Sunday, June 26, 2011

Jesup, part the nineteenth, courthouse

the click the clack of high heels against marble floor echoed up through the stairwell and down the hallway love and rockets in any other world but this morning as all three heads turn ron johnson’s his momma’s his daddy’s their heads all turn at once they know it is their aunt betty and his lawyer the only woman lawyer in jesup aunt betty she plays bridge with her on wednesday evenings over at the country club

aunt betty wearing that purple dress suit matching little bitty perched on hat the outfit she’s been wearing to church this summer ron johnson he wonders like he always wonders just where in sam hill his aunt betty finds these things

probably the same place his attorney finds hers she miss wilma watkins a graduate of mercer university and mercer university law school over in macon back before otis redding back before duane allman maybe back when ray charles miss wilma watkins she who is all done up in this post retro marlo thomas that girl break loose be free in a man’s world bright blue with black trim and ron johnson he swears to god that same fucking hat that she that girl tossed to the wind on her tee eve show

and she carries a brief case and is listening to aunt betty go on about something she miss wilma she has a pensive look on her face she isn’t really saying anything and they walk up to the bench and ron johnson and his momma and his daddy they stand up to greet them and there’s the niceties the how do you do yes it’s warm out how’s your father miss wilma he’s fine thank you but listen

we need to talk

and there’s this scene change the music it changes maybe it had been changing all along just too subtly for ron johnson to notice but now there’s a harp moaning long and slow and the hooting of an owl

where’s the owl

it’s morning the sun it shines


how can it be so bright on such a day

and the camera it swings wide and slowly it pans circling the five of them as they come together they talk miss wilma she talks she’s talking to ron johnson’s daddy to ron johnson’s momma she’s telling them things judge’s decision judge’s offer she’s answering questions aunt betty she’s asking maybe she’s saying aunt betty she says

that’s it

ron johnson’s daddy he’s nodding his head

miss wilma she talks she answers questions but she’s looking at ron johnson but she is answering ron johnson’s momma’s question yes i know it’s just ron he’s eighteen sally well she’s seventeen yes i know no i don’t know why the judge is so upset well yes ok yes you’re right i guess i do know why the judge is so upset but

it’s georgia law

ron johnson hell he has always wanted to be a lawyer he has always wanted to be clarence darrow he has always been so fucking ready to inherit the wind to lift the sword of righteousness like scout’s daddy

yeah just like scout’s daddy mister atticus finch

an’ i asked her what and she said to jus' step on the chair yonder an' git that box down from on top of the chifforobe

she said she'd never kissed a grown man before an' she might as well kiss me she says for me to kiss her back

the camera it slowly spins mouths move tongues tatter eyes lift lips go to tight smiles the heads nod the shoulders shrug a tear runs down his momma’s cheek ron johnson’s daddy his face turns angry red

an angry red

grabbing his shotgun out of the closet red his momma trying to reason with him aubrey now aubrey the shell pumping into the chamber ron johnson he’s standing in the doorway shorts and tee shirt his face fresh from a good cry curious now earlier

that dog had coming running through the yard just when ron johnson all of four years old had coming bursting out the screen door wearing his brand new pee eff flyers soaring off the porch like the kid in the cartoon landing right in front of where that unlucky fucking dog was running scaring the hell out of both ron johnson and the mangy mutt that didn’t really belong in the neighborhood he belonged to one of the black boys who cut the grass

mangy mutt snapped at ron johnson getting him a piece of ron johnson’s ass cheek right when ron johnson’s daddy was pulling up into the driveway and ron johnson he kept running over toward his daddy the mangy mutt snapping at him running behind and ron johnson his daddy he stepped in front of that dog and yelled and that mangy mutt he high tailed it back the other direction with a yelp and a scream and ron johnson he grabbed his daddy’s leg and ron johnson his daddy picked him up and brought him inside ron johnson moaning and crying and sobbing like only his four year old self knew how and ron johnson his daddy he handed him to his momma and walked back to the bedroom and ron johnson his momma she put him down with a pat on the head and followed her husband and ron johnson he followed his momma

and watched in the doorway as his momma looked up at his daddy her hands lightly touching his arm that held the shotgun she saying please aubrey

and the angry red it drained from ron johnson’s daddy’s face it slowly went back to his ruddy tanned puss with the afternoon shadow and he pumped the shell out of the gun and put them both back into the closet closed the door and his momma she took ron johnson’s hand led him back to the bathroom to look him over

teeth didn’t go through his shorts

and ron johnson his daddy’s face turns an angry red and his eyes they glare down and through at miss wilma he’s not looking at miss wilma he’s looking through miss wilma he’s looking through miss wilma and on into his dark place and his arms are crossed and tight and ron johnson his momma with the tear running down her cheek places her hand on his daddy’s arm

the one closest to her


and ron johnson his daddy he looks down and ron johnson his momma she looks up she gently she softly tops him from the bottom the blood it drains it slowly drains his face it slowly goes back to that tanned ruddy stoicism he puts the shotgun back in the closet

and the music it’s not there and the owl he’s gone and the voices they fade and the silence numbs him slowly suffocates ron johnson

he can’t breathe but he’s breathing fine he’s underwater and he can’t breathe and he’s breathing fine

and floating about are choices two choices weaving into one ear out the other bits leaving his mouth his mother his father his lawyer and for once his aunt betty she ain’t saying nothing she his aunt betty she’s just looking at him his father ron johnson his daddy he saying ron


there is no choice you just gotta go

his lawyer trying to lay it out all facts and figures she saying the judge no it’s not judge hopkins but you have to know that he is not a stranger to judge hopkins the judge he says you can either take three years in reidsville or you can join the army go down to the local induction center and join the army that’s three years too

or we can try to go to trial

and ron johnson the only bits really coming out of his mouth from his stomach deep down in his stomach burning a path up his esophagus his throat acidic verbiage of whoa whoa whoa bubbling up tres gravelly coarse river sand suspended sickly sour right behind the back of his tongue

the roman soldiers they gave him wine to drink mingled with gall and after tasting it he was unwilling to drink

and ron johnson his lawyer miss wilma she put a piece of paper on the bench there was a red ex at the bottom she gave ron johnson a pen and he leaned over

pen in hand

the paper it blurred it wiggled in the air like a gilligan island dream scene and ron johnson his eyes they watered heavy tears forming

but he did not blink

he did not blink and the tears they stayed until the dusty air floated by and took them away

and he took a deep breath and he signed his name his adult name right next to the red ex ronald samuel johnson

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