Thursday, August 9, 2012

Trains, Tears and cigarettes

   It was towards the end of the day, which day I can't tell you. They were blurring one into the next as we marched by my Father. Back and forth, in and out of that law library. At first we were intrigued by this new room. We were done with our exploring now. There was nothing but dust and law books. Again it was hot. It was always hot. We weren't sleeping well. We were hold up in what I think was the only motel in Liberty. Remembering back, if there had been another I would have moved us to it. The twilight like zone was not restricted to the courthouse. Our motel,  just like the one in "My Cousin Vinny" had a 4:00am train RIGHT outside it's back door. I mean a few feet from the building. The first time a train woke me, I couldn't believe it. I had to go investigate. Nothing could be as close as that train sounded. But it was true. I could only shake my head and laugh. What could you do? So, between the stress and strain and train whistles, no one was getting much sleep. Making the keeping of time all the harder. We were sitting out in the hallway, in a side hall on a big wooden bench. All of us and the Child's Advocate assigned to Emmelee. She was a wonderful woman and we made an instant connection, first over the phone and then in person. The jury had been out since midmorning and we had heard nothing. The ADA strolled down to us suggested we call it a day. I was inwardly distraught. This couldn't be good. It meant they weren't sure. They were not convinced. I couldn't think what to do. I felt the tears well up and I got up quickly and burst through the double doors leading out to the front steps. I had to get out of there. I could not cry in front of the girls. I think her name was Debbie, the Child Advocate, I have her card somewhere here still. She followed me out. I was sitting in niche',  it's twin on the other side of the doors. I cried and she consoled.  I was expressing my fear that he would go free. That they didn't believe, that it hadn't been enough. She was the one who realized we were not alone. Someone, two of them actually, were standing a few feet away, smoking. Their badges proclaimed them to be jury members. I can't for certain say they heard me, but they sucked down those cigarettes and headed back in. We waited a few minutes and followed them.

  It was maybe ten minutes later and we were saying our good byes for the night, when the deputy came over. He said there was a verdict and we needed to get back into the courtroom. We held hands sitting there waiting. It was an eternity, waiting for those nameless strangers. I was so scared. It was like I was back in my childhood. I tried to put on a brave face, as once again the jury would not meet my eyes. I tried to remember what I had read once...did that mean innocent or guilty? I had no idea. A growing dread was fluttering within me. One count, it was one count. I prayed and prayed and prayed some more. It was all I had left. The Judge entered and we all stood. And then sat down as one. We waited. Someone was talking, I don't recall who, the judge or the clerk...someone with authority.  Stating there was a verdict and asking it to be handed over and it was. The Judge took it. It was just like you see on TV, he looked at the paper and asked the jury to stand. We were riveted to them. He told my father to stand too and he did. I think he was as apprehensive as I was. Each of us hoping the other would walk away with the disappointment of a loss.  The woman in front, closest to the judge read their decision. I held my breathe. "we the jury in the aforementioned case....find ........., guilty of one count of indecency with a child." The room was buzzing. We hugged and cried and waved at the jury. They were solemn, but they acknowledged us. It took us time to take this all in. We had won. It was over.  The jury believed the girls. I had had my doubts about that. Their mother had taken the stand and spoken out against her children. She had stood by my Father's side through it all.

  It did not occurred to us for sometime that we were not done. That he could still go free. The reason we had been flown in had come.  The ADA came over to inform us that it was too early to excited. My father would probably get probation. I was really beginning to dislike that man. If my father was going to be imprisoned, it was going to be up to us to get it done. We had a night. One, to get our minds ready. We were being called in order of birth, which means I was second up. We stayed up late, in two separate rooms.  We our nerves were stretched taunt and no one was celebrating that night.

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