Perhaps you remember this guy, who sent me the letter from jail about how he'd been arrested for violating a protective order after a joyously tasteful reunion with his estranged wife in the backseat of his car?
Well, today he faced the music in County Court. I don't know how your county court works, but ours is exactly like an episode of Night Court - bizarro characters and all. I got called over to the court house from my extra plushy office because somebody wanted my testimony at the hearing. Doesn't that sound official and Perry Masonish? Translation: I went into the courtroom where a herd of people were milling around, chewing cud and the judge stopped what he was doing, looked at me and pointed to a guy in the back. "I need you to talk to Frank," he said, and then resumed the hearing in progress. I took my file over to sit by a guy on the back pew. (There are only two pews. Its a small, cramped room in the basement of the courthouse where misdemeanor cases are heard. The Judge's bench is pushed up in a dark corner and it makes you feel sort of hunched over when you stand before him.)
Frank was wearing the ever popular orange jumpsuit and a prodigious number of shackles. I am guessing that was due to the fact that Frank is freakin' messed up. He is fried. He has cooked himself on methamphetamine for just too damn long. When he talks to you his eyes begin to roll around in his head, eventually rolling up to the point that all you see is white. I can't prove it but I swear to you his eyes roll in different directions and at different speeds. Then he makes hand gestures - the more agitated he gets, the more he gestures. I wish I could show it to you, but imagine fingers twisted into claws and swirling around the room with an effect reminiscent of the head spin from The Exorcist.
"What's the deal, Frank?"
"I want to get out of jail," he hissed at me.
"I don't think that's gonna happen, Frank. You got a new charge for violating you wife's protective order."
"I gotta get out of jail." His voice starts to get louder. "My little girl is sick and I gotta get out and help her."
"She still livin' with your parents, Frank?" "Yessss." He hisses some more.
"Well, what's the problem?" At this point the freaky-looking guy sitting in front of us turned around and began to tell me how he is Frank's dad and the little girl has kidney disease and she is going to have to have surgery and Frank just needs to get out of jail.
"What are you going to do if you get out of jail, Frank?"
"I'm gonna get the hell out of this county! You people all have it in for me. I am going to Mineral Wells to live with my brother - he's a state cop and he won't let me use. I'm clean now and you just won't believe me!"
"Of course you're clean, Frank - ya been in jail for the last three months! But once you get out you and I both know you won't stay clean. How long did you stay in treatment last time?"
"Three weeks." Lots of hand gestures. Eyes are rolling like dice.
"No, man. How long did you stay at the treatment center before you tried the suicide thing and they took you to Big Springs?"
"Well, I gotta tell ya, I cannot in good conscience recommend to the judge that he just let you out of jail. If he does let you out, you are going into drug treatment."
"I never have trusted you!" His voice keeps getting louder. "You had it in for me from the start, cuz you're Debbie's officer too and she poisoned your mind against me!" Hand gestures, eye-rolling and nods from Dad.
"Well, your doing a pretty good job of getting yourself in trouble without help from me, Frank."
"I don't need no treatment. I'm clean."
"I'm not discussing this with you any further. We'll talk it over with the Judge when he calls your case."
Miffed silence. Dad and Frank begin to grumble to each other. I scoot a little ways down the pew and try to ignore them. In a few minutes, Frank wags an eye at me. "Did Debbie pay her probation?"
"You know I can't tell you that."
"Well she should have." Gestures. Eyes doing the hokey-pokey in his head. "I gave her the money."
This time I am the one yelling in the courtroom. "What are you doing giving her your money Frank? You aren't even supposed to go anywhere near her!"
"Well... she's a mother." He sniffles superiorly and turns his back to me. Frank and Dad grumble to each other some more. Dad starts feeling bold and while sending me eye daggers he tells Frank in a loud voice "If I was you, I'd stay in jail another week and get me a lawyer! Seems like that might do you some good!" No response from me. They grumble together some more. Then Dad stares at me again and says "I drove trucks for 30 years and took that meth stuff because I had to. The minute I quit driving trucks, I quit using it. I think this treatment crap is just a bunch of bullshit!" My eyebrows raised and the deputy who brought Frank up from the jail takes a step closer to us. Frank puts his head in his hands and says "Dad! Stop helpin' me!"
Finally, the judge called our case. I know in your mind you picture a bailiff stepping up to the bar and announcing The State vs. Frank and people standing to attention as their attorneys announce their intentions in the case. In County Court it means the judge looked over at us and said "Y'all ready?"
Frank and I stood in front of the bench with the assistant district attorney. (Night Court, remember? Except instead of Markie Post - the public defender, they get me - the probation officer.) I tell the Judge that Frank would really like to get out of jail. However, Frank has a real big ol' problem with drugs and with beatin' up on Debbie. (Both of Frank's eyeballs appear to be in just one eye socket at this point.) "I don't think we can just turn him loose. I told him if his probation is continued I want him in drug treatment." The judge nods and starts to ask Frank a question. Frank interrupts with a gesture or two and said "Judge - you know I love that woman - and I gave her my money and look where I am now! I talked to you and you said I could be with Debbie. The only person here who don't want me seein' her is Miss Rachel!" Claws are thrust in my direction.
"Me and the judge in Flat Land County who issued that protective order against you!" I said. Loudly. At this point I get all southern. I can't help it. I don't want my accent to show that badly, but some people cain't understand whut yer sayin' unless yew speak their language and yer raisin' begins to tell and ya start to talk real bad. "Look here, man! Yew are goin' to prison if yew don't leave that girl alone! Ya done been put on two probations fer beatin' her up and now yew got this new charge in Flat Land County for violation' that judges order." I glare at one and/or both of his eyes and he waggles his finger-claws at me.
Suddenly, the constable/bailiff, who has been snoozing in a chair in the makeshift witness stand, wakes up and says "Whut? You gotta protective order against you, Frank? Then what were you doin with Debbie when I arrested you on this probation violation!?"
All eyes, including some of his own, turn on Frank. He ducks his head and grins. "I was fixing her van. You know I love that woman!"
Thanks to Headless for title inspiration.