from "Court of Last Opinion"

by Joseph McElroy

From Fiction Number 61 (2015).

We learned overnight and from an impeachable source that we were a person. We were entitled to the privacy any other person could claim though you must claim it. It was news – ins and outs basically one could say confirmed by two former appellate judges consultant to the Firm not just on the law but on matters as various as blood and ingredient labeling and what is called hunting – the word for extensive blinds now connected across slope, crest, and valley stream so that, with certain lucrative sensor products recalled and now released one could hunt or fish like an ancient nomad from reservoir and blind and forest for weeks and weeks of intercommunicating seasons, a justice understood, former consultant to the Firm, now elevated to the bench – crowded at the top, or perhaps it was the bottom.

The high court’s decision came down like a huge-stacked cumulonimbus naturally seeded with dry ice. We learned that we, a notorious family company (e pluribus unum), had become a person. A big person, though; not us, not you. Yet if a person, then entitled to a privacy not to be breached by just anybody. You did not and I did not have to tell where I had contributed my money, little as I have and much as you might, or who or what I was, the son of a father who had thought to make a lawyer of us – y’already talk like one a word of hope depending. To say a corporation’s aim is only profit is to stand in splendid isolation from the First Amendment’s freedom to speak, it was argued in the high court. (1)

A person and it was not the first time but now it was the law and only a court’s opinion. I alone recalled my father’s words as if they recalled me a lifetime ago that only seemed to be the reverse of the court’s most recent opinion. If family a corp, then corp=family and if family=persons if not person, then corp too, any number of American corps. Which brought back someone else’s cut at me, a boy, only a year after his death. If you are half the man, it was said, that your father was, you’ll be OK. But we are not trying to be half of anyone else, I at that time failed to reply.

I am too old to have a father.


One may be transferred, or one is always being. It is the Company, it is said. Company, Inc. Personnel in space.

Well, whose business was that? came down from a promising lower court a decision in the form of a question. Personal question did we mind if we were asked? 

Though soon indigenous cougar, red toucan, bats in the struggling rain forest have been so startled, the 2011 drought now history, watching moment by moment growth of new stands of Company personally developed trees, bark stretched, capillaries so busy one can hear them like outside plumbing, that, smart beasts, they are producing new compounds in their blood, while good news is that lipophilic alkaloids now available from Amazon poison dart frogs will change the American market. It is not always easy to grasp that the Corporation is where the brains are. Foreign workers we have given their own facilities, with high-rise interior neighborhoods and reservoirs and hanging gardens of generous side-effect vegetables a vertical concept not suggesting where you could rise to but that here like thousands of others one and one’s family found themselves occupying so compact a footprint that the City might extend commerce freely everywhere in sight where once wetland had tried to reflect the sky. 


1. References to Justice Scalia’s response to Justice Stevens’s dissent – Jan. 21, 2010.