Jean Val Jean sat motionless as he waited for his case to be called before the ruthless Judge Jabert. There he sat, his heart in his mouth in infamous courtroom number seven, the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) evaders’ court.
Jean Val Jean, unemployed for many months, had just purchased a bucket of fried chicken for his wife and six children. The tab came to $12.95 plus $1.69 HST. Jean Val Jean could ill afford the additional $1.69 and so he tendered the $12.95 to the clerk, grabbed the bucket of chicken and bolted.
The clerk ran after Jean Val Jean shouting: “Stop! HST thief!”
By chance there happened to be one of the dreaded plain clothed HST gendarmes just next door at the donut shop. He heard the chicken clerk’s cries and promptly arrested Jean Val Jean, charging him with HST evasion.
Jean Val Jean pleaded with the officer, “But Monsieur Le Gendarme, I have a family to feed.”
The poor man’s pleas fell on deaf ears.
When the court registrar asked Jean Val Jean how he wished to plead, he replied “Guilty” hoping to rely on the mercy of the Court, (i.e. those six hungry children).
Judge Jabert was in a miserable mood. He told Jean Val Jean that the HST was the best thing that ever happened to this country and that evading it was a heinous offence, which must be deterred. Jabert then sentenced Jean Val Jean to 14 years of hard labour.
He was led away in shackles, shouting frantically that he expected a $28.00 fine, a tongue lashing perhaps, but nothing like this.
Guards soon whisked him off to the infamous prison, the Chateau D’oy. The Chateau D’oy was a terrible prison. Nobody wanted to go there.
Jean Val Jean settled down in his dungeon cell. The days felt like years. He made a chalk mark on the stone wall for every day he was confined. He could stand it no longer; six hours was just too much. (He hadn’t made his first mark on the wall yet, but he was going to after the end of the first day).
He knew he would have to escape. But how? Nobody had even escaped from the Chateau, as it was called.
A stroke of genius hit him. He would wait until someone died and then hide inside the man’s shroud and get removed. “What the heck,” he thought. “It worked for the Count of Monte Cristo.
Now for someone to die. That evening in the dining hall he carefully observed the other prisoners, looking for signs of expiry. No luck. All his observation earned him was a slap across the face from a jail mate who wouldn’t believe that Jean Val Jean was only taking the man’s pulse.
He returned to his cell that evening perplexed as he observed his cellmate snoring. Suddenly he got an idea. He shouted, “There’s a dead man in here. Help!”
He quickly zipped himself up into a shroud which he had made that afternoon out of bars of soap. (He was very good with his hands.)
The guards arrived and removed the shroud.
Jean Val Jean expected to be taken to a cemetery from whence he might escape. He felt himself being transported by truck and finally being plopped down on a hard surface.
Suddenly he heard voices. He opened one eye slightly and to his horror, there he was on a dissecting table of a medical school anatomy classroom.
Foremost in his mind was the question, where would they cut first? He really started getting nervous as a medical student began removing his trousers.
He wasn’t going to wait much longer for the answer and he quickly rolled off the table, causing the startled medical student to scream and drop her cleaver.
Jean Val Jean charged out. The surrounding medical students immediately reacted by asking the professor, “Is this on the exam?”
The fugitive got to the courtyard of the university when whom did he see to his shock? Jabert. His Honour was on his way to the law school to deliver a lecture entitled “The Government Understands Your Concerns About The HST.”
“J’accuse you”, cried the implacable judge.
Jean Val Jean darted into a nearby manhole. Jabert followed in pursuit shouting, “I’ll see that you get another 14 years for this.”
The poor devil ran frantically through the sewers for what seems like hours, with Jabert hotly in pursuit.
“Jean Val Jean! Jean Val Jean” he heard a familiar voice shouting. “Wake up.”
He looked around and saw his wife by his side. He had had an awful nightmare. His wife said to him, “Jean Val Jean, go out now and get that chicken. We’re hungry.”
“No way”, he said firmly. “We’re having eggs.”