George Rosenstock is a former prosecutor who is offering us his satirical point view on American Criminal Justice System.
Her Honor prepared to take the bench naked under her robe. She wore glossy patent leather spike heels, fish net stocking up to her well-muscled thighs, a gun metal .38 strapped to her right calf, and a large western style hand tooled Buscadero holster, nest for a .357 magnum - fully loaded – low on her right hip. Nothing else. She stared at herself in the elongated oval antiqued body length mirror in her chamber’s bathroom, body metal and tattoos enhancing a well-toned body. Nine ammunition loops decorated the rear of her broad cow leather belt, one for each member of the Supreme Court. When closed the bulge in the robe on her right side was pronounced. She slowly unsnapped the thin leather strap that secured the .357 into her holster, removed it from the holster, and pointed it at the mirror: “Are you feeling lucky?” she whispered to the mirror, the barrel pointed directly at her heart. She pulled back the trigger. The snake-like sound of the spring excited her.
“Pow!” An explosive puff of air. She mimicked the kick of the gun upward. Then she laughed and replaced the gun into its holster. She turned and admired her holster, her legs, her height, the black robe.
It had been her habit for some years to be naked under her robe; an inarticulate dissent. Sub silentio.
After one or two Moscow Mules with extra ginger in an icy copper metal mug and a swizzle stick to suck lady like, she was an authoritative cocktail party advocate of the latest tomes on mass incarceration as “crisis” – freely quoting – if somewhat inaccurately – from “The New Jim Crow”, “Locked In”, “The Prison Industrial Complex” and Erich Fromm’s “The Crime of Punishment.” Her secret nakedness on the bench, reverential to the latter mindset, contrasted with her guns which made her feel powerful - in Law and Order mode – the final arbiter. The Enforcer. It balanced out her two Moscow Mule cocktail party self. She imagined herself asking a defendant, not her own mirror image: “Are you feeling lucky?” But she had heard of the judge in Brooklyn New York that determined bail by flipping a coin in open court had been defrocked and so she abstained. She was, in short, a dichotomy, a compromise, both sober and drunk with authority incapable of shutting down her Op Ed commentary on her role in “the system.”
Her nakedness was an instinctive unarticulated sarcastic sneer at populating the landscape with improvised explosive devices of the human kind by stoking anger by sense deprivation, isolation, and humiliation of the prison kind.
Besides all that the drone of daily criminal calendars had sealed her in an ever more airless boredom so thick that she felt as if she were suffocating. She needed a distraction.
On this hot July morning Her Honor shook the imaginary dust from her dark cloak with a snap of her wrist –a wind whipped pirate flag – before delicately and deliberately placing first her right hand and then her left into the arm holes of her Armani designed judicial black robe careful to avoid catching her sharply ridged rings in the cloth. She was especially careful with a 13 carat Asscher shape diamond bracelet encircling her male thick left wrist – a gift from her late father who had died in federal prison decades earlier. He had been the designer of an elaborate loan sharking ring which headquartered in the card clubs south of downtown Los Angeles precipitating a cleverly wrought criminal RICO indictment ensnaring all the principal players landing her progenitor in prison for life. The sheriffs in the card clubs tolerated small time prostitution, small time illicit drug sales, small time loan sharking, but had drawn the line at more serious loan sharking financed by the Chicago mob. The occasional disappeared card shark crossed a line not to be crossed. So did the broken bones, missing teeth and lost finger here and there of the gambling addicts who lived in their cars and drove from card club to card club with their clothes hung on a broom stick wedged between their cars’ rear windows. Her Honor had watched her father’s trial which occupied three months – while she was still attending law school – at night – in downtown Los Angeles in a converted high-end department store that had seen its heyday come and go decades earlier. Now the window displays were boarded up, the art-deco style of the building eroded by the acid rain of the LA basin.
On this morning, starting near her neck and moving to the hem at her ankles she methodically pressed each snap closed sealing her in black. Her six foot frame required closely ranked fastenings to insure full enclosure.
Each silver snap was a custom Tiffany creation, silver center ringed by Tiffany blue ceramic, bordered again in silver.
In winter her robe was lined with strips of rabbit fur starting at her breast line downward to keep her warm in heatless courtrooms. The fur strips Velcro’d out in summer when the courtrooms were airless and humid with the sweat of inmates, clerks, bailiffs, attorneys and baby mamas.
The mostly silk ten percent cashmere ten percent Egyptian cotton razor thin black robe was gentle on her skin – stimulating in its gentleness. It caressed her legs and buttocks when she adjusted her position on the bench. Being secretly naked in the formal environment of the courtroom excited her the way no other activity did and, more importantly, guarded against suffocating boredom. It infused meaning into the proceedings, however subjective. She experienced it as vaguely dangerous – as if she were hand climbing a smooth cliff with very few handholds, certain death waiting any misstep.
