Neil knelt next to Norman. Norman lay still upon the ground, a pool of crimson red spread slowly like a halo around his head. Neil's mind was a blank. He recalled the beers he and Norman had shared earlier that night. But between than and now, as he gazed upon his blood-soaked hands, nothing.
And now Norman was dead. And Neil couldn't figure out what had happened. His head hurt. Not from trying to focus on the events since the two had left the bar but rather from the large goose egg on the back of his skull. He realized he had the large bump when he had raked his fingers through his hair and discovered a soft spot on his, what was the old word for it, pate. It was the only part of his body he could feel at the moment. It hurt so much he felt like he was just one big head. But common sense told him that couldn't be. He knew that he felt that way from the pain that came with part of his skull being bashed in.
He then realized that he hadn't killed Norman, although up until that point he wasn't too sure. But the bump on his head meant someone had attacked both he and Norman and he had escaped the same fate as his friend.
He felt relieved. Yet very sad for his friend. But he was less confused about what had occurred and knew that if charged with Norman's murder a jury would surely vote to acquit him. He gingerly touched his head and thought to himself "this ex skull, pate, will surely prove my innocence".
But the wheels of the justice system turn ever so slowly and by the time he was brought before a judge his wounds had healed completely. His only evidence of his innocence no longer existed. He was found guilty of murdering his friend. Upon hearing the sentence Neil's lawyer turned to hm and said, "We should have acquitted while you were ahead."
The prompt from the folks at Two Word Tuesday this week was exculpate/acquit. I know "ex skull, pate" was a bit of a stretch but, hey, sometimes you have to work hard for a pun.