Naked

He had no reservations, no hope for leniency, and as dead for a sheep as a lamb, he let his tongue its full strength, quivering as he spoke:

“Tomorrow the sun will rise, and you can’t undo it. Day follows night. You have called me a devil for what I’ve done? Well I am Lucifer, and I am a sign, a star burning in your horizon. Black me out if you want; my light only declares what’s coming.” Pointing to the judge, his voice broke, “You, corrupt and decadent cancer, you aged and overgrown tumor, is it a small matter, perverting justice in the name of law? Is there no law above our written code? No morals which judge thee and me? Is mankind plastic that you might form him into whatever shape suits you?”

Shuffling, pulling at his iron bands, he faced his jury. “He says I am in your hands. You have me then, in this darkness. For maybe seventy years, you have me. Kill me or cast me out, free me or imprison me; now is your time. I will not beg; I will not plead; I will tell you. To this point I have not lived my life caring about what my fellowman thinks of me, nor thinking much of him. Yet this I proclaim: Here is your moment to decide: Join me in the honor of my chains or join them in their façade, their lies. I will at least do you the honor—I here remind you that you are men, not puppets. What strings bind you? I prefer these,” he pulled and rattled his manacles. “I know them; I feel their weight. I cannot forget them. What strings move you? Bind you? Imprison you?”

He grew calm, and almost they adjourned, but he spoke once more, his voice rasping, “I am a devil then for what I’ve done, and I will not deny my crime. Yet here I am: Better a fallen god than the toy of madmen; Better an Icarus than a Cretan slave. And if I fall into the flood or the fire, I know one day I will be called forth again unto a true judgment, and it is for my fear of standing before that bench that I am now brought before yours.”

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