Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Mennonite’s Day in Court

When I finally convinced my right foot to lift up, move over, and step through the door, George and the giant police officer let go of the doors and followed me in and the police officer explained where we had to go and wait.
We walked along a long hallway and passed many doors.  I thought, “How many doors does this place have?”
When we finally got to a wooden bench located beside one of the many doors in the building, George and I sat down.  An older man with shiny hair, dressed in a suit and tie came through the door and asked, “Are you Anna Wall?”
As my heart began pounding out of my chest again, I looked at George before I answered him.  George winked at me and nodded his head, so I turned back to the man and said, “Yes.”
“Wonderful, please stay here until I call you to come in or tell you that you can leave.”
“Okay,” I answered as I thought, “ Ah… so he is just going to tell me what to do and not even to tell me his name?”
“Wonderful,” he said again as he turned around and walked back into the courtroom.
He left me sitting there thinking, “ I am glad he’s got nothing but ‘wonderful’ today because I sure don’t. I will just call him oomkje wundascheen (mister wonderful).”
I thought, “ Should I ask George if he knows who that is? Maybe a more important question would be… ah…”  as I turned to George and asked, “Do you know what exactly I will have to do in there?”
“Well yes.  If Mark tells the court that he didn’t do the things that he has been accused of, then you will have to tell the court yourself what he did,” he answered.
“Why can't that policeman just tell the court? He knows more about what happened than I do.”
“That’s not how it works, the person he did this too has to tell the court. No one else can, even if they know more about it.”
I thought, “ Ay caramba! I really need to go to the washroom.”
I turned to George and asked if it would be alright if  I quickly went to the washroom.
“Absolutely.  Just walk past five doors to your right and the women’s bathroom is the third door to the left after you turn the corner,” he answered.
“Ah… okay,” I said with a confused look on my face as I thought, “ Wow that’s a lot of English numbers,” as I stared at his perfect beautiful teeth.
“Should I come with you? Because I will if you want me too.”
Part of me wanted him to come with me,  but I decided that I could do at least that by myself.
“No, that’s okay, I think I can find it.”
“Okay sweetie, I will wait here for you then.”
I got up, straightened my skirt, and made my way past the first door, counting down the doors in my head following George’s directions. While I washed my hands in the washroom, looking at myself in the mirror,  I felt strange, even the way the building smelled was strange. The whole atmosphere was strange.
While I stood there and looked at myself in the mirror in a daze, I hardly recognized that pale bony face looking back at me with those dark circles under the eyes. Even I looked horribly strange.
I suddenly felt terribly homesick again. I thought,  “What am I doing? This is all so wrong, I should just forget about everything and go back home to Mexico.”  As a tear rolled down my pail bony cheek. Part of me wished that my tears could wash me down that drain so I didn’t have to face whatever it was I had to face because I had no idea what exactly was going to happen in that courtroom.
But knowing that George was kindly and patiently sitting there waiting for me, I talked myself into walking back to him. I splashed my face with water, wiped the tears off, took a deep breath, turned around, and pushed through the door.
My heart stopped when I looked up and saw Mark standing right there in front of the washroom door looking right at me. I froze for a second, and before I had a chance to react, he smiled and said, “Hey, gorgeous Anna! It's so good to see in the flesh.”
It happened so fast, it was like an unknown force took over me, scooped me up and kept me from collapsing right there. I looked down as I was freaking out on the inside while that same force slowly turned me around and pulled me passed him. I thought, “ If I just make it around that corner then George will see me and I should be okay.”
It felt like he was right behind me as I put every ounce of my strength into putting one foot in front of the other. My feet felt so heavy it was exhausting.  It felt like the more steps I took the further away George seemed. But I never looked back and just kept putting one foot in front of the other slowly moving forward. When George saw the look on my face, he got up and started walking toward me.
“Is he still there? Is he behind me?”
“No, nobody is behind you, Anna.”
I turned around and let out a big sigh of relief when I saw for myself that he wasn't behind me.
“What, who was behind you?” George asked.
“Mark! He was standing right in front of the washroom door when I came out,” I explained
“What the f#ck?”
“Ah… Yeah!”
“Did he say or do anything?”
“Yes, well he didn’t do anything, he just said, “‘Hey, gorgeous Anna! It's so good to see in the flesh.’”
George put his arms around me and said, “That is so f#cked up! He should have been supervised. AHHH! Okay, I am not letting you out of my sight again.”
“Okay,” I said as we walked back to the door and sat down on the wooden bench to continue waiting. I sat there on pins and needles expecting Mark to walk around that corner any time. And sure enough, a few minutes later two police officers escorted Mark past us into the courtroom.
I didn’t look up at him, I just kept staring down at one of George’s tattoos on his perfectly shaped smooth arm. When I finally looked up, I saw that the door had already closed behind them. I began to panic and held my breath.
“Breath Anna! Breath!” Geroge ordered.
I was so shaken up and tense that my whole body hurt from the inside out. I tried to focus on breathing but it seemed like there was just not enough room in my lungs for any air.
George noticed how panicked I was. He smiled and said, “You know what Anna? I was really worried this morning.”
I recognized a pattern. He had done this before. He began to talk about something else to distract me and get me to think about something other than what was going on in the courtroom next to us.
“Really? What were you worried about?”
“Yes, really. I was worried that you might have gone shopping with Christina and bought a new outfit for today.”
“I thought that you might have had an idea about how you should dress, and we both know that that hasn’t exactly worked out well for you.”
I turned beet red and nodded my head.
“You know, I can go shopping with you sometime if you like. I can help you pick out some outfits that I think would look good on you.”
“What? You want to go shopping with me? You would do that?”
“Absolutely. It would be honored if you’d let me take part in that.”
I began to think that he was just messing around with me. I didn’t trust my emotions at that moment and I couldn’t tell if he was being serious or not.
It had worked. He actually got me to think about something other than what was going on.  All I could think was, “Ah… yeah, the last thing I need is people in Mexico gossiping about me being seen in a ‘stoff brell’  store with a ‘schwiennoagel’. Oh no! That could never happen. Not in a ‘stoff brell’ store anyway.”
 I visualized George coming with me to shop at a clothing store: he’s sitting in the women’s dressing room waiting area, watching me as I come out of the change room with my first outfit on. “NO! absolutely not, that outfit looks f#cking ridiculous! Next!”
The idea was growing on me as new butterflies were coming to life in my stomach. I forced my thoughts back to George in real-time as I had made eye contact with him and asked out of curiosity, “Where would you take me?”
I began to feel warm while I stared at his lips when he was about to answer me and I jumped as the door flew open and “Mister Wonderful” flew through the door ruining that perfect moment.

