tagNovels and NovellasMaragana Girl Ch. 02

Maragana Girl Ch. 02

bycaligula97236©

Chapter 2 -- Kim's first punishment

Kim was emotionally drained the following morning. She kept on hoping everything was somehow an awful nightmare and at some point she would wake up. She used the chamber-pot and then sat sadly on her mattress wondering what horrible things would be done to her today. That panel yesterday had mentioned a trial.

The cell door opened. A guard cuffed Kim's hands behind her back and led her down the long corridor, which once again was filled with people. Once again dozens of eyes looked over the prisoner's exposed body as she was led down the hallway. The guard took her up two flights of stairs to the reception area of a small office. He then forced Kim into a kneeling position in front of two young secretaries and left her there.

The secretaries quietly talked to each other about the young American as she silently knelt in front of them. The two Danubians didn't do or say anything to deliberately humiliate Kim, but the embarrassment of having to kneel handcuffed and naked in front of two women her own age and be the subject of their discussion was overwhelming.

After about five minutes the door of the main office opened. A well-dressed middle-aged man appeared. He had a quiet, determined appearance about him, and an expression that was kinder than the expression of anyone else Kim had talked to since her arrest.

"You are Kimberly Lee, the American?"

"Yes sir."

"Very well. My name is Vladim Dukov. Allow me to assist you."

With that the man pulled out a key and unhooked Kim's handcuffs. He helped her stand up.

"Let us go to my office."

A secretary entered ahead of them and spread a small towel on a padded chair facing a large desk. Next to the chair was a small table with some breakfast rolls, a jar of jam, several pieces of fruit, and a pot of tea. Kim suddenly remembered she had not eaten for nearly 24 hours and looked longingly at the food.

"That food is for you. Please. Sit and eat."

The Danubian official sat quietly watching Kim while she ate. Once the prisoner had eaten the majority of the food on her table Dukov remarked: "A man does not think well on an empty stomach. Is that not true for a woman as well, Kimberly?"

"Y...Yes sir...that's true. Thank you, sir."

"Good. Now pour yourself some tea and we can discuss what you must confront today."

Once Kim poured the tea the Danubian official spoke again.

"As I stated before, my name is Vladim Dukov. My title is translated as 'Spokesman for the Criminal', although you might understand it better if I told you I am a public defense council and parole officer. Under our law there is a difference, but you need not be bothered with that detail right now."

"Sir, you're going to defend me...like...in court?"

"In a matter of speaking I will defend you...in court. My responsibility to you is to explain to the judge any circumstances or facts that contradict the arguments presented by the prosecutor. Any facts that contradict the statements made by the prosecutor must be considered by the judge. It also is my responsibility to present any facts in court that would promote leniency in your sentence. You, Kimberly, have a difficult, but very interesting case."

Kim fought back the urge to cry. "Sir...Mr. Dukov...I was just smoking a joint! That's all I was doing! It was just some pot...that we got in Amsterdam!"

"Kimberly...please. First of all...allow me to ask you: are we in Amsterdam right now? Do you think this country is part of the Netherlands?"

"No...no sir. It's not the Netherlands."

"You are correct, this is not the Netherlands. The Dutch can do as they see fit. If they choose to destroy themselves with drugs, so be it. We, the citizens of the Grand Duchy, have chosen a different path for our society. All drug use is severely punished. Now, young lady, another question for you. Where were you smoking your 'pot' as you say it?"

"In the park behind the old temple."

"That is your second problem. That land is not 'just a park'. It is the Sacred Ground of the Guardian Spirits, the spirits of the ancestors who have protected our land for 3,000 years. You defiled our country's ancestors by choosing that location to commit your crime."

"Sir...I didn't know..."

"Yes...yes. You are an ignorant foreigner, how could you know? You Americans do not know very much, do you?"

Kim's heart sank. Even her defense attorney was disgusted by her actions.

"You have a much bigger problem, Kimberly. There were 432 grams of marijuana stored in your personal backpack. That is a significant amount."

"Sir, it belonged to all three of us, and Tiff's boyfriend. But we weren't selling it, honest. We just wanted to make sure we didn't run out before we got back to Amsterdam."

"We...meaning..."

"Me, Tiffany and Susan."

