow made sense to Saul, though it never had some five short years earlier. Washington tended to change a person, altered the mind due to a constant barrage of analysis of a public figure’s every move. Every word was measured, every restaurant was given a special significance and any human weakness seemed a scandal no matter how common it might seem for the common American.
It had taken its toll on Justice Laurence Saul, as well. Family values and morals groups had a lot of hope in Saul and though they were worried that he could pull a surprise on them, they fully expected him to rule with the dissent and declare the measure unconstitutional. Yet, the new pagans, as they were loathed to be so designated, on the left, who were far less numerous in their ranks, but who always shouted the loudest, also had reason to hope. Saul was a deeply conservative man and had always declared his adherence to family values. That is, until he, himself was faced with his own personal tragedy.
As Saul’s car continued its approach along the path towards his semi-stately manor, his mind went back to a more tender time in his life. It was a moment in the life of every person when they longed to be adult and shed the confusion of being a minor-almost-adult. In fact, he found adulthood far more befuddling, which made those days of malaise so enticing now. It was during that time that he had met her. Saul had met many young budding potential brides during his college years. It seemed harder to find a perfect mate at Harvard, and he suspected it was no less difficult at any IVY League school. It wasn’t that they were so much brighter and lofty than the “run-of-the-mill” institutions, just richer and better pruned.
Though today, there was little to distinguish the beauties in any school throughout America, in Saul’s day of cracking the books into the wee hours of the night, they were all prim and proper and one could never be too sure or too careful before bowing the knee to make promises that always seemed impossible to keep. Yet, then, at that time of valor and honor, one did keep their word and he was not about to get stuck with some lovely shining thing who’d end up being a hollow statue, a mere shell of the woman he had first met. So, he waited, but he had never stopped looking. Then, when he had lost the research volume he had checked out and had gone to the circulation desk at the Harvard Law Library to plead for mercy, he decided to just pay for the book rather than sounding like a blathering buffoon to the beautiful proper thing behind the desk. He had looked at her name tag that read Emma and then into her face. When he had told her he had to pay for the lost volume she said he should take a little more time to look for it and extended his grace period along with a smile that told him she had noticed him too. His eyes said a lot of things to Emma that day and His heart knew her right there and then, something only men could understand and which women never comprehended but had fully learned to use to its fullest advantage. From that day on, he could count only two things that had never changed one iota in his life. He had never stopped gazing into Emma’s face and he had never paid for the book.
From the time he had met her, asked her for that first date, bent his knee to her and extended her finger and held her in his arms on their first night of passion, he had loved Emma and had kept every promise he had made to her, except one.
Throughout Saul’s rising career, when he had one more case, one more meeting to attend or one more opinion for her to listen to, she had made almost no demands on her husband. Through his busy, always working days, doing things that he new were vital, but which meant virtually nothing to her, he had never stopped gazing into her face and Emma knew her man loved her. She had been bright, supportive and content to stay right there and raise their one daughter, Isabel or Iggie as everyone one called her because as a child she could say the “z” sound. Theirs had been one of those remnant relationships that had truly been made in heaven. It seemed that everything they touched turned to gold, until the gold had run dry.
“Cancer? Cancer!” Saul shouted in his mind. He looked around in the car to make sure he had not done so audibly. The fly in the ointment, that one stroke that destroyed my masterpiece!” he told himself. Emma had been there with him throughout his meteoric rise to power and had been his very own very best advisor and supporter. She had taken his side even when she knew he was wrong, only correcting his way in the most placid and private manners.
“She knew her man!” he concluded.
Now, here he was, face to face with the biggest decision of his life, and no less so for the nation and the one person he had never doubted one time was no where to be found. It was exactly that, Emma’s absence, Emma’s harsh, lingering, soul-numbing death that made his decision tomorrow appear so hard to arrive at. He had always believed in life. He had opposed abortion and had always felt that no one had the right to end anyone’s life, even their own. Yet, had he not been charged with the awful reality that his wife’s life was gone and there was no hope. Had he not pulled the plug that at least kept her chest rising and descending, giving a semblance of life? He did not want anyone to have to makes such decisions on their own again, because he knew full well how painful that was, but he had not regretted trying and that was the other side of the picture in his mind. He had promised to save her life. He had literally gone to the ends of the Earth to help her while he had sat there with her as she wasted away to nothing as he had seen her chest rise for the last time remaining there in suspended animation while her sight faded and as he whispered his last, “I love You” to her. It was a final conclusion he had prepared himself for physically, but for which he had utterly failed when the final devastating moment arrived.
