No Such Thing as a Hand
County of Corpusville
Court transcript—Day 2
Adela Rivas vs. Adrian Smith, John Altives, Laura Eversville, Rosa Pelaes, and Robert Kerber March 22, 1976
BAILIFF: All rise!
GALLERY: It’s a packed house again today.
GALLERY: Is the judge going to dismiss the case right away?
BAILIFF: Silence, please.
JUDGE: Please take your seats. Thank you.
GALLERY: Doesn’t the plaintiff own a bakery downtown?
GALLERY: Yes. Ridiculous. I’m never buying from there again.
BAILIFF: Please, quiet.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Morning, Your Honor.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We move to dismiss the case.
JUDGE: On what grounds?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Among other things, Your Honor, the lack of merit of these claims, and the general nature of this case. Honestly, it is an embarrassment to our court system. Look! The plaintiff, Ms. Rivas, isn’t even here today. It shows tremendous disrespect for this court and—
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: —Your Honor, the Palm is represented by me. I’m the only one who needs to be on—
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: —the nature of this frivolous lawsuit.
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: —time. This is the second day of this hearing, and there is no regulation specifying that my client needs to be present today, Your Honor.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: But why isn’t Ms. Rivas here, Your Honor? Too embarrassed, perhaps, at this charade?
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: The Palm is too distressed. These proceedings exacerbate her condition, Your Honor. The disappearance of the Hand has been a traumatic event for her.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Objection, Your Honor! The plaintiff attorney was already instructed by this court to refer to individuals by their legal names.
GALLERY: Why is he chuckling?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What’s so funny, Your Honor?
JUDGE: Sorry. I apologize. Counsel, where do you come up with these names? Ah… Fingers, wasn’t it?
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: Yes, Your Honor. All five defendants are fingers.
JUDGE: Where do you come up with these names?
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: Those are our anatomical names, sir.
JUDGE: Anatomical… What was it that you called yourself yesterday?
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: I’m Eye, sir.
JUDGE: Opposing Counsel?
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: He is Lips. And you are Ear, sir.
JUDGE: I get a name, too, eh?
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: I’m glad this is amusing to you, Your Honor.
JUDGE: You haven’t answered my question, Counsel. Where do these anatomical names of yours come from?
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: I’m not sure, sir. To be honest, I just know them. I remember them.
JUDGE: Remember them? Like from high school?
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: These were the names we had before we all became individuals.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Delusions notwithstanding, the plaintiff attorney was instructed yesterday by this court to refer to each citizen by their legal name.
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: You gotta admit that most of us look anatomically different from one another.
JUDGE: Order! Counsel, our appearance—the way we look—is totally irrelevant here. Regardless of our anatomy, we are all the same before the law. We all have individual rights.
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: That’s the problem, Your Honor. We are now just individuals. Before, we were parts and also the whole at the same time. Now we are disjointed and isolated, like the fingers over there. They don’t even recognize each other! They’re all living their own separate, lonely, and incomplete lives.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nonsense, Your Honor. All of my clients are productive, well-adjusted members of society. Yes, they all have challenges in their private lives, like everyone else. But they don’t go around reflecting responsibility for their problems, and they don’t go around dishing out flippant lawsuits. And our community? Well, I am quite proud of it, sir. Corpusville is united! Lots of progress is happening, and our strong economy is a reflection of that.
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: “Economic progress”! At what cost? The Palm has lost her sense of purpose ever since the disappearance of the Hand. It’s all an endless, meaningless routine; a banal, depressing existence. Nothing but empty materialism.
GALLERY: The idiot has lost his mind.
JUDGE: Order! Order!
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This is frustrating and ridiculous, Your Honor. Morally reprehensible, frankly. What exactly is the plaintiff accusing my clients of?
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: Inflicting untold emotional distress.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Is he accusing my clients of kidnapping or murdering this fictional character, the Hand? Where is the body? Where did this “Hand” live before the alleged disappearance? Next to Ms. Rivas? There is no record this person ever existed, Your Honor. It is just Ms. Rivas and my five clients. There isn’t a hand! This is a sad day for our court system.
JUDGE: Order! Order! Bailiff, please remove all spectators from the gallery. Counsels, a word. Please approach the bench off the record.
(Off the record) 9:59 a.m.
(Back on record) 10:18 a.m.
JUDGE: Counsel, are we clear? You are to refer to each citizen by their legal name.
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: Understood, sir.
JUDGE: I seriously considered dismissing the case. But I had already granted your request yesterday to cross-examine one of the defendants.
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: Thank you, Your Honor.
JUDGE: Which one will it be?
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: The index finger.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Unbelievable!
JUDGE: Last warning, Counsel.
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: My apologies. Ah, I’d like to call Robert Kerber, Your Honor.
JUDGE: Very well. Mr. Kerber, please proceed to the stand.
BAILIFF: Please remain standing. Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God, under the pains and penalties of perjury?
MR. KERBER: I do.
BAILIFF: You may sit now.
JUDGE: You may cross-examine, Counsel.
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: Mr. Kerber, what do you do for a living?
MR. KERBER: I’m a teller at the Corpusville National Bank.
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: Full-time?
MR. KERBER: Yes, sir. Forty hours per week.
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: What did you do before working at Corpusville National Bank?
MR. KERBER: I was a full-time student at the community college, sir.
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: And before that?
MR. KERBER: I was in high school, sir.
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: And before that?
MR. KERBER: Ah…
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: Never mind. When exactly did you start this persona of yours?
MR. KERBER: I…don’t understand the question.
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: When did you begin this identity of Robert Kerber?
MR. KERBER: Ah… I’m not sure… When I was born, maybe?
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: And what were you before that—
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: —Objection, Your Honor!
JUDGE: Counsel, where exactly are you going with this line of questioning?
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: It will become self-evident soon, Your Honor.
JUDGE: It is not apparent at all, Counsel.
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY: It will show that prior to his current, individual identity, the Index Finger was part of the Hand. The Hand disappeared when Mr. Kerber and the other fingers ceased to be their natural self and—
JUDGE: That’s quite enough, Counsel! The case is dismissed. You should be ashamed. This court is adjourned. There is no such thing as a hand.
BAILIFF: All rise! 10:39 a.m.
End of transcript.