'Ah yes! Look at this! If it isn't my old friend Sultan,' Achmed said as he greeted the pair of them. 'And who is this that you are dragging around on that leash? Can it be my runaway slave? Or were you perhaps looking for me just to return 'my property'?'
'Your property? Are you insane? He is mine. I purchased him from you, legally. I have a bill of sale signed by you and filed with the court, stating that you sold him to me.'
'A forgery no doubt.'
'Don't give me that camel shit. You know better than that.' Sultan said.
'I have heard that since your uncle passed away, you have taken over his business and are running it into the ground. Why, after all this time are you now telling me that, after almost killing this poor boy and selling him to me; you now want him back? Is it that the business is failing and that perhaps you want an additional means of earning a few dollars?'
'I not only demand that you return him to me, but I want the money he has earned for you turned over to me also!'
'Now I'm sure you are crazy! You have got to be joking! Just because you now own a business does not mean that you have elevated yourself up to the status of a human being. You always have been and still are gutter shit and if you don't clear the way for your betters, I will flush you down the nearest sewer,' Sultan said angrily as he pushed him aside. ''Why, just the very thought that such a fine specimen as my slave should even have been touched by one such as you makes me sick.'
With that he pushed Achmed out of their way and proceeded to continue to shop. After he had finished his purchases and had arranged to have them delivered, both he and Dexter returned to the brothel.
'Do you think he will be able to get me back?' Dexter asked. 'I won't have to go back to that filthy bastard - will I?'
'Don't even let that thought enter your head. By our laws you belong to me. The papers were signed and filed with the proper authorities. It is all legal.'
'But what if he takes you into court?'
'I have his written statement that he sold you to me for cash. That paper should hold up in any court of law. If need be, I can get 10 people to testify that he not only sold you to me, but that he helped load you into my van.'
'Were there any such persons?'
'Don't ask foolish questions. For the right price I can even get the Judge, the Chief of Police and the doctor to testify to this,' Sultan laughed. 'No one will believe him when I get finished with him. He will be lucky if he has that little store once I counter-sue him. He may make all kinds of noise, but he knows he cannot even get his 'day in court'. He will be the laughing stock of the town.'
As soon as they got back to the brothel, Sultan called his lawyer and asked him to come to his office. The two of them sat down and Sultan filled him in on what had happened in the Bazaar. He showed him the 'Bill of Sale' and the Doctor's bill.
'The Bill of Sale is all we should need. What are you showing me the doctor's bill for?' asked the lawyer. 'It proves nothing really.'
'It proves that Achmed abused Dexter. It shows that Achmed was a violent owner and my purchase of him saved his life. Once Dexter became well, I offered him a job in my establishment, which he accepted.'
'The court is not interested in Dexter's health - only his status. Is he free or property? Are you saying that you purchased him and then offered him his freedom and he decided to work for you?'
'Well, not in so many words. I told him that by our laws he now belonged to me and that if he consented to work for me, He might be able to earn his freedom.'
'Again, I must tell you that the court is only interested in Dexter's status. As long as you have that Bill of Sale, there is nothing this shop owner can do about it. I would like to speak to this Dexter and hear what he has to say about it.'
'Does this mean that you will be his lawyer also?'
'Slaves, as you are well aware, do not have legal rights... so they need no lawyers. If he were your slave, then as your property, he would be covered in our legal agreement. I am bound to represent and provide legal assistance to you and your property. Now let's call Dexter in.'
Dexter was summoned and he came into the office.
'Dexter, please sit down and answer the lawyer's questions as best you can.'
'I want you to tell me, as best you can, as to how you came into Sultan's possession.'
'Well as best I can recall it... ' He told him about being raped by Achmed.
After he had finished the lawyer said, 'And you mean to tell me that you remember that Achmed called Sultan and told him he wanted to sell you to him? You recall Achmed and Sultan bargaining with and another over your price. And that they agreed and Achmed signed a Bill of Sale?'
'Yes, I remember that part rather well. I remember wondering what kind of a nut factory I had fallen into. And then I remember after they had agreed on the price, Achmed injecting me with a sedative and the two of them rolling me into a rug and Achmed helping Sultan to load me into his van.'
'So you remember all that?'
'Yes, until they both loaded me into the van I was awake, but after that I must have passed out. Later when I came to, I had memory loss for a few days. Then it all came back.'
'So you did not submit to Achmed willingly? He overpowered you and as in a war or raid he claimed you as booty? You did not become his slave by your own free will.'
'Hell no! That bastard just drugged me and raped me and sold me to Sultan.'
'Well in the old days that would have been considered a legitimate means of enslaving a non-believer. Even though we say we do not recognize slavery today, we all know that we turn our eyes away from it. Still today it is recognized in religious law. You see the law is that all non-believers deserve and should be enslaved and offered encouragement to convert to the one true religion. This was the word of the prophet and cannot be changed no matter what some court of men may say. That is what this community believes and what our court will uphold. If Sultan thought that you were Achmed's slave and that he wanted to sell you to him then the sale is final. Do you think Sultan believed that?'
'I think so. Like I said, I was drugged and it was fuzzy.'
'Ok. You can go now. Just for my own peace of mind, if given the choice, would you willingly go back to Achmed, or stay with Sultan?'
'I would like my freedom!'
