Things observed in the waiting area one morning at LCJC:
1. One pair sits in the dull, residual pall that follows shock. Eyes rimmed red, surrounded by the umbra of sleeplessness, flicker with anger.
2. Others chat idly, smile and wave at passersby, familiar faces. This could be a church social.
3. Mother studies paperwork that explains procedures, status, rights, and consequences. She speaks to, listens to, a counselor who eyes her with kind determination, then leaves her alone. Mother fingers the stapled corner of the papers, lifts her head, eyes the room, frets.
4. Heavy-set woman occupies a toddler, a sibling to the one being shackled backstage for the walk to court. Little one giggles. Oblivious. This might be a physician’s office or the department of motor vehicles.
5. Attorneys mill about, dark suits, flip-phones and leather-bound portfolios bulging with yellow legal pads, paper, paper, paper. History. They seem direct, purposeful, confident.
6. The bailiff calls a family name over the PA. One family among the crowd rises, approaches the desk and is given the courtroom assignment for their child’s case. They pass through the metal detector, are cleared to face the judge, their children, themselves.