Perhaps because of her father’s prison death, forever in her mind, prison was more bestial than any act performed in the context of a life however destructive – and she had seen a lot, as related in courtrooms and facility tours, the plays within the play of lives acted out in criminal trials: gang rapes complete with forensic medical evidence of torn vaginal walls, faces swollen, misshapen, black, blue and yellow with welts, bones pulverized from brutal beatings, murders complete with expertise about lividity, the settling of blood by gravity in the dead, knifings’ gaping split throats, death by exsanguination, death by strangulation, death by this, by that, corpses cooking in the heat and crawling with maggots, beatings so harsh the victim could not be recognized save by DNA. Despite all, truth be told, seeing fellow travelers in jail jump suits chained at wrist and ankle morning after morning, afternoon after afternoon, week after week, and year after year sucked the air out of her. Institutionalized human zoos she would often remark to herself, it had become bizarre, surreal and feudal. The zoo-like atmosphere and smells of prisons, jails and holding cells grated against her sensibilities like a hand cuff removing skin to the bone. The unpredictable animal-like muffled catcalls from the holding cells behind courtroom walls were heard in her dreams.
She occasionally entertained the notion – perhaps even acknowledged - that scenes and sounds she had seen and smelled during educational tours of facilities and in her own courtroom may have gently pushed her over the edge, a subtle edge, a line not visible until crossed and in the rearview mirror. She acknowledged the surreal circus-like reality of orange jump suits, animal-like enclosures, acrid smells of urine, fecal stench, steel on steel noises, looks of the dead eyes of men and women entombed in cement sense deprivation – it all may very well have wounded – if not unmoored - her mind in some indefinable way that damaged her ability to experience her environment as others did, the others that concluded beyond debate that this all made sense. Perhaps it desensitized her to reality itself – a nascent psychosis, a kind of bad dream from which no waking was possible.
Early in her career – to the grumblings of the bailiffs charged with security - she would ask the accused into her chambers with his or her attorney along with the prosecutor or prosecutrix – to talk to the defendant – and if she liked what she heard (a modicum of humility, regret), she would reduce felonies to misdemeanors, even dismiss a case here and there. She had become known as the “Crime and ‘Lets Talk it Over’” judge. The backlash had been quick. News of her machinations rippled through the tripartite byzantine bureaucracies that kept the Criminal Court’s spine generally upright: The District Attorney’s office, the Public Defender’s Office, and the judiciary. Her practices qua antics were leaked to the press first by the District Attorney and then the Sheriffs and finally her judicial colleagues with the specific intent to embarrass if not unseat her. Followed outraged demonstrations. First small. Then large. At the hint of a recall vote she took a highly recommended sabbatical (Belize, Paris, Rome and Hawaii) after which she returned to the fold. But not without an adjustment. The adjustment was her attire, or lack thereof. Naked under the robe save for spike heels, fishnet leggings and her .357 in western regalia and backup .38, made it all tolerable. And then it didn’t. It wasn’t enough. Then it happened.
On the morning of an especially hot and busy July day – the air conditioning in the dingy courtroom loud but ineffective – much like the entire system to her mind and cocktail party analysis - she took the bench.
The courtroom air was dungeon thick. As she prepared to exit her chambers to enter the courtroom the heat caused her to pinch the robe and pull it out from her skin to allow the heated air to cool her body already glistening with sweat underneath the pirate flag robe. The courtroom air was fouled with the morning breath of Deputy District Attorneys, public defenders, Spanish interpreter, court reporter, aging private attorneys with pony tails shod in sneakers and the usual mix of in and out of custody defendants, their wives, girlfriends, “baby mamas”, brothers, sisters, and assorted interested relatives. The zoo. The jury box was populated with orange, blue and yellow suited defendants chained and cuffed at the ankles and wrists, wrists chained to a thicker chain around their waists. It was an especially cramped, airless and seedy courtroom on an especially hot and airless morning. The light that passed through yellowed plastic covers over the rows of semi-operable fluorescent bars seemed grimy itself. The bold plastic eagle on top of the drooping American flag to the right of Her Honor was downward glancing, its head crammed into the ceiling, the arrowhead at the top of the California flag permanently genuflecting.
Behind and above her on the wall behind the bench was the Styrofoam medallion of the symbol of California found in all California courtrooms, a shallow clumsy etching of a three -mast schooner, one in the foreground one in the background, a bear, a woman or man in some kind of helmeted fighting gear, spear in hand. The bronze faux medallion above all judges in California was designed to look like metal but it was earthquake light – no different than the whole ball of wax to Her Honor’s way of thinking – designed to look weighty with moral imperatives but – in reality – intellectually and morally suspect – intellectual Styrofoam –weighty at a distance – bereft of true righteousness, the coin of the realm.
And so, on this July morning Her Honor swept to the bench the air brushing up her legs and inner thighs arousing and slightly cooling. Settling on the chair, her buttocks landed on her thin cotton cushion. She felt kissed by the silken robe. She repeated to the audience “Is anything ready?” a number of times before a defense attorney finally asked her to handle “Number 72 and 73” after the usual courtroom delays caused by defense attorneys waiting for specially assigned deputy district attorneys to wander into the courtroom to discuss the next phase of the case, or defense attorneys lined up to speak with the calendar deputy who may wander into the courtroom at their own pace. Once a deputy DA and defense attorney agreed on the fate of the case, they informed the Clerk to “put it up”, meaning it was ready for the court to handle – usually rubber stamping a continued date so all could move on to their next courtroom, lunch, or afternoon of child care, gym, or just shopping. Within a few seconds numbers 72 and 73 were continued to a new date amid boilerplate about needing time to review discovery before arriving at a “likely disposition”.