'I can not offer you that, nor can the court. The court is not interested in freeing anyone. Only the one that owns you has that right. It is too complicated to explain it to you as you are unfamiliar with our laws but Achmed took possession of you by means of force. That is the usual means of enslavement. There are few people who become slaves voluntarily. Once enslaved you became his property. He then sold you to Sultan. It is up to him to either free you or continue to enslave you. He has offered you a chance to free yourself by working for him and it looks as if you are taking it. You understand that if you went back to Achmed, or if the court were to send you back to him, you would be a slave for life with no chance for freedom. There is no other way for you to become free. You must remain with Sultan.'
'What if I were to testify as to how Achmed illegally made....'
'Stop right there. Slaves testify in court? That will never happen. A slave is never allowed to testify in court. The words of slaves have no legal validity in our courts. What kind of ridiculous situation would allow a slave to determine his status? That would be like giving the right of jury nullification to a convicted muderer. You may go now.'
After Dexter left the room the lawyer said, 'I'm going over to talk to Achmed and see if we can work something out. The only problem I can see is that you did not have a witness to the signing. However, you really did not need one since you filed it with the court. Since, at that time he was given the required time to protest the legality of the papers - he really has no legal claim now. Your Bill of Sale is legal and since you did register it and he was given notification of your purchase but never contested it, the court will have to recognize your ownership. The only thing he can do now is to cause a few problems. There are other ways of putting an end to this camel shit and perhaps we can end it without too much of a stink.'
'You work it from your end. I have a few ideas of my own.'
'Just watch yourself. Nothing illegal now. I don't want to have to defend you for murder,' the lawyer admonished him strongly.
'I would not dirty my hands with his blood. I was just thinking that the Judge might just like to spend some time with Dexter one of these nights. Let us say as a guest of my house.'
'Yes,' laughed the lawyer, 'the time honored custom of persuasion, and I thought only us Arabs were that devious. I did not think you Sudanese were so cunning. One could try bribery; among us it is an old respected means of settling problems. But will our learned Judge accept a bribe.'
'The Judge comes from old Bedouin stock and you know what they say about the desert people,' Sultan smiled.
'They say many things!' laughed the lawyer. 'Most of them true. Which saying are you referring to?'
'There is an age old saying among the Bedouin: 'A goat for use, a girl for enjoyment, but a boy for ecstasy,' said Sultan. 'And I have just the boy for him.'
'Now that's plain downright devious bribery,' he smiled. 'Something that we in the legal profession might come up with. I'm not going to remember that you said that, but after seeing Dexter myself, I just might want to sample his charms myself.'
'Win this case and I'll see what I can do for you!'
Sultan, after calling and making an appointment to meet the Judge in his home late in the evening, went there and was greeted warmly. 'It is good to see you again my old friend. It has been a long time.' The Judge said as he ushered him into his study.
'Yes, I can remember the many times you used my services but since your marriage you seem to have lost an appetite for the better things in life. I hope it was not that you lost your taste for my delicious tidbits.'
'Lost my taste? Are you out of your mind? I am Bedouin and we never forget. However, since my marriage, the wife has me under her thumb and I have to watch my expenses. From what I hear, the pay of a Judge would not go far in your establishment these days. I hear all kinds of rumors of 1000-dollar fees. Besides you know how some people are now-a-days, it would not look right if I were seen in your establishment.'
'We could always arrange to have one of our younger men meet you in a place that was less public, and as for the fee, I'm sure that we could work something out.'
'That is most kind of you and to tell the truth, I do miss the 'old days'. Now tell me the real reason you are here.'
'Well, Judge, I did come to ask your opinion on a legal matter. I asked my Lawyer, but he was a bit too sure for my taste.'
'Lawyers tend to be that way. They tend to simplify things in order to get money from you. Will this matter come up before my court?'
'Yes sir and that's why I would like your opinion on this before I go into the expense of a court trial,' Sultan said.
'Well if you wish to ask my legal opinion on a general point of law.... It might be considered ethical.'
'Can you tell me if a certain paper is a legal document?'
'Only in general terms.'
'If a Bill of Sale is signed by both parties and one party duly files that document with county clerk, is it legal even if there was no witness to the signing?'
'Generally speaking, it is the clerk's duty to notify both parties that the document has been registered and unless there is a written protest within 14 days, such a document is binding on both parties,' he concluded. 'That's all I can say at this time. That's what your lawyer should have told you.'
'Thank you, Judge. That is what he told me and the clerk did do that, but I just wanted to be sure,' Sultan said. 'Do I owe you anything for this legal opinion?'
'Not a cent. It would not be proper for me to charge for such basic knowledge that any first year law student would know.' And in a whispered voice he continued, 'now to get back to our earlier conversation about my taste buds and how I can satisfy them.'
'I hear that you have purchased a vacation home on the lake last year.'
'Yes it is more of a fishing lodge then a home. You know how I love to go fishing. Perhaps you would like to come visit some weekend and do a little fishing. It is good to get away from town and be off by myself and not have to worry about my wife interrupting my solitude. I love to sit by the fireplace and remember old times. Why not come and perhaps we can even do a little fishing? It will do us both some good.'
'Ohhh you paint such a lovely picture and perhaps after this case is settled I will take you up on the offer,' said Sultan. 'Perhaps I might even bring one or two companions to help us take the chill out of the evening air. You know some warm bodies to...'
'Yes, that's just what I had in mind.'
'Two great minds DO think alike,' Sultan laughed, as he got up extended his hand and shook the Judge's hand in farewell.'
'Take care of yourself, my old friend. Don't let that little shopkeeping bastard worry you - you have nothing to fear from him.'
Sultan smiled as he left the Judge's house and walked home. Both he and the Judge had an understanding and he knew that it would hold as he had not even mentioned Achmed in their conversation..........
To be continued