The Graduation Ruling

No one ever suspects that the suspect was never even suspected in the first place.


Some things are simply set in stone. Cliffs, boulders, a lot of fossils, Mount Rushmore, utility poles in Ontario and other rocky places, very cool houses built into the earth that no one has ever actually seen but there are tons of pictures of on the internet, Han Solo for a short period of time, the sword from "The Sword in the Stone," and many, many more. Some even say that we all came from stone, though those some are very wrong. Perhaps the Stone Temple Pilots come from stone, even though I am pretty sure they are from San Diego. I've never been to San Diego but I'd love to go someday. It sounds like a lovely place. I like the movie "Anchorman" a lot but act like I don't because it's so over quoted. You know what they say, stones neither love nor hate, they simply stone.

So you can imagine how shocked I was when the judge ruled that I was guilty.

"I rule that you are guilty!" said the judge. He wasn't that old but had long grey hair neatly curled and aligned in rows.

"I have two questions, your honor," I said, standing from the heavy mahogany desk where my defense papers were spread out before me.

"I'll allow them," said the judge. He also had a neat little red bow in the back of his hair.

"First, and I think I speak for everyone when I ask this, is that really your hair or is it an old timey wig?"

The audience in the courtroom came alive with chatter and gossip.

The judge gaveled. "Quiet, please!" The audience settled down. "Yes, it is a wig. I like the way it looks."

"It looks great, honestly," I said. "It's very judgey, in a good way."

"Thank you," said the judge. "You know what, you're not such a bad guy after all. I find that you are... Not guilty!"

The audience hooped and hollered. A flock of graduation hats went into the air.

"Rockton High Class of 2002, we're gonna do great things!" said the judge, throwing his graduation hat into the air, too.

"I love you, The Honorable Judge Robert Connors!" said Tammy Anderson, captain cheerleader and prom queen.

Judge Connors smiled and pointed his gavel at Tammy. "And I find you guilty of being loved by me!" He banged his gavel again. "Case dismissed!" He flung his gavel over his shoulder and got down from his judge's stand, walking all the way off stage.

I heard one of those stock cat-yelling noises as the gavel came down somewhere out of sight behind the stage. That's always so, so funny.

Parents and grandparents applauded and came to a standing ovation. Even Coach Johnson, who we all know is a very unemotional, mean old man. Coach Johnson walked to Skip, whose arm was still in a sling even though the big game was last fall. He put his hand on Skip's uninjured-side shoulder. "I'm proud of you, Skip." Coach handed Skip a present. It was brown, kind of round, and ovular. Whoops, I mean oval-shaped! But what was it!?!?

Skip looked down at Coach Johnson's gift. It was a football! A football! Did any of you guess it was a football?


Very good!

(Studio audience applauds)

"What's this, coach?" asked Skip.

"It's a football, dumbass!" said Coach. He's such a grump!

"No, I mean what for?" asked Skip. Skip was going to play football at North Central Eastern West Catholic State College Tech University next year. He was originally going to play at Notre Dame, but after the injury they wouldn't take him.

"It's the game ball, Skip. You're my MVP."

Skip looked at the ball and started crying. "I hate your guts, coach. You ruined my shot at Notre Dame by overplaying me, which turned into this very broken arm. Also, you do nothing but berate us and make us very ashamed of our bodies. You are a horrible coach and a horrible human being."

"But Skip, you're my MVP!" said Coach.

"Just shut up you sad man. I never want to see you again," said Skip. He rolled up his diploma, lifted his head toward the sky, and joined the procession of graduates as we walked down the aisle.

A graduation hat came down and landed right on Coach Johnson's bald head. It looked so funny and is significant because Coach himself never graduated. That's why he's such a mean, horrible person constantly putting down young athletes!

If parents really loved their kids, they'd stop them from putting up with bad sports situations. I mean, it's 2015 for Pete's sake how can we all still excuse overtraining and all of this concussion nonsense? It's the human brain we're talking about here. It's the most incredible thing in this entire world capable of such amazing things. How can we forsake and endanger it just for the glory of a silly game? It makes me sad for the future. How are we ever going to get any farther as a species and global community if we can't accept the facts now?

As I walked among my fellow graduates, smiling as big as I possibly could, that last bit about "if parents really loved their kids" made me sad. My parents would have loved to see me today. If only those awful, awful owls didn't kill my Papa and select my Mama for their Owl Queen. "I hate you owls," I said out loud, trying to hold back tears. "I hate you, I hate all of you!"

A feathery wing wrapped around my shoulder. I looked over. It was Kirby the Burrowing Owl. He was one of my best friends. "Come on, Mac. You don't mean that."

