"I admit it," the prisoner said to his lawyer. "I'm an animal. An inhuman animal, a killing machine, a wild organism that doesn't deserve to call itself a human being." Randy Johnson saw surprise on his lawyer's face. He congratulated himself for speaking with such conviction that even this hard assed lawyer frowned.
"Don't say that. Sorrow and remorse sound great if you pleaded guilty and the judge is about to sentence you, but you're facing the gas chamber next month. If you insist on confessing, at least show repentance with tons of tears."
"But I did kill Karen Clauser. I admit it. I did it for kicks. I feel no more remorse than a lion does when it kills a zebra for brunch. I looked at myself and realize I have no conscience, no compassion for human beings. I'm a predator, an animal that kills without feeling, well perhaps a mild pleasure in having done something that shocks people."
"But wolves and lions go in packs, have strong bonds to their own kind," the lawyer protested.
"But I look at people as a solitary leopard views a gazelle. Prey. I am a predatory animal. A weasel can't even eat one whole chicken, but when it gets in a chicken house it kills and kills for pleasure."
"Don't say that or I won't be able to get you another stay of execution."
"I want to tell the world that I'm an animal, and I renounce all rights humans have. I won't make more bids to have some squeamish court overturn my conviction - after all, animals can't petition the courts. I want to be treated like the beast that I am. And I want you to draw up the legal papers that declare me to be an animal. I would rather be protected by the animal rights people than you goddam criminal lawyers."
"This is ridiculous."
"I insist. I'm holding a press conference to announce my animal nature. I want you to change my legal status from human to animal."
"But you are a human, physically. You have human DNA."
"Doesn't matter. According to religion, a man has a soul and an animal does not."
"If you say so."
"Know what the most popular religion is in this jailhouse?"
"No. Atheism, perhaps."
"Wrong. The Church of Holy Satan. Devil worship. Only natural that guys in jail would worship evil."
"Freedom of religion laws allow lots of nonsense. But so what?"
"I joined the Church of Holy Satan and had a de-soulerization ceremony."
"Took salt out of your body?"
"That's desalinization, dummy. I thought lawyers were good with words — you sure twist them around. No, I was de-souled. My soul was delivered to the devil before my physical death. I have no soul. My soul is in hell training to become a devil, junior grade. According to my religion I'm an animal with a human-like body because I have no soul. Furthermore, since I have no human emotions, stupid crap like compassion, mercy, love, mentally and emotionally I'm an animal."
It took an hour for Randy to convince the lawyer to do things his way. He must've repeated the word, animal, three dozen times. He was going to hold his press conference in any case and be his own jail-house lawyer if necessary.
"Well, this will set a precedent of some sort," the lawyer conceded, looking slightly mollified at the prospect of breaking new legal ground.
"If you're no longer Homo sapiens," the cute little reporter asked, "what species are you? Animalus sapiens?"
"How about Animalus wildus?" Randy suggested.
"wildus is not a Latin name," another older scholarly looking reporter said, "and animalus isn't parsed right."
"So I don't know Italian. Animalus sounds good to me. Sapiens means smart, right? but brains play no part in my life. Otherwise I wouldna got caught, right? My wildness rules me. My lust for the kill. My complete lack of conscience. I don't think logically when I'm the beast, which is most of the time. My actions are controlled by animal passions, not logic"
"You seem pretty controlled to me," the cute little reporter told him.
With a growl, Randy jumped at her and staggered back, stunned when his head hit the metal bars separating him from the reporters. When he recovered, he charged again, and succeeded only in putting another dent in his forehead, but not in the steel bars. He bared his teeth and growled.
"He does act like a wild animal," the reporter told her colleague.
"The courts and the governor and the humane society all decided to accept your plea to become an animal and renounce all human rights, including the right to appeal your sentence," his lawyer said. "Your execution has been scheduled for one month from today."
"Good? The Prisoner's Rights people are going crazy. They're the best friends you guys and we criminal lawyers have. They always take the side of killers and rapists and make my job easier. Their petition to stay your execution has been thrown out because you're no longer a person. The judge told them to go to the same judge that helps animal right freaks get pit bulls out of the dog pound and into the dog adoption centers."
"Is this what you wanted? Execution?"
"It would happen anyway. You lawyers and those criminal loving do-gooders out there can only delay things, not stop it."
"Criminal loving do-gooders? What a way to describe civil libertarians, the best friends you criminals have. We all die sometime. Why not let me delay execution for fifty years? Get free room and board here all your life if your lawyer can't get you out?"
"And the state pays you thousands for each appeal you write for me. I don't want to wait. I want out. Now."
"You'll be out in a month. Sent to a cemetery."
"I'll be walking on the outside in a month or two."
Anna Melle Wright was president of the New York chapter of ARF, the Animal Rights Foundation. She used to be Susan Kaplan, president of the New Rochelle chapter of ARF, a dead end job. Then she legally changed her name to Anna Melle Wright, and everybody interested in kindness to animals wanted her to speak because her new name proved how committed she was to her work. This drawing power on the lecture circuit won her the presidency of the most powerful state office in the animal rights world.
