tagNovels and NovellasMaragana Girl Ch. 15

Maragana Girl Ch. 15


Chapter 15 -- The punishment of Officer Malka Chorno

Vladim Dukov and his client Kimberly Lee went to his office very early Friday morning. The chief police doctor was waiting for them, to examine Kim and clear her for attending the hearings that would determine the course of Officer Malka Chorno's future. As the doctor's assistant had predicted, Kim's bottom was well on its way to healing. He removed the bandages and was quite satisfied with the condition of Kim's injuries. "We may even avoid the scar on your thigh. Anyhow, if you have it, it won't be noticeable unless you're looking for it. That pretty brown bottom of yours will be back to normal in another week."

Kim cringed with dislike as the old doctor studied her bottom. The doctor was the same man who had given Prisoner # 98945 the drug test the year before and whose students delighted in sexually humiliating criminals. Kim would have expected the doctor and his staff to oppose Spokesman Dukov and his proposed reforms. However, on the question of injuries, the police doctors fully agreed with Dukov. Under no circumstances was it appropriate to actually injure a criminal. The doctors' objections to some of the more severe beatings that had recently taken place took priority over the head doctor's belief that there was nothing wrong with the sexual humiliations. The medical staff had become reluctant supporters of portions of Dukov's reforms. As for Criminal # 98945, the head doctor was every bit as concerned as was her Spokesman that she recover as completely as possible.

Before going to Malka Chorno's hearing, Kim had to go to the booking room of the Central Police Station to have her second mugshot taken. Throughout their sentences, Danubian criminals had to have their files updated each year, which included new yearly mugshots. Criminal # 98945 looked quietly into the camera as the flash went off. Later, when Vladim Dukov added the second mugshot to his client's file, he had a chance to compare it to the picture taken immediately after her arrest. The contrast was so startling that it was hard to believe that the two pictures were of the same person. The difference went way beyond Kim's changed hairstyle. Her entire expression was different; the very inner working of her soul was different. When Dukov compared the two photos, he realized how much Kim truly had changed and matured during the first year of her sentence.


Dukov escorted his client across the Central Plaza to the Central Courthouse. They entered the ornate building and the courtroom where Criminal # 98945 went on trial the year before. Dukov explained to Kim that today was one day she was not to kneel in the presence of the public officials running the hearing. Kim was the aggrieved party in this case and was due an official apology. She would attend the hearing standing, although because she was still a criminal, she could not salute. Criminal # 98945 and Spokesman Vladim Dukov walked to the witness area immediately to the right and slightly behind the judge's desk. They stood together, as several cameras focused on them.

The courtroom was packed, filled with police officers, all of Danube City's Spokespersons, many law students and professors, and even some human rights activists. A number of criminals who had been punished by Officer Chorno also were present, eager to see the demise of her career.

The case would be a sensation, by far the most exciting trial of the year. Prosecutions against police officers were rare, so when they happened they always drew a great deal of public interest. Criminal # 98945 was relatively well-known and well-liked throughout Upper Danubia because of her singing. She was a familiar sight around Danube City on her bicycle and a fixture at the information counter at the city's main music store. Officer Malka Chorno also was well-known, especially as a result of the fire-fight in which she coolly shot four bank robbers with her service revolver as their automatic weapons sprayed bullets all around her. Finally, Spokesman Vladim Dukov was the most recognized of Danube City's 20 Spokespersons because of his success in representing criminals and because of the controversy surrounding his legislation pending in Parliament. It was for sure the entire incident, from Kim's switching and Officer Chorno's attack against the Spokesman, to the dismissal and prosecution of the policewoman, would be televised. Probably it would crowd out the transmissions of any other trials and punishments for that Sunday evening and be discussed for weeks.

Officer Malka Chorno quietly entered the courtroom in her uniform, accompanied by her partner. She had taken special care that her uniform look its best; her boots were thoroughly shined, her badge and buttons had been polished, her police tunic was crisply pressed and ironed. Officer Chrono knew this was the last time in her life she would have the right to wear her policewoman's uniform. She wanted to treat her outfit with special respect and care before she had to surrender it. Kim noticed one detail indicating the direction of Malka Chorno's future. There was no pistol in her holster. Her service weapon already had been taken away from her.

