TITLE: Court Day
By Angela Hawkins
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They filed in with shuffled steps; the abstract unison of clinking metal to metal the only sound disturbing the muffled silence of the courtroom. Some entered with heads down, humiliated and surrendered, the fight gone out of them. Others with heads high, defiant of even the end of the crime done; now the verdict to be decided. While a few looked straight ahead, blankly refusing to acknowledge the actuality of where they were to be evident.
They came in as a group, anchored to each other, wrists bound in front of them, chains wrapped around waists then attached to leg shackles. As though they would run even if they could; bound in a line as they were. All the way to the end of the bench they came, turning in domino fashion to be seated. The crowd had hushed now, these condemned the object of everyone’s stare. The rustling of orange jump suits sounding like a roar as they sat - finally… the group choosing, each one to himself where to.. or not… to look.
The main focus shifts from the sea of orange to the platform as the judge enters. The soft and occasional clanking of the bound not even drawing the robed man’s attention - he’s seen it all before. Too many times. It has become the mundane.
Each is called forward. Crimes are read aloud for all to hear. Men in suits and ties speak rehearsed speeches on behalf of the orange figures. They’ve seen it all before too. Judgments are passed down. The subjects react, each in his own way, to the penalty for the crime committed. Each receiving his duty to be paid as the court deems. The last one is called and sentenced.
The bailiff opens the door for them to exit. Soft crying can be heard and the man at the door reaches his hand out to the shoulder of the one broken down. It’s ok, he says as he pats him. The jump-suited figure stifles his pain. I have to be brave, the nine year old considers. . . . After all, I’m the oldest.
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