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NO CROWN OF THORNS FOR SHAY BOURNE.


They were separated from the Shay loyalists by armed guards toting guns, who walked the fault line of public opinion between them.

"As you can see," the reporter said, "sentiment in support of Shay

Bourne and his unprecedented case to donate his heart is waning in the wake of his hospitalization. A recent poll done by WNRK news shows only thirty-four percent of New Hampshire residents still convinced that the courts should allow Bourne to be an organ donor; and even less than that- sixteen percent-agree that his miracles are divinely inspired. Which means that an overwhelming eighty-four percent of the state agrees with Reverend

Arbogath Justus, who's joining us again this evening. Reverend, you and the members of your church have been here for nearly a week now and have been instrumental in turning the tide of public opinion. What's your take on the Bourne hospitalization?"

The Reverend Justus was still wearing that green suit. "Ninety-nine percent of the state thinks you should burn that outfit," I said out loud.

"Janice," the reverend replied, "we at the Drive-ln Church of Christ in

God have of course been praying for Shay Bourne's speedy and full recovery in the wake of the prison attack. However, when we pray, we pray to the one and only Lord: Jesus Christ."

"Is there any message you have for those who still don't agree with you?"

"Why, yes." He leaned closer to the camera. "I told you so."

The reporter took back the microphone. "We've been told that Bourne will be released from the hospital in the next few hours, but doctors haven't commented on his condition... " Suddenly, a roar went up from both sides of the crowd, and the reporter covered her earpiece with one hand. "This is unconfirmed," she said over the din, "but apparently an ambulance has just driven into the rear entrance of the prison..."

On the screen, the camera swung past her to catch a man decking a woman in a purple caftan. The armed guards stepped in, but by then other fights had broken out between the camps. The line separating the two bled, until the guards had to call in reinforcements. The cameras captured a teenager being trampled, a man being smacked in the head by the butt of a guard's rifle and collapsing.

"Lights-out," a CO said over the loudspeaker. Lights-out never really meant lights-out-there was always some residual bulb shining somewhere in the prison. But I pulled off my headphones, lay down on my bunk-and listened to the riot going on outside the brick walls of the prison.

This is what it always comes down to, I realized. There are the ones who believe, and the ones who don't, and caught in the space between them are guns.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one being disturbed. Batman the Robin began to squawk, in spite of Calloway's efforts to hush him.

"Shut that freaking bird up already!" Texas yelled.

"You shut up," Calloway said. "Fucking Bourne. Wish he'd never come onto this fucking tier."

As if he'd been summoned, the door to I-tier opened, and in the halflight,

Shay moved toward his cell, escorted by a flock of six officers. He had a bandage on his face, and two black eyes. Part of his scalp had been shaved. He did not look at any of us as he passed. "Hey," I murmured as he walked by my cell, but Shay didn't respond. He moved like a zombie, like someone in a sci-fi film whose frontal lobe has been removed by the mad scientist.

Five of the officers left. The sixth stood outside Shay's cell door, his own personal security guard. The presence of the CO prevented me from talking to Shay. In fact, the presence of the CO prevented any of us from talking, period.

I guess we were all so focused on his return that it took us several moments to realize that the quiet wasn't just a lack of conversation. Batman the Robin had fallen asleep in Calloway's breast pocket. And outside, that din-that god-awful din-had gone spectacularly, blissfully silent.

Maggie

America was founded on religious freedom, on the separation of church and state, and yet I will be the first to tell you that we're not much better off than those Puritans were in the 1770s over in England. Religion and politics get into bed with each other all the time: the first thing we do in a courtroom is swear on a Bible; public school classes begin with the Pledge of Allegiance, which declares us one nation under God; even our currency is stamped with the words In God We Trust. You'd think that of all people, a lawyer like me from the ACLU would be violently opposed to this on principle, but no. I had spent thirty minutes in the shower and another twenty driving downtown to the federal courthouse trying to figure out the best way to drag religion smack into the middle of a courtroom.

I was just determined to do it without offending the personal beliefs of the judge.

In the parking lot, I called the ChutZpah and reached my mother on the first try.

"What kind of name is Haig?"

"You mean like the general?"

"Yeah."

"Sounds German, maybe," she mused. "I don't know. Why?"

"I was talking religious affiliation."

"Is that what you think I do?" my mother said. "Judge people on their last names?"

"Does everything have to be an accusation? I just need to know before

I go into chambers, so that I can tailor what I say to the justice sitting on the case."

"I thought the whole point of being a judge was being impartial."

"Right. Just like the whole point of being crowned Miss America is to promote world peace."

"I can't remember if Alexander Haig is Jewish. I know your father liked him because he supported Israel..."

"Well, even if he is, that doesn't mean that my judge is. Haig isn't quite as easy to figure out as someone named O'Malley or Hershkowitz."

"Your father once dated a Jewish girl named Barbara O'Malley, for your information," my mother said.

"Hopefully before he married you..."

"Very funny. I'm just saying that your theory isn't airtight."

"Well, you don't meet many Jewish O'Malleys."

My mother hesitated. "I think her grandparents had their surname legally changed from Meyer."

I rolled my eyes. "I've got to go. No matter what his religion is, no judge likes a lawyer who's late."

I had received a call from my secretary when I was meeting with

Warden Coyne about Shay's protection in the prison-Judge Haig wanted to see counsel in federal court the very next morning, a mere four days after I'd filed my complaint there. I should have realized things were going to move blisteringly fast. Shay already had an execution date scheduled, so the court had put us on an expedited trial calendar.

As I turned the corner, I saw the AAG from the appellate division,

Gordon Greenleaf, already waiting. I nodded at him, and then felt my cell phone vibrating in my purse with a text message.


M I C H A EL | Change of heart | GOOGLED HAIG-ROM CATI1. XO MOM