I know that it was just a dream, but it still gives me chills, even a couple of days later.
I received an official-looking summons to appear in front of the Inland Empire Bloggers Court. Frankly I had never heard of any such court before, but I researched it on the Internet and it appeared to be legitimate.
Clutching my summons, I arrived at the court and was motioned to sit at one of the two tables at the far end of the courtroom, near an imposing-looking raised bench. I noticed the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin's Liset Marquez at the other table, so I smiled and waved at her. She did not smile in return, and purposely turned her back to me. I couldn't think of any reason that I had offended her, so I just waited to see what would happen next.
Next to the bench, I overheard a conversation.
"Isn't the Goddess of Pomona supposed to be representing Mr. Bredehoft?"
"Yes, but no one can find her."
One of the two people walked up to my table.
"Mr. Bredehoft, do you have alternative representation?"
"Representation?" I asked. "What representation?"
"To help you respond to the charges against you."
"Charges?" I was perplexed. I scanned the summons again; the summons didn't say anything about any charges. It was at that point that my slow brain figured out that I was a defendant before the court, and Liset Marquez was apparently the prosecutor.
I then spotted Matt Munson in the back of the court. "Matt," I called out to him, "would you represent me?"
"With what you're charged with," Matt replied, "I don't want to have anything to do with you!"
"Charges? How come everyone knows the charges except for me, the accused?" I exclaimed.
My outburst was interrupted. "All rise for Judge Allen!"
At this point David Allen, resplendent in judicial robes, entered the courtroom and climbed up to the judge's bench. I didn't bother to smile at him; he was definitely not in a "show me the funny" mood. He looked like he had just suffered a 24 hour Metrolink delay, and all the good restaurants next to the Metrolink station had been closed for health violations.
Judge Allen turned to me. "How do you respond to the charges against you, Mr. Bredehoft?"
"I don't even know what the charges are against me!"
"Mr. Bredehoft, your crime is so heinous that the charges against you have been sealed. Prosecution, please begin your presentation."
Marquez stood up and addressed the jury, a group of 14 people all wearing winter clothing. (It's odd to be wearing winter clothing in the summer, I thought.) Because of my recent experiences, I took a close look at the two juror alternates, seated slightly apart from the rest of the jury. To my surprise, one of the alternates was Johnny Worthington, a well-known (in FriendFeed circles, anyway) former podcaster. He did not look happy.
Marquez began. "On or about Monday, August 12, 2013 California time, the defendant did write a post in his Empoprise-MU music blog. This post was entitled Why I will never be a roadie for .@avaberee (watch out for the roos???). I obviously remembered the post, having just written it last week. It was about the Australian vocal trio Avaberee, from the town of Brisbane (coincidentally, the hometown of juror alternate Worthington). The post concerned the tour that the band was undertaking at that time.
Marquez continued. "In this post, the defendant mentioned a number of Australian cities, including Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, Canberra, and one city in the state of Victoria." She paused. "Melbourne."
The court gasped. From what I could tell, the mention of Melbourne seemed to be shocking to them for some reason.
"Yes, the defendant, a resident of Ontario and a former resident of Upland, wrote an entire blog post about the country of Australia" - here Marquez's voice rose in anger - "and failed to mention the city of Mildura!"
The court broke out into pandemonium. In the back of the courtroom, Matt Munson was clearly yelling, "Off with his head!" It was disconcerting to notice that the entire jury and the judge had joined in the condemnation.
I am usually slow at such things, but I was grasping the enormity of my predicament. My hometown of Ontario, which originally included the area that became Upland, was founded by two brothers from Canada, George and William Chaffey. (This explains the name of my hometown.) After a few years in California, both brothers relocated to Australia and went to the city of Mildura. The Australian city is similar to my hometown in several respects, including the presence of a wide thoroughfare bisecting the town (except that in Mildura, it's not called Euclid Avenue). Because of the common heritage, the two areas have been linked ever since, and Upland (my former residence) even maintains a sister city relationship with Mildura (although at times it seems that Upland is the wild party sister, while Mildura is the respectable one). Obviously, it would be a most serious offense for an Inland Empire blogger to write about Australia and to fail to mention this relationship with Mildura. Well, obvious to everyone except me.
Judge Allen slammed his gavel, quieting the courtoom. "Mr. Riley," barked the judge, "execute the defendant!" At this point Duncan Riley (an Australian who has founded many blogs) strode into the courtoom, carrying a large, blood-stained axe. The jury - all Australians, I suddenly realized - yelled incomprehensible Australian terms to the grimacing executioner. Riley began walking toward my table...
...and I woke up, drenched in sweat, breathing heavily. It took me a few moments to realize that I had only been dreaming, but the unusually vivid dream was still frightening me - so much so that I couldn't get back to sleep. I went to the living room, then wandered outside to my front yard, muttering to myself, "Mildura...Mildura...Mildura...Mildura..."