Because the boredom and sense of disconnection with her environment had reached crisis proportions Her Honor had sought relief first in setting up a smart phone to view pornography during the long court sessions. But that proved risky as she couldn’t control the sudden visits to the bench by her clerks. Her interest was first piqued in main stream free pornography when presiding over a child pornography case. In between court sessions the detectives from cybercrimes, whom she dubbed to herself “defectives”, periodically shared with Her Honor some of the adult pornography they had seized over the years. Why the defectives thought it safe to share their trove was never clear to her. Something in her manner? Some subtle emanation of dissatisfaction with the entire alleged system? She put on that she was mildly offended, but her curiosity had in fact been caught up and gotten the better of her - and a fuse lit. She began occupying her evenings in her newly raised glass and steel residence in downtown Los Angeles overlooking Live L.A. with a view of the ocean, miles away, with relatively benign professionally wrought porn scenes which soon bored her. She moved to more violent genres, then live web cams of “performers” of various predilections. But, ultimately, she could not satisfy herself and her gnawing need continually to explore newer and more extreme genres and experiences was upon her – each day presenting a challenge to find a sexual experience – real, imagined or portrayed – to satisfy her need for a more intense climactic moment.
As a carefully disguised attendee of the annual DomCon conventions held in various parts of the country much like cavers only exploring the nether reaches of their sexuality not fissures in rock formations, Her Honor’s needs had metastasized - the various homemade sex toys, whips, chains, and costumes hawked by vendors that lined the basement showrooms of the third-rate stale aired hotels that hosted the DomCon conventions made her curiouser and curiouser. Down the rabbit hole she went. She moved among the vendors at first put off by the surgical separation of sexual energy from any notion of normalcy, sex in context. Sex isolated, as the end game, to be explored in the polarity of domination and submission, pain and pleasure, for itself, for no other reason, at first alienated her in an inexpressible way. But she was slowly, by degrees, perceptibly liberated herself by the freedom and ease with which the vendors and their customers openly discussed sexual practices, devices and liaisons. Most surprising was the pussy cat contest. Women and men were dressed as pets, usually cats, held on leashes, and paraded as if the persons on the hands and knees were dogs at the annual Madison Square Garden Dog Show. Awards were based upon audience reactions. The Dom would have the submissive on a leash. The submissive would crawl on hands and knees mimicking a dog, cat, alligator, snake or other unspecified low slung creature. After viewing the meowing, barks, crawling and pawing, Her Honor finally smiled. A heartfelt smile. And when she smiled, she realized how long it had been since she had smiled. She watched in amazement at the non-judgmental attitudes, acceptance, appreciation for the various relationships, costumes. A different kind of zoo. A kinder, gentler zoo. At first it was strange but soon DomCon conventions took on a semblance of normalcy although in a different register of reality, a different compartment. She noted the affection among the motley partners. The public display of the relationships clearly heightened the experience for participants. Attending the convenstion was a sexual activity itself. She wondered if there was a role for her here. She thought how similar to her courtroom experience as judge of the great unwashed.
Two of the devices she had purchased at the various vendors at these conventions were now snugly in place, anterior and posterior, as court began that morning. In each hand were wireless controls to turn the devices on and control the intensity of their stimulation. At first, she hesitated to depress the smooth round buttons that resembled mushroom caps. But toward the end of the calendar, around eleven a.m., all of the negotiated pleas had been saved so they could be placed on the record at once, saving enormous amounts of time. Each defendant was asked in assembly line fashion if he or she had signed and initialed the Tahl form that advised them of their rights, whether they understood them, whether the lawyers had sufficient time to consult with their clients, explain immigration consequences etc . . . . before obtaining and accepting the plea as knowing, intelligent and voluntary – which they rarely were - given the complex sentencing regimes, custody credit regulations, and other Department of Corrections regulations that could tilt any prison or jail sentence one way or the other without advance notice to anyone in true roulette fashion – leaving aside the gift of overcrowding which caused sudden unexplained release to stay in tune with federal court orders to depopulate otherwise cruel and unusual conditions.
The questions would go from one defendant to the other in rapid succession. In that manner a dozen defendants’ pleas of guilty or no contest to various offenses could be handled within a reasonable time. If each defendant had been handled singularly, the time expended would have been multiplied geometrically.
On this particularly sweltering morning, there were pleas to serious felonies on the calendar. Various gang-related assaults, an attempted premeditated murder, along with lesser crimes. Making the process more complicated, a number of the defendants had the same name, Daniel Torres, and some of the pleas had unique characteristics such as admitting to the personal use of a firearm, inflicting “great bodily harm”, or that the offense of “gang” related and the defendant a member of a “criminal street gang”, the imprimatur of bestial living with which prosecutors tagged accuseds to enhance present and future punishments. Having been through the process hundreds of times, the added possible complications did not concern Her Honor or her devoted staff. Each of three Daniel Torres’s were, however, represented by the same public defender, Vanessa Franco. As the rhythm of the questioning proceeded down the row of defendants and attorneys mouthed the obligatory “yeses” - in rapid succession – as did the defendants – Her Honor turned on the anterior device to the first benchmark etched into the dial.
