The court room echoed as the judge’s gavel slammed against the bench. As the court came to order, the jury reentered the court room. With everybody in suspense, especially James for his fate rested in the hands of the twelve men, and women that made up the jury.
The commonwealth’s attorney was sitting at a table just a few feet left of the defense. The defendant James Curtis was nervously waiting to see how the remainder of his life was going to rest. He was dressed in a jail issued orange jump suit, and in need of a haircut and shave. From the way his hair was standing madly he hadn’t made any attempt at looking presentable before the court.
His mind kept racing back to that day, as they reassembled in the jury box. Nonetheless he just drew a blank, just as he did the day he was arrested for a crime he doesn’t recall. James rubbed a large lump on the back of his head, with numerous stitches slightly above it. He thought to himself, “This dreadfully painful pop knot, and aching stitches are all that connect me to the crime.” In reality he was very wrong. The prosecution had several pieces of evidence, and wove a web of deception tying them all to James.
His mind continued in the same manner, but was abruptly stricken out of his daze. As a strong, stern voice spoke, “Has the jury reached a verdict?”, said judge Turner.
“Yes your honor, we have”, said a juror.
“Proceed and read the verdict.”
“In the case of the commonwealth versus James Curtis, we the jury find the defendant guilty of second degree murder, rape, and unlawful imprisonment.”
The judge replied delightfully with a smug look, “This court is adjourned, until next Thursday one week from today, for sentencing.” The pompous judge quickly made his exit from the court through a door adjacent to the jury box. As everybody was chit chatting, and leaving the court James sat dumbfounded in his seat. He looked to his left in hopes that the public defender would have some comforting options for him to consider. Such as an appeal, and any other way for him to fight for his freedom, much to James’ amazement he had already made his leave. He must have snuck out while he was still in a bewildered “stooper”, however it doesn’t really matter now anyway.
At that time two large, burly men approached him. One on each side, one of them harshly said, “Time to go Curtis.” As he stood up from his chair James accidently made eye contact with an elderly lady. She must have been the victim’s mother, or family member in some way. She gave him a look that seemingly cut like a knife, to the soul. He immediately lowered his head. Eyes gazing at the floor as a whipped pup would do. He did so partly in shame and partly in disgust for the trial’s outcome.
By this time the two deputy jailers had him restrained in cuffs on his wrists, and ankles. They proceeded to march him out of the courtroom, and through the courthouse. James’ eyes still fixed on the floor he could hear the gawks, and whispers of what sounds like multitudes of people. Once they made it outside on the courthouse steps, he raised his head. In amazement he’s surprised to see people packed onto the sidewalks, up and down Main Street. People taking pictures, and local T.V. and newspaper reporters asking questions he refuses to answer. He feels like a show pony while being loaded into the jail’s transport van.
The jail was just around the corner, but there were too may on lookers to safely walk him back to the jail. The jail staff was prepared for James’ return. One man stood at the door holding it open, and two more men were attentively waiting in the foyer. They walked James down the hall to his segregated cell. All the way down the hall threats, and profane suggestions could be heard from the cell, all of which being directed at James.
As they approach his cell they stop to unlock the door. The jailer unlocking the cell made a smirk comment, “Boy someone sure had a hard on for you. I’ve never heard of a case going to trial as fast as yours has.” James didn’t reply, he simply gave a cold stare as he walked into his cell. He knew it was of little use commenting on what he knew was true. James then went into his cell feeling defeated. He gently laid back on the foam mat fashioned into a bed; he then began to gather his thoughts. At this time it felt more, and more like a dream.
His life seemed to come to a halt, except time kept on slipping by. Day after day, night after night, he felt as if he was in a bleary daze, from a bad night’s sleep. By the time Thursday had come, he was completely exhausted. Seven days of tracking his mind vanquished what energy he had left. It was as if all this time had passed by in an instant.
An uneasy calm passed over him as the court settled down, to hear the sentencing. The judge fiercely barked, “Mr. Curtis on your feet, stand up!” looking over his square framed glasses. James slowly stood to his feet. “You’ve been found guilty of the charges brung against you, by a jury of your peers. Do you have any comments before I hand down your sentence?” said Judge Turner. With a very cavalier attitude, James replied, “I haven’t any comments for you or the jury that’s suitable for this court.”
The judge snarled his nose, and starred angrily for several seconds. “Since the defendant is in such a joking, care free mood today. I feel it’s time for me to share my joke for him.” replied Judge Turner in a witting manner. James rolled his eyes, and blew his lips suggesting he no longer was worried about what laid ahead of him. “James Curtis I sentence you to life in prison, with no possibility for parole. You will now be remanded into the custody of the state, and transported to the EKCF (Eastern Kentucky Correctional Facility)”
It was drizzling rain as he was taken outside. James looked up, and could see the drops falling. They fell against his face, but he could not feel which made the whole event seem like a dream. He was put into the back of an old Crown Victoria. He calmly nodded his head at the exuberant crowd on the street side. Not being detoured by the rain, they watched until that beat up Crown Vic drove out of sight. It was forty miles, and two counties over until they would arrive at the prison. Looking from the backseat James started noticing things he never took time to notice before. He watched as the rain was bouncing off of the leaves. He observed the traffic passing by, and the drivers living in the moment as he will never do again. One was eating a cheeseburger, and recklessly gazing to either side of the road. Perhaps enjoying his ride home from work, or just enjoying life. Another angrily talking on a cell phone, maybe fighting with a girlfriend or even his boss, but in James’ mind he only thought, “At least there’s someone who still wants to hear that man’s argument, nobody wants to hear mine anymore.”
He was startled out of his day dream when they arrived at the prison. He was quickly released to the prison staff, and given the standard inmate attire, an orange jump suit. His cell mate was waiting anxiously leaning on one arm by the beds. James nervously walked into the cell, to greet a heavily tattooed, robust man that he had no interest in getting to know. His cell mate viciously grabbed ahold of his left arm. James jerked away tearing his sleeve. James then knew his newly found friend wasn’t looking for friendship, but something else entirely. After a few blows to the head, and a strong toss into the wall the fight was over, and James was on the losing end.
While rustling his covers, and flailing his feet James awoke in a pool of sweat. He sat up naked on the side of the bed. His hands wiping the sleep from his eyes, while reliving a terrible dream he had the night before. After he pulled himself together, he put on a pair of boxer shorts, which were lying wadded up in the corner of the room. While walking to the kitchen, he stretches his arms back still tired from an intense night of dreaming. After starting the Keurig, for a morning cup of coffee, he pries off a piece of paneling from the side of the island in the kitchen. He proceeds to yank wildly on a pad lock that is attached to a secret door under the island, on the floor. After he knows all is still well in his life, he carefully places the piece of wood paneling back into place. He then sits at the kitchen table with his cup of coffee. Starring callously out the window, he lights a Pall Mall, and takes a satisfying draw from it. The smoke rolls above his head, as he looks far into the distance
© Copyright 2017 Hillbilly Hemingway . All rights reserved.
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