Friday Fiction – Counsel for the Defense

It’s Friday again! OK, it’s not, but it’s Friday Fiction day, and that’s good enough for me. This week’s photo prompt is courtesy of Doug MacIlroy via the ever-awesome(1) Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. I had an immediate idea to write from the horse’s pov, but in the end that just seemed too obvious. This story, written in my head whilst trying to make Sebastian sleep, didn’t have any interesting edits in the writing phase (a few cuts and polishes, but nothing worthy of interest), but a few notes follow it regarding my thoughts during the creation phase.

Feedback is always welcome – good or bad.


Counsel For The Defense(2)

Genre: Mainstream Fiction **COARSE LANGUAGE WARNING**

“Gentlemen of the jury, my client’s accused of the most heinous crime: murder! The prosecution(3) say that he deliberately set a trap to kill our neighbor(3a), Farmer Doug(4). Witnesses will testify they saw him pouring water on the ground by the electric fence. The prosecution will ask you to believe that he then toppled the fence – despite the obvious risk to himself – in order to electrify that pool. Finally, they will ask you surmise that, knowing Doug had a heart condition, my client lured him into that pool and to his untimely death.”

“Sit down, Perry fuckin’ (4a) Mason, you’re drunk!”



1) My husband has threatened to kill the next person he hears over-using this all-American compliment. I’m relying on someone else having met this fate before he gets round to reading this post!

2) It sticks in my craw to spell it this way – in England it would unquestionably be Defence. I feel this is an American story, though, and as such I’ve tried to Americanize the language. On which note, do let me know if you spot anything else “British” in this one.

3) I toyed with the idea of using more slang in this piece generally. For a drunk guy this speaker is very eloquent, but I eventually justified it to myself as him being a bit of a fan of crime shows and therefore knowing the jargon. One place in particular I considered slang was in his description of the prosecution. I wondered to myself whether he might refer to them as “the cops” or some other police slang. Then I realised he could call them “the pigs” (although I’ve no idea of the geographic authenticity of that) which made me laugh, and I almost used it. But then I thought it would all sound a bit Animal Farm, so in the end, the Prosecution remained.

3a) Thanks to moondustwriter for Americanizing my spelling.

4) Sorry, Doug. He needed a name. Think yourself lucky, in the long version of this story in my head, Farmer Doug was a cruel and spiteful man who deserved everything he got!

4a) Thanks to various commenters for Americanizing my slang.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

72 responses to “Friday Fiction – Counsel for the Defense

  1. Very much alive! Really full of character, enjoyed it very much and can see how a courtroom can be made very appealing for the reader!

  2. The only change I could see was “his neighbor” instead of “our neighbor”
    I think you handled the “Americanization” well. You would never use the word “pig” in the courtroom (not as a lawyer) sadly most lawyers handle eloquently drunk at court quite well.
    I think the horse should get the standing ovation 😉

    • I’m sticking with “our neighbor”, moondust (although I’ve cut the u – thanks!), because that’s one of the clues that we’re at a bar not the bar (ah, lawyer jokes, I could go on all day!). It’s also one of the things I liked about pigs, but ultimately that didn’t make the cut.

  3. Dear Jen,

    Lovely story. I have a feeling Mystic is going to electrocute a lot of people before this weekend is over. Add an extra ‘o’ to one of your ‘to’s’ up in the beginning intro. I’ll let you sort out which one.

    Did Sebastian go to sleep?



    • Yeah, I’m not sure it’s going to be a unique take, Doug, but hoepfully better than my horse impressions! Thanks for the tip-off – all fixed now. And yes, of course he did.

  4. Great fun! Enough Americans watch courtroom dramas on TV that prosecution is perfectly acceptable even for a drunk. So is the setting a court room or a bar? I read it both ways. I don’t think using ‘bloody is very American-at least not in the mid-west or south. If in a bar I would say something like, “Sit the f%$& down, Perry Mason, you’re drunk!” or “You’re drunk Perry Mason, sit the f%$& down!” Unfortunately very American there. Don’t know that it would fly in a court of law except maybe on one of those court room dramas 🙂 Cheers!

    • thanks, Zenn Jenn. We’re definitely in a bar – not even Judge Judy would let that last line fly, would she? I wasn’t sure about “bleedin'”, maybe “f-in” would be better…

  5. Brilliant. I loved this.

  6. Drunks can be very eloquent, at least up to a certain point, but I agree the “bleedin'” is unlikely to be heard in a US court, unless the drunk was British. I like your take.


  7. sounded all-American to me. enjoyed your story Jen.

  8. I sometimes spot a fellow Brit by their use of the word bloody! It tends to stand out even more in text than it does in the spoken word. I wondered what all the numbers were until I read on, very informative, and a good story by the way! 🙂

  9. Hee hee! I saw this as a “scene we wish we could see” category. As for the Americanization, we would say, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury” since we have women serving on juries here.
    Nice job, Jen!

