Just stay quiet (Dylan)
When I was escorted into the court room, my hands were still cuffed, in front of me now, and a police officer had me by the left arm.
I was not in the best of shape. My cast had cracked, and most of it had simply fallen off. My fingers were curled, and I wasn’t able to do anything about it… they hurt like hell. My entire hand had the sickly grey pallor I associate with zombie movies. My shirt stank of vomit, though I’d done my best to clean myself in the sink before they took me out for the arraignment.
The vomit happened when I went into a seizure.
From a clinical perspective, the seizures are minor. The doctors say I might have them for a year, or five, or maybe never again. There’s no way to know. I’m careful to take my anti-seizure meds on a daily basis. But obviously I didn’t take any that Saturday or Sunday night, and sometime around four am on Monday, I felt it coming. My whole body tensing, a blinding headache descending on me, and the next thing I knew, I was shaking, tiny rapid shakes that were so jarring I couldn’t move at all. I don’t think anyone would have noticed anything at all, except that I aspirated some of the vomit and started choking.
I didn’t know what to expect walking into the courtroom, but this wasn’t it. I’d never been in a court, and I guess I expected some old crumbly building, something like the old Night Court reruns my Mom used to watch. Instead, I walked into a clean, carpeted, well lit room with lots of lush wood paneling. The police pushed me into a pen with the various other criminals and told me to sit and wait.
That’s when I saw them. Not just Alex, but also Sherman, Joel, Kelly. They sat together, in a group around Alex, as if to support her. And she was staring at me.
I had to close my eyes. I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t hurt her. I couldn’t break her heart all over again. But I don’t know what choice I had. I could hurt her in the short term, like tearing off a band-aid, or I could hurt her permanently, in the long term, by involving her in my fucked up life.
The hearings went on forever. One right after the other, with the judge basically handing out decisions in rapid fire. So I was a caught out surprised when they called my case. The officer leaned over to me and said, “Come this way,” then led me to a table at the front. A man in a suit came up the center aisle and sat at the table next to me.
I stared at him, then said, “Who the hell are you?”
He leaned close and whispered, “I’m Ben Cross. I’ll be representing you. For this morning just stay quiet, I’m familiar with the details of the case. We’re going to get you out of here as quickly as possible.”
“Who hired you?”
He jerked a thumb toward the back of the room. “They did. Your friends. Joel’s my brother-in-law.”
Oh, no. They were mixed up in this even worse than I realized.
“I didn’t ask for that.”
“Be glad you don’t have a public defender.”
“I don’t want you here.”
He shook his head. “Do you want to go to prison? Look, we can settle the details after the arraignment. For now, can we do it my way?”
“Whatever.” I turned and looked away. I didn’t mean to be ungrateful. But what the fuck. They went out and hired a lawyer for me? Who the hell could afford that? And why? Jesus Christ.
So Ben Cross went to work for me. Before I knew it, bail had been set, and I was back in the holding cell, waiting. An hour later, the cops came for me again, and led me out to the lobby of the jail.
I was dreading what was coming next.