Saul had heard Emma’s voice many times since her death. He had always put the sounds of her laugh and her voice in thin air over to a vivid imagination longing for her touch, her smell and her counsel. He had never sought it out, but she seemed to be with him every where he went. Now, he was actually seeking her advice. Who could know better what was right concerning his all-important issue? Yet, when he truly needed some mystic resolve, there was nothing. He actually felt she was completely gone from him for the first time! He was on his own. Then, the words he had heard from earlier in the evening came to him.
“You’re never alone!” he recalled. “Perhaps it was not some ogre but from…God? One never knows.” But he did know that there was no outside force that could render his ruling for him; not even Emma. The whole wretched experience had altered his life forever! The new pagans had cashed in all their chips in one human race gamble that Emma’s death would have the same affect on the country as it had on Justice Laurence Saul.
The car pulled into the circle driveway and stopped in front of the house. Peter got out and felt the drizzle in the air and heard the low growl of the gathering dark clouds above in the very early morning sky. He walked to the backdoor and opened for Justice Saul.
“Sir, is there anything else you need from me tonight?”
“Peter, I need you to try to get some sleep. I’ll need to leave for the office at around 10:00 in the morning.”
“Duly noted, Sir.”
Saul turned and walked up to the door which was held open by his housekeeper.
“Sir?” Peter called out. Saul turned slowly to look in Peter’s direction.
“If I may, please remember, you are never alone.” Peter shouted
Saul felt his head slightly taken aback by the phrase but showed no surprise to his driver.
“Thank you Peter, that’s a good thought at such a moment as this.” Saul entered his house.
“We are burning the midnight oil tonight?” Saul’s butler asked an obvious question as he took the Justice’s coat.
“Sam, quite undesirably, I might add! There’s always a bigger fish. I my case it’s the people, of which you are one.”
“Quite proud to be so as well, I say.”
Saul turned to mount the stairs.
“Could send up a nightcap? No food, won’t do at all.”
“Sir, I have already sent up the warm Bordeaux. Is that adequate for such a night as this?”
“Well Sam, there’s a question. Adequate? For sure not! But much wiser indeed. Thank you Sam. It will do fine.”
“My pleasure, Sir”
Saul turned and climbed the first three steps.
“Oh yes, I forgot to tell you…”
“Yes, Sam” Saul stated, slowly turning around. “What is it, Sam?” said Saul with exasperation and fatigue in his voice.
“You received this letter by special delivery. I took the liberty of signing for it. I hope that does not meet with your displeasure.”
“Perfectly fine, Sam. That’s what your for and you are also for friendship, so stop being so incredibly kind.” Saul said as he walked and over to his butler. “You can call Larry, like everyone used to, I have told you that.”
“Yes sir, Larry it is, Sir.” Sam affirmed.
Saul amicably snatched the letter from Sam with slight smile and fake aggravation in his movement.
“For goodness sakes, man, now that makes me Sir Larry. I kind of like the sound of that…Sir Larry, hum?”
He turned and climbed the stairs to the top. He looked at the envelope, which possessed nothing in the way of anything striking or special. It was common in every way. He turned it over and held it up to the light, as if he were forbidden from opening it. He had had it drilled into him that he could never take a chance with anything, even as passé as unexpected mail. Yet, it was not the lessons from his handlers that gave him such apprehension. It was this night; a night that was full of confusion, strange voices and deep soul searching.
Saul walked into his bedroom and tossed the envelope onto the bed. He flipped on the TV and started taking of his clothes. A shower would just have to wait till morning. The moment the TV flashed on, Saul saw his face plastered all over the screen. He flipped the channel, Fox, CNN, MSNBC virtually every channel including C-Span were covering the big ruling to take place in less than ten hours.
Saul sat down at the edge of his bed and listened to how the whole affaire was being packaged.
“Chris, there is just no denying it. If the court upholds the IRAT bill, it will take on the greatest reach of the government into the lives of the American people to date. Perhaps there will never be anything ever passed like it in the future.”
“Yes Alex, there has never been anything like it. We’re joined by conservative talk show host, Michael Nance. Michael, I’m sure I don’t need to ask so tell us, at this juncture, what you think about tomorrow’s ruling, only hours away from what I suspect you regard as the abyss.”
“I am in no mood for your nonsense or cynicism! Let’s see it for what it is! We all knew all the warnings in the world would not stop the government takeover of our health care system. Chris, we would bitch, moan and scream about that, but we could almost live with that as much as we hate the idea. But this is not a mere takeover of Americans’ healthcare needs; this is a coupe d’état! This bill has already been overturned by two Federal Courts, a Federal Appeals Court and I am sure it will be turned over by the Supreme Court tomorrow morning.”
