“Well now, wasn’t that a packed agenda!”
I moved my laptop bag and bottled water before Mrs. Stanley crushed them as she joined me on the bench at the base of the courthouse steps.
“They did cover several cases before adjourning,” I replied, jotting more notes on my tablet.
Mrs. Stanley continued, waving her Starbucks cup at the pack exiting the courthouse. “Look there! That million dollar man. I’m glad the judge ordered him to appear in person for the negligence lawsuit. And to think he was once a student of mine, and had fairy tale dreams of being a preacher – until his mother got sick. Ha, he’s getting in his limousine, probably on the way to foreclose on some poor widow’s home.”
Eyes moving from the tablet, I caught a glimpse of the man’s face.
Middle aged, angry. Dreams of going to seminary lost with mother’s long term illness. Running away from God, destroying himself in his pursuit of happiness. Dying inside.
“Rachel, what did you think about that slimy teenager they brought in for a minor traffic violation? Minor! Running a red light could get someone killed! Forty hours of community service is not even a slap on the hand. Oh, the excuses those kids give. Look at his face, he’s not even sorry.”
I looked. It was hard to see past the cool blue of seemingly uncaring eyes. But I knew he had a heart – even though it was lost.
Seventeen, hates music, women. Raised by a single mom who never spoke to him in a normal tone, hadn’t been told he was loved in many years. Needed to be reached soon; hope was spiraling out of sight.
“Plain to see that homeless man’s ambition – knock off a convenience store to get arrested for free room and board. Free because we, the taxpayers, foot the bill. Pathetic, that’s what he and our whole judicial system are. Pathetic.”
I watched as the man escorted by two police officers adjusted his US Marines cap.
Late sixties, scrubby beard down his throat. Vietnam vet, rejected by family, friends, country. Could never speak of the things he witnessed during the war. Waiting for death to come.
Mrs. Stanley gathered her oversized purse, missing my head by a baby’s breath as she swung it to her shoulder. “Well, Rachel, I suppose you have plenty of material for the newspaper. I look forward to reading your take in the column. Sunday’s paper, right?”
“Yes, Mrs. Stanley, usual page.”
“See you on Monday?”
“Actually, Brandon covers court this Monday. I’ll be back Tuesday.”
“Hmph, Brandon. He’s not an ace reporter like you. Take my advice and never date him. He belongs at a gas station, washing windows or something. No intelligence at all.”
“He does his job.”
A touch to the bridge of her glasses was the only sign of disagreement Mrs. Stanley made. “I will see you Tuesday.”
The question seemed to catch the older woman off guard. I smiled gently. “It wouldn’t be a problem to pick you up for service - I go right by your place. And we’ll get a copy of the paper afterwards. My treat.”
A snort sounded, followed by a smirk on Mrs. Stanley’s face. “You don’t give up, do you?”
“Only because God doesn’t.”
Mrs. Stanley sighed. “We’ll see.” Two steps later, she turned back to me. “No one listens to me like you do. I might go just to see what that church of yours does to you.”
I watched her walk briskly to her car parked along the curb, shoulders in a slight dip.
Early fifties, out of style dress. Abandoned by husband. Daughter died in a boating accident at age twenty. Had never been told of the love and healing awaiting her at the foot of the Cross until we met six weeks ago.
Tablet tucked in my laptop bag and camera bulked on the other side, I jostled myself off the bench and down the street to where I had parked a block away. The walk always gave me opportunity to think through the events I had just witnessed before returning to the newspaper office.
Key in the lock, I paused at the sight of myself in the driver’s side window.
Just turned thirty, fashionable yet unassuming attire. Aborted baby at age sixteen, attempted suicide, never graduated high school. Forgiven and loved by an awesome God. Striving to see the world through her Father’s eyes.
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