A mild stimulation brought an especially authentic softness to her face and an internal hum which mimicked a drug induced pacification, a serious knitting up of the raveled sleeve of care. Then a smile. Her experience was now melodiously contrapuntal, mild pleasure while inflicting discomfort in the form of incarceration heightened both experiences and made it subjectively tolerable, even fun. A two part invention. The vibrator both stimulated and frustrated her as she realized the lack of clitoral stimulation was going to limit her pleasure – or so she thought.
“As a result of your plea, you will be deported, denied naturalization and reentry. Do you understand that? Mr. Torres?”
Buzz Humm went the devices.
The Spanish interpreter translated the judge’s question. The defendant answered in Spanish.
“Yes,” the interpreter responded, translating the “si” everyone had understood.
“Mr. Torres?” the judge asked, turning to the second Torres defendant.
Her Honor turned up the device. Buzz humm. Nice.
The Spanish interpreter again translated the judge’s question. The second Torres defendant answered in Spanish and the interpreter answered “Yes.” Each of the defendants that spoke Spanish wore head phones so that the interpreter only needed to interpret once and all Spanish speaking defendants received the same translation simultaneously.
Her Honor turned the dial up one notch on the anterior vibrator a third time and dialed up the posterior vibrator, turning it up only to the second notch. Her body magnified the internal vibration and caused an internal sound to buzz in her ears but she knew only she could hear it - and feel it. The pleasurable feelings had started as a light snow flurry of peace settling on her windshield to reality, now was a thickening cloud of large pleasure flakes. Having not read the small print on the boxes in which the devices came she was surprised at the devices appearing to not only vibrate so quickly - it was felt like a cloud of being touched - but they also moved longitudinally in unpredictable directions, subtly to be sure, but there was movement along all three axes. This both surprised Her Honor and pleased her psychologically and physically. It made the disparate experiences between her and the great unwashed even further divorced but distracted her from the proceedings before her.
“Yes,” answered the interpreter on behalf of the second Torres defendant.
“Mr. Garcia? Excuse me . . . uh Iraheta?” The judge said turning to the third Torres defendant.
“It’s Mr. Torres,” the clerk whispered to the judge.
As Her Honor reached the third Daniel Torres sentencing she turned each dial up one notch. She now realized that she had found a vein of pleasure worth seriously mining – perhaps in private - laster. The disparate positions of herself, sitting on the raised bench, that hint regality to underscore her position in the social and legal hierarchy, combined with the device’s stimulation, raised the intensity of her pleasure – it joined braids whose strands included all of the efforts of her life to that moment, all of her ambitions, her animal instincts, her intellectual powers. She did not admit it to herself, but she was being controlled by the pleasure now. There was something so coldly indifferent about her pleasuring herself while sentencing persons to County Jail or state prison for long periods of incarceration. It was that indifference that bordered on sadomasochism that raised the level of her pleasure to increasingly new and increasingly irresistible heights. She did not realize the power of the disparity.
“ .. minimum term of 25 years to life ….” Her Honor droned on, ratcheting the dials up by pressing the buttons simultaneously. Her long time morbidly obese clerk noted without looking up a new vibrancy and higher pitch in Her Honor’s voice: “$300 restitution fee pursuant to Penal Code 1202.4(6), $300 parole revocation fee, suspended pending parole violation …$108.19 booking fee ….”
And then it happened. Of all the thousands of orgasmic experiences Her Honor had experienced in her 42 years she had never experienced what now appeared to all in the courtroom as a petit mal seizure – perhaps of an epileptic. Having reached the upper limits of both dials, waves of convulsions bent her body back and forth at the waist like a flip phone. She appeared to stand up as if she had been electrocuted. Her mouth was open, drooling, eyes wide, her robe whipping back and forth, a pirate flag in a gale. A groan was being emitted, deep, throaty, guttural.
The rapidity and violence of the convulsions caused the snaps of the black robe to release – at first one at a time then in groups – some of her Tiffany snaps hurtling over the bench to the attorneys’ desks – to an increasingly riveted audience - revealing abnormally generously endowed breasts, the wide light tan leather hand tooled Buscadero holster with .357 neatly tucked at her side, tied down to her muscular right leg by a strand of leather attached to the bottom of the holster for that purpose. The fish net stockings were visible only at the top of her hips from the courtroom floor but her nakedness at the apex of the joining of her hips appeared clearly to all in the courtroom.
Dancing wildly on her enormously erect right nipple was a custom silver Tiffany blind lady of justice holding the scales between her legs. Dancing with equal abandon on her enormously erect left nipple was a detailed crucifix of a woman wearing a crown of thorns also in silver, also a custom job from Tiffany. Both body metal piercings had one diamond chip at the apex of the meeting of thighs respectively.
The seizures moved Her Honor involuntarily to the left toward her clerk and chamber door. Upon the parting of the black robe the attorneys, defendants and families in the audience behind the gated off bar reserved for attorneys and parties, sat for a millisecond in stunned silence.
An enormous woman covered with tattoos dressed in a multi-colored but mostly orange and red dashiki shot to her feet and shrieked in deep Louisiana drawl the word “Damballa” as a detailed tattoo of a woman with the body of a snake became visible beneath Her Honor’s enormous breasts – breasts meticulously constructed during two weeks in a hospital in Bangkok.