Dukov's expression changed slightly at Kim's last comment. She noticed him looking intensely into her eyes, as though trying to gauge how honest she was being with him.

"So...that marijuana belonged to all of you."

"Yes, sir."

"Who conducted the purchase of the marijuana...in Amsterdam?"

"Tiffany...sir...uh...actually it was her boyfriend."

Again Dukov looked hard into Kim's eyes, as she returned his stare with a puzzled expression. Dukov's demeanor suddenly became very irritated. He quickly picked up the phone, dialed, and started talking rapidly in Danubian. Kim made out the words "amerikanki", "passporti", "Tiffany", "Susan", "Amsterdam", and "maragana". The Spokesman made another call, waited impatiently, and then spoke a few lines in Danubian. His tone of voice became very exasperated as he snapped:

"Nad Prágu?! Yak onetta ídalak nad Prágu?!"

After he angrily hung up, Dukov called in his two secretaries and issued several orders. He then wrote a series of notes. Finally he calmed down, folded his hands and addressed Kim again.

"Kimberly, you must understand the facts of the charges against you before we enter the courtroom. I will make no effort to refute that you were smoking marijuana behind the Temple. That fact is indisputable and for that you will be sentenced and punished. Also, a city police officer retrieved 432 grams of marijuana from a backpack that you acknowledged belongs to you. You acknowledge that you knew that marijuana was present in the backpack when you entered the Duchy. That fact is also indisputable and for it you will be sentenced and punished. However, I will challenge the other charges. I also will tell you the prosecutor has behaved irresponsibly in this case, and I will discuss his failings in court. On your behalf I will attempt to use the prosecutor's failings to seek leniency for you."

"Sir...what..."

One of Dukov's secretaries entered at that moment with several folders. Dukov took them and turned to Kim.

"That is enough, Miss Lee. Now you must clean up and prepare yourself for trial. The criminals' bathroom is over there. You must shower. There is an unused toothbrush on the sink. Use it."

Once Kim was cleaned up she wrapped her hair in a towel and her body in another towel. She entered Dukov's office, expecting that he would have some clothes ready for her to change into before they left for the courtroom. Instead Dukov looked up at Kim with a very irritated expression.

"Remove those towels. Immediately."

"Sir..."

"It is prohibited. You are violating your status as a prisoner of the Duchy. You may not cover your body."

Kim gasped as she let the towels fall to the floor. "Sir...what about my court appearance? I can't..."

"You will be naked at your trial, Kimberly. That is the custom in our country. It has been that way for over 1,000 years. You shamed yourself by choosing to commit a crime on our soil, and that shame will be there for the world to see."

The naked people...the ones with the collars! So there was the answer to Kim's question, they were convicted criminals! And she was about to go on trial...and be convicted!

"Oh my God...Sir...Mr. Dukov...please, I can't..."

"Kimberly, that is enough from you. You are now a prisoner of the Duchy. You face conviction on two charges, and possibly more. This reality is now your life, and you must accept it. I will seek leniency, but I cannot change the fact that you violated our laws and must now face the consequences."

One of the secretaries poked her head through the door to tell her boss that the court guard had arrived to take Kim to her trial.

"Kimberly, you must now kneel and present yourself to the guard. When he takes you to the courtroom, Tatiana and I will accompany you."

With that the guard handcuffed Kim and led her out of the police station. The courthouse was on the other side of a large plaza. Kim felt sick as the guard led her across the open area and dozens of passersby stared at her in the open sunlight. Alongside her walked Dukov and his secretary Tatiana. About halfway across the plaza Kim had a slight shock, she ran into the naked waiter from the restaurant where she had eaten the previous day. He stared at her in amazement, wondering what she had done to be going on trial, just 24 hours after she had been a customer at his restaurant.

The guard led Kim into an ornate 19th Century courthouse and into a huge chamber full of police officers, medical students, law students, reporters, cameramen, and various witnesses. Kim recognized the onlookers who had been present at her arrest, as well as the doctor and his 20 students who had analyzed her urine and blood. The three members of the arraignment panel were sitting near the judge's chair towards the front of the chamber, as were the cops who had arrested Kim and searched her belongings. There must have been at least 200 people in the room altogether.

About 5 meters in front of the judge's chair there was a raised platform. Kim rightly assumed that once the trial began she would be ordered to stand on it.

