God’s Servant, Jolene

by Ken Goldman


The defendant sat quietly as the prosecuting attorney made his closing statements.

“Jolene Frye killed her three children, attacked them viciously and with every intention of watching them die. This much she admits. Mrs. Frye asks us to believe that God told her to take a large rock to her two young sons and one daughter, to bash in each child’s head as they slept until, as her husband says, ‘their brains leaked through their opened skulls.’ She doesn’t deny these allegations, and with irrefutable logic my colleague, Mr. Atwell, asks you to believe that his client has lost her mind. And I would be the first to admit that it might certainly appear she has.”

Prosecutor Stuart Solomon paused for dramatic effect, staring the accused in the eyes. Jolene Frye didn’t flinch. If this woman were crazy, she was crazy as a fox and twice as smart.

One grey-haired juror fidgeted in her seat. Another removed his glasses, unable to look at the young mother who stood accused of a crime one television journalist had described as ‘too horrible to report without complete revulsion.’

Solomon looked like a man about to release a cougar into the jury box. “Yes, at first glance these certainly seem the ravings of a madwoman. God comes to this woman in her sleep, and He tells her she must do this terrible thing in order to demonstrate her complete faith! Why, seen in this light Mrs. Frye's atrocity is not a brutal murder, but some misguided act of redemption! Well, hallelujah and amen, ladies and gentlemen! What we have here is a God-fearing woman, a woman who is absolutely willing to serve God by carrying out His will even while tears flood her eyes as she watches her children suffer and die.

“And do you know what, ladies and gentlemen? I almost believe her. What woman in her right mind would do what she’s done? What woman would even think of doing it? But there is a glaring flaw in Mr. Atwell’s argument, because Jolene Frye knew what she was doing was murder, and, in fact, had decided long before committing this heinous crime that she had endured enough of motherhood and wanted out.

“Of course, Mr. Atwell would have you believe otherwise, would have you refute the evidence seen with your own eyes, would have you accept that what this woman did to her three children was done by a person believing herself possessed not by the devil, but by God Himself. Mr. Atwell’s logic dictates that the act of his client’s own children's murder, by its very nature, must demonstrate the workings of a mind gone off its tracks.

“Yes, Mr. Atwell wants you to accept the conundrum that the heinousness of the defendant’s act absolves Jolene Frye of her guilt because no sane woman could do such a thing!” Here Solomon inserted his widest shit-eating grin. “The novelist Joseph Heller coined a term for such convoluted logic. He called it Catch-22.”

Another calculated pause, longer this time, while Solomon looked at each juror. “‘God told me to do it.’ And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Jolene Frye's defense. Her only defense.”

Seated alongside his client, Robert Atwell did not for one moment lose his composure. Nor did he break a sweat one hour later when a jury of her peers found Jolene Frye guilty as charged on three counts of first degree murder.

Asked if she had any statement to make before Judge Lawrence Gracey passed sentence, Jolene stood before the court and muttered seven words with absolute sincerity. She turned her eyes towards the heavens, raised her arms as if in the throes of some extemporaneous invocation shouted from a pulpit.

“Praise the Lord, His will be done!”

In a smoke-filled bar room Satan shut off the television and turned to God. “I guess I owe you twenty bucks.”


Copyright © 2005 by Kenneth C. Goldman

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