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THE TRUTH WILL OUT



Spring keeps trying to break through the slate roof stretching over Vermont. Tendrils of sunlight pierce a few cracks and are smothered in a sudden snow fall. Ice wears a coat of armor as it sprawls over the two-lane roads heading off to the dairy farms. It's hard to know what the sky is thinking; there is a kind of slow-burning resentment that winter has not yet had its full expression of revenge on the land below. So we wake up to the dull shadows, the pale, lifeless trees, the grass lying there like an old blanket full of muddy rents and tatters.

            Meanwhile the news can only report on Trump's bad moods, his sour face coming into the court room, his grumbles and mutterings as potential jurors are interviewed before being excused from duty or told to wait until further notice. The journalists mill around in the lobby outside, and some wander back in to sit grumpily as they scroll through the headlines on their cell phones. It's going to be a while before anything like the trial begins. The TV tabloids exaggerate every tic and tittle of Trump's moods -- his slouchy posture, his loose jowls, his mussed hair gathered up in little orange tornadoes. His eyes sag into the coral reefs of his brow and ripple at each blink. The fury tearing at his soul has no way to escape into the air without encountering the thunder of Judge Merchand's threats of contempt of court fines. So everyone moves about in the gelatinous air of anticipation.

            The only activity lies in the tapping of the steno machines as portly women lean over catching every word of the lawyers as they move down a monotonous list of questions with their transparent replies of bias one way or another. The wheels of the law grind against rusty sockets, wheezing out a profound fatigue in the indifferent mood pervading the chilly, dimly lit room.

            I'm glad I'm not there, breathing the torpor and trying hard to find something to say to my neighbors. I'm excused from any obligation to the assembled functionaries who subtly obscure the yawns that escape from behind their cupped hands. A door opening is a sudden spasm of excitement that instantly dissipates when a cop pokes his head in and nods to a colleague to come out to the hall. Otherwise, there is the clock hanging lugubriously over a bailiff's head.

            A farmer might find all this inactivity part of the immoveable nature of life -- the long winters, the reluctant coming of spring, the painfully uncertain inception of buds on the trees or the shoots pushing through the crumbly mud of a corn field. The manure trucks might have come through earlier with their tanks spewing out a slurry of nose-tingling brown liquid that soaked down into the porous surface to some mysterious rendezvous with the life force.

            Beneath the humming tedium of the court room is something else, an underworld of deceptions and evasions, a Boschian abyss of lost souls uttering lies under close examination. The truth will not come out until the lies are dismantled syllable by syllable, leaving only the husks of rehearsed babble behind. The mind can only remember the truth, which has a hard chrysalis around its fragile germ of actuality. That is what the prosecutor is looking for, prying with  expert fingers and relentless analysis until the grainy pebble can be felt lying in its muck of corrupt rhetoric. Everyone is patient, half-asleep in the limbo of close scrutiny, not expecting any moment of muffled climax until someone coughs or sobs or stumbles down an unintended path in the undergrowth, and finds himself or herself suddenly defenseless with the truth glowing like a lightning bug in the palm of the hand. At that moment, a reporter leans back in his chair and whispers to a cohort behind him what he just realized. The two men leave the room quietly and the guards adjust the doors until a lock clicks.

            It might be raining out. Drops of murky water fall from a fire escape as the windows darken with heavier clouds. A truth escaped from the mouth of a hardened deceiver, someone paid to kill the instinct to confess, and now the darkening sky seems to bulge with the weight of that tiny atomic bead of light. The judge is writing down phrases and figures on his foolscap pad, looking up now and then to judge the demeanor of the witness and the forlorn expression of the defendant suddenly marooned in a barren stretch of coast line. It's like the farmer who touches the swollen end of a tendril and feels the first pulse of summer in his fingers. He's been there many times before, but the promise of birth moves him from his stolid impassivity to a tightening in his groin.

            The prosecutor who has reached the point of epiphany is a master of hiding his own sense of triumph. But if he has truly sounded the depth of the defendant's soul and found the secret buried there, perhaps the jury will also feel an instinctual nodding of the head that something genuine and undeniable has been brought to the surface of hypocrisy and burst through. The lie in a human heart is like rust, it clings to the surface and oxidizes the interiors of human character until someone produces the inquiring steel brush and applies it to the vulnerable soft tissue of emotion. Even a lie detector will err and not record the moment when a revelation has flooded the blood vessels of the respondent. But a jury of peers is sitting there listening and taking an occasional note until this moment of truth occurs and nothing can deny its diamond-hard radiance. At that point the ancient rituals of the trial seem cruel or ineffectual, a pair of pliers made of rubber that cannot loosen the nut that is holding back the valve of a faucet.

            When the camera wanders the room to pick up the ambience of the crowd and the mumbling of voices, the shuffling of papers and the creaks and groans of chairs, doors opening and closing, whispers and muffled talk, and settles upon the resolutely closed face of Trump, you suddenly realize how worn out he is, how difficult it is to live in a junk yard of prevarications. The world he inhabits is filled with hyperbole and digression, with inflated speech and language without ideas. The suit he wears hangs loosely upon his shoulders and balloons around his thighs, and moves of its own will as he stands up and begins to walk. The truth is lean and sinewy, close to the bones of the actual person. And he hasn't felt the real man inside much of his life. The thousands of lies he has told and never recanted is like the poet who has written feverishly his whole life and never offered a single insight into existence.

           

           

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