Malka and her partner silently stepped into the middle of the courtroom. They quietly stood on the empty floor, facing the judge's desk. Both the prisoner's stand and the punishment bench had been removed, because during a police disciplinary hearing neither was used. Errant police officers were harshly disciplined in Upper Danubia, but protocol prohibited them from being disciplined in the same manner as common criminals. It was partly for that reason Officer Chorno entered the courtroom still dressed in her uniform. The official stripping of her uniform would signal the beginning of her punishment.

From her spot in the witness area Criminal # 98945 looked at her nemesis. Officer Chorno looked neither broken nor defiant. She really did not even look sad. She looked...empty, as though the life force had been taken out of her soul. As Kim studied the officer's attractive face and immaculate uniform, she knew that Malka Chorno had changed. No longer was she the same person who had tormented Kim in the park nor the one who so had viciously beaten her a few days ago. Suddenly she felt somewhat sorry for the disgraced cop.

There were no such thoughts of pity from Vladim Dukov. He was determined to destroy Officer Chorno to the point she never could be a danger to anyone again. That cop was out of control and needed to be removed as a threat to the judicial system. She had violated the spirit of the 1780 judicial code continuously since the beginning of last year. She had shown absolute cruelty against anyone unfortunate enough to fall under her discipline. She held the city's Spokespersons for the Criminals in total contempt. Last year she had come very close to murdering Kimberly Lee. Her charisma made her dangerous because of the bad influence she had on other police officers. On top of everything else was the kick to his stomach. That kick was unprecedented. None of Dukov's co-workers ever had remembered a police officer striking a Spokesperson, and certainly never in court. Dukov would have had a hard time admitting it, but for the first time in his life he had developed a deep personal hatred and thirst for revenge.


The entire room stood up and saluted, including Malka's partner. She did not salute. She simply remained quietly standing at attention. Kim, her brain conditioned to dropping on her knees every time she heard the official salute, struggled to remember that she was not to kneel in court.

The person entering the judge's chair was not a judge at all, but the Chief of the Danube City Division of the National Police. Most of the other presiding officials were wearing police uniforms as well. There was an arraignment panel, but all three of them were senior police officers. The first hearing was not about the criminal charges pending against Officer Chorno, but instead her violations of the National Police Code of Conduct. The criminal charges would come after Officer Chorno's status as a police officer was settled.

The Chief of Police spoke from the judge's chair.

"Officer Malka Chorno. You will remove your badge and your hat. Place your badge inside your hat. Place your hat at the foot of my desk. Once you have done that, you will return to where you are standing."

Malka's partner un-pinned her badge and handed it to her. She took off her hat and, following the chief's instructions, placed it upside down at the foot of the judge's desk. She returned to her position standing next to her partner.

"You're responsibilities as a uniformed officer are suspended from this moment, pending the outcome of this hearing. That suspension will become permanent should this proceeding determine you are guilty of the violations of the National Police Code of Conduct pending against you. Do you understand the violations pending against you?"

"Yes, Chief of Police, I understand the violations of the Code of Conduct."

"You will state, in your own words, the first violation pending against you."

"I am charged with violation of Article 3 of Item 18 of the Grand Duke's reform of the Judicial Code of 1780. Specifically that means, during the course of punishing Criminal # 98945, I struck her to the point of bleeding, in clear violation of Article 3 of Item 18."

"You will state, in your own words, the second charge pending against you."

"I am charged with violation of Article 4 of Item 18 of the Grand Duke's reform of the Judicial Code of 1780. Specifically that means, during the course of punishing Criminal # 98945, I ignored my responsibility to stop striking that criminal when her Spokesman raised his hand to make me pause for medical evaluation of her injuries."

"You will state, in your own words, the third charge pending against you."

