Wednesday, September 20, 2017

House of Leaves: Ensuring the Medium Endures

House of Leaves is a novel by Mark Z. Danielewski, which includes poetry of various formats, including sonnets, narrative poems, and concrete/shape prose. House of Leaves purports to be an attempt by a third party to assemble an unfinished dissertation by a man known only as “ZampanĂ²” on a film, called “The Navidson Record.” The film is told to the reader immediately as being fictional, as the assembler (who goes by the name Johnny Truant) can find no evidence of its existence. However, as Danielewski quickly makes clear-- there is reason to doubt this. This begins Danielewski’s journey to not only provide a world that’s dark and mystic, but to question the very acting of writing/reading a book. The first clear example of this, can be found in the story itself.
The reader is presented with a discussion about a film they cannot see. This is the first clear statement by Danielewski on the power of writing. He seeks to create images of such vivid quality and authentic tone, that they transcend the page and take root in the mind as clear as if one had seen “The Navidson Record” first-hand. This is not only a bold move by Danielewski to question medium, it serves as a testament to the power of literature itself. Danielewski seeks not to just create something that questions the purpose of writing, but to create something that could only exist as written word. House of Leaves is a novel that must be read by someone-- it cannot be read to someone. Even the simple act of making sure even instance of the word “house” is in blue, and the typewriter-style font used by Johnny Truant in his footnote journals, create a feeling of mystique and intrigue, that could never be expressed in words alone. His words must be not just read, but seen. The greatest asset that Danielewski has at his disposal towards this goal is his disorienting use of formatting.
The first time this occurs, it is as a footnote, floating in the middle of the page, in a blue-bordered box. At first, it would seem to be a visual inspired by the discussion on that same page of the endless corridors and passageways of the “The Navidson Record’s” dark maze. However, as one turns the page, it becomes clear-- it is a window. One can tell this is a window, because the writing seen on the previous page is still visible, albeit backwards-- creating the illusion of reading words written on a clear pane of glass. The footnotes have also transformed in this section, becoming stairs that lead down on the far side of the left page, and up on the far side of the right page. These new fixtures also serves to condense the room the text has on the page, creating the narrow passages discussed earlier. Danielewski has taken the reader into a very different “house,” one where the leaves are the very pages being read (Danielewski 119-121.)
There are countless examples of this style of formatting throughout the text each time serving the same two purposes-- to evoke the dark passages and shifting walls of the maze, and create a text that defies conversion. Danielewski is openly rebelling against the age of audio-books and film adaptations, and strives to create a format that can exist only in the written form. Not only does he succeed, but Danielewski helps remind the reader that the most satisfying experience one has with media, is when it is visceral and requires participation of the audience. This doesn’t just have to be through a complex narrative, but can be as simple as having to turn a page upside down to read it, or having to translate a poem from French into English. House of Leaves is a creature that must be wrestled with, one that at times seems to resist being read-- but, in actuality, is challenging the reader to press forward, to conquer it.
Overall, House of Leaves serves as a testament to the enduring quality of literature. It can often seem burdensome to read what can be just as easily be listened to, or even watched. However, there is a quality to literature that lets it endure the technological progress of media as a whole. Danielewski helps remind us of this, by creating a world that explores film, photography, and sound-- without ever needing them.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Bystander [WIP]

