Finally Mother herded us all into the subway but wouldn’t let us sit down for fear we’d wrinkle our dresses and she didn’t sit either, just stood and stared at us throughout the entire trip as if we might somehow change before her eyes if she weren't careful; then she marched us into the court room like some kind of pink Disney parade float with everybody turning to look at us and sits us down right up front. Pretty soon here comes my father, looking completely beat.
Turns out all Mother’s efforts were in vain. She never knew it but my father had been arrested before for having a pound of pot on his person, so the judge did not take kindly to them finding two pounds and a half on or about his person this time. Also the officer who’d had the busted hernia was there and had no kind words to say about Daddy. So they did sentence him to two years which seemed pretty harsh to me. As soon as my mother heard it, she folded over like somebody had knifed her in the belly and gasped, but then commenced a caterwauling and leapt up off the seat toward the judge who by then was disappearing behind the door of another room. The guards ran up to grab my mother who was wailing by now about not having enough to eat with my father gone while my father was being led out of the room by another guard and Daddy looking behind him telling my mother to simmer down it, that he’d take care of things, it would all be alright.
She finally screamed as he went out the door, “Maybe for YOU it will, you get three meals, how are WE going to get enough to eat!” Then she was quiet and the guards let her go and she turned and walked out of there with all of us following in a row like three baby ducks.When she got outside to the top step she turned and stood there looking back, then suddenly as if seized with a great idea, began to spit towards the building as we stood amazed watching her; it made tiny arcs in the air before landing in tiny puddles on the step.
So pretty soon things changed a lot more. My father was to have his trial and Mother wasn’t one to take a back seat as you might imagine. It had been a few weeks by then and no one had the money to bail him out even if we could, so there he sat. It turned out he had two and a half pounds of pot and when he told the cop he was just a heavy user himself the man had laughed so hard he’d busted open an old hernia scar and had to be taken to the ER right away.So let’s say my father did not find himself on the good side of that policeman nor of the other ones he had any contact with.
Well, Mother got us all gussied up that day anyway. She washed her hair which was abundant and crimped it up by twisting it into a bun on the back of her head and then sleeping on it that way. In the morning she had a bunch of blond corkscrew curls all down her back. It was pretty I have to say. I was in my best, or I should say, my only dress, ‘cause I had no others---even if we could afford them, I didn’t like them. She insisted we all take long baths and wash our hair the night before then kind of did up my sisters pretty yellow hair in poofy curls with some old hair spray she had, but my wiry red hair she left alone. She scrubbed their cheeks with a plastic scrub brush so they looked as pink and shiney as the kewpie doll my father once gave us. Then the two little ones were squeezed into pink chiffoney dresses she’d gotten on lay away at K-mart and they looked like they just stepped off the doll counter themselves.As for my mother she squeezed into the shiniest dress she had. “Men are attracted shiny things, like birds,” she explained and how she know this judge was a man and not so old he couldn’t look at a woman either. Well I had my doubts about this approach but she was sure, so all I could do was kind of watch things. She had everything so set in her mind she didn’t even ask me to help---she was going to do everything herself, finally had us all gussied up like the dummies in a Macy’s window because that’s what I felt like even though she left me alone compared to my sisters. So my mother was pretty much pulling out all the stops you might say in hopes that one of them would help.
“Don’t Babe me! Better be!” My mother wasn‘t convinced. She started shrieking at him again, then began a wailing the likes of which surprised even us and pretty soon the guard came in and ushered us out. She explained to us between snuffles on the subway going home that before she met Daddy she had a boyfriend who used to smoke a lot of pot and sometimes would give it to his friends for money and how they put him away and she never did see him again.
Well, it didn’t take long for my father to have his hearing. He said he was assigned a lawyer named George who looked about fourteen and had just graduated law school. He recommended something called plea bargaining but Daddy didn’t trust him and wouldn’t go for it, insisted he was innocent anyway. He called Daddy an idiot, but Daddy poured his heart out to the man, told him all his difficulties and how he was a family man had gone to church as a boy in Costa Rica, had even given some money to a man on the street with a cup at least once. He hoped he’d get off for being a good citizen because this was really his first arrest, and things were looking up. On the day of his hearing though George had looked distraught like he had come down with some sort of fever but he wouldn’t tell my father why. It turns out Daddy had gotten the most unlucky judge around, some square chinned woman, and they said she would send somebody away for ten years for chewing tobacco. After making a lot of nasty comments to my father, she said no bail and told him she thought he’d be getting two years, that maybe it would teach him a lesson, slammed her gavel down and stomped out of the room. We were all there naturally and mother had been expecting maybe six months, that’s what George had expected, and the minute she heard that she shouted about what the judge could do to herself right at the judge who was just disappearing into her chambers so all you could see was the tail end of her black robe.The guard lurched towards my mother who was by then running out of the building with us three girls following. Wanda had had a wad of sticky gum in her mouth almost the size of a golf ball which she mistakenly spat out as soon as she’d started running and calling after mother. The guard slipped on it and lost his balance, then fell on to the cement steps outside the building. I guess he just gave up on us around then because when I looked back he was still on the step rubbing his ankle and talking to some woman in a very tight skirt who had bent over to help him.