"I am charged with the violation of Insurrection. In violation of Article 9 of Item 5 of the Judicial Code of 1524, I struck a public official while he was performing the duties of his office. I struck him while I was supposed to be performing the duties of my office. Specifically that means, when Spokesman Dukov attempted to intervene to suspend the punishment of Criminal # 98945, I deliberately struck him full-force in the stomach by kicking him. I kicked him in court, while wearing my police uniform. I struck him in the stomach wearing a boot issued to me by the National Police Force."

"You will state, in your own words, the fourth violation pending against you."

"I am charged with a second violation of Article 4 of Item 18 of the Grand Duke's reform of the Judicial Code of 1780. Specifically that means, after I incapacitated Spokesman Dukov by striking him with my foot, I resumed striking Criminal # 98945, even though I could clearly see she was bleeding."

"Officer Chorno, do you refute the veracity of any of the four violations against you?"

"No, Chief of Police, I do not refute the violations."

"Can you give this court any justification for your behavior, any reason why you felt it was necessary to strike either Criminal 98945 or Spokesman Dukov?"

"No, Chief of Police, I cannot provide any justification that would alter the legal standing of the violations."

"Do you understand that your two violations of Article 4 of Item 18 of the Grand Duke's reform of the Judicial Code of 1780 and the violation of Insurrection will require this court to terminate your service as a uniformed officer of the National Police of the Grand Duchy of Upper Danubia?"

"Yes, Chief of Police, I understand that."

"Very well. Malka Chorno, as of this moment you are no longer a member of the National Police Force. You have proven yourself unfit to wear that uniform."

Malka knew what was coming, but to hear the actual words pronounced struck at her soul. Being a police officer had been the purpose of her life, the reason she existed. The finality of what had happened finally sunk in. Malka's expression changed slightly. She looked stricken. The Police Chief's next comment was directed at Malka's partner.

"Officer, you will remove all property belonging to the National Police of the Grand Duchy of Upper Danubia from the body of Malka Chorno."

Malka stood quietly at attention as her ex-partner stripped her. He started with her boots, taking them off her feet as she raised each leg. He then took off her police belt. He removed the items from the belt, her mace, her flashlight, her nightstick, her handcuffs, and her holster from the belt. He carried the boots and items from the belt to the foot of the judge's desk and lined them up next to Malka's hat. He rolled up the thick leather police belt and placed it at her feet, because it would stay with Malka and be used to punish her following her criminal trial. Malka's partner then removed several service metals from her uniform. He placed those in the hat with her badge. Her armband and rank came off next, and also ended up in her hat. Malka now was barefoot and wearing nothing but her woman's police tunic. He paused, hoping not to have to go any further.

"You will finish retrieving all property that belongs to the National Police Force, Officer."

Very reluctantly Malka's partner undid the buttons of her blue tunic. He took the tunic, folded it, and placed it at the foot of the judge's bench. Malka now was wearing nothing but a police shirt and the light-blue police-issue bra and underwear for female police officers. Those items had to be taken off as well. Malka's partner unbuttoned the shirt and pulled it off his partner's shoulders. He fumbled with the hook in her bra and finally got it off. He pushed her underwear to her ankles and she quietly stepped out of it.

Malka, now naked, stood at attention as tears rolled down her cheeks. Cameras flashed at the bare body of the disgraced ex-police officer. For a long time the Chief of Police left her standing, to let the humiliation sink in. Malka did not move, nor did she change her expression. The only detail indicating her inner torment was the tears flowing down her face.

"Malka Chorno, for the final portion of this hearing you will kneel. You will understand that from this point forward you are not to salute any member of the National Police Force. No longer will you stand at attention in court. You have forfeited your right to salute. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, Chief of Police, I understand."


Malka sank to her knees for the first time in her life. She placed her hands on the floor and her head between them. She touched her forehead to the floor.

"Spokesman Dukov, you will approach the judge's desk with Criminal # 98945."

Dukov and Kim stood at the foot of the judge's desk, as she quietly contemplated the pile of police items at her feet. Kim was awestruck that these items, which looked so fearsome when worn by Malka Chorno, now were nothing but inanimate objects lying on the ground, incapable of causing her any further harm. What was truly shocking was to see how helpless Malka looked, stripped of her uniform.