The guard led Kim to a worn spot in the ornate carpet covering the floor about halfway between the back door of the chamber and the platform. He unhooked her handcuffs and ordered her to kneel. Dukov stood next to her, holding several folders in his hands.

Kim looked around. To her horror she noticed two television cameras pointing in her direction. Several reporters flashed their cameras at her. It was obvious this trial was going to be a sensation, because Kim was an American. Dukov swallowed and cleared his throat. Kim could tell that he was somewhat nervous. He had not expected the trial to draw so much public interest. He bent down and spoke to her:

"Kimberly, when the judge comes in everyone will stand and salute him, except you. You must kneel forward and put your forehead to the carpet. You will stay that way until the judge orders you to step forward. You will climb the platform and assume the prisoner's stance. That means you must stand with your legs spread and your hands behind your head. No matter who else is talking, you must remain in that position, facing the judge. I will translate anything you need to know or any answers you need to provide the court."

Kim nodded and choked back her tears. She couldn't believe this! It just kept getting worse and worse! The only shred of hope she clung to was her no-nonsense defense attorney, who seemed genuinely interested in helping her as much as possible.

The judge entered the chamber. The entire room shouted "Doc-doc Danube!" and everyone put their right fist against their left shoulder, the Danubian way of saluting a public official. As instructed Kim knelt forward and placed her hands on the worn carpet, her forehead touching the ground. She felt the cool air of the courtroom blowing against her exposed vagina and bottom. The tears rolled down the bridge of her nose and onto the carpet.

Kim heard the prosecutor's voice as he read the charges against her. Then she heard the judge's voice and Dukov's response. The Spokesman tapped his client's shoulder and pointed at the platform. Kim walked to it and climbed the steps, finding herself standing about a meter and a half above the ground. Reluctantly she spread her legs and put her hands behind her head. Four spotlights shined on her from different directions. She heard the murmurings of the spectators and saw the flashes of reporters' cameras.

At first the only people speaking were witnesses for the prosecution. The female cop who made the initial arrest and her partner spoke first, followed by other witnesses from the Temple area. Then came testimony from the police doctor and three of his students. Finally the arraignment tribunal members spoke, the woman holding up the damning bag of marijuana and Kim's t-shirt with the marijuana insignia. The prosecutor seemed quite smug and at ease with his case, while Dukov stood quietly scribbling furiously into a notepad.

After two hours, Kim's body was starting to cramp badly, and she wondered how much longer she could stay in her position. Just as Kim felt like she was going to faint, the judge stood up. Suddenly Dukov whispered desperately "Kimberly! Quick! You must kneel!" Kim just made it to the platform on her knees when the entire room exploded with "Doc-doc Danube!"

Dukov ordered Kim to get up and passed her a glass of water. She felt despair that her Spokesman had not yet said anything to contradict the witnesses, but she drank and tried to regain her composure.

"Sir...Mr. Dukov...how come you're not saying anything?"

"Kimberly, those witnesses are telling the truth as they saw it. I am not here to refute the truth. I am here to confront the prosecutor's mistakes."

"What mistakes, sir?"

"The two most important witnesses are missing, your two friends. They left the country last night. It is quite unfair you should go on trial and they should not."

"What!? They were released? But, why them and not me?"

"Because they told the arraignment panel the same story; they knew nothing about the marijuana you were carrying."

"But...but it was Tiffany who bought it...she...was the one who put it in my backpack!"

"That is the folly of the prosecutor. He released her and your other friend based on her statement, and did not talk to you first."

Suddenly Kim felt even sicker. Tiffany and Susan had left her! They lied to the Danubian police, just to save themselves at her expense! No wonder she was facing charges as a drug trafficker!

"I was very angry when I found out your friends had been released," continued Dukov, "very angry indeed, because I was unable to talk to them about you. Neither the prosecutor nor the arraignment panel consulted with me about your friends. If they claimed you were the only one carrying the drugs and then were allowed to leave, I needed to know."

"They actually said that I was the only one?"

"What they claimed was they did not know what was in your backpack, and that neither of them knew you smoked marijuana. That they were very surprised."

"No! They couldn't have done that! We're friends!"

"Well, the fact remains, you are here on trial and they, by now, are in Prague. How else do you think they made it out?"

