By now, I hope that you'd read my last post, the short story, "Cops and Robbers," It is perhaps a little long for a blog-posted piece of flash writing, but I hope you can find some time to check it out. As is often the case with literature, it's an expression of thoughts that hopes to evoke an understanding -- in this case, an understanding of how complicated the legal world can be, and how brutalizing that complexity can be to the soul of those who spend their lives dedicated to and immersed within that world.
The story, "Cops and Robbers," was in part inspired by a number of folks I met during my time doing forensics, but especially by a couple of cops I met and talked with for hours around a bonfire one night during forensic entomology training camp (maggot school). In part, though, the story was also inspired by the terrible story of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman and all the families, friends, and loved ones that are "collateral damage" any time there is crime, hatred, and injustice of any sort. In retrospect, I wish the references to the Trayvon Martin case were a little more oblique than they are, but I make it a principle to not revise flash fiction, so I've left it be. I didn't set out to write about the actual case, for I honestly don't have the evidence in front of me to make any commentary on the specific case. Instead, I wanted to tell a story about jurisprudence -- about laws work (or don't) and how that impacts both the lofty ideal of justice and the feet-on-the-ground reality of people.
My own interest in jurisprudence came pretty naturally. I love order. I love rules and forms and structures. Even more, I love finding ways to effectively navigate or manipulate rules and forms and structures. It's much more fun for me to create my own play space in a world of obstacles, than to be set out in an open field with an open-ending allowance to just go nuts. On top of that, I love words, and I believe nuance, implication, context, and precision are not semantic trivialities but at the very core of verbal meaning. All of this made it easy for me to fall in love with laws and learning how they operate.
I'm the guy who, when it's time for a supreme court report (on any case!), turns up the radio and hopes every one stays quiet so he can listen.
I realize that not everyone has this sort of natural appreciation for or love of or even tolerance for the verbal, logical, and ethical gymnastics that go into the law. It's something that I work into my writing from time to time, usually in terms of (as Jeeves would say) the psychology of the individual. Anyone who is caught up in the law must grapple with a lot of mental and moral challenges, and those do have an impact on them personally. If a story I write occasionally gets a reader thinking about, asking questions about, or just curious about jurisprudence and the ways laws work, I'm a happy writer.