The police chief stepped down and saluted Vladim Dukov, who saluted back. He then retrieved Malka's badge from her hat and handed it to Dukov.

"Spokesman, in accordance with Article 6 of Item 18 of the Grand Duke's reform of the Judicial Code of 1780, you will present this badge to Criminal # 98945 as a gesture of apology from the National Police of the Grand Duchy of Upper Danubia."

"Yes, Chief of Police, I will make the presentation."

Dukov turned to his client. He spoke to her in Danubian.

"Criminal # 98945, the Grand Duchy of Upper Danubia offers its official apology for the manner in which you were treated this past Tuesday. I am presenting you with the badge of the police officer who offended your honor and your rights as a criminal as a gesture of remorse. You will understand this badge has no authority in your possession, it is nothing more than a gesture of apology."

"Yes, Spokesman Dukov, I understand, and I accept this gesture of apology with gratitude."

With that Dukov handed Kim the police badge. Kim thought she could hear Malka suppress a sob. Kim felt no triumph at all, no happiness or relief. She felt awful, and almost guilty that she had to accept the badge.

Kim and Dukov withdrew to the witness's area and the Chief of Police addressed Malka again.

"Malka Chorno, my professional relationship with you has ended. I have one final duty to perform before I completely wash my hands of you. I am declaring you under arrest for the crimes of insurrection, simple assault, assault against a public official while in performance of his duty, and abuse of the authority of your former public position. I am ordering you to be taken to the Central Police Station immediately. You will be booked, arraigned, and assigned a Spokesman. Tomorrow you will go on trial, just like any other criminal."

The Chief of Police then stood up and drew his fist across his chest. The officers and civilians filling the courtroom saluted him. One of the court guards picked up Malka's handcuffs from her hat and used them to cuff her hands behind her back. He picked up her police belt and led her out of the courtroom and across Danube City's Central Plaza to the police station. Kim's arresting officer faced a day very similar to Kim's first day as a Danubian criminal. In spite of everything the woman had done to make her life miserable, Kim felt sorry for her.


Dukov and Kim returned to his office. Dukov had expected to see Kim elated, but could tell that she wasn't. He was about to try to talk to her when one of his secretaries handed him an ancient silver box with an archaic version of Upper Danubia's national symbol, a griffin. Dukov sighed and frowned when he saw the box.

"What is it, Spokesman Dukov?"

Dukov showed the box to Kim.

"This box is an ancient tradition in our country. No one knows how old it is or where it came from. But all of us know very well what it is. I can tell you it is something no public official is happy to see."

"Why not?"

"This box contains a personal challenge. I must prove my honor. The document inside is a test of my character, a task that I must accomplish."

"I don't get it."

"In this country public officials have had a tradition for hundreds of years. If a public official considers himself important, his peers have the obligation to test his honor. If he passes the test, he may continue with his ambitions. If he fails the test, then he must desist from further public activity. The test is always a task that challenges one's inner soul."

Dukov opened the box and removed a standard business envelope. He opened the envelope and passed the letter to Kim. The message read:

Former Officer of the National Police of the Grand Duchy of Upper Danubia, Malka Chorno, is officially under arrest and has been assigned Prisoner # 99348. You will serve as her Spokesman, and will protect her interests to the best of your ability. You will confirm receipt of this assignment when you retrieve her case file from the booking room.

Dukov took the letter back from Kim. He closed the silver box and packed it in its padded carrier. Later that night Dukov would have to return the carrier to the Temple of the Ancients. When it was not in use, the Temple's High Priest kept the box in his study.

"I should not be surprised. I do not know if you understand how difficult an assignment this will be for me. Malka Chorno is the first person in many years I have truly hated. I find her and her actions abhorrent. She represents everything I stand against and want to change. But now I am obligated to serve her interests."

"Who gave you this challenge?"

"The city's other 19 Spokespersons, without a doubt."

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