Two rows in front of the Louisiana woman a clean cut white man in a suit stood and started speaking in tongues, emitting a Polish sounding stream of guttural sounds, to chase away the evil spirit that had descended upon Her Honor.
A disheveled man emitting a distinct garbage type odor in the back row stood momentarily and muttered repeatedly that the judge had been possessed. These otherwise abnormal reactions were provoked with some justification by the surreal vision of her Honor which seemed to need an otherworldly explanation. The apparition of Her Honor was so surreal, unexpected and bizarre there was a second in which the mutterings of “devil woman” and the apparition were sufficiently married to make momentary sense to the most objective.
As it fell to the County Sheriffs to maintain order in the courtroom, the two assigned Deputies extracted themselves from their stunned silence and leapt to Her Honors assistance while barking into their shoulder radio for medical assistance and to the audience to clear the courtroom.
The sheriff sitting farthest from the bench was the first to reach Her Honor. The conclusion that she was suffering from an epileptic fit stayed with the first responder. When he arrived at the epileptic he knew not to attempt to restrain the convulsions or risk breaking bones. He attempted to reach for the robe to cloak Her Honor while trying to put his fingers in her mouth to prevent her from swallowing her tongue – she only sucked it.
Her Honor’s right hand was jiggling close to the .357 and inadvertently unclasped the small strap that kept the revolver snug in the holster. This alarmed the remaining deputy to alert to the possibility of the weapon being unholstered. He reached for his egg yolk yellow taser, removed the strap that kept it secure, and extracted it from the holster which was tight to his muscular leg by a Velcro strap. Leaning his right elbow on the oak desk behind which he normally slept or played games on his Smart phone - with an occasional discussion with counsel to bring out their clients from the holding cells behind the court, he raised his taser to Her Honor. He secured the wrist of his right hand with his left and focused on the space between her breasts – her heart. There he saw a small tattoo between her breasts which resembled Charles Manson with long hair beneath which were his years, he having recently passed away and been buried at an unknown location. This motivated his finger to squeeze gently – if he had any reason to hesitate - and the two darts spring from the short barrel with accuracy. One struck Charles in the nose, but the other wandered to the right and sliced a small chunk of abnormally large breast. From that taser impaled breast a blue fluid briefly sprayed outward and then reduced to a small stream. At first it was assumed by the deputy to be blood in need of oxygenation but soon he realized it was the fluid which had created the large right breast. Some chemical or other. A deep blue. From the left projectile came what was expected, blood. Red blood. And in between the red and blue, was the creamy white skin of her Honor save for the top of the Charles Manson tattoo. And so for a moment there were stripes streaming down her chest, red, white and blue as her body seemed instantly gripped with rigor mortis at the voltage shooting through her body.
The first responder attempted to flip the robe shut to cover Her Honor, stiffened by the voltage. The wires from the taser darts prevented the robe from closing. The Louisiana woman sat down with a thud at the sight of the Taser darts racing through the air and stabbing Her Honor in the heart and breast. As she herself was large breasted, when the dart struck Her Honor’s right breast, she involuntarily grasped her own gland as if she had been shot in the breast.
The well groomed speaker in tongues stopped his Polish sounding speech that had a remarkable semblance to a language which made him a regular at revivalist meetings where his unique talent for improvising meaningful sounding elocutions was much admired as an ancient language that predated Aramaic – and which presumably had currency while building the tower of babel – and confirmed the Holy Spirit was in him – and speaking through him – now trumped by an even more intense unreality of the judge dancing naked and bejeweled in a downtown LA courtroom with two taser tarts poking from her chest.
Her Honors convulsion began to subside. The look of horror that distorted her face as the darts were unceremoniously plucked from her person cannot be adequately described. At best she appeared to be a cubist version of herself, shockingly wide eyes at different latitudes, arched eyebrows, curled lips, so distorted as to appear disjointed, each part of her face disconnected from the other held together by the horrific reality of her situation and the message imparted by the expression. A Guernica face. Breaking away from the sheriff trying to corral her gesticulations Her Honor raced towards her chamber but tripped on her robe. Her belly flop off the raised platform upon which her chair ceremoniously sat was made worse by the increased height that she fell before hitting the ground. To the audience she seemed to disappear, as if Hell had opened up and swallowed her whole. Raising herself up first by her hands, and then to her feet, her dangling breasts made her feel especially naked. Rather than raise herself up to a full standing position, she half-crawled through her Chamber door in a stooped primate position slamming the door behind her. She twisted the lock shut before racing to the other door to her chambers to lock it as well. Realizing that there was no lock on that door her eyes scanned her chambers for a chair that would fit under the handle and secure the second path to her chambers. No chair available for the task she shoved a file cabinet in front of the door. Again her dangling breasts made her feel especially vulnerable as did her leaking body.
