The judge slams down her gravel with such finality I find my body shaking as if I was the one to just be charged with attempted first-degree murder. I was kinda hoping Drew would get a life sentence but alas I’m graced with nine years of never having to worry about this guy again. And something tells me it could be even longer because sitting in the back of the courtroom are three overtly shady people that stare a him like they want his blood. I remind myself repeatedly to never slum again.
Drew stands, hands cuffed in front of him, and let’s the officer escort him to the door on the other side of the room.
I stand as well. I won’t be intimidated.
He walks towards me and meets my gaze head-on, “I’ll fucking find you again, bitch.” Bennett emits a loud growl as the officer shoves his shoulder and tells him to shut up, but what’s said is said. Oddly enough I find myself smiling at him and wiggling my fingers in a flirty good-bye.
“Until next time, douchebag,” I say in my most pleasant voice as my dog leans into my leg protectively.
His green eyes explode with hatred as he’s shoved through the door.
“You’re incorrigible,” Kim whispers from behind me.
I turn around and face my crew. As James promised, they all sat with me throughout the entire trial. Frank even managed to sway the judge into letting Bennett sit beside me…something about my fragile mental state. Not that I want to be painted as a weepy, cowering little weenie but if it gets Bennett in the courtroom I won’t complain.
“Hey, if you got it, work it,” this has always been my answer. We smile at each other.
I give everyone a hug as relief starts to wash over me. It well and truly is over. I think it’s time to head home, pour a glass of wine and sit in the bathtub until Spring.
Oh shit…looks like that’ll have to wait. Ed Wiler is walking towards me with his hands in his pockets, his expression unreadable. I feel Bennett tense beside me and Keith, John and James each grow about five inches taller. Even Frank stops his paper sorting to edge a little closer to me.
Kim and Sal cover my flank and Megan steps right in Ed path, “Can we help you?” Her tone is not pleasant.
Ed raises his hands, the universal gesture of surrender…I think. “I don’t want any trouble,” his voice is higher then I remembered it, “I just wanted a quick word with Ms. Lacy.” His green eyes, so much like his son’s it gives me a small shiver, plead at me over Megan’s head. Call me a softy but something inside me loosens a bit.
“It’s okay, Megan,” I place my hand on her shoulder and give it a reassuring squeeze. I walk towards him with Bennett practically between my legs. “Mr. Wiler…what can I do for you, sir?” I’m trying for strong, independent woman. I think it works because he sticks his hand out for me to shake. I cautiously place mine in his.
“Ms. Lacy,” he shakes once and lets go, “It’s a pleasure to actually meet you.”
My eyebrows shoot up, “Oh is it, now?” I sincerely doubt that.
He snorts a nervous laugh, “Yes, in fact, it is,” he takes a huge breath that expands his potbelly, “I wanted to apologize…for everything. For my son and what he did to you,” are those tears?! “He used to be a good boy…I don’t know when that stopped.” I don’t say anything because there are no words. “And I wanted to apologize for myself. I didn’t take responsibility for my actions and I blamed you for me going to jail,” a sarcastic laugh erupts from his belly, “Ironic that it would take jail for me to finally take responsibility…I had it all and then I had nothing but a cell. It’s easy for the big dogs to forget they are just as human as anyone else,” so I’m a little dog? “What I’m trying to say, very ineloquently, is that…I’m sorry.”
Even though his son almost filleted me and he himself wrapped a car around me, I find the ice around my heart melting just a little. Who hasn’t made a stupid decision in their lifetime? I know I have. I won’t make excuses for Drew the Douche, but I find I can forgive Ed Wiler.
“Apology accepted, sir.” I give him a small nod. He smiles, nods to my friends and walks away.
“That was interesting,” Megan says slowly.
“Yeah, no shit,” John growls as he tugs Sal under his arm. “Let’s get the fuck out of here and celebrate.”
“Freaking amen,” Kim says, “If I’m never in a courtroom for the rest of my life it’ll be too soon.”
Frank and I hug like old friends and I teasingly tell him I’ll look him up if I have another disaster.
“Bite your tongue, missy,” is all he says.
We’re walking down the aisle of the courtroom when the three shady men step in our path.
Oh, for Christ’s sake! Can’t I just go home already?!
The tallest of the three, he may even rival John in size, speaks first, “That’s Drew’s handy work, yes?” His melon head nods to my arm.
“Yes,” I squeak.
His dark brown eyes peer at my face, no doubt assessing all the bruises and ugly road rash that’s still healing.
“Takes a special kind of person to beat on a lady,” his voice is gravelly, like he’s smoked one too many cigarettes. Judging by the yellow of his teeth I’d say he has. He leans down towards me and I hear Bennett growl softly. His eyes fall to Bennett, “This the dog that fucked him up?” His tone is praising…well, as praising as a guy like this could be.
“Yes,” I squeak.
Melon Head slowly kneels down onto one knee, never taking his eyes off my dog. His rough and scarred face softens, “Well done, Bennett.” He extends a hand like he’s going to pet his head but instead Bennett lifts a paw and places it in Melon Boy’s hand. This dude’s smile could overshadow the sun.
He stands slowly and looks at me, “Drew will not be finding you again. That is a promise.” With that all three men place fedoras, freaking fedoras!?, on their heads like they’ve choreographed this scene a hundred times. Melon Man nods at me, my crew and walks away, the other two following closely behind. At the double doors he pauses and turns around, “That’s one brave dog you’ve got there.”
Everyone has left. The house is quiet, but certainly not empty.
Keith and I are sitting in the bathtub, bubbles all around us, sipping the last of the champagne as Bennett snoozes next to the tub. My cast is wrapped in a plastic bag and resting on the side of the tub. It looks ridiculous and Keith can’t stop laughing at me.
What can I say…it’s Fu-ism…through and through.