The news is rarely good lately. So in that sense, it was typical of any time I’ve watched the news in the last few years. Every once in awhile however, you hear about something that takes you by surprise-- not completely though. After all, people are capable of nearly anything, and that’s usually in a negative sense. This was no exception.
Some guy drove through a park, mowed down nearly a dozen people, killed a kid-- just an honestly dreadful thing to hear about, especially right at the start of your day. Afterwards he drove right to the police station and turned himself in. It seemed pretty clear the guy was demented, or just a psychopath. But, the news never said which. That was the strange thing about it. They interviewed witnesses to the attack, had a few reports on the families who lost someone, but within just a few days after this happened I didn’t hear anything more about it on the news.
So, I search it up online, and I find out that he’s been convicted after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide. Sentenced to life. Now it couldn’t have been more than a few weeks since I had first heard about this, and that seemed pretty fast to go from arrest to conviction-- and I was right. I looked it up, and it usually takes anywhere from three months to usually a year to get a felony conviction, usually on the six months or higher end if it’s an especially violent crime. So I wanted to know what the story was with this case, and more importantly I wanted to know why he did this.
I tried to look up the electronic case file, but you have to register, and wait a week for them to mail you your account credentials. I had nearly forgotten about it by the time they arrived, and it took me another few days to finally get around to looking up the case file. None of the news stories had the guy’s name, so I was forced to just manually search through my county’s recent felony cases. It took awhile, but I eventually found it-- the case of multiple vehicular homicides for one “John Daily.” There was only one problem-- there was no court transcript. Apparently, there’s only a court transcript if one of the parties applies for one, or the court itself applies for one. Neither of which occured. So all I had learned was the guy’s name. Not his reason for committing the crime, or age, or even what he looked like.
For a lot of people, they’d probably give up right about there. I mean, I had already given a lot of effort to finding out the story of someone who most likely didn’t deserve an audience to begin with. But, I’m fairly stubborn. Obsessive is probably more accurate, but I’ll stick with stubborn. So, I considered what I could do to find out anything substantial. It was a long shot, but I decided to see what some of credentials it takes to interview an inmate. It turns out not that much.
I had to apply two weeks ahead, provide a description of my “freelance project” the interview was a part of, along with including a sample of a previous similar work. Thankfully, I had interviewed someone a few years ago for a college project, and had kept the paper that included said interview. I just mailed an excerpt of that, along with a spur-of-the-moment vague description of another similar paper, and hoped that was enough to get an interview.
Even though I had spent a decent amount of time on all of this, I was still surprised when I saw a letter from the state’s department of corrections. They had approved my request for interview, and a few phone calls later, I had a timeslot to come to the prison and meet with John Daily.
...

[TO BE CONTINUED]

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Art.



“the conscious use of skill and creative imagination
especially in the production of aesthetic objects,”
["Art." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 30 Aug. 2017]


It is decidedly not beautiful. That’s your first impression of it. You notice most people are standing farther away from it than you. You go and stand with them. Is it better from afar? Nope. Still ugly. Well, not ugly. Just... You can’t find the word. What’s good about it? It’s... vibrant. Yeah, that’s probably the best thing you could say about it. The person next to you must have read your expression.


“It’s... unpleasant isn’t it?”


That’s the word you were looking for.


“Yeah.”


They nod, looking back at it.


“There’s something about it though, right?”


They’re right, there is something about it.


“Uh-huh.”


They walk away, along with the rest of the tour group. You stay, transfixed there. That unnamed something keeping you there. You think back to what the guide said.


This is a piece we’ve recently acquired. It was recovered intact from a bombed apartment building. The artist’s identity, as well as the piece’s name-- are unknown.


The last remnant of a forgotten artist. It seems a fitting story for what you’re looking at. It’s not that bad, not really. Now that you’ve had time to study it. Still not good, but decidedly not bad either. It’s... interesting. How would you describe it though? Hectic. There’s a word for it. That’s not what makes it so striking though. You can feel it like a tickle at the back of your head. There’s something you’re seeing, but not processing.
You try unfocusing your vision, looking past it. It doesn’t help. You try going up close to it, looking over the wavy texture of the paint on the canvas. That doesn’t help either. You have the distinct feeling it’s not just random, not purely chaos for the sake of it. There were other pieces you saw that felt that way, but not this one. You can sense an order to it. You stand where you were originally. You stare. You sigh. You keep staring. You're almost ready to give up-- but that’s when you see it. Fire.
It’s so clear now. The colors are what threw you off, intertwining in an overwhelming mix of black and red. Now it’s obvious. There’s fire-- and smoke. Thick and choking. Now that you see it, it’s nearly pouring out over the walls of the gallery. It’s bright and flickering, and... hot. Too hot. Scalding. Now you see it-- that something you were looking for. You wish you didn’t. Faces. Making up the entire background. Huddled faces, screaming in pain.
Their skin run a gamut of nauseating shades, from pale and bloody to burnt and black. You nearly retch in disgust. You keep seeing more and more faces. Before it was just swimming colors, but now-- each moment there you see another one between the licking flames. They boil and melt, scream and cry, plead and curse-- you feel the heat against your face, as though any moment it might singe your hair. You try to look away, but you can’t-- because you see something else.
It’s sitting past the flames and the faces. You catch glimpses of its eyes gleaming between the licks of flames and pillars of smoke. Teeth. That’s what those errant spots of white are. The fangs of some perched thing sitting beyond the landscape. Watching the scene. Uncaring-- no, that's not right. Dispassionate. You can’t find it’s face unobscured in the havoc, but what first struck you as evil seems to be closer to... solemn. Not the architect to the mayhem, just a powerless observer.
Now you’re looking at the whole scene. The piece has become so vivid, you swear you can hear it. A miserable muffled wail from beyond the paint and cloth. There’s a movement to the shapes. A kind of strange, rhythmic pulsation living within the curves and lines. A heart beat. You feel like you’re watching something alive-- watching it twitch and squirm. You feel yourself drawn towards it.
You want to reach out and touch the flames. Just for a single, blissful moment. You want to live in the vivid color and lucid emotion. You want to writhe against the bright reds and the deep blacks. You want to scream and choke and cry and--