Her Honor’s sense of shame, humiliation and horror was magnified by a darker fear gathered like a sudden storm of black clouds that her career was trashed. The fear expressed itself in a tightness in her chest. Gathering her faculties, she entered her private bathroom still in spike heels, fishnet stocking, holsters and robe. The muscles in her face tightened. A twitch involuntarily twisted her right eye partially shut. She had never before experienced a facial twitch precipitated by stress. The involuntary muscle spasm occurred rapidly at unpredictable moments. The tenseness in her chest muscle gathered to a point at the center of her torso. Her breathing was rapid and shallow. Sweat suddenly drenched her. Her skin was cold and clammy. A general weakness overcame her as she leaned on the sink and examined her wounds and face. The bleeding and oozing of blue fluid had stopped. Her right breast diminished. She had never before experienced a cold sweat. It frightened her. She unclasped her .357, removed it from the holster, and briefly took comfort in its sleek silken smooth steel surfaces. The weapon was her friend, singular in its purpose with every part designed to further that purpose. A good friend. She thought briefly of the graceful mountain lion she had watched prowl in the backyard of her vacation home in Idlewild. Then she thought of what an honor to be taken out, killed, by such a beautiful sleek instrument of death. Her joining of the .357 and the memory of the mountain lion was a dream-like connection. She snapped out of it, realizing her dream like thoughts were the start of a loss of consciousness. As she came back to the reality of her chambers, her wounds, her nakedness, the shame and humiliation again overcame her. It came in waves, acidic, burning waves from her hips, through her heart and up into her throat where acid reflux appeared to join each breath. Her nausea almost overcame her. She examined the ammunition nestled in each chamber, and imagined the large projectile moving through her, shattering her skull like dropped crockery, driving bone fragments into the soft tissue of her brain and releasing her from this nightmare - the saving grace that she would never hear the explosion of the gunpowder inches from her ear so quick was the spinning 125 grain hollow point lead cartridge, grooved by the barrels rifling, to exit the mouth of the muzzle at 1500 feet per second and mushroom into the soft gray convoluted gray gelatin of her brain obliterating her before the signal of the explosion had worked its way from her ear drum up her auditory nerve to the temporal lobe which would be incinerated before the signal arrived. Yes, she was pondering self-destruction to extract herself from this Hell with a seriousness of purpose. The reality of her crossing the razor thin line from here – and not here – was upon her.
She was removed from this dire maelstrom of thoughts by a polite knocking on her door. Three delicate taps by a female knuckle she was familiar with. Tap. Tap. Tap. Her Honor by each knock, one knock at a time, started to regain herself. Out of habit. She involuntarily thought of The Raven. The knock on the chamber door. The knocking awakened her from the morbid dream like reality. Relieved the acid rain on her heart. There had been so many polite knocks in her years on the bench. This was just one more polite knock. Like the pitter patter of reality, of a light rain. All was normal? Perhaps? Just an odd moment, a seizure, a fit.
The rest, well the rest was her private business.
She had a right to wear what she wanted. Yes this was not cataclysmic. The polite knock proved it. Beyond doubt. Nothing to worry about – let alone self-destruct. A seizure. A simple seizure. Could it be true? Could she survive this? Could her career survive this? Was it possible?
“I’m fine, I’m fine. The seizure is passed,” she uttered through the door. She then reached for her cell phone in her Chanel purse left near her razor thin laptop.
Then came a more forceful knocking from the paramedics duty bound to conclude their call with an examination, and reports. Yes, reports, oral, written, memorialized. The fear returned like thunder complete with bundled lightning strikes of anxiety.
“Ma’am, are you alright?” Authoritative. Deep. Young.
“Yes, I’m fine, I’m fine. Forgot my medication, that’s all, forgot my medication.” She had gone down the path of seizure medication without thinking. But it felt right. Functional. It might due. A good firm weight bearing lie. An important girder for the future. Well, the rest, the nakedness, the other things. That was all personal, under the robe, nobody’s business. Nothing official can be done to a judge based upon her underwear for God’s sake. Or lack thereof. Or tattoos or body metal. What had she been thinking. This was not an event at all. It was merely a brief respite. A seizure. Perhaps even a disability for which she was protected by the American Disabilities Act? Of course! Why hadn’t she thought of that? She laughed outloud.
She picked up her phone and called the clerk.
“Have the bailiff recess for 30 minutes. Then we’ll pick up the calendar where we left off. And get rid of the paramedics. Let’s just carry on.”
“Yes, your honor.” Her Honor was once again the General of her domain.
She realized she had spoken too soon when she felt a burning sensation in her lower torso. The pain increased. Contorting herself, she pulled out both devices and examined them. Both were burned black by the electricity that had shot through her system by the taser gun. The phone to her chambers rang. It was the clerk.
“Your Honor, the building is being evacuated.”
“Jesus Mary and Joseph” she whispered.
She again repaired to her bathroom, naked. With the start of the periodic blare of the evacuation horn Her Honor became acutely aware that she remained naked except for her stockings, heels, guns and holster.
“Bomb threat.” Click.
Her Honor removed her stocking by unfurling them from the top downward. This permitted her to store the stocking for reuse in a very small space with minimal risk of tearing the nettings. Reality returning? Normalcy? Doing something practical steadied her nerves. Brought her back from the edge.