"You're right. I'm sorry, Kirby." I sniffled and tried to calm my breathing more. The back of my throat was sore from not crying. It's kind of cool that that happens, if you think about it. If you don't think about it it's not that cool, though. Whatever.

"No harm done, friend. It's not like I give a hoot!" said Kirby. Kirby was wearing a red baseball cap sideways. He's very unique.

I laughed. I wish I had a cool hat or some other sort of trademark besides just being the smallest man in the world.

"And don't forget," said Kirby, as he put in a huge pinch of pink Big League Chew gum. He's cool. "You still have family." He smiled and pointed his index feather at the crowd. It's pretty gross when he smiles because even though Kirby is an owl and has a beak, he for some reason has lips, too. Yuck.

I looked where he was pointing. There they were! My otter clan that adopted me the day my parents died. They were all so cool. In comparison, they were actually much cooler than Kirby. It doesn't matter, no one keeps tabs of any of their high school friends, anyway.

"I guess you're just going to leave me here all by my lonesome, Mac," said Maddie Flipstein from my other side in line. Maddie Flipstein was one of the prettiest girls in school. I'm not going to describe her in prose that well, so just imagine that she looks like Penelope Cruz. She doesn't, not even close, but it works fine here. It's not like you're ever going to meet any of these people, anyway.

"Yes, I am going to leave you," I said.

"Good, this was a test," said Maddie. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a black leather wallet. She flipped it open, flashing a golden badge. "I'm an undercover officer here, have been all along."

"I knew it!" I said. I didn't really know it, but it's best to try and impress undercover cops when they reveal themselves. Trust me, just trust me.

"The judge was never going to convict you, anyway," she said. Imagine if Penelope Cruz was actually an undercover police officer. She very well could be, imagine how much people wouldn't suspect that. Holy crap, maybe Penelope Cruz is an undercover police officer!

"What? You mean it?"

Penelope Cruz nodded. She was eating some Kraft Jet-Puffed Miniature Marshmallows. I reached for one but she slapped my hand away.

"But I want one!" I said.

"I do mean it," said Maddie, moving past my admittedly childish jest. BTW it was Maddie who nodded and was eating the Kraft Jet-Puffed Miniature Marshmallows. I said Penelope Cruz because now I can't get my mind off the possibility of Penelope Cruz being an undercover police officer. How stupid is that!? "Judge Connors was supposed to take you into custody before telling you all this, but you got him all excited by complementing his hideous wig," she said. "The real perpetrator was going to unveil himself when he saw you were guilty, but now we have this whole graduation ceremony ordeal on her hands." Maddie sipped coffee now, because we all only write cop cliches instead of allowing them to be normal, real characters.

"Is it Coach Johnson?" I asked.

"No," said Maddie. "He's an asshole, but he's innocent." Maddie was painting with pastels. Why not, she can have interests outside of work.

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Oh, sorry. Yeah, actually you're right." Then Penelope Flipstein arrested Coach Johnson, and all was well.

We were finally out of the auditorium, officially done with high school. The air seemed fresher, freer than normal.

"Hey, what was your second question going to be?" asked Judge Connors. He was eating a slice of chocolate chip cookie pie. Chocolate chip cookie pie is so good but no one ever has it anymore. It makes me miss the 90s.

"I was going to ask you what I was guilty for in the first place," I said. I was wearing a red driver's cap but I took it off. It didn't look as cool on me as I thought it would.

"Guilty of being such a handsome young man!" said Judge Connors. Everyone laughed and laughed and laughed. I finally got a piece of cookie pie. Judge Connors' mom saved me a piece. It was warm and gooey, just like I remembered. What a nice lady.


Skip went on to be the starting quarterback for North Central Eastern West Catholic State College Tech University. After a great freshman season, he tried to transfer to Notre Dame. They rejected him. Turns out he was never good enough to play there in the first place.

Coach Johnson was sentenced to ten years in a state prison for operating a meth lab. It was a really serious crime and he's legitimately a bad person.

Tammy Anderson and Judge Robert Connors are happily married in Duluth, Minnesota. They have fourteen children so it's very good that Robert Connors is a very successful judge so he can support his family.

Kirby is an owl and even though we were close in high school I now begrudge him for being a filthy owl.

My otter family is going very well. They still live in that one elaborate den in the river.

Penelope Cruz can be seen in many different films. According to IMDb, she's going to be in "Zoolander 2" in 2016.


I'm sure there's something wise to be written about being innocent until proven guilty or some related pun. There's been a lot of controversial legal issues in the last year so I'm not going to make a sentimental or deep closing here.


Just because some things are set in stone doesn't mean you can't have your cake and eat it too. Whatever, that's good enough.