April Bloom: "Guard Duty Above and Beyond"

A New York City court guard inspired this month’s flash-fiction story titled “Guard Duty Above and Beyond.”
I observed one of the guard’s helping a woman look her best and easing the pull of her handcuffs before her sentencing.

"Guard Duty Above and Beyond"

courtroom interior“Order in my court, sit down,” the cloaked and coiffed Judge said, pointing at the woman Marlin was overseeing. Marlin rose “Yes, your honor, she’s okay, I got her” and he eased the handcuffed woman down to his side. He whispered in her ear, the one with spongy scar tissue from misfired piercings.

“Angie, c’mon now. Stay seated and stop shouting, please?”

“Yeah, yeah, okay,” she said, trying to shake multitudes of mussed hair strands off her face.

“Let me fix that for you, Angie.”

“Yeah, yeah, okay.” She bent her head.

Marlin secured the wayward brown locks around her ears so she could see better if she chose. Instead, Angie affixed her eyes downward on oak floorboards to avert courtroom sights.

She fidgeted her fingers below the cuffs that wrangled her wrists behind her back. “Hey Angie, lean forward, let me fix those for you,” Marlin said, adjusting the steel bangles.

In Marlin’s 35 years of managing charges like Angie in this courtroom filled with misdemeanor offenders facing charges, she was one of the few who tugged at his heart. She’d been in five times, triggered by another slip-up, pickup, and lock-up in the city jail. She resembled his sister like a twin. He hoped Angie would get a break because his sister didn’t.

“Look Angie,” Marlin said, “whatever the lawyers say, or do up there, tell the judge you got a sponsor whenever she lets you speak.

Angie raised her head “A sponsor?” she said, flickering her gray eyes and scrunching her face fraught with years of substance consumption.

“Yes Angie. I’ll do it,” Marlin said. We’ll figure something out, just don’t mouth off.”

“Alright, I won’t, promise,” she said, holding his gaze and stifling tears.

When the Judge called Angie’s name, she raised her head high and advanced forward in silence. Marlin snuck a peek at the childhood photo of his younger sister he cloistered in his wallet. Illegal elixirs ran her life for thirty-three years until she died from injecting herself with a tainted dose a year ago. I’ll sponsor Angie, give me another chance, Marlin murmured to himself with closed eyes and steepled hands. The judge spoke, “Supervised release and a sponsor,” then she pounded the gavel. “Next case.”

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