Much later, when there was time to talk, I asked Bonnie, “Did you actually know that woman, or were you just getting her out of there, getting her away from the woman in the taupe skirt to a safe place?”
Bonnie laughed and said,
Oh, I do know her. I have seen her at this group, and that group. This was a very unexpected meeting. As you know, it’s a small town. We all wear more than one hat.
Like Steve Carter, I can find myself maintaining cat-like awareness of my surroundings. As we were talking and people were filing into the courtroom, and Madame Clerk was making an announcement through the PA system and into the foyer, I overheard a timid voice whispering, 'Please leave me alone. Please leave me alone.’ I turned and realized I knew the person behind the soft voice.
There was an arm’s length space between her and another woman who was saying in an angry tone, “This is yours. Take it.” I pivoted and in two strides had inserted my body into the arms-length gap between them. I gave my typical Bonnie greeting which included a hearty hello and a full hug.
I felt something on my arm. In my periphery I could see a woman shoving a paper into the crook of my arm. The woman being hugged still had her arms tight at her side. I realized, my arms were being treated as an extension of the other woman’s body. Had I been served?
I straightened my arms and the paper wafted away.
I will refer to the woman I was greeting as 'the woman in the hat' because her head was downcast and from my bird’s eye view, all I could really see was the darkness of the top of her head.
The woman in the hat entered the courtroom and as I turned back to Arta, I saw the taupe skirt swish by and after her. I don’t think I took the time to tell Arta what I was doing. I marched right into the courtroom. I think my basketball defense reflexes just kicked in unexpectedly, but now, instead of trying to steal the ball, I was trying to do a running screen to protect the other woman from the ball. At this point, I still don’t think I realized the woman in the tape skirt was trying to serve my acquaintance with a legal document. And I found a more direct route to the woman in the hat by slipping in the pew behind her.
I felt like I was seeing it from a distance. The bullying. Throwing the paper onto the chest of the bullied and proclaiming in a dramatic and victorious tone, “You have been served.”
What was there left to do. The woman in the taupe skirt exited with such speed that her skirt blew behind her, as if she rode a broom. I turned back to the woman in the hat whose complexion was drained of all colour and said, “It is so hard dealing with crazy.”
I saw a brief smile flit across her face and then we embraced again. She was whispering on my shoulder, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
It was the judge’s eyes on me that made me feel uncomfortable with this embrace. I heard a nickname come out of my mouth that I had never called her before. If her name were Rebecca, then my phrase would have been, you’re going to be OK, Becs, you are going to be OK. Her body was trembling like a leaf. But her grip was like a barnacle. Now it was me with a downcast head, realizing the spectacle of my behavior. It is not that the judge was looking at me with judgement. But I still wished all 5 foot 10 inches of my body were invisible. Truly, he just had a look of concern on his face, which made me think, this may not be an everyday occurrence.
Then I saw the sheriff exchange nods of the head with the judge and the sheriff left on the same wind.
I was speaking to an ally of convenience later, and she said, my child goes to school with the sherrif’s children.
I said, do you know anything about serving papers?
The ally said, well, I know that you can’t do it yourself, but you can get a friend to do it as a witness.
I said, Oh no, no, I am not looking to serve papers. I just think I saw someone serve papers today and I don’t think they were a professional. Then she laughed very hard.
The woman in the taupe skirt didn’t stay up on the second floor. The sheriff was after her. She went down the stairs, out to the parking lot, and into the building through another door. Then down through the doors to where the counsel sits. It was as if she was circling the building. It was hard not to rubberneck because they have that lovely balcony in the court and you can look over and see what is happening below.
Perhaps there will be a part three to type, since I have only started telling the facts about my story and have much more to tell.