    • Hard as it is to believe, we have ladies on juries in Britain too! But I put that in as one of the clues to us not being in court. In this scene, the only audience is the other guys at the bar.

  10. Nice one Jen. I keep thinking it’s later than it is when I see your entry come up – and panic strikes. Liked this, and enjoyed your notes too! I think the horse would clear his name whether he was being tried in a bar or a courtroom.

    • Thank you for siding with the Defense, Sandra – Mystic wants you on his jury! And sorry for giving you a mid-week scare, you’ll get used to having me here eventually.

  11. Nice story! Sounds like a devious horse, although maybe Farmer Doug had it coming. I like that you had the same idea as me, with the electrocution. 🙂

    • He definitely had it coming, David, but I’m not sure it was really the horse’s fault!

      • It’s hard to know how much we can blame animals for their actions. On one hand, there might be ‘bad’ animals that have been mistreated or taught to be bad, but even they aren’t truly bad. And a normal animal, you can’t say it’s their fault at all; they’re just following instinct (at least I think they are. 🙂 )

  12. I read blasphemy here! Perry Mason drunk? Never! He is the epitome of cool headed lawyers. The only problem i ever had with Perry was how he directed Della around by her elbow.

    But as far as the story goes I enjoyed it Jennifer. You have great story telling skills. I like the way you included Doug in your tale. This photo has some rich depth coming in this week’s offerings.

  13. kz

    hahaha awesome ^^ really enjoyed this

  14. Well done. You certainly put a lot of thought into each word.

  15. Hi JP,
    Your story seems to be in very American English, though I have read two other stories that used the term “hosepipe.” I’m always interested in the differences in our common language, and have to defer to the British usages because, after all, you invented this great language. Your story is very clever and a horse that smart shouldn’t be saddled with jail time. Ron

  16. Dear Jen,
    Well done with your Americanization. I wonder if some of us would do as well with the British English?
    I agree with your husband. Awesome is overused, but your use of it this week is forgivable. ;).
    Clever story. I can picture this “courtroom” drama or black comedy as it were.

    • Rochelle,
      Thank you for stopping by – I don’t know how you manage detailed comments with so many stories to read, but they really are appreciated.
      I’ve read a few Canadian attempts at British English and they are as much in need of a British editor as mine in the other direction, so I usually don’t bother, but this time the story felt like it warranted it, and I trusted in my FF friends to help me out.
      I agree with my husband too, but what else is there to say?!

  17. that really worked, I really liked it, you suspended belief and had me wondering….

  18. I loved this and laughed out loud at the end. But, I did find it much harder to read with all the numbers in, if I’m honest. Might be better to have one version without the numbers and then a second one below (like your wonderful edits) with the numbers. Just a suggestion. Fab story though 🙂

  19. I enjoyed your story – and actually saw part of a Perry Mason episode recently. Your take was very believable and well done.

  20. LOL! Love it. I can picture a bunch of guys hanging out in the bar, listening to the old coot rave 🙂

  21. Well done. I also don’t usually try to chang e over the American language but if your story is set there, you’ve got to give it a try. And you did great.

    • thanks Anne. I don’t usually bother but I’m sure it’d be a good skill to have.

      • Agreed. I do sometimes wonder if books suffer over the pond from being written in British English, but feel we mostly have to use our own voice. Useful to be able to write in an American character, though, and it’s also useful to avoid phrases that cause total confusion in another culture. If only we knew which ones they wer :-S

  22. A very clever horse. For a minute there I thought the lawyer was going to be Perry Block instead of Perry Mason.

  23. Really enjoyed your character’s presentation, and the ideas the prompt inspired in you – whoever thought of a murderous horse? Fantastic. I also liked the notes – great idea for the nosey amongst us who always want more.

  24. Great one. And definitely a very smart horse.

  25. Absolutely charming and humorous and who cares about authenticity? The whole Idea is ludicrous and that is the idea, isn’t it?

  26. 1) Can’t agree more with your husband. Just hold Sebastian in front of you when he reads it.
    2) Oh, For Cryin’ Out Loud! Set the story in Bloody Canada if you want to use ‘Defence’ so badly. Or Merry Olde England for that matter.
    3) Right Choice.
    3a) It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.
    4) Never apologize for taking Doug’s name in vain.
    4a) Anytime… just call.
    5) Cute Story… now go wake Sebastian up!

  27. This was just so silly. But then most drunks are.

  28. Bloody fun …. Drunken lawyers are always amusing.

  29. kdillmanjones

    So creative!

Feedback feeds the muse. Join in the conversation here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s