Disclaimer: Any characters you recognize in this story are the property of Disney and their likenesses are only used for fan related purposes. Any original characters featured are the intellectual property of their creators.
Author's Note: This is just a one shot I came up with a couple of weeks ago that I wasn't so sure how I wanted to write it. It takes a character from the film very rarely explored and uses his eyes to view some of our favorite characters - and, other than that, I'm really not so sure what I was doing. There is mention of a character death, though, so be warned.
Judge E.A. Monahan had been on the bench for more years than he cared to count. Despite his connections—or maybe because of them... politics, hmph—he managed to survive the governor's purge of Manhattan's admittedly, well, a touch corrupt justice system last summer. Unlike the Refuge's warden, Snyder, and all of his cronies, Monahan got to keep his job with just a tiny warning: no more kickbacks. No more favors. Just plain old fashioned justice.
Which, of course, meant that most of the fun went right out of the job when Snyder was put in the pen. Criminals became faceless shadows in a long, stream of an unending line of wrongdoers that the judge sentenced in between his morning coffee and an early lunch. He rarely gave any thought to the cases placed before him beyond whether or not Monahan thought they were guilty—and, given his faith in the copper out on his beat, they most certainly always were.
Then again, every once in awhile, a face stuck out at him. For a moment, maybe a minute or more, he would remember...
And, that morning, when the bailiffs led in three young men, all of them different from the next but each carrying with them a chip on their shoulder the size of Randall's Island—no, he corrected, not all of them, not the antsy one in the middle—there was a spark, a flicker, and Monahan's memory threw him back to one hot, sticky night in July of 1899.
The Irving Hall Rally and the bust.
Record arrests and a full courtroom.
Countless five dollar bails met by a silly newspaperman, still wet behind the ears.
And that boy, the sandy-haired boy with the biggest chip coming up last, the one with the clenched jaw, the eyes that stared back daringly. Monahan remembered a shiner back then that was replaced by a two inch gash on his chiseled cheek now but there was no doubt about it. That same face had... that same boy... he'd stood in front Monahan's bench before. He was damn certain of it .
The judge harrumphed and sat up a little straighter. A repeat offender. Those were the worst kind of scum.
After perusing the report on top of the pile set off to his right, Monahan folded his hands in front of him and began. This one, he knew, would be over before his coffee had cooled.
"On the night of September 4th, the four of you are accused of assaulting the proprietor of a local diner as he was leaving his shop with his receipts. You sent Angelo Tibby to the hospital and make off with nearly one hundred dollars cash. Now, step forward when I call your name. Anthony Higgins."
The first boy, the one on the left, he lifted his head and let out the smallest chuckle. He didn't move.
Monahan pretended not to notice. "David Jacobs," he read out next.
That was the twitchy boy in the middle. He gulped and trembled, opened his mouth to say something and seemed surprised when no sound came out. Following Monahan's order—or trying to—Jacobs attempted one step, his knee buckled and only a steadying hand coming from his left kept the Jewish boy from crashing down. Once steady he remained frozen in place.
That one Monahan let slide. The last thing he needed was some young thief collapsing on his courtroom floor.
He cleared his throat. "Jack Kelly?"
That was the third boy, the one he'd seen before. Monahan wasn't expecting him to respond, something told him that it was a phoney name and one the rascal wore proudly, but that didn't stop the boy from lifting his head when he heard his name called out. His shoulders were hunched, greasy strands of hair falling forward like a shadow on his face, and his legs were poised to run. But, like the first boy, he didn't take move from his spot at all. It was almost as if something was keeping him there.
Monahan met the miscreant's stare for a moment longer before something caught his attention and he glanced back down at his papers. Four names typed; it was right there in black and white. Three boys standing in front of him. "Younger? Daniel Younger? Where's the fourth accused?"
The bailiff moved towards the bench and whispered something in Monahan's ear.
The old judge nodded. "Never mind that."
"Where's Crutchy?" the boy called Kelly, the familiar one, demanded. His voice was low and gruff, like sandpaper, and it grated on the old man's sensibilities. "What did you do to him? Why isn't he here?"
Still, Judge Monahan didn't even bat an eye. "it seems that your friend was captured shortly before yourselves. He was questioned as to the identities of his accomplices. I'm told he was a weak boy. The officers said the chase was bad for his leg. He didn't make it through the night."
Kelly's scowl softened for a moment, for a heartbeat, and his thin lips formed one silent word. Crutchy. The boy with the dark head of curls, the one who least looked like he belonged—because, in Monahan's hardened opinion, all boys were guilty of something and did belong in front of the judge's bench—his wide blue eyes went sorry and sad and he gulped. He reached out to his left, placing a gentle hand on his pal's arm; returning the favor as it were. Kelly didn't look over at him, but he didn't shake it off, either.
The first boy, though, the short one on Monahan's left, the one with dark hair and dark eyes and a mouthful of crooked teeth forming the most ironic smile Monahan had seen that morning... the judge glanced back at the typewritten sheet in front of him again—another Irish lad, this one was Higgins—Higgins looked from the judge to the two other boys to his left and back.
His smile, if possible, widened.
"You mean," he said, starting out sweetly though his words had an edge like a blade to them, "he didn't make it through all the attention those bummer coppers paid to him once they got him behind closed doors? Eh, judge?"
"And just what, may I ask, are you implying, boy?"