“Hey.”
You start suddenly as a hand touches your shoulder. You look back.


“I think I’m ready to head out, how about you?”


You look at the piece again. A mish-mash of random shapes and ugly colors.


“...Yeah. I’m good. Let’s go.”


...


You sit in the car, staring out the window. You watch the gray clouds as they slowly drift across the dusk sky.


“Did you find anything interesting this time?”

You shake your head, without looking back

“I’m not sure I get even most of that stuff. Do you?”


You don’t answer. You're looking deeper into the clouds. Watching them as they begin to twist and turn. You hear a low, mournful wailing in the distance. The clouds grow darker. You feel a sudden heat against your face. You see a flicker of red glowing from beyond the blackened clouds.

You smell smoke.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Dreams

When you first wake up from a vivid dream, there is a moment in which you don’t realize you’re no longer there. The world around you feels ethereal and disconnected. All the events from that realm feel as authentic as any experience you’ve ever had. In the next few seconds you blend back into reality, and the greater details of the dream are forgotten by the time you’re out of the bed. However, in those first waking moments... your dreams are still real.
...
You are walking through an endless desert. You feel scalding wind and streams of sand tear at your skin. You look down-- your body is torn and tattered like a paper doll. You feel your feet leave the ground as you’re whisked away by the burning tempest. You wake up, grasping at your body, and running your hands down it-- checking for those holes. The skin feels hot, but there are no holes.
...
There is a sense of profound solace when you reconnect to the real world.
...
Numbing cold. An intense pressure. You are floating deep underwater, the surface a slight glimmer far above. You try to swim to the surface, but never seem to get closer. Your lungs are going to burst. You try to scream, but only bubbles leave your throat. As you wake up you feel your shirt-- it’s wet. You nearly yell out, until you realize it’s not water. Just sweat. You almost laugh. Almost.
...
A wash of relief as the chaos of the dream melts away into the back of your mind.
...
There’s been an accident on the highway. A mangle of steel, fire, and fumes. You reach into your pocket and pull out your phone. You try to dial 911, but keeping dialing the wrong numbers. A scream from the wreckage. An explosion. A piece of metal flies towards you. A sharp pain in your head as you fall to the ground. You sit up. You’re sitting in bed. The pain is dull, but still present. You look for your phone on the bedside table. It’s not there. It’s on the floor.
...
Often, you wish that you could stay in those moments for just a few minutes longer.
...
A cool breeze carries the scent of the ocean’s spray. The water calmly laps against the shore. The sun casts golden light, that warms your skin. A flock of seagulls sound off in the distance. You let out a content sigh as you lay back. You watch the palms sway silently in rhythm to the dance of the wind. The cries of the gulls grow louder, and louder. You look up to see them flying in erratic circles above. Their shrieks continue to grow, until they coalesce into a shrill siren-- you jolt up. You look at the clock. You’re late.
...
Less often, you never want to experience them again.
...
You’re running. Not sure from what, or where to. You just know that you can’t stop-- no what matter. So you just keep running. You turn around to try and see it. You never see it fully, just incomprehensible shadows. You trip. It happens so fast you can’t even scream-- just brace for the inevitable end. You look up. Dawn is creeping in through the blinds. You check the time. You don’t have to wake up for another two hours. You decide to stay up anyway.
...
However, it’s not just nightmares that you want to escape from.
...
You’re sitting in a cafe. You see someone you recognize walk through the door.  It’s an old friend. You lost touch with them many years ago. You smile. They smile back. You talk. You laugh. You promise to meet again. As they start to leave you realize you forgot their name. You reach for your phone so you can add their number-- but it’s not a phone. It’s a clock. You set it down on the bedside table. You try to remember who that long lost friend was. You can’t.
...
Sometimes a dream can be worse than a nightmare.
...

