by Matt Kolbet
Enter Carla Jenkins. She looks fifty but might be older. The courtroom is crowded, though her case is prompted primarily by personal loss. "Bill was such a good man," she whispers as she lets the door close behind her. Perhaps she is reassuring herself. Perhaps she knows people are listening, and that her every word, her stooped shoulders, her slow gait as she walks to the front of the room and sits down, will be reported on the evening news.
Her attorney smiles at her, his own brand of creepy reassurance. He has grandstanded outside the courthouse. His rallying cry makes the front page: "We don't tolerate bullies!"
Carla waits for the proceedings to begin. She has not always been comfortable with the laws of the land, but for the last fifteen years she has lived in Tallahassee, Florida. In Florida, Carla believes, people understand justice. And her thoughts, "When the rest of the world lets you down, you look for justice in the courts, the last place anyone can find it," channeled through her lawyer, have made fellow Floridians proud.
The opening statement is brief. Carla's attorney makes an appeal to the masses. "It is not merely the elderly that suffer. The husband of this fine woman, Bill Jenkins, was a victim, but children too are victims here, and all of them innocent." He pauses, then repeats, knowing it will grab headlines, "And believe me, cancer is a bully."
Brent Goldwin serves as the defense attorney, though his capacity is largely unofficial, and he does not expect to be paid. "No one wants to defend cancer," he says. "It's terrible. But under the law, even a disease has rights, and our courts have more important issues to deal with. I am sorry for Mrs. Jenkins' loss. But suing cancer for wrongful death is like suing obesity because you're fat." This last remark prompts jeers from the audience and the presiding judge has to bang his gavel. The fat people, those who have put forth the effort to rise, sit down sullenly. The rest glare over their double chins.
At the end of the first day, Carla is not dismayed. Traditional treatments such as chemotherapy and prayer have failed, but she knows that the courts can bring cancer down. She knows it is the only way to win when medicine proves ineffectual and God follows suit.
And her attorney will present more damning evidence, she thinks, to turn the medical world on its ear. Yes, the only thing that's necessary is to paint cancer as un-American.
As she walks through the glare of flashbulbs that temporary blind her with fame, Carla begins to make other plans. If these first efforts falter, she will bring other suits. First against chicken pox, then diphtheria, and finally, she believes, against atheism.
If you enjoyed this post, please let others know about it by heading to one of these fine sites or those listed in the sidebar.