"I aint implyin' nothing," mimicked Higgins. "I just think that them bulls saw a poor crip and took it out on him when they couldn't catch the real crooks." He snorted. "You know what's the matter with this city?" Without waiting for an answer, he pointed and swiveled, gesturing at everyone present. "All of you'se here. That's what's the matter. You ain't any better than the Delancey Brothers, ya know that? No—no, that ain't it. The Delancey Brothers stink, yeah, but they ain't rotten like you and the rest of your folk, your honor."
And then, quite suddenly—and through a split lip Monahan had only just noticed—Higgins reared back and spit on the floor. It was obvious he'd been dying to do it and all it took was news of his friend dying.
The old judge raised his eyebrows at the rapscallion's display. "Oh," he said after a moment's wait. The courtroom went dead silent. Not a second peep was heard save for gasps, a sigh and a satisfied chuckle, and then— "Really. Hmm..."
Monahan straightened up the papers in front of him and then, with a pointed look, jerked his head toward Montgomery, the experienced bailiff. Montgomery gestured to the officer who'd brought the three young thieves in. The officer nodded curtly.
It happened in no time at all. The officer, a big, burly beat cop, he stepped forward and suddenly his billy club was in his hand. One quick rap aimed right at the left side of the boy's knee and Higgins folded up like a novice player at a game of high-stake cards. He hit the ground hard, letting out no more than a grunt as he landed on his outstretched hands.
A dribble of spit was still on the Higgins boy's chin. With a dark look, he wiped it away with the back of his hand, rising when the officer barked at him to do so. But his smile never wavered and Monahan knew that his initial impression was correct. A smartass through and through, that one.
"Now, as I was saying. The four of you are accused of robbery and grievous assault. What do you have to say for yourselves?"
It was the boy in the middle's turn to speak up at last. "But we didn't do it," he cried without any hint of an accent. He sounded educated, thought Monahan. Shame. "You have the wrong people!"
"Dave..." Kelly murmured softly.
"No, Jack, I can't. It's not fair." The Jacobs boy rushed forward. This time his knees didn't fail him. He took two steps, three, before throwing his hands out imploringly. "This is all wrong, sir. You've got to see that."
The officer's arm was quick but Kelly was quicker. Before the cop could bring his billy club down on Jacobs' arm like he was intending, Kelly pushed his pal out of the way and took the blow in his stead. It rained down right on his back, knocking the breath from his lungs, but like the first boy, he didn't give the satisfaction of crying out. Neither did he wait for the officer's order to get up.
Monahan waved at the two bailiffs, Montgomery and the other one. Montgomery hefted up Jacobs, the other one guided a scowling Kelly back to his place while the officer calmly tucked his billy club out of sight.
And then came the laughter. Higgins was crowing with a burst of laughter that seemed both forced and out of place. "Five to one Jack skunks 'im when we get out."
"You watch your mouth, or I'll get you, boy!"
"Like you got Crutchy?"
Jacobs, aware just how deep the Higgins boy was getting himself by antagonizing the officer, stepped in front of the shorter boy. This time he tried uselessly to plead with the beat cop. "But he was innocent! We're all innocent! It wasn't us—"
The cop pulled his club back out, aiming it towards Jacobs again—intent on making it a matched set, perhaps, or as a warning to his friends—when Monahan banged his gavel. "Order! I will have order!"
The ruckus in the courtroom died down at once. Higgins's smartass grin sidled back into place while the officer's face went red with rage and Judge E.A. Monahan couldn't see any reason to drag this circus out any longer than he already had.
"Enough of this." His mind made up, Monahan set the reports aside. "I sentence each of you to twenty-four months at the House of Refuge in the hopes that their new rehabilitation program will keep you from erring again."
The little one looked like he wanted to say something again, make another wisecrack, but he glanced over at the officer—and the billy club still shaking in his hand—and, for once, did the smart thing and clamped his mouth shut. The Jewish boy looked like he wanted to cry. But the sandy-haired fellow... it wasn't Kelly at all but Sullivan, remembered Monahan suddenly, a worthless Irish lad parading around as an even worthless Irish lad... he held his head up high.
For the first time the judge saw the strength, the charm, the arrogance... even more, he saw the promise of retribution for the crippled boy's end... and he knew that the Refuge still wouldn't be able to contain him.
Monahan raised an eyebrow. He wasn't used to such insolence in hiscourtroom and, as kind as he'd been so far in the hopes to wash his hands of this case as soon as possible, he wasn't about to let Sullivan get away scot-free again. He should have been rotting in the Refuge from his stunt last summer but there he was, cocky as ever. Besides, the Refuge was too good for a no-good street rat like this Sullivan.
"Oh, boy, that wasn't meant for you," he said coldly. "I have no doubt in my mind that you were the ringleader and, therefore, you should be punished for it." Picking up a pen, he jotted a note on the report. "Jack Kelly, alias of one Francis Sullivan, I sentence you to three years in Sing Sing Correctional Facility for the crime of attempted theft, plus the unpaid crime of inciting a riot last July among other unknown offenses, I'm sure. It's time you paid for your wrongdoing." He stacked the report on top of the completed pile. "Case closed."
Then, feeling as if justice had been served, he dared any of the boys to respond again, to retaliate, to do something. Higgins' jaw went slack. The Jacobs boy scrunched his face up angrily; this time there was no hiding the tears. And Sullivan... Sullivan gazed back, murder in his dark eyes, a glower in every inch of his weathered face. Monahan's mustache twitched. A satisfied smile barely hidden under the grey tuft of hair. He curled his hand around his gavel.
Bang. Bang. The bailiff jumped to attention, two stout policemen following close behind.
"Take them away," the old judge growled ruffly, already expecting his next case and hoping he could tend to it as quickly. "Come now. Move along."
- stress, 05.28.12