During evacuation drills the judges had been instructed that floor monitors would knock only once on their chamber door. Judges would be permitted to use the stairs at the back of the hallway behind the courtrooms. Floor monitors however would not enter the privacy of the judge’s chambers to double check that they judges were evacuated. Convinced at first that the evacuation was in some manner related to the events in her courtroom, her seizure, Her Honor hesitated. She already called her orgasm a seizure to herself. A milestone. Traction on the new reality. Yay! Her head cleared. Nothing in the events in her courtroom would require clearing the entire courthouse. The building had 19 floors and housed inmates in dozens of holding cells sprinkled throughout the building as well as the main holding cell on the fourth floor from which inmates were fed into the dozens of courtrooms in CCB, aka “the OJ” building. Trials were probably ongoing and in session. Her Honor concluded that as unusual as the events in her courtroom had been, they would not warrant the enormous burden of moving inmates, interrupting trials or emptying the nineteen story structure of the hundreds if not thousands of persons in court on a given weekday.
She breathed a sigh of relief at this insight. After a few minutes the floor monitor knocked on her chamber door. She ran to the chamber bathroom having not yet dressed in the off chance the floor monitor would break protocol and open her chamber door to insure Her Honor was evacuating or already gone. She made it to her chamber bathroom just as the door to her chamber opened.
“On my way out in a minute,” she responded. “What’s all the fuss?”
“Bomb scare. Make sure you’re out in five.”
She heard his footsteps move down the hallway.
As she breathed another sigh of relief and relived the humiliating moments in her courtroom, the sweat dried on her skin sending a chill through her. She continued to remove her courtroom gear and dressed in her street clothes, black pants, white silk blouse, black suit jacket, professional flat shoes.
She double checked her safe where she locked away her .357 and .38 and exited her chambers. She peeked out her exit to insure no one was in the hallway. No, she was not in the mood to discuss what had doubtlessly moved like wildfire through the courthouse – the events of her morning. No one in the hallway, she quickly moved to the staircase reserved for judges and descended the three flights. Reaching the bottom, she pressed on the steel crossbar which split the waist of the heavy steel door.
It was locked.
The lights in the staircase went out. In complete darkness the air was split by the rhythmic blare of the evacuation horn. Emergency lighting clicked on and threw a dim light on the stairwell.
The dimness was broken by a thin line of light under the exit door. Distant thunder of footsteps quickly descending the staircase above her. It startled her. The thunder became louder. She opened her cell phone and turned on the flash light after swiping up the screen first in the wrong direction then correctly. She again pushed at the door. It was indeed locked.
Turning back up the stairs she was confronted by two orange suited inmates.
Neither were shackled at the ankles or wrists but both had a chain around their waist which had formerly been linked to the hand cuffs. Both were shorter than her. Hispanic. One was bald with a tattoo she could see with her cell phone light shining directly in their direction. It was the face of a pit pull neatly depicted on his round skull facing skyward.
The other was slightly taller, unshaven, long hair. Facial tattoos she could not make out other than the proverbial purple tear by his right eye. Neither looked especially muscular. They both squinted at the flashlight in their eyes but managed to leer at the sight of Her Honor in black street clothes, cell flashlight in hand. Both had ears that had formerly held large circular earrings but now were distended decentered lobes. Both were heavily tatted.
The inmates briefly stared at each other before the Judge involuntarily lowered the flashlight from their eyes and volunteered “this door is locked. It leads to below street level, to the parking lot behind the court house. But its locked.” She surprised herself by making the statement. Her understanding and hope of what she saw in the two inmates was that they wanted to escape the courthouse – escape – not make trouble for a bystander in a stairwell.
The shorter inmate pushed passed her and tested her veracity at the door. He pushed two times before violently pushing the mid-door level steel bar with a body slam. No luck. He turned to his fellow inmate to join him in attacking the door. Her Honor slowly moved up the staircase as they tackled the door together. They slammed into the door after a twostep rush with no result.
For reasons she did not understand, came forth from Her Honor’s mouth advice: “The door leads to the outside. You're in jail clothes. You would be picked up or picked off in short order if you suddenly appeared outside the courthouse.”
This advice – apparently understood by both inmates - froze the inmates in place. They first stared at each other, then at Her Honor. They exchanged a few words in Spanish. The only word Her Honor thought she discerned was “niggah” or something close to it.
“Where you going?” the taller inmate inquired noting that Her Honor had ascended the staircase a few steps.
“Nowhere,” she responded honestly. “Your only chance is to change clothes. How did you get out of the chains?” If she had had a chance to think back to these comments she would have concluded she was just trying to survive the encounter by adopting a sympathetic posture.
This comment relaxed the inmates. Her Honor seemed unexpectedly empathetic. The taller inmate adopted a reciprocal intimate tone. “They don’t handcuff or chain ankles in court cells. The power failure knocked out the cell door controls. Here we are!” He held out his hands palms upward with a startled ironic subtly hopeless undertone set off by a reckless look in his eyes.
“Where’s the gun?” the shorter inmate asked.
The look on Her Honor’s face went blank.
“Gun?” she responded.
“I saw you, in court today. I saw your gun. Where is it?”
“I have no gun,” Her Honor responded in a tentative voice. She noticed the look on both inmates subtly changed.
