by Tony Sakalauskas

The dark wooden door opened to allow the first of the three prisoners to enter the room. Three judges, two men and a woman, draped in black robes, were waiting for him.

The man wore an orange prisoner suit beneath his long brown hair. He had indistinct tattoos darkening his neck. He hadn’t shaved for two days.

The male judge, in the middle, seated behind the long table, shuffled some papers and spoke.

“It says here, from your personality tests, that you don’t like to read. Is that true?”

“Yes, your honor. I never read a book in my life.”

“Okay. It also says that you hated school. Is that true?”

“Yes, your honor. I dropped out in junior high.”

“Okay then. Here is your punishment. You will have to read a couple of dozen school books. Books such as: history, geography, biology and so forth. You’ll read them in jail. After you have read these books, you will be tested on them. Only when you pass the tests, will you be free. You may leave.”

The second prisoner appeared before the judge. Like the guy before him he had long brown hair and some matching brown facial hair. He also had some tattoos marking his neck that you couldn’t make out.

Once again it was the middle male judge who was doing all the talking.

“Your personality tests show that you like listening to Country and Western music. Is that true?”

“Yes, your honor. It’s all I listen to.”

“And that you hate heavy metal music. Is this also true?”

“Yes, your honor.”

“For your punishment, you will be given about two dozen heavy metal compact discs to listen to in your jail cell. You will learn the names of all the bands, the names of their albums, the names of their songs and the lyrics. You will be tested. When you answer all the questions, you will be set free. You may leave.”

The third prisoner appeared before the three judges. He was a clean cut kid with short blond hair and a clean shaven face. He wore silver-rimmed glasses. His neck did not display any tattoos. Even is posture was different; he stood more erect.

“Your personality tests show that you like to read,” said the middle judge. “That you’re a bookworm. Is that true?”

“Yes, your honor.”

“And that you hate boredom. Is that also true?’

“Yes, your honor.”

“The tests also show you to be an intelligent person, a law-abiding citizen. Why would you be involved in a break and enter with these other two prisoners who were here before us?’

“I just moved to the city and didn’t know anyone,” said the third prisoner. “All three of us live in the same apartment building. And um… I don’t make friends easily.”

“I see,” said the judge.

“For your punishment, you will not be allowed to read books or magazines or any other reading material. Also, you will not be allowed to watch television, or listen to the radio or to be on the computer.”

“But your honor, if I can’t do those things I’ll be bored to death. I’ll go crazy.”

“That’s the idea,” said the judge. “That’s your punishment, boredom. We had a difficult time thinking of a suitable time period for your sentence. So, we came up with this. When your so-called friends finish their sentences, you will be finished yours. You may leave.”

Tony is a 63-year-old Canadian from the city of Halifax, on the east coast of Canada. Follow him on Twitter @TonySakalauskas

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