Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Players - 19

Summer sat at the back of the wood-panelled courtroom and watched things go down pretty much as Mark Kirkpatrick had predicted. A line of shackled prisoners shuffled in, mostly wife-beaters, petty thieves and hung-over drunks, all of them wearing orange jumpsuits with ‘Macabee County Correctional Facility’ stencilled in black letters across their chests and backs. Randy Farrell was hunched between a wincing teenager and a dignified black man with a shaven head. When he noticed that Summer was looking at him, something hardened in his face and he looked away.

The court officer, a balding man wearing an ancient Colt in a worn leather holster under his paunch, ordered everyone to rise, and the judge appeared from a door behind the bench like a figure in a medieval clock. Randy Farrell’s case was first up. Mark Kirkpatrick said that his client wished to plead guilty, and asked to approach the bench. He had a brief whispered conversation with the judge, stepped back. The judge fixed Randy Farrell with a sharp stare and told him that assault on an officer of the law was a serious matter, but given the circumstances and the recent tragic events she was minded to mitigate the sentence to a fine of five hundred dollars and a suspended sentence of a hundred days. The prosecutor made no objection, and the judge banged her gavel and moved on to the next case.

After that, everything moved with the smooth dispatch of a well-rehearsed execution. Randy Farrell was released into Summer’s custody, and after he had changed into his own clothes in a restroom and paid his fine at the cashier’s desk Summer drove him out of the parking lot and through Cedar Falls’s one-way system to the I-5.

Although no one followed them, Summer had the feeling that a hundred years ago they would have been tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. She let Randy Farrell sit up front next to her, but he hardly said a word on the long trip back to Portland.
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