Segment 19: When a Third World Came West

Three months later and we sitting before a judge, well in different places because Sam was sitting up in front near the bailiff and I was sitting back behind the wooden session pews next to a lady with braided weaves in her hair, trying to keep a small two year old with a pony tail from running around the room while holding a male infant.  The bailiff was a woman and she wore a tight bun and thick glasses and she was standing firm near the witness stand, her back to the double doors that led out to the jury room, with her arms behind her back staring straight ahead.  For some reason Sam had hiked up his raincoat cargo pants so that they were rolled up above his knee caps.  He had on a black t-shirt and his hair looked unkempt when he passed through the swinging wooden bench door towards the Plaintiff’s table.  The judge first asked him for his name and when Sam pronounced Sammy and then Maserati the judge asked over and over again for Sam to say it louder but Sam’s voice sounded muffled more and more each time because he kept pointing his head down towards his run-down black flip flops.  He should have dressed up.  The bailiff in her short cutting voice asked him to speak up and she shouted it the third and the fourth time.  I looked around to see a short Hispanic woman with dark, sleek hair and engaging black eyes pick up her baby with the pink laced headband around its bald head when it started to cry from the bailiff’s orders.  I got up and gritted my teeth staring down the bailiff.  My father who was a judge used to let me come into his courtroom to watch his injunctions and I’d never in my life seen someone who was a hired court appointee stand here and treat someone this way.  Must be something aboutNorth Carolina.  The bailiff looked around and over my way and told me to sit down but I only glared harder and said into my head how lame and homely she was, I whispered inside of myself how wrinkled and wrapped up she looked like, like a raisin, standing there with her lips pursed and flexing her bare flesh to keep her arms tight behind her back, like a rape victim.  She said once or twice, but I didn’t hear her that if I didn’t sit down and obey orders that she would have to ask me to leave, but I she only spoke louder and more harsh the next time she asked.  I was staring up at the judge now who was a pudgy man with receding grayish hair, thick silver eyeglasses, and this punitive frown that somehow made me think he was a libertarian and that he thought this somehow made him liberal and liberated in his own conservative way.  Sam sometime after that asked me to sit down because he said I was embarrassing him.  When the lady walked closer to me demanding that I leave I turned around and said every curse word in my head I could towards her like I meant it and I felt it hit her hard because I was thin and attractive and had long hair back then, and I could walk away making someone feel less than.  But outside of the courtroom, after I’d cooled off and gotten some plastic cup off the water fountain and drank some of it, I leaned against the plastic black of the courtroom doors asking to myself what I’d just done in there.  And the Hispanic woman whom I’d seen in there with the tiny baby came out too and started laughing saying something that I was trying to make out in Spanish.

“I don’t know what came over me,” I barely said out loud.  “I think I thought they were discriminating against him because he was Muslim.  I’ve never seen anyone do that in a courtroom, talking down to someone like Sam as if they didn’t matter.”  The woman’s baby was down on the ground clambering up her leg, wanting to be held.  But her smile faded immediately and to the best she could she said “Yes, yes.”  I threw my cup in the trash and folded my arms against my chest while I watched the granite on the fountain out the window get splashed every seven seconds with water from the bronze statue in its middle.  I knew that I couldn’t stay here any longer.  If people kept doing this to Sam then he was going to leave and I’d already gotten too attached to him to let that happen.  My summer school class was over in three days and after that we would go.  We’d find someplace that was him and me and start over where people understood.


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