By K. Hecht, P. Berman, and A. Hosack
The trial had started. Larry had been so fretful the night before that he almost fell asleep at the beginning when the attorneys were whispering something stupid to the judge.
Is Branister still on my side or is he making some deal for his own benefit?
Larry couldn’t imagine Branister could ever really care about what happened to him. His parents had beaten him to a pulp. His teachers had ignored his bruises and his lack of a lunch and just yelled at him about his homework. Despite his loyalty, the moment things got tough at work, his boss had fired him. The police couldn’t be trusted; t’y had taken Claire’s side against him. Then, there was Claire. His best friend who had just caused him to spend a hellish time in jail. How could Larry trust a lawyer he couldn’t even afford to pay? As the court proceeded with procedural issues he couldn’t understand, Larry developed a pounding headache.
Larry tried to reassure himself by looking over at the men in the jury box again. Men were in the majority, and this was hopeful. He was sure the three women on the jury had been out to get him from the looks they gave him after the picture of Claire with a black eye was entered into evidence. Larry almost jerked to his feet as he heard Claire’s name and saw her go into the jury box. Finally, he could look her in the face. He held her eyes for a moment and saw a tear run down her face.
Good. She finally realizes what she is doing to me and will make it right.
Claire was being asked to swear that she would tell the truth, but no words were coming out of her mouth. She was feeling torn in two. She still believed Larry was her dearest love but, in the month since Larry punched her, she had many talks with the Carsons and a long one that involved Ms. Alexandra from Child Protective Services. With encouragement from Ms. Alexandra, Claire had told the Carsons some of the things she experienced as a child. While her foster parents had known that Claire had been “abused”, the word just meant, “badly parented” to them. The Carsons had stared in disbelief when Claire talked about her scars from being beaten until she showed them her back. Then, they just grabbed her into a bear hug and cried.
Ms. Alexandra had seen this type of abuse before and understood Claire’s feelings of attachment to Larry despite his abuse. She listened to all of them talk. The Carsons saying Claire should never see Larry again. Claire crying out how he had always been her only friend when she desperately needed someone. Ms. Alexandra’s turn came, and she asked Claire if she wanted Davy to have a childhood like hers. Claire was shocked by the question. Of course, she wouldn’t want Davy to be treated like she had, but Larry was not like her dad; he wasn’t violent. And she wasn’t like her mom who hadn’t protected her in any way. Then, she remembered that she hadn’t stopped Larry from abusing Davy.
Claire woke up suddenly the night before the trial. In a dream, she had been reliving the evening when Davy had tried to get between Larry and her when they were fighting in Larry’s apartment. The dream was more dangerous than what had really happened. Rather than driving Claire and Davy home in a rage, in the dream, Larry threw Davy across the room for interfering. Davy’s little head had hit the wall, and blood had spurted out; Claire woke up sobbing. She ran to wake up the Carsons who spent the rest of the night calming her down. She promised them that she would protect her Davy.
I am not like my mom. Maybe, she loved her man like I love Larry but, I am a head start mom now. Davy had to be kept safe.
On the stand, Claire was an advocate for herself and Davy. She told the judge and jury about how Larry had mistreated Davy at his apartment. She then talked about what happened at the diner. Larry couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The jury were all nodding at her like they believed her nonsense!
“Shut up you bitch!” Larry screamed out in a rage.
Claire looked at him and whispered, “I love you Larry, but I am not going to be like my mother. Davy is going to come first. Davy has to be safe.” Claire then put her head down and burst into tears.
The judge ordered a recess.