Both inmates approached her. One quickly patted her waist area. The other grabbed her handbag, ripping it from her shoulder. He turned it upside down. A lipstick, compact, wallet, and ID fell to the floor. The ID opened. The inmate with the tattoo of a dog on his bald pate bent over to look at it revealing the dog’s face clearly. He gingerly picked up the ID and read “Judge of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County” pronouncing “Angeles” as if a Spanish word.
“I knew I recognized you. You are the crazy judge from this morning. With the gun.”
“It must be in the office,” the other inmate offered.
Each of the inmates took one arm of Her Honor and led her up the stair case in semi-darkness. One of the inmates seemed to suppress a laugh.
Arriving at the third floor, the inmate who had seen the gun in court knew the courtroom where the morning events had occurred.
“Where’s your office?” he asked increasing the pressure on Her Honor’s arm.
Her Honor led the inmates to her office. The inmates released her arms. She opened the heavy oak door and entered first. Out of habit she flicked the light on with no responding light. The room remained in semi-darkness.
“Donde esta el arma?” A glimmer of light emanated from the laptop on her desk.
The taller inmate gently shoved Her Honor.
“Where is the gun?”.
“You don’t want the gun. You want clothes.”
“Don’t tell me what I want!” The taller inmate shoved Her Honor to the floor. She landed on her shoulder but her skirt rode up her thigh. She quickly pulled it down.
“I keep clothes to dress out defendants for trial. There.” She pointed to a sliding door closet. For a moment the inmates looked puzzled. They realized in unison that the advice was useful. They both opened the sliding door and saw the box with mens clothing and some jackets and slacks hanging in the closet. They quickly worked through the pile of clothes and the hanging jackets and slacks. They both stripped off the jail jump suits and put on jackets, shirt and slacks. The few pairs of shoes were the wrong sizes but they both made due with shoes that were too large for either of them. They exchanged words in Spanish. They both then put on a second shirt over the first shirt after temporarily removing their jackets. The jackets and pants did not match but they fit reasonably well.
During the dressing, Her Honor had slowly stood up but remained in front of her desk. Watching.
“You can just walk out, now,” she advised pointing to the exit to the Chambers that led to the courtroom. “From the courtroom you can take the public stairs out of the courthouse.” The rhythmic blaring of the evacuation horn had continued throughout.
“Ella es correcta.”
“Cual es la prisa?”
“What’s the rush? We need to leave while others are leaving. Without attracting attention.”
“Where’s the gun?” Attention again turned to Her Honor leaning on her desk, trying to strike a casual pose. The inmate rushed to Her Honor and slapped her hard across her face almost knocking her over. Before she could recover, the inmate grabbed her hair and pulled her head low so that she was forced to her knees. With her head at his waist level he hit her flush in her face, breaking her nose, and sending her to the ground. Blood was all over her face. Some of it ended up on the left pant leg of the inmate. Her Honor was unconscious on the floor. A stream of cursing in Spanish now erupted from the inmate that had watched Her Honor being beaten followed by an equally confrontational stream of Spanish from the inmate that did the damage. Both having said their piece, the inmates both picked Her Honor off the floor and started to lightly slap her face to wake her up. After a few slaps her eyes opened although blood was beginning to cake around her eyes.
“Where the gun?”
“In the safe,” she answered weakly through a bloodied lip and dislodged tooth.
“Under the desk?”
One inmate held Her Honor upright while the other circled the desk and knelt before the safe. He slapped the safe and asked for the combination.
“George Washington’s birthday,”
Another slap to Her Honor’s face greeted this response, harder than the waking slaps, dislodging a front tooth that had been loosened by the punch. The inmate suddenly tore down on Her Honor’s suit jacket and blouse baring her breasts in one swipe. The jewelry on her breasts and the tattoos startled the inmate who burst into laughter. He fingered the silver body metal on Her Honor’s nipples before tearing them off causing Her Honor to grimace and scream with pain. She started to bleed from the wounds. The inmate then spotted the tennis bracelet and rings and tore them from her wrist and fingers blooding her hands. He stuffed the jewelry in his pants pocket. The inmate by the safe quickly made it clear that both of them owned the jewelry.
After a flurry of “what’s the combination” did not result in any response, the inmates brought Her Honor to the safe and demanded she open it. The semi-darkness and disorientation from the beating made it difficult for Her Honor to see the dial. She tried two times with no success. Finally on the third attempt, after being cuffed in the head by the inmates, she was successful. Shoving her aside the inmates grabbed the two weapons and admired them. So pleased with themselves by their discovery they spent a few moments spinning the barrels, sending a clicking snake like sound into the chambers similar to the cranking sound of handcuffs opening and closing.
Shoving the weapons into their waists they looked at each other, then at Her Honor, wordlessly inquiring between them as to the fate of this witness. The inmate with the tattoo of a pit bull on his skull grabbed Her Honor’s by the hair and announced that a shot would bring the sheriffs and ruin everything. His cohort nodded agreement. At the moment of agreement, the inmate holding her hair brought the heavy .357 down on Her Honor’s skull, crushing it in and causing piece of brain to hop out. The inmates jumped back but then laughed and dropped the corpse on the chamber floor.
Carefully tucking their weapons under their ill fitting suits, they quietly exited the chambers, then the courtroom, and made their way down the public staircase onto Temple Street with the rest of the evacuees.