"Those stupid cops," she complained to the ARF lawyer sitting on the other side of her desk, "are keeping an animal confined in the state prison." The anger in her voice was genuine.
The lawyer, Benjamin Kaplan, who was also her brother, looked distressed, and said, "Terrible. Conditions there are fit only for humans, not for animals."
"Precisely. And they plan to execute the animal by poison gas or is it legal injection?"
"Terrible. Did they try to find a home for it."
"Yes, but no takers."
"I'll have the court put a stay of euthanasia that'll give us time to get the injunctions and briefs and other documents registered in the courts. By the way, what kind of animal is it?"
"Never heard of it."
"A talking biped."
"Like a parrot?"
"No, a mammal. Was once mis-classified as a human, but the courts corrected its species identification."
"Oh, you mean the Randy Johnson case? We're going to treat that inhuman monster as an animal?" The lawyer stopped, thought for a moment and then spoke as if lecturing a class. "I just admitted that he wasn't human, so, you're right, he must be an animal, entitled to all the rights and privileges the law gives to non humans beings."
"Precisely. Good thing Randy didn't become a plant. "
"But is it a good idea being the advocate of a killer?"
"Look how much mileage we got out of supporting sharks who defend their domain by attacking swimmers. Last year everybody in the country except New Yorkers loved us when we took the cause of the New York rat and got it classified as an endangered species. A New Yorker who kills a rat is breaking the endangered species laws. If we wind the Randy Johnson case, a rat murderer should be tried as a vigilante."
"You're right. The public loves dangerous and disgusting animals. Like T. Rex and soon, Randy Johnson."
Randy Johnson was led to the meeting room to meet his new lawyers. Benjamin Kaplan was a middle aged, short pudgy man who simply looked like a lawyer. Even in a nudist camp, he'd still look like a lawyer, Randy mused. His other lawyer, Anna Melle Wright, the animal lover who had an honorary law degree that allowed her to meet him under lawyer-client conditions. She was a woman in her early thirties who looked very smart (he didn't like smart woman) and very intense (He didn't like intense women either.) Karen Clauser's mother was so intense she rallied public opinion to the point where the judge found it politically necessary to give Randy the death penalty.
However, lawyers and kooks of passion and conviction were the ones he needed right now. He wondered if he should act human or act like an animal in the presence of animal rights people.
The two lawyers were allowed allowed to enter Randy's cell. The guards stood outside, watching, but too far away to hear the confidential conversation between lawyers and client.
"I demand privacy with my client," Anna Melle shouted. You cops might have a lip reader watching. Citing attorney-client privilege the two lawyers finally got a private room to interview Randy Johnson.
The door closed.
Randy jumped on Anna Melle Wright. He knocked her down, sat on top of her and started ripping her clothes off. Benjamin, her brother and fellow lawyer, tried to restrain the animal man. His muscles were more like rotted string, weak and ineffective.
However, he did run to the door. Pounding, he screamed, "Open up, Help."
Guards came pouring into the room. By no the presedent of ARF was stripped naked. She was shouting "Hurry, Hurry," not to the guards, but to the animal man.
"The animal man wasn't fast enough," a cop told his superior.
"Good work. You stopped Randy Randy before he could rape her," the sergeant said.
"Rape, hell," the guard said. That bitch was encouraging him."
"And," her fellow lawyer added, "we certainly proved an important point. Randy Johnson is an wild animal."
A week later, te guard said, "Sit." Like an obedient dog, Randy sat. He was then chained to his chair.
His lawyers entered. This time a court order said Randy must be restrained when meeting his lawyers.
Anna Melle Wright spoke. "Since you are now an animal, you have all the rights of an animal. You may notice that your new private cell in this jail has air conditioning - the law is that animals kept indoors must have private cages and must be kept in buildings with heat and air conditioning."
Randy nodded. This was an unexpected benefit. Long ago he learned that prisoners had more rights than ordinary people. They had free medical care, free room and board, cable TV, exercise rooms, lots of stuff. Seems like animals have even more rights than prisoners. He should've become an animal years ago.
"Your execution has been canceled, and we're working hard to keep you from being put-to-sleep in an animal shelter."
"Isn't that the same as killing me?"
"Yes, but more humane, and easier to stop. First we tried to find a family that would want to take you in. Nobody, unfortunately, wants to bring a killer into their home and feed him and give him a room and all the privileges pets are entitled to. Not even the animal rights people want you in their homes." Her voice paused and she spoke in a low voice. "What would you do if I let you live in my house?"
"Would I be chained to a dog run?"
"No. We made that illegal. You'd have access to my house."
"I'd rape you and kill you. Well for certain, I'd kill you. You're not my type of female. You're human."
"See what I mean. Even I don't want you as a pet. And you don't want me. Karen's mother has pickets set up warning people not to take you in as a pet."