He said, “Good news. Mr. Grant pleaded guilty to all the charges.” I got up so fast I could feel the wind blowing past my ears. He turned to me and continued, “Anna Wall, you are free to go. You may leave when you wish to do so.”
The last words began to sound further and further away as if they were coming from a far distance while I stood there in shock. I suddenly felt really cold and everything went black just like the time at the factory and in George’s apartment.
When I came to, I heard George’s voice, “Anna! Anna! You’ve got it all wrong this is not the place to nap. This is the place where people come to swear, remember? Ah… shit,” and he began to laugh.
When I opened my eyes, I saw George’s teeth closer than I had ever seen them. I was lying on the bench with my head on his lap. He was looking down at me, his fingers wedged into my hair, stroking my forehead back and forth with his thumb.
“Anna, can you hear me? Are you okay? It’s over.  You are free to go.”
“What happened?” I asked.
“That lawyer literally scared the living daylights out of you when he came flying through the door.”
I quickly got up when I heard a deep voice asking, “How is she doing?”
I felt extremely light-headed from getting up so fast. I thought I was going to pass out again when Officer Parsons handed me a bottle of water. I took a sip of the water while the police officer asked me how I was doing.
“I think I will be okay now.  Thank you for the water.”
“It’s over now.  You are free to go, Anna,” said Officer Parsons.
“Is it over? Will I get served any more subpoenas?” I asked as I felt proud of myself for remembering how to say that word correctly especially at a time like that. I listened to everything he was telling me.  He was using big words, but I understood enough to know that I wouldn’t be served again, that this was it.  I could move on. That was all I cared to know. I never even asked where Mark was going or for how long.
“Anna,  if you have any more questions, feel free to give me a call. Take care now,” the police officer said and left.
I turned back to George. He got up and said, “Anna, let's get the f#ck out of here,” and we walked out of there.
I began to feel even better as soon as I spotted Christina’s car when we walked through the last set of doors. I was relieved to know that my feeling had been wrong. I was so happy to see her. As we drove off, George convinced us to go out for lunch.
George and I both explained to Christina what happened at the courthouse as she drove to the bar where I had run into my ‘mason jar past’ the night George danced me around that dance floor.
“I’m not surprised that you fainted Anna. A person can only take so much all at once,” Christina answered. As we shared a plate of what George and Christina explained to me were appetizers.
We sat and nibbled away at the appetizers as we talked about the fact that I didn’t even step foot into the courtroom.
Christina said, “This is all so bizarre. He freely admitted to everything he did.  He didn’t even try to get away with it. He probably never even intended to hurt you, Anna. He just wanted to love you, but he’s too crazy or never learned how to build friendships and that you can't force people to like you. Um… ah… I just don’t know what to make of this.”
“Bizarre? I say he has gone completely psychotic. It seems that he just doesn't give a shit about anything anymore, except you Anna. Ah… shit, sorry. I don’t mean to make you more nervous again,” George explained.
“I’m just happy and glad that this whole thing is over and I don’t have to think about it anymore. I just won't be going to any groups anymore that's for sure.”
“It’s good to be careful and I don’t mean to scare you Anna, but you could have met him anywhere, not just at a group. Not going to groups isn't going to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. I think telling your friends as soon as you start feeling weird about someone’s behavior toward you is the way to go. That way they can help you figure out what to do in the early stages,” George answered.
I dropped my head down and answered, “Yes. Next time I will tell my friend George so he can help me right away -- in the early stages.” I looked up at him. He smiled, winked at me, and said, “Atta girl.” Click here to continue reading my story.

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