Mark A. Fisher
Doorknobs Winner

It was just another sweltering Tennessee July. If it weren’t for the trial, folks would be just fanning themselves, drinking iced sweet tea and nickel cokes like any other day. But monkeys and Northerners had come to Dayton and folks were looking. And they laughed. They’d come out to stare at the bumpkins that hallowed ignorance. Not the kind of publicity the city boosters sought when they decided to go down that path.

The crowds grew so large that their weight cracked the floor of the courtroom enclosing the trial, so they had to move outdoors. Of that multitude, there wasn’t anyone that expected him to win. He’d broken the law. Maybe. He’d said he’d done it, made his confession as it were. Even though no witnesses could swear they actually saw him do it. Guilty he had to be. It really was that cut and dry.

Still nobody was really there for him. They came there for the show. Orators made it a spectacle.  They made their grand speeches, talking all around each other. Cheered on by mobs that support their own tin-pot pope and hated the other.

And there at the end, with only speeches and no real evidence, Judge Raulston read the verdict, “Guilty”. He laid down the hefty fine of a hundred dollars. And everyone moved on. Dayton drowsily fell back to sleep.

Despite all the hoopla eventually John Scopes’ conviction was overturned. On a technicality.

First published: November 2018
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