You are lying in bed. You know you should get up, but just want to remain there a few moments longer. You turn over, and embrace the warm body beside you. You feel the warmth glowing from their quietly breathing form. You close your eyes, feeling their heat radiate into you. You reach for their hand-- but touch only sheets, frigid with morning chill. You sit up, and look over. They’re gone. Not gone. Never there. You lay back. The room is silent. You feel cold.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Intended Use

The heat from the stage lights beat down on a man as he scrutinizes a series of notecards that he reads, and rereads as he stands anxiously on the stage. He peers over the cards to look at the three judges that sit before him. One absent-mindedly scrolls through their phone, another checks a hand mirror to make sure the makeup department didn’t miss anything, while the last one makes eye-contact with the man, and gives a big smile and a thumbs-up. He manages a quick smile and nod, before returning to the cards. Suddenly a voice shouts from off-stage;
“Sixty seconds people!”
The man tucks the cards hastily into his pocket as he turns his attention to triple-checking a laptop hooked up to a large screen. This is followed by a re-re-straightening of his shirt and a re-re-cleaning of his glasses. He checks himself in the reflection of his phone, wiping the shimmer of sweat off his brow. He takes a deep breath.
“Five, four, three, two--”
The stage hand points to a beaming, well-dressed man on a separate stage.
“Welcome back everyone to: America’s Next Great Invention! Now, let’s meet tonight’s inventor!”
He makes a sweeping motion as the camera turns and focuses on the man on stage.
“So,”
says the first judge, a formal-looking middle aged woman.
“Tell us about your invention.”
...
A police officer sits in a room staring at a pair of monitors on a desk in front of him. The door opens and a younger police officer enters the room.
“Hello, are you officer--”
“Daniels!”
The officer, a portly man with a large bristly mustache, stands and gestures to the chair he was sitting in.
“Come on in kid-- take a seat. What’s your name again”
The younger officer, clean shaven with a crew cut, enters.
“Carl-- I mean Johnson-- Officer Johnson sir.”
The officer laughs,
“Oh don’t worry about all that, Carl’s fine by me, and you can call me Jim. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Carl smiles,
“Yes sir.”
Jim walks over to the the monitors.
“So, what do you know about our Polytypography system?”
Carl looks at monitors, one displaying a video feed of an interrogation room. The other has a white screen with a black oscillating line on it, with a series of numbers displayed to the side.
“Nothing really, sir. I was only told about my assignment this morning.”
Jim chuckles, before taking a seat next to Carl.
“Yeah, that’s what I figured. This is a pretty new setup we got here, so I’m not surprised the higher-ups aren’t up to speed. Let me give you the rundown.”
...
“So, it’s like a voice recognition system? Is it more Siri, or more Amazon Echo?”
asks the second judge, an older bearded man, with an incredibly deep voice.
“Neither I hope,”
says the third judge. A handsome, British man dressed in an extravagant, brightly colored outfit.
“The last thing I need is another woman in my life that doesn’t listen to me!”
The audience bursts into laughter, as the camera turns back to the inventor.
“Uh, yes, well, in a sense I suppose, but it’s more of a, um...  visual tool.”
He coughs before turning to the laptop, the screen behind him turning on.
“Basically, it’s able to learn your voice, then pick up differences in how you says certain things and display that information visually as text.”
“What does that mean?” The first judge asks, leaning in.
“Well, I have an example that I can show you right here.”
The screen brings up a video of a man in a park with a woman.
“This is my brother, David, proposing to his wife, Sarah.”
The video plays, and a few “awws,” and a smattering of applause escape from the audience.
“So, I took the audio from that video, and separated it into two separate voice tracks.”
He brings up a transcript onto the screen, with an audio waveform underneath.
“Which can be seen as text and a basic, uh, soundwave here. However, if we run the audio through the Polytypographer--”
He brings up another image on the screen. This time the text is separated into two colors, blue and pink, and the words are different sizes and shapes.
The inventor gestures to the screen.
“And there you have it!”
The audience claps, but the judges do not.
...
“So, you follow me so far?” asks Jim looking at the puzzled face of Carl.