“Thank you Michael. Now let’s…”
“Wait…just let me say my bit and I’ll get off your show. If this bill is passed, it will be cradle to the grave control of the masses. It will regulate eligibility for education, it will control a child’s health records from birth and parents will be incarcerated regularly for obesity and numerous other heretofore unimaginable offences. There will be no resuscitation orders placed on those the “Government” deems terminal…which, by the way, will now be determined based on one’s quality of life rather than potential of living a good life even with certain infirmities. The mentally ill and those without the wherewithal to maintain a healthy life will be chosen for termination!”
“You are out of your mind, Mr. Nance! There has never been any provision for such things in this bill.”
Saul was looking around on the bed for the remote to change to another channel when he heard his name in the tube.
“I am not going to try to persuade you, because the hope making you and the loud minority of the country like you to change and see the truth will be when you wake up one morning and realize that you, your family nor anyone you love is ever safe again. I am speaking to Justice Saul, if you are listening Sir, we have faith in you, but there are a lot of forces arrayed against us now in the country and they are all aimed at you. Are you prepared to let the mentally infirmed, the aged, the terminally ill and the unborn never again have a fighting chance. Are you ready to approve, as the bill mandates, that some Human Utility Board be set up that will, in a very real way, have more power than the President himself in that they will decide who will live or die and who is useful or who merits touching the benefits we have all worked for all our lives? Think about it, Sir before it’s too late. Thanks Chris for at least letting say what I think the nation needs to hear. They have been warned!”
“Wow! Michael Nance, ladies and gentlemen. We are joined now by the founder of the Liberal Progress Board, George Sorloff. Mr. Sorloff, the floor is yours I guess in the interest of fairness.”
“Chris, we are hearing the same old gloom and doom and the fear tactic that the American people have grown accustomed to and are sick of...”
Saul reached behind his back and his hand searched for the remote. He did find it, but his hand found the envelope he had received earlier in the day. His finger wrapped around it when the TV screen suddenly changed. Before his eyes, Saul could see the Supreme Court swirling stairwell with him staring up at it. He seemed to be alone, but then something seemed to appear and disappear again. It was there, no it was gone! Then it appeared and stayed! It was him, that man, the one who had the bloody face! Saul rubbed his eyes and changed the channel.
The images across the screen remained the same. Then it changed and to his abhorrence, pictures of aborted fetuses appeared. They were bloody, some in tact, others torn to pieces and in shreds. He wanted to turn his face away but the image was so shocking and searing to his soul that he was forced to sit there and watch the myriad of unborn human lives, America’s with no rights, lay there on metal tables, in trash bags and canisters with the biohazard symbol emblazoned on the side. Then the image changed to the Image of Terrie Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman who in 2005 had been ordered to die without a shred of proof that she even requested to do so. There were pictures of her smiling at her mother and father, protesters for and against her life continuing, pictures of her crying and finally images of her dead, starved and dehydrated body lying on her bed.
Random shots flashed across the screen of the infirm, the elderly and the mentally ill. The last photo that appeared on the screen was that of the most precious person in Justice Laurence Saul’s life. Tears formed in the corners of Saul’s eyes and then began to flow like a river down he tired and bewildered face.
“No! You can’t be so heartless as that! No!”
Saul heard a knock at the door.
“Judge Saul, is everything alright? Judge Saul?”
“Yes, yes ,yes! I am fine” Saul responded looking over at the door.
“Are you sure? Can I help somehow?”
“I am fine Sam, go back to sleep.” He ordered. “Old fool never sleeps!” he murmured to himself.
When Saul turned back around, he saw the talking heads on the MSNBC report back on the screen. He truly wondered if he had lost his mind. Had he fallen asleep? He looked at his watch. It was 2:43 AM. He saw the envelope in his fingers. It made his hands begin to shake slightly. Slowly, he slid his finger under the sealed flap and slid it across the envelope until it was opened. He spread the envelop open and as though it were some chemical agent, two of his fingers took hold of the one sheet of paper inside. He pulled it out rather quickly, evidently finding his nerve again and held out in front of him still folded.
“Ah! What the hell!”
He unfolded it and dropped it to the floor and stared at the words, “You are never alone!” written across it!
“What is happening to me?” he quietly but fearfully asked himself.
He turned the TV and jumped under the covers! The man who held the power of life and death over the whole nation pulled the covers over his head and lay there shaking and bewildered until his heart regained a steady rhythm and weariness was overtaken by slumber and fell asleep only seconds later. Only Supreme Court Justice Laurence Saul could decide what type of world he would wake up in.
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