Alternative justice

This piece was written for the Six Sentence story challenge, with the prompt word of ‘alternative’.

The magistrate for the far-flung region of Beyond The Black Stump, Joseph ‘Cocker’ Mamie was known for dispensing the kind of judgements that bordered on frontier-style but were always begrudgingly accepted by its citizens as justice, even if a little bit rough and ready.

So when Walter (Wally) Numbskull (playing the part of Cassius) allegedly stabbed Kevin (Big Kev) Knucklehead (playing Julius Caesar) with a real knife during the Scrubby Creek Shakespearean Theatre Group’s latest production, justice had to be done, even if the size and depth of the injury to Big Kev’s beer gut was largely negligible.

When Wally appeared before ‘Cocker’, he asked Wally if he had anything to say in his defence, which was akin to asking an alcoholic if he’d like another beer and Wally cheerfully explained the circumstances leading up to this charge of ‘causing grievous bodily harm’.

‘Yer ‘Onner,  when me and Big Kev got these parts in the play, we agreed that he’d wear a couple of sheepskins around his guts during his performance, so the stabbing scene would look more fair dinkum* but on the night he forgets to wear the padding, doesn’t he, and here I am accused of a heinous offence.’

‘Cocker’ paused for a moment before saying “Wally, you’re obviously technically guilty as charged but in light of the fact that both you and the complainant are clearly mentally incapable, I’m going to take an alternative route and put you on a Good Behaviour Bond, on condition that you shout* the bar at the pub until 6pm this evening. Court dismissed and mine’s a single malt whisky.’’

Australian slang decoder

* Fair dinkum – true, real

*Shout – buy a drink for another person or a group. Similar to a round in other cultures.

33 thoughts on “Alternative justice

    • Thanks, Susan. For your friend’s edification (and education). An extract from this link ‘This concept is so entrenched in the Australian culture, that a tourist (especially an American one) should ignore it at their peril! Now while it may appear to foreigners that Australians are the most generous hosts on earth, and will indeed rush to shout you a beer if you are new in town, there is no species of human lower in the Australian culture than the bludger. A bludger (or bludging bastard, if you will), is someone who bludges off you (in this case, they bludge beer). That is, they are more than happy to drink your shouts, but they fail to reciprocate when it is their turn. Let there be no confusion here: hell hath no fury like an Australian whose shout ethic has been violated. One of the authors was burned several times in North America when the shouting ethic was not reciprocated, and not only was he very very pissed off, but the story was met with shocked disbelief back home (“The bastards!”).’

      Yes, there are many places in brief lockdown here now, due to the rapidly spreading Delta variant of Covid and the abysmally slow roll-out of vaccines but much of this stems from complacency driven by our early national lockdown at the beginning keeping the spread minimal when compared to the US, UK etc. We have only had 30,000 cases and only 900 deaths, with the vast majority aged 70+.


      • Thanks for the information! My former day care charge who became a friend is studying to be a veterinarian and in his third year in Australia. By now, he must know the shouting custom. He’ll be amazed that I know. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

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