“Uh, I believe so sir.” Carl says looking over the software on the second screen.
“But, how does that help in an interrogation?”
“Ah,” Jim says, turning to the second monitor “That’s the question isn’t it?”
He points to the numbers on the right side of the screen.
“See these values? If you highlight any word, it gives you the exact differences in the word from the norm.”
Carl nods, but still looks puzzled.
“I understand that sir, but what do the values mean in relation to what they’re saying?”
Jim points to the first value, labeled “SIZE DIFFERENCE.”
“This one is pretty simple, the bigger the word is, the more emphasis they put on it. This is usually pretty evident, but even a slightly greater emphasis on a word can say a lot.”
Carl raises a brow,
“How so sir?”
...
“Well,” says the inventor, pointing to the blue text on the screen.
“Look at the ‘will’ when he says ‘will you marry me?’ At first, it looks like it’s not that different in size from the other words. However--”
He presses a key, bringing up a screen with only the blue text.
“If you blow it up, you can see that it’s at least fifty percent bigger than the words ‘you’ and ‘me.’ And, this makes sense right? I mean, the ‘marry’ is the most important part, but the real question is in ‘will’ isn’t it?”
The audience claps, and this time the judges do as well.
“That’s beautiful man,” says the third judge with a big smile.
The inventor smiles, looking to the other two judges.
“But what about the other parts of the shape?” asks the second judge.
The inventor nods, bringing up the next slide.
“I’m glad you asked.”
...
“This here,” Jim says, pointing to the next value.
“This is your ‘cohesion.’ That’s how much the word lines up with the other words. This one can be harder to spot.”
“So, these are how far left, right, up, or down the word is?” Carl asks.
Jim nods, “Basically.”
“Further left means they said it quicker than the other words, while further right means they hesitated before saying it, even if just for a moment. While up and down are how fast or slow they say the word itself.”
“So, if a word is down and to the the left-- they hesitated and said it slowly?” Carl asks still looking at the values.
“Yep, like if they’re choosing their words carefully.” Jim says.
“So what would it mean if it’s up and to the right?”
“Hmm...” Carl rubs his chin thoughtfully.
“That they’re trying to... avoid it? Get past it quickly?”
Jim chuckles, “Hey, you’re catching on faster than I did.”
“But,” Jim continues, “What if it’s left and up? Or right and down?”
Carl looks confused, before responding.
“Uhh... I’m not sure sir.”
Jim laughs, slapping Carl on the back.
“Don’t worry kid, I’ll get you up to speed.”
The door to the room opens, and another officer peers.
“Hey, Jim, the guy is finally here. He’s in interrogation room five.”
Jim smiles and nods, “Right, we’ll get ready.”
The door closes as the other officer leaves.
Jim turns to Carl with a toothy grin.
“Alright kid, let’s take you on a test drive.”
...
“Do you see any other application for this invention? Beyond what is just, essentially, an art program?” the first judge asks
The inventor slightly cocks his head.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, do you think they’re potential for this program outside of making these-- what did you call them?”
“Emotigraphs.” The inventors says.
The judges nods, “Right.”
“Well,” the inventor begins, his brow furrowed.
“I supposed it could hypothetically be used to supplement a polygraph test, it works under a similar principle in which--”
The second judge speaks up,
“Do you think that it could replace the polygraph test?’
The inventor chuckles,
“I very much doubt that, the technology just isn’t refined enough to--”
The judge speaks up again,
“What if you had the right funding and research-- could it, at least potentially, replace the polygraph?”
The inventor pauses for a moment.
“Well... I mean... It’s still in early stages, so at this point anything is possible really.”
“It’s certainly what I thought of,” says the first judge.
The general murmur of agreement is heard from the audience.
“I really think you’re underestimating the potential of your program.” says the second judge.
“Absolutely,” says the second judge.
The inventor, turns to look at the Emotigraph of his brother and sister-in-law on the screen.
“It’s certainly... a possibility.” he says meekly.
...
“Okay,  let’s take a look at the transcript.”
says Jim as brings it up on the first monitor.
“Now, what sticks out to you just looking at what he said?”
Carl looks over the transcript from the interrogation.
“Well, he says that he’s never even met James Benson. “ he says
“Alright well bring the file up on the Polytypograph and find where he says that.”