Kim felt like she had been punched in the chest. She had known Tiffany and Susan since middle school. They had spent the last five years together constantly. She had shared things with them that she never could share with anyone else. And now they had done this to her! Kim sat crying while Dukov reviewed his notes.

"Doc-doc Danube!" Kim scrambled to get into her kneeling position on top of her platform as the rest of the room saluted the judge. The judge read over some procedural issues and then ordered his client to stand. Dukov relayed the order in English and Kim resumed her position on top of the platform, legs apart and hands behind her head. The judge then called the Spokesman for the Criminal to speak up on her behalf.

Dukov spoke at length, consulting his notes and several folders. Kim heard the words Tiffany, Susan, and Amsterdam mentioned over and over. The crowd started to murmur, and out of the corner of her eye she could see both the prosecutor and the arraignment panel fidget uncomfortably. The judge asked the prosecutor several questions, which he answered sullenly. The judge did not appear satisfied with the prosecutor's responses, and shook his head. The judge then looked at Kim and directed a question at her. Dukov translated.

"They are about to pronounce the sentence. He wants to know if you have anything to say to the court. If you do, get on your knees before you speak."

Kim did have something to say. She knelt and spoke in English: "Your Honor, the only thing I have to say to this court and to the people of this city, is that I am very sorry for what I did behind the Temple. I have insulted your ancestors and I ask you and them to forgive me."

After Dukov translated there was a murmur of approval from the audience, at least this ignorant foreigner was willing to recognize her mistakes.

The judge made some notes and finally pronounced the verdict, which Dukov translated. Due to the negligence of the prosecutor and the premature release of Tiffany and Susan, the court was unable to convict Kim of drug trafficking. As expected, she was found guilty of possession of marijuana and the public use of marijuana. However, the judge surprised the entire court by declaring Kim innocent of violation of the Sanctity of the Ancients.

"The American Kimberly Lee has sought the forgiveness of the Ancients, and I believe that request was sincere. For that trespass she repented, and the Ancients will hear that request."

Dukov was enormously pleased when he heard Kim's sentence, while the prosecutor tightened his lips in disgust. For a drug conviction in Upper Danubia it was extremely lenient.

"Item One: The American Kimberly Lee will wear the criminal's collar for two years. The collar will identify her as a criminal, monitor her movements, and alert the police should she try to leave this city. For the next two years the American Kimberly Lee is prohibited from traveling more than 10 kilometers from this courthouse."

"Item Two: For the duration of her sentence the American Kimberly Lee is prohibited from covering any part of her body with any article of clothing. She has disgraced herself and our city with her actions, and the American Kimberly Lee's disgrace will be shown to the world as a result of this sentence."

"Item Three: Finally, the American Kimberly Lee will receive four vigorous punishments on the naked buttocks with a standard leather switch. One of the punishments will be given in this chamber immediately at the closing of this hearing, the others will be given on this date in the Central Police Station six months from now, 12 months from now, and 18 months from now. The arresting officer will administer all four punishments."

Kim gasped as Dukov translated the court's punishment to her. When he noticed her horrified expression he tried to reassure her.

"Kimberly, this sentence is very lenient, almost nothing. Under our laws you could have been sentenced to five years of wearing the collar, plus a switching every three months for the possession charge. Had you been convicted of drug trafficking, you would have received 20 years, plus the switch every 30 days."

Two years of wearing a collar? Two years in the nude? Four "vigorous punishments on the naked buttocks"? That was lenient? No wonder Upper Danubia has no crime, thought Kim to herself.

"Kimberly, you are now convicted and sentenced. You must come down and kneel before the judge's table."

Once Kim was kneeling on the floor, the judge issued another command. A man in a white doctor's gown walked up to Kim and put a measuring tape around her neck. He checked the pulse of her jugular vein and wrote down the measurement from the tape. He left and shortly returned with a device that looked something like an enormous pair of salad tongs. He slipped the tong-device over Kim's head and closed it around her neck. He checked to make sure the device would not pinch the criminal's skin, and then clamped it shut. There was a faint hiss and a dull click. When the man opened the device and moved it away, Kim had a criminal's collar around her neck. The collar would be the only item she would be permitted to wear for the next two years. She now was marked as a convicted criminal by a collar that was virtually indestructible.

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