Carl drags the text from the first screen to the second. A loading bar appears on the screen, with the text “PROCESSING.”
Jim slouches down in his chair,
“It’s gonna be a minute, so while we wait, I gotta ask-- do you think he did it?”
Carl sits back, and turns to face Jim. “Well, if I had to go with my gut--”
Jim smiles, his bright teeth peeking through his dark moustache.
“Second best tool after this thing.”
Carl lets out a glimmer of a smile, before continuing,
“I’d have to say... yes. Yes sir, I think he did it. Man didn’t sit right by me.”
The monitor let out a “BEEP” and the two officers turned back to the screen.
“Well,” Jim says as he adjusts his chair,
“let’s see how your gut compares to the Emotigraph.”
...
“Overall,” says the first judge.
“I believe you have a very unique invention. It’s certainly one of the most interesting things I’ve had to consider.”
“Thank you,” says the inventor nervously.
“I’m going to vote ‘yes,’ but only on one condition.”
The inventor looks equal parts excited and nervous.
“Oh! Uh, y-yes absolutely! What would that be?”
The first judge smiles,
“I’m only voting for you, if you explore those other options we talked about. You’ve put a lot of effort into this program, I don’t want it to just be some novelty program people download-- I want you to have a seriously product to present to your investors, do you understand?”
The inventor hesitates only for a moment before responding,
“Yes... I can agree to that.”
“Okay!” says the host “Let’s hear from our second judge.”
“I agree with Barbara. I think this absolutely has potential. Our investors would definitely be interested in it if it’s something more than a complex keepsake maker.”
The third judge speaks before he’s even introduced,
“And you know it’s a ‘yes’ from me!”
The audience laughs and claps as the camera pans to the host.
“Well, the Emotigraph certainly had a great response from the judges, now we just have to hope at least one of our guest investors share that enthusiasm!”
...
“There, see that?”
“Yes sir.”
“There’s a five millimeter difference in letter size when he says ‘James.’ Now, what does that mean to you?”
“Sir? Doesn’t the program tell us?”
Jim smirks, shaking his head.
“The program only picks up on the bigger differences. If it’s something more subtle, it takes some... interpretation.”
Carl frowns, looking at Jim.
“But, isn’t that a little... unreliable? What if he just knows somebody else named James, and that’s why he slightly emphasized it?”
Jim looks at Carl, a stern look on his face.
“Look kid, you think he did it right?”
“Yes sir, but--”
Jim slammed his hand down,
“But nothing! You think he did it, I think he did it, and the program says that he reacted to the name ‘James’. That’s more than enough in my book! So, one more time-- What does that five millimeter size difference mean to you, Officer Johnson?”
Carl swallows hard.
“I-it means that he knows James Benson sir.”
Jim slapped him on the shoulder and laughed loudly.
“There you go!”
He stands up and retrieves a piece of paper from the printer.
“Fill out the form, and I’ll make sure the Emotigraph and that statement get to the prosecutor.”
...
“Well, there you have it folks!” the host says wrapping his arm around the shoulder of the inventor.
“Frank here got his invention picked up by not one, not two, but all three of our guest investors! What do you have to say about that Frank?”
Frank beaming, leans into the microphone eagerly.
“It’s amazing! I can’t believe they see so much potential in the Emotigraph! My wife always said it was a ‘million dollar idea,’ but I never knew it would get this kind of reaction!”
The host laughs and the audience claps loudly.
“That’s great Frank! Well, any send-off for the viewers at home!”
Frank leans into the microphone again, looking into the camera.
“Yes, if you’re interested in downloading the beta version of the Polytypography program, please check out Emotigraph dot com!”
...
Carl sits on the bench outside the courtroom. Jim walks over and sits down next to him.
“Kid!” he exclaims, grabbing and jostling him by the shoulder.
“You did great! The jury thought you were a real expert.”
Carl nods solemnly, and smiles weakly.
“Thank you sir. I was pretty nervous up there. I’ve never testified in a big case before.”
Jim chuckles wryly, patting Carl on the back.
“Well, you did good. And, judging by the way the jury looked when you were talking, helped make sure that scumbag goes away for a long time.”
Carl looks at Jim, slightly shocked.
“Really?”
Jim nods as he stand up.
“Definitely, people love all this fancy new tech-- even if they don’t understand it.”
Jim walks away, as Carl remains on the bench.

He sits there, staring at the courtroom door.